Sunday, March 1, 2015

COLD

I hear the myriad bellowing voices like the howling of a sandstorm over me. Across the blood-soaked asphalt road, dust rises from a hundred boots stomping frenziedly. All the boots have the same dreary cocktail of dust and blood and sweat from kicking and smashing. I watch as bullets shoot from the sea of black and green… and white; white teeth flashing as adrenalin and spirit run through their veins and blind orders through their ears. I hear Malam’s blessed voice in my head as he says, I will be with you always. 

My beard is dusty and so is my white jallabiya. It’s time for Asr prayers and I should be joining my brothers for ablution. I like the communal ablution in front of the big mosque. Today, there is no call to prayer save the stutter of Kalashnikovs and the loud revving of military trucks but I know it is time. I have no water for ablution but does Allah not say: “if you find no water, then perform tayammum with clean soil and rub your faces and your hands therewith”? They do not know but they have done it for me. My faces and hands are covered in dust.

I am cold. Yet I can think of nothing but what has happened to Malam. Even as the mobile policemen dragged me out of the broken down truck, I thought, ‘is this how they dragged Malam too’? Did they ask him questions or did they just look at his beard and kaftan and say, we got him? How many of them used him for target practice and did he shiver from the cold like I now do? 

I had been promised Malam’s second daughter from his first wife. But for these bullets Malam would’ve become my father. I had never set my eyes on Umm Ayman’s face, but I was assured by Malam that she had heaven in her smile. I wrote her letters with permission from her father and she wrote me back. Her Arabic was excellent and not a few times I needed help with some of her phrases. 

I recall once as she thrilled the judges at the Quranic recitation competition for women. I tried to peer, astaghfirullah, through the dark green niqaab she was wearing. I could see nothing but a tale of beauty in those dark eyes shining through the tiny slit. Her voice was musical and if women could lead prayers, I am sure her call would rouse every lazy believer. That was the only time I actually saw Umm Ayman but her sonorous voice is still clear in my head as she started with Sura al-Fatiha: Bismillahi r-rahmani r-rahim. In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful...

 Allah has been most gracious. I have lived the dream of being with Umm Ayman through every word of her well crafted letters laden with romantic innuendoes. She astounded me with the way she infused life and love into her words. I have followed Malam as he grew to become a father and leader to thousands and seen how he was demonized and called a terrorist. 

Allah has been merciful. I did not have to watch what evil was done to Malam and all I can do is speculate and wish that they did not make him suffer on his way to the hereafter. 

I will not go for the next hajj as Malam promised and neither will he. I will not be his son. I will not see the country united in the peace that only submission to the will of Allah can bring. But Allah be praised, we did what we could. We lived good lives, we fasted and gave to the poor. And insh’allah we shall be united again. La ilaha illallah…
 I am cold…


Friday, February 27, 2015

10 TIPS FOR THE FOREIGN JOURNALIST COVERING THE NIGERIAN ELECTIONS


Nigeria is an important country for many reasons. First there is the jihadist group Boko Haram which has engaged in a expansionist campaign, freaking out everyone in the free world. Then there is the fact that Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy. Most recently however, everyone is interested in the upcoming elections with analysts predicting everything from widespread violence to a breakup of the country. Expectedly, every major news organisation around the world doesn't want to be somewhere covering the escape of Llamas when this sexy, maybe-conflict story is unfolding in Nigeria. So most of them are putting boots on the ground. 

Some journalists have had to wait long periods for their visas while others have come and gone in the wake of the six-week postponement of the elections from February 14 to March 28. As a local, I keep getting  contacted for interviews and pointers. Consequently, I have decided, at no cost, to provide a fairly detailed list of tips for foreign journalists coming to Nigeria for the first time:

NOTE: Most of my advice is for the white or light-skinned foreigner. If you are black and cannot be visibly identified as a foreigner, then I am sorry, you will have to work as hard as every other local journalist. 

