Saturday, December 28, 2013


 Dearest Supporters,

It has been over 40 weeks since this glorious presidential hustle began. But as the year ends, it feels just like yesterday. While my soon-to-be-predecessor has continued ignoring me, my phone calls, texts, Whatsap messages and my open comments on the unfortunate way he has been truncating the hustle of many Nigerians, I am glad that we are at least one step closer to 2015, when Nigerians are destined to start enjoying my presidency. But my door is still open to him if he repents. I said it last week: there is nothing in this life.

My pain is not that Mr Jonathan did not reply my open letter. It is worse - he did not even acknowledge it. I remember primary school- when someone stronger than you taunts you or challenges you to a fight, you look away and say: “Silence is the best answer for a fool.” I feel like Jonathan has just called me a fool. This hurts. For a man who only returned from the tomb of Jesus in Israel a few months ago, that is a very bad way to treat a presidential hopeful who abandoned all other things to write him a letter.

If you ask me, Jonathan should stop making national statements from inside his churches. Think if everyone did that: make public statements from their place of worship. Wole Soyinka for example- if he made all those intelligent public statements from inside a shrine. You know how poor lighting is inside a shrine and how very likely the priest of the shrine wouldn’t let them have a sound system set up in the shrine. We would have been robbed of seeing his healthy gray afro and hearing his intelligent thoughts. Worse still every time Jonathan attends a church service, he manages to say something controversial. There is something about the church that is bad for Jonathan’s mouth. Last Sunday he managed to say: “For those who know about terrorism, countries that are infested with terror will hardly get out of it.” Of course he quickly denied that which he said before God and before cameras. If God can forget or forgive, cameras cannot. I just want to say on behalf of Nigeria: back-to-sender. Apart from this apparent incompatibility of Jonathan’s spirit with that of the church, I wonder if he thinks about the feelings of the more than 50 percent of his population who do not go to church when making public pronouncements there. As part of that more 50 percent I hereby register my protest.

The 2014 budget has revealed that again Jonathan wants to buy another plane for his use. I have stated several times that I will sell off those planes when I get to power just like President Joyce Banda of Malawi who sold off her 15million dollar plane to buy maize for her starving citizens. As someone who claims to be a child of god, I do not expect this from Jonathan. Every time a person who wants to go to heaven accumulates earthly possessions it shows lack of faith. Or maybe there are sins that Jonathan is committing in private that makes him sure he will not enter heaven. Because I do not understand why he needs to spend money like this. Our money.

Looking through the 2014 budget, I discovered that over 830million will be used by the Federal Government to run generators. Yet Jonathan swears by the creeks in his village that by 2014 Nigerians will have power. I don’t understand this. This is just like a man of god who claims to heal sickness and raise dead people, travelling around with bodyguards, a personal doctor and huge first aid kit.

There are things that by virtue of their terribly embarrassing and painful nature, no one wishes on his enemies. Like genital warts, armpit boils, and parents like Olusegun Obasanjo. I just hope that when he was allegedly sleeping with his son’s wife he was using protection. Think of the potential embarrassment if she had given birth to a child for both father and son. While some children would call General Obasanjo grandpa, others would call him papa. Quite confusing if you ask me. Children shouldn’t be confused like that. I do not blame Iyabo Obasanjo for her open letter to her father. It must be traumatizing to have to tolerate such a man. I just want to warn the General in advance. I am not as nice as Jonathan. When I become president he will be spending his retirement in prison for any of a dozen offences he committed as president. And I will make sure there is no typewriter, computer, pen, pencil or paper or whatever it is he uses to write these days.

So I read that a certain Tonye Okio was arrested in Abuja on the 26th of October and has been in detention since for criticizing the Governor of Bayelsa State on Facebook. At first I laughed because I thought it was one of those prank emails, but I followed the story and found a report on Premium Times. I just want to put my supporters on alert. Now that my presidential hustle is getting stronger and stronger, they can go and arrest me for the things I write on Facebook and Twitter. It is not that I cannot stay in jail for the struggle. It is just that I get malaria easily and I am sure they do not have mosquito nets or insecticides in prison. It will be bad if I catch malaria in prison. So if you don’t hear from me for one week, know that they have come for me. Protests and rallies and demonstrations and open letters will be in order.

