Idlemindset

IDLEMINDSET | THE FOOD, THE WHOLE FOOD, AND NOTHING BUT THE FOOD

Today, we will talk culinary things and fine dining: where to get good food, how to eat good food, and most importantly, how to avoid paying for good food.

And in a N2.2bn banquet hall specifically approved for that purpose.

And  how to enjoy good food in a N2.2bn banquet hall specifically approved for that purpose.

In the tradition of vain imaginations and inane glorification that exists in this country, a lot of Nigerians think Federal Executive Council meetings are a gathering of serious men and women who meet every Wednesday to critically discuss how to fix national issues and solve existing problems in a sane manner—like an episode of The Apprentice, except without an asshole Donald Trump messing up the works. Sorry to burst your bubble, but FEC meetings are actually not that serious. Not in the way you think, anyway.

Son, whatever you do in life, do not google "FEC approves". The shock will kill you.

Son, whatever you do in life, never ever Google “FEC approves”. The shock will destroy you forever.

Now let’s leave the FEC for a moment. I know you’re hooked on reading on, but take a look away from your screen and ask any random person to give you three problems plaguing Nigeria and how these could be fixed. Any three problems, there’s a long list to pick from: corruption, insecurity, economy, infrastructure, health care, education, power, agriculture, oil and gas…

All those Arsenal fans.

…all those Arsenal fans.

Simple exercise, right? Any Nigerian can give you, not just the problems of the country, but also a fair, if crude, idea of how these problems can be fixed. So why do we still have these problems around? Folks usually assume this is because the government has no clue on what it takes, and these nice folks are quite happy to educate the government on the way forward. But, I’m sorry sweethearts, that’s a fucking wrong assumption. The government absolutely knows every in-your-face, down-and-out, expert-approved, consultant-sanctified, blueprinted, mapped out,  long and short solution to the problems of the country. They know it far better than you and I can theorise. But they are never gonna be inclined to use this knowledge. Trust me on this. Why the fuck not, you ask me with exasperation.  Simple, because the real goal of everyone in government is to find food to eat for the day.

"Now, you get it."

“Now, you get it.”

This is everyday life in Nigeria. The life of most Nigerians continually revolves around choosing between  having food to eat in the short term and consequently postponing a pressing problem, or going hungry and fixing the problem.  Take a look at the now cliched scenario of the N20 police bribe. The problem in that scenario is corruption, but the need common to the parties in the scenario is that of food.  You can’t quite blame the lean looking policeman for disinterest in fixing corruption, and interest in eating. He joined the police not to secure lives and property–but to get a job to eat. Also, you can’t quite blame the danfo driver who is not inclined to fix corruption either, but wants to pursue his daily bread. The market woman is out to find money for food, she is not in the market to fix environmental problems.  The lawyer needs money to be able to eat, he did not nearly sell his soul to raise the law school fees because he wants to fix the legal and judicial system. From the professionals who zoom out in cars in the mornings to the labourers on the field—everyone is looking for a means of livelihood. Bed and breakfast. Food to eat. No one leaves the house and says, today, I want to go out and solve a damned problem.

"Are you kidding me."

“Are you kidding me. I resemble your mama?”

Now, let’s get back to that unserious FEC meeting. Imagine in the meeting, a fresh Minister for Works,  excitedly outlining a proposal to construct a super metro system. When he is done  with his yarn, the President asks him  a few questions. (1) How long would the project take? Our Minister answers: 5 to 6 years. (2) Who are the proposed contractors? Some French engineers. (3) Who will put up the project money? Some Nigerian and international banks. (4) Will there be any profit? Yes, of course, from the commercial proceeds of the completed metro system. (5) Who will make this profit? Well, the Minister says nervously: the same banks that put up the money. (6) How, can we get our people into the deal? Errm, no way sir, this is strictly project finance, only the investors can make any money in the long term.

"Barth! Sssh! What the hell are you saying? You'll get fired!"

“Barth! What the hell are you saying?”

The room goes quiet as the President stares coldly at the Minister before he lashes out: “How the fuck do I explain to the contractors in the Party that I approved a multi-billion Naira project they cannot benefit from? Get your French engineers  to construct a defense for me, asshole! Do you think we are here to joke around?”

"I did not enter Aso Rock to count bridges in Abuja, man!"

“Do you think I entered Aso Rock to count the bridges in Abuja?”

And here’s the moral for today: the President, his ministers and the rest of the government are as Nigerian as you and I. They know the problems, they have the answers and they know how to implement them. But few problems can be fixed without someone giving up, or suffering, something. The elected official has no inclination to give up the perks or endure the suffering.  Therefore, the government will only try to fix problems that excludes the government from the pain of the fix—and too bad if the masses have to suffer that pain. On the other side of the battlefield, and especially in these days of Twitter and Google, the masses are beginning to understand the long con, and since they want to eat just as well as the government,  they will also resist these kinds of one-sided fixes. So the country doesn’t progress, and things remain the same. And that’s what Fela calls “stalemate”.

"Oh yeah!"

“Two men sit down under the sun, sharing one bottle of beer.  Then a lady comes and says: brothers, I beg, buy me one bottle of beer.”

