Pardon me for kick-starting this missive with this peculiarly Nigerian locution: How far?

The enquiry contains more than a hint of jocosity, to be sure, but there is nothing jocose about it insofar as it relates to the state of the nation, the Nigerian condition, of which you are a perceptive observer and incisive analyst.

I say nothing of course of your coruscating erudition and wit, in contradistinction to those hacks who, in desperate yearning for anything emblematic of distinction, however fleeting and fragmentary, however tenuous, are forever advertising themselves as “Abuja-based public affairs commentators.”

The truth of the matter, the indissoluble actuality as you personally experienced it during your memorable and eventful sojourn in the House of the People in that city, with its asphyxiating sterility is that they are for the most part unemployed and unattached freeloaders, if not unreconstructed scroungers outright. Even in your present disposition, you have encountered a surfeit of them, I am sure.

It is deeply to be lamented that the aforementioned disposition has incommoded you in no small measure, rendering you not just invisible but also inaudible. I still find it incomprehensible, inexplicable even, that a person of your vivaciousness, spontaneity and sensibilities can feel obliged to observe so much restraint in face of the daily occurrences that provoke nothing short of atrabilious rage even when each is considered as a singularity.

Taken cumulatively, as a totality, the occurrences are nothing if not benumbing. Your resolute and unflappable equanimity in the face of all this is eminently to be lauded.

Unlike many of our compatriots of easy gullibility, I do not suppose for a nanosecond, however, that this apparent equanimity stems from fecklessness; I know you too much to entertain such a misimpression. I know it has been forced upon you by the rules of engagement under which you currently operate.

When you were not thus shackled, your voice resonated with unmatched clarity and eloquence rendered all the more arresting by your consummate mastery of cadenced, sesquipedalian oration delivered right off the cuff – unlike some of your colleagues who could not make the most prosaic statement off script and are consequently not remembered for anything except their propensity for self-aggrandisement of the most ravenous kind, by which I mean, gorging themselves remorselessly on the national patrimony.

It cannot have been easy for a person of your public spiritedness and unswerving commitment to what is noble and just and of good report to live through an almost endless march of events of the most stultifying kind and yet refrain from giving utterance to disapproval and disapprobation even in the most subdued of tones, sotto voce, so to speak.

And the events, in all their discombobulation, in all their furious gallop, are legion. Where to start, then? Where to delineate as a point of departure in this excursus?

Is it the Senate Rules of Order, as amended, which threw up a leadership that has been embroiled in a crisis of authority and legitimacy and credibility and integrity since that body launched its current session more than a year ago? Or the perjury trial, the carnivalesque optics of which may appear to a first-time visitor to these parts as a coronation, replete with fawning adulation and saccharine glorification?

Or Budget 2016 that has performed enough disappearing and re-appearing acts to turn the Cheshire cat into a rank amateur in the business, a mewling infant? Or again Budget 2016 that was padded with layers upon layers of pork when a version which seemed closest to being authentic was eventually found?

Or should I commence with the crash of the oil market and its deleterious consequences for everything: the Exchequer and the economy, not forgetting the Naira which has since become like an orphan abandoned, and the attendant disequilibrium and disarticulation in transactions of every kind and even social intercourse?

I will enter no comment on the vexed and perennial subject of fuel subsidy, whether real or contrived. I recall your spirited and illumining intervention the last time it was the focal point, the core issue of perfervid national discourse, and how it compelled abandonment of the perilous trajectory on which the authorities were determined to embark, and a near-complete reversion to the status quo ante, consonant with vociferous public demand.

The price of that precious combustible has since escalated, with nary a public rally by the usual sworn opponents. But where in the time of regulation there was a drought there is now in the time of de-regulation a cascading torrent, a glut. Still, despite the superabundant revenue accruing to Abuja following deregulation, there have been dark intimations, registering just above whispering level, of some stubborn residual subsidy requiring radical excision.

Save your heaviest ordnance for that conjuncture, Aburo. It is not quite over yet.

Something tells me, Aburo, you are fully primed for the looming battle for the succession on the home turf. Having worked in close juxtaposition with the Comrade Governor – no, I under- state it horribly and crave your indulgence to take it back – having served him as trusted adviser, sounding board, confidant, having taken charge of organising his schedule and his work flow, you doubtless apprehend more than anyone else the factors that have conduced to his phenomenal success.

Do you espy any of those traits or factors in any of the contenders? It is again deeply to be regretted that even if you do, you cannot so proclaim under current rules of engagement. Such, alas, is the perversity of bureaucracy.

But you are nothing if not creative, my dear Aburo. I am sure you will fabricate, with your accustomed ingenuousness a design that will help beam on the battle for the succession your unrivalled knowledge of the Comrade Governor, his vision, his work habits, his temperament, his proclivities and all those factors that shaped the great legacy he is bequeathing to the grateful people of Edo State and indeed to posterity.

Someone who claims to be privy to recondite secrets tells me that reports to the effect that the Grand Fixer has been neutered, rendered hors de combat, are vastly exaggerated, and that he is lurking patiently in the shadows, waiting to charge into battle at the sound of the bell.

Is there any veracity to the report, even a scintilla of verisimilitude? I ask mostly of our curiosity, not from diffidence. I know that with you and the other stalwarts in his corner, the Comrade Governor can contain a dozen grand fixers.

That would be all for now, my dear Aburo. Something tells me we will hear from or of you soon, over the chants of victory and the promise of continuity.

Until then, I remain your Egbon and kindred soul.

Olatunji Dare


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