My Buddie: I got your praline message but only when the third party lately delivered it. You’re plainly correct that I long recused from writing for the public, as if in angst, is as true as it sat me smack on the horns of a dilemma, close to a fork in the road, on what to say in truth to a degrading humanity in Nigeria, where no one can have a single night of peaceful sleep in this supposed new year, but with one eye closed on the look-out for black-clad armed marauders un-silhouetted in the pitch darkness overarching the saddening country.

Electricity supply, of course, is not all that’s totally failed and sweatily mourned at night in Nigeria. When in June 2015 the president of the republic himself spent time idly, and wasted away the next five months; being 10% of his term in office, just to name his Cabinet Ministers, something else besides common sense, failed too, because since then, it has not rained in Nigeria, but it poured.

A basic sense of right and wrong has got lost in Nigeria, as ordinary folks feel morally justified to carry on with betrayal of trust across the board by mirroring the swathe of rogue officials inside their country’s government’s offices; as if there will never be a consequence for personal reputation; and as if Nigeria as a country will not survive by tomorrow morning. And so they steal; they rape and tell lies like a water hose, even as they break promises and obligations of trust, without contrition or furrowed brows in a trice.

Drinking water is not supplied to a now sicker populace on occasion either. And so, the lucky ones in Nigeria today are those who quench thirst with Bilharzia because they will die whole – unlike the hundreds of others arriving daily at the heaven’s gates; slick in blood and without a skull or a limb – having been shot dead or beheaded on earth by the angrier of the 35 million youths wandering Nigeria today as the worse deprived.

Those millions of angry and armed youths were made so by the thoughtless policy and the politics of thieves in Nigeria over the years. They were deprived of good or standard school education by a clutch of nuisance public officials, mis-elected or appointed on the tribal and nepotistic basis, who later on shoehorned Islam into the ordinary meaning of ‘merits.’ The folly of one-man-one-vote in Nigeria then got into bolder relief, since democracy itself requires “enlightened citizenry” as a fundamental precondition.

My buddie, you now see why it’s par for the course that I will keep my counsel? The times are evil. Not once in my borne days have I seen Nigeria in such prostrate state of thorough-going poverty marked by human beings smelling badly all over the place like un-chloroformed walking corpses.

Nigeria is falling, my buddie, but history will bear me witness that i singularly avoided sounding the bugle to serenade what unerringly became a false dawn but instead kept laser-focused to the truth i have restated as philosophic trope over the decades, with the resonance of compelling sequitur; that, no paradise will ever be built in Nigeria or will there ever be durable peace or comfort for anyone, for so long as ‘stealing’ and ‘success’ mean the same thing.

Nigerians will keep getting invited to more funerals than they will to marriages. That is the fair price they’ll pay with more litres of blood – as just reward, for their yesteryear of miring in a blighted culture; like bandits living by plunder, in a country where the victims and the criminals both agree that ‘theft’ and ‘success’ should continue to be conflated to mean one and the same thing.

In that running anomie it’s been easy to lead Nigerians by the nose to think of everything else abstract and irrelevant to stealing – from ‘reforms’ to ‘transformation’ and ‘change’ – and to urge the usually naïve populace to ignore the elephant in the room, and ignore the proceeds of thefts in the possession of the assorted government officials who stink for stealing.

The curved ball thrown at unthinking Nigerians by rogue officials is to ask Nigerians to look upwards to the heavens whilst the government officials robbing them call for ‘transformation’; and if need be, rephrase the same verbal stealth as a call for “change” – but without ever meaning that stolen loot should never become legitimate in the hands of a treasury thief or his or her proxy no matter how long ago the theft was done. There’s therefore hardly a worse mad country on those metrics. For that’s why stealing continues and wipes of all else that Nigerians may endeavor because stealing unravels everything.

A country where stealing is success, seeks death since no moral rule guides how each person is to steal, when, and, how. That’s why death now stalks everyone in Nigeria like a sun above, as many corpses litter the highway on a daily basis, where tens of passers-by attacked are dumped off, after being raped or mugged and robbed. Inside the offices of government, worse massive thefts in billions of Naira continue to asphyxiate the country, to deprive the populace of sustenance, as treasury theft becomes the leading cause of Nigerians’ un-natural death today.

My buddie, theft is not a zero-sum game. It is a game of death. There can be no real winner in a country of thieves. Everyone is on probation and awaiting violent death. There are too few victims even amongst those killed in their homesteads or on highways after being waylaid. People who immorally follow a rough-and-ready incline of lies, deceit, and dishonesty, as a national culture, can’t turn round to weep as victims of vicious treasury thefts since one begets the other.

Much else besides is in the air; including the ill-omens said in text rumors spread two weeks ago in mid-January, that yet another crisis may follow the president of the republic’s overhasty holiday abroad where he’s been incommunicado till now. Still, pictures distributed twice by sly aides are all Nigerians got as emollient helpings, but with press statement added to rebut public panic that a succession ruckus could be in the cards, despite the 1999 Constitution saying what should happen in the event of worsening prognosis.

But even of those dire things, I am less interested than in the free fall of Nigerians’ common humanity as trust and hope fade away from the horizon of the mind. One cause for it is the supercilious thought that party politics means that members and supporters of all losing parties are daft and dumb and that the 52% victory scored by a winning political party means the national community’s entire wisdom on how best to push Nigeria gingerly back from the precipice of the abyss shall henceforth exist only in the half-empty heads of only those who registered as members of the winning party before the taking of the polls.

There’s no worse illusory thinking or a more backward thing than this “winner-takes-all” mentality because it makes development impossible with just half the populace, and, sets the teeth of the other half on edge. But so far Nigeria is none the wiser, even as the country falls.

To the question, “Who is now thinking for Nigeria?” a reasoning sceptic may go through all sorts of ruminations but will still come up with no name at all – not even from within what a writer once described here as ‘a cabinet of the mediocre’ where mentally bereft creatures without morals and knowledge were pitch-forked by presidential whim and caprice, into becoming the ultimate custodians of national wisdom to be announced as “public policy” and imposed on their intellectual superiors. In a word, my buddie, sheep are leading lions in Nigeria, and more insultingly, the sheep are leading the lions astray. But it was nearly so in the beginning on October 1st, 1960.

Nothing’s caught me unawares in the fastnesses of my recusal refuge all the while – not even the currently unfolding tragedy spun by a negligent media corps which rightly headlined a theft of 154 million U.S dollars from the national oil company, NNPC, which was found hidden away from the balance sheet in Sterling bank – having been passed under the table from Fidelity Bank; and then lost news reporting attention that the theft itself is not the news but the exact malefactor.

Once the suspected thief Dizeani Allison-Madueke disclaimed involvement the real news should have changed course to uncover who then partnered in this criminal money laundering activity with the Sterling Bank’s Managing Director, Yemi Adeola, but the negligent media did not see the wood for the trees, as journalists instead slunk from the Sterling Bank crime scene as if they were wrong-footed on their best guess on who did it, whereas the real evidence of theft exists till now in the 154 million dollars in cash under interim forfeiture order of a federal high court. A media so easily distracted with such short attention span is falling short of usual standards of inquiry and may cause a reader to recoil quizzically by asking what the hell is going on in Nigeria.

Well, so long, my buddie! Will I write again and will I regain and keep the faith in Nigerians’ ability to think properly along with a sturdy incline of logic guided by moral polestar? God grant.

-Seyi Olu Awofeso is a Legal Practitioner in Nigeria.