President Humpty Dumpty and His Men
By Emeka Uzoatu
There’s no understating the importance of primary schools in our lives. It matters less whether one ‘attended’ it at home, sans classmates. The privileged few in this species never suffered the ignominy of leaving home every morning to attend school. They acquired the necessary tutelage ensconced on the lap of nannies – and grannies, perhaps.
Well, most of us were not afforded that home-schooling advantage. As young as we were, every morning we suffered the indignity of queuing up with our peers, enroute to school. After six gruesome years, we then sat for the first certificates we’ll ever possess in our lives. Then, ennobled with that piece of paper, we took the world head on.
In fact, the benefits of those knowledge nuggets thus certificated are uncountable. So many, indeed, that a few snuffled voices say that it’s there – and perhaps the kindergarten before it – that they were taught all they ever knew in life. All later acquisitions, by them, being merely appendages to an already laid foundation.
Prominent in the potpourri are nursery rhymes. Mostly chanted off key way back then, they were often meaningless at the time. But some do come back to haunt us later in life. As their mostly mispronounced lyrics acquire meaning, we find them acquiring a life of their own.
On a stroll on a starry night the other day, one came to me of its own accord. As the diamonds in the sky twinkled abroad, I could hardly restrain myself from mumbling its unforgettable lines.
Wondering what indeed they were, I beheld them up there with attention more rapt than ought to have been apt.
Or is it the other one that turned me into a vocalist in a one-man band in the bathroom the next morning. Inexplicably, it was that one about a certain man on the wall; who, then, had a great fall. Assumedly, he broke up into so many smithereens that, try as may, all the king’s men – as well as his horses – could not put him together again.
Welcome from wonderland.
O yes, for I must make haste to admit that the regurgitation of this one had me in a thrall. Instantly, it aggregated all I ever learnt from thence to the university. Of course, back then we could only afford to go that far educationally with a little help from the government. You know, back then when the federal government afforded all that unique benefit hithertofore enjoyed only in the Western Region of yore.
Forget that guy from our ageing number who made bold to advertise that tertiary education is not for the faint of purse. Following his auspicious passage across its bridge, he now sees all trying to use it as dissidents wanting to upturn his applecart.
In his amnesiac mind, he forgot that another woebegotten element like him had made the same assertion about the now nearly-obsolete table phone.
Thank God he stayed alive to see barrow pushers toying with Android – nay ‘Eye’ phones.
And who knows, perhaps the latter may yet survive to see tertiary education subsidised. Or even made as free as it was when scions of church rats like him benefited from it.
Anyway, in that ‘spectroscopic flight of fancy’ while observing my matutinal ablutions, various vistas to the reawakened rhyme appeared. Perhaps on account of my elevated literary appreciation, it no longer came across as a man falling off a wall. Fortuitously, that guy on the wall turned out the king himself. Otherwise, why the bother by his men – and horses – to put him together again?
Instantly, it served as a mnemonic for the ‘king’ we elected in 2015. Sans consultation with anyone, he had promised that if voted into office, he’ll make the country as pleasurable as Voltaire’s El Dorado. In the effort, he kept piling one good thing upon the other that everyone but himself lost count.
Particularly, assuming the petroleum ministry, he pledged a never-attained revamp of the troublesome industry. Promising the revival of our moribund refineries, build new ones and do whatever it’ll take to stop the importation of refined products. They were so messianic in their plausibility and feasibility that none as much mustered enough gravitas to doubt them.
The utmost height was attained in a gregarious tandem. Following his predecessor’s attempt to remove the subsidy on petroleum products, he had pledged to reduce the pump price of PMS to Forty-five Naira a litre. He even participated in the well-organised demonstrations and rallies that accompanied the quest for the status quo ante.
Moreover, the intending king had received his basic training in the art of warfare. Thus, it was believed that the insecurity scourging the land would be snuffled by just a march of his boots on the Sambisa forest. What with an entire school of girls being kidnapped before the very eyes of the extant civilian king on the throne.
Of course, all was well and fine. Till he ascended the throne. Yes, for only then did the management of our petroleum palava turn worse. Ever since it has slowly attained newer horizons of worry. Even with the metamorphosis of the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) into an act.
Security wise, the bargain was no better. Steadily, school after school kept falling into the hands of bandits. Who, so blest, turned the act into the only booming business in the country.
In the enveloping malaise, none appeared to give as much as a broken damn. Suddenly, raising a voice against our king became a cardinal sin. Let alone marching the streets in protest like he had done in the old dispensation. Only that, generally unperturbed, he has presently blundered himself into a cul de sac.
So much that presently a verdict of the World Bank is hanging on our heads like once upon a sword in classical times.
Like it stands, sans horses, only the president’s men are left patching up the shards. Certainly equal to the task, credentials wise, the only hiatus there is to their vicarious efforts appear to be a certain lack of synchronicity. Like the early Church in Antioch, each speaks in a different tongue oblivious of the other like in Babel.
To date there appears no end in sight for all these but the intervention of Providence. If we do run aground after all, like the permutations presume, there’s no doubt that there’ll be so many to blame. The gods apart, there’ll surely be so many demigods to be decapitated. Including the ones who, in their megalomania, have forgotten that walls when felled, become bridges.
Uzoatu the author of the novel Vision Impossible (Lagos: New Gong, 2006) is also the editor of Nairaweb.Ng.