Saturday, September 26, 2015


There was this large slightly dysfunctional family, that had come to prominence in Nigeria right after the British left. They had children of all sorts, big and small, rich and very rich. They took turns selecting the family patriarch and although after each selection a few people grumbled, there was no major conflict. 

Recently however, there was disagreement when the family patriarch started drinking too much bringing in strangers to destroy family property. He started taking bottles of whiskey out of the general bar and into his private room. And then he married a wife who just would not get along with the family members. The uncles who never became patriarchs but determined who did, had a meeting and decided that, although the duration for which this patriarch was supposed to be head of the family had not expired, they were tired of him coming home drunk, falling asleep during family meetings, and his wife quarrelling with everyone. The problem however was that none of the uncles was ready to step in and become patriarch. No one wanted to be the bad guy and upset the balance of things.

They then decided to look for an older uncle who had been for a couple of decades a bit estranged from the family. He had stopped attending family functions and had stopped even getting invitations because they thought he was too uptight, without a sense of humor. He had once been patriarch for a short while but was forced to leave because everybody did not like the angry way he punished the younger family members. The uncles had felt alienated and decided they could not put up with him. But now, with this alcoholic patriarch with a wife who insulted the uncles at will, they decided that life was better with the grumpy former patriarch. 

They met the former patriarch, apologised for everything that had happened in the past and asked him to take over and save the family from humiliation in the community. But they had a caveat: he would have to promise to smile and not be so harsh when dealing with the family members. He had always wanted to be patriarch again. So he struck a deal with the uncles and promised to change. No more harshness, he said. And I will smile a little. 

Everyone tiptoed around the alcoholic patriarch because they thought he would resist being changed. But he didn’t. He took his half empty bottles and said: if you all really don't want me to be patriarch then I will leave. Goodluck with running the family he said as he held his reluctant wife’s hand and walked away. 

When the new patriarch was installed, everyone in the family rejoiced. Well, almost everyone. Those who used to sit with the now former patriarch and drink from dusk until dawn were scared that the new stern patriarch would stop them all from drinking. They were scared he would make them return all the bottles of whiskey under their beds which they took from the general bar in the living room of the family house. 

One of the younger uncles who had quite a few bottles from the bar in his room, was so unruly that the uncles who had brought in this new patriarch decided to discipline him in public. They took him to the local police station to teach him a lesson. Just scare him a little, they told the police chief. You know he is our son. We only want him to change. 

Certain passersby, upon hearing that this younger uncle had taken bottles from the bar to his room foolishly decided to intervene, holding up placards, asking the police to take him straight to jail. Another group of passersby made their own placards and called this persecution. They said the uncles were just trying to harass the younger uncle because he wasn't as loyal to the family patriarch as the others were. 

The uncles who brought this case to the station laughed at these strangers who decided to meddle but did not stop them. It was great fun, they thought, to have everyone think they mattered when in fact this was an internal family matter. They hoped that perhaps with this public humiliation, the unruly younger uncle would come to his senses and they would all go home and be one happy family again. 

“What if we settle and the crowds think we have been fooling them all along?” the new patriarch asked one older uncle.

“No need to worry. They have short attention spans anyway. The snake charmer will soon pass by - he comes every Friday and Sunday - and they will all gather round him and then we can all go home and enjoy some whiskey at the bar.”

The new patriarch nodded and said: “You have a point there.”

Saturday, September 19, 2015


Let me explain the concept of the Supreme Leader using Iran as an example. In Iran, the Supreme Leader is considered the Head of State and is more powerful than the president. The Supreme Leader appoints the heads of many powerful posts in the military, the civil government, and the judiciary. While the president is the face of most of the government, the quiet, legal power behind him is the Supreme Leader. 

Nigeria needs a Supreme Leader. We need a powerful person behind the curtains pulling the strings, someone who will not just hide or deny being the power behind political events, but be recognised by the constitution and respected by all. The reasons for this are many. For one thing, if the law recognises the power behind the curtain, it will stop people from going against the wishes of the Supreme Leader. 

I will use a fictional example. Let us say a person – we will call him Ubunit – is very rich, influential and is the power and money bag behind big political events like say, a change of government. Ubunit will naturally want things to go his way after spending all that money and using his contacts to make things happen and cause the election of people into public office. Ubunit will expect to make recommendations for appointments to key government positions. In Iran, the Supreme Leader cannot be challenged by just anyone. No one can wake up and accuse him of corruption or ask him how he amassed so much wealth. The law makes it possible for him to make official pronouncements and appointments. All you can do is grumble and tell your concerns to God in prayer, expecting that God, who works in mysterious ways will either hasten the Supreme Leader’s journey to heaven or touch his heart to make him change. 

