Eedris Abdulkareem, New York Times, And The Muse

Eedris Abdulkareem
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In a way, one can argue conveniently that coincidence is a divinely orchestrated occurrence where humanity is completely helpless and unaware of the inevitable fissures of existence. Through the inexplicable dynamics of continuity, two related events can simultaneously enhance or reinforce man’s helplessness in a divinely inspired world. Sometimes these events respond to contemporary concerns that challenge humanity in different parts of the world. The Holy Bible, that ultimate source of eternal truth, reminds us in 2 Corinthians 13:1 that “by the mouth of two or more people, the truth shall be established”. Sometimes a lie can be established by the mouth of two or more people too. It happens all the time. The Nigerian judiciary immediately comes to mind. Truth is a beautiful phenomenon in stark naked simplicity but sadly, many people prefer it adorned with different costumes and apparel to disfigure its glittering nature. They are the existential haters of truth. They conspire to drink from the trough of falsehood to blackmail the truth. The putrid ingredients of falsehood quench their thirst, catalysing the desire for advanced deception through propaganda.

In the last year, some truths have stared Nigerians in the face, eyeball to eyeball following the new government. There is general angst about the ruinous footprints of the last Mohammadu Buhari administration. There is also electoral heist, documented ignominy of the judiciary, and above all prevailing economic crises which have submerged millions of people under the crucible of poverty. These truths are incontrovertible in Nigeria. Columnists, groups, and various concerned voices have shouted about these subsisting conditions on the rooftop. But Bola Tinubu and his disciples have remained adamant, insisting that all is well in the land, calling white black, and urging Nigerians to remain resolute on their way to Golgotha for crucifixion. A case of suffering and smiling to perdition. The Truth – Nigeria is in the doldrums. The common people are grappling with riveting poverty, inflation, and threats of extermination. The leaders are frolicking in profligacy, economic waste, and composite ostentation. The Falsehood – Bola Tinubu is doing his best for Nigeria. There is no hunger in the land. Nigeria’s economy is recovering faster than that of Japan after the Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragedy of 1945. Nigeria is paradise on earth under APC. Between Truth and Falsehood, which will triumph in Nigeria? 

Recently, two sources of national and international acclaim re-echoed the truth in Nigeria at the same time. Call it coincidence and you will be hitting the bull’s eye. Eedris Abdulkareem, Nigeria’s famed hip-hop radical musician released a new song fittingly titled ‘emilokan’. Recall that ‘emilokan’ was popularized by the current president before the last election when he asked Nigerians to vote for him because it was simply his turn and nothing more. A few hours after Eedris released the song, it almost broke the internet. Eedris Abdulkareem is noted for his Marxist radical orientations and for always using the instrumentality of his songs to address Nigeria’s intractable dilapidating conditions. During OBJ’s administration, he used his song to address the country’s economic woes describing the circumstances as ‘jagajaja’. In the current ‘emilokan’ song, he admits that Nigeria’s conditions are worse than ‘jagajaga’. ‘Jagajaga’ is a Nigerian street lingo which connotes disintegration, chaos, confusion, disorder, and anarchy. For now, Eedris says that ‘emilokan’ has turned to ‘ebilokan’. His use of pun is incisive and penetrating.  

The beginning of the musical video shows the maverick Senator Shehu Sani urging Bola Tinubu to release Nigerian youths in detention following the Endsars protests. Thereafter, the musical video chronicles all the well-known malaise in Nigeria ranging from insecurity, the disgraceful collapse of the naira, and the insincere encouragement by a deceitful federal government beseeching Nigerians to make sacrifices for the country during this time of hardship. In a converse revelation of the government’s dubiety, the song spotlights the high level of profligacy in the corridors of power where government officials spend billions frivolously while the masses wallow in adversity and penury.

