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NO DO GRA-GRA FOR ME with DANN JACOBS

The FG is in trauma. It is facing endless troubles. It is a prospective patient in the Specialist Trauma Clinic, it just opened in the federal capital. It should go and receive treatment there in order to have the presence of mind to administer the huge country. The clinic comes in handy to do just this. If it can successfully handle FG’s trauma, it has largely served its purpose. FG’s trauma is more debilitating than that of its people it set the clinic up for. It was well advised to establish the clinic. It came just in time. This is the way I feel about the almighty FG today. I am sorry for it.

FG’s trauma is something it has bluntly refused to disclose, discuss, call attention to, or even admit. We know what happens to a sick person who hides his sickness from people. He dies of it. No two ways to it. “Expose illness and it goes”. This is an age-old Igbo wise saying. FG should learn from it. In calling in the just concluded national confab, the FG in a way admitted to its ill-health. But sadly enough it did not say where she is aching; what she is suffering from. It left it to guess work. An onlooker or observer cannot know better than the patient what she suffers from. The traumatized FG, despite the confab, remains with her pains in her sick bed. The confab has carried out tests, made a diagnosis, and given prescriptions which are now available. But these were done without the patient’s (FG’s) input. That’s where we are.

The FG has just sacked resident doctors. The doctors disappointingly have responded with defiance. They ordered the FG (against the discipline of their high education and respected profession) in response, to withdraw the sack order, or face the consequences, consequences being the death of so many people. We don’t know who is oga again. It is the same way Sanusi Lamido Sanusi thrashed the FG when he was sacked as CBN governor. He told them off, and got away with it to go and become the king in Kano, whom the same FG must pay homage to whenever it goes to Kano. I don’t know where the superior authority is again – trauma galore for FG. What I call all that, however, is gra-gra – on all sides, if you know what I mean by that.

Gra-gra is empty threat, empty boasts. It is a very dangerous tactics. You suffer for it sooner than later. You suffer trauma. You are boasting of doing what you are not capable of doing. It is talking before thinking. If the opponent sees through the emptiness of this boast, usually backed by weakness, it brings out the worst in him, and he puts out everything he has for the fight, and you are done for. The gra-gra man runs quickly out of steam. He would only lick his wounds when the fight is over. He does not last the fight. He ends up in defeat. Or he will be the first to call for a truce, when combat is yet to start. The strong in battle don’t do gra-gra. They talk less. They go out with real strength that they can sustain to the bitter end.

Personally, I don’t like any one doing gra-gra for me. Not the least your country that is supposed to do things like the giant of Africa we claim to be. But in this country it is a way of life now to do gra-gra. Can you imagine that the boko haram is said to be more and better armed than the armed forces of Nigeria? This impression is allowed to persist and appearing to be true. Everybody is doing gra-gra for me and you. FG’s troubles, as a result of this, are not raining. They are pouring. The troubles are “own goals” it scored itself into its goal post. If we have to name the troubles one by one, we will be unable to find enough breath. It is our blessings we are supposed to name one by one, not our troubles. If you name your troubles, it will be surprising what the devil has done. I’d rather count my blessings and name them one by one, so that it will be surprising what the Lord has done. But this country drags me along with it to rather count its troubles (our troubles).

While grappling with one trouble another one comes; and yet another; and then another. They come in torrents. And the blessings are forgotten. It makes it difficult for me to count my blessings (which are many). I cannot be surprised again, because I can no longer see what the Lord has done. This is another aspect of life as a Nigerian. People cannot realize this because they only see troubles, shortages in infrastructure, power supply, water, food, love, housing, fruit of the womb, money and all what naught. The worst now is gra-gra on the part of government, deceiving us about virtually everything.

Before boko haram got out of hand it was the ASUU strike. The FG and ASUU did gra-gra for quite some time – nearly one year. In the end they saw the futility of it all. The only current trouble that doesn’t look like gra-gra is boko haram. They seem to mean business. And they appear ready for a long battle. But unfortunately the FG is doing gra-gra about it. The other trouble is Ebola. Like HIV/AIDS, Ebola has caused so much panic in the FG, more than it did in the populace. These troubles were met with confusing tactics, gra-gra as well. The gra-gra in this is the lack of self-confidence which the FG shows when she tackles problems in Nigeria. It runs from pillar to post – to America, Europe, Asia, eventually to God who has given Nigeria everything it needs to survive, abi? Nigeria in the circumstance forgets self-reliance and self –help, and of course its self-respect.

