Friday, September 19, 2014

SILENCE. A short story


You wish you could tell your mother to shut up. Especially when she goes on about Mrs Amboson and her ‘wayward daughters’. Sometimes you wonder why God planted you in the community gossip and made you eternally indebted to her.
Growing up, you were silent when everyone preferred their mother to all other mothers in the world; when they thought their mothers cooked the best okro soup or made the best kunu. You were silent because your mother’s okro made you want to throw up. The large chunks of okro floating on the watery, too-salty, grass green soup irritated you and it never made sense why she dropped in the dry fish together with its head and sharp bones. The slap she gave you at age eleven when you told her she cooked with too much salt, still rings in your ear. It made you wiser.  You knew not to tell her that pouring so much water after sieving the millet paste made the kunu taste like sugar and water- not like the kunu Mama Barna sold which was always finished by afternoon because everybody loved it. You too bought the kunu and squeezed all the contents of the transparent little polythene bag down your throat, your tongue barely enjoying its smooth milky taste- not too sweet, rich and with a consistency that made it glide down your throat. There had to be no trace of the empty, wet bag because your mother would burst an artery if she realised you poured her free kunu in the sink and bought Mama Barna’s own. 
You have been at home a few weeks after being away one year at the Federal University in Nsukka where instead of Medicine which you applied for, they made you study Nursing. The academic staff union strike has brought you back home and you are tired of sitting at home with your mother who has just retired from the Ministry of Health.
Your mother is with Mrs Audu, a woman you can’t stand. You hate that Mrs Audu completely shaves her eyebrows but leaves the many strands of hair on her chin. They are going on about Mrs. Amboson’s daughter who has been very sick for the past year at home. The family says they don’t know what exactly is wrong with her.  But they swear- your mother and Mrs Audu- that they know exactly what is wrong with the girl. Your mother says she is sick from what she ‘packed’ from all those cars with dark tints that come to drop her in the evening. She claps her hands when she speaks and adjusts her loose head tie every few minutes. She should just tie the damn thing properly, you say to yourself.
‘Where was her mother when all those shady looking men were bringing the girl home in different cars,’ Mrs Audu asks.
‘Ato! Where was she? Ai, no daughter of mine can try that rubbish. Asabe knows me o, zan kashe ta ne, I will kill her before she brings any shame on me.’  Your mother sounds so sure of herself.
The tap in the kitchen sink doesn’t work and as you bring in a bucket of water to wash plates, you want to say to them in the dining room that ‘the girl’, has a name- Sim, short for Simnom, meaning God’s love in Jaba (you would say that last bit even though you know they both understand Jaba); that ‘all those cars’ were actually just two cars- an old Honda 1986 model and a newer Peugeot 307;  that ‘all those shady looking men’, was actually one man, a boy actually (you don’t think he is more than 24), her rich cousin who she always begged to take her to town and who was always in a hurry to leave when he dropped her because he had ‘parols’ or ‘runs’ to get back to.

