Our paradise lost (1)

YOUNG generations coming up in our years of tears may not have a fair idea where this country is coming from.

Whenener I reflect on the history of Nigeria reminds me of my favourite English pamphleteer, essayist and poet, John Milton. He is best known as the author of Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained.

Apart from the fact that he was a recommended author for us from formative years, I fell in love with Milton because for just one day we shouid have shared the same birthday.

If that was close enough, the other one was too far enough. We lost our our paradise like in his first book but we have never stumbled on the road of regaining it. John Milton’s Paradise Lost is about his greatest.

The poem follows the epic tradition of starting in medias res (Latin for in the midst of things), the background story being recounted later.

Milton’s story has two narrative arcs, one about Satan (Lucifer) and the other following Adam and Eve. It begins after Satan and the other rebel angels have been defeated and banished to Hell, or, as it is also called in the poem, Tartarus. In Pandæmonium, the capital city of Hell, Satan employs his rhetorical skill to organise his followers; he is aided by Mammon and Beelzebub. Belial and Moloch are also present. At the end of the debate, Satan volunteers to corrupt the newly-created Earth and God’s new and most favoured creation, Mankind. He braves the dangers of the Abyss alone in a manner reminiscent of Odysseus or Aeneas. After an arduous traversal of the Chaos outside Hell, he enters God’s new material World, and later the Garden of Eden.

At several points in the poem, an Angelic War over Heaven is recounted from different perspectives. Satan’s rebellion follows the epic convention of large-scale warfare. The battles between the faithful angels and Satan’s forces take place over three days. At the final battle, the Son of God single-handedly defeats the entire legion of angelic rebels and banishes them from Heaven. Following this purge, God creates the World, culminating in his creation of Adam and Eve. While God gave Adam and Eve total freedom and power to rule over all creation, he gave them one explicit command: not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil on penalty of death.

The story of Adam and Eve’s temptation and fall is a fundamentally different, new kind of epic: a domestic one. Adam and Eve are presented as having a romantic and sexual relationship while still being without sin. They have passions and distinct personalities. Satan, disguised in the form of a serpent, successfully tempts Eve to eat from the Tree by preying on her vanity and tricking her with rhetoric. Adam, learning that Eve has sinned, knowingly commits the same sin. He declares to Eve that since she was made from his flesh, they are bound to one another – if she dies, he must also die. In this manner, Milton portrays Adam as a heroic figure, but also as a greater sinner than Eve, as he is aware that what he is doing is wrong.

After eating the fruit, Adam and Eve have lustful sex. At first, Adam is convinced that Eve was right in thinking that eating the fruit would be beneficial. However, they soon fall asleep and have terrible nightmares, and after they awake, they experience guilt and shame for the first time. Realising that they have committed a terrible act against God, they engage in mutual recrimination.

Meanwhile, Satan returns triumphantly to Hell, amid the praise of his fellow fallen angels. He tells them about how their scheme worked and Mankind has fallen, giving them complete dominion over Paradise. As he finishes his speech, however, the fallen angels around him become hideous snakes, and soon enough, Satan himself turns into a snake, deprived of limbs and unable to talk. Thus, they share the same punishment, as they shared the same guilt.

Eve appeals to Adam for reconciliation of their actions. Her encouragement enables them to approach God, and sue for grace, bowing on supplicant knee, to receive forgiveness. In a vision shown to him by the Archangel Michael, Adam witnesses everything that will happen to Mankind until the Great Flood. Adam is very upset by this vision of the future, so Michael also tells him about Mankind’s potential redemption from original sin through Jesus Christ (whom Michael calls “King Messiah”)

Mankind has been battling with  evil good and evil and Nigeria has been in the hands of good more than evil for ages.

On March 21, 1975 Nigeria’s military ruler, General Yakubu Gowon was in Lagos to commission Nigeria’s multimillion pounds second car assembly.

It was a joint venture between the Federal Government, Lagos State and  West German interests to produce Volkswagen cars.

A week earlier, he had commissioned the Peugeot Assembly plant in Kaduna,

The 11-million pound factory was to produce 60 cars daily. It was our years of glory as Nigerians were cruising in brand new cars assembled in the country. The country was not flooded with Tokunbo cars.

