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The Tragedy of Nigeria And Lord Denning’s Analogy

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Mr. Peter Ajayi, the man who as the Managing Director employed me into the stable of the Sketch Newspapers in 1988 was the one who introduced me to the seminal brilliance of Alfred Thompson Denning. Mr. Ajayi had summoned me into his office sometime in March 1989 to call my attention to a couple of things I did not do correctly in one article of mine that he has just read. This included how I mis-spelt the name of Lord Denning by putting an “s” at the back of that name in the article where I had quoted the revered English Judge. He gave me an assignment to go and read up on the controversial judge.

That quote that led me to misspell the name of Lord Denning and earned me a scary invitation but an encouraging commendation from Mr. Ajayi, is about the futility of a pursuing a worthless venture. It is a classic but a simple explanation as to why it never made any sense to engage in an activity that could never produce any result. It explains the futility of expecting a river to flow up the mountain. The quote sought to encourage those with ability to reason logically to understand why there could never have been a compelling reason to expect the rain to fall from the ground up but rather expect it to fall from heavens to the ground.

It is a simple quote that further research confirms that it has been in existence since 1849, about 50 years before Lord Denning was born, if not before then. Lord Denning was born in January 23, 1899 and died six weeks after his 100th birthday in 1999. In fact some have even suggested that the quote which has had variations has been distinctively used by Charles Darwin, Lord Bowen, Confucius, E.R. Pearce, William James and even Ralph Waldo Emerson. But without a doubt, the quote received its greatest attention of 20thCentury when it was used by the controversial, seminally brilliant eminent jurist called Lord Denning, referred to by some as the “most influential judge in the 20th Century” United Kingdom.

This quote in question breviloquently, brusquely and bluntly explains the futility of investing any form of hope in the subsisting tragic Nigerian State when applied. When you try to explain to some incurable optimists that Nigeria’s destiny is to be Balkanized, they could either not see it or understand it. When you try to explain to many that the best option for Nigerians is to have Nigeria broken up if the lives and progress of the constituents mean anything, they seem unable to comprehend such thoughts. They are unable to fathom it. It is difficult for them to contemplate.

When you reach into History, anthropology, political science, social science (or sociology), religious studies, elements of psychiatry laced with a modicum of psychoanalysis, or as Professor Tam David West once did brilliantly, using the basics of chemistry to explain the Nigerian corrugated existence and its inevitable end, people are surprisingly unable to grasp what is being talked about. In fact and indeed, when you even dive into spirituality to explain that Nigeria will eventually meet its destiny by breaking up, many are still in intellectual limbo and manifest scary lack of discernment.

To be honest, some are incurable optimists. You ask them the basis of their optimism, they have no credible explanation. Some are in denial because they could not accept the fast approaching end of a behemoth called Nigeria. Some are aware of the direction of the ship of the Nigerian state which is headed for the rocks, but are busy trying to behave as Ostriches telling Nigerians that everything is going on well. But Nigerians, daily battling existential realities of woes, misery, persecution, oppression, psychological degradation, subjugation, poverty and want have never been able to reconcile their experiences with the tall tales being told to them.

There are also some who believe that they have figured out the problem(s) of Nigeria and are honestly and sincerely engaged in various acts of activism to see how they could influence the country positively and make Nigeria better for all. Some of these activists are found in the media, whether traditional or social; some are found in the law profession and few in the judiciary; we have had some in the Nigerian (Caliphate) Armed Forces who have come, have seen and have been vanquished. They are convinced that they could turn things around.

Then there are the feudal lords of the Nigerian Manor. They are the dubious patriots found across all crannies of the country that siphoned the commonwealth and impoverished Nigeria. They yell at the top of their voices on daily basis that the unity of Nigeria is not negotiable. They are the criminals in the corridors and inner chambers of power. Their sole mission is to hold in perpetual bondage the various ethnic groups in Nigeria. Their interest is not to take Nigeria to the next level, but to continuously exploit them economically as they gradually transform Nigeria to Middle Ages.