Sim is glad you can come.
‘Has Yoba come yet?’ you ask.
She shakes her head and looks away. She shakes her head too when you ask if Rimkat, Susan, or Doshiya have come. None of the old friends. You realise you shouldn’t be asking as a tear rolls down her cheek when you finally ask if Greg came. Of course they wouldn’t come. You are the only one who disobeys your mother and visits the bad girl who got a sickness from her badness. It doesn’t matter that of all your friends she was the only one who refused to sneak out on Saturday nights, refused to carry a little plastic bottle of clear gin around, and refused Alhaji Rabiu’s money because she didn’t want the calls and demands that would follow. You feel terrible because you catch yourself also cringing at her scanty, brittle, light brown hair that used to be full, dark and long; her heavy breathing; her sharp prominent bones that used to hide inside fleshy curves; her paleness that used to be dark smooth skin. The only thing that remains is her voice- the one you wish you had, that everyone wish they had- slightly coarse and only a few decibels above a whisper in speaking, but glorious in song.
No one calls her now, begging her to sing at their children’s parties or wedding anniversaries, or birthdays.
You look at the edges of her dress, recently amended to fit her shrinking body. You know she did it herself because of the rough sewing. Her hands tremble and she can’t hold a needle still.
Your phone rings while you are thinking of something kind to say to fill up the choking silence. You feel guilty about taking a call, but she gestures with her eyes, that it is ok. It is Solomon. Solomon, the boy who lives in town who is three years ahead of you in your University, whose calls you are always in a hurry to take. The thought of Greg who has disappeared makes you hesitate. In the seconds it takes for the call to ring out and for him to call again, you wonder if with all your devotion to Solomon, a little unknown illness is all it would take for his proclamations to mean nothing. You pick the call the second time, and hear him call you baby. It doesn’t make you smile or giggle audibly. So he says again, ‘Baby, you there?’
‘Solomon I am really busy right now,’ you whisper. It surprises you that you call him Solomon, not darling. He pauses and you can feel his shock. It doesn’t make you worry that he might get upset.
‘Ok,’ he says, ‘you still coming at two?’
You raise your head and look at the clock. There is only ten minutes left until two. He wants you to say, you are on your way right now. You open your mouth to say it, but you breathe instead and tell yourself, you do not need to rush out of Sim’s house and leave her sitting all by herself. There is only one thing on his mind and you know it is not you.
‘No, I need to be here. I am sorry, I just got here. In the evening, perhaps?’
‘What? But you told me two yesterday. You know what, don’t bother coming later!’
He waits. He waits for you to say it. Sorry darling. Please darling. I beg you darling. Ok, let me come now darling.
‘Ok,’ you say calmly and drop the call.
Your eyes stare at the phone for a bit. He didn’t even ask what you were doing or why you couldn’t make it to his house; he doesn’t care. It is not anger that fills your heart now. It is resolve. Solomon can go to hell.
Sim smiles. She doesn’t say to you, ‘it’s ok, you should have gone’. You smile back and hold her hand telling yourself, you will come more often.
‘Remember the day after school we went to Mr. Biya’s school farm and uprooted his sweet potatoes?’
‘You mean the day you got me suspended. I wasn’t even taking the sweet potatoes o. It was you and Rimkat o.’
You laugh loudly. It was your idea when you were both in Form 3, to pull a few sweet potatoes from the ground, and even though she protested, Sim came along with you. The security man caught her because she couldn’t run as fast as you and handed her to Mr. Biya. Sim refused to say your name, insisting she was alone at the farm and got suspended from school for two weeks.
‘Sometimes, I just want someone to hold me. I miss it, being held and kissed. I could do without the kissing, but I just want someone who really cares to hold me.’
You remember the last time you were held and kissed. It was exactly eleven days ago, not long after you came back. Before you knew you had missed your period. Solomon held you a bit too tightly and kissed you a bit too roughly, but you didn’t mind that day. Now you wonder why you have been calling this selfish person your boyfriend. You think of going one year without being held by anyone, everyone running away from you just in case your sickness will affect them by looking at you or greeting you. Tears fill your eyes and make everything blurry and you know if you blink, they will roll down your cheeks.
You get up and take her by the hand lifting her up from the bed where she has been sitting.
‘Are you leaving?’ She asks.
She smells of many drugs as you hold her, not too tightly, and close your eyes. The tears fall from your face to her shoulder.
She holds you too.
‘I care,’ you say, ‘very much.’
You cry together. Your tears are from many things. From knowing you will leave Solomon. From the decision to call that Nurse whose number is in your small leather purse to take care of the pregnancy you have just discovered from peeing on that Home Pregnancy test kit. From all that Sim has lost. From all that you will lose.
Sim doesn’t need to hear any of your problems today. You are just glad to be with her.
Evening creeps up on both of you and you leave her house with a feeling you haven’t felt before. A feeling both sad and happy.
‘I will bring you a nice book by Helon Habila I read, the guy who wrote Waiting for an Angel,’ you tell Sim as you leave.
You have not finished Measuring Time yet, but you will finish soon. Page 269 is dog-eared and you have just fifty-three pages to go. You are a slow reader so it will take you two days. It was you who gave her Waiting for an Angel and Eric Miyeni’s collection of poems which you let her have because she loved it so much.

Two days have passed and your mother wonders aloud why you have been locking yourself up in your room before she shouts the latest gossip to you from outside your room.
‘That wayward girl has died. The mother said she was just coughing this morning until she stopped breathing.’
You want to tell your mother to shut up but you begin to cry. You should have taken the book earlier. It was only fifty-three pages you had left and you could have just bought another one. You bury your head in your pillow and swear you will tell your mother all about it so that she can stop calling people she doesn’t know wayward. Perhaps when she hears that you not only got pregnant but did the abortion yesterday in a quiet almost deserted clinic on the other side of town, she will become quiet. You will tell her it happened very quickly and watch her squirm in disbelief.  

It annoys you how fires only burn when you don’t want them to. The choking smoke from cooking with firewood takes forever before it becomes a red crackling fire, but when it is a home it takes only a few minutes before the flames spread and eat up everything; when it is this book you want to disappear with the memory of things painful, you need to stand there, with a long stick, turning the pages for the fire to eat it up completely. It is Sim’s book and you have no right to keep it.
 The wind blows and the ashes, grey and black, leap into the air, little by little, until there is only a dark patch where you set the fire. You walk about- like the first line on the dog-eared page 269 of Measuring Timein silence, aimlessly, passing the houses by the roadside.




