The ever relevant Ancient Philosopher of Greek Origin, Aristotle once quoted in his book Nichomachean Ethics that “Virtue lays in the Middle”. I was initially puzzled by this submission for my concept of virtue or vice is that one is either good or one is either bad; there can be no middle way. However, I later came to realize that this statement had the same connotation with the common saying that “too much of everything is not good”. In life, we must always strike a balance as extreme virtue can become a vice if not well controlled.
Using this prologue as a launch pad for addressing the crux of the matter, I must state that our dear country Nigeria has indeed blazed the trail when it comes to certain forms of recognition on the global level. This is specifically made manifest in the various statistical data that have been released in order to determine the happiest people on the surface of the earth. In order to give credence to this claim, some of such reports will be examined below.
In 2003, the World Values Survey came out with a report that Nigeria had the highest number of the world’s happiest people – Are they dreaming? As if that was not enough, the Gallup poll of 2012 ranked Nigeria as the country with the most optimistic people with approximately 88% of her population been optimistic of a better future. The latest ranking from the World Happiness Report placed Nigerians in the 6th position as the happiest people in Africa and 95th happiest in the world. Though a far cry from previous reports, it is still a lofty achievement in the true sense of the word.
While one is tempted to discard such reports at first glance as superfluous and presumptuous, which may be based on some unfounded conclusions, one may also be tempted to give some considerations to these various reports and bestow them with some veracity based on certain indices which are quite obvious within the polity.
The average Nigerian does not need to a soothsayer to know that the Comedy Industry is one of the most thriving aspects of the entertainment industry in Nigeria. To keep floating as a relevant comedian in the industry, the Comedian has to be abreast of the situation of things within the society and certain occurrences of indispensable significance. This often leads to a situation that, no matter the sensitivity and pertinence that surrounds a particular issue, our dear comedians and Nigerians at large must find a way to reduce it to an object of entertainment and foolery.
To further buttress my point, the recent issue about the mysterious disappearances of the Nations Commonwealth which were ridiculously attributed to animals, as if the animals staged a coup and decided to hold the nation to ransom, was enough to elicit a Revolutionary Civil War in countries where the spirit of patriotism thrives. Why? Because it is a clear sign that the political class do not only see the citizens as people to be cheated, but have gone further to slight their sensibilities by an outright disregard of their commonsense and right to demand accountability. It is enough to incite strife and unrest in any Sovereign Nation to the magnitude of the French Revolution, but Nigerians-we will never be sober. The whole panorama of events immediately became an object of foolery as various types of comedy skits were released in order to make mockery of the whole situation.
While it is a good thing to always be happy in any circumstance we find ourselves, it does not compromise our initiative to take action when necessary in order to make things right. Being happy in all circumstance does not mean one should be complacent in the face of strife, oppression or hardship when one has what it takes to make things better.
As Fela Anikulapo once said, Nigerians are people who are now referred to as ‘Suffering and Smiling’. Jokes or comedy, however we chose to address them, have come to serve the function of opium. Opium is a drug that temporarily guarantees escape from reality as it launches the human mind into a world of fantasy by reducing the effect of trauma or emotional pain. Notwithstanding, one must surely return to face the situation of things when the opium finally fades off. No matter the amount of jokes we tell to cover up the adverse effects of the anomalies going on in the Nigerian political sphere and the society at large, we must surely return to the stark reality of a degenerating Republic.
Nigeria has gradually and steadily slipped into the situation where all the derogatory terms used to describe a fading countryfits in. We have so many of them in the field of International Relations. Nigeria suffers from the Weak State syndrome. She is a Shadow State, a Rentier State and all the adjunct terms because of the increasing rate of poverty, insecurity, political instability and a shaky democracy of which all we can do is laugh and make fun of the whole situation?
In fact, the political class of the country will feel very comfortable and indeed ensure that the status quo continues to hold sway because they know that nothing will eventually be done. The moment they perceive that the citizens are achieving some form of consensus in questioning their competence, they immediately appeal to our ethnic divide and use this as a tool to disrupt the consensus and divert attention from their gross insensitivity and incompetence. What do we do? We also sheepishly allow ourselves to become tools of ethnicity and tribal nepotism. By this extreme tendency of reducing everything to sarcasm, we have put ourselves in a situation where the political class will continue their rampaging of the nation’s commonwealth without any iota of fear for the Masses who placed them in power simply because we have become like simpletons in their hands and they can manipulate us the way they deem fit because they know that the average Nigerian is scared to stir the adder’s tail.
In fact, one can state without any iota of exaggeration that Nigeria’s negative record in other spheres of her existence as a country can intrinsically be linked to this very raw fact of extreme sarcasm. Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries because her citizens want to remain happy; Nigeria is one of the most dangerous places in the world because her citizens will always make a joke of police or military incompetence or brutality on innocent civilians, Nigeria is one of the poorest countries in the world, despite her vast reservoir of natural resources simply because we continue to make jest of our looting and rampaging politicians without making attempts to bring them to question. They march on our heads to attain their inordinate ambitions, and we readily present our heads for them to march. We are the ones who will line the streets to hail a corrupt politician because of the valueless things we stand to gain instead of confronting him and making him to realize that the average citizen is not a fool.
At this juncture, I can safely posit that Sarcasm has dully served its purpose and it is time for us to break another record quite distinct from the first this time so that the world will know that we are ready to seize our destinies in our hands and work hand in hand for the betterment of this country. Enough of the jokes and the entertainment. Now we have to be serious and strict. In fact, it is time to break another record- the country with the most serious people. We have to make our politicians accountable, they have to be answerable for every decision they take; every policy they implement in the name of making the country better of which most of the so called policies end up not having any concrete effect on the average citizen.
In the words of the musician turned activist, Charles Oputa(a.k.a Charly Boy) “Our Mumu don do”. Really, Our Mumu has attained its elastic limit.