Sunday, July 27, 2014

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO TONY RAPU

As your president come 2015, I am also interested in the home front. Recently I stumbled across a popular Lagos pastor tweeting advice to married women and men and have to share it with you. His tweets in quotes are taken directly from his Twitter handle @drtonyrapu. Forgive me if I do a little commentary. It is only because I care. 
“A husband’s greatest need in this world of marriage is to be respected by his wife. #MarriedWomen”
Now, while you carry that phallic mace of leadership as a husband, it is important that you get the respect you deserve. It is a need without which your male member will shrivel up and die. And we all know what happens when the Speaker of the House doesn’t have the mace anymore. It is like being impeached. God forbid that your mace shrivels up and dies.
“When you give to your husband without expectations, then God somehow begins to meet your expectations. #MarriedWomen”
Most important part of this awesome tweet: “without expectations”. A wife should not expect anything in return. Even though as stated above a man SHOULD expect things. Like respect. But only because he is a man. A married man. If you do this God will “somehow”, I don’t know how exactly, bless your marital hustle.
“Look in the mirror & learn to love what you see. A woman who loves her body takes care of it for her husband. Love your body. #MarriedWomen”
Like many things that a man owns, this includes his wife’s body. This is the most important reason why you should take care of your body – although it is your body, it really is for your husband. I suspect that is why in our country there is nothing like marital rape. The wife’s body belongs to the man.
“You have to make forgiveness a habit. In big things and in little things. Forgive. Forgive. Forgive. #MarriedWomen”
Yes. How many times did he say forgive? Three times. Like when you find him masturbating to porn in the bathroom. Or when he cheats. Or when he cheats again. Three times.
“Men are not wired like women and your husband doesn’t even know he is being insensitive to your needs. Tell him nicely #MarriedWomen”
Have you ever tried to fix an adapter? There are three cables of different colours. The red, the black and the yellow and green one. Men are like the yellow and green one. Today one colour tomorrow another. So we are allowed to be insensitive. Because we are men. And because the one thing we like more than anything in the world is to be respected, you have to tell us nicely that we are being bad to you. Something about he who holds the mace, holds the power.
“Be very careful about reading romance novels. They give you a false illusion of life. #MarriedWomen”
You don’t want anything that can give you any excitement and distract you from your god-assigned role in life – making your husband happy while not seeking happiness yourself. Too much love in romance novels. Too much regard for women. Too many women who get sexual satisfaction. No one wants that.
“You may not understand why he loves to watch sports or violent movies. You don’t have to understand. Give him his space. #MarriedWomen”
Yes, especially the violent movies. Give him his space while he is learning all the skills required to give you a good beating. But while you do this, you are not allowed to read romance novels. Just make the bed, look for dirty surfaces to clean and cook another pot of soup.
“Make the bed. Thank you. #MarriedWomen”
No creases. No old sheets. No stains. Iron the sheets before you lay them because of insect larvae. Do it like your marriage depended on it. Because, Tony Rapu says it does.
“If you try to control, restrict or cage your husband it will take away that ‘thing’ that makes him a man. He’s a free spirit. #MarriedWomen”
Not sure I need to add much here. While you are bound to him, he is a free spirit. I wish we could have this in all local languages.
“Pet your husband. Massage his shoulders. Give him a manicure. #MarriedWomen”
We are like pets. We also have egos that need massaging. A good married woman knows that the one reason she was put on this earth is to attend to these needs.
“You have to love your husband even when he is unlovable. #MarriedWomen”
You have to. You just have to. The god of Tony Rapu demands it.
“Serve your husband even when it seems he doesn’t appreciate your service. #MarriedWomen”
It is like having a maid. Your maid may not always like cleaning your children’s poop, picking up after you, getting a criminal wage, dealing with your randy husband’s advances and your verbal abuse, but she has to do her job. It is a job she is paid to do, appreciation is not part of the work contract. So also marriage. A married woman serves. Appreciation is not part of the package.  
“Be sensitive to your husband’s physical needs even when you’re tired. You can do all things thro’ Christ who strengthens you. #MarriedWomen”
Your husband has no self-control and cannot exercise restraint. Besides, is this not what Jesus died for – to give you strength to perform whenever your randy husband wants you?
“Protect your husband. There are she-wolves out there. #MarriedWomen”
You have to realise something about men. They are like physically and mentally challenged people. Imagine a mentally challenged paraplegic. That is a summary of what men are. So your husband needs you to stop his male member from finding a she-wolf. He can’t say no or think for himself. It is just the way things are. You are like a soldier whose singular task is to protect a city from foreign invaders like your fellow females. If the invaders breach the city walls, you are to blame.  For those of you women who watch the TV series Game of Thrones, you are like the men of the night's watch who protect the wall and your fellow women are like white walkers and wildlings. Do not abandon your watch!
Here is some of what Tony Rapu had for men:
“Wash the dishes for your wife sometimes. #MarriedMen”
We all know that plates, I mean all plates, belong to the woman. It doesn’t matter if she works too. Clean plates, dirty plates are all hers. It is her job to keep them clean. If you wash the plates you use to eat as a man, it is like giving charity. You are helping her. And you shouldn’t do it too often. Just sometimes. And for this you should be praised. The god of Tony Rapu thinks so.
“Tell your wife “thank you” for all the cooking, washing, cleaning and even making the bed. #MarriedMen”
Awesome. Do you see the double message here? Tony Rapu is a genius. Yes, it means she should do “all the cooking, washing, cleaning and even making the bed.” How else can she expect a thank you if she hasn’t first done these wifely duties? I need to sit down and have a serious conversation with my lover. Because as it is I cook, wash, clean and make the bed. Or perhaps I am one of those mistakes of nature who was originally meant to be a wife? Anyway just do as I say not as I do.
“Your wife has the power to set the direction of your entire life. #MarriedMen”
You see, your wife has all this power. She has this big remote control that can make you do things. Just like Eve who put us all in the mess the world is in. Who knows what channel she will decide to watch? Sometimes, happiness means finding someone you can blame all your problems on.
“Be the man. The #MarriedMan”
I believe this is self-explanatory. Sometimes you are tempted to be the woman and do things like cook, make the bed, cry, clean, let her make some decisions… but don’t! That male member between your legs is not there for decoration. Think of it like the mace in a parliament. Unless the Speaker has the mace he cannot carry out his functions and assert his authority as leader of parliament. So also as long as you carry that phallic blessing between your legs, you are boss. God bless Tony Rapu.
Marriage is good abi?