  1. There is no protocol for the foreign journalist.
    You may think, I want to interview a high profile politician and I am not sure a foreigner who just flew in to cover the elections will be able to get access. Nonsense! There are no access issues for the foreign journalist in Nigeria. You know the saying “man proposes, God disposes”? Well, here it is “foreign journo proposes, foreign journo disposes”.  Especially if you are white, there is hardly any door you cannot walk right into and be greeted with a smile. If you cannot enter, then rest assured that no one can. 
  2. You are white. Don’t fight it.
    Like I said above, this article is for the light(er)-skinned journalist. In Nigeria, all light-skinned foreigners are referred to as white, or “oyibo”. Up north, where Hausa is the main language, you will be called “bature”. It does not matter if you are Algerian, Mexican or Chinese. Do not try to argue or explain that you are not white. The tag comes with a lot of perks like the one in 1. above. You will experience more love and attention than you have ever received since the nurse first showed you to your parents. 
  3. Don’t be shy to ask personal questions
    Sure there are taboo questions, but because you are foreign, most of these will not apply to you. Do not be shocked if you find people telling you their most intimate secrets. You will not need to be very influential for a public official to share sensitive government information or for a random stranger to tell you the crimes they have committed. There is something about your skin that makes us trust you. Milk it.
  4. Prepare for the beer gardens
    Especially in Lagos and Abuja, you will find that there are dozens of beer gardens or bush bars in any one area. Feel free to explore these lively places but please do not wear those hideous shorts that foreign journos like to wear in tropical countries. Along with the general population, mosquitoes converge there and will not hesitate to feast on you. Especially you. If you have never had malaria before, trust me, the first time is not good. Plus, you don’t want to be delirious with fever while your colleagues are out covering electoral violence. An African election report without some violence is like a man with erectile dysfunction. You don't want that.
  5. Love is a dangerous game
    Everyone needs some loving. While you are in Nigeria, there is nothing wrong in some adventure of a sexual nature. Again, it doesn't matter how you look - old, fat, sun-burnt - you will be treated like a local celebrity. Sex (transactional and otherwise) will be fairly easy to find. People will tell you very quickly that you are beautiful, or even, that they love you. Especially if you are no longer in your prime and it has been years since someone last said those words to you, it can be quite intoxicating to hear them. Enjoy the attention, but be careful. You may end up sponsoring someone’s trip abroad. Love at your own risk.
  6. The gay shall not inherit the earth
    If you are gay and you need some action while you are in Nigeria, you might want to be extra cautious. It is a crime to show any same sex amorous affection. We can talk about how this is against human rights and all another time. Today it is a crime, and you can get in trouble. Plus, the open playing field for the gay foreigner in Nigeria is a minefield. To scam you, we will pretend to be gay. Don’t use the internet for hookups. I am not recommending abstinence (that can be frustrating), but you might want to think about it. 
  7. We stare at exotic people. Deal with it.
    You will find out very quickly that as a foreigner, you stand out. People will stare at you, nonstop. No, they will not look away when you look back. Yes, they will call out to you in the streets, referring to you by race. Calm down. This is not racist. It is endearment. Deal with it.
  8. You will pay more. Deal with it.
    Will you be charged higher prices when you go to the market or take cabs or pay for sex? Yes. Yes. Yes. If you ask me, it is a small price to pay for all that love. Deal with it. 
  9. The devil is in the spices
    Especially if you are from places with bland food, the first time you eat a Nigerian dish will be followed by reactions that will require a long period of recovery. If you do not like hot spices, you might want to mention that several times before the food arrives. 
  10. Vegans can go to hell
    I am sorry but if you are vegan, food will be a challenge for you here. If you will not feel too guilty about it, you might want to take a vegan break in Nigeria and enjoy the meaty culinary delights for the one or two weeks you will be here. Trust me, the one or two kilos of meat you will eat in the period will not destroy the planet. However, to deal with any extreme guilt when you do go back home, you can volunteer at a homeless shelter, donate to Oxfam or to one of those animal rights organisations.

I hope you enjoy Nigeria as much I hope Nigeria enjoys you.


Love and peace. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

WHY AFRICA NEEDS GATEKEEPERS AND HOW WHITE PEOPLE CAN SHOW SOLIDARITY WITHOUT BEING ANNOYING OR RACIST


I like to begin with definitions. 
An African gatekeeper is an important intermediary between the kind white world of saviours and Africa enthusiasts on the one hand and Africans on the other. You might think, why do you need an intermediary? That is a good question. Let’s just say Africa is a big, complicated place - a minefield for otherwise well-meaning foreigners who want to help but may end up being accused of racism or ignorance. The answer to this question will become clearer as I explain the reasons why Africa needs gatekeepers. 

1.  White people shouldn't have to deal with all of Africa. 
Like I said, Africa is complicated. It can get confusing for the well meaning white person who wants to assist poor Africans, whether they are orphans or struggling writers. You need a knowledgeable African who can help select deserving Africans for foreign assistance, from grants to fellowships. It is like when you go to a new country and head to the fruit market. There will be fruits you have never seen and want to try. Because you have never had the fruit before, you need a local to help you pick the good, ripe ones. 

2.   Africans need order, someone to set agenda. 
I can say this because I am African: sometimes we need people to put us in line. Look at Nigeria, the largest African country. The most popular candidate in the presidential elections due on March 28, is General Muhammadu Buhari, who, as dictator in 1984, declared a war against indiscipline and forced people to stand in orderly queues. When he left, we all went back to fighting at bus stops. So, yes, we need smart Africans who can set the agenda for us all and tell us what new thing we should be doing, fighting or talking about. An African gatekeeper writes nice articles about what Africans should be doing with their lives.

3.   Someone needs to determine the validity of African ideas and identities
It is important that we have Africans who can curate African ideas and shoot down unintelligent anti-African ideas. Because sometimes we have these rogue Africans around the world who come up with weird ideas about Africa and about who they think they are. Like when someone African who has a foreign passport decides to call themselves Afropolitan. The duty of the African gatekeeper is to tell the misguided African why it is not up to them to determine their own identity. African gatekeepers know these things.

4.  Someone needs to protect Africa from ignorant white people who try to get cheap glory.
Sometimes foreigners think they can just come into Africa and help people. The job of the African gatekeeper is to make sure ignorant white people are mobbed and humiliated until they come to their senses. Like that white boy, Jason Russell, from California who tried to catch the Ugandan rebel leader, Kony without knowing anything about the local context. God bless African gatekeepers. In the end he had a public breakdown and was even hospitalised for psychiatric evaluation. 

