The Devil is in the Weevil

A few days ago, Leadership News reported that Ireland returned 5 containers of beans exported from Nigeria. Ostensibly, this was because the shipment had as much weevil as beans or something to that effect. We all ate beany weevils in boarding house – and “weeviled” beans when we got back home on holidays. It was arguably protein augmentation. The problem is the  good folks of Ireland don’t like beany weevils. The accompanying headlines across the Nigerian blogosphere were rib-tickling to say the least; one went as far as to proclaim it a national embarrassment. I’ll say – “koo dan” (cool down, with a Waffi accent), it is not a national embarrassment, unless of course you choose to make it one. It is a blow to the pocket of the exporter, but national embarrassment it wasn’t.

The Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr. Heineken Lokpobiri obviously felt it was a national disgrace and dude left his office in Abuja and made his way to pick some beans in Tin Can Port. Apparently dismayed when faced with enough weevils to colonise an insectarium, he instantly made a policy pronouncement – “hence forth, for any agro-product to leave the country, it has to be certified by the Quarantine Service”. So my friends in the Nigeria Plant Quarantine Services (NPQS) have ministerial blessings to become the Bean Picking, Review, Inspection and Coordination Kaisers (Bean PRICKs). Brilliant, init? Nah. This is a classic instance of how ill-thought out policies fail to solve any problem. It is also how we create more problems, in addition to existing ones.

The shipment was not returned because it was not inspected. This may sound counterintuitive, but it is true. It was returned because there were weevils in the beans. It is that simple. The problem is the presence of weevils in beans not the absence of Bean Pricks. So why did the minister not choose to solve this problem? I would win the Lottery tonight if I knew the answer to that. My guess however is that this is keeping in line with our spirit of “anyhowness”. It is often easier to make a show of solving a problem than to actually solve it. Somewhere on earth, there is an exporter who exports raw agricultural produce to the EU without being rejected. I will bet there is someone who exports beans successfully without the “national embarrassment” of rejection. Why don’t we find out how it is done? No, we don’t do things that way in Nigeria. Who has time to find out how to grow, harvest and pack beans without weevils? That will be a colossal waste of ministerial resources.

So Mr. Lokpobiri, having failed to solve the problem, goes on in grand Nigerian style to create another problem. We now have a new raft of jobsworths who will become another constrictive kink in the flow of goods at the ports. Of course, Bean Pricks don’t work for free – never mind their salaries. Depending on how “weevilish” a container of beans may be, Bean Pricks will demand some settlement. I can imagine a settlement tariff chart that says,

  1. a) No weevils – N20k /container.
  2. b) Weevil eggs – N40k/container
  3. c) Full blown weevils – N60k/container
  4. d) No inspection – N100k/container
  5. e) No settlement – Container confiscated

Pretty soon, you’ll start seeing Facebook spam advertising the sale of confiscated bean at Apapa Port.

Mr. Lokpobiri has done his job and gone back to Abuja. Meanwhile, the weevils live on in the beans; and the devil in the weevil.

Advertisements

Their Grievance: Learning from history

I do not have any proprietary rights over wisdom, what I write below is based on what I have read and observed. I do not approve of violence – you need to see my 5ft 6in frame to know that I am not built for violence – and there can be absolutely no excuse for wantonly taking the lives of other human beings.


I have been in a handful of discussions on different social media fora in the last 24 hours where the (ongoing) violence in certain parts of Northern Nigeria is being discussed and condemned. A lot of these have eventually assumed an ethno-religious hue, alongside the call that Major General Muhammadu Buhari should lend his voice to call for an end to the violence. The blanket tar that has been used to paint the whole Northern Nigeria is that of a frontier of primitive tribal and religious bickering; and that the terms of our corporate existence as a nation-space called Nigeria should be re-negotiated.


Often when criticism is levelled against acts of destruction and violence, virtually all the critics fail to question (never mind trying to resolve) the precipitants that led to these events. This seeming inability (or is it an unwillingness) to examine and resolve the causes of such upheavals, inevitably keeps the society in a vicious circle. History (Nigerian history as well as that of other nations) is replete with instances where seemingly civilised segments of the society descend, and quite rapidly, into an orgy reprehensible violence which they never believed they could.


