Something about Nigeria and its beleaguered economy calls forth the story of the fox and the cat to mind. The tale, a jaded one nevertheless, recounts how both friends had gone out to hunt in enemy, human territory.
Like all such didactics go, it was going quite well in the beginning. Then the worst happened: the owner of the barn they were foraging in woke up gun in hand. The cat, easily the more dumb of the duo, immediately flipped over the fence, never to be seen again. As it turned out, it had only one plan – to flee upon any scent of danger!
The wiser fox, on the other hand, had many plans to choose from. Now while he got busy checking out which one of them to deploy, the worst happened. Before he had even finished unfurling his escape antennae, he was caught in the temple by flying lead.
The kite of this tale was actually first flown to me by the flamboyant pastor of a new-generation Nigerian church. To the effect that our compatriots as they coped with the toughening times should also include escape plans – a plan B, as he deemed it.
The worried cleric must no doubt have been perplexed that most citizens only stopped short at stockpiling food and wares. Perhaps overfed on his customers’ tithes, he failed to appreciate that it’s a sure pointer to how beholden they are of the country. And this despite how impoverished most of them have become under his cure.
But weighed on whatever scale, the latter appears to carry the day. After all, no matter the depth or shallowness of your patriotism, you dreamt of leaving the country only if you could afford it. The more so if you are hoping to do so in one piece. That is if you don’t want to first trek to the Mediterranean Sea!
Indeed, viewed viscerally, this call by this man-of-god came at a time when most of his colleagues are yet undecided about their final answers to the emerging scenarios. While some are already prophesying the enthronement of secessionists, others see the nation’s indivisibility as sacrosanct as ever. And as though to make the scenario grimmer, some of the more notable in the list are dropping dead. Far indeed from the fulfillment or otherwise of their prophecies. Leaving many of their staunch followers in a kind of quandary.
Ever since, there has been a raft of voices raised as follow-ups to this Plan B call. And these from every corner of the country. Understandably, while so many are for it, almost as many – if not more – are against the novel call.
Interestingly, many on either side of the debate have come up with readymade defences. Each so solid that a middle-of-the-road stance is almost impossible to arrive. What with a majority ready to take to the bush a la President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda before his transfiguration!
Those in support are generally of the opinion that it’s the better option to flee than stay and be consumed by a conflict you can make neither head nor tail of. Buoyed on the hydra-headed nature of the emerging conflicts, they feel that staying to be mowed down can only be ascribable to immobile creations like trees. The ‘have-legs’, they joke, ‘must run’.
Question them any further and they’ll come up with examples from recent history in their favour. Like what happened in nearby Rwanda between the 7th of April and the 15th of July, 1994. When armed militias from one tribe almost extinguished their fellow countrymen from another. In the end, millions ended up massacred and stuffed in mass graves.
The ones against the suggestion on the other hand think it the most unpatriotic thing any citizen of our great nation can embrace. By them, we all ought to be guided by the bold words of our national pledge. Thus, by their reckoning, it amounts to jumping ship midstream just because of a minor storm. When the ship, like always, can still be steered to smoother waters with a little perseverance.
Tell them of the Rwanda debacle and rather than bend, they’ll wax over lyrically that patriots are stoics. One even vowed never to abandon his fatherland even at the risk of the amputation of his entire limbs. Intoning in his brass timbre that he’ll never leave his dead parents’ graves unattended.
While bystanders watch on, it has become as haunting as a nightmare dreamt up in daytime. Every day the situation keeps deteriorating while those supposedly in charge spend the time picking their teeth at the consummation of yet another sumptuous meal prepared from our national commonwealth.
Like has turned out, the only coda there can be to this piece is advice. The first being that whatever plans anybody is making has to be short and sharp. The second, more importantly, is the need to emulate the resolute cat rather than the procrastinating fox. Most paramount, though, will be the third. Whatever ploy one chooses to embark on, it’s necessary to fashion out, from day one, whether you’ll be leaving for good or whether you’ll still want to return post 2023!
–Uzoatu, author of the novel Vision Impossible wrote in from Onitsha, Anambra State.