The Nigerian music industry although have currently failed to serve us the purpose it did in the days of Fela Onikulakpo Kuti, has been a platform of marvellous talents and creativity, that depicts Nigerian content and satisfies the Nigerian populace, so much so that one track from 2Face tend to make more sense to many Nigerians than any rap piece from the western world. At this point, just as a Nigerian, Harry Song’s trending highlife hit, ‘After the Reggae Play the Blues,’ make so much sense to me as I chose to relate it with a trending mantra in Akwa Ibom State; “Dakkada.”
The musical piece has a resemblance of a playwright’s style of literary narration which rises from conflict between characters, or climax to anti-climax and subsequent resolution. To a law inclined fellow and a conflict resolution expert, the song title best fits into a case of conflict and conflict resolution. To historians, it sums up in deconstruction and reconstruction of history. These are an imaginary representation of what blues and reggae music stands for. While the latter employs a rather ‘rugged’ way of rendition, instrumentation and dance, and hence climax, conflict and deconstruction as in the eyes of a playwright, lawyer and historians; the former takes a sober mood, calms the tempo and engages in a deep conversation with thoughts and emotions as reflected in its soft tune and inspiring lyrics. Blues here can be viewed in the light of anti-climax, resolution and reconstruction.
The query as to if Dakkada is another blues after the reggae follows an antecedent of ‘theoretical hope’ after the ‘rugged’ climax of general elections, which speaks louder on paper and microphone than in deed. This kind of blues after reggae on the long run made Akwa Ibom to develop a terrible thick skin and became strongly allergic to ‘greatness.’ Unfortunately, the succeeding blues has always been as temporary as dust rising to fall. In the days of the late Obong Akpan Isemin, abolition of ‘etok etok’ syndrome was invoked with its peculiarities and central message. This was pertinent as the then Nigeria had not only marginalised the Akwa Ibom State, but Akwa Ibomites so comfortably swam in the pool of low self-esteem and inferiority complex though the state was barely in her early years of existence. Many years went by, another came, ‘Akwa Ibom Ado Ok’ (Akwa Ibom is Okay), a blues that the then Governor Godswill Akpabio had played after the PDP-AC reggae in 2007. Ado Ok like blues, rent the air with sweet romantic soft tunes of the most peaceful state in the Niger Delta amidst militancy in the region; Ado Ok inspired families who could not send their children to school through free and compulsory education; it curbed child labour and abuse; it told whoever cared to listen that house help industry in Akwa Ibom is closed forever; it was just the good. On the reverse side of the coin, Ado Ok diminished, it fell like dust, its blues changed to war song in a much uncoordinated manner and almost at the same pace with the positive side of it. The very sweet blues would turn Akwa Ibom youths to beggars who eat from politicians’ gate; it shamefully made joblessness to escalate into giving us the record holder of the highest number of socio-political groups to include an embarrassment such as ‘Association of Unemployed Graduates.’ Ado Ok killed us to the ‘soul’ when we would pride ourselves as P.A’s for a living, selling our souls to Satan himself when we swear oaths to our principals just to prove our undivided loyalty. It was all through this age that supposed unbiased leaders like royal fathers and clergy would stoop so low as to feed from endorsing politicians without minding where integrity and honour left to. Need I bring to bear the fact that while some of us who were ‘hungry’ and stupid, would glory in self-imposed activism against anything good from the government, others bid farewell to creative ideas, turned away from opportunities and would still accuse and curse unnecessarily.
Eight years came and gone when Ado Ok ended with Uncommon Transformation, only to make way for yet another reggae as it played out in the build up to, and the 2015 general elections. I once posited in this column that anything that comes into Nigeria is subject to be panel beaten, bastardized and in fact, abused to the maximum and this applies both to what comes in and what originates from here. Interestingly, I have been tempted to believe that the only ‘real’ thing in Nigeria is time, not even the professed change that floods the news every day. Not too long ago, the late Prof. Dora Akunyili came up with “Rebranding Nigeria project,” a resembling concept with Dakkada. Rebranding Nigeria made so much noise that sounded real, yet like Akwa Ibom Ado Ok, it died even before the end of the administration that fronted it. Why? No one could answer. Today, Akwa Ibom is at it again, basking in the excitement of the sweet blues of Dakkada. A part of Aniekeme Finbarr’s mind blowing piece “DAKKADA: AN INVITATION TO GREATNESS,” notes that this development is actually meant for those criticising it and while I see with him, I see another thing. Those preaching the dakkada gospel actually need to ‘dakkada’ (arise) even more than the ones being sceptical about it; they are those who did same (preaching the gospel) in Ado Ok and here they come, hoping to win as usual and I simply wonder how it will be this time. These were the stock who worked with Akpabio and in whose collective hands, Akwa Ibom was demoted to ‘etok etok’ state to quite a significant extent. If you doubt the state that we are, refer to Osondu Ahirika’s note, “AKWA IBOM WHERE IS YOUR FIRST ELEVEN?” An article reminding us that we have more of ‘local champions’ who have no space at the national scene like the Yorubas, Igbos and even Hausas.
