ajagunna

I discuss Nigeria and the world at large because I strongly believe MyOpinionCounts!

Category: MidweekSpecial

Na Who Debauchery Epp?

“With these thoughts in my mind I came to Italy and Sicily on my first visit. My first impressions on arrival were those of strong disapproval-disapproval of the kind of life which was there called the life of happiness, stuffed full as it was with the banquets of the Italian Greeks and Syracusans, who ate to repletion twice every day, and were never without a partner for the night; and disapproval of the habits which this manner of life produces. For with these habits formed early in life, no man under heaven could possibly attain to wisdom- human nature is not capable of such an extraordinary combination. Temperance also is out of the question for such a man; and the same applies to virtue generally. No city could remain in a state of tranquillity under any laws whatsoever, when men think it right to squander all their property in extravagant, and consider it a duty to be idle in everything else except eating and drinking and the laborious prosecution of debauchery. It follows necessarily that the constitutions of such cities must be constantly changing, tyrannies, oligarchies and democracies succeeding one another, while those who hold the power cannot so much as endure the name of any form of government which maintains justice and equality of rights.”
Plato, 360 B.C.E.

Plato is wrong! Damn wrong! He jumped too early into conclusions. Ignorant outbursts. SMH. I’m laughing out loud. LOL. LMFAO. He never was in Nigeria before making this ignoramus of a statement, in fact of himself. He should have waited, or traveled a little farther. He didn’t walk enough. He would have met the great people of Nigeria. Yes, they were all great. No jokes. I don’t have such luxury when I’m reading Plato, The Great. He is such a writer. A great man. A Great Prophet. Of Our Time. Daddy. How did he know there was a man called Senator Dino Melaye in Okunland? This Plato is more than any president!
President Buhari needs to read him. Somebody please read Plato’s The Seventh Letter into Buhari’s good ear. Not the bad one, please. Yes, there was a line, in fact a whole paragraph in the letter where Nigerians apologized profusely to President Buhari for voting him into office. They said it’s time to go. If you don’t believe me, Google the document. It’s there for all to see. It’s history.
Plato called out Saraki and Tinubu goodly terrible names. I’m not making things up. But wait o, what if Plato was a man like Chief Obasanjo, a man who wrote books, a genius, and all the books are full of lies, contorted truths, shistories turned on their heads. And I’m here reading him. Jesus save us from us! We are back from 360 B.C.E. to torment hell into us!
Welcome back, Good People. Let’s ignore Plato. And dance away our problems. Who intellectual debauchery don epp? What intellectual debauchery!!! Debauchery?! What’s the word? What does that mean? I don’t know. I didn’t check, like many of our people, we don’t check, and if we do, we just don’t do. Like the last manifesto before the election. Who understood the document?! Not me. Who get that kain time? At least, I know I don’t. Life is too short to care about non-existent beauty.
Who needs beauty and good roads when there is Gala and LaCasera to sell. We are too much. We are like that. Ahen. Now that I have used the word “Debauchery” I can go back to reading Plato. It feels so cool showing off in a time like this. Bad time it had been. Worse time we had. This is Buhari time. So cool. Asiko yi a tun wa lara o. May this time soothe us like Aboniki Balm. Do they still sell the balm? My neck aches.
Who reads Plato when the country is not well-runned?! Have you ever heard of an hungry deadman? It will not happen. Strange times are here. A Woman, Pastor Wife. Killed. She was not dismembered, as in her head was still joined to her body when she was found dead in her own body. The vice-president church member. That’s an improvement, I mean that completeness of the dead. We are grateful. At least, the president urged us to respect each other’s religion. That was the last time the person who was killed and dismembered was found out not to have been dismembered but only killed. Did that make any sense? No? That wasn’t my intention too. Life is too short to make sense. Not when you can afford not to.
Everybody is tired. No, only some. People like us, poor masses who cannot afford a new car. That’s why we hurting on the good president. Leave him alone. Go grab your husbands and wives. He’s not your president. Can’t you see that? SMH. We are poor and our children finished from England universities. We can afford it. Go to hell if you can’t afford your own children. Why you born them? Useless (wo)man. Thank you. You too. Go and steal if that’s how easy stealing is.
The Man of Daura never wanted to be Head if State. We forced him. Like Tinubu and his gang did with a forced presidency. After the inauguration, somebody said it felt like a big mistake and a relief at the same time. That somebody was Sahara Reporters. I added the relief part. That is a lie.
Back to Plato, he mentioned fuel scarcity in The Seventh Letter. Look not too far. I will quote more when I finish reading him and submit my opinion on my blog. It’s a free world. Grab a copy of NTA and read. Many terrible things in the news these days. Oshiomole. How I wish this people can read Yoruba. Kai! Disaster Has Now Not Only Known Our House. It’s now living with us. At first, we thought it was a joke, we told Disaster we had no stood. Or is it stool. The thing to sit down. Like magic, Disaster produced a fine golden chair and sat with us. Eating, praying, sleeping with us real good. We are pregnant as I speak. May we deliver in peace. IJN!
We are enjoying it. All the roads had been bad, were bad, are bad, will be bad. Please somebody tell Oshiomole to stop the accusations. It’s not his fault. The loan he collected will not be asked back from him. He may keep the whole money. Patapata porongodo. He’s not a useless government. Unlike his predecessors. I don’t mean the people he replaced. I don’t mean anybody. Who wan die! I’m not visiting Nigeria anytime soon. The price hike is revoked. By a court of law. Who cares? After all, it was in the sky The Minister of Darkness announced the price hike. You don’t get it? Don’t worry. This is the truth. The man accepted to grant interview. He told us in the sky. You all must pay more for the darkness to get worse. There’s light at the end of the tunnel. Only if you agree to pay more. You all on your own now. He kept a promise. Bad belle will carry nobody nowhere. We are in this together. Congratulate him! Haba!
Buhari, unlike Jonathan, will serve two terms. He’s doing a good work. See him in the military regalia. He is so cute. Sai Nigeria! Just like Jonathan some years back. Some caps simply don’t fit again.
Our Buratai is a richman. He earned all that money. You haters are going to hate, anyway. Buratai. General Sir! We love you! Leave the haters out. EFCC will cater for them. They have started well, sealing off the offices. We have to start somewhere. Anywhere belle face. We need no plan. Professors support the corruption fight. I’m not a professor. I support too. What’s the price of tomatoes got to do with making Nigeria corruption free. The masses are in support. Like Nigerians in diaspora and home love to say. Na corruption we go chop? Who corruption don epp? Bad habit. I crazily like the sound of that word. “Epp!” I can’t have enough of it. That’s why I use it here. Like Debauchery. The thing sound well for ear. Like Nigeria. We need more of it.
At least trillions have been recovered in promise. Trillions of money. To fill the Atlantic Ocean! We are not broke. Hell forbid! We are not broke. We repeat that enough and the truth, this truth shall set us free. We are free. Free at last! The Man of the People has made it clear. No free money to share. Only wise and people friendly thieves can steal. Go back to livestock. Go back to where you come from. Go get life.
The president understands what Nigerians are going through. I assure you people, it’s like that in Germany. Everywhere in the EU. Money is scarce. Children beg for money on the streets in Brussels too. The Capital of the EU. I’m not joking. Begging is not a Nigerian problem. This is not peculiar. My people. Let us calm down and continue. It’s like that everywhere in the world. Who change don epp? LOL. SMH. I am not laughing out loud. Check my article on Pestilential Beggary in Brussels. The records are there.
Our children go to school in swamps. I mean not in Brussels. In Lagos. Those on festland have terrible classrooms. I went to school in that kind of place. Yes. When I saw VGC children for the first time. I mean I became a teacher after all and taught richpeople children. That was when I realized you either get rich or die trying. Nigeria is like America. Two countries. What is two? plenty countries in one. The rich don’t worry. They are rich. Pray you are not poor! I know what it means to be privileged. I have seen it with my my two korokoro eyes. Privilege. That word. Ehn. It’s not a richman word alone. There are privileged poor. Poverty get category. Nigeria is that kind. I know because I moved all my growing up years in that circle.
Let’s leave that. Back to the issues. When is the speed-train inauguration? We call it ICE. Inter-City-Express in Germany. In France. TGF. Or something more chic. America and the UK don’t have that. That’s what bad belle can do to a country. Nigeria. We are not bad belle. I heard the speed-train is in the pipeline. Many things are in the pipeline. That’s why Niger Delta Avengers are bombing pipelines. Goldrush. The mad goldrush. There is gold and plenty of madness. It will go round. Whatever that means. Boko Haram has been decapacitated. Our girls are not back. The ones found are living large, hail and hearty in Aso Rock. Our government has given us life. We are thankful. I swear we are.
The other time, good rich people in power and politics shared food with the poor. To celebrate End of Ramadan. That’s the spirit. In Ekiti state the same spirit worked. , the magic is near over. The stomach infrastructure has its limits. If given a chance, Nigerians would vote overwhelmingly for the Man of Ekiti. To fight later. Don’t argue it. We did it before. Facts are like that. Like PHCN and NEPA. Hardly distinguishable. Many years ago. We voted proudly for Jonathan, followed by Buhari. Fayose is not that bad a choice considering who we are and where we are headed. Even if he is not educated, Fayose speaks English. Good or bad. At least he speaks. Buhari hired lawyers to argue out his WAEC certificate, most times doesn’t understand what he’s saying, and he doesn’t care. Old people are like that. I am old too. Especially those of us who can afford the school fees of our children abroad. This is what we do. We don’t care.
Nigerians and our leaders are genius. We always set newer standard. We raise the bar. So that people with commonsense may never reign over us. Yes, reign. Not rule. Who commonsense don epp? That’s our genius. Think about it. We started with Obasanjo, a man with 20 thousand Naira to his name, according to the El-Rufai mythology, now we are here, dealing with a man who could not afford APC Nomination Form. I was moved to tears when I read the news. I wrote op-eds. Many people did. Professors. Diaspora and Home. Inbetween the two, we had Yar’Adua and Jonathan. Think am, my people. We are lucky. Who knows what the Christian God has in stock for us next.
I’m not curious. I’m interested. There is a chance I will make my first one million Euro with the information at the jackpot. Really, somebody should create an app, like Pokeman. Guess who is Nigeria’s next president and be rich. Nooooo. Rara. Not gender, names, or things like that. Those are for idiots. Not for Nigerians. Choose among the four we had so far. If you guess right, you win. Hey, I should patent my great idea before it’s stolen. I’m the next big thing. Albert Einstein. More books. More books. This summer will be bahd. Real bahd. I’m jobless. I need to find ways to turn this into money. Any epp? Who knows Aso Rock? Abeg. Na we-we-arrangement. Sure. I go settle. Thank you.