One of the points that I find is very biased is that this is Northern Nigerian or Northern Muslim behaviour. It is as insensitive as it is baseless. From the Aba riots of 1929 (Eastern Nigeria), through to the 1960’s Operation Weti e and Agbekoya uprisings (Western Nigeria), Maitasine Riots (Northern Nigeria), Warri riots, Niger Delta “militants” campaign against the oil industry (South-South) and the Jos riots (Middle Belt) – our nation’s history is littered with all manner of mayhem that it would be tendentious to attribute these to some inherent belligerent trait in any tribe. The 1966 coups, the subsequent pogrom against Igbos in other parts of Nigeria and the Nigerian Civil War all give an insight into how quickly everyone can tumble from their perches of racial haughtiness and become barbarians given the excuse and the opportunity. Anecdotes abound of how some Igbos (who barely 2 years earlier were victims of some of the most abominable crimes against any tribe in Nigeria), toward the end of the civil war, turned on the minority ethnic groups in what was left of Biafra and many were killed in extra-judicial circumstances – the term used to describe them was “saboteurs”. This perhaps shows how quickly victims can become tormentors when disorder sets in.


Have the Agbekoya riots or the Ife-Modakeke riots made the Yorubas a “violent race”? Or have the actions of Colonel Boyloaf and Tom Polo condemned every Ijaw man to being called a “militant” for the rest of his life? Just as the actions of a clutch of Igbo men in 1969 against some Ndonis have not resulted in the Igbos being called barbarians, it then becomes a simpleton’s conclusion to say the disturbances in the North of Nigeria happen because Northern Nigerians (whatever that means) are innately bellicose. I do not want to start a religious argument here either, but for those who are quick to add a “Muslim” dimension to this, I would urge you to do a crash course in Judeo-Christian history and see how steeped in blood it also has been.




Having tried to show that the same madness is capable of besetting any group of persons, regardless of creed or language, it then becomes important to try to assess what gives rise to these events. Underlying every instance above is an unaddressed sense of grievance – I would like to think of it as “disenfranchisement”. The mistake that has been made over and over, when an injustice is deemed (and I have said “deemed”) to have been perpetrated, is that those who are not involved simply shrug their shoulders and move on. To the group that has felt slighted or left bereft of what it believes to be its entitlement, it is not quite as easy to gloss over. In 1966 January, rightly or wrongly, Nigerian soldiers of Hausa/Fulani descent felt cheated by a coup deemed to have been plotted by Igbo officers, which left both the civilian and military Northern leaders dead. By the end of the third week of January 1966, the Sardauna of Sokoto, the Premier of Nigeria and Brigadier Zakariya Maimalari were dead. [Never mind that Lt. Col Arthur Unegbe was also killed in the coup and Maj. Gen. JTU Ironsi barely escaped being killed; and Northern soldiers and at least one officer from present day Benue State participated in the coup.] Virtually nothing was done [from the point of view of the aggrieved] to address their misgivings. History may judge on the rights or wrongs, but 6 months later the country was headed to a civil war.


The Igbos have always been a republican ethnic group without kings and have governed themselves by universal adult male suffrage for years – “Igbo a ma eze” is an expression that means “the Igbo do not recognise, or have no regard for, kings”. The British unilaterally appointed warrant chiefs in a bid to carry out indirect governance, ignoring the customs of the people that were being governed. Aba women’s riots were precipitated as a consequence of this amongst other issues. Many contemporary views agree that this upheaval is indicative of an un-redressed defect in the British colonial style of governance.


The perennial Niger Delta unrest, regardless of how the politician in Abuja sees it, is a result of decades of neglect of the environment and the people where the bulk of the nation’s wealth is derived. Until this is addressed coherently and comprehensively (and not by some witless truce or amnesty), it does not take a genius to figure out that this would continue in one variant or another for a long time.


The civil disturbances in Kaduna and Kano in the past 24 hours have their roots in a perceived electoral injustice. I say “perceived” because except a court determines otherwise, the elections returned Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as the President-elect. It would however be wishful thinking to assume every segment of the society believes the numbers stack up to reason or that the elections were fair. The segment that feels robbed is the segment that is protesting at the moment. That we are a nation divided at the moment is putting it mildly, and it behoves President Jonathan to do his best to assuage the sensibilities (and emotions) of those who are aggrieved; curfews suppress physical movement, not human emotions.


