A Nation in Heat – “Dead Heat”

Source: pointblanknews.com

Anthony Chuka Konwea, P.E.
“5-4-3-2 Your time is up!”
- adapted from the title of the hit track by the musical group Jade , 1994.

  It is electoral rutting season in Nigeria. Testosterone-charged and power-starved politicians are on the rampage seeking electoral offices to mount, occupy and defile by discharging their vile intentions and executing their lustful agenda. The scramble is on. Political animals' horns are clashing, hooves are kicking, and teeth are clattering as they seek mating, sorry mounting – rights.

Their targets, public offices in statutory heat, await patiently, all set and ready for the champion lovers, I beg your pardon, champion marauders to emerge from the bruising, all-comers, no-holds-barred contest to occupy or reoccupy (as the case might be) their moist recesses and warm spaces.

Proponents of evolutionary democracy, Nigerian style, might argue that in accordance with Darwinian natural selection, it is apropos that only the fittest, strongest, most capricious, most cunning, most vicious and most vile political animals survive to occupy the hallowed official spaces, spread their genes and ensure the survival of their political lineage, ideas and heritage.  To get a measure of the keenness of the contest, for every public office in statutory heat, estimates suggest there are on the average 10 political beasts eager to occupy it.

The public offices themselves, are a motley crowd that range from the lower–level ones which can be mounted and occupied over and over again ad-infinitum to the high ranking ones which statutorily can only be occupied twice by the same political animal.  These high ranking ones are 36 in number and most are coming into statutory heat right now.

Over and above all these of course is the alpha public office, the highest ranking of them all. It is to be occupied by the alpha personality. Two persons are in keen contention right now. One can be likened to a vintage 1983 model Furious Ferrari, the other of course to a 2011 model Languid Odyssey.

The 1983 Furious Ferrari has been accused by critics of having been parked for too long. In spite of this its fans swear it is still in excellent physical condition. This machine is undoubtedly fast and sleek. So fast indeed that many bystanders are fearful that they may be crushed by it once it is commissioned and set in motion.

They claim that three persons were crushed by this particular vehicle in 1984 before it was permanently parked. However, if you want to move quickly from point A to point B, say from insecurity to security, its fans swear this is the car for you.

The 2011 model Languid Odyssey is not built for speed. As a family mini- van or space vehicle, it is built for something else. Its fans say this particular car has been tested and is still very much in use. However its critics say it has not been well maintained. In fact they claim you have to push it to start. Ever heard of someone pushing an automatic vehicle to start?

Critics also say this particular car is a very slow vehicle. Its major selling point seems to be that it is very roomy and can carry much load.  So if you want to haul bullion from your office to your village, this is the car for you. Nigerians carry a lot of excess luggage as most international airlines staff would readily testify. Not surprisingly many Nigerians are still hooting for the Languid Odyssey.

As a clincher, the Languid Odyssey's fans claim that since it was commissioned as the official vehicle of the nation in 2010, first in an acting capacity and later in a substantive one, it has never killed anybody unlike many other retired national official vehicles. Its critics however counter claim that it has killed many thousands of innocent people indirectly. They say it is better to kill three allegedly criminally minded people, directly, pseudo-judicially and hastily than it is to kill thousands of innocent people indirectly.

They say that when its ignition key was turned on in a bid to convey urgent aid requirements and succor to victims of Boko Haram terrorism in the North Eastern part of the country, the Languid Odyssey refused to start despite serious pushing. It took an American special purpose vehicle to crank it to life they allege. Even till date they testify, the Languid Odyssey has not yet made it to Chibok, Maiduguri and other neighboring towns and villages where many people are still dying on a daily basis.

In its own testimony issued in machine language recently to all to-whom-it-may-concern, the Languid Odyssey confessed that its problem is that its handlers give it conflicting advice. While some will turn the steering wheel left, others would turn it right.  Worse still while some would press the accelerator down to the floor, others would stamp hard on the brake. Under such extraneous circumstances nay constraints the Languid Odyssey moans, how can it move fast or self-navigate properly?

