Sunday, June 21, 2015


The past week has been hard for me. Many things have happened that have required a strong response from African intellectuals all around the world. Things like Greece thinking of leaving the Euro zone (and becoming a poor, third world country, and cheap holiday resort for Germans), like white Rachel Dolezal colouring herself brown at the age of five and reading Baratunde Thurstons’s “How To Be Black” and emerging from white ashes to become a black woman, like America donating 5 million dollars to Nigeria to fight Boko Haram (yes 5 million not 5 billion), like the president of Sudan, Al-Bashir leaving South Africa in spite of a court order stating that he must not leave the country before a warrant for his arrest was considered. 

Many Africans have gone head to head and ended up insulting each other because of differing positions. I think there should be a weekly meeting of Africans online to decide what our position on global issues will be. 

Let us take the case of the Sudanese president for example. Some Africans were of the opinion that Omar al-Bashir should have been handed over to the ICC to face the music for war crimes in his country. They made passionate arguments about how he allegedly killed hundreds thousands of people and should be locked away for good. They called him a war criminal and demanded justice. They urged the South African government to respect the court order preventing him from leaving the country. But somehow, after shopping, Bashir drove to the airport and left. I don't know what he bought. Maybe he bought some Jack Daniels which I hear is hard to find in Khartoum. Or maybe some good chocolate and designer wristwatches for his wives. In Hausa we say, zato zunubi ne. Assumption is a sin. It is Ramadan. I will not sin. 

Now, there are other Africans who loved the fact that the South African government bumped fists with al-Bashir and told him he could shop and leave whenever he wanted. They complained about the ICC and the West being selective about the application of international justice. They cited the cases of George Bush and the American government who, knowing there were no weapons of mass destruction, invaded Iraq and turned the country into the mess it is in today. They said that we do not need white people telling us what we can or cannot do. That we do not need white people enforcing justice in Africa. That it is disrespectful for the South African government to invite al-Bashir and then turn around and arrest him just because white people said so. 

The arguments made me dizzy. Respected African intellectuals were on different sides of the debate. And me, I had made a resolution in 2015 not to take part in these kinds of arguments. I have resolved to make peace with all persons. So I watched as people quarrelled. Black people. This is what got to me. White people weren't fighting. White people always know what they want. For example, look at how the white media in America unitedly showed empathy for Dylann Roof, the white terrorist who killed 9 black people in a Charleston church. They told us that he was troubled, that his father was mean, that he was so thoughtful he almost didn't go through with it because everyone was so nice, that his sister had to cancel her wedding because of his murders, that he was taking medication that could have made him go crazy. They humanised him. If it was Africans, we would have been insulting each other on Twitter. This is why I think we should resolve things in-house. That way white people won’t see how divided we are and won’t know that it is easy to divide and rule us. 

That is why I am happy about the Rachel Dolezal story - the woman who took tips from books and the internet and successfully became black for over a decade. We were united there. We came out en masse to condemn Rachel for pretending to be black. She had perfected her scam so much that she became a prominent black voice. And when she was interviewed after she was caught, she said that she had begun identifying as black from the age of five when she started colouring herself with brown crayons. (A crayon can do great things I tell you.) As black people we were united in our condemnation for this now ex white woman. We wanted to throw her down a tall building because she had desecrated our blackness and made it a joke. I prefer knowing what our position is. 

There is at least one position I wish we could take. Like when the United States of America thought it was necessary to put out a message correcting the news that they had donated 5 billion dollars to help us fight Boko Haram. They said that what they promised was only 5 million dollars. Someone should give America a few tips about donations in Nigeria. In Nigeria, when you are making a tiny donation, you do not come out in front and take a microphone to announce your donation. You roll the money in your palm and sneak it into the palm of the person you want to give. The only persons allowed to use the microphone are those making huge donations. You may think 5 million dollars is huge, but when you remember that Nigeria is spending 43 million dollars on clothes for just 469 members of the National Assembly, 5 million is chicken change. America should have secretly called Buhari and squeezed the check into his hand. That is how we do it. I hope someone from the American government is reading this and will take correction. God bless them as they do.