Saturday, July 19, 2014

MALALA WILL KNOW


This is a good weekend for me. I am revelling in an aha moment. Sometimes all you need is not to force something to work your way, but to find out how best a thing works. I have discovered how best Jonathan works. I have wasted the past year trying to get Jonathan to respond to my WhatsApp messages. I even tried to get his BB pin, but he wouldn’t add me. And it’s not just me. Oby Ezekwesili has been screaming herself hoarse at the Unity Fountain trying to get his attention, which earned her the title “psychological terrorist”.
However, when 17 year old Malala got on a plane and came to Abuja, I heard he ironed his best overalls with spray starch, didn’t drink, wore his prescription glasses and got all his aides to work overtime. As soon as he set eyes on her, he started talking, telling her everything, the things she wanted to know and things she didn’t really care about. Like apologising for the creases on his overall and for wearing the same colours all the time. He swore, by all the gods in the Niger Delta, that she had no reason to get angry with him, because he was doing his very best.
I appreciate this, because as long as a confession is made, it does not matter who that confession is made to. All that remains is for Oby Ezekwesili and the rest of us noise makers to channel our grievances, protests, questions, hashtags and tweets to the right office – the Malala Trust. Henceforth I will advise that requests should be made directly to Malala and copied to Jonathan. Tweets seeking the President’s attention should end with the hashtag #MalalaWillKnow. I’m not sure that Malala will have time to handle all our requests immediately. But I know one thing, when she does get round to handling it, our president will take immediate action.
After writing so much to Ebele Jonathan, I’m afraid for my career. I like to believe that I’m a good student of history. Sanusi wrote to Jonathan, he lost his job. Nyako wrote to Jonathan, he lost his job. Obasanjo wrote to Jonathan, I am sure that if he had a job he would have lost it too. For the sake of my job, I just want to tell Jonathan what we used to sing during football matches as kids: ‘Ba fada ba ne. Wasa ne.’ Rough translation: ‘No be fight.’
Speaking of Nyako, I hear that the old soldier disappeared right after he was impeached for having a monopoly on corruption, together with his four wives and children. While I agree that deregulated corruption would have saved his job, I am more interested in Nyako for other reasons. First, I like mangoes and he owns the largest mango farm in the country. And next, he was somehow able to summarise his four wives into one office of the First Lady. In fact, it has been reported that in the appointment letter of the chief press secretary to the First Lady, signed by Mr John Manassah, the SSG, it was stated that he was appointed ‘as the chief press secretary to the wives of the governor’. And you know, I want to be like Nyako when I grow up: 71 years old and still able to perform conjugal duties with four women. I am certain that if his heart was able to withstand that quadruple level of activity, then we don’t need to worry about how he will take his impeachment. But as an aside, what happens when a man upon whom four women (not counting concubines) depend on for sex, suddenly disappears? Can Adamawa afford to have that many unsatisfied women? Is this what Jonathan wants? Really?
Rauf Aregbesola has been on the campaign trail, begging the people of Osun state not to vote in Senator Iyiola Omisore, who was once at the centre of allegations in the assassination of Chief Bola Ige. I know the incumbent governor has reason to take his campaign very seriously, especially after the recent loss of his brother-governor Kayode Fayemi. But Rauf has nothing to fear. Even without uttering a word, his face and beard are sufficient campaign promises. They tell a story. And while people may look at Omisore’s face and think ‘See this big man’, they will look at Rauf’s face and go ‘See what life has done to this man’.
Apparently, 67 live giant African snails were seized at the Los Angeles International Airport early this week. The snails, which were coming from Lagos, made US customs officials panic and say that it was ‘the first time this pest has been encountered in such quantity’. Instead of sending it back where it came from, they proceeded to burn the snails alive. I just want to say that I’m disappointed in Jonathan. Of all the bad things he did this week, known and unknown, I find it most unconscionable that he would stand by and watch a national delicacy being called a pest. Why do we have a president, if 67 giant African snails can be burned to death with not so much as a response from Africa’s most powerful leader? Where are the animal rights groups that held global protests against the Chinese Yulin dog meat festival, because dogs were being ‘cruelly bound, confined, and slaughtered’? Which is worse: the meaningless torture and killing of 67 giant African animals or Chinese guys who slaughter dogs for consumption? I will send a memo to Malala on this. I trust Jonathan will listen to her.

Ps. My heart goes out to all the women, and boys of Borno still held in captivity by Boko Haram. Especially the school girls of Chibok who have spent almost 100 days in captivity. I cannot begin to imagine the havoc each day spent in insurgent camps wreaks on their lives. My thoughts are also with the bombarded Palestinians who have endured decades of military occupation, land seizures, blockades and death from the apartheid Israeli government. More especially those in Gaza labouring under the less than competent leadership of Hamas who by their ineptitude play into the ready hands of Israel and put Palestinian civilians at risk. In war, except perhaps for people dealing in arms, there can be no winner.