MidWeekSpecial by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed: In Quest for True Change

Isiaq 'Deji Hammed. An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed.
An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

Just when you think it is time to take a deep breath and hibernate, albeit temporarily, from political debates and engagements, the Nigerian breed of politicians have their ways of reminding you that your plantains and yams can just not be safe in their hands. Tie those hands. Muzzle the snouts. For where? Theirs is a special specie of rapacious goat, never satiated. Always inclined to pillage and amass tons of yams and plantains which they never need; and never will. They are poised to go to any length in the pursuit of inordinate ambitions, surpassing all imaginable benchmarks of corruption.

There is fire on the mountain. The change project we invested so much in, indeed unquantifiable resources…all for the love of the fatherland…must not be gutted! For months. For more than a year. Increasing in intensity as the historic 2015 general elections drew near. Finally, vindication came. Rightly, the Nigerian hoi polloi saw in the Buhari’s victory the triumph of the enslaved majority over the enslaving minority. The advent of Buhari considered as one of theirs was for them the breaking of a new dawn, of liberation and of life more abundant.

Perhaps still basking in the euphoria and ecstasy of hard-won victory, little did they know that in the journey to freedom, the rain that fell has caused the pigeons and fowls to intermingle. The drama oozing out, for some times now, from the two hallowed chambers and which later culminated in this free-for-all show of shame lay to bare this stark reality. The need to separate the wheat from the chaff becomes an urgent imperative.

There is no mincing words. Having Dr Bukola Saraki as Senate President in this era is a monumental disaster. Senator Ali Ndume as Senate Majority Leader is another national mishap. These folks have heavy moral and ethical burdens which in saner climes require quarantining from public positions until names are cleared. Among other lawbreakers who will make laws, perform oversight functions, approve federal budgets and Presidential appointments aside other critical national duties for the rest of us are Stella Oduah, Buruji Kashamu, David Mark etc. Too much a burden for a people so desirous of change.

One begins to wonder if the President will have enough breathing space in this kind of scenario. Too often than not the masses get carried away with presidential and gubernatorial polls that they forget about the parliamentary leg of the tripod upon which rest the affairs of governance of the state. In short, Buharism has caused strange bedfellows to share a cage. Reason things began to fall apart and everything is no longer at ease. The consequences of that mob-instinct non-discriminatory block-votes are as legion and as catastrophic. The anything-but-this-party mentality born out of the twin brothers of blind love/detest for a person/group explains partly the appalling situation the Osun State economy has plunged into.

In the 2011 general elections, the people of Osun, like most electorates in the recent elections, voted for anyone with the portrait of Ogbeni Aregbesola on his or her campaign poster (and recently for anyone with APC logo). The end result being an Assembly of yes-yes men who (fore-)see not, criticise not, scrutinise not, pre-empt not… thus the ambitious Governor became carried away with the worries of where Osun ought to be, the state began to bite more than it could chew. Among these yes-yes men was no single voice of wisdom to caution the overzealous Ogbeni; particularly on the need to create rooms for days like these! There were hardly debates on the necessity of saving up for rainy days. The consequence stares us in the face: Today Osun cannot meet its statutory financial obligations to its teeming worker. For months. The state economy remains grounded. Such is the price of mob-instinct, blind followership and polity devoid of  constructive opposition.

Back to NASS. With the emergence of these crops of lawbreakers, who are poised to hijack this victory from us, is a clear reminder to the change agents that the battle is not won yet. We have realised our electoral faux pas already. Once bitten,  twice shy.  Saraki and his accomplices must understand that it is no longer business as usual. It will be in their best interest to fall in line, become truly born-again and swim with the tide of change. Buhari’s call for an alliance between the grandparents and the children against their prodigal parents resonated very well amongst the youth demographic. It may need re-echoing here:

In recent times Nigerian leaders appear to have misread our mission. Our founding fathers, Mr Herbert Macauley, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Malam Aminu Kano, Chief J.S. Tarka, Mr Eyo Ita, Chief Denis Osadeby, Chief Ladoke Akintola and their colleagues worked to establish certain standards of governance. They might have differed in their methods or tactics or details, but they were united in establishing a viable and progressive country. Some of their successors behaved like spoilt children breaking everything and bringing disorder to the house. (President Buhari’s Inaugural Speech, May 2015)

These children of anger have vowed to support anybody that embodies that hope for a changed nation where they will have access to the basic necessities for a decent living and where their future will be secured. They expressed that vow through their protest votes that humiliated the men of yesterdays out of power. And they will not rest on their oars but resist any person or group of persons that try to thwart their dreams. That resistance is palpable in their eternal vigilance and clamour for open NASS, paycuts, reduced numbers of political appointees and other waste in governance.

One step at a time. Ordinarily, it should not be hard to whip the likes of Saraki back to line. Since they have cases to answer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The presidential declaration “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” definitely excludes those that do not want to belong. Those will be the reactionary and conservative forces who excluded themselves from the fatherly open arms of Mr President and his extended hands of fellowship. The President should not hesitate in wielding the proverbial big stick against the recalcitrant who may want to rubbish his good name and frustrate the actualisation of the social contracts he entered into with the Nigerian masses.

The critical role of continued pressure and monitoring of elected representatives by the masses immediately the elections are over cannot be overemphasised. Eternal vigilance is indeed the price of freedom. The processes of impeachment and recall are not just mere clauses of embellishment in our constitution. They are potent weapons of checks and balances of the led on the excesses and arrogance of power-intoxicated leaders. They should therefore be guarded jealously and used when necessary. Needless to tolerate politicians’ rascality for another 4 years waiting for the routine election rituals. A single day in the life of a nation is too important to be wasted, not to talk of years.

Nigerian youth demographic will do well to infiltrate the ranks and files of the two main parties, namely APC and PDP, and redirect the course of things to their advantage. Since they bear the brunt of corrupt governance the most. If democracy is a game of numbers, then they have the numerical advantage in their kitty. They should decide and and not be decided for. Only youth-oriented and  ideologically-inclined parties can provide the needed third force to swing the balance in favour of the masses, especially when the politicopreneurs and gerontocrats are lost in self-serving power tussles and stalemates.

We Shall Have to Sit-Out This NASS!

9 billion Naira to change your wardrobe et al is not change. It is a reminder of what we once experienced in the past assemblies. This first act by the National Assembly (NASS) is a good move to aligning itself with its predecessors- the three-term PDP-controlled Houses. Now, when we want change, we are best advised to look anywhere for one but not in this NASS. The APC-fied PDP’ers have shown the direction a la the old saying of morning showing the day. They shall loot us dead!

Some call on President Buhari to deliver or face wrath. I bless this demand. Well, we might as well expect nothing from him, at least not for now (or in the longrun 🙂 ) It’s too early to judge his perfornance but his body language of no-meddling/working-with-whatnot is one of I-dont-care what happens elsewhere as if an hijacked NASS is not powerful enough to ruin his presidency. I hope he u-turns from this faulty mindset. A Nigerian President is powerful enough to weigh in on issues (and influence positively) almost all of the time, if wisely done, of course that only if he wants.

This largesse in the name of allowance is another pointer to the fact that the president might need to put “leadership” aside to “play-politic” these shameless legislooters to caution their appetite, telling them it is too early in the day to die of money-constipation. If not, this show of open thiefery will continue to beshadow any success President Buhari will boast in the years to come. Come to think of it: These men have not even worked yet for us apart from electing an agbeyibeboje senate president.

This is my take: When I realize that we have the likes of Ben-Bruce, who twitter-lied about casting a vote he did not cast, then a “persecuted” Buruji Kashamu et al under Bank- plus State-Treasury Armedrobber Bukola Saraki, it dawned we don enter one-chance with this current NASS!

Was the chant of change a delusion when we voted APC!? It is, and it is not. We wanted change and we expressed it via the ballot. Like Professor Adesanmi once said, President Buhari is an idea, a facial and moral representation of that true change the people earnestly wish for. The emergence of this government is thus not a complete delusion, it is a realization of a true desire, we saw it as inching closer to that redemptive elixir we seek to heal our national sickness.

Now, wanting change is one damn good wish, the delusion therein is to have gone for an alternative that was too PDP-like in its core. By the way, no denying there is a handful of less-bad/corrupt individuals among these countrylooters, but think it, of what good is blindness if the darkness it can offer is not total. The submission of a corrupt core is not a blame of the masses’ choice for change but a simple confirmation of why current NASS and its first two acts are reminders of what we hated so much in the past and still hate in the now. There could be no better way to capture the past so perfectly than in the appropriation of so much money to a group of men who own so much already but deem it fit to amass more wealth without working for it!

