As Nigerians patiently but eagerly wait for the much anticipated change to take shape in the country, Ola Balogun has made an assessment of the President’s will and focus to keep to promise.
President Muhammadu Buhari
Many many years ago, when I was only seven or eight years old, my wonderful father, the late Barrister Olatunde Olarewaju Balogun, took a lot of time and trouble to make me learn substantial passages of an epic poem by Lord Macauley entitled; “Horatius at the Bridge”. This is a nineteenth-century English poem inspired by the story of Horatius, an extraordinary hero who is reputed to have saved the ancient city of Rome from conquest and destruction by a marauding horde of invaders led by Lars Porsena of Clusium.
I am proud to say that my father’s tutelage was so thorough and painstaking that well over sixty years later, I am still able to recite a few portions of this famous poem from memory. Some the most stirring passages of Lord Macauley’s immortal poem run thus:
Then out spake brave Horatius
The Captain of the gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods,
And for the tender mother
Who dandled him to rest,
And for the wife who nurses
His baby at her breast (…) ?”
The poem then goes on to narrate how Horatius, (assisted by two other heroes), and unmindful of injury, pain and death, succeeds in holding off the invading army by fighting bravely to ward off the enemy at a narrow bridge pass guarding the only possible access to Rome for long enough for the city patriarchs to mobilize adequate manpower and cut down the bridge in order to save the city from destruction by the ruthless foes who are intent on unleashing havoc on Rome…
In the end, the two companions who fought side by side with Horatius perish in the fighting, but though badly wounded, our brave hero is able to jump into the river Tiber and swim back to safety, earning tremendous applause and praise from both sides…
The parallel that comes to mind is that at the time of the 2015 Presidential elections that swept Mr. “indolent do-nothing know-nothing” Ebele Goodluck Jonathan from the Presidency, I was convinced (along with many other fellow Nigerian citizens) that I was watching a Nigerian remake of the Horatius epic sage, with Muhamadu Buhari cast in the role of the heroic defender who has rushed forward at great personal risk to defend the Nigerian nation from a host of dangerous and merciless adversaries, ranging from disease, hunger and poverty to the mind-boggling misdeeds of the rapacious and wicked criminals posing as Ministers and Government officials during the Jonathan Administration era, as they rampaged through the countryside, intent on destroying Nigeria through large-scale theft and unprecedented acts of sabotage…
At some point in time soon after he was elected to lead the people of Nigeria out of the wilderness, President Buhari appears to have not only lost the plot, but to have also recast himself in a totally different role in a vastly different play, which some harsh critics have rather unkindly begun to describe as a story about the restoration of Northern supremacy in Nigeria…
However, even though it is a well-documented fact that President Muhammadu Buhari has so far appeared inclined to discriminate actively in favour of fellow Northerners in making appointments to a number of key federal positions, it would appear rather far-fetched to accuse him of seeking to devote all his energy to working for the restoration of Northern hegemony in Nigeria…
Still, the bemused spectator of the on-going Nigerian reality film show cannot help observing that instead of a remake of “Horatius at the bridge” with the fearless hero Muhamadu Buhari cast in the lead role, the film we originally sat down to watch with great relish has suddenly veered into a totally different story, with the lead actor recasting himself as a timid character who is tottering on the edge of the bridge, utterly consumed by the need to avoid falling into the raging waters of the river below instead of striding forward manfully to deal decisive blows on the enemies of the Nigerian nation…
Suddenly, we have started watching our erstwhile dauntless hero retreating step by step from the raging combat, first by appealing in seemingly anguished helplessness for UN mediation to help recover the Chibok girls from captivity, then by appearing to condone near-treasonous attempts by some leading figures in government to conduct so-called ‘negotiations’ with gangs of rampaging criminals largely funded by an assorted crowd of conspirators headed by fugitives from justice of Niger Delta origin and die-hard Jonathan supporters…
WAIT A MINUTE FOLKS!
What is going on?
Is this the beautiful film we saved up for years to be able to watch in our national open air cinema theatre?
Could it be that we have been shown into the wrong cinema theatre by an incompetent usher?
OR HAS THE PROJECTIONIST SUDDENLY SUBSTITUTED REELS FROM A TOTALLY DIFFERENT FILM FOR THE ONE WE THOUGHT WE WERE WATCHING ORIGINALLY, IN THE COURSE OF WHICH OUR KNIGHT IN SHINING ARMOUR MUHAMADU BUHARI WAS SUPPOSE TO CHARGE FORWARD FEARLESSLY TO REPEL THE BARBARIANS AT NIGERIA’S GATES?
What the effing “F” is going on?
And now, just as have begun stirring restlessly in our seats, wondering whether or not to start heading towards the exit of the cinema theatre, the film we had been watching has suddenly morphed into a dreadful nightmare in which the lead actor is captured by a dangerous group of extortionists and looters spearheaded by a certain pot-bellied General Aremu O (rtd)…, who have openly ganged up to rob the Nigerian nation of her few remaining assets by braying loudly for the sale of major public corporations at ridiculous prices to members of the mafia group of ugly conspirators under the guise of “saving Nigeria from the effects of recession”…
WHAT is actually going on?
HAS PRESIDENT BUHARI COMPLETELY LOST THE PLOT?
Alas, alas, for our poor nation!
*By Dr. Ola Balogun, a filmmaker and musician who is currently resident in Cotonou, Benin Republic