Scorpions and frogs of Nigeria

I was talking of how comprehensive incompetence of some of our compatriots who lack ability to lead is doing much damage to this country and may sentence it to death if we don’t reset quickly.

The wonder in the piece was the likely dangers we face with those who went to hold a sectional meeting in Kaduna and still had the shameless gut to be mouthing “indivisibility” and other words they don’t know the meaning. The apartheid gathering had in attendance all Arewa big men holding federal appointments. I mentioned that those who attended that meeting and sanctioned it would do other million things wrong and would not see anything wrong with them because they can’t just see it because they are narrow-minded and have no regard for others.

We had yet to put that behind us when news filtered in that the Federal Government which had shut the Western borders with other Western countries had opened them for northern businessman, Alhaji Aliko Dangote. The action sparked rage in the country. I particularly noticed the forthrightness of Mr Atedo Peterside in condemning the largely inconsiderate action that shows disregard for other businesses that have been dealt a deadly blow for several months. Ghanaians who have been taking it up against Nigerians in that country can now see what the government is doing to Nigerians.

As the airwaves were bombarded with the angst against the decision the comprehensive incompetence showed up again with the Federal Government explaining that it was unfair to say the borders were opened for only Dangote but they also did for BUA with Lafarge and others and millions of businesses that have to use the borders not an issue for them.

It then occurred to me that what is wrong with these people goes beyond incompetence and I remembered the fable of the scorpion and the frog. A scorpion, which lacks the capacity to swim, asks a frog to carry it across a river on the frog’s back. The frog hesitates, afraid of being stung by the scorpion, but the scorpion played the frog Taqqiya and argues that if it did that, they would both drown. The frog considers this argument sensible and agrees to transport the scorpion. Midway across the river, the scorpion stings the frog anyway, dooming them both. The dying frog asks the scorpion why it stung despite knowing the consequence, to which the scorpion replies: “I couldn’t help it.”

In the ‘Scorpion and the Turtle,’ it is a turtle that carries the scorpion across the river, and the turtle survives the scorpion’s sting thanks to its protective shell. The turtle is baffled by the scorpion’s behaviour because they are old friends and the scorpion must have known that its stinger would not pierce the turtle’s shell. The scorpion responds that it acted neither out of malice nor ingratitude, but merely an irresistible and indiscriminate urge to sting. The turtle then delivers the following reflection:

“Truly have the sages said that to cherish a base character is to give one’s honour to the wind, and to involve one’s own self in embarrassment.”

The moral of this fable is thus stated explicitly, and not left to interpretation. An important difference with The Scorpion and the Frog is that, in this fable with the turtle, the scorpion does not expect to drown. In some later versions of the fable, the turtle punishes the scorpion by drowning it anyway.

The fable does not explicitly state the moral it tries to teach, and thus it is left to interpretation. A common interpretation is that people with vicious personalities cannot resist hurting others, even when it is not in their interests.]

The Italian writer Giancarlo Livraghi has commented that while there are plenty of animal fables which warn against trusting vicious people, in none of these other fables is the villain suicidal. The Scorpion and the Frog is unique in that the scorpion is irrationally self-destructive and fully aware of it. But the base character gives no  damn.

The French philosopher Gilles Deleuze, by contrast, saw the scorpion not as a character structure but as a fictional character made a victim of circumstance: “his desire becomes fatal destiny owing to an unfortunate combination of contingent factors. To a social psychologist, the fable may present a disposition view of human nature because it seems to reject the idea that people behave rationally according to circumstances. The French sociologist Jean-Claude Passeron saw the scorpion as a metaphor for Machiavellian politicians who delude themselves by their unconscious tendency to rationalise their ill-conceived plans, and thereby lead themselves and their followers to ruin.

The fable teaches the danger of being in the same boat with vicious characters whose nature is riding on the backs of others with a mindset that they have a divine right to do so and they owe them nothing behave anyhow even when they know it imperils others and them in the prices. In my “Arewa song of conquest’ in 2015 I pointed out how our friends were already discounting the vital support from the South West frogs that gave them victory saying they were not up to the figures they got up North. I knew stinging would not cease.

Nigeria has been a case of some people being frogs on whose backs the scorpions have to make it to the other side and all tthey get in return is perpetual sting because the scorpions have no consideration for those who provide their backs and would always act themselves. For a fatalistic people who believe it is Allah who placed you there for their use no favour can be credited in your account.

The reason we have been asking for restructuring so that under federalism, the scorpions and the frogs can survive on their own and the indiscretion of one would not lead to the destruction of all. But the scorpions of Nigeria’s approach is that the frogs must live a perpetual life of the horse carrying the riders about and suffering stings intermittently.

The ultimate thing that would happen is that the scorpions and the frogs would not jointly make it to the other side as is the reason Nigeria has not been able to make predictable progress and will not, is the false union.


…Peterside Atedo’s ‘soro soke’

At a time evil is enveloping the land and the culture of silence is being spread here and there, one business gentleman played the commendable one by raising his voice loud and clear in ‘soro soke’ (speak up) order. It is now if we spoke we will die and if we don’t, heaven is the destination. When we have to recall this season down the cline like we do about Abacha days, we will remember the words of Peteriside on the wrongheadedness of selective opening of borders for Aliko Dangote in the darkest season of Nigeria. We file his Atedo Peterside tweet: @AtedoPeterside: “Allowing legitimate exporters & importers to move their goods across the border should be a no-brainer. Why refuse everybody else & allow only one company (Dangote)? This is why some of us argue that the Nigerian economy is rigged in favour of a handful of well-connected persons.”



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