5. Someone needs to protect Africa from ignorant black people who try to make Africa look bad. 
Sometimes you find some Africans writing about the things which make white people think we all need charity. Like poverty, wars and shit like that. Traitors. People who spend time writing novels and stories about African suffering, as if they missed the memo about the continent rising. An African gatekeeper denounces such people, because it is important to have one unified image of what Africa is, what it really is like: the bright lights, azonto music, lively bright-eyed people, intellectuals arguing in beer gardens, great safe sex, flourishing businesses, fantastic internet connection, Skype calls…all that shit. That glorious Africa. 
***

Now, you might as a white person who loves Africa and doesn't want to get in trouble with these African gatekeepers who set the agenda ask, how do I engage with the minefield that is Africa? I have tips for you good white people:

1.   Good white people do not argue with African gatekeepers.
Especially on Twitter, when an African gatekeeper tweets something you do not agree with, do not go down that foolish path where you challenge or argue with them. You can’t win. A good white person retweets an African gatekeeper. 

2.   Good white people do not intervene when two African gatekeepers argue.
When two African gatekeepers argue about something integral to African identity or race or hair or even whether croaker is better than catfish, a good white person stays away. Very far away. Because it is a trap. If this happens on Twitter, favourite the tweets of both gatekeepers to show you are loyal to them both (and ultimately to Africa) without taking sides.

3.   Good white people can handle criticism.
When an African gatekeeper gets upset or criticises white people, especially after being treated badly at an airport or embassy, never, ever try to defend white people. A good white person shows solidarity with an African gatekeeper and apologises for the actions of other white people. Empathise. Retweet the criticism. It shows you are not racist.

4.   Good white people take photos with African children. 
It is important to pose with black children and use those photos on social media. Nothing says you love Africa, like a photo of you with a black child wearing an oversized T-shirt. But be careful. African gatekeepers get suspicious when you have too many of those type of photos. One on your profile is enough.

5.   Good white people support African products.
You know those cheap African fabrics and African arts, crafts and jewellery? Most of them are made in China, sabotaging the local industries. Always make sure your African fabric and Afrocrap is made in Africa. Mention to your African gatekeeper friend that you know the difference between the shit made in China and the ones made in Africa. Say how Chinese counterfeiters destroy African businesses. They will respect you. And who knows, one day, they may even come to love you.
Now wouldn’t that be grand?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

LIARS, WRESTLING AND ROTATIONAL FIRST LADIES


I used to have a little respect for Governor Rotimi Amaechi. Mostly because he has for the last few years been standing up to my political rival, Goodluck Jonathan and his loving wife Dame “Mama Peace” Jonathan. It is not easy to fight the president, I know this. However Amaechi recently claimed that Christian leaders in Nigeria had been given 6 billion Naira by Jonathan to campaign against Buhari. I do not like people who do not verify their facts before they go to press. More recently, a Borno-based cleric who is in a better position to know this by virtue of his membership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, has made a contrary assertion. Kallamu Musa-Dikwa, who is the Executive Director of the Voice of Northern Christian Movement said that “it was N7bn that was given to the CAN leadership by President Goodluck Jonathan”. Not 6 billion. He has exposed Amaechi as a liar. And if you think 1 billion difference is nothing, go and steal just 500 Naira in the market and see what will happen to you. One billion naira is no joke. If I had 1 billion I would not have been writing weekly columns begging Nigerians to vote for me. 

This week I contemplated temporarily joining one of the rival political parties. Like PDP. Or APC. Let me explain. You know how as children we used to enjoy watching American wrestling on TV? Hulk Hogan, Ultimate Warrior, The Undertaker… One of the things we used to live for was to see the young, burly Hulk Hogan tear his shirt just before beginning a match. We just knew that once that shirt was torn, Hulk Hogan was going to win that match, no matter the beating he took from his opponent. Obasanjo made me feel that same way this week when he tore his PDP membership card. All I could think was Hulk Hogan. I was envious of how cool he looked. Of course he didn’t tear it himself. A big man doesn’t do things himself. Just like if I say I built a house, it doesn’t mean I mixed concrete and did the German floor myself. What do I know about German floors? 
Anyway, I was jealous of that Hulk Hogan move. In fact, to make matters worse, a Special Assistant to the governor of Gombe State Abdullahi Babangida Muhammad also did the same this week. This is why I wanted to quickly join APC or PDP so I could also hold a press conference and tear my membership card. But all attempts to reach the APC and PDP leaders in my ward proved abortive. 

I like Babatunde Fashola, even though he refused to follow my advice and convert to Christianity to run with General Buhari. But sometimes he does not think things through. I just read that he has acquired 100 mass transit buses - air-conditioned, and equipped with video, music and WiFi internet. In Lagos! Who does that? I will tell you exactly what will happen. People will get on those buses and pay for 3 or 4 routes - and knowing Lagos traffic that will be anywhere between 2 to 8 hours - just so they can use internet in an air-conditioned environment. It will become cheap office space for many people - from legitimate business men to people trying to lure old white women to the Ikeja Marriage Registry. But then, maybe that is the idea and he only wants to boost business and interracial, intergenerational love. Who knows?


Now that it seems highly likely that Malam Nasir El-Rufai will become governor in my state, Kaduna, I keep wondering which of his three wives he will make first lady. By his own admission, Kaduna is one of the most indebted states, so surely he is not planning to have three first ladies at the same time. Any one who knows Malam El-Rufai knows that he will develop Kaduna and bring a sense of decency to governance. We cannot have distractions while that is going on. He needs to clarify now who the first lady will be, to avoid any in-fighting. If you ask me though, I think he should do a four-year timetable and rotate the office between the three wives. Of course he will have to publish it and make it available to us all so that there is no doubt as to who is first lady at any given time. It will be colourful, especially if you add a handing over ceremony, presided over by the Chief Justice of the state where at the end of each first lady’s term, she hands over to the new first lady. It would even boost tourism as I am sure that many will be interested to come and watch this spectacle. El-Rufai should think seriously about this. I am only sharing this with him, because I care. 