HOW TO SURVIVE WITHOUT A CAR IN ABUJA


Let’s begin with a little definition. In Abuja, walking, strolling or jogging are terms that apply only to people who have cars. If you do not own a car, respect yourself and call what you do by its rightful name: trekking.
Everyone who knows Abuja knows that the city is built to keep out the evil people who trek. And the residents largely comply with their hostile attitude to trekking. Sometimes however, a non-car owner will need to trek. This article is for you. It is written to help those without cars, (especially those who have no idea when God will bless their hustle) retain some respect in this trekking-hostile city.
When you hang out with friends or colleagues who own cars, or go for meetings, always be the last to arrive. If you arrive first the people who come will ask the inevitable question: “Where did you park?” or the more confrontational “I did not see your car outside.”
It is one thing to labour under the harsh condition of car-lessness in Abuja, it is quite another to be subjected to the humiliation of explaining that state of affairs before an audience. You do not want to make a long speech apologizing for not having a car and having those stares of pity or worse, of shock, before watching your reputation suffer instant decline. So, come late when people are already way into whatever it is they are doing. They will accept your apologies for coming late. We are afterall, Nigerians- we invented late coming.
Leave last or first, but never when everyone else is leaving. You don’t want people to treat you like a charity case and start casting lots over who will give you a lift home as though you were an abandoned baby found in a rubbish heap. You can’t win in that kind of situation. If you accept their offers of a lift, they will give you those looks and probably avoid you next time so they don’t have to drop you off. On the other hand if you insist on taking a cab, they will think you are a pompous pauper “with nothing to show for it”. So, sneak off while the ovation is loudest and say you have a family emergency. And it will not be a lie because really, not having a car in Abuja is a perpetual family emergency. If it is a meeting, let them leave before you. Tell them you have another meeting at the same venue and you want to just wait. Then sneak away after they have driven off.
I know the question on your mind now. What if, while you are trekking, someone that you know sees you or drives past? I understand your worry. Trekking is evidence of extreme poverty in Abuja and poverty is the only criminalized state of affairs in this city. People would rather strike deals and hang out with militants and criminals than chat with poor people who trek. In fact, if you tell anyone that you are going to walk to any distance beyond a few hundred meters they look at you like you are about to slaughter a baby. There are several ways of making sure that trekking does not truncate your hustle.
1.      Wear earphones. It does not matter if you have an mp3 player connected or a phone that can play music. With earphones you can pretend you do not hear when someone you know is honking or calling out to you. Downside: this does not always work. Nigerians are very nosy and a complete stranger will stop and tap you to say: “Heys! Person dey call you!” God forbid that this should happen to you.
2.      Carry your real shirt in your bag but wear a jersey or t-shirt and sneakers. This way you can always claim that you are doing some exercise. Or that you just wanted to take in some fresh air. Downside: Because Abuja is always sunny, humid and hot, nosy people will counter by saying: “Haba, under this hot sun?” How to fix this? You can claim you have been in an air conditioned office all day and you started feeling sick from all the cold. Of course the average Nigerian is a medical doctor and they will ask if you are “ok” because we all know that Nigerians like to sit in offices at 16 degrees. You will assure them that by God’s grace all is well and walk away before they embarrass you further.
There is of course also the knotty situation of having a not so nice car. It would seem that Abuja residents judge a person with an old rickety car worse than they judge a person without a car. Because without a car you can pretend that your car is with the mechanic or you are about to get a new one but with a rickety car, there is no salvation. They won’t even ask you questions that you can provide lies to. They will judge you, right there in front of you. And there is no comeback from silent judgment.
What to do? Perform only necessary trips with your rickety car. If you have to, apply the rules above about coming late and/or leaving early. Alternatively, park about 100 meters away from everyone else so that they don’t see you coming and when they ask that question packed with potential embarrassment: “Where did you park?” you can point in the general direction of the car without being too specific. On days when you can’t do any of these, respect yourself, take a cab and tell everyone that you borrowed your car to a friend. Everyone loves people who can borrow their cars to their friends and people will fall over each other to give you a ride home.

I wish you well as you navigate the tricky terrain that is Abuja. Ultimately I pray that God blesses your hustle and you are able to permanently save yourself from the suspicion of extreme poverty and buy a decent car. And do confident things like drop the key to your fancy ride on the table when you meet people. 

Saturday, July 12, 2014

BURN AFTER READING

Reuben Abati, in his July 9 article in The Washington Times, justified his salary by attacking Karen Attiah’s satirical response to Jonathan’s The Washington Post article. I see that my political opponents are taking this writing business very serious. And so will I. 

Let me explain what The Washington Post did. Barely days after publishing Jonathan’s PR piece, they published Attiah’s satire, totally rubbishing his article. Now, there is no worse way of truncating a man’s international hustle than that kind of thing. So, here’s what Reuben Abati did. He found another paper with a similar name, called The Washington Times. Maybe he thought Nigerians would not know the difference between The Washington Post and The Washington Times. Or maybe he didn’t want another Karen Attiah satire pouring sand-sand in his garri. 