Then it turns to the APC culture of crass irresponsibility by blaming every successive government. Buhari blamed Jonathan, then Tinubu is blaming Buhari and the blame game continues. The song addresses the most intriguing issue in Nigerian politics – Tinubu supported Buhari to destroy Nigeria. But Tinubu is blaming Buhari now. These people conceive Nigerians to be idiots, toying with the lives of millions of people. Buhari took huge loans and Tinubu is doing the same, thereby fulfilling his promise to continue from where Buhari stopped. The song questions how much Nigeria has saved from oil subsidy given that petrol sells at the exorbitant price of 600 naira and above. It beams its critical searchlight on Pastor Adeboye, wondering why the revered preacher protested against Goodluck Jonathan when petrol was 160 naira per litre but quiet under Tinubu when petrol sells for 600-900 naira per litre. The song’s verdict in the different attitudes from critics between Jonathan and Tinubu is hypocrisy.

At the same time when Eedris was spitting fire under the influence of the Muse, The New York Times in a piece written by Ruth Maclean and Ismail Auwal was also practically rehearsing the same economic and socio-political backwardness in Nigeria. The piece titled ‘Nigeria Confronts Its Worst Economic Crisis in a Generation’ dismembers Nigeria’s smouldering economic conditions under Tinubu which has further impoverished the people beyond outrage. The New York Times is a reputable tabloid globally acclaimed for its factual, objective reporting. Reading the piece, one would think that the writers had a meeting with Eedris a day before both parties proclaimed the transparent truth about Nigeria’s conditions. What a coincidence. But The New York Times went deeper. It chronicles how Nigerians are living under chance and happenstance, outlining how a wretchedly exploited underclass grovels blindly beneath survival global benchmarks. Needless to recall or repeat all the conditions in Nigeria mentioned by the tabloid. From the poverty-stricken masses to an economy in a free-for-all slide, to an imperious, pervasive leadership and an almost useless currency, the story is the same. Nigeria’s socio-economic benighted order is real. The coincidence between ‘Emilokan’ song and the New York Times piece is telling.

Expectedly, the Nigerian Government through its matrix of falsehood and propaganda industries immediately countered Eedris and The New York Times in an inarticulate, banal pushback which denied all the conditions mentioned by the two sources. The government through its anti-people, megaphone personalized by one-time pro-people journalist Bayo Onanuga accused The New York Times of unnecessary sensationalism. But the government did not deny that Nigerians are languishing under unpropitious conditions. Such kinds of official government cognition and a penchant for euphemizing glaring realities in the country defeat every sense of empathy and humanity among our overfed, indolent ruling class. The gradual enthronement of socio-political hegemony by the presidency will only inhibit economic fluency which will, in turn, entrench poverty in the land.

A responsible government will admit the truth and proffer immediate solutions to the country’s analogue economic contradictions which have left the masses marooned in dejection and misery. A committed government would quit denying the obvious in the land, accommodate criticism, and use it as a springboard to leap to gracious spaces of renewal. For the government to continue to abjure and deny these debasing economic conditions in Nigeria suggests that Tinubu and his gang are deliberately impoverishing the populace for their inordinate, undisclosed intentions. It also shows a president who lacked the slightest iota of preparation and readiness for the highest office in the land. Surely, Tinubu was never prepared for this job. Never!!!

No government succeeds by waging a war against the people or responding to every criticism with vehemence and an escapist attitude. No government succeeds by fragmenting the polity with divisive ethnic, religious, and political rhetoric devoid of any rational pattern. Beyond political success and its attendant material fulfilment, the current government should revive that natural human instinct of benevolence and compassion for the economically degraded populace. Posterity is unrelentingly vindictive. History, the adamant cousin of posterity, permanently strikes with implacable fury. Today, Nigerians are suffering under Tinubu and APC but it will not last forever. Already, Buhari has secured his place in the country’s hall of political infamy. It could be the same for Tinubu if he does not show friendship, pity, and accommodation as the president of the country. Nigeria boils. Nigeria is boiling. The government has the primary responsibility to point the way forward to recovery and revival. Eedris Abdulkareem and The New York Times only scratched the surface. There are more fundamental issues begging for pragmatic, sincere reactions from a responsive government. Nigeria can still be redeemed if the presidency has the will and determination to do so. Eedris has done what many musicians cannot do. The New York Times has done what the local, mainstream media cannot do.  

Promise Adiele PhD, MountainTop University. X: @drpee4

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