Saturday, June 13, 2015


Let me start by saying that I love the 8th National Assembly. It fills one with so much hope just seeing the new set of Senators and members of the House of Representatives who will be in charge of assisting President Buhari take this country to greatness.

Once I saw people like Senators Ahmed Sani Yerima and Dino Melaye, I knew Nigeria would never be the same again. They say God works in mysterious ways and I do not know what we did as Nigerians to deserve this gift. As if it was not enough that he ordained General Buhari and Professor Yemi Osinbajo, he also by the same electoral process gave us agile men and women in the legislature. How do I know they are agile? Take Senator Yerima for example. He may have exceeded the Nigerian life expectancy of about 52 years, but the fact that he is still able to satisfy his teenage wives at is a clear sign than this 55 year old man is not afraid of hard work. We all know how energetic teenagers can be, especially when they are between 13 and 16. 

It is no surprise then, that the man responsible for nominating the man who eventually emerged as our new Senate President was no less a personality than Senator Sani Yerima.  He will look back on his career one day and say to himself: I nominated the third most powerful Nigerian politician. Good for him! I want to be like Senator Yerima when I grow up.

The selection of the principal officers of the National Assembly was not without drama. In what some have suggested was a revolt against the omnipresent Lion of Bourdillon and Asiwaju of the Universe, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, many members of the APC decided to form a coalition with the PDP and elect persons other than those agreed upon by the APC in a prior meeting.

I think Buhari deserves credit for the boldness and independence of the legislature. Since he pronounced “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody”, Nigerians everywhere seem to have been trying hard to put this into action in their lives. That is what a good leader does: inspire people to action. This is the change we have all been yearning for.

Following what was considered a defeat for her husband, Senator Oluremi Tinubu, as the oath of office and allegiance was being administered, refused to shake hands with one of the architects of that defeat, Bukola Saraki. I totally support her. Why would Bukola Saraki try to shake her? That is like the winner at a World Cup final forcing the members of the losing team to do a victory lap with them. People should be allowed to mourn.

While the APC have been crying over what they call “disloyalty” of their party members in the National Assembly, I think there are certain advantages.

One advantage is that this new arrangement, which has seen some at least one major legislative member of the opposition PDP return to power, has contributed to preventing brain drain. Let me explain. You remember how before the elections, Chief Bode George of Lagos threatened to go on exile if APC won at the federal level? Like many Nigerians, when APC eventually won the elections at the federal level, I worried about Nigeria losing an important personality like Bode George. What would Lagos and Nigeria be without people like him? So when I heard he was (still) in Lagos rejoicing about the National Assembly elections, I was elated. This gives me hope that he will stay. And that I think is a wonderful thing. We cannot afford to be losing our best minds to other countries.

Also, it has contributed to the enrichment of our political lingua. Before now there was the danger that people in Nigeria would go through life without ever hearing the words “coalition government” used in reference to Nigeria. Children would be watching CNN or BBC with their parents and when they heard news about a coalition government in say the UK, they would be discombobulated and their parents would have to explain what a coalition government means. In such a situation they would have no local examples and the child would never really get it. But now that we have a coalition government in our legislature, parents can explain to their children using local examples like the PDP-APC merger. I think the National Assembly deserves commendation for this.

I watch the National Assembly with hope and pride, trusting that exemplary persons like Senators David Mark, Stella Oduah, Sani Yerima, Dino Melaye and Ben Murray Bruce will lead our country to the land of milk and honey. Especially people like Senator Ben Murray Bruce who out of the kindness of his heart and love for poor Nigerians, “introduced electric cars into Nigeria” as a way of solving the fuel crisis. His brilliant suggestion that people should abandon fuel queues and ride in electric cars will revolutionize this country. His detractors might ask how this will help a country where almost 100 million people live on less than a dollar a day. But this is what his detractors don’t know: God works in mysterious ways. A worker who earns the 18,000 naira minimum wage can miraculously afford an electric car that costs several million naira. There is nothing the God of Senator Ben Murray Bruce cannot do.