Saturday, February 14, 2015

THE REAL REASON THE ELECTIONS WERE SHIFTED


I am terribly disappointed. Saying any less about the recent postponement of the elections would be dishonest. Everything was in place for my victory on February 14 but at the last minute, Jonathan sent soldiers to tell INEC to shift the election.
When Jonathan used the army to change the dates he reminded me of those boys in secondary school who would go and look for trouble and when they got afraid would go home to call their older brothers. That is cheating. Stay and fight. Our people say you do not invoke the rain if you do not have an umbrella. And it is not as if Jonathan does not have an umbrella. 
Jonathan should have been man enough to tell us the real reason for this postponement instead of hiding in the villa and sending his soldiers. I am not married but I can understand if he did it to save his marriage. Wicked Nigerians have been spreading rumours about Jonathan sneaking into some house in Abuja to see another woman. Some evil people have even suggested his relationship with a certain Minister is more than official. I hate rumours and gossip and when anyone brings these wicked stories to me just because he is my political enemy I often rebuke them in the name of Jesus. I told the last one: Get thee behind me Satan. 
But like I said, I can understand if Nigerians and their wicked rumour mongering have driven a wedge between Goodluck and Mama Peace. If I was Mama Peace (and I am not saying this is what happened) and my husband was sneaking off to see other women, and then decided to fix elections on Valentine’s day, I would be very suspicious. Only a man with a woman on the side fixes anything else on that day. So, yes, if I was Her Excellency Mama Peace, I would make trouble until Goodluck realizes the error of his ways. As a woman from the grassroots, the First Lady knows very well how to handle the situation of a goat that is always eating a person’s yams. She knows that the only way of stopping a goat from eating yams is to separate the goat from the yam. I am not saying her husband is a goat. I am just saying he could have called or sent me a WhatsApp message to tell me the problems he was having instead of hiding behind soldiers.
While I want the Jonathans out of office on May 29, 2015, I wish them well in their marriage as they find their way back to monogamous love. I hope Jonathan, after inconveniencing the entire country, will at least use February 14 to mend things on the home front. Mama Peace deserves it for being patient all these years. 
I am only concerned about all the other Nigerian relationships that this postponement will endanger. No one planned anything spectacular for the Valentine celebration because of the proposed election. People did not order huge cakes or red roses. All the couples I know had bought extra dry food, water and gas so that, just in case there was any violence on the election weekend and curfews had to be imposed, they would not starve. So instead of preparing for love they were preparing for war. It is not easy to suddenly start preparing for love. The least Goodluck Jonathan could have done after postponing the election was to declare a subsidy for cakes and weaves and phones and all the other gifts Nigerian couples buy for Valentine. If he had a problem with that, he could have simply shifted Valentine along with the elections to March 28. He didn't. Imagine all the quarrels, failed marriages and broken relationships that will result from this. 
In spite of all of this however, I am calling on Nigerians, especially my supporters, not to let their frustrations push them into angry protests. This is not the time to play into the hands of those who do not want to leave power. There is a time to shout and there is a time to keep calm and sip moringa juice. Collect your PVCs if you have not collected them and prepare to go out on March 28. Remember that no matter how strongly you feel about a candidate, no matter how much you want to be part of the process, all you have is one vote. Others are equally entitled to express themselves no matter how foolish that expression may be. And in the end democracy is about how many votes count. Sometimes after the count, it emerges that stupidity wins. But the beauty of democracy also is that stupidity, once elected, lasts only four years. 
Democracy is no guarantee for good governance. We must be part of the process of making Nigeria change before, during and after elections. So let us allow Jonathan enjoy this Valentine with his wife while we wait for March 28. If you had bought dry food stuff for the election weekend, keep it for March 28. Raw rice will not spoil in six weeks. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

