August 14, 2016

The Falling Naira...The Falling Ruling Party and The Parable...

by Biodun Jeyifo
As I stated repeatedly last week in this column, there is no necessary and logical connection between the effective devaluation and deepening fall in the exchange rate of our national currency, the naira, and the apparent decreasing profile in the standing and credibility of our new ruling party, the APC, as a progressive force for change.

If for one reason or the other, the world price of crude petroleum was to suddenly begin to go up and up and up, the value of the naira would begin to appreciate significantly. But this would not necessarily mean that the standing of the ruling party as a force for progress and genuine development would automatically also begin to improve. 

As a matter of fact...
we have seen this happen before during the reign of the former ruling party, the PDP. During the sixteen-year period of its rule, we went through one or two cycles of fall and rise in the world price of oil and concomitant cycles of fall and rise, rise and fall in the value of the naira. But this had absolutely no effect on the standing of the PDP which, from day one to the end, absolutely never stopped in its fall from grace and, eventually, power. Can and will the new ruling party learn from this fate of the PDP? More importantly, what can we, the Nigerian people and nation, learn from this and what must we do with the lesson? In this postscript on last week’s piece in this column, I am invoking the following parable of the worm as a speculative and imaginative answer to these questions.

The worm provides us with one of nature’s most fascinating profiles of consumption and self-reproduction. Because its digestive tract extends through the entire length of its body, the worm consumes endlessly and indiscriminately; the only things which it does not consume are inorganic materials like discarded plastics and tin cans. But as far as all organic materials are concerned, whether they are living or dead, warm or cold, moist or dry, worms will consume them endlessly. Perhaps the most gruesome thing about this omnivorous pattern of the consumption habits of worms is the fact that sometimes, they take up residence inside a living organism which they feed on until it dies, after which the consumption enters into another round on the dead carcass of the deceased host. If this profile is beginning to give the reader intimations of a parable about the PDP when it was in office for sixteen years, please note that this is indeed my intention.

True enough, Nigeria as a whole did not exactly “die” and provide the putrefying body of the nation for the “worms” in the PDP leadership and rank-and-file foot-soldiers to feed on, but we came close to that macabre fate. Indeed, if you talk to the families of Nigerian soldiers killed in the campaigns against the Boko Haram, I am sure that they will tell you that to them, all those involved in Dasuki-gate that shared the monies meant to procure weapons are human “worms” feeding on the corpses of their loved ones. 

Thus, in the context of this week’s postscript on last week’s piece, the question that arises is whether or not the symbolic and metaphoric implications of this parable can be extended to our new ruling party, the APC. To answer this particular question, we must now move to perhaps the most fascinating thing of all about worms as a metaphor for limitless predatory consumption in nature and society, this being the myths and facts regarding the innate capacities for self-production and self-regeneration of different species of worms.

For centuries, it was widely believed that if you cut a worm into two, each of the two halves would regenerate and become a new organism giving rise to two new worms. But this was and is not exactly true of all species of worms. For instance, take the case of the common earthworm whose scientific name is lumbricusterrestis. If you slice it too close to the head (yes, worms have heads!) which is very near the swollen part of the worm known as the clitellum, it will not regenerate and both halves will die. In other words, the self-regeneration of the earthworm is limited by the fact that only on the condition that you leave its head completely intact can it reproduce when it is sliced into bits. The species of worms that will reproduce and regenerate regardless of where you slice it and into how many parts you cut is the so-called planarian flatworm, planaria torva. This particular species in the family of worms is the ultimate in its capacity for endless self-regeneration. 

For instance, if you slice off just one-three hundredth (1/300) of its body part, that infinitely small part will grow into a new flatworm that will retain all the memory of the worm from which it was sliced! Let me state this clearly: the new flatworm regenerated from just one-three hundredth of the old worm, will have the full memory, not of all flatworms in general, but of the particular flatworm from which it was sliced! In other words, and to link this to consumption, the new flatworm will start consuming with all the memory of what its “parent” flatworm was consuming!
I leave it to the reader to decide for herself or himself whether the APC is a lumbricus terrestis reproduction of the PDP or a planaria torvatransmogrification of the former ruling party.There can be no question at all that it is either one or the other, for as we all know, close to a half to two-thirds of the leadership of the APC at one time or another in the past belonged to the PDP. Above all else is the fact that the extremely predatory consumption habits of the former ruling party have resurfaced widely and deeply in the leadership ranks of the new ruling party.

