Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Something tells you today is not a good day. You are in at a few minutes past nine as usual and don’t expect your boss in until about ten or eleven. You wonder how long you will have to practice Law like this – N35,000 a month, in Abuja, nine to five or six or seven or whenever the boss feels it is okay to let you go home. You wish you had more precedents and templates in the office. Those guys at the university, and Law School, they lied to you, evil people – they taught you how to be proud and look down on other professions but not that you would have to endure years of slavery to a senior colleague who while paying you next to nothing would demand sweat and blood from you. They didn’t tell you to warn your relatives and younger siblings that they should expect no contribution to the family from you, at least for the first few years of slavery as a lawyer. You hate them now, those Law School people and how they made everything look like heaven, when they should have given you the manual for hell. Three years at the bar and you still can’t prove to your girlfriend of five years that you are ‘serious’; you still take hot cabs to and from courts, the Corporate Affairs Commission and the Abuja Geographical Information System (AGIS), still take many drops to your home in Mararaba, outside the city.

This High Court sits at 10am. Or whenever the judge saunters in. As is typical on court days, the boss appears on edge and slightly hyperactive. You stay out of his way and make sure to never take your eyes off him in case he wants a book or a file or just wants to send you to get something from his really expensive car.
 At 12, the registrar tells you the judge had to attend the second burial of his wife’s favourite stepmother. Or something like that. 
Your boss tells you to go to the Ministry of Commerce to follow up a client’s job. He drives off in the air-conditioned car. You know he will stop at the expensive Biobak Restaurant before going back to the office.

You have been depressed since yesterday when you saw your classmates Musa and Jacob both parked by the road in front of the Corporate Affairs Commission, laughing loudly, exaggeratedly, and jiggling their car keys as they caught up. You wanted to avoid them, but the cab chose that exact spot to stop. Jacob told you he works for a bank in Wuse 2 and Musa you know does nothing but register companies and go to police stations to arrange bail for suspected criminals. Musa has done it so much he knows all the policemen in Abuja by name and how much to pay to release his clients on bail. 
You can hear your boss screaming on the phone to the secretary Njideka-- a girl from his wife’s clan, the only person he trusts to deal with his raw cash. “Njide! If you don’t see the man wait o! When you get there, kpoo the man! Don’t come back here if you don’t see him o!”

Why do bad things happen to good people?

You oversleep and forget that today’s important case is in one of the few high courts that sit at exactly 9am. The Boss has travelled to attend the wedding of the daughter of his Local Government Chairman in Enugu. By the time you have taken a motor bike to the road, and sat in the bus through Maraba traffic, it is 9.05 and you are sweating. And you have to get the files from the office in Jabi before heading out to the court in Maitama. You do not take his calls when your boss calls to find out if you are there already. You try to call the lawyer on the other side but does not take your calls. 
When you get to court at 9.50, they have already called your case and you learn the other lawyer has already gotten an adjournment and cost against you for not showing up in a matter you instituted. 
You know the boss will kill you. He calls and tells you that apart from being useless, it is clear you will never amount to anything unless you stop this ‘unacceptable sloppiness’. He threatens to fire you. You kiss your teeth. You do not realise that you did it until he screams: “Are you hissing at me?” And now you are tired, angry, and smelly (because you rushed out without using deodorant). You do not deny it. You just remain quiet on the phone when he asks, “have you suddenly gone dumb?”

You break up with your girlfriend of five years because she was angry you didn’t show up for the movie at Ceddi Plaza yesterday evening and didn’t even ‘have the courtesy to call.’ You break up by text.

Your neighbour, Papa Ngozi, after returning from church in the afternoon is happy that the advice you gave him last week about the land he was trying to buy in Nassarawa saved him from paying money to fraudsters. He says he knocked your door “severally” yesterday. You didn’t answer because you locked your door to think of everything but killing yourself. He insists on buying you drinks in the evening even though you don’t want to leave your cramped studio apartment. 
A free drink never killed anyone. 
You both keep drinking until your voices are the loudest in this restaurant “Food Is Ready” which turns into a bar in the evenings. Until Papa Ngozi starts saying “call me Izuchukwu or Izu, are we not friends now?” again and again and tells everybody how you saved him from 419ners in Nassarawa. You know you are drunk when you find yourself calling him Izu and slapping his back when he says something funny.