I just want to say that the Presidency chose the perfect city in America to do their PR. Because in Washington alone, apart from The Washington Post and The Washington Times, they have Washington Hispanic, Washington City Paper, Washington Blade, Washington Informer, Washington Business Journal, Washington Jewish Week, The Washington Diplomat, The Washington Sun, The Washington Afro American, and The Washington Examiner. They even have the Washingtonian Magazine. There is no way all these publications would have a Karen Attiah satirist waiting to puncture holes in their story.
So let us look at a few sentences from Abati’s article.
What is not fair, and which stands out in many of the criticisms directed at the Nigerian government, is the attempt to ignore the issues and argue that President Goodluck Jonathan is the problem. This attempt to turn the matter of the abducted girls into a referendum on the Jonathan administration has resulted in a complete misreading of the situation and much deliberate mischief fueled by ignorance and sponsored propaganda.
After reading especially the first few words, it is hard not to have the image of Abati in the middle of a school playground in shorts, stomping his feet and screaming ‘Eees nor fair!’ But then I think Reuben is right. It is not fair to blame a man who we voted in as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces and Head of the Nigerian Government for failing in his responsibility. It is not fair to demand answers from a man who occupies the highest office in the land and has access to all the nation’s resources. It is not fair to be upset when his army lies that they have rescued the abducted girls, when in fact they made no attempt to do so. It is not fair to be upset that no one gets punished when the government lies to us. Eees nor fair!
During the past four years, Mr. Jonathan has taken proactive steps to combat terrorism on our shores, including military, political and social actions.
Again, I agree with Mr. Abati. Let me take the liberty of listing a few proactive military, political and social actions that Jonathan has taken.
1) Military: claiming that they have rescued the girls when they had no idea where the girls were. Because even the Bible says ‘life and death are in the power of the tongue’. So claiming to have carried out an action is a natural, proactive first step in doing that action.
2) Political: claiming that the abduction was a hoax organised by the APC. Because one needs to be sure that one’s enemies are not involved before committing great military resources in a place as large as Sambisa Forest.
3) Social: enlisting the support of touts to attack Bring Back Our Girls campaigners. Because one needs to test the resolve of people claiming to fight for abducted girls. It’s a bit like a job interview. You can’t have people half-heartedly chanting ‘bring back our girls’.
Since 2011 … [t]hese efforts [by Nigerian security chiefs] yielded positive results, notably the decimation of the ranks of the Boko Haram and their restriction to the Sambisa Forest.
Indeed Boko Haram has been restricted only to the Sambisa Forest. Because the 12-hour long May 5 attack on Gamborou, administrative headquarters of Ngala Local Government in Borno State, leading to the death of 300 persons might just have been a figment of some nosy journalists’ imagination. I’m a journalist sometimes, I know my people. Even the frequent attacks on communities around Chibok and the bombing of a plaza in Abuja may be the work of a copycat. Boko Haram has been restricted to Sambisa Forest.
Boko Haram, the political opposition and a section of the local Nigerian media may have turned Jonathan-bashing into a tasteless and unpatriotic sport. It would be sad indeed if the international media were to allow itself to be led by the nose into that game.
This is such an important point to make. I wished I said it first. Jonathan-bashing must be done in good taste and cannot be turned into a sport. It must be done in the spirit of seriousness and patriotism. Anything short of this is tasteless and unpatriotic.

***
I must my congratulate my soon-to-be predecessor on his wonderful new catch. He was able to attract Malam Shekarau, former book-burning Governor of Kano State, to the education ministry. In 2007, I remember the zeal with which Shekarau and his government publicly burned Hausa romance novels and subjected Hausa authors to a heavy-handed censorship board. We hope that he brings this book-burning zeal of his to the ailing educational sector. Because nothing purifies as perfectly as fire. (Trivia: Shekarau sometimes wears white socks. Just putting it out there)

PS: Please do me a favour. Join me in celebrating Shekarau, our new education minister. Burn this after reading.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

OF SILENCE AND OTHER GREAT ANSWERS FOR FOOLS

If anything ever convinced me that Ebele Jonathan is afraid of my presidential candidacy it is the fact that he has suddenly decided to become a writer. He wrote in the Washington Post:
My silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness. My silence has been necessary to avoid compromising the details of our investigation.”
I don’t blame him. I blame people like Leonardo Da Vinci who said silly things like: Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.” That is why my soon-to-be predecessor has refused to respond to any of my messages. In fact you recall, even when I went to the villa, he refused to come out of his room, sending the equally silent Namadi Sambo to represent him at the event.
All of this reminds me of an urban tale in Kogi politics, where during the 2003 election campaigns, to spite Ibrahim Idris, owner of Ibro Hotel, Prince Abubakar Audu who was seeking re-election said that those who know how to sell food should stick to selling food. My reaction to Jonathan will not be out of spite. But I will say that those who know how to be silent should continue to remain silent. Let those of us who are writers be writers. He should not drag it with me. It takes years to learn how to be a doctor or lawyer, but everyone thinks they can jump and become a writer. And perhaps I should just remind Jonathan that Yevgeny Yevtushenko said that when truth is replaced by silence, the silence is a lie.
The 2014 FIFA Men’s World Cup is the first time I have followed football closely. I have always found fanatical following of football both weird and energy consuming. However, the quality of the football and the drama have more than compensated for my time. Also, as president come 2015, I should start watching what most Nigerian men watch, if only to feel what they feel. I will resume my football atheism after the World Cup.
If I was president, I would have given the Nigerian Football Team an award in spite of their crashing out of the round of 16. Our team was undoubtedly the most contented loser in the round of 16. Whereas most losing teams broke down, holding their heads in pain or crying their eyes out, ours only stopped short of celebrating. Commendable. Joseph Yobo, the captain of the team, led by example in this regard. Even though he got on the score sheet as a French scorer, he was enthusiastically saying hello to other players right after the game, as if losing was the most normal thing in the world. God bless the Super Eagles.
When I heard that Dino Melaye had a new light-complexioned woman in his life after the old dark one left, I congratulated him for moving up in the world. As a lawyer I am trained not to draw conclusions after listening to one side of a story. So the fact that photos of his old wife after being allegedly battered by him are all over the internet didn’t deter me from wishing him well in his new upgraded hustle. I only warned that hitting the new light-skinned woman could produce disastrous evidence in a court of law. The previous dark woman claimed to have been hit with a wooden plank. She is quite dark in complexion and it was hard to tell by just looking that she was ‘planked’.
Sadly only six months after, news reaching my campaign office is that Alero, the light-skinned woman who is allegedly pregnant with Dino’s child, has moved out of the house after claims of beatings and false imprisonment. Life is cruel sha. Dino should travel home to Kogi and kneel down in the village square and beg his enemies to forgive him. This is surely home trouble. And I know that he hangs out with Jesus and all every Sunday on Twitter, but this matter is beyond that. Some spirits you have to confront yourself. I wish Dino all the best in this hustle. Perhaps I should just add that Dino has denied hitting Alero “or any other woman”.
Ps. After allegedly spending 470 million dollars on CCTV cameras in the FCT, the Nigerian government, following the most recent bombing in Abuja, advised residents to install CCTV cameras in their homes and business premises. That the Nigerian government has the effrontery to say this, without fear or shame, says something not about the government, but about us as Nigerians. Maybe we do not feel enough ownership of the money that comes from crude oil. Maybe if the money spent by government was taxpayer’s money in the real sense of the term, people might be more proactive in demanding accountability.


