In the popular rich Yoruba corpus, it is proverbially correct and metaphorically platitudinous that a dying ember leaves behind ashes, as the mature plantain trunk bequeaths space to the ambitious suckers that naturally enliven its memory. The same sense is valid of humans that extend their living through procreation. Common to every mammal, human beings also get socialised by their parents and the society in which they are nurtured, with residual imprints similarly playing consummating responsibilities. The younger human agency takes a lot of influence from his parents genetically, as the socio-cultural and politico-economic ecology also greatly makes some impact. Either way, an individual is, therefore, a product of the parents and the environment or society that extensively socialises him. To this end, both the parents and the society are beneficiaries of the finesses and liability of the human agency.
Against the background established in the foregoing, Ejikeme Mmesoma, as a stock of a sort, represents a chunk of the memory of Nigerians, either regionally or nationally. Mmesoma rose to stardom temporarily as a self-acclaimed top scorer in the JAMB result of the examination the board conducted in 2023, and permanently but negatively as a forger and scammer after it was proven that she manipulated her actual score of 249 to read 362, in order to secure scholarships from unwary good Samaritan like the proprietor of Innoson Motors and the Anambra State government. Mmesoma had taken every other Nigerian for a fool by using a known App on Google Playstore to manipulate her result that contrasted with the template used by JAMB, which bears some security features. It was good that JAMB, in Mmesoma matter, could timeously absorb itself of any burden and culpability, even when it could not guarantee the absolute integrity of its operations and handlers in the past.
Very conscious of the very many interventions that have been made on this matter, this piece seeks to interrogate Mmesoma in relation to some of the maladies that Nigeria is struggling with: recession, trauma, un/forgiveness and amnesia. Economic recession that has evidenced in multiple poverty of the majority of citizens in the country has more or less become a sing-song. In the past ten years, the naira has plummeted against the dollar, with corruption listed as the major dragon draining the resources of the nation.
From unaccountable crude oil monies, to crude oil theft; from the embezzlement of retirement savings of suffering old people to inflated and shoddy execution of contracts; from the dollarization of the Nigeria economy to unchecked consumerism that has dwarfed production, Nigeria has continued to oscillate between an endangered nation and a pariah one. The emigration of skilful Nigerians might not have left behind the wretched of the earth, but the gains other nations make of these forced movements would continually cause Nigerian pains.
Just as Nigeria strives to stay afloat in the economic murky waters, moral recessions have inflicted the country on all sides, as the postmodern fluid global space has imported strange and perfidious behaviours into the pretentiously religious Nigeria spheres. Yerima, the unrepentant vanguard of Sharia during Obasanjo’s regime, who married a fourteen-year-old Egyptian then, recently reminded us that he made a success of the child abuse he was accused of, as he claimed the girl has matured, and obtained a Master degree. This is as we have our sensibilities assaulted by the day with the news of child’s rape, sexual violation and killing of the aged, kidnapping for ransom, among many other criminal acts that young generation Nigerians have mastered, having being schooled by the greed and impunity of the political class. Lifestyle auditing would reveal many rogues in mosques, churches, roads, hospitals and mortuaries.
That Mmesoma manifested one aspect of the negatives of our existence was very instructive. Her culpability and guilt were reinforced by the video clip she made, apparently supervised by older criminals, meant to justify her masked misdemeanour, as she tried profusely to feign victimhood. This trick came out well to deceive and sway some emotional Nigerians who tenaciously preached her ignorance and naivety. Some others like me could see pride, deliberate machinations and obtrusiveness of a desperado-masquerade who must not be unmasked in the middle of the market. Nigerians are mostly crooks, who obtain favours fraudulently, and insist that the end justifies the means. It is worrisome that kidnappers and other criminal killers are living among the people unchecked. If security is local, and governments are saddled with the security of life and property, both community leaders and occupiers of government circles should expose and tame the monsters that have made life unbearable for the people.
In the Mmesoma’s inglorious video, she claimed traumatisation by the frontal disputation put up by JAMB, as the organisation tried to protect itself from the avaricious claims of Mmesoma. Mmesoma might have been traumatised, not by JAMB, but the thieving influence she got from greedy Nigerians. Going by the fact that trauma is an emotional wound that leads to psychological injury or distress, it is apparent that Nigerians have been traumatised by poverty, insecurity, poor infrastructures, poor health care, unrepentant grandiose/flamboyant and oppressive political class, economic woes and insecure future. We all still bear the scars of the memories of the Civil War, either as undecorated victors or unnamed vanquished, even as we continue to fight ethno-religious wars vicariously. The political class that takes delight in dividing the people along ethno-religious lines are quick to unite for the sharing of the national cake, while their followers grin and grind their teeth.
So many people have called on JAMB to forgive Mmesoma, after the organisation imposed three years ban on her, with implication of forfeiting her actual score of 249. The crediting of forgiveness to the strong by Ghandi has not made the virtue very popular, as humans naturally seek for the hurt and punishment of their aggressors, notwithstanding their religious claims. While the punishment of Mmesoma would serve as deterrent to others, forgiveness could also make her an ambassador of truth, if the post-event counselling recommended by Charles Soludo, the Anambra State governor, is properly handled. However, beyond forgiveness for Mmesoma, Nigerians should learn to forgive one another, rather than seeing every negative behaviour of an individual as an ethnic minus, as some blamed Mmesoma’s naked dance as an Igbo problem, making political capital from it by encoding her as emblematic of Peter Obi. It is worth noting that negativities and criminality transcend tribe, race and colour.
While some old Nigerians dread amnesia, a pathological condition leading to loss of memory or forgetfulness, as one of the retributions of old age, younger ones like to play politics with it, thereby receding to wilful amnesia or deliberate forgetting. By so doing, they would play down on the things that unite us as a nation, and fire the fault lines in order to promote self-serving divisions. While not suggesting anything like homogeneity in our citizenship, we must continue to strengthen the basic nuances of the humanity in us. It is through this that inappropriate attributes and behaviours would attract collective sanctions and rejection, as against ethnic profiling and painting all and sundry with a redundant rootless brush.
Marital exchanges across ethnic lines are now reduced to some burden of sort, while such overtures should traditionally help blur old divisive lines. Would we send the children produced from such beautiful handshakes to the evil forest or a new Republic? We have had reasons, across ethnic divides, to appropriate flagship people that made landmark achievements like J. J. Okocha, Fela Anikulapo, Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka, Akinwunmi Adesina, Dangote, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and so on. Therefore, we must together own people like Mmesoma who remind us of ourselves, rather than selectively deny them.
Predictably or evidently, the various hidden Mmesomas in our socio-cultural and politico-economic planes should be persuaded to abandon the unprofitable path of falsehood and criminality, as the saying is still very valid that all days belong to the thief, while just a single day is for the owner! Governments at all levels should note that with the economic recession exacerbated by the removal of fuel subsidy, Nigerians are increasingly traumatised, and forgiveness should not be sought from unforgiving people who believe their leaders are buffeting them, using the principles of wilful amnesia. It is a great irony that the market goats eat sufficiently while the petty sellers labour laboriously for the foodstuffs to be taken home.