You wake up at 9.30am.


You have a deadline. Two deadlines. Basically, your salary for next month. You have procrastinated and now there is just one night before you get that call that will make you seem so sloppy. Your client will ask if you really want to do the job. Worse, the client may ask if you really can do the job.

That will totally break you. Rip your ego to shreds and feed it to flea-infested stray dogs. The suggestion that you are somehow incapable of delivering will simply kill you. But you are used to it, have developed a pattern on working on the last night of your deadline and producing top notch work. Every time you fret and get cramps from worrying, but every time, you deliver.

You have had four beers. You had to see Dinma, your girlfriend from university who you treated very horribly but called to tell you recently that she had forgiven you. She was in Abuja for one night and needed to see you and talk. For closure, she said. You couldn’t even remember exactly what you did four years ago. You agreed to meet over fish and chips in Wuse II.
You almost didn’t recognise her. It was the mole on her face that saved you from embarrassment. Her slim waist and limbs had succumbed to what she called ‘life and too much junk food’. She now wore a leg chain and had a tattoo on her shoulder-- some Chinese inscription you didn’t care to ask about. She made you sit through two hours of detail. How you left her in your room off campus and didn’t come back for two days. How you didn’t call or text. How you switched off your phone when she tried to call. How she later found out from Joe that you were with Hadiza and had gone off with her to Kaduna to spend the night. How when she told you she was pregnant, you had the guts to ask her who the father was.
You took drink after drink as she spoke. Some of the facts weren’t exactly as you remembered them, but the memory was too hazy to argue. You especially couldn’t remember suggesting she swallow that magic pill that washes away early pregnancies, disintegrating it into blood. You only remember that she had to go home for almost three weeks when she wouldn’t stop bleeding. The beers weren’t helping.

Dinma sends you many long text messages. To say she got home safe to her sister’s house in Life Camp. To say she feels better now. She forgives you. She forgives herself. She needed this to move on. She had even tried being a lesbian because she hated men so much. She forgot to tell you she is getting married in December. It isn’t an invitation.

You can’t work. You have to sleep these beers off a bit and wake up early to work. Now you think you should have just worked and not gone to see Dinma. Your entire June salary is at stake.

You think, being a freelancer sucks. You miss the traumatic days of screaming bosses but assured salaries.

On second thought, you love your job. You no longer hate Mondays, and that is a damn good thing.

Electricity goes off. All three of your neighbours put on their generators. The biggest, noisiest one is right by your window which you always keep open for ventilation.

Electricity returns.

You start to doze off a bit.

Electricity goes off again. You get up to drink water. The frost in your fridge has melted and refroze and has started melting again. The freezer is now a smooth slippery layer of ice. You prefer the frost. It makes you think of snow. And in a weird way, although you have never actually seen snow, thinking of it calms you, makes you happy.

The neighbour with the noisy generator tries to turn it on. He tries many times. You are becoming happier with each try. You wish it won’t start.

Your wishes are worth nothing. The generator comes on. You lie awake, in the dark. Unable to sleep. Unable to work.

You fall asleep just after the muezzin next door sings his call to prayer. Just after your neighbour turns off his noisy generator.

You phone rings, waking you up. ‘Are you still sleeping?’ your client asks. ‘How far with the job?’ You sound like a bumbling idiot when you just wake up. You also cannot lie during that period. You admit ‘you haven’t even started’. The client is upset and drops the call. You lie back down.

You wake up with a start realising what you just told the client. You jump up, take your laptop, hoping it charged a bit while you were sleeping. A text comes in. ‘Should I find another person for the job?’ You stop scrambling. And grit your teeth.