Sunday, September 14, 2014

HOW TO BE A WOMAN IN NIGERIA

I wanted to write an article on “How to be a Man”, seeing as we are told in scripture that man was made before woman. But since that manual was going to be too short for its own column, I decided to include it here.
How To Be a Man in Nigeria:
Do what you want, when you want, how you want. The world is yours. Only fellow men can stop you. The End.
Now that we have gotten that out of the way, let us talk about women.
This is how to be a woman in Nigeria.
As a woman you must understand the Grundnorm which will guide you throughout life: You, having been made from the ribs of a man, are inferior to man. Once you understand this, every other thing becomes easier to swallow.
In Nigeria, your life is incomplete without a man. So when you have got those degrees, that plum job, that house, those cars, it would be right for a journalist to ask you: so, (after all these irrelevant achievements) when are you going to get married? Because in Nigeria, a woman who does not get married will not make heaven. She is incomplete, like a missing sock, or the left leg of a sandal.
As a woman professional who has done the right thing and got married, you must prepare in every interview to answer the following question: How do you balance family and work? It does not matter that successful men with many wives and dozens of children are never asked about work-family balance. It is not a man’s job to take care of children. That is why you were made. And that is why when you decide to go and become successful, we need to ask you if you are neglecting your primary responsibility, which is cleaning up after the man you married.
A good, scripture-believing woman must avoid agents of the devil, like those who say that women need to have the same rights as men. Any woman who tells you that women are equal human beings and deserve the same treatment is a woman that wants to drag you to hell.
In matters of sex, you must never admit to knowing anything more than basic lying down and letting it happen to you. You are not a participant. You are a mere facilitator in an activity designed to make your superior human enjoy the process. That is why women who talk about their sex life are called sluts. It does not matter that it takes two to tango. If nature wanted you to be a human being like a man, it would not have made you the one carrying the pregnancy. A slut simply defined is a woman who wrongfully appropriates to herself the right to enjoy sex. I would advise you not to worry about the fact that a man, who does the same thing a slut does, is called a stud. Even in the animal kingdom, male and female animals have different names. That is why a male dog is called a dog and a female, a bitch. It is not my fault. Ask the white people who came up with those names. Just remember the Grundnorm: women are inferior to men.
The rule is, never admit to enjoying sex or even to having had previous partners or boyfriends. If you meet a man and you are not a virgin, you must find a way of explaining why you are in this sinful state. You can say that you were doing inter-house sports in secondary school and while doing the high jump, you lost your hymen. Or you can blame it on riding bicycles. But if you have to admit to ever having had sex, say that it happened only once and that you did not enjoy it even. Say that he deceived you. Then the man will forgive you for not being a virgin. Do not ask how many women he has been with – how is this relevant? It is your virginity that counts. However, never ever admit to having been sexually abused, because you will be blamed for putting yourself in the position to be raped. And no one will want you.
Do you have a daughter? Do not despair. Sometimes God tests us with trials. While believing God for the miracle of a son in your life, I have prepared a list of things you must do to prepare your girl child to be the ideal woman. Follow this list and your daughter will turn out to be a happy, blessed Nigerian woman:
1.      Let her wear pink. Girls wear pink. It does not matter if she likes blue.
2.     Teach her to be a princess. Princesses sit all day in castles and wait to be rescued by princes to whom the world belongs. Her goal should be to make a prince happy one day.
3.   Do not teach her how to change light bulbs, care tires or lift heavy items. That is for her brothers. This will ensure that she will go through life depending on men to do these things for her. A woman who knows how to depend on a man is a happy woman.
4.    Teach her how to be a good wife. This means first knowing how to clean and cook for a man. Because if you do not cook for a man, he will find another, well-trained cooking woman to sleep with. And it will be your fault. On no account should you teach your son how to cook. This will weaken him and make him a slave to some evil witch of a woman. You do not want this.
5.    Teach her to know her place. A woman does not raise her voice where there are men. That is a badly behaved woman with no home training. A good woman knows that silence is golden.
6.   Let’s say your daughter has finished university and just found work. While it is ok to buy a car for your son to make it easy for him to get to work, you must not do so for your daughter. In fact, before she gets married you must advise her against buying a car for herself. This scares men away. And god forbid that your daughter ends up as an old angry spinster. Old angry spinsters become feminists or worse, lesbians. And we all know lesbians and feminists will not make heaven.
7.    Teach her to cover her body properly and wear very long skirts. Because women who expose their bodies provoke men into raping them. You don’t want the devil to use your daughter to tempt men.
8.   Avoid things that may make your daughter look like a lesbian or diminish her feminine appearance. If she must engage in extra-curricular activities, make sure they are activities for women like skipping rope. Forbid her from doing anything that can make her calves or shoulders look muscular or like yam tubers. Discourage her from lifting weights, and excessive sports. Excessive sports can make her woman parts, like breasts, reduce in size. God forbid that your daughter ends up looking like a man. Next thing you know, lesbians will start eyeing her. God forbid.
I will keep sharing tips with you as they come to me. Because I care.
God bless your hustle as you try to become the perfect happy Nigerian woman.



Sunday, September 7, 2014

HOW TO BE A BOSS IN TIMES OF CONFLICT*


Being a boss in Nigeria is no joke. In Nigeria we say to be a man is not a day’s job. (Of course this applies also to women. Because a woman who has become a boss has become a “man”. That is why we have titles like oga-madam.) After all the struggles you have overcome, all the obstacles laid before you by your enemies spiritual and temporal, God has blessed your hustle and made you spokesperson or head of your organisation. One of your jobs as boss or spokesperson is responding when there are issues that threaten the stability of your organisation, state or country. This is how you must conduct yourself as a boss in times of conflict.

One of the first things you must understand as a boss in Nigeria is that the eye disrespects that person that it sees often. So as boss you must delay all responses until the crisis becomes protracted or severe. When, for example, citizens have been kidnapped, you must allow three weeks pass before making any sort of robust response. In fact, sometimes when there is a crisis, all you need is the promise of a response. Swear that you will get to the root of the matter. Say that the perpetrators of the dastardly act will be brought to book. Then you can hop on your jet and head off to a private holiday in Europe. Do not fail, however, to use phrases that Nigerians know and love: “We are doing everything reasonably possible”; “We are doing everything in our power”; “We will spare no resources”; and my personal favourite: “We are on top of the situation”. 