Ps. 2. This week in Lagos, the Nigerian army allowed its men sink to a new low. Like outlaws in an ungoverned countryside, the men and women who took oaths to protect Nigeria and Nigerians from internal and external aggressors, became arsonists and attackers in retaliation for an accident involving one of their own. It is too much to ask citizens already living in fear of insurgents under the worst of third world conditions to also live in fear of the people who should protect them. It is too damn much. 

Ps. 3. I just saw this tweeted by Pastor E. A Adeboye: "If the one blocking your marriage is an insider and they refuse to let you go, they'll be buried this year." In my mind, there is hardly any difference between this kind of violent, unkind, and not to add superstitious speech and the violence of those who kill in God's name. 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

TAKING BACK POWER FROM GOD

Sometimes when I want to write satire, things happen which make it impossible. Nigeria is living, breathing satire and all one needs to be filled with both laughter and incredulity is to read news coming out of Nigeria. Other times one is just too sad to use any humour as is the case with this article.
On June 25, a bomb was detonated in a shopping plaza a five minute ride away from where I live in Abuja. The windows and door rattled slightly and I didn’t realize that an event that ended the lives of at least 21 persons and permanently changed the lives of many others had just occurred. It made me think. Our first reaction when a bomb goes off or violence breaks out is to call our loved ones in the area and ask if they are ok, or if they knew anyone who died. When the answer is no, we end by saying a variant of ‘Thank God’. The frequency of the bombings and killings have numbed us and forcibly reduced the sphere of our worry to those we personally know. Tragedy fatigue has robbed us of normal responses to mass deaths: demanding answers, demanding accountability, demanding security.
My friend Abang Mercy missed the blast by only a few minutes and was visibly shaken when I met her later that day. Thank God for my life o, she said. As people around the country called me to find out if I was ok, I lost count of ‘Thank Gods’.
The failure of the Nigerian state has increased the significance of the Nigerian god. If there was a power tussle between a functional government or state and a supernatural wonder-working being, then that tussle has been resolved firmly in favour of the Nigerian god. That is why instead of demand accountability from humans who get rich pretending to run Nigeria, we ask the Nigerian god to take charge, to change things, to make things better, even to touch the heart of the leaders we elected into office.
I have a quarrel with this god though and wonder what one has to do to escape being slaughtered in the middle of the night by bandits, being blown to bits by suicide bombers and IEDs or dying because our hospitals have no decent emergency care. Are the persons who die senselessly because the people who should be doing their job aren’t, deserving of death? Should we be thanking god for taking their lives and sparing ours?
I have a bigger quarrel with Nigerians who have taken power away from those being paid to exercise it and dumped it in the arms of the Nigerian god whose desk is already full of requests for husbands, children, safe journeys, prosperity, dream cars, promotions, protection from village enemies, protection from wicked neighbours and mothers-in-law and holy ghost fire for general purposes which may or may not include consuming enemies by fire. I will explain why.
The same day the blast happened I was at a debate organised by the BBC which had the Nigerian Defence spokesperson, the Minister of Interior (who oversaw the deaths of young job seeking Nigerians), the Governors of Niger and Rivers and the Commissioner for Information of Borno State. The hall was also full of young entrepreneurs, professionals and activists. Accusations were traded and especially the Minister, Abba Moro, got booed more than once. In fact two persons directly accused Moro of the deaths of young people whose lives ended because of his woeful planning and negligence. The army was blamed for being ill equipped to fight the insurgency to the hearing of the Defence spokesperson. An outsider might have seen all of this and had hope for the future of Nigeria, thinking that perhaps young people were ready, finally, to take on their leaders. But just like actors in a show, the moment the debate was over, so was the anger and rage. Young people swarmed around the same people who had borne insults minutes earlier. The villains stood proudly to receive people bowing to greet them with smiles. Of course not everyone was part of this charade. At least a couple of people continued the confrontation, especially with Abba Moro who smelled like he must have fallen in a bucket of alcohol on his way to the event.
What is my point? For as long as we keep having two faces – one for when our corrupt leaders are not looking and another when we actually meet them – these men and women without consciences will keep raping us. Unless citizens can rise up and demand accountability and not cede their powers to the Nigerian god, nothing will change. Unless first we believe that we have the power and next, USE that power as citizens, we will keep making those calls after bomb blasts. And if it continues long enough, some day we will find ourselves saying not “Thank God”, but “O my God”.

