Lamentations Of A "self-righteous" Man

By Remi Oyeyemi
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"What is morally right can never be politically wrong, and what is morally wrong can never be politically right."

-Thomas Jefferson
"Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter."

-. Isaiah 5:20
On few occasions when one has had to question one's self on one's position regarding any situation, when one has had to assess and re-assess one's stance via critical and vigorous cross self examination, the departure point has always been the moral compass with which one has been nurtured. The values, virtues and vices that one has been taught as being the tenets of one's culture and tradition, the fundamentals of and for the sustenance of the Yorùbá socio - economic and political cosmology, have always been measuring variables.

While "morality" could be relative from one society to the other, it could not be so in a milieu with set values, virtues and vices. When one deviates from such societal moral codes, one becomes a "non-conformist" in a relatively mild usage of diction, but would be deemed mentally ill in less generous application of terminology by psychoanalysts and psychiatrists.

Strained by the weight of the wrathful whirlwind of truth; unable to extricate themselves from the morass of hypocrisy, stemming from a confused and contaminated moral compass, they had to look for an escape route from whence that have been effectively cornered. Like leashed sheep, sour and dour in countenance, blustered "bè bè, bè bè," las a hysterical crowd, "he is self righteous."

Thus, a purportedly "self righteous" person like this writer had to re-examine what the values and vices of his Yoruba Culture and Tradition are, in juxtaposition to what appeared to be an amoebic, amorphous, nondescript, non-definite, mousy, featureless and characterless moral codes of a Nigeria, the mix into which his ethnic nationality has been flung. The need to find a confluence of the morals of his primary milieu and its politics in the larger Nigerian putrid context thus become pertinent and imperative.

Hence, if it is still agreed that in Yoruba land, where this purported "self righteous" writer was raised and nurtured that stealing, partiality, nepotism, larceny, lies, duplicity, fraud, corruption, crookedness, falsehood, deceit, inequity, greed, cruelty among others are vices that must be condemned, vilified and reduced to the barest minimum for the health of the society, then this kind of blackmail is best treated with contempt. As long as the definition of our values and vices remain what they are, the above quotes could not have been more apt.

One has posited several times that it is dangerous to allow one's politics to determine his or her morality. It is without any scintilla of doubt, this modality approach to politics is very destructive of and to our society and what we hope to build for the posterity. To this extent, one had always posited that it is our morality that should determine our politics. Living this credo would make it easier for any purportedly "self - righteous" person, like this writer, to refine his journey and the values that guard, guide and glitter it. It places a serious burden and responsibility on one's shoulder.

Hence, this quote by Thomas Jefferson (1743 - 1826), the third President of the United States, which some have at times, attributed to William Gladstone (1809 - 1898), British Liberal Party statesman and Prime Minister (1868–1874), summarily elucidates and lend credence to the indispensability of the functional relationship between politics and morality, its worth as well as its inescapability. This would be in spite of repeated efforts of odious merchants of politics, the scallywags, the carpetbaggers, the moral reprobates, profiteer of tears, peddlers of pain and agony, salesmen of squalor and want to continuously deodorize, package and justify the stench of their unscrupulous politics.

It is one's fundamental belief that if any act is morally right, it could not be politically wrong; and if such act is morally wrong, it could never be politically right. Operating from this purview eliminates the usual moral dilemma and or confusion that faces most people. But many have suggested that where one is vulnerable to hunger and want, morality may be tenuous and dispensable. This, it has been surmised, is responsible for the deepening moral decadence of our leaders.

But in one's view, this is just an excuse for indiscipline, pure and simple. It is a noxious but conscious effort to let loose our basest instinct. It is an aesthetic attempt to unbound our Hobbesian inclinations of brutishness, cruelness and meanness which ultimately would lead our society into poorness. It is a vicious valiance to violate our values and vitiate our virtues. It validates a basic tenet of the Awoist School of thought which espouses that those who do not wish the society well would always seek a means to dominate and cause havoc, unless the well meaning rally round to force them into a retreat or overcome them. ( Obafemi Awolowo: Politics and Religion, January 27, 1961). Obviously, those who advocate indiscipline, who seek the violation of our values as well as the vitiation of our virtues, could not have meant well for our society.

Morality has been ejected from the process. Virtues are deemed baneful. They have all become vicious. Engaged in deadly rat race for power and money, they gleefully grind the poor, trample the vulnerable and wrinkle the weak. Blinded by unbridled partisanship devoid of our basic values, the elites, mainly made up of the professional who are expected to know better, have now become irredeemable exudators of exploitation and inebriated apostles of persecution. With gusto ganished of guilt and ignominy, they radiate and glow as exemplars of the moral morass interfusing and soaking our society.

As the "well to do" or "doing well" elites have turned to supple sentries of criminality and immorality in politics, they have become cocooned from the realities on the ground. They manifest "I don't care" attitude to our future and the well being of the coming generation. And by their acts, they have pervaded the worlds of those struggling at the wrung of the ladder with frustrations, miseries, tears and gnashing of the teeth. Whatever the category of the morally debased, hungry or well fed leaders gallivanting across our milieu, they are dangerous to our society. They are destructive of our hopes and aspirations. Each of them is seeking as many crumbs to feed and live on. Our definition of what is "right" and what is "wrong" has become wobblingly warped.

The dearth and death of conscience is self evident. Tolerance of injustice and the obnoxious in the name of "decency" is now the vogue. Excuses are constantly manufactured to justify tyranny and inequity and genocide as well as inequality. In the name of political loyalty, our society has completely descended into the Hobbesian tragedy, becoming more brutish, nasty, poor and crude.

