By Kenneth Gyado
As a student of mass communications in the late 80s, one of my elective subjects was Introduction to Sociology. My lecturer then was Dr Sam Ibeabuchi, a well groomed and elitist scholar whose trademark was his immaculate appearance. His students called him ” the dapper professor”. We all looked foward to his lectures and I must say that some of us feverently waited to see his perfectly manicured mustache, his well knotted tie and his matching pocket square. He sure knew how to choose his suits.
While the Professor’s spotless appearance was a distraction to most students especially the female ones who usually swarmed around him, some of us never lost the import of his often repeated mantra which was ” the adaptive Nigerian Personality”. Dr Ibeabuchi was very passionate in highlighting how the Nigerian was the most adaptive to situations in the world. He taught this subject at the peak of the anti-SAP protests of 1989 when prices of commodities spiraled out of control due to the harsh economic policies of the Babangida administration. He kept reminding us that the protests will last a few days and life will return to normal. This according to him is because the Nigerian society is growing progressively individualistic with a tendency to focus on self survival rather than the collective good.
This way of thought has affected the sense of right or wrong. In Nigeria there is no objective yardstick of measuring right and wrong. The phenomenon of RIGHT and WRONG is defined by how the situation affects the individual. It is purely a matter of personal perspective.
The coming on board of President Muhammadu Buhari has tested this theory of the adaptive Nigerian Personality. For the first time, it seems that Nigerians especially the elite are finding it difficult to adapt to the changing times. Maybe the elite have been unprepared for the kind of Change that Buhari has brought upon the nation. The loudest cries we hear today are from people who were perceived yesterday to be very wealthy. These were people who lived obscene lifestyles fueled by free funds stolen from government coffers or borrowed from banks. They hosted lavish parties at the pleasure spots of the world aboard yachts and in villas.
I remember a bizzare birthday celebration in the immediate past era. One of the nouveau riche entrepreneurs turned 40 in 2011. He took up 40 full color pages in a popular newspaper to mark his birthday. This is only half the story. The grand finale of this festival of waste held in one of the ultra luxury hotels in Dubai. Your invitation card came with a fully paid airline ticket and your room key at this hotel where three whole floors were reserved for guests. I won’t waste time describing the decadent consumption of choice civilized wines and the presence of commercial bodies at hand.
Another “billionaire ” mogul held the wedding of his son in a similar fashion in Dubai. The Nigerian elite is known for his waste culture. They want to own villas in the signature spots of the world. They want to be seen at the Côte d’Azur in France. They want to be in Marbella . They own expansive palaces On Alpine drive in Beverly Hills where they only visit once in 5 years.They want to enjoy sunny summers in Sardinia and the carribean islands when they have sunlight all year round in Nigeria. A semi-literate fool once told me he loves Italy because he enjoys breakfast in Rome, lunch in Florence and dinner in Venice.
They own private planes but lack the destinations to fly them. They fly women in first class cabins at the drop of a hat. They occupy the biggest suites in the best hotels around the world. They enjoy limousine pickups and “escort services”. They are a pimp’s delight as their presence means brisk business. They host decadent parties where girls the age of their daughters entertain them in unprintable ways.
Fast forward to the post 2015 era and it is a different ball game. There are cries and gnashing of teeth especially among the elite reminiscent of the old Mexican soap opera, “the rich also cry”. The Nigerian comprador bourgeoisie has now been reduced to feel the pain they subjected the rest of us to for so many years. Their garages are now filled up with cars needing various forms of mechanical attention. Some are grounded because the Nigerian state can no longer fuel them. The young girls are crying because parties don’t hold as often as they used to. They are also weeping because even when they hold there is no more TFC (thanks for coming). I am told that in the past era, the going TFC rate was 500,000 each. Half a million Naira for appearance fees at orgy laden parties!. If 20 girls arrive for instance, it’s N10,000,000 and this is outside the fees paid for any one on one transaction.
The airlines fly empty luxury cabins because the free source of funds have dried up. A visit to the Presidential Villa which had its own TFC rate of $50,000 is no longer as lucrative. The Nigerian big man now seats on his sofa and spreads his account details around via text messages as if they are casting lots or playing a lottery. It is now an era of digital begging. The common chorus now is ” make I send my account?”
The current situation has exposed yesterday’s big men as lazy and unproductive leeches who bled the country to its current sorry state. They add no value whatsoever. They only believe in pressing the country down while feathering their individual nests. In other countries, the elite prosper from the growth of their countries. An example is the Arab states where the ruling elite have become unbelievably wealthy as the states grew. In Nigeria, the elite prosper while the country collapses. This explains why a group of people will share billions of dollars meant to buy arms while insurgents ravage the citizenry. It explains why governors buy homes for harlots and buy million dollar wrist watches while teachers remain unpaid. This is the reason why some common sense proponents collect huge loans from banks and end up buying mansions in Los Angeles.
A band of people who were used to freebies and who suddenly have realized that things have changed will surely muster the remaining energy in them to resist. They are now having a taste of the reality they imposed on others. Prof Ibeabuchi will need to propound a new theory because these elite are proving to be incapable of actualizing the Nigerian adaptive personality model. Our Ogas are not rich men after all. They a merely a group of thieves and debtors.
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