For those who are quick to say “let them go to hell”; let caution be the guard over their mouths, for no one has the monopoly of violence – not the Egbesu, not the Boko Haram and not the Agbekoya – and should things get exacerbated, it is sadly the innocent who will suffer more before things are properly resolved.




PS:
This is not an academic article and I am not trying to give it a hue of academic legitimacy; however here are some other references that could prove interesting.


1929 Women


Federalism and ethnic conflict in Nigeria


Agbekoya


Holy Inquisition


Eluoma


Igbo religious philosophy


Igbo Enwe Eze


Max Siollun

Spiritual Toll Gates

Prologue
Being a Christian does not preclude asking questions and demanding propriety from those in authority.
It is stale news that Pastor Christian “Chris” Oyakhilome’s Christ Embassy took an “innovative” approach to crowd control by charging an entrance fee of N1,000 per head to attend its New Year eve church service.  With a church auditorium said to seat about 25,000 people, this is a crowd control measure with an income earning slant.  Viewed purely as a monetary transaction between the attendees and the church, this incident is hardly newsworthy.  Provided the buyers are willing to part with their money and the seller – in this case, the church – is willing to receive the same and offer some service in return, it is all well and good.   This short essay however tries to examine this incident from another set of perspectives.
Those willing to attend but unable to pay
Whilst many pastors (and their fervent acolytes) will disagree with me, an organised church is a charitable establishment amongst other things, with a religious hue.  Amongst the people who might want to attend a church event are many who have a genuine need – beyond the euphoric – for a tangible spiritual experience, but who cannot afford to give any monetary consideration in return.  A church being a charitable organisation has a moral duty to these people.  The Bible is replete with instances where Jesus forbade the disciples from turning the needy from him.  On more than one occasion, He brought the crowd around Him to a halt to attend to the need of someone on the verge of being discarded by society as a waif.
It is utterly galling to then see an establishment place its pecuniary objectives ahead of its charitable duties and then turn around and try to justify it by terming it “crowd control”.  Someone needs to be told the truth here, without that “crowd”, there will be no church.  The services rendered by charitable organisations can often not be quantified in monetary terms.  A bowl of soup might cost just 90 pence, but when you go feeding the homeless at Leicester square on a winter night, that bowl is worth more than 90p to the homeless man that is fed.  In a similar manner, what price tag can you really attach to the spiritual experience that was denied that widow or area boy turned back at the gates of the “Embassy” for want of N1,000?
The follies of ignoring history
Many of us, first generation African immigrants in Europe, are shocked at the extent of religious apathy exhibited by most Western Europeans.  A history of the church in England might help here, because Mr. Oyakhilome’s crowd control methods are not new.  A few centuries back, virtually all the cathedrals in England had one relic or the other, which many unwitting peasants had to pay to touch or see, with the belief rife that touching or venerating these relics brought solutions to some problem(s).  These churches became spiritual toll-gates of some sorts.
In retrospect, a list of these relics from previous centuries look like a scammer’s toolbox – toe clippings from the nail of Mary Magdalene, a piece of the true cross, Saint Peter’s chains, a feather from the raven (some say dove) that Noah sent out of the Ark; the list is endless.  I will use this quote from Wikipedia – “since Christians during the Middle Ages often took pilgrimages to shrines of holy people, relics became a large business.”  The sad part of the monetised church was the obscene opulence in which the cleric lived, whilst a substantial part of the laity lived in poverty.  In an extreme instance of financial irresponsibility, the church refused to finance Henry V’s war against France in the 15th century, threatening anyone who dared tax the church with excommunication.  The disheartening consequence of this business is that as people became more enlightened and the obvious frauds behind the relics’ toll business came to light, the seed of disenchantment was sown.
These attributes are echoed in the 21st century organised church, where pastors live in abominable splendour in the face of indigent members – and the taxation of churches is something we must not discuss because we have been indoctrinated – “touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm”.   So, monetisation of spirituality is nothing new, but the paucity of attendance in churches in Europe today speaks volumes of the long-term effect of a monetised church.  Many an Anglican parish minister in England will long for the crowd that Pastor Oyakhilome turned back on 31 December 2010; sadly the 21st century English flock has gone to the pubs and clubs instead.
The focus of the church over many centuries was on money without a sustainable spiritual base for worshipers, the absence of tangible spiritual benefits being offered by the church has seen a generation has turned its back on organised religion and by extension turn its back on God.  I have had the opportunity of attending majority black churches (MBCs) in England as well as a handful of other churches with predominantly Caucasian congregations and I know which group dwells on “money, money, money and more money”; and I am mildly amused at the seeming incapacity of MBCs to learn from the mistakes of the older “orthodox” churches.
As society becomes more technologically advanced and science and technology provide more succour (even) in under-developed nations like Nigeria, and a prosperous existence is not predicated on the pulpit utterances of some pastor in flashy suits, churches will be built, not on congregations where members can pay N1,000 but on Christians who have a genuine relationship with God.  By then, the N1,000-paying, hero-worshiping and skabashing throng will be long gone to other exciting venues  and one may well ask, “whither shalt thou be crowd-control?”