It is clear in your mind what you must do. The next time this generator stays on all night. Find the fuel tank of that generator. And pour copiously. At least one bottle of water.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


Because I Care #15

I have told people time and time again. There is a difference between superstition and respect for the supernatural. They are very different. Superstition is baseless. Respect for the supernatural is borne out of careful consideration of consequences, some of which may not be fully or immediately understood. Superstition is thinking that if you sweep at night evil spirits will be angry or that casting a vote for Chris Okotie will somehow help the Jerry-curled man win the Presidential elections. Respect for the supernatural is calling someone like Obasanjo and begging him to explain to us how and why he did it- hoodwink us into accepting his dangerous handover package. Also, respect for the supernatural means you will not deliberately invite troublesome spirits by naming your town Woolwich. Otherwise how else can you explain that a certain British Micheal with a Nigerian last name went out into the street and used a meat cleaver to slaughter a 25 year old British soldier in broad daylight. Then waiting for the police to arrest him. I tell you it is all in the name of that town. He couldn’t have tried it in any respectfully named town in Nigeria. Not the killing I mean. The waiting-to-be-arrested part. Because surely he would have been given a taste of any one of the two brands of made-in-Nigeria street justice: that given by our security forces or by good old angry civilian Nigerians. What was wrong in just naming the town Wool? I can never understand the British.

So this week I changed my mind about a certain running mate people have been pressuring me to consider. First, the man wears glasses. You must forgive me but I have something against people who wear them. I am not sure I can trust someone who sees the world different from the rest of us. Then the man went and proposed something silly in the state where he currently serves as governor. Babatunde Fashola wants to ban girls from wearing hijabs in public schools. Is that what he wants to do when he becomes Vice President under me? I don’t understand it. First look at the health implications of making all those girls come to schools with their hair uncovered. That is why cooks must cover their hair when cooking. I had very limited call credit this week otherwise I would have placed a call and asked him how the hijab hurts him or the people of Lagos. He thinks the hijab is like a bracelet or costume that you can just tell people to take off. Asking a woman for whom Islam is a way of life and identity to remove her hijab is like asking someone who has tribal marks not to come to school with their tribal marks. Or even asking someone with prescription glasses not to wear them to school. How would Babatunde feel if I asked him as Vice President not to come to work with his glasses? I am dropping him from my list of potential running mates. I have never liked lawyers anyway.

Chinua Achebe was laid to rest this week amidst much fanfare. Following a suggestion by my friend Tolu Ogunlesi, I can bet the 8,500 naira in my account that Soyinka is having an emergency meeting with his lawyers to include in his will what and who he does not want at his funeral. Especially the kind of people he does not want making speeches over his coffin.

I saw Rotimi Amaechi’s photo in the papers this week and by god he has grown lean! After those women started wearing ‘Amaechi Must Go’ t-shirts in Port Harcourt he must have stopped eating, suddenly realising that Jonathan means business. Amaechi should look within himself and ask what he did to the president. It may not be what he thinks. Did he shake the first lady too long? Did dust enter his eye and make him inadvertently wink at the Dame at a public function? These are important questions for him to ponder. Especially now that he has gotten re-elected as Governors Forum Chairman, I am genuinely worried about his health.

Ps. I attended the first general event marking Achebe’s final transition on Monday this week. I met two persons. Ogbonnaya Onu, former governor of Anambra and current Chairman of the All Nigeria Peoples Party. And Peter Obi, the current governor of Anambra. The difference between these two men is clear. While Onu sauntered into the room in regal fashion, like a proud peacock with more gun totting security men than was necessary and a convoy of four cars waiting outside, Peter Obi walked in quietly with Achebe’s first son and chose to sit among the crowd for about 30 minutes so as not to interrupt the speaker. I did not see gun totting men around Peter Obi. He even pleaded with people to stop photographing him and focus on the lecture going on. When Mr Onu was leaving, and the siren of the pilot car blared to clear the way, he could have been any corrupt ruling party politician. So much for our ‘opposition’.

Ps 2. This week, in a lecture organised by the Ikeja branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, Malam Nasir El-rufai, bemoaning the high unemployment in Nigeria, declared that even with his connections, two of his daughters who had Masters degrees have been jobless for about a year now. I am worried for his daughters. Sadly, I do not make enough to hire now. All I can say is, if they can be patient until 2015 when I become President, surely, something will happen. Because, I care.