The sooner we relieve the Nigerian god of duty, the better for us. The sooner we realise that as far as governance is concerned, we, the citizens are the only gods that our leaders need to fear, the better for our country. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014

CHOOSING THE RIGHT BAG OF RICE

I must begin by congratulating the good people of Ekiti State. We all watched the elections with bated breaths. Especially as on social media the elections had already been concluded in a free and fair manner with Fayemi being declared as the Twitter winner. In fact some declared that they would have nothing to do with Nigeria should the real Ekiti people vote in Fayose in a free and fair election. However, as rice bearing both PDP and APC logos flooded the state prior to the elections, I was afraid the people would get confused and not know which candidate to vote. Because rice, when stripped naked, looks all the same. But Ekiti people proved me wrong. They proved to me that they could tell rice from rice. In the end, after cooking Fayose’s rice and Fayemi’s rice they came to the wise conclusion that only a consumer can come to: that Fayose’s rice was more nutritious. That takes wisdom. Unlike my soon-to-be-predecessor who doesn’t congratulate foes who unexpectedly win, I wish to congratulate Fayose on his landslide victory. The people of Ekiti deserve him. I will work with him when I become president.
At this point in trying to write this article, the ideas in my head are clashing with the sound of my neighbor’s very noisy generator. The only ideas that emerge now are all the sinister things I could do to stop this generator from running. Permanently. I see the hand of my soon to be predecessor in all of this. His intention is to withhold electricity so that the noise from all the generators around will stop me from thinking my campaign through and defeating him come 2015. But his plans will fail.
However, it is not my political opponents who planted my neighbor’s loud generator close enough to irritate me and truncate my hustle. It is my neighbor who willingly became a pencil in the hands of my political enemies. Because I care, I will enact legislation to stop people like my wicked neighbor from truncating the hustle of all thinking people come 2015.
GENERATOR USE AND ABUSE (PREVENTION) ACT, 2015
An Act to reduce air and sound pollution, to provide for punishment for stupid neighbors with loud generators and other matters related thereto.
1.       Notwithstanding decades of irresponsible leadership and sabotage which has situated most parts of Nigeria in perpetual darkness, and notwithstanding the rights of citizens to seek alternatives for power supply, no citizen shall irritate or abuse his or her neighbors with the sound of his generator.
2.      It shall be an offence to cause sound pollution with the use of noisy generators.
a.      Seeing as air pollution is pollution of air, water pollution, pollution of water, the correct term for infractions covered by this Act shall be sound pollution and not noise pollution which is a nonsensical term. The only other term allowed for pollution of this kind will be aural pollution.
b.      Persons who use the term noise pollution shall be liable to frog jumps for using a term that makes no sense.
3.      It shall count as a defense to culpability if the perpetrator of sound pollution via loud generators allows his neighbor’s to tap from his electricity.
4.      It shall NOT be an offence to pour water, salt or other damaging substances into the fuel tank of an offending loud generator belonging to one’s neighbor.
5.      Persons who cause sound pollution with their loud generators shall not bring an action for damages or bring a criminal report to the Police in the event that a neighbor who as a result of being irritated by sound pollution, destroys the engine of a generator by secretly or openly pouring water or salt in the fuel tank of an offending generator.
6.      Persons who cause sound or aural pollution with their generators shall be liable upon conviction to a term of imprisonment equal to the length of time they have cause sound pollution with their generators.
7.      Heat is not a defense to the offence of sound pollution.
8.      A crucial football match shall only be a partial defense to sound pollution, capable of becoming a full defense only if such person invites his neighbors in to watch the game together. The presence of cold drinks at this event shall be an added advantage.
9.      Anyone who causes sound pollution at any time past 10pm at night or before 7am in the morning commits the offence of aggravated sound pollution and shall be liable upon conviction to forfeiture of the offending generator and wearing squeezed clothes to work and other functions for one month.
10.   Generators shared by whole compounds or estates are exempt from this Act.

Ps. Next week I will be attending a security conference organized by the office of the National Security Adviser on “Security and Development Challenges of pastoralism in West and Central Africa”. To get my invitation, I had to send my home address to one of the organizers. Do you see where I am going with this? Yes. The government people now know where I live. Just thought to put it out there.  
Ps 2. It is almost 70 days since the largest single kidnap in recent Nigerian history occurred in Borno State. What is going on?
Ps 3. The spirit of Alamieyeseigha that helped him escape London police (in the form of a woman), helped the Super Eagles escape shame yesterday and finally win a World Cup game. I congratulate them.