Its die-hard critics however are not amused. How can a supposedly modern car  jam-packed with the latest electronic gadgetry including automatic transmission, brain box and an inbuilt dashboard GPS navigation unit claim that it is being mishandled they ask scornfully?

The handlers of the Furious Ferrari on the other hand say their car is a one touch, immediate response vehicle. They say that once commissioned their car shall drive on auto-pilot with hellish speed from its new ultra-modern, high-tech maintenance garage located in Bourdillon Road, Ikoyi, Lagos down to Lake Chad to smash those Boko Haram terrorists into smithereens with deadly force before they even think of crossing the road to take cover in Sambissa Forest. They say it did it before in the early eighties in Lake Chad area and can do it again.

They also claim rather derisively that when it comes to pleasure rides, the Languid Odyssey needs little pushing to convey snacks and assorted refreshments aka stomach infrastructure to political rallies in very remote parts of the country. At such rallies they claim, the Languid Odyssey is never reluctant to bounce on its tires, jerk its bumpers and twerk its boot like those open roof, vintage American cars in rap video clips such as that of the rap mogul Dr Dre's sound track 'Still Dre'.

Supporters of the Languid Odyssey however point out that the Furious Ferrari rammed into at least one media house in 1984 with great speed forcing its immediate closure. They also recollect that the Furious Ferrari was too quick to convey some 2 nd Republic politicians to Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison in Lagos.

As a matter of fact they went further, around the same period, the Furious Ferrari was already set to race to the Lagos International Airport to pick up and convey to the same prison a politician crated as cargo to be loaded in a flight scheduled from London to Lagos before eagle eyed security men at Heathrow airport spotted the unusual consignment and freed the drugged man.

Continuing, supporters of the Languid Odyssey say that just before the last mating season in 2011, the Furious Ferrari did issue a warning in machine language that if it was fraudulently deselected as the official vehicle to occupy the number one podium then the blood of the dog and that of the baboon would mix.  At the end of the mating season and with the coronation of the Languid Odyssey as the official vehicle they allege that wild dogs from the supporters' kernel of the Furious Ferrari went on the rampage.

While they have not gone so far as to allege that the Furious Ferrari let loose the wild dogs, they note that the Furious Ferrari did not sound its horns loudly and timely enough to rein them in and force them to retreat back into their kernels. The end result they say is that the baboons' blood did flow freely in the Northern parts of the country.

In its own defense supporters of the Furious Ferrari claim that it was not the Furious Ferrari that unchained the wild dogs but that it was the criminal under-the-counter-trading scheme adopted by salesmen of the Languid Odyssey that forced the angry dogs to break their chains, smash open the kernel doors and attack baboons indiscriminately resulting in many casualties on the side of the baboons and a few on the side of the dogs.

Analysts and observers are however quick to note that if in the 2011 mating cycle, the blood of dogs and baboons did mix, then if care is not taken and if the official car selection process is not conducted in a manifestly clear and transparent manner in the 2015 mating cycle, it is the blood of hyenas plus jackals fighting as partners on one side and the blood of elephants and sharks fighting as partners on the other side that would mix together.

None of the analysts contacted however was willing to pinpoint where the hyenas and jackals may be located nor where the sharks and elephants may be found for preemptive rounding up in order to preserve the peace.

The handlers of the Furious Ferrari dismiss all these charges as stale news. In addition they point out that they have installed a speed limiter or speed governor on the Furious Ferrari so that it might not run again at its maximum speed. They also further point out that in any case the condition of our motorways nowadays are a very far cry from what they used to be in 1984 when the Furious Ferrari was the self-anointed official vehicle.

They say our highways today are riddled with massive potholes, no thanks to the overload being carted away daily to unknown destinations using the Languid Odyssey, which would make it impossible to run the Furious Ferrari anywhere near its awesome maximum rated speed.

