Twitter, forgive me for I have sinned. I gave a policeman bribe today…
— Alashela (@AjalaYemi) August 23, 2013
I did not vote for Dr Goodluck Jonathan and will not vote for him again because I do not believe that he is what Nigeria needs as a ruler/leader in the 21st century (if you care to know, my choice then was Gen. Buhari and my choice now is Colonel Gwadabe). I do not like the volte-face done by his spokesperson Dr. Reuben Abati when he took up the appointment and turned into an attack dog of the president (I’m one of the twittering “collective children of anger”) and it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth to see what a leading “Patito-ganger” has become.
However I think I can understand why Abati became a turncoat in one word: SURVIVAL. Ask biologist and natural historians and they will tell you that the organism that survives is not the smartest, strongest or the most beautiful. It is the most adaptable organism that survives. Adaptation is the principal thing; in all your getting, get adaptation.
How does this affect Abati you may ask? Well, in Nigeria, for you to live and not just exist, you need money and connections. For you to get that, you need to be corrupt (in varying shades). What do you do if you understand rationally and morally that this is wrong yet your survival depends on it? You adapt. Dr Reuben Abati is evidently a brilliant man and must have thought very well that he couldn’t continue to subsist at the edge of REAL money so he did what he needed to do to survive: he adapted. He (and the rest of us) may rationalize it one way or the other but that, I think, is the stark truth. It is the system that corrupts us all with its constant droning of the message: Adapt or die. How many Nigerians, activists and non-activists alike have failed to yield this lesson to their own regret?
Before you point fingers at Abati, ask yourself: How often during the day do I “Do an Abati”? By this, I mean to go against what you know is logically and morally right simply because you need to get something done, in order to survive? How many times during each day do you have to compromise on your social media/church/mosque/activist image when you are caught between the rock and a hard place? You see, our system is so mad in this country that one is always forced to adapt to survive. On these streets, everyone is a hustler and we all need new level of grace to survive the daily pull corruption exerts on us. If you still don’t understand, pay a visit to Ajegunle, Ijora-Badia, Mushin or any sprawling slum in Nigeria and just observe how people survive and what they do to achieve that. Or sit down with Taxi drivers and have a long chat with them about their experiences.
All this came to me in a flash, the other Friday when I was caught between the devil and the deep blue sea. Some friends and I were rushing to one of us wedding engagement in two cars, one driven by the groom and the other by another person (the car I was in). The groom was in the front and sped into what I knew was a one-way street in Ikeja GRA. Once I saw this, I asked my friend to enter the one-way street with him and we eventually overtook him, but it was too late: the police caught us and the groom managed to escape. A police man deported me to the back seat and entered the front, asking us to proceed to the place where the sign indicating what the street was a one-way street was. Admittedly, the sign was there, though vague with a “DO NOT ENTER”. All this while, I was being spoken to in the phone by the groom, a bible-believing Christian and staunch Nuhu Ribadu supporter in the last general election, to find something for the policeman and for us to catch up with him. Several moments and pleadings later, I gave the policeman a bribe: My own Abati-cal moment. That was when the Nigerian situation and working moral dawned on me: DON’T HATE THE PLAYER, HATE THE GAME!
A word for Dr Abati in our native tongue “Ti a ba ran ni ni ise eru, a a fi ti omo je”.