CONVERSATIONS AT A PVC COLLECTION CENTRE


You can tell it is the collection centre because of the people pressing in against the gate, waving their temporary voters cards in the air, some new, some yellowed from age. There are two sets of people: those who registered in 2011 and those who registered in 2014. And there are others like you who have lost their temporary cards.
You will have to get used to the dust on this narrow dirt road where almost two hundred people are milling about, complaining, about the inefficiency of the INEC staff handing out permanent voters cards (PVC).
“Are you the last person on the queue?” you ask.
When he scrunches his face, you realise he doesn’t understand what you asked. You switch to Hausa.
“Kai ne na karshe a layin?”
His face relaxes. He is the last person on the queue.
Ten people are allowed past the gate at a time to search through piles of cards. One hour passes and not a single one of the ten has come out. The queue breaks into groups of people discussing, cursing, laughing, arguing.
“See eh! Make I tell you, if I get like one billion, I no go change…”
“Na lie!”
“Na big lie!”
“Money get spirit make I tell you. You go change.”
“I swear to God I no go change. See, I go keep de money first. Comot like 100 thousand. Go find beta woman, go hotel, go rest small.”
Everyone bursts into laughter except the fair plump woman. She is not amused.
“Why I go vote? Person wey don win election don win. Na so Nigeria be. Why I go waste my time?”
“Me I register for town but my house dey inside Kapuwa. Why I go suffer myself. Shebi dem talk say no movement dat day.”
“I just wan collect de PVC because dem talk say anytin you wan do now you need am. Weda bank o, even to go abroad now, if you no get PVC you no fit go. Das why I still dey here o.”
It is 2 pm and the sun is high in the sky. The queue has moved only a little bit for the past three hours. People are leaving to eat and return. People are returning to discover they have lost their place on the queue.
A small police car attempts to drive into the premises with a woman at the back. The crowd at the gate is suspicious and reluctant to move. The policeman in charge of security speaks with the policeman driving the car and suggests that the woman get down and enter on foot. People realise the policemen are trying to smuggle the woman past the hundreds who are outside into the PVC collection centre. The women grumble and slowly the men join in too.
Chants of “No!” ring out in the air.
“We no go gree!”
One policewoman tries to punch her way through the crowd of mostly women who have formed a barricade. She makes her way through but is unable to drag the civilian woman across. The policeman in charge, first tries to threaten, then plead with people to let the woman in. No one agrees.
He back down when he sees the resolve of the crowd. They drive the woman away in the police car.
“For the last election I sell my sef, dey tink say, maybe na dat one go beta for me. Election finish, na me regret. Dis time, e no go happen to me again.”
“As you don see de light dis time, e get plenty people wey still foolish like you.”
People burst into laughter at an old man’s retort to a repentant young voter.
The young man continues: “Me I don tell my guys say, if politician bring money, we go collect, shout im name. But if e turn im back, we go vote wetin we like. We go chop de money.”
Another young man nods vigorously.
Everyone seems to agree that this is the way to go. Take the money. Vote the candidate you really believe in.
At 5 pm most of the people who were at this Garki PVC collection centre have still not collected their PVCs. 
The officials declare they have closed.
You are exhausted but you have enjoyed listening to all the banter.
“Na wetin dem want be dis,” an old man complains, “dey wan carry all the PVC go do wetin dem want wit am.”
“I get business to do. I no go come here again. I no fit suffer like this.”

As you listen to this middle aged man swear he will not return, something tells you, if you come back here tomorrow, you will find him standing. 

Sunday, January 25, 2015

WHY BUHARI’S CERTIFICATE IS VERY IMPORTANT


As a presidential candidate it is important that I weigh in on the recent controversy surrounding a fellow presidential hopeful, Muhammadu Buhari. I realize that section 131 (d) of the constitution says that a person shall be qualified to run for president if he has been educated up to at least School Certificate level or its equivalent. Now some may argue that the words “at least” imply that you do not need a WAEC result if you have something higher than it. Just like a woman who says she will not sleep with her husband if he does not get her at least an iPhone 4 – if he gets her an iPhone 6, she will not insist on the iPhone 4 abi? But Presidential elections is not marital politics. People have said Buhari, who attended many post graduate military courses in Nigeria and abroad, including the US War College, must produce a School Certificate, or whatever certificate they had in the last century when he was in school. I am no expert. But if the constitution mentions School Certificate, then so be it.
Some of Buhari’s supporters have expressed annoyance that Buhari had to disturb the Principal of his old secondary school for a re-issue of his 1961 certificate. Me, I understand. Buhari needs to show us his certificate. There are at least two reasons why:
1.     A certificate shows that you were not smoking Indian hemp with your school fees when your parents thought you were going to school. I still sometimes run into one of my school mates who never graduated from school because he thought it was smart to spend his school fees. Whenever we meet, he asks me for 50 or 100 naira for “transport”. But I know he only wants to transport some marijuana into his system. Imagine that somehow a guy like that becomes our president because our laws failed to ask for the proper documents. Imagine a junkie going for an international meeting and selling our oil wells so he can buy drugs. People do strange things under the influence of drugs. Section 131 makes sure this kind of thing will never happen to our country. God bless Section 131.
2.     Whenever I enter a local drug store I always look for the certificate hanging on the wall to be sure that the proprietor is a registered drug retailer. I know that it is usually a photocopy but as long as the words and signature are legible, I am fine. Then I know that the Benylin with Codeine or Postinor 2 I am buying is less likely to be fake or expired. And I know that if, worst case scenario, the drugs don’t work because they are fake I can report him to the body with which he is registered. In life it is good to have certainties like that. Imagine not knowing if the guy selling you Postinor 2 is registered or not. Just imagine. Certificates are really useful.
My advice is that as soon as Buhari receives a hard copy of his certificate from his alma mater in Katsina (or Cambridge), he should quickly make an A3 copy, frame it, and hang it in his office together with a class photo of his secondary school showing other persons who are capable of attesting to the fact that he did finish secondary school.
No one has asked me to produce a certificate, but I know my political enemies. They can spring up and embarrass me. So I am going to tell you all about my Secondary School certificate. Almost 20 years ago, before I finished secondary school, I wrote my first GCE exam. Of course I failed woefully. I passed only English, Hausa and Foods and Nutrition. Don’t ask me why I registered for Foods and Nutrition in GCE.
In my second School Certificate exam I still couldn’t pass mathematics. I got a P7. But Nigerians shouldn’t despair. It is not by passing mathematics that one becomes a great leader. Sir Winston Churchill did very poorly in school and had to apply to the Royal Military College many times, finally opting for cavalry instead of infantry because in cavalry you didn’t need mathematics to apply. Today, 50 years after his death, he is one of the most quoted world leaders. So you see, you have nothing to fear in my case. In fact, I went on to write a third exam where I narrowly passed mathematics with a C6. This alone is enough to show you that I never give up, even when I fail mathematics. If you are in doubt, send me a message and I will email you a scanned copy of all three certificates. It would be nice if you could come out en masse on February 14 with your PVCs to vote for me as the only candidate who really, truly cares.


