Friday, August 4, 2017


By Dike Chukwumerije

I am an elite. But not elitist. These are two different things. For, you see, my name is Dike Chukwumerije. And so long as I can remember every time I say this the likely response is, ‘Oh. Are you related to…?’ And depending on the person’s views on the Biafran War, June 12, and the politics of the 6th and 7th National Assembly, would thereafter become the instant recipient of respect or loathing.  But I have always been deeply aware of myself, and the fact that there are things I may inherit from my father, and things I may not. Do you understand?

So, I have rarely been provoked by those who, unable to insult him to his face, do it to mine. For he said, ‘These are my battles. Don’t fight them for me.’ Neither have I ever been seduced by those who, unable to reach him with their adulation, offer it to me. For he said, ‘Beware of cheap popularity. Easy come, easy go.’ This is why I developed an expertise instead, in turning people down. They would say, ‘Are you not Comrade’s son? Why are you queuing?’ ‘Are you not Senator’s son? Why are you walking?’ ‘Are you not Uche’s son? Why are you looking for job?’ And I would say, in response to this temptation to exercise those powers this present Nigerian society offers to its elites, No!

No, this does not make me a socialist. Or a believer in the righteousness of the masses, that suffering somehow confers sainthood on a person, and what the poor and the powerless say they want is always in the best interest of society. No. What it is, really, is a fundamental belief in Merit. Yes. I do not want pay for a job I did not do, or adulation for an achievement that is not mine, or exaltation for something I am not. Yes. It can be that simple, but not in this society where to be an elite is to exponentially exaggerate one’s importance, by packaging it in an agbada, sitting it in a Prado Jeep, and heralding it by the demonic wailing of a siren. And as if that is not enough, you must still march it self-importantly to the top of every line, daring any enforcer of common-sense rules of conduct to ask you stupid questions. And in return for this egotistical occupation of the commanding peaks of society, what do we give back? Boreholes. And keke napeps. Honestly? Is this what I am supposed to be proud of?

No. The fame that is derived from who your father is, what public office you occupy, or how many Brigade Commanders you know on a first name basis is a false one. It creates no jobs, builds no roads, connects no communities to the grid, and solves not one of humanity’s existential problems. Yes. It deserves neither applause nor accolade, acknowledgement nor the fanfare its village people regularly organize for its appointment to high office. Yes. It does not merit having its bag carried, doors opened for it, meetings interrupted so its name can be announced, or airplanes delayed so it can board. When it says, ‘I am the Senator representing so and so’, we should not say, ‘Wow! I have seen the face of Jesus! Welcome sir!’ No, we should say, ‘Ehe?’ When it says, ‘I know the Governor of so and so State’, we should say, ‘And so?’ When it says, ‘I am the son of Minister so and so’, we should say, ‘Park well.’

And save our worship for those build schools and hospitals, who train the Police well enough to secure us all, who construct roads and railways, seaports and low cost housing; for those who give their lives to save us from ebola and Boko Haram, who compete in threadbare shoes to win us glory at the Olympics; for those who invent battery-run cars and solar-powered factories, who employ hundreds of thousands in dignifying labour; for those who think and create, and respond to society’s problems by finding solutions, not by angling for a new Agency they can be Chairman of.  True. So, please wait, let me win the Nobel Prize first, or solve the Almajiri problem in Northern Nigeria, or make peace between farmers and herdsmen, or crack the riddle of good governance in this country, and then when you see me, you can lift both hands in the air and shout ‘my Oga!’ for as long as you want. Till then, please, let us just shake hands like equals and be on our way. No yawa.

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