This writer has been involved in countless debates about the destiny of Nigeria and how it would be fulfilled through break up. In several cases, there is forlorn hope. In other cases, there is no hope at all but unfathomability of the imminent end of an evil state called Nigeria. In some cases where some protagonists still want Nigeria, they have no idea how they could invigorate and sustain a good country. They have no idea of the way forward. They have no solutions. Yet, they would argue against its dismemberment. However, the chicken is coming home to roost. The in-built vulnerabilities of the Nigerian state are catching up with it. It does not matter anymore whether you agree that Nigeria should be broken up or not, the fact is that Nigeria is furiously bolting towards its destiny of balkanization at the speed Usain Bolt would never be able to fathom.

But one has to look beyond the ordinary to be able to come to terms with the eventual destiny of Nigeria which is to break up. In so many essays and or articles, one has tried to explain the NATURE and CHARACTER of the Nigerian State that would perpetually militate against positive development. Complimentary to this is the NATURE and CHARACTER of its rapacious political class, especially its dominant parasitic feudal variation. The two forces combined are at variance with natural laws and would not allow whatever positive energy within the Nigerian cocoon to synergize. It is absolutely impossible for Nigeria to be a rewarding venture for its constituent units and its frustrated, subjugated and degraded citizens.

So, with challenges of discernment of what “is” and what would “soon be” about Nigeria, it is evident that there is need for the simplest analogy to explain the Nigerian situation. It is one’s belief that this historical quote made irreversibly popular by Lord Denning, a mathematician who later became a lawyer and jurist would help those who either could not get it or are refusing to get it that Nigeria’s destiny is to break up. The quote which is the best way to define and explain the futility of any undesirable venture simply describes a particular case as that of:


“A blind man in a dark room looking for a black hat that is not there.”

The functional relationship of this analogy to Nigeria’s hopeless situation is very simple. To search for anything in the first instance presupposes that you can see. If you cannot see, you have no business setting out to search for anything. In the second instance, with the first condition of sight having been met, going out to look for anything suggests a presumption or high probability that “the thing” is there. In the third instance, with the first two conditions subsisting, “all other things have to be equal,” which would include light in the room.

Nigeria as “is” today has no sight. It is the blind man in a completely dark room, seeking a black hat that is not there. This analogy simply suggests impossibility. Nigeria is impossible. It would not work. Like Dr. Beekololaari Ransome Kuti repeatedly observed throughout his life about several innovations about straightening up the Nigerian state, “It won’t work.” Several times during his life time, he was proved right. Several times after his death, he has been proved right and he is still being proved right as I write. Nothing could ever work in Nigeria. Nothing would ever work in Nigeria.

If you don’t believe me, ask Omoyele Sowore, the Publisher of Saharareporters; ask the people of the Southern Kaduna; ask the Agatus of Niger State; ask the Biroms of Plateau state; ask the farmers in Oyo and Ekiti states; ask the Yoruba marketers at Ketu, Lagos State; ask the Shiites in Kaduna State; ask the family of Eunice Olawale, a Christian preacher murdered in Abuja; ask the family of Akaluka whose head was cut off and bandied around the City of Kano in daylight; ask the family of Dele Giwa; ask the family of Bagauda Kaltho; ask the continuously massacred people of Adamawa; ask the Tivs of the Benue State; ask the families of IPOB supporters murdered in cold blood. The list goes on and on.

Any country that repeatedly violates the rights of its citizens could and would never survive. The NATURE and CHARACTER of the Nigerian State and its purveyors is not conditioned to accommodating the importance of citizens who are mentally unchained in social engineering. It is in constant fear of citizen and repeatedly seeks ways to subjugate such in all ramifications. Yet, the spirit of man abhors subjugation and dehumanization. The spirit of a self conscious citizen would continue to fight against enslavement and psychological degradation for as long as it takes to be unchained and be free.