Sunday, January 11, 2015

ELECTIONS IN A TIME OF LOVE

We are drawing closer and closer to the day of electoral reckoning. Goodluck Jonathan is my political enemy but I will give him and his INEC one thing: they chose the date wisely. February 14.
Valentine’s Day is a metaphor. After he chose this date I stopped doubting like people are now, that Jonathan indeed has a PhD. Only a man with that kind of intellect could have come up with this loaded date. Ok agreed his PhD is in the study of animals and not humans, but you have to agree that this PhD is perfect for the kind of people who surround the villa these days. Knowledge of human behavior is useless in dealing with them. On Valentine’s Day, Nigerians will express their love through the ballot for a candidate of their choice. And if Nigerians are wise as I know they are, they will choose me. Obviously. Because I care.
I see people these days asking General Buhari to produce his secondary school certificate. That indeed is what the law says. In fact I have just sent a copy of mine through DHL to INEC. The passport on it is not flattering, but I hope it reaches there safely. While I agree that Buhari should produce his certificate and stop asking the army to help him, I just want to say that asking Buhari to prove he finished secondary school is like asking a pregnant woman who already has three children that she has ever been touched by a man.
Even as we draw closer to the season of love and elections, I am willing to say good things about Jonathan. While people around him and around Buhari keep looking for ways to undermine and discover scandals and lies about each other, I am the only candidate keeping positive. In a recent speech he changed his mind about the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND. His own boys. At a time when you think Jonathan will be relying on his tribal militants, he disowned their leader in public. In 2010 he had publicly denied that MEND had anything to do with the October 1 Abuja bombing. He said that people were trying to give MEND a bad name. Criminals. But then, thanks to the South Africans, I think he saw the light. And in 2015, he realized that indeed Henry Okah of MEND was behind the bombings, which he now claims were designed especially for him. MEND wanted to assassinate him. “Some people” sent them but he didn’t say who. Do you know what it means, for a person in power – the leader of the most populous black nation on earth with the largest economy in Africa – to admit wrong judgment? In public? He could have let it go thinking Nigerians would have forgotten about those 2010 bombings. But he didn’t. God bless South Africa for opening his eyes. And God bless Jonathan for letting his eyes be opened. Because you can show a man truth. But you cannot force him to see it.
I hear that a certain priest, Father Mbaka, gave a sermon against Jonathan that went viral. Someone saw the DVD in traffic and sent it to me. I could have just watched it online for free but I think the DVD is better. In that sermon Father Mbaka claimed that since Goodluck Jonathan assumed office all we have been experiencing is bad luck. At first I was excited, thinking maybe that was good for my own campaign. But they say that when your neighbor’s beard is on fire you start to wet your own beard. Just in case. Today it is Jonathan. Tomorrow it may be me. I researched the priest and it seems like he was angry about his hustle not enabling him to reach Aso Rock and so was lashing out. It is his hustle that has bad luck. I avoid people with bad luck. Bad luck is contagious.
Speaking of love I heard that a "daughter" of President Jonathan recently got married. I was quite upset. He may be my political opponent but for now he is my president. He cannot be springing surprises like that. It is like being in a committed relationship with someone for five years, thinking you know everything about them and then suddenly you hear that they have a grown up daughter about to get married. As part of transparency and accountability, Nigerians deserve to have a comprehensive list of all his children, especially the ones of marriageable age. Nigerians deserve a level playing field when it comes to loving his children. I am still single. Nothing stops him from sending me a text or WhatsApp to ask if I am interested. That we are opponents doesn’t mean we can’t fall in love with each other’s relatives.
Dear Jonathan, if you are listening, kindly be mature and produce a list of your adult children. It is the least you can do. God bless.
Ps. I am informed that commercial sex workers in the Nigeria bearing the name National Association of Nigerian Prostitutes, NANP, have decided to support Buhari. I am disappointed. Of all the candidates to support! They even declared three days of free sex if the septuagenarian wins. Buhari may think this is all well and good but I hope he is not planning to take part in the three-day largesse. Because I don’t know if Nigerians are mentally ready to have as president a man as tiny as Osinbajo. 
Ps. 2 At least one Nigerian Minister, Ngozi Okonjo Iweala responded to the terrorist killings in Paris with a tweet of condolences with the hash tag #JeSuisCharlie. A dozen people were killed in that attack. Around the same time in Nigeria, there were killings by Boko Haram in the town of Baga. Two thousand people are rumoured to have died. At the time of publication no government official has thought of a hash tag or taken responsibility or tweeted heartfelt condolences. May tragedy never befall us. But if it does, may our tragedy be sexy enough for a hash tag. 