The Nigerian, the Masochist

I was not going to write this piece, hoping the (empty) hubris that I have been accused of would not be brought to the public domain. But I’ll lose the moral right to complain over the next 3 to 4 years if I do not express my views, so I write.
I won’t be voting in the forthcoming Nigerian elections because I am about 4,000 miles from the nearest polling booth and do not have the luxury of travelling for the event.  That said; being my country of birth, I am very interested in the inputs and the outcome of the imminent elections.   Sadly, I am holding myself out as a prophet of doom – Nigeria is not ready for any dramatic development.  Using the Facebook blogosphere as an indicator of the wider sentiments in Nigeria, with due apology to Honorable Igodomigodo, I am “maniacally bewildered” by the catatonic tendencies exhibited by Nigerians who still consider Dr. G.E Jonathan and the PDP as credible options for the Nigerian presidency for another four years.
Anyone who, at this stage of the country’s retrogression, is still rooting for PDP’s continued leadership – for reasons other than being a direct beneficiary of the extant putrid and thoroughly inept system of governance embodied by the PDP – seriously deserves the worst that life can throw at him or her.  Given that the office of the Nigerian president has been adorned by all shades of characters – from a barely literate goon to a couple of PhD holders (one of them after the office); from a 29-year old bachelor to a 70-year old polygamist – all with colossal failures – with the incumbent contributing an accelerated decline to the retrogression, I will be hard-pressed to believe that there is anything to be gained by retaining this current salmagundi of dimwits.
Tomes have been writing about the quantum of fiscal incompetence exhibited in the past 18 months since the ailment (and later, demise) of the late President Yar’Adua; and I am not inclined to add to that library.  External reserves have been depleted with hardly a sliver of motorway to show for it; and the country recently celebrated the resuscitation of a train service that takes 9 hours to ply the 300 or so miles from Lagos to Ilorin.  In an age where the emphasis has shifted from not just providing stable electric power supply to obtaining commercially viable green sources of power supply, we have a national leadership that is unable to generate as much electric power as Wisconsin, never mind the United Kingdom.  A leadership that believes it is necessary to shut schools down for voters’ registration, when in the same period; I filled my census form in the UK without leaving my bedroom.  After listening to speeches laced with “umblerras” and “fellow widows”, I am hardly surprised at the discount placed on education by the man in a fedora.
I have heard all sorts of puerile arguments about being hopeful.  Sorry, hope should be reserved for the deserving  – those who truly lift one’s hopes – and not for the worthless scoundrels who have dashed the nation’s hopes over and over again without remorse.  Whilst the insensitive recklessness and pathetic incompetence exhibited by the elites of the PDP is, well, to be expected, what is more appalling is that some simpleton who carries a Nigerian voter’s card is optimistic enough to even consider the party as a credible option during the elections.   In any environment that seeks to be clothed with even the thinnest veneer of progress, the PDP’s defeat would have been as assured as the darkness that follows sunset on a moonless night.  If GEJ (by extension PDP) is voted in at the next presidential elections, it is not because he deserves the office on the basis of any commendable track record, it will be because of the self-destructive naïveté (and the masochism) of the Nigerian.  But then, common sense is not a widely available commodity; or will I be proven wrong by the Nigerian votes?