Of course, we shall have to sit-out this NASS, we are clear about this, but we shall remind them tirelessly why we voted them in, being fully aware that they are men-of-old anyway. We give them this chance to change indeed or damn the consequence. One of the changes we so much desire is a complete review of the current two chambers-assembly. It is not sustainable if we are intent on moving an inch forward positively. Think of how much we shall have saved of the 9 billion Naira if we had only a chamber of these countrythieves to feed!

Merchants-of-Memories(MoM): A New Way To Die

Let me start. Anyhow. A day like that, Agbako and I wandered two streets away. No destination in mind. Sun was hot. Open gutter. No sidewalk. We walked barefoot. No. We were not barefooted, we wore slippers. I can’t remember what we talked about, but we laughed and laughed until our voices touched the sun. I knew this because she hot hotter. It was a good day. Or maybe not. Because of what followed. Till today I still wonder which kain spirit possessed me, I almost got my friend killed, if not that the Okada rider braked fast enough. It was a Yamaha, the machine full ground with confidence, the man must have been a damn good rider.

Hear what I did: I looked back, saw the Yamaha bike, and fiam! I pushed Agbako. Right in front! It must have been Ogun, the Iron-God, who braked one of his children on wheel! We were all in shock. At least for a while. When what happened finally dawned, I picked race! I ran as fast as my legs carried me. Behind, trailing me was the bikeman. I began to shout! Egbami o! Egbami o!! Egbami o!!!

When I saw shouting and running was as good as attempting to run and scratch my yansh at the same time, plus there was nobody to hear, I rested shouting. Instead, I added the shout-energy to my fleeing legs. The bikeman did not stop. I was in trouble. I saw a bend. I took it. The flight continued. The bend was my salvation. A Baptist Church was in sight. Good enough two Jesusmen were at the door. I branched in their direction, hugged them tight as if my life depended on their pity. With my pursuer in sight, I changed story. Won fe jimi gbe ni o! Won fe jimi gbe ni o!! Won fe jimi gbe ni o! If they believed my story I never could tell in that moment. They calmed me down, and we awaited the arrival of my potential kidnapper. The bikeman told them I was a terrible child. They begged him. I was scolded. I apologized. Then, he rode off. That problem being solved, I realized I have only solved one problem when my victim-friend Agbako appeared from the bend I had negotiated into the church. I turned to the Jesusmen and pointed to Agbako. ‘Sirs, you must help me beg him. If not, I’m dead!’

I wished I had listened when mother told me not to cause trouble when she was not around! These were mother’s words: ‘I am going to the village. Please cause no trouble for me. Iya Tope will give you food. Don’t trouble her. If she send you message, go and do whatever she instructs!’ Hardly had mother left when I broke all injunction one after the other. Iya Tope wanted me to sit still for a while, I wanted to go out, she thought it was time to read, exactly in that same moment did I think it right to smack her daughter. When it was twelve pm and she felt I could hold on a little longer, that was when my hunger skyrocketed. The last straw that exploded her anger was when I pushed Saburi when we played football. The whole house gathered, first to revive Saburi, then to remove woodsplitters from his forehead. My push had landed him on a kaputt shopdoor! My eyes cleared, cry-water was gushing out of my eyes. I was scared like shit. If anything, I never wanted my stubborness to kill him! When Saburi was revived and his head bandaged, he was taken to Chemist, who injected him with whatnot. Iya Tope only wanted my mother back for good! ‘Kini ma ti se oro e si bayi ki iya e tode!?’

Thinking of Community High School in Agege Area, especially during interschool riots, I remember what pure anarchy is! When I was school pupil in Araromi Primary School, many secondary school students that time also doubled as butcher-apprentices. Their nicknames were tell-it-all; names like Shalake or Ake UTC, Student, Community, Riot, Ijongbon, Experience, Rambo etc etc. Of particular interest were stories of thug-heroes which we fed our fantasies after these interschool cum communal unrests. Overtime I realized we peppered our own version to outshine the goriness of the other. This is not to say it was untrue that people were butchered alive, I wont put this evil beyond those fierce thugs who troubled our schools and neighbourhoods. All one need to do to get the exact picture is, If you hear that Shalake killed twenty people, deduct ten to arrive at the correct number of death victims. When possible we stayed indoor. If caught on the street in a riot, we cut tree branches and visibly place in hand or in front of cars to show neutrality. Community was another student rioter whose name was a household name at any point in time. If there was trouble and his name was not mentioned in our peppered after-narrations, then the stories were incomplete.

Like the rioters and hooligans, it wasn’t all good memories growing up. There was a man left to rotten on a road. Each time we passed that road, I wished he was not lying there. He laid dead for days unend. I can’t say how many days or weeks, but I’m sure it was a pretty long time for my child-eyes. I didn’t like it. I asked and asked when he would be removed, but not even mother could tell me when this corpse will go! There was a day like that a waste-truck stopped beside him. I thought, finally he will be removed for good. How wrong was I! The truck left only with the communal rubbish but not the corpse. Was I traumatized? I don’t know if it was a trauma, but I could hardly eat meat each time my mind flashed back to this deadbody in the weeks that followed. I saw the corpse everywhere. I once dreamed he was being carried away in an ambulance and that we were happy he was gone. When he finally was removed, I did not know. We had gotten far used to our troubles to not forget a man was rotting away before our very eyes.

Talking about hotdeath is not my favourite but when it is part of my life there is little I can do to not talk about it. Memories are who and what we were and are. Good or bad.

Igashi. Goodnews first: Life in Igashi was paradise. For me. I enjoyed every bit of my stay in that part of the world. In fact, I will visit again when I am Nigeria in July.

Only the memory of the young woman who later died a hotdeath was one I did not like. Her stomach was permanently bloated, like she was pregnant. Her countenance was infinite sadness. She lived in a room with her father in my grandfather’s house. She followed us to the farm. I am not sure now, but I overheard Iya Idowu ask her how she was doing. Many times. Then later Iya Idowu talked with mother about this sad woman. She wished there was more she could do to cure her bloated stomach. Years later when I heard how she died, I was terrified! In her honour and many in Nigeria who died a death that clearly was avoidable, I will tell how she died.

So, her father knocked Baba’s door to inform of his daughter’s death. ‘She’s no more breathing’, he said in a voice ladden with sadness. Burial arrangement began immediately. Baba informed the gravedigger-agegroup. News of the death reached all households almost at once. The whole village gathered to mourn a passing away. The corpse was wrapped in a clothpiece and placed in a casket. The gravedigger were about finished when the presumed dead began to breathe again! It was Baba who noticed there was a sign of life in the casket. He called attention of the woman’s father to this development. His response was at best indifferent. As if the young woman knew her father had long given up on her, she started to cry. It was at first a fainted voice, it then gained momentum. She must have wished she could cry down the whole village so they know she was not dead! Indeed, the village heard her cry because she was not thrown into her death with life in her. The whole village waited for her to die again. This sadness lasted the whole day. When she finally seized to cry, it was concluded by a large concensus that she was dead again. If she really was dead, was of course questionable. Apparently, her death was a new way to die- you are dead when the community agrees you are dead! She was buried in my granfather’s backyard.

Merchants-of-Memories (MoM): This Is Growing Up

cropped-upload-gq9u7q43rfm1ntpe2aaaj4rj30397680-final.jpgThis Is Growing Up. I was playing outside, playing ball with other friends, I can’t tell how many exactly now or who they were. Of course, if I had to guess I would immediately think of Jelili, Biodun aka Agbako, Saburi, Wasiu et al, who played with me on that day. We had an unripe orange as ball, and we kicked it around until it was no more playable, then we got another or engaged in other activities.

I am sure what I did exactly at the moment mother came to call and informed we were moving. I had both my hands on the ground, rested firmly on my palms, I wanted to sommersault, I laughed while I did, apparently enjoying myself. I saw mother coming from behind through my bent head which could see what went on behind. ‘Come, lets go’, she said. I did not ask why. I followed.

I changed into another clothe. Mother had cooked beans, not exactly my favourite, but since I did not have to eat immediately, I was less concerned. She packed it into a bag, we carried few bags and set out for our new house. I made the journey with mother, my sister and an aunt my age. I am not sure now if my brother came with us, but this I am sure of: Mother did tell me what would happen to our clothes, furniture and other things in the room that had housed us since I was barely five. I know for sure now because I asked her what would happen to our loads. She responded: ‘Akin and Alfred will bring them tomorrow for us.’

We walked to the bus-stop, about three kilometres from our face-me-I-face-you-house. We had always walked this way to connect omnibuses when we had to go to church, to LBSS, to General Hospital or to visit friends and families who lived faraway. We walked this route again so we could enter a bus to Oke-Odo. The buses queued in rows of two, waiting for passengers to fill up their empty seats. We walked past Orile-Agege Primary School, Saka-Tinubu High School and past Orile Agege Baptist Church, in front of which was a transformer. That transformer used to be like a giant each time I walked past it. Maybe it still is, I think my child-size magnified it in my eyes. Even now in my memory I still see it as the giant transformer.

We walked past the poffpoff seller. She had her market not too far-removed from the transformer. Whenever we walked to church on Sundays, I was sure to hold on, patiently hoping mother would buy us some hot poffpoff. If she did not, I wept the rest of the way. If she did, my joy knew no bound as I devoured the delicious sugar-fried flour-balls as if nothing else ever mattered.

We crossed the busy road and walked the few metres, barely 300 metres, into a waiting bus. There was a Y-junction just before we reached the yellow-with-black-stripes omnibuses. On the left were the omnibuses, the road on the right led to the palace of Oba Orile. I looked with wonderment each time I went past the palace gate. Memories. Memories. Memories. I hope I would be patient enough to tell you all. I must not forget to tell you this very quickly: Just opposite the Baptist Church, on the other side of the road was Ile-Esu-Orile. The small shoplike room housed a particular deity. The deity is sacred and must not be moved or destroyed, so she stood at that spot gidigba. Any construction work that had to be carried out must find a way to accomodate her space. Well, lest I stray too far into many things I want to tell you, thereby killing you with too many unstraightened memory, let me return to the journey at hand. I will tell you later of Igbale Egun sited three houses away from our house. I will tell you too of Ile Osa right beside our house, which doubled as our communal football field and mini waste-dumpyard.