May God continue to bless your individual hustles, and truncate those who try to truncate your hustle.

Your soon-to-be-President,
Elnathan John

Ps. Is it just me, or does Mr. Jonathan desperately need a good speech/letter writer?


Most days you are firm in your convictions. Smug even. They are foregone conclusions, concretized through repeated use and the corroboration of people whose opinions you respect. Especially when your conviction is also the socially acceptable thing- you make bold pronouncements about racism, sexism, feminism; you challenge things that appear to be single stories or flimsy generalizations; you can spot a stereotype in your sleep.

You are on autopilot when the argument begins among mostly young men from Ebonyi. Quite easily, and almost condescendingly you demolish the argument about women not quite being equal to their husbands. You have spoken and written about this so much that you can worry about the food and the drinks while explaining why marriage does not confer any inferiority on a woman. Perhaps the man whose argument you are rebutting does not realize it, but you express some sort of disappointment in his thought process by declaring faux shock that men in this generation of yours think this way. He sips his drink and smiles. 

In preaching the goodness of his home state one of the more educated men at the table tries to explain that the reason cases of armed robbery and money rituals are not as prevalent among ‘Ebonyians’ as among other Eastern Nigerian peoples is the land- no one from Ebonyi escapes the judgment of the land and even when they engage in armed robbery, they are usually the first to be caught or killed. In these matters of the supernatural you have no comment. The look of incredulity on your face is enough response.

Very quickly, as is wont to happen among young men drinking and making merry the conversation returns to women. Again, someone insists the women from his home state are morally superior to others. As more drinks reach the table and empty into the stomachs of those on the table, one of the men make bold to say that while he admits that a good majority of the sex workers in Abuja are from Eastern Nigeria, they are usually not from his state. He points the finger at Imo State, whose girls he claims give Igbo people a bad name. The lone Imo man on the table shakes his head in disappointment but insists that he is not offended. 

‘I have heard this before,’ he says.

‘There good women and bad women everywhere,’ you suggest, trying to balance a conversation now clearly driven more by alcohol than reason. 

Slightly tipsy, the tallest man on the table rises to his full length to insist: ‘This is a fallacy of what? A fallacy of? Generalization!’

He stumbles a bit on the word ‘generalization.’ There are a few giggles around the table. You are not the only one who has noticed that he seemed to have remembered the phrase and was looking for an opportunity to throw it into the conversation. 

Later in the evening you run into a girl subtly offering sex for money. You know you shouldn’t ask but then the previous conversation is still playing in your ear.

‘Where are you from?’

‘Imo,’ she smiles, her long thick fake eyelashes, giving her a dreamy look.

‘Good god,’ you say under your breath but loud enough for her to hear.

‘Ahn-ahn, whais wrong with Imo people?’

‘Nothing,’ you say, angry at yourself for asking, angry at the girl for being from Imo on the same day as someone accuses Imo girls of being loose, angry that somehow this which should not qualify as a fact may now find a comfortable spot among facts in your consciousness.

You add to your list of things you will never do again, never to ask people where they are from.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


Dear Goodluck Ebele Jonathan,

I hope this meets you well. If so, doxology. I know your office is brimming with letters, both open and leaked. But there are open letters and there are open letters. As a fellow presidential candidate whose calls you have not been picking since I began this campaign, I thought to share my thoughts with you before it is too late and the open letter window closes. Honestly though, when Obasanjo said you had not been responding to his letters, I was somewhat relieved. If even a guy with whom you have breakfast in Kenya cannot get you to respond to messages, who am I? 

I was at the Villa on Sunday to attend The Future Awards Best 100 award ceremony. But we both know that the real reason I went was to see you and hopefully have a chat on the state of the nation. One minute I was in the hall waiting, next thing they said you weren’t going to make it. Then you sent Namadi with a speech. I was disappointed. I knew you were in. I saw your shoes. But like the good guest that I was, I did not make a fuss. I simply ate the snails they served and left. One day, we will have to meet you know, sooner or when you have to hand over to me in 2015. Will you send Namadi then? 

