By Isidore Emeka Uzoatu
The parachute has always featured in the Nigerian story. What with it being the magic wand that had been used to drop the first federal troops in Biafran territory. Thus, it can be argued that it was the prime saviour of our federation at its most dire of moments.
Never mind that prior to then, the most prevalent tale about the parachute in Nigeria came in a joke. Perhaps you’ve had the privilege of overhearing it like my humble self. If you haven’t, let me afford you the privilege of its repetition. You can thank me later. After all, what are friends for?
In it, a compatriot on a foreign trip needed the services of the hotel’s laundry to straighten out his three-piece national dress. He promptly dropped the pile of ruffled apparels, and left for an appointment. Apparently, it wasn’t a problem that’ll have him miss a crucial appointment.
Anyway, trouble only reared its head as the attendant started recording what was deposited on his desk. Of course, he successfully identified the trouser; and easily, too. And the top gown, as well; but try as he did, he couldn’t get to calling it a shirt. However, only the third item had him in a quandary. The most massive, it evidently consumed so much material that the young man was at an instant loss.
Well, like the story went, he had subsequently called up all the experience in him. He then spread it out for better scrutiny, in process turning it upside down as well as inside out. At the end of the pantomime, he promptly recorded it as what it incontrovertibly appeared to him: a parachute!
And who would blame the young man. He had grown to his present teen ages used to apparels sewn to taper to the body. So much that the consideration of voluminous wearables was alien to his yet inchoate understanding. Like recounted by Bomber Billy in James Ene Henshaw’s This Is Our Chance, ‘the incipient discombobulation left his brain in a state of constant tintinnabulation.’
In fact, even in his wildest dream, he could never have nursed the imagination that one human being could waste so much material to make one item of clothing. In fact, it was an abject indictment of the inventors of such malodorous folly, that had him distancing the apparel from human adornment – save in a crisis.
Anyway, that was a joke. And like we say here, it’s different from Joke which is a Yoruba feminine nomenclatural autograph. Indeed, till date that anecdote stands out as the only association of the contraption with the nation in any comedy strip I know. So the onus is your to regale with any other that you know. I’m waiting.
Yes, because the only other time the parachute has featured in the Nigerian tale is still playing out as I write. And, according to all abiding indices, it portends nothing but danger. What with it being the only aid that can muster the power to stem the apparent free fall our national currency is currently embroiled in.
Galileo Galilei, remember him of the earth and sun revolution controversy? He happens to be the guy who, 400 years ago unearthed the free fall analogy. Academically, it hinged on the role the weight of falling objects played in their descent. How novel it must have then appeared is better imagined than lived through.
Ever since, science, like we now know, has gone nuclear. In effect, so many laws and formulae have since been applied to the phenomenon. In fact, it has been captured in so many equations that, no doubt, had been impossible back then. So much that presently, depending on where you are coming from, any object in a free fall has two correlates to its trajectory.
Yes, the followers of Isaac Newton and his mechanics theorems see the object as only being acted upon by gravity. However, with the rise of relativity and the reduction of gravitation to a space-time curvature, Einstein’s lot see no force whatever acting on it.
Sorry for the digression but methinks right thence lies the rub. O yes, for whichever of the diatribe we choose to cling to, it leaves the Naira in a lose-lose situation. After all, come rain or shine, its plunge – like a guy I know has described the strange descent – is surely driven by a pull. So we can safely assume that it’s either gravitational or its equivalent in earth science.
Never mind that according to the guru – whatever ever else can he be – this strange pull amounts to nothing else other than mismanagement. He did bet on his rather strategic honour that the currency was bound to bounce back if the correct measures were taken. To imagine that he had even gone ahead to list a leaven of them, shivered my very timbres on end.
And this is discountenancing the tale by one other unpatriotic loafer that the Naira is on a free fall. Yes, according to this one, the devaluation – thank God he didn’t say plunge – isn’t ending soon. So going by the spacecraft capsule he used in buttressing his hypothesis, it will not abate till it hits the sea. Like once upon a holy writ I dare add.
Put otherwise, though, we cannot but assume a better fate for our local currency. So what it is currently undergoing can best be likened to a paratrooper on a routine test jump. True, its survival from the drop hinges on a lot of other factors. But the first thing that’ll keep him alive a little longer is the prompt deployment of a landing aid.
You see, being patriots par excellence, we are more guided to take a middle-of-the-road stand. Any wonder this second option appears more feasible. Whatever the genesis of the Naira’s fate, we have a revelation to make. And it’s that the time is nigh for whosoever is concerned to see to the immediate deployment of the Naira’s parachute.
According to our findings, the beleaguered currency is only on a skydive. An occasional pastime of all world currencies, it only gets out of hand when the parachute is not deployed promptly. And the time is now. Else what is supposed to be a salutary handshake crosses the elbow, morphing to fisticuffs unannounced.
So like Sonny Okosun sang back in time, albeit over a different issue, it’s now or never. Any further delay may turn out too dangerous by half. This, I must say, is a crucial opportunity that we should never have waited upon to even approach, let alone knock. After all, it’s not for a lack of parachutes. What with the umpteen of them on display in the hallowed chambers of our capital territory.
*Uzoatu, the author of the novel Vision Impossible wrote in from Onitsha Anambra State.