People in other democracies may preach that security agencies be neutral in dealing with or responding to conflict. In fact, they write whole books about it. But they do not know Nigeria. In this country much value is placed on telling everyone your personal opinion, even if you are speaking for, say, the SSS. When you are sent to provide security for elections, Nigerians will not expect you to be without feelings and judgment. So it is in order to say what you think about political parties, especially the ones you do not like. Because sometimes a bad loser has to be called a bad loser. When there is a bombing, blame it on a political party you do not like. As head of a security organisation Nigerians should trust you to know these things and not ask you for evidence as if you were a mere journalist. If you say the APC is responsible for bombings, you must know what you are talking about. One thing that a public accusation of terrorism without any intention to prosecute or investigate does, is that it keeps the potential terrorists on their toes and they know that as the Department of State Services, you know what they are up to, even though you will not do anything about it. This helps.

As a spokesperson you need to deny every damning report against your organisation, whether you are in the police or the army. If someone says that a group of insurgents has taken over a town and hoisted a flag, unless you see a video showing this clearly, deny it. After all, Nigerians only believe what they can see. When a video emerges and you can no longer deny it, issue a statement saying you will investigate to see if the allegations are true. Nigerians also love promises; they will give you an A for promises.

As someone who runs a media organisation, there are many ways you can lead by example. When suspects are paraded by the police, it is important to mention their tribe in your news headlines. If herdsmen are involved, automatically assume they are Fulani. It does not matter that not all herdsmen are Fulani and not all Fulani are herdsmen. No one cares about these technical details. Never issue a retraction of a poorly edited story or information that turns out to be false. When you hastily publish a false story, what you must do is write a follow-up story as if nothing happened. It is not your fault if the story turns out false. However, if for any reason you have to apologise for publishing a rumour on your front page complete with a picture you got from Facebook, do it in a tiny 2x2 box at the bottom of the page where most people will miss it. You don’t want too many people to see you admitting to a failure. That can ruin your business. When there is a conflict, you can never lose by choosing speed over accuracy. People’s attention spans grow shorter by the day, and it is important to be the first to break the rumour. God who lifted you in the face of your enemies and made you an oga, will not allow another news agency to go to press before you.

When there is an explosion, you need to hurriedly report that there was a blast and that it might have been a bomb. Nigerians like it when it is hot. It is ok to go to press before you find out whether it really was a bomb blast or another type of explosion. If Boko Haram is trying to spoil your show by being slow about claiming responsibility, quickly add after saying there was a blast that it looks like the handiwork of Boko Haram. Then copy and paste that paragraph that everyone around the world uses to spice a Boko Haram report: “Boko Haram, which means Western Education is a sin, is fighting to create and strict Islamic state…” It is not your fault if you automatically assume that Boko Haram has a monopoly on blasts.

As editor, do not assign anyone to investigate or dig deeper if the police or army release a statement saying that a cross-dressed boy arrested at the scene of a bomb blast is actually the mastermind of the attack, disguised as a woman. There is no need.  Not even if the suspect’s name and home address and family is known, as well as his previous proclivity for wearing female clothes. A press release is worth more than a thousand investigative reports. Especially when the security officials use the word “mastermind”.

Let me just add that, generally, as a boss it is important to have enemies. One use of enemies is that they come in handy when things have gone out of hand and you cannot defend yourself without looking guilty. At a time like this you can call up the spirit of your enemies, blame them for your woes and denounce them. Make sure to state that what is happening is “an orchestrated campaign of calumny designed to tarnish my reputation (or the reputation of your organisation) by some unscrupulous elements.” You don’t even need to mention who. Nigerians know what you mean when you say unscrupulous elements. Just say that you know who they are but you don’t want to mention names. If there is anything we respect in Nigeria, it is the right of criminals and unscrupulous elements to have their identities protected. Nigerians respect enemies because they all have them. Enemies are responsible for everything from childlessness and being single at 40 to accidents caused by drunken driving and poverty. This is why they will understand when you say the crisis you handled woefully is a figment of your enemies’ imagination.

Whatever you are, security chief, president, CEO, spokesperson or editor, Nigeria is a good place to be a boss, because then, things are mostly what you say they are. God bless your hustle as you consolidate your position as boss and deal with conflicts.

*Being the text of a talk delivered at the Responsibility to Report Seminar organised by dRPC and Femke van Zeijl on September 4, 2014.


Saturday, August 30, 2014

FIVE REASONS WHY EL-RUFAI IS NOT A BOKO HARAM COMMANDER

I am not sure why retired General Ihejirika called Nasir El-Rufai a Boko Haram executive commander. I don’t know what evidence he has and we are not friends like that for me to call or WhatsApp him to ask. As president come 2015, it behoves me to intervene when I sense someone being unjustly accused of a crime. El-Rufai is not my supporter, but as the bigger man (if you have met both of us you will see what I mean) I will come to his defence. It is up to him to see the light and support my candidacy. After thorough research, here are five reasons why Nasir El-Rufai cannot be a Boko Haram commander:

1.  Nasir wears glasses. Not cool glasses. Nerdy glasses. A terrorist commander does not need glasses. Let us go into history. Do you know any real terrorist who wears glasses? Osama bin Laden, al-Zarkawi, Hitler, Nelson Mandela (until 2008 in America), Abubakar Shekau. Even Ihejirika himself who has been accused by an Australian negotiator of sponsoring terrorism doesn’t wear glasses – at least not in public. It is a bit hard to picture the diminutive El-Rufai struggling to keep his glasses on the bridge of his nose while planning a bomb attack.
2.   Nasir keeps each of his three wives in a different house. The logic here is simple. A man with a terrorist mindset will show this mindset in most of his dealings. Having a different house for each wife means only one thing: he does not like the trouble that flows naturally from attempting to satisfy more than one woman at the same time in the same space. A sadistic terrorist would keep them in one house and derive pleasure from the intrigues, scheming and in-fighting. Now, when it is very tense in one house, he can just drive to another house. That is a man who likes peace. I don’t know if they have a schedule or timetable or anything, but Nasir seems like the kind of organised person who will draft and print an annual program just so none of the wives gets it twisted. You know, complete with conjugal visits, general hanging out, individual duties and responsibilities and time with the respective in-laws. You may argue that the fact that he has three wives is itself looking for trouble. Calm down. He may be 50, but he is a virile man. Think of it this way: three wives are less stressful, less sinful and less expensive than three mistresses.
3.  I betrayed him and I am still alive. A Boko Haram executive commander would have organised to truncate my earthly hustle a long time ago. Let me explain. You see, I met Nasir a little over a year ago when he still had his back page column in ThisDay Newspapers. He invited me to take his column as a guest and wrote a glowing introduction to my column. Now, gratitude would mean that I also speak well of him and support him in his political hustle. Not long after, he published his book. I did not like the book. I even retweeted a bad review of the book. Yes, retweets are not necessarily endorsements, but you know how people judge you for retweeting bad things about them. For a while we weren’t so friendly on Twitter anymore and I do not know if he was busy or just ignoring me. As if that was not enough, I wrote several articles making fun of his height. Let us just say that many months later, to the glory of God and the credit of Nasir, I have not been attacked or killed. I have not received death threats. In fact, I recently visited his house and was served Indomie by his son, Bello. Yes, the Indomie had no egg or meat (I will talk about this next) but which person will still be kind after all I have written about Nasir?
4.   El-Rufai doesn’t have that much money. Terrorism is very capital intensive. You can tell if a person has a lot of money when you go to his house. The Indomie I was served when I went there had a lonely journey down my stomach. I no longer eat meat, but I still eat eggs. However, I don’t hold it against the El-Rufai family. When you have a large family and dozens of visitors going in and out of your house daily, you have to cut costs. If he had that much money – enough to sponsor terrorism and be a Boko Haram commander – we would not have been reading about his plain Indomie today. Plus the guy is kind of stingy. You know how an older man will call you to his office or house to discuss something or ask you to do something and then when you are leaving sneak some naira notes into your palm? Well, not Nasir. Nasir behaves as if giving people cash causes Ebola.

5.  Nasir talks too much and is too straightforward to be a Boko Haram commander. Any Boko Haram commander would have to be someone who can keep loads of secrets. Otherwise he would jeopardize operations for the entire group. Have you observed how Nasir uses Twitter and Facebook? He excitably tweets everything he thinks about this government and politics. And sometimes it gets him into trouble. If I got 50 naira for every time Nasir tweeted or posted something prematurely, albeit his honest opinion, I would have bought the VW Golf R I have been saving for forever. Often I think that Nasir would suffer major blood pressure issues if he was ever banned from tweeting or using Facebook. If he was an executive Boko Haram commander, the Nasir I know would have one day mistakenly tweeted: “Alhamdulillah, just activated two suicide bombers. Jonathanians will soon receive the shocker of their lives.”

Like I said in the beginning, I do not know if after this lengthy defence, Nasir El-Rufai will see the light and put his weight behind my candidacy. Me, I have done my part. They say you can take a horse to the river but you cannot force it to support your ambition. Or something like that. Whatever Nasir El-Rufai chooses to do, God bless his non-terrorist hustle. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

HOW TO HANDLE THE ARMY IN AN INSURGENCY

The most visible part of government when there is a security emergency like an insurgency or war, is the army. They are our first, if not our last, line of defense. They are on the frontlines doing the often thankless job of laying their lives for a not-always grateful country. As one who will soon be president, I am learning a lot from observing our commander-in-chief and his army chiefs handle the war, especially on the North East frontlines. Here is what I have learnt:

A well-fed soldier may become a cowardly soldier. So sometimes, you must reduce the rations of men on the frontlines. If you pay them 30 or 40 thousand naira a month, slash it to 15 thousand. This will make their blood boil and the anger will be useful in decimating the army.

There is no need to provide the right type of arms and ammunition. Brave soldiers don’t need big guns, even if the enemy has sophisticated weapons. Brave soldiers only need an inspiring speech. Look at that movie, Brave Heart. The Scots were outnumbered, but when Mel Gibson rode in on a horse, his face painted with the colours of Argentina's flag and told them Yes We Can, that was it; they fucked up the English enemy. 

When, because of your action or inaction, some soldiers refuse to go into battle unprepared to meet a better equipped and better motivated army, it is important to address this issue before it spreads like a cancer among the rest of the men. Give a rousing speech about how when you catch anyone who mutinies, you will kill them. There is nothing quite like threatening a man who is afraid to die, with death.