But in the case of the fictional Ubunit, you might have some small boy who, just because he won elections feels he can go against the unofficial Supreme leader. He will challenge Ubunit. He will ignore Ubunit when Ubunit writes down his choices for appointments on a piece of paper. He will squeeze the piece of paper, flush it down the toilet and do the opposite of what is written in it. And because of social media where any idiot can become popular, his supporters will hail him and even insult Ubunit. But you see, Ubunit still has the power. It may take him a while to root out dissidents through ingenious means but he will. The problem however is, once people sees one person challenge the godfather, everyone will want to try challenge him. Once they know it is possible they will poke their fingers in Ubunit’s eye. This is where my suggestion comes in handy. 

I propose we get a Supreme Leadership Authority Council (SLAC) in the constitution. The job of this council will be looking at who the biggest godfather is and appointing him to become Supreme Leader. This Supreme Leader will not have to go through the hassles of politics and face idiots who try to undermine his power. His appointments will not require senate confirmation. In fact the Supreme Leader will select the Senate President and possibly the Vice President, by law. This is to avoid any confusion. Once he does this, his decisions will become binding on all in the country. 

As things are in Nigeria, power belongs to nobody. And this is not very good. Godfathers who should be respected now have to resort to legal means to push dissidents out of office. No godfather should have to use things like the EFCC or the ICPC. It is too stressful. Plus these days everyone has grown wings and can do things like refuse to respond to court summons or even tell EFCC they will respond to an invitation when they feel ready. That is why we have the crises in the national assembly where politicians go against their own party. The Supreme Leader will be required to wear a cap and glasses. There is a kind of respect a person gets when they wear glasses and a cap.  

Back to the fictional example of Ubunit. Ubunit needs protection under law so that the country can run smoothly. As Supreme Leader, he can move around in convoys and not have anyone ask why. He can buy up estates and nobody ask where he got the money from. And he will not have to keep proving his power and clout to young politicians who have no respect. 

With the position of Supreme Leader we can let the president focus on things like security and the economy. Look at Iran. When was the last time you heard they had serious internal political turmoil? That is because they let the Supreme leader decide and not have him hiding behind curtains and making decisions in closed-door meetings. That is because their Supreme Leader does not need to hide. 

We need an Ubunit to become Supreme Leader so that the political crises, especially with the senate leadership will be a thing of the past. I am saying all this because I care. 


Every so often I do this: express my gratitude to all the persons, organizations and institutions who chip in and make Nigeria and Nigerians such a great, great place. Mostly because I was raised properly. I was taught to say please and I’m sorry and most importantly, thank you. So from time to time I update my gratitude.

I would like fellow Nigerians to join me in thanking the people below:

1. The United States of America.
For the accent(s) that our radio presenters try so hard to copy. Nigerian radio would be nothing without them. We love them. God bless America.

2. Harvard University.
For providing spaces for ex-Nigerian government officials to soothe their consciences and (re)write their history. Hundreds of pages of new Nigerian history have resulted from this. We thank them immensely.

Great Britain.
For colonialism, religion and all the other things that have saved us from ourselves. For things like DFID which supports our hospitals and governance even when we can afford to do them ourselves. For the hospitals in England where generations of our elite are born. Like Paddington. For being unobtrusive about their spying (not like America that can’t keep secrets and is hunting its whistleblowers around the world).

4. Switzerland
For helping our leaders keep the funds that managed to disappear from Nigeria. For the wonder that is Sepp Blatter who is living proof that corrupt sit-tight leaders do not have to be black. That is such a relief. Now we no longer have to look for the solution to corruption in our genes. God bless Switzerland.

5. Benin Republic
For the cooks who keep the expatriates in Nigeria nourished as they provide us technical expertise and foreign aid. I attended one expatriate event that they catered and by God those people can cook. God keep them for our foreigners.

6.  India
For not complaining when we partially outsource the health care of our middle class to them. Not everyone can afford to go to Germany the U.S. or England. For Bollywood that provides so much inspiration  and material for our own Kannywood. What would northern Nigerian be without Indian movies?

7. UAE. (Dubai in particular)
For giving our middle class, their wives and mistresses a place to shop. Again, not everyone can go to Paris, New York or London. May their visas keep being easy to get. May their stores never close.

8. South Korea
For the alternatives to the more expensive car brands which help some of our working class Nigerians drive brand new cars. We know they Kia. We Kia too.

9. Israel
For supporting many of our governments over the years, some of them allegedly with spy equipment and arms. May we never quarrel with them. We see what they when their neighbours in Palestine annoy them. May we never annoy them.

10. Ghana.
For not trying too hard to outshine Nigeria even though everyone predicted this would happen. For also allowing their citizens to realise the value of the darkness Nigerians have endured for decades. There is nothing worse than being compared with a sibling who is doing better. God bless Ghana.

11. China
For making us able to afford our own textiles. Or stuff that looks like it. Great job. For the phones that are loud enough to be heard in all the Nigerian noise. We love them!

12. Brazil
For the hair. I don’t need to say too much here. Brazil is just the best. God bless Brazil. May their hair continue to grow healthy.

13. Germany
For Julius Berger. I know that not many people in Germany know this company that works wonders here in Nigeria. But without them where would all our popular bridges be? We thank them for navigating the corrupt space that is Nigeria and finding a way to do business, decade in, decade out.

