2015 WILL BE OUR YEAR (UNEDITED VERSION)

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“You must be the change you want to see in the world.”

“As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world – that is the myth of the atomic age – as in being able to remake ourselves.”  Ghandi

 

Change, and the fear of it, shapes our behaviors. Even in marriage and relationships (sorry to bring up again). The typical man marries a wife hoping she would not change; and that’s why most men are terrified of marriage. Girlfriends and mistresses stay the same mostly. Wives are likely let themselves go or become naggy, grabby, protective, comfortable – stop trying hard etc. Shallow I know. Many females on the other hand go into marriage or relationships with the hope that they can somehow change or mould the man to who/what they want. From an every Friday clubber to a family man.. From someone with Olisa’s dress sense, to a dapper dude who can be This Day Style-worthy. From a mummy’s boy to one who would take charge and intervene if mum insulted the wife. From a lay-about with more business cards than businesses, to a go-getter who would find contracts with little or no contacts. Or vice versa .Hence why females are more likely to marry a chap with “prospects” and guys mostly like “ready-made” hotties. It may be shallow to you, but please do not shoot the messenger.

Why do you think runs girls spend money on plastic surgery, butt lifters, booby holders – it is to hold change captive. Read on, this article is sweet o.

Amidst all the arguments, counters and rebuttals flying about who Nigerians should vote into office during the Presidential elections this year between Field Marshall Buhari and Oga Jonathan (as if those are the only 2 candidates and parties), much has been glossed over. No single man (or woman) can bring change to a nation, if the populace retains the characteristics of a nwamkpi goat – only thinking of a full belly and showing a relunctant obstinacy for quality leadership. It is like the blind leading the blind. Or the one-shoed man presiding over the shoe-less. Secondly, aspirants at the state and local level are just as important and deserving of our scrutiny (or mutiny). It is no good if we appoint a maverick presido, then one’s state governor or local government Chairman siphons public funds like an ex South-South governor whose surname name rhymes with Alarm Blow Likes Geshia. You are better off in that instance with a wicked military despot whose name rhymes with Kafanchan. It is the trickle-down effect of democracy you see.

Nigerians, in fact human beings in general are scared shitless of change. We Nigerians hate uncertainties even though we are a country of wild, frightening uncertainties. A place where who you know propels you faster than what you know.  For a while in Nigeria, the only constant was that pure water cost N5. And even that changed later. Clamour as we want for it, do most of us even completely comprehend the full imports and requirements of social evolution, never mind socio-economic revolution? Or the kind of change which is required to turn this country full circle towards the light (and not just NEPA). There are many who feel that it may require the supreme sacrifice of blood, sweat and tears by everyone to put Nigeria back onto the right path. I remember people walking on guinea fowl egg shells in fright during the early days of the Buhari military regime when you either queued or observed decorum in public places like banks and bus-stops, or you were arrested by WAI corps and queued in front of a firing squad at Bar Beach. Yep, back then you could be whisked away to Alagbon (makes Guantanamo look like Sheraton Hotel) for even being found in possession of a bag of semovita in your trunk, which was mistaken for cocaine.

Are we ready for change? How ready are we for change? Yes we want bread, energy and motorable roads, but are we ready for stringent taxation so that a welfarist state is well funded? Are we ready for the erosion of constitution freedoms that security will impede to fight the scourge of terrorism? Would we be able recognize a credible candidate if we saw one, even though he didn’t come bearing vote-inducing gifts like bags of rice or cockerels, but tried to sell us socio-economic reform rhetoric? How many of us are ready to focus on issues and interests and not positions. On logic, not ethnic. I recently heard someone say she had intended to vote for Buhari until she saw a campaign photo of him without his hat on, and he looked like “tortoise wey wear cap.”Mbanu! That is quite trivial. Besides after seeing our various past heads of states adorn different head gear, like fila, bowler hat, military hat etc, the only hat we need the next president to have on is his thinking hat. Like I always say we will never put a man on the moon, unless we put the right man in Aso Rock. Esco for 2019?

Would a technocrat thrive in charge of Nigeria? Or do we need an fundamentalist chief executive who will make fearless and extreme changes. Like how Murtala used to show up unannounced at government departments and fire late-coming civil servants. Or how Comrade Oshiomole reviewed that primary school teacher’s reading skills and chided her for her errors in pronunciation.