Boarding a bus was not always fun especially when we had to maximize a space of one to accommodate four persons. One needed be prepared to meet the anger of the busboy. We met that of our busboy, but with the help of other passengers, we succeeded in calming him. So, one passenger carried on her lap my sister, my aunt sat on the engine in front of mother. I sat on mother’s lap. I am sure I was very excited to sit on mother’s lap. With this arrangement, we paid a fare for a passenger. After this, we had two other buses to join before we reached our destination. The story was not less different- unfriendly and angry busboys who thought, and that rightly so if I may add in retrospect, that they were being unfairly cheated.

It was night when we reached our destination, our new house. Once again we walked from bus-stop home, this time around, it lasted less than three kilometres. Unlike busy roads and bustling activities of Orile Agege, Ijoko welcomed us with a nightly serene I have come to cherish till today. This is in no way to say I cherish any less the ever bustling life we lived in Orile Agege before we moved. If anything can be relied upon to remind how much I enjoyed growing up in these two places, then my memory is.

Now, let me talk of our arrival.

We arrived. There was a burning shakabila two plots away from us, it was from Baba Ile-Keji who henceforth with his family of eight became our only close-by neighbour. His house was a modest hutlike one room house, he was sure to build the house big enough to accommodate his big family. More on Baba later.

Mother, accompanied by my aunt made their way to Baba Ile-Keji’s house. In what happened to be a coincidence, Baba had called one of his sons to follow him to our house. He said he heard unusual movement and sound from our wallside of his house, so he wanted to check that it wasn’t thieves. He was pleased to come out into mother’s arm and that of my aunt. ‘Ma’a Sunday, it is you’. He had a bush cutlass in one hand, a torchlight in the other, his son had a lantern. They all came over to us. We greeted. Bringing out the cooked beans, Baba sent his son home to fetch gaari. He came back with his mother and Sister Basira, Baba’s eldest daughter. When it was time to eat, the gaari leebu they brought was a perfect match for the beans we had brought all the way.

Before food, we lit candles and spread clothes on the floor. The breeze of the night behaved like a good breeze, it cooled our traveled body. Once in a while, lizards in the ceiling broke the silence that ensued when no one talked. They ran here and there in that part of the house. Later, we believed they were no more lizards but runaway cats who have grown into big dangerous wild cats. Baba and his wife and his two children left after we ate. They were visibly delighted a neighbour arrived. We thanked them for welcoming us. The tiredness from our journey returned, sleep overtook our overwaka-limbs, we laid on the spread clothes and slept. I woke up in my own pool of pee when morning broke. It was such a night!

So, before I continue with Ijoko-Ota, I will tell you of the three or more memories I touched on already. Fairness demand I do. I love and hate suspense like kilode 🙂

Palace Oba Orile. The palace was right in the middle of Oja-Oba. Two market kiosks away from the palace were chicken sellers. I was always delighted to see the chicks. They looked beautiful and innocent. The joy in my eyes made my heart race fast whenever I saved enough to buy one of them. There was even a time I was able to buy two! Double joy!! Come and see my happiness!!! I (actually, not only me) would raise the chicks to become real big chickens. Anyone who cared could touch the pride in my eyes. So strong was my sadness too whenever we had to go throwway dead chicken because gutter rats had chosen to kill them with their sharp teeth when the chicks slept at night. Really, we tried all we could to keep the rats away, but like any human endeavour, success was not always guaranteed.

Past the palace led a road to Mrs. Siwoku’s house. Mrs. Siwoku owned a post office box. So mother would send Tunde to go collect Dad’s letters from London. I used to be very excited whenever he allowed me to follow him.

On the doorpost of a one-storeyed house was an inscription, it read: ILE ABENI ILORI. I was sure to look at the inscription each time we went past the house, as if to be sure it was still intact. Years later when my Yoruba subject-teacher taught us the importance of sign-placement in order for our written-thoughts/sentences to be so understood as intended, I could not stop laughing; my mind brought back the inscription on the doorpost of that house when I used to accompany Tunde to collect Dad’s letters.

The road to Mrs. Siwoku’s house was gully and rocky, the earth was mud-red. So, enough about the palace and its memories. At least for now.

The only thing I remember about Ile-Esu-Orile is this: Close to it was fruit-tree. People sat under for shade. I passed the shrine to deliver mother’s errand to her friends.

Ile Osa was sacred land. It belonged to the gods and must be left undeveloped. We did not only play football here, we sometimes dug out old bottles and metals which fetched us good money from merchants who dealt in this business. Once in company of friends, we attempted to make money from lizard-head. There was a myth that lizard-heads dey turn money, one only had to do the ritual well. When after three days nobody talked about the lizard-head we buried for money-sake, I concluded the ritual did not work for us. To be sincere I thought one of us probably outsmarted the rest in that he went earlier to dig out for himself alone the money we had all wished on the lizard-head when we severed it from the rest of its body. We had buried the head not too faraway from the goalpost, the body we threw into the smoky fire that burned wastes dumped in that space which was meant to house the gods.

Igbale Egun. Apart from being the spirit-yard from where human beings, turned masquerades, emerged in colourful costumes with scary heads of different shapes and sizes, we were often told anyone who entered without permission go die mysteriously. This held my curiosity under control. The closest I got into this yard of ancestral spirits was few steps past the open gate one day like that. It was masquerade festival period. I was damn scared to go beyond the gate. It was horrible enough that the masquerades scared the hell out of us when they moved around streets with whips and sticks. The whips, we used to believe, were poisoned, anyone beaten with it, would need special intervention to avert ominous end. There was a rumour that one Alfa, once beaten by a masquerade, stood his ground, beat up the masquerade, and unmasked this rude masquerade. The story had it that the spirit being disappeared when it became impossible to prevent Alfa from desecrating him. I did not witness this event. I wished I did each time this adventurous encounter was narrated.

So, now that I have unburdened these memories, I will tell you what happened after I woke up in my own pee. E ma ba mi ka lo.

I packed my wet sleep-clothes, changed into another and went outside. I heard mother and aunt talking at the backyard. Looking up, I saw guava tree. Birds chirped at ripe fruits. I breathed in fresh air, the freshness was touchable, the air smelled strongly of it. I walked to the tree. On the sandy path were guluso-moulds, I scattered some with my legs, some with my hands, I let others be. There were neatly dug holes too, small, and plenty. Aunt showed us later we could trick out the caterpillar-like insects that lived in these holes. So, when we saw any, we cut juicy yet-to-mature part of this yeriyeri-grass and inserted it into the holes. The caterpillars in this earth always bit the thing and we dragged them out without delay. Sometimes we killed them, other times we let them be, at times we simply looked on in wonderment.

On the guava tree, I spent a pretty good part of the morning. The birds all flew away when they saw me. I sat on a branch and helped myself to as much I could. I plucked and filled my pockets. When they filled up, I let them fall on the ground. I was going to gather them when I got down the tree. I went home when mother called out that food was ready. I adapted to my new life seamlessly.

In the afternoon, Brother Akin and Brother Alfred arrived with our loads. Two more uncles accompanied them. They began unloading at once. We helped them while they did.

New home. New life. New friends. New families. New memories to make.

Pastor Akinleye was a carpenter. I got to know before we reached his house. He had helped with carpentry work in the new house. That was how mother happened on him. Since, he has been very supportive. The road to his house became the road I walked very often in my sojourn in Ijoko-Ota. It led to the houses of my new friends. Mother took me along to pay him a courtesy visit. Following Sunday he came with church members to pray on our house. That was a week or two before the house warming ceremony.

I have told somewhere of the sacrifice mother offered when we moved in. It wont be out of place to repeat it here. It confirms the Yoruba proverbial saying of faith/Western religion not forbidding participation in the traditional Oro cult. This is what I was able to spin from the little hearsay I remember today: Mother was afraid, or rather unwilling to move into our new house. She thought she had it too easy! Imagine a woman building a 3 bedroom flat with such a big expanse of land to join! That was 1995. Unbelievable! So, for fear of this-or-that ills, she did not want to move in fiam like that. She confided her fear in her brother, who in turn told their father. Baba Igashi acted swiftly. ‘Iyabo, it is bad omen to finish a house and not move. It is not good!!! Have you forgotten Lagbaja Omo Lakasegbe who built a house and refused to move on time!? You have to move into your house, even if not complete yet. We shall consult the oracle to know if need be for a sacrifice.’ This way Baba Igashi was able to convince mother it was time to move. The oracle advised we sacrifice a big goat. We slaughtered a big goat when we moved, so people had enough to eat during the house warming ceremony.

If I had thought religion was a big part of my life in Orile Agege, then it became my very existence in Ijoko-Ota. The church and her members did not only play a very active role in my growing years, the mosques in and around our street contributed in no little way to my interculturalness and acceptance of you-for-you- you might belong to a different religion, but you are first human! How else does one survive in a community with a potpourri of all possible religious confessions and colourations. Of particular interest was Baba Laila. We did not know his real name, he got his nickname because he would say this word times without number when he talked. He was a Muslim. Many thought he was not completely sane, but I wondered what yardstick we measured sanity with. If the words Baba Laila spoke were a yardstick for sanity, then he was not mad. In his many rants it was clear he detested hypocrisy and intolerance. He spoke good English too. For me, Baba Laila was neither Muslim nor Christian, he was a bit of both and a traditionalist at the same time. This old man spoke wisdom almost all the time. So, when we returned from church, it was the mounted loudspeakers of the muezzins’ call to prayer that welcomed us. When Mukadam, the young Muslim cleric beside our house began holding night vigils in his Quran school, I began to rethink many things I had hitherto thought were only common to the Christian faith. I will still talk about Quran recitation feasts celebrated to showcase successful attendees of the Quran school; it was a necessary rite of passage for devouts of the Muslim faith. I witnessed many of them. Just be patient with me, I will tell you all about them. Trust me, I wont forget to tell you too of many Baptismal classes and Holy Ghost Services plus Special Services held to eat The Lord Last Supper; they were all part of me.

