Nigeria must be one large stony field; and our government is made up of a collection of career stone pickers who are specialists in picking and upturning stones for the purpose of finding what is hidden beneath them.
Or, how else can one explain the “No stone shall be left unturned” remark – that long over flogged threat line we always hear in press statements from the presidency and other government agencies, each time something new goes wrong or an old one repeats itself? It is a promise of action that is never fulfilled, an idiom that has lost all its meaning under the weight of unimpressive leadership and collective hopelessness in the country.
How do we turn up the stones? After the absurdity occurs and we have made the customary threat, we set up a committee and open a new file in the office of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Members are appointed. An elaborate committee inauguration is organised. It is shown on national television. The head of the committee reiterates the determination of his team to walk the whole rocky field and ensure that when they are done, the stones will feel that something like a tsunami had just gone through them. We clap. Cameras click away. Hands shake. The occasion ends.
A month, two, or a year later, depending on the terms of reference of the committee, a bulky report is submitted. By then, the file opened somewhere at the SGF’s office is already also bulky. The committee makes requests for expenses; they are approved. The committee members have in their wisdom sought the help of others in the stone turning exercise. Plenty aides and assistants were engaged. The report is received and yet another promise of leaving no stone unturned in implementing the recommendations made. Cameras click away. Hands shake. The occasion ends. The problem continues.
When shall we stop this turning and turning in the widening gyre (apologies to W.B Yeats) approach to solving problems? When shall we begin to convert all the threats and energy into concrete plans and precise action? Pile and piles of well bound paper, containing tones and tones of ideas left gathering dust somewhere in our unturned stones archives, dead to us and to our problems, yet the sloganeering continues.
No stone shall be left unturned yet the many murder cases are still unresolved. No stone shall be left unturned, yet the armed robbers are never caught and like invisibles, continue to do their thing in broad day light and go away free. No stone shall be left unturned yet people are kidnapped and some released but we don’t see the hostage taker no does their activities stop. No stone will be left unturned yet monies disappear and continue to disappear from the public coffers and we treat it as one of those things, one of those brazen absurdities that have become normalcy.
And has become popular of late, no stone will be left unturned but Boko Haram continues to make successful heists on human lives in our Northern cities. It becomes imperative to ask, how many more stones before we begin to get it right?
In my thinking, there are now no stones left in our stone field. All the stones have been turned at one point or the other and all their rough edges have become fine from excessive handling. They have become polished out from the years of talk and no action.
Our leaders should know that time and patience is running out and this stone turning story now sounds like a broken record on repeat.
Published in DailyTimes 08/12/2011