Sunday, June 15, 2014

THE PASSPORT OF MALAM SANUSI

I want it to be on record that I congratulated His Royal Highness, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Emir of Kano, ex-Central Bank Governor, and ex-bow tie addict. I also want it on record that at the time of writing this article my soon-to-be-predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, has not yet congratulated the new Emir. And if there is any reason you should be suspicious of Jonathan come 2015 it is that a man who cannot even fake happiness for his neighbour’s success is a man you should be afraid of.
Many others have congratulated the new Emir of Kano. One of the first to do this was the unofficial Emir of Twitter and ‘certified ruffler of feathers’, Nasir E-lrufai. (I hear Nasir wants to be governor of my state and hasn't even thought to tell me- I will deal with this another time. Today is for another diminutive man.) But while Malam Nasir might be ecstatic about his friend Sanusi’s ascension to the throne I am not. Please be patient while I explain.
When I become president I would have to take off my shoes in his palace. If there is one part of my body I am self-conscious about (apart from my newly acquired beer belly), it is my feet. Not that my feet smell when I take off my shoes. (Ok, yes my feet smell, but that is not the point.) I lost all my toe nails growing up so if you took a picture of just my feet, you could swear they belonged to a seventy year old man. In fact I used to avoid houses where I knew I would have to take off my shoes (before I discovered socks, that is).  
Sanusi’s ascension to the throne has put a lot of people out of business. Of these many people I am most concerned about the person who used to sell him bow ties. One day the man was supplying dozens of expensive bow ties, and in one act of Kwankwasiyya rebellion, this bow tie dealer has to find something else to sell. Think also of the many young professionals and persons who began wearing bow ties because Sanusi made it fashionable. In fact, as a former critic of bow ties myself I can say that pre-Emir Sanusi cured me. I used to say that bow ties should only be worn by waiters and for special dinners. No one can tell the full impact of Governor Kwankwaso’s act of rebellion on Nigeria’s bow tie economy. And with the recent rebasing of our economy that made us leapfrog into first place ahead of people with better electricity, roads, healthcare, schools, wines, and vuvuzelas, the sudden deletion of bow ties from our national life is a threat.
However the least Jonathan could have done was send a congratulatory message. He could have called me to accompany him if he was too ashamed to go. Even a half-hearted one-liner would have sufficed. Like:
“Well done Sanusi.”
“Well done my boy.”
“We can’t question God.”
“I don’t know why God is doing this to me but congrats.”
“Your hustle cannot truncate my hustle, so, enjoy.”
“Enjoy your hot Emir’s regalia.”
“Good luck ruling Kano.”
“Good luck.”
I am just saying this because I don’t want to inherit an irritated emir of the largest and richest emirate in Nigeria. Jonathan should make peace with Sanusi for the sake of my presidency. I would do the same for him.
Now to the nagging issue of the passport of Emir Sanusi. Jonathan can very easily solve this issue of him not congratulating Sanusi by inviting the new emir to go to the Nigerian Immigration office for a new international passport in lieu of the one seized at Kano International Airport in May. Jonathan can say that they want to take a new photo of him with his turban because it is a shameful thing for anyone to see the emir’s naked head. This can be done quietly. Or if Jonathan wants to brag about it, he can invite newsmen and hand over the new passport himself. Because as president I don’t want to be dragged into issues of the previous presidency. I will be busy planning the invasion of a small European country.  
Speaking of traditional titles, Stella “armoured cars” Oduah was in Ogbaru in Anambra to receive the title of Ada Eze Chukwu conferred by the traditional rulers from Anambra North. I also want to congratulate her. It is not easy to go from being probed to being crowned. I wish her a long and fruitful reign. May her hustle never be truncated (again).
Ps. I have spent the last couple of weeks in Germany and let’s just say citizens will have to bear with me if in 2015 I ban sausages in Nigeria.
Ps. 2 Over 60 days have passed. The children of North-Eastern Nigeria still get kidnapped. They still live horrid lives in conditions beyond our imagination, with men who do not hesitate to kill or rape or maim. Is it too much to ask that our government stop hinting at knowing the sponsors and actually track down these funders of terror? Is it too much to ask that someone does something serious and secures the release of the girls (and boys) held by militants?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

NIGERIAN ELECTRICITY FOR DUMMIES

WHAT IS NIGERIAN ELECTRICITY?
I know. Bad question. 60% of you don’t have it at all and the remaining 40% see it only rarely. God will judge the matter. But stay with me as I explain a few things about the little electricity we have.
WHO CONTROLS NIGERIAN ELECTRICITY?
Ok. This one is complex. There are companies which were once part of the old NEPA that you know, broken into Generation companies (those who generate the light) and DISCOS or Distribution Companies (those who make sure the light, or darkness reaches your house). To control all these guys and make sure things run according to the law there is the oga at the top, NERC, Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission. NERC makes sure people pay the right price for electricity and that everything goes according to plan. Don’t ask me what that plan is.
WHAT IS THIS NEW PREPAID METER BUSINESS?
You used to have NEPA officials come to your house and ‘read your meter’. They used to ask you how many boiling ring you get? How many deep freezer? And then slam you a random bill. The new meter makes sure that you pay for only what you use plus a little something called a fixed charge.
WHAT IS FIXED CHARGE AGAIN?
Calm down. You know that people bought over these distribution companies. The investment they make in equipment and keeping that equipment running needs to be recovered somehow. The fixed charge should not last forever. It is a little less than 1,000 naira every month because the cost of the investment is spread over many years. So it is possible that when this cost is recovered you will stop paying the fixed charge. Maybe 10 years. Maybe 15. Who knows. That is why you should live healthy and use moringa. So that you will live to see what electricity will be in future.
WHY SHOULD I GET A PREPAID METER?
Yes na. Don’t you want to pay for only what you use?
SHOULD I PAY FOR A METER?
The ogas at the top in NERC say no. But sometimes because it is slow in coming, some people who can’t wait for the normal process may pay to make sure they get the meter. However you are supposed to get that money back.
WHY DON’T I HAVE LIGHT NOW?
To distribute electricity, the companies rely on fuel- gas. Because the ogas at the top who control everything in electricity- NERC- don’t have control over gas, sometimes, they have shortage and cannot distribute the electricity they have. Sometimes, vandals break gas pipelines and this too creates a shortage.
WHY DON’T NERC CONTROL GAS? IN THE UK, THE PEOPLE WHO CONTROL ELECTRICITY, CONTROL GAS.
Look around. This is not the UK. It was proposed but people in the petroleum industry didn’t want to have gas removed from their control and we all know how powerful they are. So now we have the funny situation of control of electricity without control of gas upon which electricity companies depend. Not funny at all.
WHAT IS THIS THING THEY CALL MYTO?
MYTO means Multi Year Tariff Order. It is a system of calculating how much you will pay over a period of time. Every year, minor reviews are done based on how much gas prices are or what the inflation rate is. The major review is done every 5 years and it will take into account everything and set new prices. Why they call it this complicated name beats me. Why not just Tariff Order?
HOW COME THE OGA AT NERC SAID SOME PART OF THE BILL HAS INCREASED BUT SOME PART HAS REDUCED?
Good. You were listening. Your electricity bill is made up of a few parts, one of which is the fixed charge or wholesale charge (or the cost of generation). That charge is different from the retail tariff which is the cost of transmission and distribution of electricity. So, the fixed charge has been reduced effective May 21, ranging from 17-50% depending on where you live. This is because, the minor reviews of the MYTO showed that the country was not as bad as they thought it would be so they don’t use as much for generation. Things like inflation and exchange rate is better than they thought it would be. However the retail tariff has actually increased. Why? After the minor review they found that the “available generation capacity”, was 4306 MW. This means the maximum amount of electricity they have to distribute. Their projection was that they will have 9061 MW to distribute, which would mean more money for them and cheaper electricity because they have more electricity to sell. Now, they use the same amount of money to distribute less than half of the electricity they thought they would have. This whole story means, you the consumer will have to bear the cost of this loss. It is not your fault I know, but now they say that the law says you should pay the fair price for electricity. Basically meaning that whatever losses they make in generation capacity will be borne by you. Life is not fair abi? I know.