Our society has become a jungle. No law is respected any more. No moral restraints are visible in the public space again. We now devour and feast on our fellow citizens. We do it with gusto. We exude a degree of bestiality that even animals are ashamed to be associated with. Animals in the forest would be livid to be compared to Nigerians. This is because they are not lawless as Nigerians are. They obey the law as prescribed for them by nature. In our individual capacities, we funnily assume that we could survive for long, no matter how many are killed or murdered around us; no matter how povertised the people around us are; no matter how hungry the people around us are; no matter how sick the people around us are and no matter how miserable the people around us are. We have been cowed into criminalizing our communality, our bond, our love and empathy for each other. We have been meshed to compromise our societal values, draping ourselves in the tapestry of mutual hostility, cowardice, bitterness and meanness. We make ourselves more vulnerable for and to tyrants to devour by so doing, yet we are so mentally blocked to realize this.

We assume that as long as we and those we care about are not "touched", we would be okay. We have forgotten that tyranny is like that carnivorous hungry wolf which would take the next available meat. Our myopia, informed by greed and selfishness, has blinded us to the ultimate virtue(s) that should exalt our society, and guarantee our collective survival and happiness on the long run. On the altar of politics, we blurred the boundaries between behaviours that ought to be acceptable and non- acceptable ones. We justify incompetence and ignorance. We manufacture lies and false propaganda. We make every effort to put to untold ignominy, the memories of Joseph Goebbels, the infamous communication guru of Adolf Hitler, in the way and manner we edify obvious lies, patent falsehoods and obnoxious propaganda. Unashamedly, immorality is deodorized and dressed attractively on the surface for crumbs at the feet of the table. Men have become lily-livered. Everyone is scared to the bones or have been morally paralysed beyond what could be given temporary comfort on a wheelchair of true decency.

The so called intellectuals, brandishing various professorial credentials, some of them with worthless titles; journalists who have lost their bearing, especially those who used to fight tyranny and injustice in the days of yore; lawyers who are arid of scrupple; judges lost in the jungle of villainy; medical doctors and nurses drained of the fluid of human kindness; pastors, imams, overseers, Alhajis, and Founders who are messengers of luciferous lucre and are worse than devil incarnates; the comatose literati; the hollow glitterati and many social critics who have morphed into social leeches and locusts, all have lost their moral bearing and are either keeping silent loudly in the face of tyranny, or engaged in opprobrious sophistry to justify ineptitude, immorality, genocide and injustice as they are actively aiding and abetting the tyrant. They have all shamefully millipedised themselves, crawling, clambering, creeping to eat crumbs as compensations for their crushed consciences.

The aloofness of those who should know is numbing. The parlous morality of those otherwise esteemed to be examples is paralysing. The dexterity of those with brilliant minds, determined to re-jig the definitions of our values in odious justification of nonsense is discouraging and debilitating. The palpable paralysis of passion opposed to persecution is pervasive and permeating.

Now we have eleven year olds having amongst themselves a "chairman" of crime. And we are all shamelessly eager to condemn and denounce them, as we wonder in confusion about what is going on! Yet, we are so daft in our endowment to connect our glorification of incompetence, empty-headedness, corruption, crookedness, lies, deceit and duplicity of this Administration to the tragedy unraveling before our very eyes.

We are so disconnected in our logic that we have become oblivious to essentials of our collective survival and well being. We have forgotten that a country that could not provide for the many that are poor must be prepared to reckon with the inevitable tragedy that would befall the few who have. At least, that is what John F. Kennedy postulated.

It is amazing that purveyors and their sentries as well as apologists of tyranny are so sensitive to ordinary "verbiage", if what we do could be so callously characterized. Despite their crookedness and wickedness, they still want to be respected and honoured and be deferred to. Their sentries and apologists often remind us that we ought to be "sensitive" that these glorified kleptomaniacs have "families" who should be considered!

But one is just wondering, who is watching out for those whose fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, nephews and nieces have been murdered by Fulani herdsmen being silently edged on by President Buhari and his crowd in this Administration? Who is being "sensitive" to the families of the victims of Boko Haram? Or the victims of extra judicial murders such as we had of Shiites in Kaduna, Igbo in Onitsha, Enugu and elsewhere; the Yoruba in Ketu, Shagamu, Ile-Ife, Oke-Ogun and elsewhere?

Who is being "sensitive" to the families of murdered victims as we have among the Kataf, the Birom, the Agatu, the Tiv, the Mumuye and the people of Adamawa? Who speaks for farmers who have become recurrent victims of Fulani marauders? Where is the "sensitivity" for the agonies and miseries of their "family" members? Since when has it become part of our moral teaching to give "respect" to those fostering widespread misery and agony on our streets?

What has happened to our sense of justice and fairness? What has happened to our sense of equity and equality, at least in our public space? What is it that has emasculated our sense of virtues and morality? Aren't some things supposed to be above political loyalty? Is the love of our community or society or our Nation not supposed to surpass our loyalty to a political party or politicians?

Before anything is said, they tag those who complain "self righteous." When it is called as it is, they band around accusation of "disrespecting" those who would appropriately fit the profile of "undesirable elements" in all ramifications. So, are the citizens supposed to praise-sing those whose policies are destroying the society? Are they expected to eulogize those encouraging the murders of innocent, the persecution of the weak, the pulverization of the poor and the vaporization of the vulnerable?

Even in a society that has no pretentious claim to freedom, man is expected to fight to be free and throw away all shackles of enslavement and subjugation. And in this fight, there could not, should not, would not and must not be any pandering to some "sensitivities" that are not "sensitive" to the "sensitivities" of the people wallowing in agonies, miseries and pains in the land.

This is normal. It is nature. It is a matter of course and patently inevitable in a tyrannized society the type being currently presided over by Alhaji Mohammadu Buhari.

I am a self righteous man. And these are my lamentations.

“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
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