A certain ex US president said that one cannot do the same old thing and expect a new result and Jesus Christ as well noted same when he talked about putting a new wine in an old wine skin. Just as one of my tutors back in school would write off an unserious student by acknowledging in his script ‘you are irreparable,’ I fear that most of the dakkada ambassadors are unapologetic and unrepentant bad eggs in Governor Udom Emmanuel’s government. Simply put, irreparable elements. I fear so because they have greatly benefited from selfishness and stinginess for the past eight years or so and simply wonder which part of their lives would allow dakkada to achieve its loudly trumpeted aim. I fear that dakkada might be a moral transformation and spiritual rebirth artificially imposed on the governed, excluding the government and the individuals who feel they are somewhere at the top. As Senator Akpabio once noted that what is morally right, cannot be politically wrong, I fear whether our political class subscribe to this philosophy. I care to know if the dakkada moral transformation will honestly include civil service employment by merit, obeying traffic rules by the leaders including the governor and a serious positive change in perception of power.
Further, over the years we have had a terrible masses whom my boss, Mr. Itoro Columba would describe as the ‘yes sir’ or sheepish followers. Typical instance is, flaunt N2,000 or N5,000 to an ‘average’ Akwa Ibom youth and he would prostrate for you at one moment, and would do same to another who pays higher. The idea is, the highest bidder, or the ‘Ono Owo Mkpo’ (a giver) is the boss. Give an ‘average’ Akwa woman especially the one in rural area ten cups of rice on December plus N5,000 and she sings your praises for the rest of the months. Not just that, the ‘yes sir’ minded populace in the state are overwhelming and the yearning for irrelevant things among the youths are on the rise. My pity goes to the governor whom, if very serious about dakkada, will make more enemies out of his friends. Already, the speculation that Governor Udom is not an ‘Ono Owo Mkpo’ is fast spreading and many are not comfortable with it. The status quo has been that the best man is he who would always ‘find something for the boys’ and not the one who wants the ‘boys’ to be gainfully employed in legitimate and dignified way.
That said, it is only necessary not to be unpatriotic at this point. As in business, I see dakkada as risk with probable result. It is either we crash land, or smoothly arrive a destination of greatness, depending on what input is given to it. I see a philosophy where we will (if dirty politics permit) refuse to constitute an unpatriotic population which is the biggest threat to our existence. A way of reasoning that open my eyes to business opportunities, rather than to form or join a group with the hope of earning N2,000 in every government event, plus a wrapper or T-shirt. That, which will cause me to think positively of my environment, take good care of public properties, spend time on creating ideas and finding solution to problems in my community. I see dakkada as a trend where a commissioner or legislator from my area will not delight in making me his ‘aboy,’ but consider supporting my business idea or sponsor my brothers and sisters to read professional courses. I see a watershed of turnaround in education, where my brother in secondary school can read and write and not under a tree or leaked roof, but in a conducive class room; an education where my sister in Community Secondary School is taught with the same science apparatus as those in Topfaith Secondary School. A dakkada where my pastor will no longer fabricate sermon to impress the big man in church and supress the small man just so he gets a car gift or fat tithe. A new dawn where the government will respect the rule of law and its duties to the people and of course a dakkada that will not on the long run imply ‘suuk tie’ or ‘suuk na.’ And if this is another blues after the reggae, it better have a steady and sustained romantic rhythm that will not fade with time.
Assuming I buy the idea, I do hope and pray that his excellency will not spend a fortune to buy many dakkada T-Shirts, organise countless events for dakkada, set up a committee or forum consisting politicians who are corrupt beyond repairs and flood the media with dakkada, lest he becomes a leader of propaganda and achieve everything contrary to the philosophy. This way, he won’t only disappoint me with a ‘talk-talk’ philosophy and temporary blues, but would prove those who see nothing good in him right. I pray that he rather disappoint the ‘boys’ who are not willing to change from begging and finally reconstruct the history that no one could after the days of Justice Udo Udoma. If it is time for us to manifest as ‘Akwa’ (mighty) state, so be it.
God bless Akwa Ibom State!