Police Reforms and the Jos Violence

The tears and corpses from the 6 March 2010 pillage of 3 villages near Jos are still fresh and the angst still runs deep, yet we have had a few irresponsible (if ironically insightful) utterances from those who have the responsibility of governing the space called Nigeria.

From the Senate that was quick to commend Goodluck Jonathan on his handling of the Jos crises, to Governor Jonah Jang who stated to the effect that he had no control over security matters in his state; it has been one thoughtless spiel after another.

I think some of these are insightful because they reveal the depth of ineptitude that runs through the crust and core of the ruling class in Nigeria. Governor Jang’s remarks about his security handicap however got me thinking about the need for a police reform in Nigeria and also peeved me to no ends for reasons I will explain in the following paragraphs.

The Nigerian Police is controlled centrally – against all the dictates of a true Federal structure of governance. So Police recruitments, deployments and disengagement are all done ultimately by the President, because he (or she) appoints the Inspector-General, who in turn is the overlord of the Police Force. This arrangement, inherited from the British who needed to exercise firm control over the colony, is long past-due for an overhaul. But like most things inherited from the British (with the notable exception of driving on the left side of the road), Nigerian rulers are unable to evaluate which structures need to be dismantled, which need to be redesigned and how these are to be done.

This Police control structure invariably creates an extremely powerful centre, which successive rulers have shown themselves incapable of managing efficiently, effectively and benignly. So the police has become a tool for exacting retribution from errant governors who have not toed the line drawn by Abuja. In previous military regimes, it was also possible to systematically emasculate the Nigerian Police Force by simply under-funding it from the centre. The authority of state governors can easily be undermined by an un-cooperative police commissioner, who by the way is the only commissioner in a state that is not appointed by the state governor.

The argument made by protagonists of this structure is that state governments cannot be entrusted with the power that comes with having the police force under the command of the state governor. This might be true, particularly if one thinks of the havoc individuals like James Ibori or Lucky Igbinedion could have wreaked if they had their respective state police commands directly under them. It however goes against the grain of reason when one considers that the governor of a state sits at the apex of the executive arm of government in the state and the police is the law enforcement organ of the executive branch. Quite literally, the governor then turn out to be a head that cannot control an arm, talk about failure of the nervous system!

The glaring Police failures and other security lapses across the nation however indicate there is a strong case to be made for having local constabulary forces of some stature which would be responsible for law enforcement and security in each state. One would have thought that with the obvious incapacitation of the governors in this regard, a reform of this nature would have been priority for them. Unfortunately, it seems Nigerians are saddled with 36 mortar-filled craniums for governors; governors who do not see the security of their respective states as important. Some bleached-to-a-mulatto governor in one of the south-west states was once said to have remarked that all the armed robbers in Lagos have relocated to his state!

Against this backdrop, I find Governor Jonah Jang’s statement about being handicapped on state security issues to be faecal nonsense. That state governors have considerable clout is visible in the manner of comatose-President Yar’Adua’s emergence from their ranks in 2007. In the past 4 weeks, they have also shown Acting President Jonathan (AP-JO) just how powerful they could be in blockading his march to the presidency and they only ceded when an additional allocation was reportedly made to them from the Excess Crude Account. If these brain-dead 36 Unwise Men (credit Ijeoma Nwogwugwu @ This Day) only used their clout in more responsible manner, the story of law enforcement and perhaps the Jos mayhem could have turned out differently.

My candid advice to Governor Jang, call Dr. Bukola Saraki to convene another round of the Governor’s Forum and make police reform the first item on the agenda. The interesting thing about this is that the same arm-twisting method (called lobbying) could be brought to bear to drive other aspects of Nigeria’s infrastructural development needs…. but please do not hold your breathe, for we are ruled by 36 Village Idiots.

Saint Hitler of Abuja

Me: All hail the Saint Hitler!

Priest: Are you mad? Which Hitler?

Me: Father, I am not mad o! It is the same Adolf Hitler. We are having him cannonised.

Priest: I see you are truly insane. But for the fact that I know you are joking, I would kick you out of the chapel and have you excommunicated.