Do you see what is happening in the House of Representatives? APC now has a majority. But I will not gloat. It is wrong to laugh at your rival’s downfall. I mean it is not like anything has changed. The funny thing is, while almost all the Kano State legislators decamped, one of the only ones that remain loyal to your party is the guy who was able to fit a $600,000 bribe in his cap. Sometimes one is shocked where one finds loyalty.

If you ask me, you know what will be a game changer? Wait until the end of 2014, just before APC picks its presidential candidate, then decamp to APC, repaint all the PDP secretariats with APC colors and generally truncate everybody’s hustle. That is guaranteed to make a discombobulated Buhari grab Atiku and shed hot tears. I mean I will still win the elections, but that will really shake things up. 

Ok I am going to gossip about that guy that likes sleeping with young girls. I know Yerima is not your friend and neither is he mine. In this issue we are united. Did you hear that he has dumped the previous Egyptian child he married and was in Egypt again recently receiving another 15 year old bride? (Whether the new child bride was for him or whether he was just a courier doesn’t really matter.) I mean somehow I am relieved that he no longer abuses Nigerian children but don’t you think we need to speak to his three older wives to find out what the problem is? Could they have made him feel inadequate as a man, so that this has driven him to look for girls who will have had no prior experience of what adequacy means? You know how sensitive some men are about size. Maybe your wife can start an NGO for men with sexual inadequacy? By the way, she has been quiet these days. I hope all is well with 'Mama Peace'.  (Don't ask me what Mama Peace is, that is what she asked us to call her now.)

I don’t know if your aides told you, but the Senate just harmonized that anti-Same sex marriage bill with David Mark saying that since many things are wrong with the country, they didn’t want to get this one wrong too. I know he is your friend and all but I was hoping he would say something like, the bill will end corruption and oil theft and child marriage and female chin hair, serious things like that. I don’t get this your friend. But then again having to deal with like 19 children has to take a toll on a man’s ability to prioritize.  

Something we can both laugh about though: that Sanusi and his wrinkled forehead. The man wants to truncate your hustle o. That is how his 48 billion missing petrodollars have now become 12 billion. You know small men. They are not exactly sure what they want. Today one thing, tomorrow another. Can you imagine that man as emir of Kano? You will agree with me that we need to pray for long life for the current emir (I hope Ado Bayero doesn’t drink or smoke). I don’t want to have to deal with Sanusi in a turban when I become president.  

Just by the way, have you noticed that one of Bola Tinubu’s First Nation Airways planes has the slogan ‘Success is overcoming many failures’ painted on it? If you saw that slogan, would you fly that thing? I know you have your presidential jets and all (most of which I will sell off when I take over from you), but say after your tenure in 2015, would you fly a plane that announces the possibility of failures? I am just looking out for you here. 

Wait o, did you hear what happened in the famous Apollo theatre in London? While a popular play was on, part of the ceiling collapsed injuring almost 90 people. If it was Nigeria now, Reuters, CNN, and Aljazeera would have done a sensational report concluding with nonsense like: “Nigeria is notorious for cutting corners, corruption and substandard buildings. It is unclear whether poor construction led to the collapse.” Which of our theatres or stadiums have ever collapsed? I think you need to send them aid. Maybe a Christmas gift for each of the 90 injured people. 

To conclude I just want to ask which people do the catering for Aso Rock. I mean their rice isn’t anything special, but those snails, my god! I know you don’t pick my calls, but can you at least send me a number through one of your aides? Abati maybe? I really enjoyed those snails. 

May our meeting be soon. I don’t want to have to fake a smile during the handing over ceremony. There is nothing in this life, Jonathan. Try and pick my calls. 

Yours in the presidential hustle,

Elnathan John.  



Just found this 'story' which I wrote about seven years ago...

I wonder why I can’t remember the details of my dreams. I spend a good part of the night dreaming, yet when I roll over lazily at dawn, all I can recall are scant, hardly coherent highlights of epic battles, utopian lands, daring feats, taboo sexual encounters, pain and death. It’s not just me. Sim and Salamatu, the non-identical twins I met in a bus last month, say they experience exactly the same thing in addition to three of my friends and my uncle’s daughter. For me this confirmation has given this experience the status of universality; it has become gospel truth. People don’t remember the details of their dreams.