Most Nigerians look at any reformer as an “aradite” or “aka gum”. Or simply “That man is wicked sha”

The fear (or need) for change have driven and shaped events in history – the Arab riots, the first Nigerians coups in 1966 (our national annus horribilis), the rich subjugating the poor in Nigeria, old men refusing to give youth a chance, people wanting to acquire enough wealth to last till Rapture). That way their lineage and generations unborn are safeguarded from change to an extent – poverty and social irrelevance is kept in abeyance. Apparently they have never heard of wicked brothers-in-laws or relatives who wait to usurp your inheritance. Just like the grave robbers in Ancient Egypt.

Every January, I tell myself that that that year would be our year. Maturity has made me realize that we need to self-assess first before we talk of our communities. You cannot build a nation without first constructing your moral character. So I have decided to start the evolution of self, and outlined the areas I hope to address and I enjoin you all to try it with me starting with this year. Every little helps.

  • Have more respect for human life: No, you do not have to be a reformed Boko Haram disciple to make this kind of change in your life. I find that in the past few years the typical Nigerian has become numb from seeing so many barbaric deaths in newsprints – the victims of one bomb blast, accident, mass lynching, plastered on the pages of popular blogs and online journals with their twisted and mangled limbs and innards. Sometimes we just flip the page or click on to the next fashion article just to ignore the horrific site. The face of terror no longer surprises after a while, and it makes for grim statistic that over 15,000 Nigerians have perished due to terrorist acts since 2009. Grim statistic – Boko Haram has killed more people since 2009 than Ebola did.

I am trying to retain my ability to be shocked anew. That is how you maintain your humanity and compassion. If you get shocked enough, you may be able to do something about it. Just might. Every Nigerian life should and does matter. From the most corrupt Abuja politician with an inflated ego, bloated bank account and pot belly to the most destitute beggar scrapping for a living in a remote village in North East.

My other plan is to cut off people who do not seem to respect my safety. Some years ago, before the Lekki toll roads came onboard, I once “boarded” an iron-horse (okada) in Victoria Island and asked him to convey me to Ajah. The okada rider was a speed-demon with the death-wish of a drunk Molue driver reversing against traffic. We took off like a rocket with the rider maneuvering past and overtaking cars at a break-neck speed while narrowing scraping their side mirrors. It was like Super Moto GP. I held on to my helmet for dear life.

Then at full blazing speed, this dude’s phone rings with the most ironic ringtone: “Vrooom, Vrooom!! Fire the ninja! Area father…..” Where did this funky malam download Charlie Boy’s number from to use as a ring tone?

At this point, we were blitzing past Civic center, which everyone know is an accident-prone area where a side road from 1004 flats meets Ozumba Mbadiwe. This blood-clot dude proceeded to reach into his dashiki and attempt to pull out his Nokia, while trying to delicately balancing the handlebars of the cycle with one hand. I cautioned him immediately ”Aboki, abeg no answer ya handset for main road o. Make you face road, biko

Dude did a chameleon-esque 360 turn with his head, as he faced me like the Exorcist while raining insults on me like FFK on crack “I dey craze? Wetin consine me?” Wow, I have never had someone abuse me before in the first person.

Dang, believe you me, this rider was cursing me out and still managing to maneuver through gridlock traffic while turning to face me. My heart sank to my stomach. It stayed there till we got to Ajah.

Key note – stay away from products, services and situations that do not make your safety and wellbeing a priority.

  • Be less selfish: The negligence of our government has made us self-sufficient individual fiefdoms who generate our own power, provide our security and look out for only our own. 2015 is the year Esco decides to take a better and genuine interest in ordinary people you meet in the course of life. I have become notoriously bad at remembering people’s names. As soon as I am introduced to them my mind wanders off. In Nigeria, it is especially important as we usually do not relate to anyone outside our peers on a first name basis, so sometimes remembering a person’s real name may be difficult. You call your boss or senior “oga, egbon, di anyi, sir, your Excellency”. Even when we reprimand, we do not use first names : “Mr. Man, please revise this your stupid car away from here.”