Me: Ah, ah, that is unduly harsh.

Priest: Unduly what? Now get out!

Me: You have not even heard me out. The Church is not the one to make him a saint.

Priest: So who? Now I see you are truly bereft of your senses.

Me: No, it is the Nigerian House of Representatives.

Priest: You are truly insane or the whole lot of them must be as mad as you are. What has gotten hold of your senses?

Me: Father, abeg leave that matter. I am sane and I can assure you, those 400 hard-working men and women who represent us at the Centre of Unity are equally sane. Did you not hear that they are passing a bill to immortalise members of the House?

Priest: I heard, something ridiculous I dare say. But even at that Hitler was never a member of the House.

Me: That is where you are wrong, Father.

Priest: And that is where you are mad!

Me: Father, let’s leave this insanity diagnosis for now. Hitler may have never been…
Priest (cuts in): Hitler WAS NEVER a member of the House.

Me: Okay, Hitler was never a member of the House, but his spirit lives there permanently.

Priest: When did you become an exorcist?

Me: Father, I have many talents o! Some that the Church may not approve of.

Priest: I see, maybe it’s time I really got you excommunicated.

Me: Father, if you keep interrupting, you will never get the gist of this matter.

Priest: Well, continue.

Me: You see, just when Hitler was going to commit suicide, he looked into the future using his crystal ball. And he saw that one of the countries which would embrace genocide like he did would be Nigeria.

Priest: You are truly past the point of no return. Do I start looking for a straitjacket?

Me: Listen now, abeg. So Hitler’s spirit simply moved to Abuja and hovered around the place till the Nigerian government moved there. Since then, he has taken hold of the minds of those ruling, which would explain the various Ogoni, Odi, Maitasine and Jos massacres.

Priest: I see.

Me: Well, I am happy you see the point. So the lawmakers have decided to invest Adolf Hitler as the Patron Saint of the Nigerian Government. In addition, they would up the scale of massacres that would take place across the country. You know just like Hitler wanted a pure Aryan race, they can only tolerate a pure political and religious class.

Priest: But they all do not have the same religious beliefs, so you are wrong.

Me: Father, you are the one who is wrong. They are sworn believers of the temple of corruption and violence. All other religious beliefs they profess are cloaks. Any way, back to my story. The cannonisation ceremony would also see certain individuals being honoured as Cardinals in the church of genocide. From what I understand, there are two governors on the list – the one in Plateau State and the one in Bauchi; though I can’t remember their names now. This is in addition to the senior members of the ruling clan.

Priest: You must be joking.

Me: Seriously, they even plan to rename the House of Assembly after Adolf Hitler. It would not be known as the A. Hitler Nigerian House of Assembly, with Saint Hitler’s statue replacing that statue of an arm outside the complex. Anyway Father, I am about to go an pick my back of Ghana-Must-Go from one Mr. Saburi who is paying me for publicising the ceremony.

———————————————————————————————————————–
Inspired by Seyi Osiyemi

“If our ‘rulers’ are not charged with ‘crimes against humanity’ at the International Criminal Court, then the United Nations must apologise to the families of Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Kradizic, Saddam Hussein and Charles Taylor. And in fact Adolf Hilter should be immortalised!”

Saburi, the renegade of my generation

This is the story of Saburi
Saburi, the son of a wealthy man
Born with a silver spoon, was Saburi
His father, of the NPN clan.

If I had been born in the same family
My older brother, Saburi, might be.
For he is but a few years older than me
This famous man called Saburi

Saburi, was sent to the best of schools
Schooled of Oxford, studied the military
His teachers were definitely not fools
Perhaps unlike me, taught at Iyanfoworogi

When Saburi left the his British military study
And became a Naija politician
I thought he was a bit barmy
But held my peace, for I’m no mental physician

Then Saburi went to the House
I thought, to be a light for my generation
Four years on, yet without a spouse
Saburi was number 4 in the Nation

Oh, we believed change had arrived
For near the top, was a young man at last
Soon we’d be rid of those who’ve deprived
Our nation of its greatness in the past

But slowly I saw Saburi’s mutation
First, from a bachelor to a married man
Then a beacon of hope, turned an totem of frustration;
He sadly turned out to be another PDP clansman

A product of the best British schools
Has become a companion of fools.
A man who ought to be a leader
Had all but turned a ditherer

In his most perfidious incarnation to date,
He turned up in the House with fangs
Bared at the woman employed to communicate
And told her to resign for daring to break ranks

Ah! Egbon Saburi, I now see you are not different
Between you and the rest of the farrago
Who have made the nation impotent
All for bags of Ghana-must-go…

Dedicated to Broda Saburi…

A Necromancer called Segun Adeniyi?

