Buhari battles Saraki as Tramadol ruins Nigeria’s future, By Tunde Odesola; (email@example.com)
The esoteric rhythm of the ‘agidigbo’ drum dribbles from the bowel of the night, speaking in eerie tongues as owls, frogs, bats, crickets and kindred creatures lift their voices in praise of nature. A long strand of horsetail hair holds the dangling Sword of Damocles high above. Directly below, a 58-year-old lady wriggles in bed, writhing in labour pain. She spasms, yells and tears at the bedspread soaked in tears and sweat. It’s the third day, but the water won’t just break.
Jaloke, the itinerant palm wine tapper, was passing by when he heard the natal wailing. He knows it’s time. Everybody in the village knows the heavy tummy cocoons a life eagerly knocking on the door of the world. Hurriedly, he dismounts from his weather-beaten bicycle and greets the household from outside the residence. “Congratulations on the incoming bundle of joy,” he says aloud, expecting to hear responses from relatives on shuffling feet within. Silence, except for a mother’s screaming anguish on the threshold between life and death. Jaloke steps into the house, calls softly from outside the room, “Isn’t there anyone at home with the expectant mother? Nobody at this hour of need?” Silence! He puts his head through the door but recoils instantly, scowling at her abandonment. He shakes his head, “How could her suitors be so wicked? Well, one of them dug a treacherous pit for his father, one sacrificed humans for cows, another won’t leave the stage after eight years of fruitless courtship; several suitors swarm her still despite despoiling her in the last 19 years.”
Jaloke summons up courage and steps into the room. He doesn’t know her name; she’s not one of her customers. He sits her up. She needs help urgently. She murmurs. “What did she say,” he thought. She says it again, “Airegin.” “Is that your name,” he asks. She is being fevered by the labour pain, he thought – Airegin could only be the name of a drug. Life is ebbing out of her. Hissing, Jaloke scoops her up gently, carrying her to the nearby house of Soponna, the hunchback diviner and healer, famed for travelling in whirlwinds.
Soponna lays her on a mat. He sprinkles some water on her face, rousing her back to life. He places a bowl of water in the middle of the room, dips some leaves into it and appeals to unseen spirits. Then, he said, “She’s not pregnant!” Jaloke looked at Soponna, “She’s not pregnant?” he asked. “Yes, she’s not,” Soponna said, “Her tummy is laden with the riddles of the ‘agidigbo’ drumming, only the wise can dance to it, only the deep can understand it.”
“She’s been murmuring ‘Airegin’ ‘Airegin’,” Jaloke told Soponna, who chuckled and said, “Airegin is an anagram for Nigeria. If you spell Airegin from the backward, you get Nigeria. I told you only the wise can unravel the beat of ‘agidigbo.’”
“Look into the bowl of water,” Soponna told Jaloke, “What did you see?”
“I can see words floating on the water,” Jaloke said. “Can you read?” Soponna asked. “Yes, I can,” Jaloke said, “I schooled up to Standard Three before I discontinued schooling after I fell from a palm tree and earned the name Jaloke. I’m going back to school when my back fully heals.”
“Read,” Soponna ordered.
The words leaped at Jaloke. He reads, “From obscurity, oil boom catapulted Nigeria into global economic limelight in the 60s and 70s, and the doom of a profligate nation was held in abeyance by time. Very soon, corruption came knocking, but boom wedged its foot against the door ajar, inquiring who the intrusive visitor was. Corruption is an albatross who never travels alone. Ethnicity, impunity, nepotism, arrogance, disunity and unimaginative leadership were on its entourage. Corruption shoved boom out of the doorway, tearing down the door for his entourage to march in. Ever since, Nigeria has battled corruption, its entourage and other forms of evil without success.
“Of all the evils bedevilling the country, however, none is as frightening and as potentially calamitous as the evil of drug abuse afflicting her youths. Not corruption. Not defections. Drug abuse is the very Sword of Damocles dangling high above the heart of Nigeria. Drug abuse has scaled the fence of higher institutions and entered into churches and mosques, the holy of holies. A secondary schoolmate, Dupe, after reading my last article, “The people Buhari, Tinubu, Saraki, Akpabio should emulate,” sent me a text. It reads: ‘Uhmmm! I weep in my heart as I read this article, Tunde. Why is life so full of ironies? Why does God allow certain people to intimidate and inflict suffering on others unjustly? Last Sunday, my son came back from church and told me he’s been seeing the manifestation of some of the warnings I’ve been giving him. Being a protocol officer in the youth church, he said a member approached him and asked the way to the toilet. He pointed towards the direction of the toilet, but the member insisted my son took him to the toilet, pretending he didn’t get the direction. My son decided to walk him towards the toilet. When my son was leading him, the member moved close to him and whispered, ‘I sell Tramadol. Do you like to buy?’ My son told him he doesn’t do drugs and turned back towards the auditorium. While he was walking back to the church auditorium, he noticed another guy walk by, and when he turned back to see where he was going, he saw the guy giving money to the guy who tried to sell Tramadol to him. My son alerted some adults to the transaction and the two guys were questioned. Also, around my area, where my son plays basketball, one of his friends told him that a guy sent him nude pictures on WhatsApp, urging him to be his gay lover. What kind of leadership do we expect from these youths in the future?”
“Dupe and her family live in a highbrow area of Lagos. I know that drug abuse has been on the increase, but I never knew it has entered into places of worship. Did you see the viral video of a young cultist girl in hijab, who confessed to killing several people? When some Abia State University students beheaded fellow students and used their heads as goalposts, the federal and state governments didn’t see drug abuse as a predisposing factor. When armed robbers killed over 50 persons in a bank robbery in Offa, Kwara State, the NDLEA didn’t see drug abuse as a factor. Government didn’t see drug abuse in the squishing of countless victims’ heads by Badoo Boys in Ikorodu, and the ritual killings by Yahoo-Yahoo Boys. The Presidency and National Assembly are lost about redeeming Nigeria’s drug-crazed youths, but are very much alive to political pettiness. Cultism doesn’t reside in tertiary institutions and secondary schools anymore, it has moved into primary schools, mechanic workshops, hairdressing salons, butchers’ associations, viewing centres, eateries and beer parlours. No family is immune; the threat is real. These are times when parents must maintain eternal vigilance on their children. While the children of the rich do cocaine, heroin, amphetamine, etc, those of the poor sniff gum, human and lizard faeces, urine and gulp Tramadol. Marijuana is now like peppermints to our future generation.
“Awawa, Omije, One Million Boys, O Nya Bo are few of the street cult groups in Lagos. Each state of the federation has its own versions. How do they operate? They move in their hundreds or thousands, gathering members along the way like a rolling stone on the journey to hell, robbing, maiming and stabbing passersby in daylight while Abuja snores on a bicycle plunging down the precipice.
“It is not well.”
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