Regrettably, I’m not a poet or writer. Perhaps these brief flashes would have constituted what they like to call inspiration. Writers! They confound me with their conceit and consistent attempts at making us readers feel like idiots. They think they know everything. I think the only people worse than writers are lawyers. Heaven knows I can never be a lawyer. I can’t imagine me standing in some Stygian robe and silly wig, lying through my teeth to let some criminal off the hook or to frustrate the payment of an acknowledged debt. I wonder if lawyers get to sleep at night. Old Uncle Yakub says that they die with their tongues stuck out to the left and their necks twisted. Nemesis, he calls it. He spits to the floor when he talks about them. I’ve not seen a lawyer’s corpse before but somewhere in my heart I wish it was true. Lawyers must have evil minds. I heard a preacher once say that if the devil were on trial, you’d find a whole city of lawyers struggling to defend him. They’re destined for hell.

For me politicians are better. Koko, Uncle Yakub’s last daughter hates politicians. I don’t argue but I say that I prefer their comic lies and deceit to what lawyers do. At least once in a while we are entertained by their drama. When they are caught doing something scandalous they make press statements that are even more ridiculous than the scandal itself. At least we can get to laugh sometimes. No one ever laughs at what lawyers do.

Unfortunately, my girlfriend Adika just became a lawyer, though she doesn’t act like one. Perhaps it’s too early to tell. I still love her but I’ll be watching her very closely with my bags packed and ready, just in case. There’s no telling when the cancer will become malignant.

My friend Husna on the other hand, is a charming, svelte, lab technician. I love her but in a different, refreshing way. I don’t have to try to please her or always be on time and I can tell her things I cannot tell Adika. She is kindhearted and caring. Sometimes, even though she loves her job, she wishes she were a nurse. It’s not too late, I tell her.

I am ambivalent toward being a radiologist at the x-ray centre of the General Hospital. Sometimes when my assistants have to be away, I operate the x-ray machine myself. Chest x-rays are the most frequent. I get to see pretty, turgid breasts, large breasts, sagged breasts, tiny breasts, hairy chests, muscular chests, bony chests, inflamed chests and more. I cannot appear to be visibly fascinated or irritated and I try not to look at their faces. The females especially are already too embarrassed having to take off their clothes. I recall a teenage girl who cried because she had to take off her clothes. Too bad we don’t have females in the x-ray centre, I told her.

For three days, I have had to do the x-rays by myself in addition to writing the reports. One of my two assistants had a serious case of pile. The other came down with chicken pox. Poor lads. So I get to see all the broken bones and bare torsos.

Today, I will work overtime at least two hours. I need the extra pay for new car tires. My tires are pretty worn out. I guess I will stop for a beer or two on my way home and a little later, I’ll see Adika. Perhaps I’ll get her some apples. She is totally in love with apples. If she upsets me, which she has been doing lately, I’ll leave and go to Husna’s place. Husna never upsets me. I don’t worry about having to buy her gifts or pleasing her. We just talk and laugh and play. Sometimes we stay up so late, I have to sleep over at her place. The neighbors think I am her boyfriend. To be honest, sometimes I wish I were. It doesn’t bother her. Few things ever bother her. She always has an extra blanket for me to use on the couch. She never used to let Ibrahim, her last boyfriend, or any of her previous boyfriends sleep over at her place. I remember Ibrahim got angry about it and they quarreled. A few days later, she broke up with him. I have seen four boyfriends come and go. She was always very strict with them and they couldn’t stand it for long because they all didn’t understand her. So, they either go away or she chases them away. Husna reminds me of the prayer that Orlando taught me. May we not end up befriending our wives and marrying our girlfriends. I laugh whenever I remember.

I need to get Husna something special after I change my tires. She’s my best friend and even though I don’t tell her, I’m sure she knows. Every year she gives me a nice ceramic figurine to mark the day we became friends. The last time I checked I had nine figurines. Next month she’ll add one more. She wants us to have a small party for our tenth anniversary. I laugh. Whoever throws a party for a friendship anniversary, I ask her. We could be the first, she says.

