I am not quite certain if there is any world award for argument? If there is and really there ought to be one, Nigerians would be its all time winner. We shall not only be champions, we would have ascended to such status that we shall now be responsible for making the rules of the game and perhaps by now we would have been teaching it in our universities and writing PhD thesis on it.
Perhaps that is one of the attributes that won us the world’s happiest people award as some indices suggested a while ago. We have developed, mastered and are currently propagating the art of arguing away our very own misery.
It is such a classical phenomenon.
We are a people who would without qualms dedicate many hours of the day clawing at each other, straining our nerves and tearing our voice box in some argument over an issue that though affects us greatly, we are simply not ready to take any step whatsoever to address except that self indulgence of arguing.
Before now, the classical theatre for this was the newspaper stand. There is always a pool of people forming a crescent around the newspapers on display at the stand. The screaming headlines on the cover pages of the newspapers are already in argument with each other. The readers, most of them not buoyant enough as to afford buying a copy and taking it home, stand around and shout their voice hoarse, expressing opinions that are sometimes so uninformed and laughable that one wonders if they actually read the papers before them.
Among these argument champions are conspiracy theorists, those who claim to have sources in the corridors of power, those who always know what is going to happen and those who are willing to listen to all the balderdash with glee. You find those who already know who would rule Nigeria in 2011, those who know about all the secret game plan of the PDP, those who know IBB will not run, those who are privy to ObJ’s game plan, those who will insist the north has a secret agenda and those who will speak as though they chaired the meeting at which Goodluck assured Obama that he would run.
While the news stand remains the choice destination for most of these argument champions, a new arena has emerged which threatens to take the shine off the paper stands. This is the internet.
While regular civil servants, the unemployed and retirees hold sway at the news stands, the internet argument arena is crowded by the elite and internet savvy, upwardly mobile young Nigerians who seem more interested in holding their own, in displaying how much English they can write, in advertising that they picked up a degree abroad and better understand international politics than any other person, People who have more solutions than the problems Nigerian has, who don’t agree with any other suggestion but proffer none of theirs, who seem so passionate about this country.
And yes indeed they are passionate about the country no doubt. But the irony is that this same argument champion who know so much about an ideal electoral process does not own a voters card, he does not know the name of his ward, he doesn’t know what Nigeria’s constitution looks like and is not prepared to do anything outside screaming and splattering the atmosphere and cyberspace with saliva and comments that does not, save perhaps for the action involved in making them, change anything or the course of events especially as it affects the very person making the argument.
We leave the newspaper stand and return to the very same miseries that confront us. To the dark nights, to the dry taps, to the semblance of hospitals, to our failed schools. We log out of cyber space grumbling about a broadband that has refused to be broad, about countless job applications without a single interview invitation, about lost opportunities and those that shall forever remain only in our dreams.
All of these because we have decided collectively as a people it seems, to do nothing. Do nothing but argue.
There is no viable opposition due to arguments. The Mega party move has collapsed because no one is ready to bend. No thread on any issue online reaches any agreed resolution. Pro-democracy groups sprout daily like mushroom on a virgin field further weakening existing structures. I can’t remember when NANS had only one national President. Jos is still boiling. Are we asking about the promised 6000MW? No, we are more engrossed in arguing whether it is ok for a woman to be Minister of Petroleum, whether Goodluck was jittery while speaking to Amanpour, whether or not it is the Governors who say what happens in the PDP.
And while we argue away our misery, those we argue about perfect plans on how to rape us again, dipping their hands deeper into the till to give us more topics to argue about. For they know that while we argue, they are free to drink to their fill of that fountain that has ran dry on our part of town.
One point we all seem to agree on no matter the argument is that our country is in bad shape and to fix it, it’s high time the argument stopped.