GUEST COLUMNISTOpinion

Nigeria 2023: Tom and Jerry for president

By Promise Adiele

Tom and Jerry is a television cartoon series created in 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. It is arguably the most famous cartoon series on television across the world and commands a viewing audience of over one billion, with ninety-per cent of the audience children and youths. As a comic series, it holds viewers spellbound, glued to the screen with fantastic theatricals and exaggerated stunts orchestrated by a cat and a mouse involved in a game of absurd chance, melancholic deceit, and grotesque rascality. In the end, it is all a cartoon comedy, without any intent or purpose beyond the ludicrous.

Comedy, as a genre of literature, is universally acclaimed for many reasons. Besides providing entertainment through humour, it sometimes thrives on satire to squeeze parody out of social fabric, titillate the senses, and provide opportunities for jocular indulgences. When people laugh, they momentarily abandon their sorrows, and in utter negligence of composure and etiquette, let the heart be merry. Sometimes, laughter can throw people off their seats, or people can throw themselves off their seats in a pretentious gesture of laughter. It intrigues my critical mind each time I see tears roll down the eyes any time someone is engaged in serious laughter, and I ask, what is the connection between laughter and the eyes?  One day, I will revisit Biology for answers.

In our country these days, there are more reasons to cry than to laugh, therefore, the populace should welcome comedy of any hue with open arms. Whether it is stand-up comedy, comedy in core literature or comedy in a cartoon, we must welcome them to indulge our faculties no matter how momentary or fleeting. Whoever created the cartoon series Tom and Jerry must be a genius. How on earth was it possible to create two very unserious, trivial, frivolous characters with an unmatched, incredible capacity to amuse? In Nigerian politics today, many Tom and Jerry characters have taken comedy to a new height by indicating interest to become Nigeria’s president in 2023. Apart from entertainment and all the trappings of amusement such presidential avowal highlight, they indicate, gravely, the pitiable and hopeless depths to which we have fallen in this country.

It has gotten to a level where ordinary cartoon characters now aspire to lead over two hundred million people in Nigeria? This calls for a national emergency, a cry for spiritual supplication. Let the Christians pray, let the Muslims pray, let those who subscribe to various traditional beliefs offer sacrifices and beckon on the ancestors to save us. Tom and Jerry, celebrated cartoon characters are interested in occupying the highest office in Nigeria. Wahala dey o! I am not unmindful of such sanctimonious opiate as “it is their constitutional rights” which many people bandy about when a cartoon character or a jester indicates interest in elective public office. But must we dance naked before the whole world in utter disregard for the codes of decency all in the name of politics? Has the leadership of Nigeria become so pedestrian that Tom and Jerry consider themselves qualified to steer the ship of state? The immediate tragedy is that no matter who indicates interest to occupy the office of the president, there will be foot-soldiers and turncoats to lend their support. I have always maintained that if the devil comes out today and declares that he is the devil responsible for all the tragedy in the world, followers will emerge.

Certainly, one can argue that given what is going on in Nigeria now where many people insist that there is no leadership of any kind, Tom and Jerry can fill in the gap. If Nigeria can make struggled and laboured progress without leadership, then the country can make much more progress under any kind of character as a leader. This is the tragedy of our time. I am aware that Nigerians are all crying and wishing that 2023 should arrive so that there will be a change of baton from the current emasculating order, but we have not also looked inwards to the kind of change we want. It lacerates my heart that we are likely to repeat the mistakes of 2015 in our hurry to embrace change. Are we ready to accommodate all manner of cartoon characters towards 2023? Let us assume for one second that Nigeria will remain one country by 2023. Are there genuine persons, those who are versed and in tune with the various maladies confronting the country, speaking or aspiring to the office of the president in 2023? What is the position of the youths in the whole scheme towards 2023? The same youths rose in one accord and the police rogue department SARS was abolished. It goes to show that the youths can affect the leadership direction in Nigeria if they are minded to do so. The argument that ‘if Buhari can be president, if this character and that character can be a governor, anybody can be president or governor’ should not hold. From my close observation and analysis, Nigerians are gravitating towards the kind of mistake they made in 2015. We are inclined to such primordial sentiments like ethnicity, loyalty, and many uncategorized inclinations. Therefore we have become part of the political amusement circus, providing much-needed entertainment. Nigeria should not sink lower than the present situation by supporting a misfit, a cartoon character to become our next president.

Perhaps, hopes can come alive again if qualified, knowledgeable people can step forward and indicate their interest to serve Nigerians. Again, the stale and sterile submission that ‘our votes don’t count’ should not even be mentioned. Such statements embolden the treacherous and criminal minded to foster hell and brimstone on the polity. If educated people, well disposed and knowledgeable stay aloof, abandoning Nigeria to cartoon characters, then, we must be ready to tell our children stories of our complicities in their inevitable future anguish. When someone stated that he would love to see a Boko Haram repentant member become the president of Nigeria someday, many of us did not take him seriously. If care is not taken, 2023 will produce the most absurd, comic, inconsequential character as president which will decorate the present dispensation in glory.

I do not want to believe that a country of 200 million people cannot produce a genuine candidate for the office of the president. Yes, many will argue that as long as APC and PDP are the leading political parties, as long as the candidate will come from any of these two political parties, then, no matter how saintly the candidate may be, it is a foregone conclusion that Nigeria will continue to wallow in the whirlwind of brutal fate. Well, such a fatalistic argument proffers no solution and makes nonsense of all our education and exposure. There must indeed be a way out. Beyond the cataclysmic conditions in Nigeria, quite beyond the eviscerating circumstances all over the country now, the bigger challenge is staring everyone in the face and that is 2023. I foresee danger at the national and state levels with the calibre of cartoon characters that are indicating interest in public offices. Because of their inordinate ambitions, because of their selfish pursuits, these cartoon characters have looked away while the ordinary people stew in the juice of extermination in the hands of cruel leadership. Truth chokes these cartoon characters, reality too is not a part of their menu. Their commitment is to conceal evil as long as it will guarantee them a free passage to the position of leadership in Nigeria. They refuse to speak when the devil bellows. Wahala dey o!

The body language of all the regions in Nigeria suggests that they are all willing to continue to exist in Nigeria as one country. In that case, 2023 should be taken seriously. This is because all the voices of secession are all cartoon characters with no bite except to constitute a nuisance to themselves and their regions. Is it possible that come 2023, Nigeria will be left in the hands of criminals, bandits, crooks and double-dealers, those who have no iota of idea about what Nigeria needs to become a better country? Cartoon characters have no vision beyond fulfilling a deep-seated ambition to hold political offices. This maniac insistence to become president, we all thought it was for a good cause in the past but today, we know better. We cannot deliberately open the door to another horror experience in 2023. These questionable characters with all the putrid baggage hoping to lead Nigeria in 2023 should please stop the insults. I am sure Nigerians have learnt from the mistakes of 2015 and will never repeat them. If the cartoon characters insist, believing that Nigerians will remain fools forever, they will be treated to the greatest collapse of their existence to the envy of tsunami. Our love for comedy must have limits, even our love for Tom and Jerry.

*Dr Adiele teaches in the Department of English, Mountain Top University promee01@yahoo.com

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