What is still in doubt, what is still open to debate is whether or not the APC will do what the PDP never managed to do in its sixteen years in power and that is listen, actually listen, to the universal cry at home and abroad against the unrestrained, free for all, social-cannibalistic consumption that is without equal in the whole world. Permit me to dwell very briefly on this point before returning to the matter of whether the APC is an earthworm or a flatworm resurrection of the PDP.

For close to about the last ten years of its sixteen years in office, the PDP was relentlessly barraged by denunciations of the excessive greed in the payment of salaries, emoluments and allowances to our public officeholders, federal, state and local, with particular reference to the legislators and state governors and deputy governors. Columnists wrote endlessly on the matter, including this particular columnist. Professional associations and civil society organizations protested unceasingly. 

At one stage, some NGOs banded together and took the matter to the courts, suing the National Assembly to reveal to the nation and the world the “secrets” of just how much the legislators were being paid. Significantly, the suit was filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FoI) that the National Assembly itself had passed into law. The case was won and the National Assembly was ordered to comply with its own lawfully passed legislation. But it refused to comply and more or less arrested the suit in endless court hearings based on appeals and counter-motions. 

When one of the legislators, Dino Melaye, broke ranks with his fellow legislators and tried to reveal the actual figures, he was severely dealt with. At one point in this saga of the total refusal of the PDP to listen to the cries for accountability, prudence and frugality in the use of our national wealth, the former Governor of the Central Bank, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (now Emir of Kano) waded into the fray and revealed the staggering sums the legislators were paying themselves. For his “audacity” he was ordered to appear before the lawmakers on pain of being charged with contempt of the “august” legislative chambers. Sanusi duly obeyed the summons but held his ground and spilled more beans on the iniquity, the shamelessness of the greed of the legislators. Indeed, the matter made a spectacular appearance internationally when, on July 15, 2013,The Economist published a report which showed that Nigerian legislators were not only the highest paid legislators in the whole world but that each Nigerian legislator was receiving 116 times the GDP per person of the country. No other country in the world came remotely close to this staggering figure.

The leadership of the APC, like that of the PDP before it, is giving every indication that it either cannot hear or will not listen to the cries that this must stop, especially now that the naira is in a freefall and there is crippling economic stagnation and great suffering and hardship in the land. This brings us back to the parable of the worm. Is the APC alumbricus terrestis reincarnation of the PDP or a planaria torvaregeneration of the old ruling party? I admit that this parable is a satirical and mildly playful imaginative rendering of a matter that is of life and death urgency to the vast majority of Nigerians. My justification for this is that satire and irony have their uses in times of great stress and hardship in the experience of individuals and entire societies and nations. 

Please think of the following grim fact, dear reader: there is no great personal consequence for most of the leaders of the PDP that the party is no longer in power and has perhaps gone into permanent historical oblivion since most of them have their loot, their billions of naira and millions of dollars. As we can see from what is going on in the courts in the trials of the accused mega-looters, most of them seem confident that with the help of an endlessly corrupted criminal justice system, they are going to get away with their loot. This raises this crucial question: are the bosses, the leaders of the APC not thinking along these lines and are therefore not really bothered whether or not they last in power beyond 2019? I mean, if you can make as much as you can now, before 2019, what does it really matter whether your party is back in power after the 2019 elections?

Ultimately, the riddle of whether the leadership of the APC is metaphorically speaking a resurgent lumbricusterrestis or aplanariatorva of the PDP is for the Nigerian people to figure out and take appropriate action. For, is there really a choice between the worm which has limited regeneration capacities and the one whose strategies and forms of self-regeneration after a dismembering are endless? No, there isn’t; one is just a more odious, more challenging version of the other. The real challenge is to shake off all species of worms from our national body politic.

- Biodun Jeyifo


Harbolarkale Niyi said...

Seriously, our country is serious recession.

Kay Heavy said...


inumidun said...


SPACO said...

We will get out from it soon.