Sometimes you will have the knotty situation of the soldiers who don’t want to fight pushing their wives to protest their deployment to the war front without adequate equipment. When women do such a thing, do not address the real issue. After all they are women. Talk about them like naughty kids in kindergarten. Threaten to flog and evict them if they ever try to protest again. Specifically, use the word koboko in your threat. Because there is a difference between using a cane to flog a woman and using koboko to flog a woman. Anyone who was stubborn as a child in Nigeria, knows this.

If a newspaper house has the nerve to report a mutiny, don’t let the fact that Nigeria claims to practice democracy stop you from storming the newspaper offices with soldiers to confront and threaten them with sanctions if they do not stop talking about you. Because even in a democracy, it may be acceptable for soldiers to harass journalists in a newspaper house. In a war, people should not ask questions. They should support their troops.

***
I must congratulate Nuhu Ribadu, former Chairman of the EFCC who tried and secured the conviction of Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha for corruption, for recently joining the ruling People’s Democratic Party. Thankfully, Alamieyeseigha who is also a member of the PDP, has since been pardoned, declared sinless by President Jonathan and appointed a delegate to the National Conference. He is now a former ex-convict. God bless Jonathan!

I admire Nuhu Ribadu. Sometimes even when a person has been cured of a disease, people stigmatize and avoid such a person. This is not right. It is noteworthy that Nuhu Ribadu is not showing any signs of stigma for most of the persons he had on his prosecution list in 2006. Just like with Ebola, it is important that when people are declared healthy, persons show them love by associating with them. As president I will use Ribadu as an example of how not to hold former corruption against people.

***
President Jonathan is in Germany this weekend. I am upset for a few reasons. Every Nigerian knows that when you are travelling, you tell your friends so they can give you long lists of things you can buy for them. I know we are not talking but the least he could have done is ask, Elnathan, do you want anything from Germany? But I will be the bigger man and not hold this against him. Some have speculated that he is going there for medical treatment. I am worried about him. I know that he recently tested negative for Ebola in America and he has been using hand sanitizer. He has even stopped shaking his friends. So it can’t be Ebola. I wish he had listened to me when I advised him to use moringa. Jesus said love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so I will pray for him. Whatever it is, whether Botox or flatulence, or high blood pressure or trying to spend time away from Patience with a "friend", I wish him well.

***
Professor Maurice Iwu in a recent interview, while admitting that there was nothing to show that bitter kola cured Ebola, said that there was nothing to disprove it either. He reiterated his claim that bitter kola halts virus replication. In fact right there at the interview he brought out a bitter kola from his pocket. That man is on to something. There is no harm in chewing kola. At the very least it is proven to increase blood flow to the genital area in men who have hardening of the arteries. And you never know when those arteries will harden. Better to be safe than sorry.


Ps. I just stopped eating meat. This is perhaps the hardest decision I have ever made. If like me you are used to having meat as the main course and other types of food as appetizer, you will know what it means to turn away when you see suya or chicken or steak. Let no one ever ask what I did to make this planet a better place. I forsook personal pleasures and refused to partake in the mass killing and consumption of mammals and birds. That has got to count for something.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

HELPING AMERICA AND FIGHTING EBOLA

I must begin by talking about how Jonathan keeps disappointing us on the global stage. My soon-to-be-predecessor does not understand the importance of a strong foreign policy. Global powers did not become global powers overnight. At a time when America is facing internal uprising and is unable to protect its vulnerable and minority populations, Jonathan should have offered to send in troops or peacekeepers to Ferguson in America where mostly white police are currently terrorizing mostly black Americans using military style gear. As the leader of black Africa, we need to show that we care and help those poor black people, some of whom might have descended from slaves stolen from Nigeria. If I was president, I would go hold a world press conference stating that what is happening to black people in Ferguson is unacceptable and that unless America starts respecting the human rights of its former slaves, I will send in drones and commence airstrikes. I know the second hand drones we bought from Israel are grounded, but as president I will make sure I get them fixed, or ask for some left over from Israel when it finishes killing civilians in Gaza.
On the home front however, Jonathan’s response to the Ebola outbreak has been remarkable. Permit me to show some sportsmanship and list out the great steps that he has taken to deal with Ebola in Nigeria:
1.      He has joined the world in declaring it an emergency. A declaration is everything. Is that not why people spend plenty money to go for conferences so they can make declarations afterward? Like the Berlin conference where they declared Africa chopped up and sold. Or Beijing where they declared that contrary to the belief of many men then alive, women were full human beings with equal rights. It is just sad that because of the urgency, he didn’t do it at a conference. It really doesn’t matter that many months into an Ebola outbreak in three West African countries, Nigeria didn’t think it was necessary to monitor flights coming in from those countries. That would have been considered malice. Better to begin when we already have our own Ebola case.
2.      Jonathan fired the 16,000 resident doctors who were on strike trying to push for better wages and work conditions. In a time of a public health emergency this seems like a smart thing to do. Sometimes when you are fighting an external battle it might be best to get rid of internal enemies first. That is why during every war an army kills or jails people for treason or mutiny. You cannot fight well when your home is in disarray. The doctors should be happy that they were just sacked. Because if they were soldiers in an army they would have been shot for downing their tools.
3.      The president also this week shared hand sanitizer after a Federal Executive Council meeting to show his commitment to fighting Ebola. The fact that no one noticed when a nurse who was infected with Ebola and was supposed to be closely observed left Lagos and travelled to Enugu to see her family has nothing to do with Jonathan’s commitment. It is not easy to bring hand sanitizer to a FEC meeting and show the whole world how he wipes his hands. In fact, he has stopped shaking his political allies and Ministers. We all know how important a handshake is to people. Only this year Doyin Okupe tore Mrs Ezekwesili to pieces on Twitter for refusing to shake him when they met at an airport. For a man facing re-election to put his election in jeopardy by refusing to shake people who are unlikely to have Ebola is something that must be commended.
Now that Ebola is everywhere, and following the example of Ebele Jonathan, I expect everyone to carry a hand sanitizer around. Just like people who always have Orbit chewing gum in their bags, I also expect people to share with others. When you enter a bus, after greeting everyone, bring out your hand sanitizer and offer it to those sitting around you. When someone comes to visit, serve them hand sanitizer on the tray beside their food and drinks. Add hand sanitizers in gift packs and hampers.
Meanwhile on Wednesday, the highest ranking chicken farmer of Enugu State who doubles as the Deputy Governor, Mr Sunday Onyebuchi, slumped before an impeachment panel. One of his major offences that has earned him impeachment proceedings is his refusal to remove the poultry from his official residence. No one is thinking about the chickens in this fight between the Governor, who himself is alleged to have poultry in his official residence, and the Deputy Governor. Knowing now that both Chime and Onyebuchi have poultry farms I have a theory. I think the Deputy Governor’s chickens were doing better than the Governor’s chickens. If so, I blame the Deputy Governor. Everyone knows the rule of power that says you should try never to outshine the master. This problem could have been solved by offering to swap chickens with the Governor or holding a ceremony naming his superior poultry farm after Governor Chime. As an animal rights activist I am concerned about the chickens. I hope that no harm will come to the Deputy Governor’s chickens.

