Editor’s note: The writer, Buchi Obichie, draws a comparison between the optics of the 'modest cake' which was used by the president to mark the nation’s 57th Independence Anniversary celebration with the troops, and the ‘national cake’. She notes that while the visual for this year’s celebration was good for the president’s image, the reality of the situation in the country is that the national cake is unevenly distributed, and enjoyed by only a select few.
So the president spent the nation’s 57th Independence Anniversary celebration with the troops in Borno; and you’ve got to give it to the Aso Rock PR team, those guys were on point with the ‘optics’ this time around.
You see, the president’s PR team doesn’t always get it right- like when they said Buhari couldn’t use his office because of rats, or the whole fiasco over the president’s illness and the way it was presented to the public *side eyes at Lauretta Onochie and her great goofs*- but on the 1st of October 2017, the visuals presented to the public about the way our number 1 man celebrated the day was superb.
First off, the president chose- wisely- to mark the day with the troops fighting against the Boko Haram insurgency…in Borno state.
What better way to act like he was one of us, than to move away from the splendor of the FCT!
And what better way for the Commander-in-Chief to assert his authority than to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our men in uniform!
But then, what caught the attention of most of us was the Independence Anniversary cake. `It had the normal colors of our flag- as it should have- but it was ‘small’!
I mean, for a nation whose successive governments are notorious for spending absurd amounts of money to mark the yearly event, the cake this year was beyond modest! In fact, on social media, people started referring to it as the smallest Independence celebration cake in the nation’s history!
In Nigeria, cakes are a very important part of celebrations.
When we were little, my mum would go all out with our birthday cakes; and there was one for each child, every single year until she passed *RIP mummy*.
Being a girl, mine was always pink - even though I hated the color- and my brothers always had blue ones. My mum was very particular about her choice of bakers; and our cakes were always delicately made and superbly decorated.
Nigerians love cakes, and we have them made for almost all celebrations. We love cakes so much that on Rochas Okorocha’s recent 55th birthday, the women of Imo state baked him a whopping 27 cakes! *I don't think that was a healthy choice though*
We are so enamored with cakes and all that the treat symbolizes, that we even refer to the nation’s collective wealth as the ‘national cake’!
The funny thing though, is that there is a huge disconnect between our national cake, and the ones we eat at celebrations.
You see, when I and my brothers’ had our birthday parties, my mum would ensure that every single person who attended the celebration had a piece of the cake. It’s usually the same with other Nigerians who have celebrations to mark a special occasion.
But then, for our national cake which symbolizes what ought to be our collective wealth, only a select group of people have been feasting on it since 1960!
And therein lays the nation’s dilemma!
Nigeria is a land where the rich get richer feasting on the national cake, while the poor spend their days in penury, wondering where the next meal would come from. In Nigeria, the difference between those at the top of the ladder and those still struggling to latch on to the lowest steps of the ladder is like night and day!
To those who have been feasting on the national cake since independence, this country is a land flowing with milk and honey. But to the rest of the citizens, Nigeria is a land of uncertainties, where only the strong survive.
I wonder if President Muhammadu Buhari was aware of the irony in the symbolism, when he shared that ‘modest’ anniversary cake with the troops.
That while the ‘optics’ of such a small cake would certainly score him a few points, the reality of the situation is that our ‘humongous’ national cake- yeah, make no mistakes, there is ‘wealth’ in this land- is being shared on a daily basis, by a select few who have held the country to ransom and run it like a family business since time immemorial!
So what kind of anniversary cake would be baked for Nigeria’s 58th Independence celebration next year? I’m guessing one just as small as this year’s, or even smaller- I mean, Buhari is a man who likes to pride himself in his simplicity.
But then, the fact of the matter is that even if the president marks next year’s celebration in the heart of Sambisa forest, with a single ‘cupcake’ painted green and white, it still won’t change the fact that Nigeria’s wealth is unevenly distributed and that most citizens are still waiting to reap the dividends of being stakeholders in such a wealthy nation.
We are still waiting for our piece of the national cake!
This opinion piece was written by Buchi Obichie.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of NAIJ.com.
How Nigerians celebrated the 57th Independence anniversary in Umuahia - on NAIJ.com TV: