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Beauty and the beast

By   /  January 29, 2014  /  No Comments

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The irony of the relationship between beauty and the beast is that power resides in the beauty. The beast is powerful, no doubt. It has all the qualities of the conqueror. The beast is primitive, raw, uncouth, greedy, fierce, unforgiving. On the other hand, the beauty is fragile, vulnerable, built to seduce. On the surface, that is.
The Nigerian beauty today is not the winner of Miss Nigeria, but oil. It is not for nothing that crude oil is called black beauty. It is sleek, glistening, and takes on all the dazzling shapes we want of it. It can be willowy, it can be fat, tall, short and long. It is the malleable beauty of the age. It is vulnerable in that it cannot hide for long. We seek it, find it and use it. It flirts and plays hard to get while ensconced in its wells in the same way a damsels eludes the suitor. It is the quintessential target of the lusty.
In the end, it falls. But does it? Just as we know that it is not Samson who is more powerful than Delilah and King Kong cringes at the sight of the vixen, we all are at the mercy of the beauty of the age: oil. The intriguing thing about beauty is that it can be humble about its appeal and its superiority. Like a smile that melts muscles, it cows nobility. It fights without effort. Some psychologists have call it passive aggression.
We are the beasts, the Nigerians, the raw exploiter. Oil, the beauty, does not propagate its charms. It is just there, loud in its silences, in the well of abundance. We have fought wars over it, just as the beauty Helen of Troy inspired hatred among the Greeks. We have built palaces and skyscrapers in its name just as Taj Mahal was a monument of love for a woman. It can be the hub of corruption as men have defiled their dignities all through history for the love of women. All the graces have issued from it: chivalry, heroism, piety, patriotism. Also the vices: debauchery, murder, theft, parricide, hypocrisy.
The tragedy of any great life comes from how it handles its beauty. Nigeria has not done well by her beauty. We have oil the beauty in abundance, and it has been faithful from the first time we set our eyes on it in the 1950’s. We have not been faithful. We have fought wars, denied our history, oppressed the poor, corrupted the rich, encouraged laziness and abandoned learning, and above all abandoned God. When we call God, it is because we want him to give us access to the fruits of this beauty, its shapely profits, its giddy joys, it extravagant lifestyles. Other than that, we have acted like Samson and forgotten the God who gave us this willowy empress.
Recently we went to war as a nation over this beauty. Some persons, they called them young Turks, abused this beauty by taking advantage of subsidy. They bought private jets, palaces abroad, choice boats, and their families know Nigeria only as leisure visitors. In exploiting this beauty called oil, they kept others in penury. When they spent one million naira, the ordinary folk managed one naira. They abounded in luxury and hauteur.
The ordinary folks decided to shut down the country. Who says this beauty is not more powerful. In fact, the poet Y.B. Yeats describes it as “a terrible beauty is born.” Beauty is terrible, but the rest of the ordinary folks wanted to follow another characterization of beauty by Russian author Dostoyevsky who said beauty will save the world.
Well, soldiers were sent to fight against vulnerable men and women who went to the streets to fight for their own share of this great beauty. The leader of the country, Goodluck Jonathan, loved the beauty so much that he would not be part of sharing her glories with the common folk. The leaders of the protest, however, wilted and succumbed because they were offered a little of the beauty’s holy of holies, and they promised us that they would make things better.
They would build new refineries so that the beauty, powerful as she is in her crudity, can be refined into sophisticated glory. That is, we shall have new beauty salons known as refineries. But what of the old ones? The person in charge called Diezani Allison- Madueke, a woman in charge of our beauty, promised that the new refineries also known as beauty salons will be upgraded so our beauty cannot only serve us but will be less terrible, will save us. A consensus seemed to have been reached between Yeats and Dostoyevsky, as terrible can also be saviour.
We quietly exulted. Beauty is not only a charm, it is a great tease. She teased us and we fell for it. Then just recently she said the refineries will now be sold. The same refineries that would be upgraded and used to make our beauty more profitable for us?
Well, it seems we can do nothing about that. Yar’Adua had turned it from private hands when he said the process was dubious but Jonathan said no, and it had to come back to private hands again. All of us know that the beauty called oil has always done well outside the suffocating hands of government. Its sense of romance lies only in exploitation. If it has happened t telecoms and PHCN, why not refineries?
If it will go to the hands of the private hands, at least the beauty should be allowed to pick who will refine her. The story is making the rounds that they want to give the refineries, the beauty salons, to fronts, or favoured sons. This will be another abuse of the beauty. Let all the suitors be allowed to make their cases before the beauty, and we call that transparency.
Obasanjo sold them cheap and Yar’Adua reversed it. We want it transparent, and let the best suitors win. There are four refineries. Let whoever gets it be the person who did the best for the beauty. We have to look at their competence, history, capacity. It is like the wrestling match to determine the best suitor. Everyone, including the loser, cannot dispute the winner, because all are witnesses. We want transparency, not fronts.

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