Saturday, December 27, 2014

THE BEST MOMENTS OF 2014

Nigerians love to complain. If it rains, they want it to stop. If the sun comes out, they say it is too hot. You are poor they will insult you. You are rich, they will call you a thief. In fact I blame Nigerians for my spiritual condition. When you chase women they say you are womanizing, when you don’t they wonder if all is well down there or if you are gay. Anyone who tries to please Nigerians is sure to end up free falling in the dark abyss of ingratitude. 
This week I will break the year-long cycle of complaining by sharing ten of the best political moments of 2014 – moments which should make us proud of our country, our president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his darling, stylish wife.
1.    January:
Our president and legislature got their priorities right and signed the anti-gay bill into law as the first piece of legislation of the year. Of course there was the Health bill and the Petroleum Industry bill, but none of them were half as important as criminalizing consensual same sex affection. You know how gay people make our roads bad and make it impossible for us to have good hospitals or electricity. It is pathetic. I had hoped that with the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2014, the problems of the economy, corruption, poverty, power and infrastructure would finally be a thing of the past. Normally this would be the case but I am not sure what has happened 12 months after. Nigeria works in mysterious ways.
2.    February:
One of my favorite moments was when the President finally brought stability to the country by suspending the man who had declared that there were billions of dollars missing from the proceeds of oil sales. I mean, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had it coming. You can’t be insulting the president and be buying bow-ties with his money at the same time. Either you keep quiet or give up the bow ties. Plus really, bow-ties?  A bow tie is fine for a bartender or a person at a formal dinner. Every other time it just looks pretentious and awkward. Especially on a person his size. Anyway, that suspension made two things disappear: the rumours of the disappearance of billions of dollars and his bow ties – and especially now as Emir, it is unlikely that he will ever wear a bow tie again. It is also unlikely that we will ever know what happened to those billions of dollars. However let’s at least be happy about those hideous bow-ties.

Also in February, presidential aide Reno Omokri was discovered to have multiple personality disorder. He authored a document under the name “Wendell Simlin”
attempting to link Sanusi with the militant Islamist group Boko Haram and at least one murder in Kano. Gladly, well meaning Nigerians discovered his name in the document properties and started raising awareness about his condition. I don’t know if Reno Omokri has received treatment for this ailment. But as they say, diagnosis is already fifty percent of treatment.
3.    March:
Goodluck Jonathan declared open the National Conference which had newly pardoned ex-convict Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha, a man who went through a traumatizing phase of not being sure if he liked men or women’s clothes. Through an uncommon and brave act of forgiveness President Jonathan gave the Governor-General of the Ijaw nation his groove back. The man went on to represent his home state at the conference. I am sure great things were achieved at the conference only I am not sure what. Sometimes the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. And god says we should not judge. In fact, if all the conference did was provide Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha with 12 million naira for his post-pardon rehabilitation, that is something worth celebrating. How many countries have such a robust program of rehabilitating convicts?
4.    April:
Goodluck Jonathan dealt a huge blow to Boko Haram by going to Kano and dancing publicly right after a bomb killed over a hundred persons in the Federal Capital Territory. The idea of terror is to make you afraid and unhappy. But Jonathan showed them that it is never a bad time to dance. Plus we all know how Boko Haram hates music and dancing. That must have really hurt them. Kai. But Goodluck knows how to really get those people sha. You can’t learn these things. He was born that way.
5.    May:
Our first lady, Mama Peace, aka Dame Patience Jonathan summoned a meeting of people from Chibok who had attended a meeting of the Bing Back Our Girls Campaign. And she broke down and cried into a white handkerchief. On camera. Before the whole world. I don’t know of any public official who has shown as much emotion about the kidnap of the Chibok school girls. Crying is the ultimate symbol of mourning, but crying, tears or no tears, into a white handkerchief says: I mourn, but as a believer I have hope, I see the light, I see better times ahead. Sometimes we take Mama Peace for granted. Empathy is not about speaking good English. Empathy sometimes means crying in public into a white handkerchief.
6.    June:
The good people of Ekiti State participated in a free and fair election. Even though rice bearing both PDP and APC logos flooded the state prior to the elections, the people did not allow this to confuse them. 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. And they voted out their popular incumbent governor Kayode Fayemi.