There was this big fight between Baba Ile-Keji and a land-urchin, popularly called Kwara. Among land-urchins, he was least-liked. He could be loud and unruly. Overtime Baba Ile-Keji became a land-dealer too. One thing one thing, it happened that Kwara felt Baba’s landbuyer was a former potential landbuyer that Baba snatched from him. I did not know how it all began but it became real messy at the end. I saw Baba Ile-Keji high up, bourne in Krawa’s hefty hands, landed on the bushy footpath. I am not sure if he intentionally dropped him at this spot so he did not get killed. Baba Ile-Keji sprang on his feet and ran home while two of his sons scratched and tore at Krawa’s flesh. He pushed them off with fists thrown in all directions. Baba’s voice did not stop being heard on his way home, he shouted instruction to his children not to let Kwara escape. Apparently, he was coming back. And back he came! He came with a small chord. I saw him held the thing to his tongue, licked and spat at Kwara, then cursed! The curse-words were better left unsaid, I swear. Kwara would take none of this charm-shakara! He dashed at Baba Ile-Keji and landed him a hot slap on the head, then back-sent the curse. This were his words: Igi ti arigisegi base ori are re lo fi nru!

When we saw the fight was not going to end in peace and on time, we dispersed one after the other. With nobody to voice-separate the fighting duo, the fight ended.

Another crowd-puller was when Alfa was caught red-handed in the act. I was coming from Thursday Revival Hour when I noticed this strange figure on the rooftop of a church in front of Orolu’s house. That strange figure, silhouetted by night’s darkness became Alfa when street people gathered to see the face of our rooftop-thief. We did not know what to do with this familiar thief. Alfa was once an influential landseller, his family owned our street before he and his sibling sold the whole land plot by plot. Mother once told of a time when Alfa and family whisked away large chunk of money in baskets, and when there was not enough baskets they wrapped hard-earned monies in their dansiki and carried them away. In short, Alfa was rich until another family won a court case and claimed Alfa’s gold-shitting donkey.

We were children and women who had caught Alfa. Pity almost rescued him until Baba Anu appeared. I had seen him running towards us, he must have heard that his distant relative was caught stealing roofing sheet. With a tight fist, he went straight for Alfa’s face. Successive fist punches landed on the thiefman-face. Alfa was heard shoutcrying for mercy under this fistrain. ‘Shanu mi! Shanu mi!! Shanu mi…!!!’. This is the truth: Where I grew up, a thief is not among creatures to be pitied. We beat them till they bleed or die! I will tell you why. Just hold your breathe first 🙂

I was barely 7 years old when thieves came to Alhaji Raimi Street. The following day, different stories filled the air. One story in the mouth of all was that of Omo Alhaji. She had returned from Mecca few weeks. They wanted gold. Some version had it that she had first flown to London, then routed her flight to come home via Mecca. In short, news of her expensive trip must have reached the thieves who held us hostage in our own houses that night. Not to long the talk sha, Omo Alhaja aka Madam Custom died two months later from post-thiefvisit trauma. Doctors confirmed that her condition could not have survived such a shock! She was pregnant, she died with her foetus.

The drama that accompanied this thief-night was horrible and funny. Imagine. Married men shat in their trousers, toddlers clamped to their mothers howling their throats dry for fear. Different scenarios of thief-stories stared me in the face. I was terrified! Scenes of rape, handcutting, correct beating, outright killing, Naija-style humiliation, all of them flash-flash my head in an instant! I died and ressurected, all the nightmares came rushing back! We were cramped in the passage and rooms. Mother scooped the money she had and gave Brother Bayo. ‘Tie it inside nylon and drop it inside drinkwater-drum. Stomach dey turn me!’ Our hell hot hotter with bullets. Only when day broke were we sure of our safety. Such a nightmare!

Jonathan Out! Buhari In! Death-Wisher-Fayose Congratulates President-Elect Buhari

General Buhari

General Buhari

A failure has not many acquaintances. Same is the fate of Nigeria’s incumbent president yesterday when his loss became irreversible. Many strongest supporters disappeared into thin air. Some praised President Jonathan for the display of good sportsmanship in that he had called the winner of the 2015 General Elections even before Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) announced the winner. Nigerians, many of whom favored change, celebrate(d) with the People’s General on the occasion of this well deserved victory. It was a victory not only for General Buhari but for the Nigerian people.

In the same vein, the saying that a successful man is everyone’s friend/relative, found fulfillment yesterday in Governor Fayose’s action. It was gathered that he called General Buhari to congratulate him. He warned the country is greater than any individual, we should not in anyway rock the country.

Going by Governor Fayose’s death wish for the General, which he went as far as publishing in national dailies prior to the election, one could not but wonder his sudden change of heart and call for reconciliation. If anything, Governor Fayose had cried-wished the loudest landslide loss for the People’s General. His U-turn means this: he has a personal interest to protect.

For example, Fayose’s election as Governor is still much controversial. Beyond the leaked tape of election rigging, there is indication that he was not qualified to run for that office because he had once been impeached. He was yet to fulfill the number of years stipulated in the constitution to re-contest.

Worthy of mention is Elder Orubebe’s display of shame when INEC chairman, Professor Jega held a news conference. He accused the chairman of corruption and compromise. He would not be calmed and was consequently escorted out of the building so the collation and announcement of results could continue.

All through the interruption, Professor Jega was calm and coordinated. He commented Orubebe’s action as unbecoming of an elder. According to him, Orubebe was a statesman in his own right, being a former minister of Nigeria, he should watch is public conduct and actions. Orubebe’s disruption has since been updated on Wikipedia, the world’s online encyclopedia.

Nigerian English has since been updated too. New nouns and adjectives ranging from “jega”, “orubebe”, “jegamycin”, “orubebeism”, “jegality”, “orubebvin”, “jegaland”, “jegatrick”, “jegamethod”, “jega-advice” among many others were added. Orubebe’s rude behavior was thus a blessing in disguise for Nigerian English.

The outcome of the presidential election confirms many things. Here is one: power resides only in the electorate. The electorate can give and take it back at wish! This realization is a good development for Nigeria’s nascent democracy.

General Buhari campaigned on change and as an anti-corruption Cesar. Christian Amanpour of CNN yesterday aired an interview in which the General was heard saying that if corruption was not killed in the country, it would kill Nigeria. Nigerians voted for change so that their country will not be killed by this many-headed monster. I congratulate them on this new dawn.

EuroSpot: It’s (not) the Greeks again!

It’s (not) the Greeks again!

Lets end before we start: Greece is bankrupt! So crystal clear is this truth even a blind man sees the broke-country is finished. Think of the Nigerian Pidgin proverb: Dem no dey tell blind man say rain dey fall! It is raining thunderstorm in Greece!

A backjump. September 2006. Newspaper served. On a KLM cityshopper from Amsterdam. The title on the front-page: Greece Fiscal Misery! Same old topic; a bizarre submission that Greece had lied to the European Union Common Currency Zone (Eurozone) to gain entrance. In short, she was a cheat, the report concluded.

Greece Prime Minister Tsipras

Greece Prime Minister Tsipras

There are reasons for admitting this proverbial broke-vulture into the Eurozone. The least believable is to blame a Greek-manipulated fiscal report. Long before Greece admission, politicians in Europe were acquainted with the truth that Greece is as corrupt as any country in Sub-Sahara Africa, for example Nigeria. The political nepotism and economic irresponsibility of Greece far outweighed anybody’s imagination. So, a claim of being a cheat could not be tenable to have neglected doing the needed if Greece must be admitted into the Eurozone.

At the other end is one of the strongest aims of Greece admission, which is, the ‘Big Fishes’ of the Eurozone were out to make a ‘permanent’ financial-quickie of a country double-killed by her own potpourri of corruptible tendencies. Admission into the common currency market only catapulted a comatose country into her own abyss.

Therapies to bring back Greece to fiscal sanity long before 2008 economic meltdown had not worked; attempts by finance-czars to halt her continual fall after 2008, if it worked at all, amounted to near-killer suffocate-dosage. Greece became to Europe an economic nuisance.

The blame is not solely on the doorstep of the bigger Eurozone countries. Greece had her problems before admission. I need not remind that longthroat is a perfect character of leaders running a corrupt state. These leaders forget most times there is a singular winner in a quickie-affair; except parties involved are clear about their intention from the word-go. Anything aside this is pretense. Greece and her leaders were never smart to have hidden her financial woes because her yansh was never covered. With this action, I could only think of Greece as an ostrich hiding her head in the sand.

Trust politicians, they are always spot-on with all sorts of rhetoric to whip-in maximum gain for themselves. The ensuing fiasco as to (non-)implementation of the austerity plans is a good chance. Think of recent gain by various right-wing parties in the last European parliament election and the picture is complete; Greece’s problem was a good selling point. A comparison of Greece prime minister and his finance minister to a second-hand car dealer from whom no one would want to buy a car is the least of jabs shot at Greece in recent times. When a bigger suffering befalls a man, smaller and hitherto below-status insults will begin to show face. Such is Greece misfortune at the moment.