Ps. 3 I hope the Nigerian Army is observing how their erstwhile colonial masters are handling the 'terrorist' slaughtering of a British serviceman in broad daylight. The Brits did not unleash their army in reprisal killings in Woolwich. Just saying.

Ps. 4. Femi Fani Kayode needs to stop taking whatever it is he takes. Or go off Twitter and spend more time with his kids. Just saying.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


*Because I Care series #13

Let me go straight into the heart of the matter: Every strong man needs an enforcer. Whether he is a drug dealer, a pimp, leader of a gang, or a president. Without an enforcer you can be made to look like a weakling in front of your children, your followers, or worse, your lovers. Again, once a strong man has become a strong man, there are certain little things that are beneath him. Like opening his car door. Like attacking, punishing or threatening rivals. So I refuse to begrudge Goodluck Jonathan his friendship with Alhaji Asari Dokubo, who said last week that 'the current insecurity and tension in the country would be child’s play if President Goodluck Jonathan fails to win a second term in 2015', and more recently, that if he was arrested, Nigeria will be ‘history’. 

(I quite like Asari’s beard. Over the past two months I have tried to keep a beard like that in vain. I am simply not hairy enough. And my parents taught me, that when a man is better than you at something, the mature thing to do is to concede with a smile. I concede that Asari has better hair than I have.)

I do not have a problem with Asari beating war drums in Abuja. You do not stop a horse from eating grass or a dog from barking. What I have a problem with is that some people, journalists included, insist on calling him an ex-militant. What is the ‘ex’ about? For almost two years now, you can say I have been an ex-lawyer. Now the smartasses reading this will shake their heads vigorously and say, no, your name is still on the roll of the Supreme Court bla bla bla. But the thing is, I will not return to my wig and gown for any reason, not even if my neighbour's wife slaps me or if I come back to find that my bitter ex-partner has set fire to my personal effects. 

Also, I have an ex-crush on the singer Adele. Even if she leaves that hairy Simon Konecki, gives up her baby for adoption and loses weight, I can't crush on her again. Old things have passed away and I have a new crush. Another example: Wikipedia describes the OPC as a ‘militant Yoruba nationalist organization’.  So, Kayode Ogundamisi who was its former Secretary General and left the OPC many years ago may be called an ex-militant. You will not hear him invoking the name of the OPC no matter how angry he is with the Federal Government and trust me, he is very often, very angry with the government. He is now peacefully running NGO’s in London. Good man. 

Thus, as far as I am concerned, the only acceptable job description of the hairy man (who also recently announced his new citizenship of Benin Republic) is this: Asari Dokubo is a militant currently on sabbatical with the Federal Government.

I am however worried about Asari’s lack of flexibility. He is limiting his options by insisting on Jonathan alone. I really want to work with him when I get to power. All I want is for him to amend his statement to read:
“I want to go on to say that, there will be no peace, not only in the Niger Delta, but everywhere if Goodluck Jonathan, or the younger, cooler Elnathan John, is not president, by 2015.”

This suggestion is for Asari’s own good. I will hate to see him without a job, come 2015 when I take over from his current boss.
This week I read of the new National Civil Aviation Policy 2013 which says inter alia, that “for private aircraft owned or leased by individuals, only the family members of the owner/lessee of the aircraft will be permitted on board as passengers.” Since then, I have been calling my relatives to establish if there is blood tie between our family and any of the cool, billionaire, jet-owning Nigerians. Sadly, there is no billionaire in my family and neither have the women in my family had the good sense to marry some. The closest I hear we have to a big man is Senator Isaiah Balat, who is somehow related to my mum. And he neither knows me personally nor owns a private jet. I seriously worry about the financial and social status of my entire extended family. 

I have a few questions though. How is ‘family member’ defined? Does this include lovers? Because I am sure there must be nice female private-jet owners I can befriend. 