Also, despite being probed, 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. It is not easy to go from being probed to being crowned.
7.    July:
Goodluck Jonathan launched his first international article in the Washington Post. It was mostly about silence. He wrote: “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.” Silence is a great subject. You remember how we used to say “silence is the best answer for a fool” in primary school? It is not a lie.
Goodluck Jonathan also hung out with Malala in Abuja. When the 17 year old rights activist got on a plane I heard he ironed those his overalls with spray starch and practiced his speech. (See how Goodluck touches people: Malala became one of the lucky recipients of the 2014 the Nobel Peace Prize. Sometimes all you need in life is good luck.)
8.    August:
At the height of the Ebola scare, Jonathan fired the 16,000 resident doctors who were on strike trying to push for better wages and work conditions. 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. In the end, thanks to Jonathan, we were able to fight Ebola. Even Buhari can’t deny Jonathan the glory for ending Ebola.
9.    September:
Dozens of South Africans who were in Nigeria to seek miracle healing and breakthroughs at the synagogue of world famous Nigerian Pastor T. B. Joshua in Lagos became, “martyrs of the kingdom of [T.B. Joshua’s] god.” I am not sure of the full implications of this, but if T. B. Joshua is right, it means his god has arranged their spots in heaven. (I don't mean to mess with the suspense of this story, but as at December, the coroner and government seem to agree with T. B. Joshua that some UFO came from nowhere and made his church collapse. They even stopped calling him to the inquiries of his own church building collapse. I swear his god works in mysterious ways.)
10. October:
In his Independence Day speech, Goodluck Jonathan asked “all those waging war against our country” to “lay down their arms and embrace peace”. So nice our president. Sometimes when a person is blowing your citizens to smithereens every week and kidnaping dozens of women, girls and boys at will, you need to ask them nicely to please stop. Sometimes all they need is that soft voice of reason that says: Haba bros, it’s not good what you are doing. Kai! We have such a cool president.
(Unrelated, but interesting: Not to be outdone by other politicians, singer-turned-politician, Abolore Adegbola Akande, popularly known as 9ice, who was seeking election into the Oyo State House of Representatives representing Ogbomoso North/South/Orire Constituency allegedly handed out bottles of palm-oil & palm-wine to his supporters. Ingenious combination if you ask me.)
11. November:
Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola ignored calls for him to convert to Christianity and become a part of the most formidable political team ever with General Buhari. This is not really a best moment thing, I just wanted to include it. It was an almost best moment. I mean think if Fashola had done it – joined like Pastor Chris’s church (without perming his hair please!). We might have been talking of an APC landslide in Nigeria. Just that brief dream fills me with joy.
12. December:
By the grace of god, President Jonathan discovered Teleprompters and unwittingly started a teleprompter revolution. Now he can give speeches and use both of his long hands to gesticulate.
Jonathan also was declared by Doyin Okupe to be like Jesus Christ. Doyin did not even say like Saint Paul or Peter. He skipped to Jesus direct.

Amen?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

JESUS OUR LORD AND PERSONAL SAVIOR

President King Nebuchadnezzar also known as Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, received a new anointing this week when no less than his spokesman, Mr Doyin Okupe, declared on national television that the president was “just like Jesus Christ”. Even though quite a few people I know were outraged, I respect this. Let me explain.
You see, when all the prophets were on earth, people doubted them. Their followers tried to convince people but most thought they were liars and refused to follow them. I have read the history of most of the prophets. I will not be caught in the same mistake. Because of this knowledge of history, I never question claims to divinity or prophethood. That is how many Jews missed out on heaven because they refused to believe that Jesus was sent by God. There is no way I am missing out on heaven – I have nothing to lose from taking Doyin Okupe seriously.
Let me examine Doyin Okupe’s assertion and the few ways that Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is like Jesus Christ.
1.     Jonathan is persecuted. Everyone hates him. I am not sure why. The same way I am not sure why the Jews in the time of Jesus hated him so much. Look at the life of Jonathan. Since he emerged as president, it has been one insult after another. From clueless to bigot to corrupt to divisive. There is no reason for this. It is not like he has not shown remarkable leadership. It is not like he has not led by example: he refused to give into the pressure of his detractors to declare his assets or to fire corrupt ministers in his government. This surely makes him a strong president. It is not like he has been wicked: he has shown mercy to many repentant criminals by granting them pardon. This takes me to point two.
2.     Jonathan is forgiving. Do you remember when they came to arrest Jesus and one of his disciples cut off the ear of one of the soldiers? What did Jesus do? He healed the ear of the man who came to take him away and said that he who kills by the sword will die by the sword. Mention one top criminal that Jonathan has successfully prosecuted and imprisoned? He has no time for such wickedness. And remember when Jesus said about the harlot, „he who is without sin let him cast the first stone“? Yes. That is what Jonathan was trying to say when he said that stealing is not corruption.
3.     Jonathan came from humble beginnings. You remember how Jonathan didn’t have shoes growing up? You remember also how his father was a fisherman? Ok. Jesus’ father was not a fisherman, but a carpenter is not that different from a fisherman. In fact without a carpenter, who would make boats for the fisherman?
4.     Jesus went from being born in a manger, to riding into Jerusalem in nice robes on a donkey. Goodluck Jonathan has gone from being shoeless and riding in a canoe to being Nigeria’s number one public officer riding in bullet proof cars. Let’s just say that donkeys were the bullet proof cars of the days of Jesus. And I strongly suspect that if you do the research, you will find that the place in that fishing village where Goodluck was born was just as lowly as Jesus’ manger.
5.     Jesus changed water into wine. There is no evidence that Jesus drank the wine that he produced. Just as there is no evidence that Goodluck is given to a lot of wine. Wicked people will spread rumours about the president liking his drink but who can provide proof? Red eyes alone mean nothing. Lack of sleep can cause red eyes.
6.     Jesus was a teacher from the time he was twelve years old in the temple until he started giving sermons on mountains. Goodluck Jonathan was a teacher in Rivers State College of Education. Yes a college of education is no temple or mountain but the key word is teaching. The venue is immaterial.
7.     Jesus had an overzealous apostle who on one occasion even chopped off the ear of someone who tried to arrest them. Jonathan has Doyin Okupe.
8.     Jesus had patience. Goodluck Jonathan has Patience.

There are many more reasons I can give to make people stop getting angry at Mr Okupe for comparing Jonathan to Jesus. Buhari can attack this Nigerian prophet at his own risk. But as an old man, Buhari should know better. If the people campaigning for him are insulting this man who is just like Jesus, he should be like Pilate who came out publicly when the Jews wanted Jesus dead, to wash his hands clean of the blood of Jesus. Buhari should address a press conference with a bowl of water and do this. What you don’t want is bad luck at a time of elections. A word is enough for the wise.