Prime Minister Tsipras and his Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis

Prime Minister Tsipras and his Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis

Hurling insults at Greece will not make the problem leave us, we must discuss issues in ways that construct solutions. To begin with, Eurozone’s insistence on pulling through the hard austerity measures for which successive governments in Greece had been voted out by angry Greeks is an indicator of a failed policy. Latest protest in Athens against Tsipras Leftist-led government is an indication of what shall happen should Greece be pressed further. Reason given thus far that other countries have gone through same and returned cleaner is nothing but a hoax. European politicians know.

Reality check is a confirmation of contrary claims that financial sanity cum structural stability has returned to Italy. Spain’s (youth) unemployment rate is a clearer pointer to a looming problem waiting to explode. The Irish idyll is what it is at the moment: a sham. That Ireland and Portugal were able to payback billions as scheduled does not prove austerity measures are working. Sarah Warenknecht, German Leftist Leader in the Bundestag, said the obvious in a recent debate: The giant/stronger p(l)ayers in the Eurozone have thus far only been paying their own bills. They send money to broke-countries only to disburse/return them in installments as agreed in the austerity plans. The much needed structural reforms are not achievable (and cannot be) within a short period. The imminent collapse of the house of cards only need time to materialize. And we are confronted with the next crisis.

By the way, one cannot cease to wonder if Europe’s strongest woman-politician Germany’s Angela Merkel is this bereaved of ideas to rescue this house from collapsing. Only if in self-denial, the current austerity measures as put together will help only to postpone the next crisis to a later date. Speculation is that she wants to sit out her current/last term as German chancellor managing an European crisis she helped create with far-from-reality policies and disillusioned politics.

Talking about collapsing house of cards, a related Yoruba proverbs sheds light on the next issue. Ile ta ba fi ito ko, eri ni o wo! A house built with saliva is bound to be demolished with the first dew. That the Eurozone has only moved from one financial turbulence to the next confirms a foundation-fault. Think of the Leftist position upon the introduction of the common currency, which is that many countries outside Germany and countries with comparable strong economies and stable structures were not ready to introduce the Euro. Weaker countries may be allowed at a later date but not without having put in place crisis-proven structures and good economies.

Europe failed to listen. Many European countries, particularly the volatile members would not have listened anyway. They were bent on catching-in cheap monies. The immediate benefit of reaping now to sow later was too alluring to be ignored. Either way, Germany will always benefit from the arrangement, she too was interested in the immediate economic gains. This way, the countries with the Euro plunged themselves into spiraling crisis.

Were there intelligent political managers at the helm of affairs in countries like Greece, they would not have agreed to an all-importing economy; beyond farm produce Greece hardly exports anything tangible to/outside Europe. Same goes for Spain and Portugal. They are of course holiday paradise, a booming branch so long people come to their shores. Not to forget, Germany, Holland, France etc are also strongly represented in this branch, so the earnings are not going to the South alone. Add to that was the crazy unsustainable house market-price boom. The crash of the utopia could not have been louder anywhere than in Spain. House worth millions depreciated beyond redemption. Truth is, an economy built on market speculation and abracadabra economic theories cannot survive tomorrow. Germany’s Economy Minister summed-up the woes of these countries when he emphasized in a speech only an economy based on trade, handwork and industry is that which last the test of time, not one established on finance speculation and non-existent money/gains a la hedge-fund trickery etc!

Not only must Greece be enabled to start a new country by canceling a larger portion of her debt. If she must remain in the Eurozone without being caught in the next crisis, she must put structures in place, no doubt, but not under the scrutiny of current austerity measures. Here is the reason: Like Germany would never survive a day with a Greek-led economic package, same way can Greece never survive a Germany/Brussels-led economic package. Think of Germany’s ways and you inch a step closer to understanding the logic. Greece is not Germany, and Germany is not Greece. For instance, Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder was made possible not only for the Marshall Plan but because of Germany’s cultural understanding of the work concept. Greece will rise again within the Eurozone, if allowed to stay, but at Greece’s own pace and as acceptable within the purview of her cultural understanding of the same concept. Forcing them to work on a diet of rationed “dictatorship” from Brussels will not work; it will at best lead to successive Greek government being “toppled” at the polls even before her election!

On a final note, some are of the opinion the much talked-about wrong-footed take-off of the Euro is an issue we ought to be done with. I disagree. The mistake was made because political optimism was prioritized against commonsense economic choices. The current crisis is an opportunity for the Eurozone to correct these foundational faults. The fingers on the wall at the moment, particularly in Greece, point unfortunately to hurry-hurry politics that helped made the crisis possible in the first place. How else does one explain the initial no-renegotiation-stance by the Eurozone upon Tsipras’ election as Greek’s prime minister as if there was a singular correct perspective to resolving Greece fiscal problem. Think of Germany’s chancellor unwarranted meddling in Greek’s internal affairs shortly before election with soft threat that voting a party other than one which follows through on the austerity plans might spell doom for the tiny country. Few weeks after, the Bundestag voted with a resounding majority to temporarily extend Greece credit; an indication for other European countries to follow suit. Desperate moves would have been unnecessary were the package humane/good enough for any country to begin with.

Greece exit is in nobody’s interest. Of course, the Eurozone will survive with(out) Greece, but a stronger Greece in the Eurozone will benefit both Greece and the Eurozone. Like the adage goes, when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. At the moment, we must not forget the worst sufferer of the crisis is the common (wo-)man in Greece. They must be relieved.

Chatham House Full Speech of APC Presidential Candidate Muhammadu Buhari

Permit me to start by thanking Chatham House for the invitation to talk about this important topic at this crucial time. When speaking about Nigeria overseas, I normally prefer to be my country’s public relations and marketing officer, extolling her virtues and hoping to attract investments and tourists. But as we all know, Nigeria is now battling with many challenges, and if I refer to them, I do so only to impress on our friends in the United Kingdom that we are quite aware of our shortcomings and are doing our best to address them.

The 2015 general election in Nigeria is generating a lot of interests within and outside the country. This is understandable. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country and largest economy, is at a defining moment, a moment that has great implications beyond the democratic project and beyond the borders of my dear country.

So let me say upfront that the global interest in Nigeria’s landmark election is not misplaced at all and indeed should be commended; for this is an election that has serious import for the world. I urge the international community to continue to focus on Nigeria at this very critical moment. Given increasing global linkages, it is in our collective interests that the postponed elections should hold on the rescheduled dates; that they should be free and fair; that their outcomes should be respected by all parties; and that any form of extension, under whichever guise, is unconstitutional and will not be tolerated.

With the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, the collapse of communism and the end of the Cold War, democracy became the dominant and most preferred system of government across the globe. That global transition has been aptly captured as the triumph of democracy and the ‘most pre-eminent political idea of our time.’ On a personal note, the phased end of the USSR was a turning point for me. It convinced me that change can be brought about without firing a single shot.

As you all know, I had been a military head of state in Nigeria for twenty months. We intervened because we were unhappy with the state of affairs in our country. We wanted to arrest the drift. Driven by patriotism, influenced by the prevalence and popularity of such drastic measures all over Africa and elsewhere, we fought our way to power. But the global triumph of democracy has shown that another and a preferable path to change is possible. It is an important lesson I have carried with me since, and a lesson that is not lost on the African continent.

In the last two decades, democracy has grown strong roots in Africa. Elections, once so rare, are now so commonplace. As at the time I was a military head of state between 1983 and 1985, only four African countries held regular multi-party elections. But the number of electoral democracies in Africa, according to Freedom House, jumped to 10 in 1992/1993 then to 18 in 1994/1995 and to 24 in 2005/2006. According to the New York Times, 42 of the 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa conducted multi-party elections between 1990 and 2002.

The newspaper also reported that between 2000 and 2002, ruling parties in four African countries (Senegal, Mauritius, Ghana and Mali) peacefully handed over power to victorious opposition parties. In addition, the proportion of African countries categorized as not free by Freedom House declined from 59% in 1983 to 35% in 2003. Without doubt, Africa has been part of the current global wave of democratisation.

But the growth of democracy on the continent has been uneven. According to Freedom House, the number of electoral democracies in Africa slipped from 24 in 2007/2008 to 19 in 2011/2012; while the percentage of countries categorised as ‘not free’ assuming for the sake of argument that we accept their definition of “free” increased from 35% in 2003 to 41% in 2013. Also, there have been some reversals at different times in Burkina Faso, Central African Republic, Cote D’Ivoire, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Lesotho, Mali, Madagascar, Mauritania and Togo. We can choose to look at the glass of democracy in Africa as either half full or half empty.

While you can’t have representative democracy without elections, it is equally important to look at the quality of the elections and to remember that mere elections do not democracy make. It is globally agreed that democracy is not an event, but a journey. And that the destination of that journey is democratic consolidation – that state where democracy has become so rooted and so routine and widely accepted by all actors.

With this important destination in mind, it is clear that though many African countries now hold regular elections, very few of them have consolidated the practice of democracy. It is important to also state at this point that just as with elections, a consolidated democracy cannot be an end by itself. I will argue that it is not enough to hold a series of elections or even to peacefully alternate power among parties.

It is much more important that the promise of democracy goes beyond just allowing people to freely choose their leaders. It is much more important that democracy should deliver on the promise of choice, of freedoms, of security of lives and property, of transparency and accountability, of rule of law, of good governance and of shared prosperity. It is very important that the promise embedded in the concept of democracy, the promise of a better life for the generality of the people, is not delivered in the breach.

Now, let me quickly turn to Nigeria. As you all know, Nigeria’s fourth republic is in its 16th year and this general election will be the fifth in a row. This is a major sign of progress for us, given that our first republic lasted five years and three months, the second republic ended after four years and two months and the third republic was a still-birth. However, longevity is not the only reason why everyone is so interested in this election.