Ps. Why is it so easy to kill our police officers in large numbers? This week, Ombatse traditionalists in Nassarawa State killed and burnt between 23 and 95 police officers, depending on who you ask. Just like that. More worrying is the report I read containing the claim by an Ombatse traditionalist that they used just knives and cutlasses. Not guns.

Ps. 2. So, I woke up on Friday to find that, (whether due to a virus on her phone, touch screen error, mistaken identity or simply a long night out with the wrong kind of friends and drinks) Rita Dominic of Nollywood started following me on Twitter. At the time of publication, the lovely Nollywood star had not yet realized her error. I have thought deeply about the larger implications of this and the consequences thereof:
  1. Since I follow her too, I can send her a Direct Message. This can lead to chats, phone calls, a meeting and even drinks.
  2. The probability of playing a role in a Nigerian movie before I become president, albeit waka-pass-ish, is now higher. This will make me like Ronald Reagan. God is good.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


“Nobody ever calls me,” Sumbo sighs, pleasantly surprised at your call. It is a Sunday and you have no deadlines or readings or dinners or dates. It is not that you do not have them, but you have decided not to respond to any of the many emails or texts inviting you to something in some bar or lounge or mall or hotel. Today, you feel like something has left you. You feel breathless after having spent the last two years burrowing deep through damp city-earth, searching, digging, moving, because that is what city people do—they do not stop moving.
You think of the last time you called anyone. Apart from your mum who doesn’t have a Blackberry or email or Facebook or Twitter you haven’t had phone conversations longer than two minutes in a long time. Maybe six months. These days you are irritated when someone chooses to call you instead of just send you a message. It interrupts the myriad online platforms where you have yourself spread out, thin, doing business, making appointments, engaging in debates and fights, sharing the things you wouldn’t tell your best friend Tricia who lives far away and is slowly becoming someone you just know.

You over share, compulsively, on Twitter and on Facebook; it feels like a duty, almost de rigeur, to talk about your new hair dresser, your bad internet connection, friends that hurt you, relationship advice you just Googled, the heat. Your fecundity is at its sharpest here, where nothing is real but the buttons that you press and the screens that you touch.

It used to threaten to give you a hernia when you first came to Abuja and saw that people sat in rooms heads bowed into their devices like they were all saying prayers, when you saw people out on a date, both smiling, but at different things on the screens of their phones or iPads. You would walk away angrily if you were talking to someone and they replied you without lifting their heads up.

Ill-mannered people in a cold lifeless city is what you told Tricia when you spoke, daily, giving her updates on shocking scandals, the lesbians that won’t let you be, the men you think are insincere, the money situation, your date at the Hilton where you saw a drink that cost nearly N2 million. You talked about the drink for nearly two weeks, amazed at the expression of vulgarity that was a N1.8million drink. Some days the city depressed you and she sighed along with you when you would say nothing for 10 minutes on the phone.

Tricia came yesterday, en route Accra where her mother lives with her stepfather. You said you would meet her but things kept coming up until your Blackberry battery ran out and she couldn’t reach you. You didn’t have your charger, so you rushed to Silverbird Galleria to use the charging machines and have a drink. Her message was the first to come in when you switched back on one hour after. She sent you the address of her hotel. She wished she could have stayed with you but couldn’t reach you. She hoped you could meet, even briefly, because she hadn’t seen you in one year and she didn’t know how long she would be in Accra for.

It was almost 10 o’clock when you saw Tricia. It felt awkward the way she looked into your eyes after she hugged you, a bit reservedly. Her eyes bored holes in your soul and you looked away while she asked you questions about everything. “You look tired,” she said, when you yawned the third time and you admitted that you’d had a long torturous day, didn’t have much sleep the night before but was so so glad you could see her. She said she had lunch with Sumbo. You had almost forgotten that Sumbo was a mutual friend. After yawning again, you wish her a safe flight and say you really really have to go home and sleep.
“Tricia was a bit disappointed she couldn’t spend time with you,’ Sumbo says.
“Yeah, I know, I was a bit busy.”
“She feels a bit let down. Said, Abuja changes people.”
You sigh and go quiet. She can feel your discomfort. She clears her throat and asks if you have watched the new Iron Man 3.