My mother has been getting on my nerves these days. I wish we didn’t have to live in the same town. If my father was not ill and I could get a transfer, I just might have considered moving. I have been trying not to quarrel with her since the last altercation we had. She had been constantly reminding me of how old I was and how badly people think of deliberate bachelors. I made it clear that I wasn’t going to discuss it and she got upset. I should’ve left before the quarrel started. Now each time she has a message for me she sends this young girl who by my estimation is barely twenty. I know my mother like the hunger in my stomach. She wants to set me up. It would have been discourteous for me to embarrass the girl so I instructed the receptionist always to take whatever message she might have for me. I don’t even want to know her name. Apart from the fact that I think the girl is too young, I could never like anybody who shares even the remotest similarity with my mother. I figure that if my mother likes her they must have something in common. That would be a tragedy of gargantuan proportions. I do not share my father’s resilient genes so I will tread lightly and not hurt myself.

At the end of the day, I’ll be dog tired and so I might dream. Perhaps I’ll dream of Adika or of Husna; of Adika with Husna’s face or vice versa; of the Lebanese lady I x-rayed today with pretty breasts or of flying which scares me; of sex or of beating up a lawyer; of death or of not showing up for my own wedding. Whatever it is though, I know I’ll wake up tomorrow searching my head in vain for all the lost details.

Friday, December 20, 2013


You should have known this when you walked through security with the hundreds of others like nomads ambling through lush fields, looking mostly alike in dark suits and ties and dark dresses. Your phone went off as soon as you crossed the huge foyer into the hall where the award ceremony was going to take place. The foyer made you feel like you were standing in a huge concrete silo with eyes of presidents, dead and living, staring down at you. You should have known then, that the devil lurked in the silver trays.

Several times they moved you. You were either sitting on a table reserved for Special Advisers or Ministers. They moved you until you got to the very last table on the front row, away from the TV Cameras, but close enough to the stage to see your friends being honoured by their peers.

Finally, you thought, you were going to see what type of food was going to be served in this place where the President claimed it would cost almost a billion to feed guests in one year.

Several times you wanted to smack the MC who made desperate, distasteful attempts at making jokes, observing with annoyance how the male honorees were 'smart' or 'achievers' or 'mentors' but the female honorees were 'lovely' or 'beautiful'.  You hoped that at least one of the women who got up to speak would object to being described like part of the hall decoration. Not even the Finance Minister in reference to whom he made the silly statement ‘sometimes big things come in small packages’.

You wished you were on the same table as the embattled Aviation Minister who looked visibly weighed down by what you wanted to believe was the heavy and widely publicized corruption scandal. She looked like a fish out of water among the other Ministers who got up to exchange greetings with each other, with the Finance Minister who appeared to be the head of the pack and to greet the Vice President when he finally arrived. If they let you share a table you would have asked her about those cars, the ones that cost 255 million. Or not.

You were torn between filling up your plate to take care of the five-hour old hunger you’d had since entering this room and appearing like a glutton who came to Aso Rock to eat. If you weren’t so hungry, you probably would have just had the fruits on the table and gone away feeling self-righteous. But you told yourself, it was your money, and anyone who kept you in a hall for that many hours should feed you. So you had the fish. And the snails, well, one snail. And the pepper soup. And some cucumbers to give your body the illusion of eating healthy.

When you refused to get up when the Vice President got up, you were glad that those on your table didn’t make you feel bad. You all agreed with your eyes that you were there, but not there. You were all attending a dinner but not dining with these guys who oversee the unfortunate situation that is Nigeria. All three of you sat there, getting up only for the National Anthem, eating freely the grapes and peaches and apples on the table.

And when the backlash came on the internet, accusing the young organizers of hobnobbing with the corrupt government by allowing their event to be hosted by the hugely unpopular President, your mind went straight to the food. You should have gone back for a second serving if, by just attending an event at the Presidential Villa, people would forget the many times you were almost shot by policemen, the anti-corruption protests you have taken part in and helped organize and your near daily criticism of government impropriety and accuse you of selling out. It was the snails you thought of when someone made a silly remark about you being a traitor. You should have had more snails dammit.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


I have never had anal sex with a man. It feels like something has left me as I say this- the only way I can define myself- when during an argument about whether a man who has anal sex with a woman can truly be said to be straight, I was put on the spot about my sexuality. I had never thought in those terms. I had always taken it for granted that I knew what it meant when people said they were straight, gay or bisexual. But to have to define myself in an argument with acquaintances was strange for me. I have somehow always avoided it- not the subject but any personal definition of my sexuality. And I realize now that that is all I can say: I cannot give a definition beyond whom I have or have not had penetrative sex with. 

