Kemi Adeosun: A ‘Zuwo’ or a Nero? Dr Ugoji Egbujo

She is neither. Rigour has become outdated, noisy charlatanism reigns. Howlers are everywhere. So Kemi Adeosun scampered to safety. She left her case. The accusation of blasphemy by Nigeria’s ‘Almajiris’ , religious or political, is not fought with reasons and arguments. A minister of finance has a duty to be honest and compassionate, and a compelling duty to prevent and stem panic. The proposed emergency economic bill is evidence of direness and government’s appreciation of it. It’s incontrovertible that sufficient urgency and dexterity haven’t been marshaled against our predicament. But it isn’t because Adeosun is ignorant or callous.

The ordinary people are prostrate and bleating miserably. And if their hellish and progressively deteriorating circumstances have been rechristened recession then it must be unholy to describe recession as a mere word. The anger of the ordinary people cannot be faulted, servants and messengers should aspire to clarity. But if recession is a statistical classification, then it has no life outside the set of circumstances it labels. Recession describes preexisting state of affairs. Adeosun was neither wrong nor insensitive. She is neither a ‘BarkinZuwo’ nor a Nero . And not a Marie Antoinette.

But there are mourners gifted in wailing, feeding on the grief of the ordinary people. They claim cognitive capacities capable of subtle discrimination but revel in intellectual sophistry and verbal thuggery. Their stomachs can’t remember hunger pangs and their thoughts have never been muddled by suffering. Yet, they find room in the pain of millions to make mischief, to foist amnesia on all. They have become self appointed chief mourners. Their naked complicity can’t be atoned by vacuous empathy or sardonic humour. They, who walked the corridors of power with Corruption, and raised not a whimper.

Adeosun is saddled with a treacherous economy. All the chicken of the prodigal era have come home to roost. The rebasingof GDP and the trophy that came with it was cosmetic nonsense. “The biggest economy in Africa” was a phrase. The naira is bleeding and the economy, rendered chronically anemic by avaricious tapeworms is now in shock. With the currency relentlessly emptying its value,she knows that her lips are being watched. Like a doctor in an emergency room, urgency must be demonstrated but nervousness is counter productive. The line between masterly calmness and perception of lack of empathy is thin. While the economy needs comprehensive policies to rebound,reassurances as cosmetic as they seem, are important.

So she says, recession is just a word – do not fret. Because recession, a tag that effectively dropped on us about 2 months ago is not a plague,not damnation, not an imminent Armageddon. The attachment of the epithet does not materially change our pre existing state of the affairs. Power has forever been epileptic,infrastructure has always been neglected, the health system is decrepit . The regularity of workers salaries has been lost since2014. Our foreign reserves were depleted prodigally by the last regime. Unemployment didn’t start today, Abba Moro can attest to that. Millions turned up for his scam.

What exists today despite Reuben Abati and his like, is an effort to stem the bleeding. It may have been poorly coordinated, but it’s not the wanton profligacy of the past. Sophistry is intellectual fraud. Abati insinuates Kemi Adeosun is either out of touch with the pain of the Nigerian masses or with modern economics. So he decides to teach Kemi Adeosun what recession means. He dismisses any figurative reading of Adeosun and points her in the direction of recession. Recession, he postulates, exists in brothels where prostitutes , he reveals, have crashed fees to rescue declining patronage. Satire is good but any public figure conscious of public morality would look for healthy examples. But opportunism rarely countenances moral constraints. So he counts the reduction in prostitution as loss.

There is nothing wrong in insisting that this government has contributed to our economic predicament through its tardiness. And criticizing the government is a civic duty. It doe not create navel gazing, ferocious”children of anger”.But with Abati, conjectures become facts very easily. He cites an example of two suicide cases and concludes that suicides rates have been on the increase and rushes headlong to attribute it to recession. Abati wasn’t an editor of a tabloid. How has he become enslaved to sensationalism?

And what happened to the rigour of the Patito’s gang? If after reading Emile Durkheim, Abati thinks that anomie has birthed suicidogenic currents, he may be right. But would he need a soothsayer to tell him that the rampant corruption of the government he promoted left more moral confusion and ethical deregulation than needed to trigger a suicide epidemic? An astronomical rise in suicide rate would be the social complication of spawning a few “nyoungnyoung” billionaires and private jets and leaving the vast majority disillusioned

Ordinarily, Abati should be ignored. But since he is a prominent partaker in the collective irresponsibility of the past that contributed to the present misery , his lack of contriteness is particularly irritating. Left unchecked the prodigals, unremorseful and unrepentant, will make a re-entry through the window grief and desperation . When you deliberately refrain from speaking out against the Avengers, you must let innocent others, battered by the effects of their economic sabotage, grieve. Mockery must be for those whose acquisitive instincts tucked billions under the beds of their cooks and seamstresses. Abati must take them to the brothels to see the new price lists, to see how the girls now work for nothing.

Wouldn’t you think that an epistle aimed at excoriation would be careful with inconsistencies? Even beer parlour banters are not so totally deficient of coherence. Abati thinks ‘enjoyment joints’ are suffering low patronage like brothels. He could be right. He claims authority . He blames it on recession. But he thinks breweries are still making huge profits. So he needs an ingenuous explanation. Then, he manufactures one. Men, with pockets made lean by recession, go home to drown themselves in liquor and sorrow. Purchasing power has fallen drastically but Ogunpa hasn’t overflowed yet. There is a desperation to paint the picture of apocalypse. And to counter that fraud, you run the risk of irritating the masses who are fed up with excuses and the trading of blames. So the likes of Abati guffaw away, feeling redeemed.

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