Saturday, May 4, 2013


Because I Care series #12

This world is not a fair place. People are born into poverty, war, oppression and slavery. The Nigerian Army keeps getting away with massacres. Banky W is bald and condemned to a life of cap-wearing. Robert Mugabe has a full head of hair. Kim Kardashian is rich and famous. I don’t have an Irish lover. Yet. And Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign posters for 2015 are out. Again.

Each of the things mentioned above give me a hernia, but the worst, by far, is the last: Goodluck Jonathan’s posters. Now I see where your mind might be going. You are nodding, thinking, how dare he condemn this country to another four years of instability, corruption and impunity. You are thinking of things like his bungling of the entire fuel subsidy issue and how long after, the things that were promised to cushion the blow of the fuel price increase are nowhere to be found. You are thinking of the pardon of corrupt politicians and how militants are now our security consultants. I am sorry but you are wrong. These things are the rumours of Goodluck’s detractors and I refuse to be associated with that kind of thing. There are two major reasons why I am sad that Goodluck Jonathan’s posters are out.

1. It is an unfair headstart. In any sport, whether sprinting or swimming, it is important that the contestants begin at the same time. Contestants who show no respect for this rule are usually disqualified. Jonathan’s early start feels like a footballer kicking the ball into the opponents’ net while they are on the side of the pitch warming up. Surely this is wrong. President Jonathan should have waited for all of us contestants to get ready, identify good photo studios and cheap but decent printers. More crucially, the president should have formed a committee of contestants who would meet and decide on whether we should allow coloured posters or only black and white, the size of posters to be allowed, if it will be allowed to use Photoshop to hide shaving bumps, tribal marks and birth defects- important details like that.
2. I totally misread his body language. I thought that he would be a gentleman and allow a real youth to take over. I know that the PDP’s youth leaders are typically between 50 and 60, but I just googled our life expectancy (I love google! More Nigerian politicians should use it) and as at 2012, it was 47 years. Goodluck Jonathan is 55. This means that he should be doing thanksgiving services for the eight extra years he has lived and for every other year after that, instead of contesting again. It beats me that he hasn’t figured this out. I thought he had. I really thought he had.
In spite of all of these, however, it is my fervent belief that I will overcome.

Last week Friday, Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s private plane was temporarily prevented from leaving the Akure airport. A journalist kept asking my opinion about this, ad nauseam and I snapped at him saying: “My opinion is simple. I don’t care.” I have since calmed down. I don’t think it is politics at all. They simply asked Amaechi to declare the flight manifest. He refused and they stopped him from flying. What is wrong with wanting to know who is on the plane? Just reminds me of my neighbour who was slapped and ended up spending days in a police cell because he couldn’t answer a simple question by the policeman: Wetin dey your bag? He argued and as they dragged the bag, the policeman fell flat on the floor. A slap from the policeman followed. And the rest, as they say, is history we all can never forget. Rotimi is stubborn. He should have just declared who he was flying with. Now we will look at the manifest critically ask questions about the young lady he was flying with.

Ps. As I prepared this article, I read about the attack on Marte Local Government near Baga in Borno State by gunmen in over 50 Hilux 4-wheel drive vehicles. I am stunned. How 50 Hilux vans could escape security agents in a war zone beats me.

Ps. 2. I am shameless in my love for the Irish. Not the good Ireland. The bad one. The guys Thatcher called terrorists. I learnt the difference between Belfast and Dublin: the accents, the dominant denominations, which ones were cooler. The Irish Republican Army made a grand entry into my impressionable mind through movies with smooth talking, rough-and-sexy, dark-eyed militants, fighting for a united Ireland. So I didn’t like Thatcher. And I dreamed of having an Irish lover. On May 1st, the two-week European Film Festival opened at the Silverbird Galleria in Abuja with the Irish movie, ‘The Guard’. I could not resist. Even though the (amazing) movie turned out to be about the good Ireland and the ambassador who sat just to my left in the cinema was of the Republic of Ireland, I experienced excitement of gargantuan proportions. That’s how much I love the Irish.