What the Mountain taught the Mouse…Turtle, Buhari, Atiku and others

January 29, 2019 Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS

AFP photo



Prince Charles Dickson



Welcome to Nigeria, it is the land of every-every, anything and everything goes, you wake up rich and may die poor, you sleep poor and you will be doing a thanksgiving over some billions that you cannot account for; in her almost 60 years it has given enough drama and soaps to last a life time. A nation in which a point you think you know, the next minute you know not.


We always get to 11:59 but never get to 12:00, you take a well worded, bankable promissory note on what you are almost so sure will happen and then they disappoint you, whether the governed or the governing class, and forgive my lexicon…In the words of Falz, “everyone is a mother f hypocrite…” If you are not Nigerian you cannot understand ‘Toilet dey hungry me’.


I start my short take with two narratives—


In June 1931, the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci wrote a letter to Giulia Schucht, who lived in Moscow and with whom he had two children. One of the children – Delio – had taken an interest in literature, with a particular fascination for fantasy literature. This gave Gramsci, locked in a fascist prison, the opportunity to recall a story from his village on the island of Sardinia.


A child sleeps, a mug of milk at his side for when he awakes. A mouse drinks the milk, which provokes a scream from the child and his mother. ‘In despair, the mouse bangs his head against the wall, but he realizes that this doesn’t help, and he runs to the goat to get some milk’, writes Gramsci. The goat says he will give milk if the mouse gets him grass, but the meadow is dry because of a drought. So, the mouse seeks water from the fountain, which has been ruined by war. It needs the mason, who needs stones, so the mouse heads to the mountain. But speculators have deforested the mountain, and it ‘reveals everywhere its bones stripped of earth’.


The mouse explains his predicament to the mountain, and he promises that when the boy grows, he – unlike the rest of humanity – will replant the trees, which motivates the mountain to give stones and so the child gets his milk. ‘He grows up, plants the trees, everything changes: the mountain’s bones disappear under new humus, atmospheric precipitation once more becomes regular because the trees absorb the vapours and prevent the torrents from devastating the plains, etc’. In short, Gramsci writes, the mouse conceives of a true and proper piatilietca’, a five-year plan.


What the mouse and the mountain teach us is that everything is connected. There is war here but also deforestation for profit and drought and greed. The child, when grown, recognises the need for deliberate planning. But before the plan comes the recognition of linkages.


While stitching up the hand of a 75-year-old garri farmer, who got cut on a gate while working cassava, the rural doctor struck up a conversation with the old man. Eventually the topic got around to Buhari and Atiku, politics of course.


“Well, you know,” drawled the old farmer, “these politicians are what they call a fencepost turtle.”


Not being familiar with the term, the doctor asked him what a fencepost turtle was.


The old farmer said, “when you’re driving along a country road and you come across a fence post with a turtle balanced on top, that’s called a fencepost turtle.”


The old farmer saw a puzzled look on the doctor’s face, so he continued to explain,


“You know he didn’t get up there by himself, he definitely doesn’t belong up there, he doesn’t know what to do while he is up there, and you just gotta wonder what kind of dullard put him up there in the first place!


This is it…we need Buhari, Atiku, we need all those shenanigans called third force, Oby, Duru, Sowore, Moghalu and some 70 others, any of them who wins like the turtle wouldn’t have known what to do, how he or she even won. For the front-runners I recall several weeks ago referring to them as the last Mohicans.


Whether Buhari wins or loses, he has very little to offer, if Atiku wins or loses he has nothing to offer, Apostle Obj, Imam IBB, disciples like Danjuma and co are all part of the problem and the problem itself is Saraki, Ekweremadu, Duke, and their likes are needed.


Like what the mountain taught the mouse, we need to learn the linkages, we have near 36 state governors that epitomizes the good, very good, bad, extremely bad, and most ugly in governance. But for a democracy to grow, we need all the current mess; the nation is growing albeit awkwardly painfully we are growing.


It is good we are sacking Chief Justices, arresting opposition, after all they are all same difference (crooks)…the questions are not about the truth, in law, it’s largely logic, the paid piper, it’s one law for the rich and the other for the poor; we are learning the linkages.


The nation needs to stretch its limits, test its constitutionality, mend, and do repairs till we all have and minimum acceptable standards of best practices whether it be in governance or personal life.


Nigerian Muslims, need the Christians, we all need to see MURIC, CAN like NLC lobby and pressure groups with a cor-opetive spirit of corporatively competing for the best interests of the nation. We need to know the Igbos are not the problems and the Yorubas are not the solution, the crumbling oligarchy whether Hausa, Fulani or the political Hausa-Fulani is not the only pot of merit.


If we leave the turtle on the fence, we will continue to haemorrhage badly, confusing selfishness for patriotism. We need an Oby as council chairman and let’s see the council become mini haven of all she’s wanted of Nigeria, Sowore should be given the agriculture forte let’s see how our cannabis can become the bedrock of many a health cure and foreign earning.


Moghalu should run a world class Nigeria birthed financial institution. We forget that we all don’t have to be perfect, we need each other, there is need to see what the mountain taught the mouse, we need stop being the turtle, there is no need debating when we know the truth, and unless we are ready, elections after selections, we will keep crawling very slowly forward and running backward with speed till when—Only time will tell.






Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.

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