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Scorpions and frogs of Nigeria

Comprehensive incompetence killing Nigeria - Vanguard News

By Yinka Odumakin

I WAS talking of how comprehensive incompetence of some of our compatriots who lack ability to lead is doing much damage to this country, and may sentence it to death if we don’t reset the country quickly.

The wonder in the piece was the likely dangers we face with those who went to hold a sectional meeting in Kaduna and still had the shameless guts to be mouthing “indivisibility” and other words they don’t know the meaning. The apartheid gathering had in attendance all Arewa big men holding Federal appointments. I mentioned that those who attended that meeting and sanctioned it would do other million things wrong and would not see anything wrong with them because they can’t just see it following their narrow mindedness and their lack of regard for others.

We had yet to put that behind us when news filtered in that the Federal Government which had shut the western borders with other western countries had opened them for an individual. The action sparked rage in the country. I particularly noticed the forthrightness of Mr. Atedo Peterside in condemning the action that shows disregard for other businesses that have been dealt a deadly blow for several months.

As the airwaves were bombarded with the angst against the decision the comprehensive incompetence showed up again with the Federal Government explaining that it was unfair to say the borders were opened for only the individual. Government said they also did for  other millions of businesses that have had to use the borders it is not an issue for them.

It then occurred to me that what is wrong with these people goes beyond incompetence and remembered the fable of the scorpion and the frog. A scorpion which lacks the capacity to swim, asks a frog to carry it across a river on the frog’s back. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung by the scorpion, but the scorpion played the frog Taqqiya and argues that if it did that, they would both drown. The frog considers this argument sensible and agrees to transport the scorpion.

Midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, drowning them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung despite knowing the consequence, to which the scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it.” In the Scorpion and the Turtle, it is a turtle that carries the scorpion across the river, and the turtle survives the scorpion’s sting thanks to its protective shell. The turtle is baffled by the scorpion’s behaviour because they are old friends and the scorpion must have known that its stinger would not pierce the turtle’s shell.

The scorpion responds that it acted neither out of malice nor ingratitude, but merely an irresistible and indiscriminate urge to sting. The turtle then delivers the following reflection: “Truly have the sages said that to cherish a base character is to give one’s honour to the wind, and to involve one’s own self in embarrassment.”

The moral of this fable is thus stated explicitly, and not left to interpretation. An important difference with The Scorpion and the Frog is that, in this fable with the turtle, the scorpion does not expect to drown. In some later versions of the fable, the turtle punishes the scorpion by drowning it anyway. The fable does not explicitly state the moral it tries to teach, and thus it is left to interpretation.

A common interpretation is that people with vicious personalities cannot resist hurting others, even when it is not in their interests. The Italian writer Giancarlo Livraghi has commented that while there are plenty of animal fables which warn against trusting vicious people, in none of these other fables is the villain suicidal. The Scorpion and the Frog is unique in that the scorpion is irrationally self-destructive and fully aware of it. But the base character gives no  damn.

The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, by contrast, saw the scorpion not as a character structure but as a fictional character made a victim of circumstance: “his desire becomes fatal destiny owing to an unfortunate combination of contingent factors.” To a social psychologist, the fable may present a dispositional view of human nature because it seems to reject the idea that people behave rationally according to circumstances. The French sociologist Jean-Claude Passeron saw the scorpion as a metaphor for Machiavellian politicians who delude themselves by their unconscious tendency to rationalise their ill-conceived plans, and thereby lead themselves and their followers to ruin.

The fable teaches the danger of being in the same boat with vicious characters whose nature is riding on the backs of others with a mindset that they have a divine right to do so and they owe them nothing but behave anyhow even when they know it imperils others and them in the process. In my ‘Arewa song of conquest’ in 2015, I pointed out how our friends were already discounting the vital support from the south west frogs that gave them victory saying they were not up to the figures they got up north. I knew stinging would not cease.

Nigeria has been a case of some people being frogs on whose backs the scorpions have to make it to the other side and all they get in return is perpetual sting because the scorpions have no consideration for those who provide their backs and would always act themselves. For a fatalistic people who believe it is Allah who placed you there for their use, no favour can be credited in your account.

The reason we have been asking for restructuring is that under federalism the scorpions and the frogs can survive on their own and the indiscretion of one would not lead to the destruction of all. But the scorpions of Nigeria’s approach is that the frogs must live a perpetual life of the horse carrying the riders about and suffering stings intermittently.

The ultimate thing that would happen is that the scorpions and the frogs would not jointly make it to the other side as is the reason Nigeria has not been able to make predictable progress and will not is the false union.

…Peterside Atedo soro soke 

At a time evil is enveloping the land and the culture of silence is being spread here and there, one business gentleman played the commendable one by  raising his voice loud and clear in “soro soke”(speak up) order. It is now if we speak we will die and if we don’t, heaven is the destination. When we have to recall this season down the cline like we do about Abacha days, we will remember the words of Peterside on the wrongheadedness of selective opening of borders in the darkest season of Nigeria. Atedo Peterside tweet: @AtedoPeterside. Allowing legitimate exporters and importers to move their goods across the border should be a no-brainer. Why refuse everybody else and allow only one company? This is why some of us argue that the Nigerian economy is rigged in favour of a handful of well-connected persons


Re: Comprehensive incompetence killing Nigeria

Dear Yinka,

THANK you for the above titled article where as usual you told us the bitter truth. At a time when the whole country should come together to empathise and sympathise with fellow Nigerians adversely affected by the killings of unarmed protesters at the Lekki toll gate, the unwarranted murder of men of the Nigerian Army and Police Force and the massive destruction of private and public property, a section of this country met in Kaduna to cast aspersions on the rest of Nigeria.

The message I got from the meeting is that we have two countries. They are telling us that we are the subdued ones. Is this how to build a nation?  Nigerians have been told times without number that “the unity of Nigeria is non-negotiable.”

What is going on in this country since the advent of this present Federal Government makes one to doubt the sincerity of those who sing this slogan of Nigeria’s unity being non-negotiable.

You cited the mass killings in Benue State by the enboldened Fulani herdsmen. Nobody convened any meeting to comfort the affected families.

The annihilation of Nigerians by the terrorist Boko Haram, armed bandits and kidnappers in some northern states is currently going on, but no meetings have been called like that of Kaduna. We all know that the rates of poverty and illiteracy are highest in some northern states. I suggest that the northern governors, federal and state appointees and emirs meet urgently and discuss measures that will help them to stop the volcanic eruption that has started engulfing those states.

We know that there are many anomalies which the present Federal Government has planted. This has created doubts in the minds of many about the unity of this country. Is this the ‘change’ we were promised? It is not only “comprehensive incompetence” that is annihilating Nigeria, but we are also functioning under comprehensive insincerity, dishonesty, lack of integrity and trust. No nation can be built from a country that is functioning on these negative foundations.

—Tony O. Ekwe.

Vanguard News Nigeria

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