That spirit is the greatest possession of man. It is the most important variable in the constitution of man and should be the most coveted dynamic in the struggle for freedom. When properly mastered by victims of enslavement, the body of man becomes immaterial. It becomes insensitive to physical violation. His emotions become immune to sufferings inflicted by the agents of state. The encapsulation of the mind by the spirit then follows. The body could be chained but not the spirit. The citizen could be enslaved but not his/her mind. This is why it is often contended that he who controls the mind controls the man. It is why Marcus Garvey championed the struggle for mental liberation as lyricised by the Great Bob Marley. Mental liberation is an inescapable prerequisite of and for physical liberation from the shackles of subjugation as is subsisting in Nigeria.

While every society gravitates towards positivity, Nigerian State is helplessly magnetized to negativity. The Nigerian State is not in position to help itself because its NATURE demands it. It’s the bloodline of its CHARACTER. Without coming through with the innate wickedness in its NATURE and CHARACTER, it would dissipate and disappear into becoming a positively energized society that would rob the purveyors of the present tragedy of their power, importance, relevance and illicit wealth.

So to survive, the Nigerian state is in perpetual fear of citizen, watching him/her closely, making sure he/she is subjugated in the socio – economic milieu. As we speak, the oppressive Nigerian State is very jittery and scared to the bones. Its vampire purveyors are frightened that the captive is about to break free. The Nigerian State is desperate to hold down the self conscious citizen anxious to throw off the yoke of oppression and exploitation. The citizen, seeking to pursue his God given inalienable right of and for self determination has thrown spanners in to the wheel of fraud of the feudal lords of the manor.

For citizen to be less restive, he is presented with a façade of freedom, a false sense of belonging in the process of his own political pacification. The objective is to reduce the increasing velocity of his counter-aggression against the oppressive Nigerian State and its agents. The dynamics of rigged election is embedded in the operational psychology of the purveyors of the Nigerian State. A variable of this dynamics is the crude and illicit accumulation of wealth and deliberate povertization of the citizenry.

With the subjugation of the citizen guaranteed, the Nigerian State becomes atrocious and mindlessly driven by its cowardly purveyors who hide behind state power to exude odious bravery. In amplifying its tragedy, untold misery is endlessly visited on the citizen. It murders its citizens. It kills its talents. It humiliates its geniuses. It hunts its consciences. It embarrasses those citizens that are yet to be murdered. It takes away all their freedoms. No due process. No justice. No equity. No balance. Unless you have weird connections to those in power imbued with feudal mentality, you hardly have a chance. Even then, nothing is guaranteed.

A citizenry mired in the quicksand of poverty, hunger and want is expected to be a weakened one and unable to resist the oppression, denigration and subjugation by the state. Unfortunately for the Nigerian State, the opposite has been the result. The citizenry has found means to extricate itself from the drowning quicksand of poverty and is increasingly taking up arms against the state, challenging it and its purveyors to the inevitable confrontation for a shade under the tree of liberty.

The break-up of Nigeria is inevitable. We should find a way to sit around the table, peacefully break up Nigeria and help her to attain her destiny. Failure to do so would make the impending tragedy inevitable and mind boggling. In fact the tragedy is already unfolding. Children are dying needlessly. Women are being murdered needlessly. Innocent people are being killed in their beds. Life has no sanctity any more. There is endless killing, maiming and looting when supposedly there is no war.

To those who have their arrogant hands on the lecherous levers of power, ensconced in the dandified belief that they are invulnerable, and as a result tightening their stranglehold on the neck of those who seek to be free, it is time to let go. You got to let my people go. You can begin to redeem yourselves by coming to the negotiating table. It is not a sign of weakness to negotiate. It is a demonstration of innate strength. Those who make peaceful revolution impossible make violent revolution inevitable, so admonished John F. Kennedy. It rings so true unless we step in and break up this God forsaken country now. Peacefully. Time is running out.

“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility – I welcome it.”

- John F. Kennedy, in his Inaugural Address January 20, 1961

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