14. South Africa
For being tough with visas and not letting us flood the place and ruin the most progressive nation in Africa. For not being too friendly and spoiling us as a result. For DSTV which keeps our middle class happy and giving them the things that truly matter: international football and American TV shows and series. Thanks big brother!

15. Europe
For granting all those asylum applications. For the interracial marriages which have given birth to papers and foreign passports. We love them. Always.

16. God
For filling in for the Nigerian government since 1960. In healthcare, safe travels, justice, and consuming our enemies by fire. For helping those who through various means have been helping themselves. For blessing our collective hustle.

Sunday, September 6, 2015


I plan to be president of Nigeria someday. It may take me 15 years in which case I will be pushing 50. Again I may try and try again and only succeed in the twilight of my life when a few core bodily functions will need help to be actualized. If that happens I do not want people to make a fuss about what I own or do not own. Some foolish people may say that leaders do not need to declare their assets. Listening to people like that is what got Goodluck Jonathan an early retirement. Especially in a country rife with corruption, the assets of a public servant should be everybody’s business. And I consider myself a public servant whether or not I hold public office. It will be a tragedy if, as a greying president some young children who are still collecting money from their parents harass me on social media over declaration of assets. This is one reason why I have decided to declare my assets yearly, starting this year. Another reason is that as a public figure, people can get emotional and attached to defending you publicly, volunteering lies and half-truths on your behalf. For example, friends who have known me all my life and know how little I care about worldly possessions may say things like “Elnathan is honest and poor. He has never even owned a car in his life.” And I may never get to hear them saying this to offer the truth, which is that I indeed have owned a car (God rest his soul). My car, until its untimely demise was a red German car called Sylvanus. I was fond of Sylvanus. New friends of mine may never have met him so I am just putting it out there before someone accuses me of lying about ever owning a car.

Please find below my asset declaration for 2015.

1. First and most importantly, I have a book. I am still calculating how much that book is worth this year. So far three publishers have bought various rights to the book, one of whom has made me swear not to mention how much they paid for it. So that they can cheat other people perhaps. But I am a child of God and will not judge. As soon as I get the final figure I will publish it here. Whatever the final figure is, add x to it.

2. 100pounds. This is what is left from the 500 pounds the Caine Prize gave to the shortlisted candidates for this year. God bless the Caine Prize. The rest I spent on things like a generator and water dispenser. I know that perhaps my purchase of a generator at a time when Buhari has promised to fix the power sector for good may show lack of faith. But I can assure you it doesn’t. The transformer in my neighbourhood often breaks down and I can go 24 hours without electricity not because there is no supply but because something broke down in the transformer. And I cannot tell the people expecting deliverables from me, “sorry I can’t deliver that story, our transformer blew again.” I will go hungry if I do. So President Buhari and his friends shouldn’t take this generator purchase personally. Everyone needs a plan b.

3. Chioma-Blessing. Or CB for short. CB is my MacBook Air. No it is not a liability. The things that CB stores are worth many millions. But I don’t want to brag. So I will be conservative and just peg CB’s worth at 1 million naira. Nobody has allowed me win anything, but if I should ever get a prize for my work, the first person I will thank will be CB for staying with me through bad writing and good writing, depressing emails and exciting ones. Yes, I said person. That’s how much she means to me. God bless CB.

4. Books. My books are not that many because of the fact that I often give away books for free from time to time. However, what I currently have (including the ones I stole and those I borrowed and did not return) is easily worth 500,000 naira.

5. One dormant registered business entity. So, there was a time that I wanted to do some work with a government agency and they swore that unless I had a corporate account they would not give me one kobo. So I quickly registered a company, got the funds and did the job. I swear that the business has not done any business since then and is currently worth nothing. In fact, if I have to revive the business, I will have to pay annual returns which, even if I declare 0 naira will cost me the transport money to the Corporate Affairs Commission.

6. I have 0 oil wells. I know that some of the old men who own oil wells today started owning them when they were my age. But they say the world is like a basket of potatoes. Some are large and some are small. I am a small potato.

7. I have 0 heads of cattle, 0 sheep, 0 camels. This is not what one should expect of someone who hails from Kaduna. As a Kaduna man, I know the importance of animals like camels. So, I am working on getting at least a camel by the time I become president. If I do, I will slaughter it and distribute the meat in Kaduna in celebration.

8. I don’t even have a mud house. I know that my father has a couple of houses but I have not read his will. As a rebellious child, I doubt that I will even make it in there.

9. Like I said earlier, the one car I had, I lost in an accident a couple of years ago. Since then God has not yet blessed my hustle enough to buy the new Golf I have been wanting to buy. I am not questioning God. I am just stating facts. Since my very serious accident, no well-wishers have offered to buy me a car. Maybe my well-wishers are as poor as I am. Maybe they have other pressing needs. I am not criticizing my well-wishers. I am just stating facts.

This is all for 2015. Hopefully, God will meet me at the point of my needs and I will have at least a car to declare next year. And if you are my well-wisher, consider this a gentle reminder about that my car issue. No pressure.