Fans of the Furious Ferrari claim that since it was commissioned and later decommissioned, the engine of the Furious Ferrari has not knocked once. But they contrast it with the supposedly newer Languid Odyssey from which they say they have been hearing knocking sounds for the past 4 years. Angered by this observation, fans of the Languid Odyssey replied that the vehicle has a modern brainbox and would never knock suddenly without giving sufficient alert for immediate maintenance.

The fans of the Furious Ferrari however sneer at this. They say the Languid Odyssey is a cloned version of the Mercedes Benz car commissioned as the official ceremonial car of the nation at independence in 1960. As evidence they point to the fact that at the middle of the Languid Odyssey's engine number can be found the same identical 7 letters that end the engine number of that particular independence period ceremonial vehicle.

Most uncharitably they say that underneath its hood, this very 2011 model Languid Odyssey is running on a 1960 engine. The Languid Odyssey they conclude is a complete 419 vehicle. (Writer's note:-       419 is the Nigerian street name for sleek, silky, smooth, heaven-on-earth promising, hell-on-earth paying con-artistry or political wizardry ).

While this latter assertion may certainly be too harsh and unfounded, it is nevertheless pertinent to recall that while in the final-show room between 2010 and 2011, one of the major selling points of this particular Languid Odyssey was the startling claim by its sellers that when it was being manufactured, its manufacturers would force it to be driven from the factory to the testing ground, a distance of many kilometers, on bare wheel rims without rubber tires.

“Ah!” the people of Nigeria said to one another when they heard this, “if a car can undergo such daily exertions tirelessly and still make it to the final-showroom without breaking down, then it must be a very strong and sturdy vehicle indeed. Yes it shall be the chosen vehicle.”

And majority of the people of Nigeria reechoed those same silly sentiments in unison, “Eziokwu!, Beni!!, Wallai tallai!!! This Languid Odyssey has good-luck. It must become the official vehicle of the nation. May it bring the same good-luck to all of us and the nation as it has brought to itself. Amen.”

This was how the Languid Odyssey emerged as the chosen one, the reigning official vehicle of Nigeria. And so it was commissioned in the Year of the Lord, 2011.

Despite the claims and counter claims by supporters of both final-showroom vehicles however, impartial observers and analysts are quick to point out that at the present moment, the contest between these two cars for which car would emerge as the Chosen One in the Year of the Lord 2015 is still too close to call.

In spite of all the Furious Ferrari's otherwise sterling attributes notwithstanding its shortcomings, analysts observe, the contest is still a dead heat precisely because many Nigerians love carrying excess baggage and still regard the Furious Ferrari with great suspicion.  When they inspect the Furious Ferrari's compact trunk and sleek trimmings carefully, they cannot identify any free space where they can conceal undeclared items or contraband goods.

Sales experts however caution that in a showroom, things can change rapidly at very short notice. They note in particular that the buying and selling business depends on psychology and the mood swings of the buyers as much as it does on the size of their pockets.

They also caution that the impact of over-the-table sales discounts and the influence of under-the-table financial inducements should not be disregarded nor taken lightly. All these are areas where they believe the Languid Odyssey by virtue of its current position as the official car of the nation and given its space advantage for storing these inducements has significant advantage.

A well informed analyst said to this writer in confidence, “look here what do you think will be the buying reaction of a buyer that goes to inspect the Languid Odyssey, opens the trunk and finds a fistful of 100 dollar bills carefully taped under the trunk-mat? Don't you realize that the buyer would quickly want to seal the deal and drive away with the vehicle with the hope of finding more dollars hidden elsewhere after a more thorough and meticulous search?”

Nevertheless analysts are particularly fearful about the fate of the Languid Odyssey should the free fall of the Nigerian currency the Naira vis –a – vis the US Dollar and other major currencies persist and further constrict Nigerians' purchasing power or restrict their access to contraband goods, un-declarable items and excess luggage.

With the pendulum so finely poised, one false move by either side can tilt the balance the other way.

So who will emerge as the Chosen One in the Year of the Lord 2015? Will it be the Furious Ferrari or the Languid Odyssey?

Time as they say will surely tell.
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