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And the monarchs ‘wept’

To those of us who had to read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, as part of our colonially-concocted university curriculum, the following lines may not be unfamiliar.…

To those of us who had to read Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, as part of our colonially-concocted university curriculum, the following lines may not be unfamiliar.

“When the poor had cried

Caesar hath wept

Ambition should be made of sterner stuff.”

We might also recall that the lines were part of Mark Antony’s speech, when he stood by Julius Caesar’s dead body, subtly trying to rouse the Roman mob against Caesar’s murderers. 

As we have read, Brutus, Cassius and the other conspirators had tried to justify Caesar’s assassination by saying he had grown too ambitious and wanted to be a mighty emperor, as opposed to their existing political arrangement.

So, to counter that narrative, Mark Antony had delivered his famous funeral oration ‘I’ve come to bury Caesar but not to praise him’, which included the lines above.

His simple argument was that Caesar had such empathy for the poor that when they had a reason to cry, he had wept along with them.

Of course, we all know that this is a metaphorical anecdote. According to William Shakespeare, Caesar was so haughty and proud that he couldn’t possibly cry in public. Not even in solidarity with the poor.

This past week, we’d heard two highly-respected Nigerian monarchs ‘weeping’ over the fate that has befallen our ordinary compatriots.

In the same way as no one saw Caesar’s tears, in Rome, all those centuries ago, we didn’t see actual tears falling down the cheeks of these royal fathers. But by their words, spoken in solidarity with the common man, we know about their concern and secret tears for his plight.

In a much-publicised welcome address to the First Lady, Mrs Remi Tinubu, His Royal Highness, the Emir of Kano Alhaji Aminu Ado Bayero, fired the first salvo when he ‘sent’ her with a special message to her husband.

The simply-worded missive was that Nigerians were facing a lot of hardship at the moment and Mr President should do something about it.

The monarch explained using Mrs Tinubu as his ‘postman’ by saying “Although we have several means of communicating to the government, on our needs and requests, your way and means is the surest (way) to tell the president the actual happenings in the country.

“The issue of insecurity is another serious problem we are facing. I know your government inherited it but something more serious should be done to take care of the threats.”

The First Lady responded by assuring the Emir that things will get better soon.

But two days later, His Eminence, the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar III, fired the second shot.

While delivering his address at the 6th Executive Committee meeting of the Northern Traditional Rulers Council in Kaduna, the Sultan warned about the impending danger of having hunger and hardship in the country, alongside a teeming number of unemployed and idle youths. He described the situation as sitting on a keg of gunpowder.

In his own words, “Some new governors have come on board while others are having their second term and still, we are faced with these insecurity issues. To make matters worse, we are now faced with the rising level of poverty. Most of our people lack normal sources of livelihood.

“However, I believe talking about insecurity and poverty are two issues that we cannot fold our arms and say everything is okay.

“I have said it so many times and at so many fora that things are not okay in Nigeria and of course, things are not okay in the North.

“….We must find jobs for our teeming youths that are sitting idle and I have said it many times, we are sitting on a keg of gunpowder. Millions of youths without jobs, without food; we are looking for trouble.”

His Eminence then called on state governors as well as other stakeholders to join hands together and find solutions to all the problems bedevilling the North and the rest of Nigeria, while believing that “At the end of this meeting we will have good suggestions for our political leaders and for our security chiefs, that when such are implemented, we will have a better North and at the same time a better Nigeria.”

Personally, I was glad that the two royal fathers have voiced their thoughts in solidarity with the masses of our people.

I had no idea people would find fault with such a noble gesture, until I read some commentaries regarding the two monarchs’ interventions.

The commonest complaint is that the monarchs were being partial because they didn’t say anything when their “brother” was the president and things were going wrong.

They were accused of ‘finding their voices now’ because the man at the helm is a Southerner. And I find it shocking that intelligent, alive and aware Nigerians, who are daily witnessing what’s happening today, are alleging regional bias to the hunger and security crises we are facing in the country.

Thankfully, the daily protests against hunger and inflation being held in different parts of the country show that there is neither North nor South in the definition of hunger.

While it’s true that some of what we’re witnessing today is a direct result of what the past eight years of the Buhari administration had failed to achieve, but things would have changed for the better if the Tinubu government had pursued better policies with regards to our economy.

As things stand now, while retaining the high-handedness and insensitivity of some Buhari policies, the Tinubu administration is also adding profligacy to its list of attributes.

Why would a government in Abuja, whose officials are housed and stationed here, at the taxpayers’ expense, still decide to embark on renovating the old official residences of the President and his Vice in Lagos? And at the whooping cost of millions too.

Why would a government that’s so hard up it has squeezed the rest of us by removing fuel subsidy, still embark on the purchase of very expensive vehicles for national lawmakers, some members of the executive and their wives, as well as pay for an ultra-luxurious yacht for Mr President? 

And now we are faced with the possibility of a hike in electricity rate because its subsidy is about to be removed too. And you say we have to look the other way while our people are dying of hunger and falling victim to violent crimes?

There are many other reasons to feel this government has not much concern for the suffering of the people. And so, whoever can warn its officials, about the looming danger in ignoring the wishes of the people, should be applauded.

And this is why I truly salute our revered monarchs for ‘weeping’ when our poor masses ‘cried.’

 

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