WHY DO I PAY FIXED CHARGE IF I HAVE NOT HAD LIGHT FOR WEEKS OR EVEN ONE MONTH?
Well, the NERC oga has said that there is an order effective May 1, 2014 which says that if you have not had electricity for 15 days no one should charge you fixed charge for that month. If they do, you can report to NERC. How will NERC resolve this? Don’t ask me, just report first and see what will happen.
WHAT IS…?

Hold on, I don’t work for NERC. If you have any questions, go to their office at Adamawa Plaza in Central Business District, Abuja – the very bad road (the worst road in the Abuja City) near the Federal High Court. Or call them +234-9-4621400. Or tweet at one of the ogas at @eyoekpo. Or email them at info@nercng.com. I would have asked you to go to their website, but honestly, that thing is not designed for the average consumer of electricity in Nigeria- it can’t really help you. They need someone who has at the back of his or her mind that normal people will read it while writing, to write for their website.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

TACKLING GREED

I am not sure when the entire urban population of Nigeria got into chewing gum. Growing up, chewing gum had such social stigma that it was common to hear someone being told that they were chewing gum like a prostitute or the more colourful term, ashawo. One day, I woke up and everyone was chewing gum, in offices, on the streets, everywhere. And every traffic jam had chewing gum for sale. A certain brand of chewing gum burst on the scene. Orbit chewing gum is now more ubiquitous than Coke on Nigerian streets. As president I would have to insist that whatever company produces that chewing gum sets up shop in Nigeria. That, or I ban the importation of Orbit chewing gum. They cannot be making so much money and not be paying us taxes. But that is a matter for 2015.

Orbit has become part of urban culture. Orbit is a conversation starter. A guy wanting to speak to a girl or vice versa only needs to whip out a pack of Orbit and offer it. Orbit is the one thing strangers don’t say no to. A person who doesn’t even like people of your tribe will take your Orbit chewing gum. As president I may not be able to stop the social impact of Orbit but I can make sure it does not become a problem. How can chewing gum become a problem?

I notice that many people get depressed or angry when, after offering a stranger or even a friend Orbit, that person proceeds to pull out two, three or more pieces from a pack of 14. And you can’t say to someone you have offered gum that they are taking too much. This is causing friction in our country. Some people have devised a way of preventing this by actually just giving one piece from the pack themselves. This can make a person appear stingy. And in Nigeria stinginess carries great stigma.

Nigerians need not despair. There is a solution. As the proactive president-in-waiting that I am, I have come up with legislation that will criminalise pulling out more than one piece of Orbit chewing gum when offered. Find below a draft:

ORBIT GREED (PREVENTION) ACT, 2015
An Act to promote generosity by persons able to purchase Orbit chewing gum and decide to carry same about, prevent greedy ingrates from shamelessly pulling out multiple pieces of Orbit when offered the pack to take gum from and to provide for punishment for chewing gum greed and matters related thereto.

1.   Interpretation
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires-
      Orbit means Orbit chewing gum in a pack of twenty, Orbit in a blister pack or any other type of imported chewing gum.

2.   The offence of Orbit Greed
(1)  A person commits the offence of Orbit Greed if
(a)  He or she, upon being the beneficiary of the generosity of an Orbit owner, decides to greedily take out more than one piece of gum from the pack
(b)  He or she asks for Orbit chewing gum again after already being the beneficiary of the generosity of an Orbit owner who has hitherto on the same day offered him/her Orbit chewing gum.
(2)  A person who commits the offence of Orbit Greed shall be liable upon conviction to public flogging for one hour every day for three weeks.

3.   The offence of Aggravated Orbit Greed
(1)  A person commits the offence of Aggravated Orbit Greed when he or she commits Orbit Greed more than once in the space of the same 24 hour period with the same person.
(2)  A person who commits the offence of Aggravated Orbit Greed shall be liable upon conviction to public flogging for three hours every day for three weeks.

4.   The offence of Serial Orbit Greed
(1)  A person commits the offence of Serial Orbit Greed when he or she commits Orbit Greed more than once in the space of the same 24 hour period with the different persons.
(2)  A person who commits the offence of Serial Orbit Greed shall be liable upon conviction to public flogging for three hours every day for three weeks in three different communities around where the offence was committed.

5.   Attempt to commit Orbit Greed
(1)  A person who attempts Orbit Greed commits a felony and is liable upon conviction to daily frog jumps on a highway of the courts choice, for 7 days.


Ps. President Jonathan’s army began the discombobulating confiscation of newspapers this week. To attack the only thing which is free in this country – expression – is to attack the very soul of the people. I do not understand it- how soldiers can intercept and take newspapers away. First off it is not even a very smart thing to do, seeing as you can find most stories online anyway and everyone is a click away from what they don’t want people to see. If nobody was searching, now everyone is going to want to know what was in those newspapers they confiscated. And the explanation of the army about “materials with grave security implications” is a too weak an explanation for sending armed soldiers in bullet proof vests to confiscate newspapers. Also, at a time when our army’s capacity to fight insurgency and insecurity is increasingly doubtful, it makes no sense using the army against a defenceless media.

And finally, if the president is going to let shameful things happen under him, can he at least have the balls to take responsibility and stop denying that he has anything to do with it? Can someone at least remind him the meaning of “Commander in Chief”?