Let’s say we have crossed a major bridge in the national confab. Wait a minute. Not until we have seen FG’s reaction to the final report, how soon it does that, and what the implementation will look like, the bridge is not yet crossed. I am prepared to consider the national confab a gra-gra too, a familiar FG tactics that only keeps problems in abeyance, until time changes everything, for better or for worse. The Chibok girls is a case in point. A freedom date for them has been set in October. Have they been located? What is the basis for this new dateline? Gra-gra again! Is it not?

I don’t know if it is a curse or a good thing that we have a population that does not doubt the government. It does not suspect it or ask it questions. If any one does, every one is shocked. When an Ebola patient was said to have been cured and discharged from hospital ( now 4 are cured and freed), it helped in no small way to make the disease no longer as deadly as it was said to be by the very government that raised an incredible alarm over it. Anybody could have run away from Nigeria by that alarm. People have been relaxed by that information, about avoidance of the disease. If it was so inexpensive, quick and easy, to cure (and it is after all curable), why the panic about vigilance in order not to contract it? The disease was portrayed as a death sentence, as it was said to be incurable, and kills within hours. But now the patients were cured. We don’t know if it was done miraculously or medically. The medicine used cannot be known. What is being done about the others in isolation is not to be revealed.

If I may ask, how can the FG face Ebola without all the country’s doctors (who the country has a great shortage of) not only being at work, but also being well-motivated to offer their services? The meaningless altercation between doctors and FG shows that there is no health emergency after all. I suppose that at all costs the FG should see the doctors resume work. This gra-gra of a thing is dangerous, you know. It replaces diligence. You are not thoughtful while doing gra-gra. What you do is window-dressing, lip-service, playing to the gallery. It doesn’t pay. It is misplaced pride. Those who have died of Ebola are being disposed of as logs of wood in the bushes. What happens to their selfless service to humanity when the virus struck them? What is humanity’s reward or compensation to them, for the supreme sacrifice they made, ignorant of the risk involved? Yes, they may be put away where they will not infect others. But should they just disappear ignominiously like that at death while working to save life?

The case of numerous HIV/AIDS patients has paled into neglect because of Ebola. No one talks about it again! There are cases of cancer all over the country, now relegated to the background by Ebola. Should this be so? Part of our gra-gra is noticeable in the strenuous effort to be the first to use any difficult foreign word that comes out, to sound educated, intelligent, impressive, and to speak good English, to be highly thought of. The word this time is quarantine. It was pandemic before. There were so many other such high-sounding words. We have heard them too many times for a life time. Everybody is at rest. But the trouble is still there. The Nigerian official uses them to cover incompetence and the ineptitude of his office. It is a perfect cover, while doing nothing. No leakage. What is happening to Ebola suspects? How will they regain their self-respect and be re-integrated into society of healthy people. You think people will not run away when they come back? This is a problem for the suspects, who are known to have been isolated for Ebola, largely falsely; and for normal, healthy people who do not want to die yet, because the country has put morbid fear into everybody just to do gra-gra (appear to be serious and doing something to get world approval).

What gra-gra does is to bring our horses to the stream. It cannot get them to drink. It has taken root in Nigeria, with great disadvantages. It doesn’t call for preparation and readiness before any battle. The energy dissipates easily, and the opponent takes upper hand. The trouble escalates. It is worse when the enemy notices that what is on display on the other side is mere gra-gra. The Western world knows about our gra-gra. That’s why they always floor us in everything, even in football where we have undisputable, formidable raw energy advantage and some expertise. If not for our gra-gra we should do better.

I am in total agreement with Lagbaja, the hooded Yoruba musician, who issued the open warning in one of his popular songs, having seen so much gra-gra in his country’s private and public life. Show your true character. Be yourself, rather than try to frighten people away with the power that you do not actually have. The expression, gra-gra is value-loaded. It says a whole lot about this country. The musician was wonderful in capturing this in two short poetic words. Musicians do this more exactly than us, journalists. I admire them for that.

 

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