These days I have been thinking of labels of sexuality. The relentless groupings and re-groupings of individuals based on what type of sex they have and with whom.  The assumptions that follow such labels and how it can be that a person is defined by what type of sex they have. 

I have wondered if sexuality is fixed or if it is a continuum- a scale with well oiled wheels. Are people are always either this or that-  gay or straight or bisexual? How well do labels work? Do they work? Can one be one way for one reason and with one person and another way with others? What is the enduring value of the labels, straight or gay or bisexual? Are labels a cultural thing, valid for some and invalid for others?

In an essay in the American literary journal, The Sun, of November 2012 titled 'Easily Led',  Gillian Kendall writes of her life as a lesbian:
"On the train in 2011, heading north and east through the rain swept counties to see Nelson, I noted in my journal that I hadn't had sex with a man in eighteen years, not since I declared my romantic allegiance to women. I guessed that with any man except [Nelson] it would be:
   'sort of deadish- lacking that aliveness and tenderness and mysterious  excitement of being with a woman. But with him it will be - if it is at all- familiar in some ways and, I think, exciting. I would like for a change that my partners excitement is leading me. I'd like to be the object of desire instead of, or as well as, the co-instigator. I want him to lead - even though I remember that men always, always go too fast. But, hey, at sixty-eight maybe he'll have slowed to a lesbian's pace. Or MY pace. Am I still a lesbian?' "

After the conversation mentioned in the opening, the questions which loomed large in my mind were: Am I truly any of these: straight, gay, bisexual? Do I even know what these fixed notions of sexuality mean or think in those terms? Or do I just love as I go, for different reasons, in different ways, with different people?

More than my being unsure about these classifications, perhaps it is the case that I am unwilling to be so classified. At the heart of the matter is the social construction of what it means to be attached to any of these groupings. For ‘straight’ men, especially straight black men, it borders on the forbidden to publicly confess that another man is physically appealing, whether this is said in a sexual way or not, just as a straight man is not supposed to behave ‘like a woman’. I like to think that I am more than my sexual preferences. 

There is also the cultural application of labels. Sexuality has not always been a part of most people's identity. Historically, for example, ancient Greece and Rome did not have labels of sexuality, whether homosexual or heterosexual. Some historians have argued that then, both (young) men and women were considered objects of desire (for men). More recently labels have taken on great significance. The reasons for this is not the subject of this article. However even now, as prevalent as sexuality-as-a-part-of-core-identity is, not every culture has sexuality as a stated component of identity. (Of course some of this is as a result of widespread homophobia.)

I once saw in a British Council job application form a section for ‘sexual orientation’. Applicants for that job were supposed to tick a box indicating if they were gay, straight or bi. This troubled me then as it troubles me now. Thinking about it a bit more, I understand the 'equal opportunity' issues and that perhaps the intentions were not entirely negative. But I cannot help feeling that there is something worrying about having this on a form. Chances are that if I were to apply for that job I would not know what box to tick, not because I am confused about my sexuality or questioning it but because I do not understand why I have to be domiciled in any of those boxes. Or why anyone should be made to declare their sexuality while applying for a job.

I do understand however that human sexuality classifications and the attendant discrimination against 'deviant' sexuality are real and becoming more and more important in today's world. Thus, and perhaps also as some form of reaction to increasing homophobia, it is becoming more important to believers of human rights that persons are able to identify as being of an alternative sexuality (involving, of course, consensual sex with persons capable of giving consent) without fear of violent attacks or any form of social prejudice.

My thoughts on the issue of sexuality and sexual identity as it plays out in social interaction are far from resolved. But my answer to the question, ‘Are you straight, bi or gay?’ is very simple. I don’t know. I don’t care. And neither should you.