Wednesday, June 20, 2012
AND, MOVING ON…
I listen to the radio quite a lot in the mornings while preparing for the day’s work and while driving to and from work. One of the programs I always try not to miss is Smooth 98.1’s “Freshly Pressed” which had as one of its presenters, Demola Sadiq. The presenters of the program spice the review of newspaper headlines up by inviting one or two people to analyse the day’s stories.
Whenever any unpleasant story was being discussed and Mr Demola Sadiq got uncomfortable, he was always very quick to say ‘and moving on…’ in order to get the unpleasant story to be dropped and to get whoever was supposed to take the next story to do so.
I have related the above story because I believe it aptly describes the average Nigerian’s attitude to matters of immense importance. We, as the now late Odimegwu Ojukwu wrote in his book BECAUSE I AM INVOLVED, conveniently suffer from and practice selective amnesia, selective recalls, and selective visions. Rather than stick with an issue until we are able to get to the root of it so as to prevent a recurrence, we choose to quickly move on to other things hoping, (as the very religious people that we are) that it will somehow miraculously disappear if we ignore it.
We see a small porthole. We complain. We move on until the road becomes so bad it starts consuming us in form of auto accidents; our cars make warning noises. We ignore it and move on until the day the tyres pull out while we are in motion; we throw our hands up and accept our “fate” as a country that will always have bad rulers and we very promptly move on while conveniently forgetting about our own complacency in the whole affair. We move on and continue to live life as usual; we accept our fate as a country where even when you are ready to pay for quality products, you just can’t get them because we have successfully persuaded manufacturers to lower quality so we can make more profit and of course we move on to other things, we are quick to agree that we are a consuming nation that produces nothing and we move on. We grumble but quickly move on to less uncomfortable things or topics of discourse. We move on, leaving behind a trail of unaddressed problems which sooner than later confront and even consume us as much bigger problems.
After a little reflection, I admit that quickly moving on is the simplest of the options before us. It is the easiest because there are always an abundance of things to move on to. Before you finish discussing a particular problem, two or three other problems would not only have poked their heads in the door, they will actually accompany the heads with the rest of their bodies! Even the most focused of people can easily get distracted and be forced to “keep moving on” to other problems while not actually tackling or solving any of the previous ones.
We move on from probe to probe and committees to committees, dropping the reports that could help to forestall future disasters in the trash as we go. We’ve become so adept at moving on that even if pushed to the wall, we’ll refuse to turn back and face our pushers, we’ll rather break the wall and hope there’ll be abundance of space to take us in there. And if there isn’t, oh well, we’ll just squeeze in and manage! That is after all, another thing we are very good at.
We grumble, and move on. We pray and move on. We manage and move on. But every time we need to take crucial nation-defining actions, we always manage to find reasons to move on to other things. We move on and the things we refuse to address later come back to consume us. We acknowledge ourselves as a consuming nation but the joke is on us because we unwittingly produce things that later rise to consume us. When the crashes of ADC, EAS and Sosoliso airlines happened a few years ago, we cried, we prayed, we shouted, the accident bureau investigated but by the time the reports got ready, we had moved on and so failed to insist on the implementation of whatever recommendations were made by the accident bureau and whatever other committees were set up to look into the immediate and remote causes of the crashes. With each killings and slaughters in Jos we quickly set up committees to look into it but we move on long before the reports are prepared until the next slaughters. Even as I write, we are gradually moving on from the “temporary” shock of the Dana crash to the scandal of the Farouk Lawan/Otedola scandal and of course, before too long, something else will happen to shift our focus from the Farouk scandal to yet another scandal and or tragedy. If we want to redefine ourselves as a nation which will not have to perpetually grapple with tragedy after tragedy, we have to stop quickly moving on and take a break to deal with our problems one at a time.