So the Central Bank has decided to re-introduce cash charges on cash withdrawals from other banks’ ATMs. This sounds like a good thing. I have always felt guilty using the ATM of other banks for free. It didn’t feel right to me. I thank the CBN for finally doing something to ease my conscience. Now I will feel comfortable using ATMs around me. God bless the CBN. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

OUR FATHER WHO ART IN HEAVEN

By the time you are reading this, the people of Osun would have finished counting the votes and the entire Nigerian security apparatus would have begun packing their bags to return to their original posts across the country.
Let me explain why the PDP did not leave any stone unturned in trying to win the elections. It is all in Aregbesola’s face. You can attempt to buy people’s votes with party branded Uncle Ben’s rice and odorless fufu but you cannot buy the rugged face of Rauf Aregbesola. While Omisore wears a chubby greasy face with a Hitler moustache, Aregbesola’s face is a map of challenges which can easily be read by poor people who make up the majority of people in the state. For poor people it is like watching a movie that you can totally relate to.
But I understand the Federal Government. In most competitions, there is an attempt to have contestants evenly matched. Boxing has weight categories and the Olympics and Commonwealth games have separate events for physically challenged people. Omisore and Aregbesola are not evenly matched. We do not expect Omisore to suddenly grow a face full of suffering. To counter the self-campaigning face of Aregbesola, I believe it was only fair that the PDP had the entire Nigerian police on their side.
I was going to weigh in more seriously however until I read the tweets of President Jonathan’s personal attack machine, Mr Doyin Okupe. He ended the conversation. On Friday, he tweeted:
“Our father who art in Heaven, Hallowed b thine name 2mro Glorify yr Name in osun state. Gv victory 2 yr son omisore &Shame satan &his cohorts.”
I have left in all the errors, but please don’t let the fact that a presidential spokesman tweets like a careless 14 year old distract from the very important message. Once I read “Our father who art in Heaven”, I knew that was it. He didn’t just invoke any god but the one in heaven. So, perhaps Omisore’s loss is actually a victory in disguise. Maybe if he got elected something terrible would have happened to him. We all know that the god Okupe was praying to, is rumored to work in mysterious ways. So join me in congratulating Omisore for his victory in disguise.
***
I am afraid of all these natural remedies and local drinks. Remember Nigeria’s Chika Amalaha, who got stripped of the 53kg women’s weightlifting Commonwealth gold medal because of doping? Well a member of the coaching team has revealed that what she drank was zobo, a drink made from local hibiscus leaves. I am running for president and I don’t want anyone to one day reveal I am a drug addict because of all the moringa I have consumed over the years. What is a harmless natural supplement today may turn out to be a banned substance tomorrow. It might be best to just avoid moringa, aloe vera, garlic and all the other miracle plants and just drink water for now.
***
So, Goodluck Jonathan and the rest of the people I will sack when I become president come 2015, just returned from the US-Africa Summit in Washington D.C. For the first time since the Ebola outbreak I am not scared of a large number of people flying in to Nigeria. The kind leader of the free world insisted that the African delegation be screened for Ebola before meeting with President Obama. No one published the results of that screening but I believe it is safe to assume that since Jonathan was not sent home prematurely he is Ebola free. We have to thank Obama for this. Our president would never have voluntarily submitted to a test but now we can sleep easy knowing that our leader is well.
One of the subtle but emphasized themes of the US Africa summit was the fear of China. It was like a caring father gathering his children to warn about the pedophile down the road who offers children sweets to lure them into his house. I am not sure how China will respond to this.
Sadly, Patience Jonathan could not dazzle at the meeting of African first ladies with Michelle Obama. Jonathan left her behind. I don’t think this is fair. It is not every day one gets to meet extravagant wives of dictators to share tips on jewelry, shopping and cosmetic surgeries. Jonathan needs to start taking his wife more seriously. Nobody forced him to marry.
As Ebola spreads, let us remember to take all the necessary precautions like hand washing, and avoiding bush meat. You will not die if you stop eating bush meat for a few months. Before you exchange bodily fluids with a stranger, watch for symptoms. A long conversation might help. The person may in that period even reveal more undesirable traits about themselves like membership of the PDP or belief in mamiwater or refusal to let you have the head of catfish. This single stone of delay kills two birds: You avoid potential Ebola (and herpes) and avoid ending up in bed with someone you’ll regret. I guess the point is, exchange bodily fluids responsibly. And no, neither salt nor your pastor can cure Ebola.