Give to the less privileged. If you are the less privileged, give to the hopeless and downtrodden. If you are the latter, don’t forget to say your thanks. Give to charity. Heck, form a Charity. Does not matter what the cause is as far as it is noble and moral. Like Movement for the Preservation of the Agama Red Lizard. Or, the Say No to Boko Haram Coalition. Or SARGE (Society Against Runz Girls Exploitation).

  • Listen more, talk less. My new thing now is keep your mouth shut Esco. Shine your eyes and ears. Look at physical cues – communication is 90 per cent body language, 5 % verbal, and 5% winch. You will be surprised what you learn when you listen especially in a country like ours where people love to prattle on and get their point across. Listening builds patience and perception and knowledge. One day when NEPA takes power, just switch off your phone, sit in the dark and listen. You will hear your next door neighbor’s true machinations.

While you are at it Esco, write more. Or no?

  • Eat healthy, exercise and stay healthy. Many foodies profess to have a sweet tooth. I have a carbon one, as I LOVE carbohydrates – rice, pasta, yams, pastry. Nigerian food doesn’t help either with calorie content or portions. The average plate of rice served in our country has more grains than the sands of the Kuramo I hear a dieting trick for portion control is to divide a portion into two parts and eat half so that you eat less. Well that doesn’t work for me, as sometimes I buy 2 meat-pies instead of one.

I formulated another trick lately. This is where you eat the healthy fraction of a meal and discard the other part, so you do not feel you are missing out on what you love. It is more sustainable. For example with Gala, I eat the beef filling and throw away the canda (pastry). Same with a plate of pounded yam and Affang soup, I just eat all the meat, fish, periwinkles and soup, and disregard the poundo. You should try it. Nigeria needs you healthy and functioning for 2015 and beyond.

Exercise. Trek instead of using your car when you can. Exercise caution too. Not everywhere is safe for trekking.

  • Learn something new, that takes you out of your comfort zone. A new software or computer program no matter how difficult. Or a different language like say Abiriba Igbo or Tiv or Norwegian or Mongolian. Or Lekki-British. Take a module or course or subject that looks difficult or would otherwise disinterest you, like Further Mathematics, or Philosophy 101. Visit a new clime. Like Ewekero or Afikpo or Ugbomiri, or your mother-in-law’s maternal village. Travelling abroad? Opt for somewhere rather than the typical Nigerian staples of Canada, USA, Dubai or UK. Even if it meant like my friend suggested, spinning a globe and stopping it with my finger and going where it landed. Do not heed if it points to Isiala Ngwa, Chibok or Syria or Potiskum. Nigeria needs you alive and healthy for 2015 and beyond.

Break the cycle of monotony. Embrace new cultures and new ways of doing things. This is the year we try to escape living a lifeless ordinariness. I have often heard that you something annually that scares you. Scratch that – try something that scares you anally. Last year I overcame my discomfort with public speaking. I just focused on the huge forehead of a front member of the audience and avoided eye contacts like crazy while gesticulating with my hands wildly. I also didn’t field questions from hecklers. Yep I ignored critics like Doyin Okupe.

I, Esco will do something this year that bloody frightens me – something not unlike confronting my flaunting local government chairman about the source of his wealth even if he rolls with armed MOPOLS. Or fly Bellview airlines internationally. Or take up Nollywood acting classes to learn Jim Iyke’s method acting. Or undertake a road trip through the 36 states of Nigerians ala the Bako family in that famous Primary School English textbook (but after the election, and depending on who wins), or set up a soup kitchen in an economically disadvantaged city. What will you change about you this year so that you become a better Nigerian?

May Nigeria and its citizenry thrive beyond 2015 and beyond!

If your life isn’t  in order, seize control

Adversity is a lesson, be composed
Above all, spread love hate stains the soul
Those with no purpose are afraid to grow
He who walks in small steps has a way to go

On the road to the riches, you are exposed to resentment

Everybody wants to eat, but they won’t do the dishes

Cormega, HOME (2014)

5 responses

  1. Thank you for this Esco, wI’ll do something about it cos I’m motivated. You know when you have this thought at your brain stem(what do I know about brain) and it doesn’t wanna come to light, you just gave me a light bulb; and I don’t mean a boner. Scribbling already. But seriously SARGE???? You need to make ESCO for 2019 happen.

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