The Peugeot parent company in France granted Nigeria to produce 264 cars daily while providing jobs to thousands of Nigerians.

Up until end of 1983, a Volkwakgen car was about N1, 500 while a Peugeot 504 car sold for less than N4000.

With both plants, school teachers and fresh graduates from Universities were able to afford brand new cars assembly lines.

Today, Peugeot has been been reduced to only a 22 car-assembly and Volkswagen a dead company as the Germans could no longer stand the shenanigans of the Nigerian military and its criminal middle class that took over from the military at the end of 1983.

Before anybody could say car, government withdrew most of its patronage and protection for the auto industry and before we knew what was going on we became a land of Tokunbo. We started to pride in “Grade A” used cars.

The affliction was hitting us on all fronts. Our country that was proud of so many textile factories lost them all and we are a land of second-hand clothes. I was in my University in Ife the day and you need not be told that a lot of the undergraduates you see around are in used clothes. Our young people have no qualms picking innermost wears even on the streets.

A lot of our young people who are now used to Tokunbo in all areas of life today will not know it was not always part of lives. Tokunbo fridges have taken up every available space around us.

It would take those who are advanced in age to remember there was Adebowale Electricals in Lagos that was into production and employing many graduates in engineering and allied areas.

At the peak of the Second Republic, pressure had come on it to come into the National Party of Nigeria (NPN).

All the buffers the Lateef Jakande government gave Adebowale within a few months of reigning import licence.

The company that was producing 800 fridge sets a day was having to go through  a company that has only connection to get lincece to get products into market. When people hear Adebowale Electrical today, they would think it was just a store and not a production concern.

This land has become an obituary for different ideas that would have been ground-breaking but killed off by either those who should be following in the park leading from the front or those who have no business in leadership at all being put it in charge.

The sum total of it all is that our country is now in this sad story.

We have been crying hoarse over the years, it is not sustainable. We we have stated that a country cannot rely on mono-product no matter how lucrative.

We showed at every point in time that we would rather kill ourselves instead of having discussions that would us have rational alternatives.

A few hours before Comrade Ola Oni died, I sat next to him at Airport  Hotel in Lagos. He sat there pensive to the point I asked him something must be wrong.

By the time he opened his mouth, it was a review of his entire life and the notes he wanted me to pick from them.

Comrade Oni regretted some decisions in life and would obviously relive them if there was an opportunity to have part 2.

One of them is the attitutude to the nationality question which Mr Kayode Komolafe engaged myself and Brother Tony Iyare on at the launch of Brother Lanre Arogundade book on Fela the other day.

He said it saddenened him to see the corpse of Oni surrounded by self-determination activities in spite of the fact that he was a leading leftist all his life.

But a few hours left to leave this side, Comrade Oni told me he regretted his position on asking people to ignore the nationality question. Even V. I Lenin defended it to the point of secession.

And he dropped this ‘bombshell’ I almost died after June12 when our Comrades including Bala Usman abandoned the class line and went with their bourgeoisie. Bala started to say it was bones of cows that were washed from the North to the

South-South that produced oil. Please don’t never join anyone to stay don’t resolve the national question. In any case, when the Soviet Union collapsed, people went to their nationalities and not their classes.

If Bala and Oni were to meet upstairs today that oil means nothing again, will the father of our Ports Managing Director still be saying the oil from Yenagao is from Katsina?

We may have to be throwing it off soon.

Comrade Oni did not wake up the following morning after we discussed but I remember every word now that we have more money from VAT than oil!

Nigeria has wasted all these years in the desert losing on our paradise. We had the clear path before we headed to the bush that benefitted no one.

I saw some wicked Govennors of the North talking about Almajiri as if they are not human beings and that coronavirus should just pick them them out for eleminination.

I have Google-cheked El-Rufai all the years they have been using this dangerous demography but he has never sounded this callous. There was only money to fund it.

The end of oil can bring some sense?

Even government in Abuja has been so drained of sense to announce that COVID-19 donation would now be taken into supplementary appropriation. I hope that these people will not one say they will begin to sell people into slavery once they don’t see money to borrow again.

There is the urgent need for all those who who have something to offer across Nigeria to begin to put on their thinking caps because if we leave this country in the hands of reckless men, they will mess it up.




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