Naturally, the masses are not going to give up their hard-earned pleasures to please the government’s selfish projects. And that’s the real problem with Nigeria—no one wants to suffer the fix to a problem while someone else gets away with the food. That’s the real issue: not corruption, not insecurity, not the  economy, not infrastructure, not health care, not education, not power, not agriculture, not oil and gas.

Not even all those Arsenal fans.

Not even all those Arsenal fans.

Of course, the ideal solution is for all of us, government and governed to endure the pain together. But who the hell is gonna start first? The general consensus of the masses is: let the government stop its selfish spending and selfish “fixes”, and show a willingness to trim its bloated belly to a reasonable size, then the masses will be willing to share the pain. Its not necessarily the nicest ideology, but folks wanna eat too. So, your move, government.

🙂

P.S. For our readers who look out for reference links, sorry for the absence today. Meanwhile, here’s something  for you.

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30 thoughts on “IDLEMINDSET | THE FOOD, THE WHOLE FOOD, AND NOTHING BUT THE FOOD

  1. There can never be meaningful progress and development if sacrifice is “sacrificed” at the altar of the present needs thereby jeopardizing future generations. I always ask myself a question, In my pursuit of “daily bread”, how well do I cater and care about others as well as solve problems without adding to the generation of problems afflicting us as a nation. The truth that need be told is “Everybody has a part to play in moving the nation forward”…. However, like you pointed out, “your move, government”…. Nice piece bro

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  2. Very true, no one is willing to sacrifice first, we forget that one day, when the entire system finally collapses, that pain we each refused to suffer, in the end we would eventually suffer it. One way or the other we get screwed. Either get screwed now or get screwed much more later

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  3. Ayo has done it again. I never considered things from this angle of everyone giving up especially on the part of the masses.
    We the masses complain say government first because we perceive insincerity on their part & if the head is bad…
    As for going out with a purpose other than ‘eat’, I shall put that in mind henceforth.

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  4. Well written Ayo, In March, myself and @teehidee discussed this same issue of sacrifice and it started with the removal of the subsidy shii, we came to the same conclusion as you… until a party choose to sacrifice Nigeria will be the same cool story we all grew up to know… remember hooke’s law of elasticity?… till she (Nigeria) reaches her elasticity limit , tired of the shit is being fed and break up to admit she is a mistake all along, on the brighter side.. who cares about sacrifices.. the world is ending in few days.

    Bye!

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  5. Ay, just pointed out smart GEJ and his Govt is, we should never say that he is clueless, We need to be smarter. Good one today sir.

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  6. I’m glad u quickly got over the ‘problems’ with Nigeria and also the fact that there are solutions, the absent ingridient remains the will, unfortunately its a culture and mentality of lack that generations inherit and pass on, so the ‘Food’ is never going to b enough now, is it? We r in a mess and it not changing anytime soon.

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  7. Yes every one has to sacrifice but you cant expect the masses to sacrifice what they don’t have.do u want us to sacrifice the very air thay we breath cause there is nothing that we the masses do have as it is now.we go hungry and allow the custodians of that bastion of corruption ‘fix’k the system,bros nothin go happen.I’m with you when u say its about the will not that we dnt knw the way or rather ‘they’…There are a lot of pp out there who acctually leave within their means and within the law.they go out each day nt with the primary role of makin d system better but trust me they don’t make it worse when confronted with a situation that wd compromise their ideals.wait!1st of all wt do u evn want us to sacrifice bros!???

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  8. An artistic, powerful piece.
    The softly-issued irreverent exasperated statements were pure art forms. The simplification of complex issues to a basic root cause – food, was as beautiful as the argument. Lesser mortals would shrink from having a debate with you seeing your methodical assembly of arsenals. Gosh not that word again.
    Swiftly moving on.
    Ayo is pure magic.

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  9. Hmm… In secondary school I was taught that the basic necessities of life are: Food, Clothing and Shelter. If the government of the day makes it easy for the led to have these three with minimal stress, there would be less corruption. Are we on the “Animal Farm” ? Where’s Napoleon?

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  10. How then do you factor in the fact that this food phenomenon you elaborate is not peculiar to us, this same food is the ‘drive’ all over the world even places/countries where things are ‘working’?

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    • It would be a hasty generalization to assume the whole world works for food. A brief google search will show you that public and private sector institutions in most countries are problem solving oriented.

      Literature and history will also show that individuals in developed countries choose and maintain careers based on passion and interest, not salary motivations. In fact, bankers and lawyers are generally derided as parasites in these economies—because these professions are not perceived as solving problems.

      Even without research, it is safe to say that the average policeman in New York actually wants to prevent crime and protect society, and because his socio-economic structure already takes care of his basic needs, he is not easily corrupted by a few dollars. The average policeman in Lagos does not give a damn about preventing crime—except to the extent that it interferes with his own daily bread.

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  11. Kindly echo dis quote in ur head-“A Nation that cannot live up to our collective dream,should not take away our individual sleep”.So dis sacrifice is like a mouse sacrificing its burroe for an elephant…to destroy!

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