The major difference this time around is that for the very first time since transition to civil rule in 1999, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) is facing its stiffest opposition so far from our party the All Progressives Congress (APC). We once had about 50 political parties, but with no real competition. Now Nigeria is transitioning from a dominant party system to a competitive electoral polity, which is a major marker on the road to democratic consolidation. As you know, peaceful alternation of power through competitive elections have happened in Ghana, Senegal, Malawi and Mauritius in recent times. The prospects of democratic consolidation in Africa will be further brightened when that eventually happens in Nigeria.

But there are other reasons why Nigerians and the whole world are intensely focussed on this year’s elections, chief of which is that the elections are holding in the shadow of huge security, economic and social uncertainties in Africa’s most populous country and largest economy. On insecurity, there is a genuine cause for worry, both within and outside Nigeria. Apart from the civil war era, at no other time in our history has Nigeria been this insecure.

Boko Haram has sadly put Nigeria on the terrorism map, killing more than 13,000 of our nationals, displacing millions internally and externally, and at a time holding on to portions of our territory the size of Belgium. What has been consistently lacking is the required leadership in our battle against insurgency. I, as a retired general and a former head of state, have always known about our soldiers: they are capable, well trained, patriotic, brave and always ready to do their duty in the service of our country.

You all can bear witness to the gallant role of our military in Burma, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Darfur and in many other peacekeeping operations in several parts of the world. But in the matter of this insurgency, our soldiers have neither received the necessary support nor the required incentives to tackle this problem. The government has also failed in any effort towards a multi-dimensional response to this problem leading to a situation in which we have now become dependent on our neighbours to come to our rescue.

Let me assure you that if I am elected president, the world will have no cause to worry about Nigeria as it has had to recently; that Nigeria will return to its stabilising role in West Africa; and that no inch of Nigerian territory will ever be lost to the enemy because we will pay special attention to the welfare of our soldiers in and out of service, we will give them adequate and modern arms and ammunitions to work with, we will improve intelligence gathering and border controls to choke Boko Haram’s financial and equipment channels, we will be tough on terrorism and tough on its root causes by initiating a comprehensive economic development plan promoting infrastructural development, job creation, agriculture and industry in the affected areas. We will always act on time and not allow problems to irresponsibly fester, and I, Muhammadu Buhari, will always lead from the front and return Nigeria to its leadership role in regional and international efforts to combat terrorism.

On the economy, the fall in prices of oil has brought our economic and social stress into full relief. After the rebasing exercise in April 2014, Nigeria overtook South Africa as Africa’s largest economy. Our GDP is now valued at $510 billion and our economy rated 26th in the world. Also on the bright side, inflation has been kept at single digit for a while and our economy has grown at an average of 7% for about a decade.

But it is more of paper growth, a growth that, on account of mismanagement, profligacy and corruption, has not translated to human development or shared prosperity. A development economist once said three questions should be asked about a country’s development: one, what is happening to poverty? Two, what is happening to unemployment? And three, what is happening to inequality?

The answers to these questions in Nigeria show that the current administration has created two economies in one country, a sorry tale of two nations: one economy for a few who have so much in their tiny island of prosperity; and the other economy for the many who have so little in their vast ocean of misery.

Even by official figures, 33.1% of Nigerians live in extreme poverty. That’s at almost 60 million, almost the population of the United Kingdom. There is also the unemployment crisis simmering beneath the surface, ready to explode at the slightest stress, with officially 23.9% of our adult population and almost 60% of our youth unemployed. We also have one of the highest rates of inequalities in the world.

With all these, it is not surprising that our performance on most governance and development indicators (like Mo Ibrahim Index on African Governance and UNDP’s Human Development Index.) are unflattering. With fall in the prices of oil, which accounts for more than 70% of government revenues, and lack of savings from more than a decade of oil boom, the poor will be disproportionately impacted.

In the face of dwindling revenues, a good place to start the repositioning of Nigeria’s economy is to swiftly tackle two ills that have ballooned under the present administration: waste and corruption. And in doing this, I will, if elected, lead the way, with the force of personal example.

On corruption, there will be no confusion as to where I stand. Corruption will have no place and the corrupt will not be appointed into my administration. First and foremost, we will plug the holes in the budgetary process. Revenue producing entities such as NNPC and Customs and Excise will have one set of books only. Their revenues will be publicly disclosed and regularly audited. The institutions of state dedicated to fighting corruption will be given independence and prosecutorial authority without political interference.

But I must emphasise that any war waged on corruption should not be misconstrued as settling old scores or a witch-hunt. I’m running for President to lead Nigeria to prosperity and not adversity.

In reforming the economy, we will use savings that arise from blocking these leakages and the proceeds recovered from corruption to fund our party’s social investments programmes in education, health, and safety nets such as free school meals for children, emergency public works for unemployed youth and pensions for the elderly.

As a progressive party, we must reform our political economy to unleash the pent-up ingenuity and productivity of the Nigerian people thus freeing them from the curse of poverty. We will run a private sector-led economy but maintain an active role for government through strong regulatory oversight and deliberate interventions and incentives to diversify the base of our economy, strengthen productive sectors, improve the productive capacities of our people and create jobs for our teeming youths.

In short, we will run a functional economy driven by a worldview that sees growth not as an end by itself, but as a tool to create a society that works for all, rich and poor alike. On March 28, Nigeria has a decision to make. To vote for the continuity of failure or to elect progressive change. I believe the people will choose wisely.

In sum, I think that given its strategic importance, Nigeria can trigger a wave of democratic consolidation in Africa. But as a starting point we need to get this critical election right by ensuring that they go ahead, and depriving those who want to scuttle it the benefit of derailing our fledgling democracy. That way, we will all see democracy and democratic consolidation as tools for solving pressing problems in a sustainable way, not as ends in themselves.

Permit me to close this discussion on a personal note. I have heard and read references to me as a former dictator in many respected British newspapers including the well regarded Economist. Let me say without sounding defensive that dictatorship goes with military rule, though some might be less dictatorial than others. I take responsibility for whatever happened under my watch.

I cannot change the past. But I can change the present and the future. So before you is a former military ruler and a converted democrat who is ready to operate under democratic norms and is subjecting himself to the rigours of democratic elections for the fourth time.

You may ask: why is he doing this? This is a question I ask myself all the time too. And here is my humble answer: because the work of making Nigeria great is not yet done, because I still believe that change is possible, this time through the ballot, and most importantly, because I still have the capacity and the passion to dream and work for a Nigeria that will be respected again in the comity of nations and that all Nigerians will be proud of.

I thank you for listening.

MidWeekSpecial: Cote d’Ivoire Parallelisms in Nigeria’s Presidential Election by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

Isiaq Hammed An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. Isiaq Hammed came to us READY-MADE! He is a giant contributor.

Isiaq Hammed is Nigerian and political activist. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. He is a passionate believer in Nigeria and discusses Africa, particularly Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. He writes extensively on many international issues affecting the continent and the Middle East. He guestblogs on AhjotNaija.

Saturday, February 7, 2015 can definitely not be said to be a day like any other. It was indeed a historic day for Professor Attahiru Jega with several brainstorming sessions and negotiation with the various political actors and stakeholders in the electoral process. The INEC Chairman finally surfaced on that fateful night to the full glare of the waiting  gentlemen of the press. Millions of Nigerians and perhaps friends of Nigeria, home and abroad, were equally glued to their television sets. Those who were not lucky with the electricity distribution companies resorted to their generating sets. Others who could not access live streaming settled for the instant briefing on the social media platforms (Facebook, twitter etc.) The issue of the rumoured postponement, true or untrue, must be laid to rest. As Nigerians wait to hear directly from the horse’s mouth, the tension was palpable… Prof. Jega, using the security report from the service chiefs as a force majeure, finally officially extended the Presidential election by six weeks, during which the Nigerian military and the Federal Government vowed to crush the Boko Haram sect once and for all.

On hearing of the new March 28 and April 11 election dates, many were disappointed. For some, nothing much to worry about. As long as the May 29 handing over date remains sacrosanct. Yet some were of the opinion that the new development will allow more Nigerians who are yet to collect their permanent voters’ card (PVC) to do so.

Personally as Nigerian, I did not know what word(s) I could use to describe my feeling: betrayal, embarrassment, anger, disappointment, scepticism… It was definitely not that of relief or indifference. Indeed the stakes were and are still high. And I have a stake in the (un)becoming of my nation. Every Nigerian should in fact have. Like many others I settled for calm and vigilance. I ruminated on any similar event in history that I could remember. With historical retrospection, one can peep and permit oneself an introspection in to the future. As Providence would have it, exactly twenty four hours after, the next capital of call for the African Nations’ trophy will be Abidjan, just two years after it was in the Nigerian federal capital, Abuja. Cote d’Ivoire, a country still recovering from the vestige of a deep politico-military crisis that threatened its very existence, narrowly defeated the Black Stars of Ghana in a keenly contested penalty shoot-out at the AFCON final. A lot of political pundits will agree that Nkrumah’s Ghana has become a model of democracy in governance, albeit in a politically unstable West African sub-region, having succeeded to have civilian to civilian intra- and interparty transitions. From the likes of John Kuffour to Late John Attah Mills and then to the current President John Dramani Mahama.

As the euphoria of seeing the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire becoming the new African champions waned, the perplexing and tensed Nigerian situation reared its head again in the mind. The new itinerary of the AFCON trophy seems to pass a warning signal. Will Nigeria go the Ghanaian or Ivorian way in the days and weeks to come? Eternal vigilance is the watchword! Let me digress a little. Cote d’Ivoire used to have two political gladiators too, especially before, during and after the 2010 presidential elections. We will draw some interesting yet shocking parallels in subsequent lines. It is an axiom that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.

