Sunday, February 26, 2017


Dearest General,

Please refer to my last letter from two weeks ago — the one which sadly you have not replied. It was Valentines and I really hoped that we could spend the time together, even if it was by Skype. I know you are not big on technology but I thought you would at least try. I have given this a lot of thought. I have come to the conclusion that Valentine is a Western, even pagan celebration and I can understand if, being a believer, you want nothing to do with that. However, our love is still in need of fixing. We cannot carry on like this, you talking to everyone around me — even your houseboy, the one who looks like a pigeon and excitedly tells everyone you called him — but not me. This is all the more serious now that for all intents and purposes, we are in a long distance relationship. 

One of the holy books says: Love never fails. And that is why I persist, writing you, even though you have refused to speak to me. I am not asking for much. I didn’t say you should send me nudes, I know you have not healed. Just one FaceTime or WhatsApp call. 

I believe in our love. However I want us to get one thing out of the way. You have spent all this time with London; two months you have been in her home, waking up, taking your bath, eating, taking off your clothes for medical and other procedures. I have never doubted your loyalty but now I really have to ask this question: Are you having an affair? Is that why you are ashamed to speak to me even though all our mutual friends assure me you are fine? Look, I am not a child. I am not naive. I know that with distance, affairs are a possibility. You are a child of God but you are human. Even a 74 year old has his needs. I recognize that. And that is why I insist that you tell me so we can work things out. It is not as if I have not been tempted myself. It is not like I have not seen someone that has made my blood bubble with excitement. But, Love endures all things. We can get better. I can try to please you better. Just Skype me and I promise I will put this affair behind me and carry on loving you. 

You remember Odysseus and Penelope in Greek mythology? I know that is for pagans, but there are lessons to be learnt there. I am like Penelope and you are like Odysseus. You have gone on a long long journey and now that no one knows when or if you will return, men have started filing in to take your place. They woo me and tell me how things can be so much better without you. Your deputy, the one who couldn't even speak in your presence, is now walking around, doing things to impress me. Things we couldn't do together since we fell in love, he is doing them. And people are praising him and hinting to me that he would make a great replacement for my runaway lover. “See how much he has done since your man disappeared,” they tell me. This offends me on a few levels. First off, he is a short man and you know I have a thing for tall men. Short men have issues. They are always trying to overcompensate. Look at the other short man, the one who used to insult you and now swears by your name.  You just cannot trust them I tell you. So, yes your deputy has achieved much and is now very vocal in your absence but it is only you who makes my blood boil. It is only you — talk hunk — that I chose. Second, your deputy, he wears dark colors (and clothes that barely fit him) and I love a man who knows how to wear white, like you. 

However, I am human. If he continues doing these good things I cannot say for how long I can wait for you. He is doing things we could not achieve together. Things you promised you would do. I have to justify to myself why I am waiting for you. I need you to tell me why. Why should I keep waiting for you my dear? Because while love is great and all, sometimes, love is not enough. I am like Penelope but I am not as strong as she was. I am not magic. I can bleed. I can break. I need you to tell me not to break. 

Now, every time someone looks for the man of the house, your deputy shows up. He speaks to me more than you spoke to me. I am not comparing, but facts are facts. People, foreigners, are asking me mockingly: Where is your man, oh faithful Penelope? 

Give me the words bubu. Give me the words to respond to my attackers and mischief makers. Show me I did not make a mistake choosing you over all others. Don't mock me by speaking to strangers and not speaking to me. Give me a reason not to go with your deputy and move on. 

Ps. The thieves in your house are still there. The man who took our money to cut the grass and didn’t do it. And the thief who is in charge of your flights. I hope you will return, take charge and rid our house of these filthy men. 

Yours lovingly,

Penelope to your Odysseus 


Sunday, February 12, 2017


Dear General, 

With adoration in my heart I pick up my pen (well, my laptop) from the basket of love to write you this letter. I have been thinking about you since you have been gone. Daily! I have been talking to people who know people who know you. Almost daily. I have been thinking about the people who have been speaking in your name, clearing their own names in your name. Daily! I have been thinking about the rooms you are in, all of them, the ones we know, the ones we think we know, and the other rooms. Daily! I allowed myself to think about you in a hospital gown, a white man with degrees in medicine probing your inner parts, until the people who speak to the people who speak to you assured us that you are hale and hearty and in good spirits. I am erasing that memory from my mind now, realizing it is not only false, but inappropriate. You are fine and even — I saw the photos online — receiving visitors in Abuja House in London (which, let’s face it, is technically Nigerian soil — and you are president of all that is Nigeria, whether that bit of Nigeria is in Nigeria or abroad). 

It is almost Valentines and there is no word on whether you will be home in time for that or not. I miss hearing your voice. People say a lot of bad things about you and I know this should not affect the way I feel about it you but I have to admit, it is tough. Say something General. Say something, not because I am giving up on you but because you know, this was the deal. That is what love is. It is nothing without communication. I listen to sad love songs and I tell myself, he cares, he still cares. 

I know you know exactly how to make me feel better, even though the enemies think otherwise — they say if you knew, you’d have done something about our economic situation, about the people, grass cutters, who try to come between us. Every family has that one rogue, that alcoholic embarrassment, that pedophile cousin who shows up at family dinners that you warn the kids to stay away from, that thieving uncle whom you allow visit but don't leave anything valuable around, the other uncle who buys gifts but you know defrauded his last office. But we cannot let them come between us. Say something, General. 

Someone sent me a photo of you with someone to say you were in London, to make me jealous maybe. But I know you would never go behind my back to see others. I know that photo was taken in 2015. You would never deliberately do anything to hurt me. 