Sunday, August 3, 2014

HOW TO AVOID BEING MISTAKENLY QUARANTINED FOR EBOLA

So, despite the prayers of all our men of god and prayer warriors, Ebola somehow found its way into Nigeria. It is not my place to judge the efficacy of prayers or if the men of god should review their status as people with access to heaven. I mean with all the 10% gate fees these men of god collect, we should expect more, but I am more concerned about earthly issues.
For example, the Federal Government has announced that it will start checking the body temperature of people coming on certain flights into the country. Why are they checking for high temperatures? Because a fever is one of the early symptoms of Ebola. Other symptoms of Ebola include, weakness, sore throat, headache, diarrhea, rashes, red eyes, vomiting, hiccups, internal and external bleeding and muscle aches. (To be clear, if you experience any combination of these symptoms you should immediately go to a hospital. Ebola patients who survive usually get early treatment.)
This article is about how a healthy person avoids being mistaken for an Ebola patient and have his or her hustle truncated for a long time. Because the moment for example, your temperature is detected as being high, you will be immediately quarantined and observed/tested for Ebola. And you know Nigerians. Even if it turns out to be a wrong call and it was your laptop that created the heat and you are allowed to go after a few days, Nigerians will avoid you for the next three months. Neighbours will ban their children from going to your house.  The church committee you are on will suddenly start having meetings behind your back. Your wife may suddenly decide to go and visit her cousin for a while. Your relatives, in anticipation of your eventual demise will begin quarreling over your property as if you didn’t exist.
Yes, fear of Ebola is understandable and even expected, but we are the lords of stigma and will judge you for even being suspected of Ebola.
If you ever thought that anyone cares about you in Nigeria, stop it. Now! We are not America that flies one citizen alone on a plane from Liberia to receive the best care at home. You must take matters into your own hands to avoid all the things that can raise your temperature or make you a suspect at an airport.
1.      Do not sleep on the plane. Getting off the plane looking groggy or red-eyed can lead to profiling. A health officer from the Ebola team will pull you aside for questioning and with social media, within two minutes your family and entire community will hear on Facebook and Twitter that you are being tested for Ebola. Even if all the health officer did was ask you one question before letting you go.
2.      Do not take too much alcohol before flying or landing. This gives off at least two symptoms of Ebola: red eyes, and weakness.
3.   Do not be a glutton and eat everything offered on the plane. You do not know what you will go and eat or drink that will make your stomach run. And in these days of Ebola, once Nigerians see you go to the toilet many times, they will be the first to tell airport officials that you seemed to have diarrhea on the plane and they suspect you have Ebola. Eat only what you know please. And drink only water. You can eat well when you get home.
4.      Do not slouch or walk sluggishly as you leave the plane. Walk upright. March if you have to. Sing songs. Show signs of strength and vitality. Anything that will make them not suspect you have Ebola.
Now, one consequence of the Ebola scare is that you may become paranoid and suspect every passerby of having the virus. Sometimes extreme worry can stress you out which can in turn reduce your immunity and make you have headaches and all. Then you start really freaking out and go to the hospital because of the headaches which you think might be Ebola. Even though the doctor will tell you it is only stress, people will hear that you freaked out and went to check if you had Ebola, and then the stigma will begin. That kind of stigma takes months if not years to disappear.
So, how do you put your mind at ease about being exposed to the virus? I do not suggest that you stop touching people altogether, but if you are that kind of thorough person who hates loose ends, here are ways to politely avoid touching people in public:
1.      If you are a northern woman this is easy. Just say you do not shake hands with men. When you meet women tie your veil in such a manner that your hands are hidden from view. Make exaggerated gestures with your head to distract them. Say hello but quickly add that you are in a hurry.
2.      If you have nail polish, use it often. Always tell people you want your nail polish to dry. If there is anything we respect in this country, it is the right of nail polish to dry undisturbed.
3.      Tie a bandage around your hand before you go out and tell people you have a fracture. They will not attempt to shake you and will even feel sympathy for you. In fact some will go as far as invoke the healing power of da lord  to cure you. This one has a downside: as the overzealous person is trying to pray for you, he or she may end up trying to touch you, lay hands on you. Quickly inform them that your own man of god has it covered and you don't want to fuck up that prior prayer. Walk away quickly. 
4.      For people who are stubborn, pick your nose exaggeratedly just before they want to take your hand. No one wants to shake someone who has just finished digging into their nose.

May fear of the virus not find us and permanently truncate our hustle.