The “president has directed the vice president should continue to run the affairs of the state…”
– Mr. Segun Adeniyi

Pre-Script
Mr. Umar Musa Yar’Adua is assumed dead, unless confirmed otherwise.

Story
I was left aghast though somewhat impressed during the week, when Mr. Segun Adeniyi issued two statements; not one, but two; ostensibly on behalf of a man that is for all intents in one of the many phases of dying that advanced medical sciences have bestowed on the 21st century homo sapiens.

This is the same Mr. Adeniyi who was unable to speak to Nigerians coherently since his boss and madam left Nigeria on political, nay health, asylum to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The last statement I recall from him was from Angola where he had gone to represent guess who? His dying / dead boss of course.

It is interesting to note Mr. Adeniyi’s metamorphosis from a fairly well respected newspaper editor to a man who dined with the devil with long cutleries, on to one who eventually chose to dine without cutleries at all. His latest incarnation as a man who is capable of speaking to the dead (or partially dead, where all medical science has failed) and issue statements on behalf of the said dead man is nothing short of the feats done with a ouija board.

My candid advice to Mr. Adeniyi is to promptly resign his current post as it is not lucrative enough. There are hordes of Nigerians and indeed many people in the world who wish to contact dead relatives and who would pay a fortune to have a statement from their dead loved ones. Think of how much money he would make if he decides to become an expert witness in contested probate and will cases? Think of how much companies like Ford or Coca-Cola would pay to hear the counsels of long-dead titans that helped shaped these companies?

In addition, think of how many people would want to train under him. The money to be made from apprentice necromancers would make even General T.Y Danjuma envious. I am already dreaming of a gigantic building somewhere in Abuja, with “SegAde Necro Towers” emblazoned across the top of the building. The building has to be close to the rocky villa, where his services are most likely to be in demand for a while to come.

Mr. Adeniyi, you have hit a gold-mine! Do not let this opportunity slip by you. Resign now and use your God-given (?) talent! Remember you would be asked what you did with it on the Judgment Day!

Gumption, Gutlessness, Good-luck and Jonathan

Nothing shatters hope more than a worthless icon of hope.

Yesterday, 3rd of March 2010, would perhaps go down in memory as the day Nigeria was condemned as a nation. Condemned, not by the nefarious acts of armed robbers, thieving policemen or scam mongers; but condemned by the perfidy of the people who – by design, choice or fraud – happen to be the rulers of the country.

Leadership is always not about taking pleasant decisions, neither is it about taking easy decisions. Even amoral leaders recognise the need to take decisions which may not be pleasant, but which are necessary for the survival of the group being led. In a country like Nigeria where a gangrenous rot has bedevilled the country for the past five decades, the importance of strong leadership cannot be over-emphasised.

It is pointless recounting the events of the past 100 days where a faceless, shadowy group led by a poorly educated and barely enlightened housewife and the chief “maiguard” of the president, has held a nation of 140-odd million people and its president hostage. So amorphous is this “group” that the only name attributed to it in the mainstream press is “the Cabal”.

From rather early on in this macabre soap opera, it has been clear to the man on the streets and to every intelligent and objective observer that the best course of action – (in the interest of the nation and in the long-term self-preservation interests of the civilian political class) would have been to compel the President to resign his post or impeach him. The impeachment of a president is not a pleasant task, particularly one that is ill, but to paraphrase Dr. Condoleeza Rice, the immediate past Secretary of State for the United States, the Presidency is more important than the president. In light of the embarrassment that the nation and its citizens have been subjected to, the time has been long due to sacrifice the blush of an ailing president for the progress of the nation.