The guys you are paying to protect all the people you love, they are beating people up and impregnating some of the young girls in our house. You do not approve of this, I know. Making young girls pregnant is not your thing. That is why I am thinking, maybe we need to do something about them so they don't affect our relationship. 

You remember I told you about my ex. I told you clearly that I have trust issues. But you told me I was safe with you. Not to belabor the point but you remember my ex, it was bad enough that we were in a long distance relationship, him always being in Germany and Saudi Arabia and all, but he had this condition and didn’t tell me. Imagine entering a long term relationship and they don't tell you they have a terminal illness. There is something deeply selfish about that. You invest time, emotions and money and boom, the person you thought you would be with for a long time drops dead. They will not be alive to see you mourn. They will not be there when all the people you turned down for them show up at the funeral mocking you with their eyes, telling you: “If only you chose me, you would not be mourning a lover now.” I know you are not like my ex and if you had any thing like that you would tell me. You would not make me mourn a second time. I know that even if it turns out you have something like that and I don't know, it will not be because you hid it from me. It will be because you didn’t know yourself. And I can forgive that. Anyone can fall ill. So, my dear General, say something. You know I cannot do this long distance relationship thing. I told you when we met when you insisted we go out and I told you I was still burnt from the last time. 

Just tell me this London thing is just temporary. That you will be back soon. That you will call me. Or send me a WhatsApp voice note. Or FaceTime me. I do not want to spend this Valentine alone. Not that I will start thinking of someone else. But it will not be good for our relationship. Say something. Or better still, come home. Tell me what is wrong with you. I can handle it. 

Ps. Look darling, even if it is that prostate thing and we can no longer, you know…it is fine. Just tell me. Love is not all about sex. Love is greater than sex. I can find other ways to sort myself out. And no, it will not involve cheating on you.

Pps. In case you come back, shall we talk about the guy who has taken our money to cut grass but hasn't done so? I think we should let him go. And then we can have a nice dinner and talk about our finances. We are running out of food. 

You are in my heart, 

Sunday, February 5, 2017


The president is sick. We know this because of how many times he has had to shut down and go to London. And I blame Nigerians for this. I blame Nigerians for their expectations and suffering. I blame Nigerians for being insensitive and showing their frustrations in public, thereby contributing to the destabilization of the country and economy. We all know that economies around the world are driven by confidence. The more people complain, the more the economy crumbles and of course, because Mr Buhari loves the country so much (that he gave his only begotten retirement period that whosoever believes in him shall be called loyal) it affects his health. The president is sick. Sick and tired of all of this. 

Let me give you an example. If you are a young Nigerian woman hoping to get married and your suitor’s family comes to see you to check your suitability, that is not the time to complain about your migraines or start talking about the fact that you sometimes sleep walk or that sometimes you itch between your legs. You put your best foot forward. If you have a migraine, you put on the best smile and look indestructible. It is not pretense. You do not want them thinking that you will be a health liability. I know of people who never saw their wives without make up until after the wedding. This is not deception. It is strategic positioning. If your wife or husband had told you of all their flaws on the first day you met, would you have met them a second time? Nigerians should not worsen Buhari’s medical condition, whatever it is. (I suspect it is nothing at all, perhaps just all our nagging).

This brings me to the planned protest by Innocent Tuface Idibia. It is insensitive. If you want to discipline your child for breaking your new set of wine glasses or for stealing your car, going to a late night party and then crashing it then suddenly that day the child gets a bad fever, will you still punish the child? Every loving parent will suspend any such punishment and take care of the child, nursing them back to health. Because in the end, you love your child more than you love your car or wine glasses. Perhaps after your child is out of hospital and has gotten better you can raise the issue and tell them not to do it again. It is the same with Nigeria. Mr Buhari has barely changed out of his hospital gown. We should allow him to get his energy back before demanding things like good governance, rule of law, jobs, justice for victims of army and police brutality, fulfillment of campaign promises, or even electricity. What if he breaks down again? What if we drive him back to London with our constant nagging and make him yet again have to expose his nakedness to that doctor? What if the doctor is a pervert? Did we ever think of that? Of the implications of leaving our president naked with a doctor who might be a pervert? God forbid bad things. 

I will give you another example. Assume a woman who loves her husband receives news that her husband is drunk and misbehaving at a bar somewhere. She gets very upset. She is going to give him a piece of her mind when he gets back. She will tell him that if he repeats this or makes it a pattern, she will stop sleeping with him or maybe even leave him. But then as she is waiting for him to come home, gritting her teeth and fuming, someone phones her to say, he has been in a terrible accident. What will she do first? Love will kick in. She will still be angry but she will be more scared. She will go to the hospital and announce herself as the wife of so-and-so. She will take charge. She will pay the bills. She will kneel and pray to God that nothing happens to the father of her children. She will help him go to the bathroom and remind him to swallow his pills. If he is immobile, she will clean him up. She will bring him a bowl to clean his teeth. She will stay in the room all night, when he snores and when he farts and when he groans from the pain. Because this is what she has signed up for. This is what marriage means. This is what love means. After he recovers she might then say to him: if you had not been out drinking all of this would not have happened. Because she is a good woman. Because she doesn't want it to happen again. 

I think we should be like that woman. Yes we are angry. With the darkness. With the army killing Shiites, impregnating teenagers in the north east, and shooting protesters. With the scarcity of foreign exchange. With the scarcity of foreign exchange and seedless grapes. With the silence of Buhari. With the corruption of our grass cutting Secretary to the Government of the Federation. With our inability to know who really is running this ship. With the fact that while Buhari suffers, the first lady is probably suffering too, the other room being empty. But we should not, will not, say anything. We will turn up for our husband who may have been drunk at the time of the accident. We will nurse him to health. We will help him with his bowel movements. We will pray for Buhari. Because we are good people.