There Are No Innocents Here By Chinyere Fred-Adegbulugbe

A couple of months ago I was coming back from Kuje, an Abuja suburb, when I stopped along the way to buy some mangoes.

A friend who gave me a ride in her car the previous weekend had told me about the reddish big mangoes and how delicious they were. She also reckoned that the red skin would definitely mean some additional nutrients not available in the yellow ones I was used to. I decided to try them out.

But on the day I decided to buy them, being not very familiar with that species of mango, I wasn’t sure they were ripe, the attractive reddish skin notwithstanding.

So, I asked the seller if they were ripe and ready to be eaten.

“Anti, dey don ripe”, she told me in her spattering broken English.

When I touched the mangoes the texture was telling me another story so I asked the woman again if she was sure the mangoes were ripe and she swore with everything she could remember that the fruits were ripe enough to be eaten immediately.

“Dey don ripe well well, na so the skin dey if e don ripe”, she assured me again.
I believed her.

Fast forward to about 50 minutes later when on getting home I pranced into the kitchen with my ‘prized’ purchase, ready to ‘demolish’ the mangoes after thorough washing.

But one slice of knife through the first one and I almost wept. The mango wasn’t just unripe; it hadn’t even begun its ripening career.
By the time my knife when through the remaining three, I realized that I had thrown away my hard-earned N500. None of the mangoes was edible; not then nor in the near future.

I didn’t know which was more painful; that I had salivated for nothing and also wasted money or that I had been defrauded by a fellow regular member of the famed ‘Oppressed Masses Organisation of Nigeria’.

Tomorrow this same woman will, in good conscience, join other members of OPON to chant about corruption, injustice, impunity and other ills. We, like the Pharisees of the old would count ourselves above board – after all we can’t be oppressed and also be corrupt and guilty – while pointing accusing fingers at every one and anyone else for every evil that has oppressed Nigeria.

Neither she nor the rest of us will ever link her capacity to willfully deceive a random stranger who decided to buy goods from her to her inability to attract a more benevolent leadership whether at the local, state or national level. No, we would rather go hoarse with cursing the acclaimed villains than make the inevitable deductions.

And so we keep going in circles, a people in an endless exercise of searching for what is clearly not missing while refusing to acknowledge the obvious.

At every level, in every sector, the regular Nigerian no longer knows what humanity is or what it demands. And because we have lost sight of those very vital grains of the great up building, probably because they appear too insignificant to matter to us, we now spend our energy on platitudes and empty motions.

Making motions that produce no movement has become our common signature.
Does it matter whether or not we hounded Goodluck Ebele Jonathan more than three years ago from Aso Rock in our search for the ever elusive development and stability? Does it matter that many of us are prepping ourselves to repeat that same motion in 2019?

So, armed with our PVCs we kick out whoever we’ve had enough of and install the next saint. We get the Senate to pass all the trendy laws: Not too Young to Run, Not Too Confused to Run, Not Too Poor to Run, Not Too Stupid to Run, Not Too Female To Run and whatever…but then nothing changes.

The civil servant in that office will still hide your invoice till he’s assured that a sizeable portion of whatever profit due to you from the contract shall find its way to his pockets.

The banker driving along that road on his way from the multimillion naira deal meeting will still finish eating his corn and throw out the cob from his posh Toyota Camry without blinking.

That fruit seller in Utako market, will still use calcium carbine to force ripen her fruits for quick profits. It doesn’t matter that she has been told that the agent is known to cause cancer and also causes food poisoning, gastric irritation and mouth ulcers.

Please don’t harass us over any of the above. After all, we are the oppressed and it’s the sole responsibility of the leaders to take us all to El-dorado. They are the guilty party. We are just the oppressed innocents.

But when is it ever that the blind has successfully led the blind?


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