Alassane Ouattara, like Muhammadu Buhari, was born in 1942 to Ivorian parents of northern extraction. After completing his primary and secondary education, he proceeded to Philadelphia in the United States where he bagged his Bachelor degree, Masters and Ph.D. in Economics. Ouattara later rose to become the Director of Africa at the International Monetary Fund before he was then nominated by President Felix Houphouet-Boigny as the Prime Minister and Head of Government in 1990. He held this position until Houphouet-Boigny’s demise in December  7, 1993… Let us also do a quick panorama on Laurent Gbagbo before going back to the crux of our analysis.

Laurent Gbagbo was born in 1945 in Gagnoa, a city in the southern part of Cote d’Ivoire. He obtained a degree in History at the University of Abidjan in 1969 and proceeded  in 1979 to complete his Ph.D from Paris Diderot University, France. He lectured at the University of Abidjan for many years before finally joining politics and forming his opposition party Front  Populaire Ivoirien (Ivorian Popular Front) in the 80s. He contested and lost to Houphouet-Boigny in the 1990 election. Gbagbo later actualized his Presidential dream in 2000 in an election which saw Ouattara disqualified on the ground of not being an Ivorian descent and hence his nationality certificate was cancelled. A legal decision that can be said to be the genesis of the country’s decade-long crisis.

Laurent Gbagbo whose tenure was supposed to end by 2005 had the general elections postponed several times. He disbanded or caused to disband several electoral commissions. Mr. Youssouf Bakayoko, ‘the Ivorian Jega’, who finally organised the 2010 election was also threatened and frustrated. And when the elections finally took place and Bakayoko was set to announce Ouattara winner, Gbagbo rejected the result and refused to concede defeat. The International community (ECOWAS, AU, UN, US,  France etc.) all accepted and aligned with Ouattara as the rightful winner. In fact, Mr Soro Guillaume, the  Prime Minister under Gbagbo accepted the ballot’s verdict. Gbagbo kicked. He manipulated and managed to secure a contrary verdict from the court. Hell was let loose. The Ivorian national TV and radio stations became instruments of propaganda. Independent International news media like Rfi, TV5 were stopped from transmitting. Pro-Ouattara news media were muzzled. And that was how far Gbagbo went in his desperation to keep power at all cost. Several thousand Ivoirians and foreigners paid with their dear lives in the ensuing post-election violence which ended only after Gbagbo’s capture on April 11, 2011. And he is presently cooling his feet at the ICC in the Hague… The rest is now history.

The similarity in the opposition parties’ strategies is equally worthy of mention here. Just like Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) merged with other opposition parties to form the All Progressive Congress (APC), Alassane Ouattara also formed a coalition alliance, Rassemblement des Houphouetistes pour la Democratie et la Paix (RHDP) in order to have a common front against the incumbent and his party. This indeed proved effective as it really made the election a keen contest and not an easy walk-over that the power of incumbency always breeds. And that in fact brightened the opposition’s chances at the polls. Alassane Ouattara finally ascended to power in 2011 since his expression of interest for the Ivorian highest office as far back as 1995.

Watching current happenings in Nigeria with the various legal cases seeking to disqualify Muhammadu Buhari from contesting the 2015 Presidential election on the ground of his school certificate (remember Ouattara’s birth certificate saga), the recent postponement of the elections, rumoured plans to have the electoral umpire removed and replaced or even the outright scuttling of the Nigerian democratic processes via the search for an extension of the incumbent’s stay in power, institution of an Interim National Government or instigating a coup d’état etc. all make one to wonder if indeed we learn anything from history.

As we seem to be at the crossroads now, and yet as our nation seems to hold her breath, we can’t help but ask if  Nigeria will go the Ghanaian or Ivorian way in the days and weeks to come. And that is the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question to which the Nigerian political class must give an answer, most especially the two major political gladiators: President Goodluck Jonathan and Rtd General Muhammadu Buhari. The actions and inactions of the duo  together with those of their individual foot soldiers and sympathizers will indeed determine in what direction our national pendulum will swing. Verily, the thin line separating the two nations scenarios will be determined by how far the two Nigerian heavyweights choose to go. Alas, only our proverbial thin line separates the Hague from the West African coast. Both Charles Taylor and Laurent Gbagbo know better though, as they are both living testimonies whereas we the poor masses are living witnesses.

Our fingers are more than crossed!!!

Nkem’s Shoeless-Dothan by Emmanuel Oris’

Emmanuel Oritseweyinmi is a writer and an inspirational speaker. He is the author of “I Dare to be a Nigerian: A collection of inspiring stories, plays and anecdotes” available on Amazon We at AhjotNaija are honoured to have him guestblog for us. This is first of many inpsirational series soon to be published.

Emmanuel Oritseweyinmi is a writer and an inspirational speaker. He is the author of “I Dare to be a Nigerian: A collection of inspiring stories, plays and anecdotes” available on Amazon
We at AhjotNaija are honoured to have him guestblog for us. This is first of many inpsirational series soon to be published.

See the blood course through my veins as I try to slow him down before he crashes and burns. He shrugs my hands off. Hear my voice call out to him just before he heads off a cliff. He deafens his ears to my pleas. His heart is fixed. He is bent on reaching Hell’s gate, to ascertain if indeed it is what it is.

“Abandon hope all ye who enter here”

Was that not what the philosopher Dante figured the inscription at Hell’s entrance would read? Yet I wonder why Papa Nkem wants to dare the Fates and hopes his gamble pays off. We all thought he was joking when he told us that he was going to marry off our favourite daughter, Nkem, to that unsophisticated Fulani soldier man. For God sakes even the village lunatic remembers Maigari’s days at the helm of affairs at our village’s military consignment. Those were dark days.

Like a slave master, he placed shackles on our freedom. Like dogs we were put on leashes. He called that discipline. A long standing curfew paralyzed our night trade and completely put my late uncle out of business. Papa Ada, who was a palm wine tapper, never truly recovered from the ban on all drinking parlours. He died during Maigari’s repressive regime. It’s a pity he couldn’t hold out a little while longer, as God heard our prayers soon after and Maigari was kicked to the curb.

I can hardly believe Papa Nkem would wilfully allow such a man into our family. I know my friend Dothan really treated Nkem poorly at some point, but no one can deny the fact that the man still loves her. And the look on Nkem’s face this afternoon when I saw her was that of the moon when the sun has been stolen away from it. A thousand stars wouldn’t compare. The moon needs the sun to shine.

It was exactly four years ago we all rooted for Dothan when he asked for Nkem’s hand in marriage. The man was the epitome of humility and servitude. It’s a fact he has gotten a bit overambitious over the years but unlike others I still see that gentleman that charmed us all that sunny afternoon. I remember it like it was yesterday.

The clouds hid themselves that day, heralding the sun’s heated embrace for red earth, thatched roofs and bald heads. Papa Nkem, the family elders and I sat under the Ukwa tree in front of his compound awaiting the arrival of Dothan and his brothers. We had had our fair share of flamboyant displays from red cap chiefs, city businessmen and the likes for the hand of our daughter, but we weren’t impressed. And we were certain this man from the south would be no different.

Soon after they arrived and our hearts were turned. He was a common civil servant, dressed in khakis. He introduced himself and we got to question him further. It was then we discovered his luck was good. Out of nothing – from having no shoes—Dothan had become the vice principal of his community’s grammar school. Soft spoken and mildly tempered, we were certain this was the man for our Nkem. It was Papa Nkem himself who convinced those who weren’t. It behoves me why he has changed his mind to a point that apologies and promises bounce off him like a ball off a brick wall.

I have tried telling him over and again that his temper would one day get the best of him and this looks like the perfect storm, but I’d rather he doesn’t drag Nkem down with him. In times like these patience is more than a virtue. He’s crying for change, but that’s not what we need right now. We need to keep moving forward.

Dothan has started us off on the road to success. I mean, take a good look at Nkem, she was crude and seemed to lack an idea of what to do with herself, but look at what Dothan has done with her. He paid for her to continue schooling. The other day I heard her speak through her nose in a manner I’m sure her white missionary teachers would be proud of. Instead of keeping her at home to rot, this man saw the best in our daughter.

Life is a journey where we sometimes stumble and fall, but that’s no excuse to throw in the towel and return to base. Dothan –much like every man alive – is not perfect and has made some mistakes in times past but I’m sure he’s turned a new leaf and is ready to do what’s right this time around. I may be wrong about him, but I doubt it.

They argue that Dothan hit Nkem, but marrying her off to Maigari – that brute of a man – would somehow make things better. If anything, that sentences the poor girl to severe brutality and this time we wouldn’t be able to do anything about it. Papa Nkem doesn’t understand the politics Maigari’s playing. Maigari is a proud man who believes everyone is beneath him and the only reason he’s sulking up to everyone right now is because of Nkem. And when he has her, I bet he’ll show everyone his true colours. And God forbids he does worse to Nkem, is it her lily-livered father that will storm a military man’s house to drag her out like he did to the quiet Dothan? I think not.

They say the grass is always greener on the other side, but it’s often a mirage. I wish we would be grateful for what we have, understand that no man’s perfect and be patient with this man – Dothan. He may not deserve it but it just might be the only wise thing to do. For I will sleep better knowing that our daughter Nkem is lying down in the arms of a common civil servant than be in the neck crushing chokehold of a malevolent fiend of a man.

It is said that “those who do not remember history are bound to repeat it”, but must that be our story? I mean, the man has shown us his hand several years back, must we allow him deal his last card when the power is in our hands this time around?

Have you heard? Our Nkem is getting married this Valentine. Have you gotten your Invite? Of course, the Invite is the PVC. Your vote is your voice in her betrothal…do have your say wisely.

Take charge.

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