Yet, the Executive Council of the Federation (EXCOF) pussy-footed whilst a man, who in my opinion is the most uncouth individual to ever grace the office of the Attorney General of the Federation, used every means he could lay his hand on to undermine the then Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, as well as come up with some of the most repugnant interpretations to the constitution of Nigeria. The quantum of cowardice in the “un-hallowed” chambers of the EXCOF can be gauged by the fact that none of the members of the EXCOF – including the Yar’Adua / Turai protagonists – had spoken to the president since his hurried evacuation from Nigeria in November 2009.

For the Legislative arms, I find it utterly shameful that whilst the axe of impeachment was wielded over former President Obasanjo’s head repeatedly for less damaging actions, the absence of the president alongside the loquacious and repulsive utterances of the previous AGF could not spur the Representatives or Senators to take a decisive step to halt the downward spiral of the ship of state. Instead there was a steroid-fuelled urge to pass a supplementary bill, which was spuriously signed from near the Great Beyond by an ailing President, whose last conscious memory was perhaps being sedated for a flight out of Nigeria.

One perhaps ought to be thankful for the confluence of events which led to Dr. Goodluck Jonathan being declared the Acting President and the subsequent hurried re-importation of an unconscious Umar Yar’Adua back to Nigeria, ostensibly to checkmate the supposedly growing influence of Dr. Jonathan. Since then, I have had to question if indeed there was any reason to be thankful in the first instance. Yar’Adua’s body’s return (I use this term quite deliberately, because no elected official or accredited journalist has seen the president) has turned to be an albatross for the Cabal, but for the same reasons of gaping gutlessness, the Senate has not had the inclination to summon any of the known faces of the Cabal to provide visual evidence of Yar’Adua’s presence in Nigeria or his state of health.

In one of the most reprehensible acts of nation destruction, the House of Representatives, led by a man I consider to be the biggest generational reprobate of them all, called for the resignation of Dr. Dora Akunyili, the Minister of Information and Communication. For all of this woman’s faults as being part of the EXCOF that hoodwinked the nation for more than 2 months, selling us dummies about Yar’Adua’s well-being, she has for the past 30 days or more been screaming at the top of her voice for the EXCOF to do what is moral and curtail the influence of this shadowy cabal by declaring the President incapacitated. One may fault her actions along so many lines, but it is hard to dispute that she is perhaps the only redeeming quality in a putrid government as we have it today. The call by the House of Reps is one that is as baffling as it is disgusting.

I would not want to dwell on the 30-odd demons in human form who govern the various states and their own call for Dr. Akunyili’s head for “over-heating the polity”. These are, in my opinion, spastic individuals who have not proved capable of governing their respective states intelligently. From their spokesman who made a fool of himself on a CNN program whilst displaying the “grandeur” of the Bayelsa state government house to the governor of the President’s state of origin, I can safely say none has displayed leadership qualities worthy of mention.

The biggest damp squib of them all, perhaps is Dr. Jonathan himself. When power devolves to you by accident, one of the first things that ought to be done is consolidate your hold on power. Do this, or else those displaced from power, or those with a stronger sense of entitlement will come back and stab you in the back – and I mean that physically. In one fell swoop, he has had the opportunity to wrest control from this spectre called the Cabal, as well as ingratiate himself (rightly or wrongly) into the thirsty memory of Nigerians as the one who finally broke the hold of a faceless, but rapacious lot on the throats of the citizenry. Yet, by not forcing a vote for incapacitation of the president yesterday, he has gone into the midst of his enemies blindfolded and handed daggers to them, whilst he walks ahead of them, believing he is leading them.

Over the past 100 days, crimes have been committed against the nation and its citizens, from David Edevbie’s flight to Jeddah to sign a supplementary budget to the deployment of troops to the International Airport in Abuja without the C-in-C’s knowledge, as well as the deducible, if not provable emptying of the nation’s coffers. These offences are screaming to be acknowledged; they are shouting to be judged.

One thing I know for sure – there is time for retribution ahead; either from the Cabal or from the restive denizens of the country.

A call for contractual colonisation

Mr. Prime Minister and the honourable members of the parliament,

I am here to make a straight-faced request to the United Kingdom Parliament for the re-colonisation of Nigeria, and that urgently. Before my request is thrown out as the mere rantings of a derelict mind, please hear me out. This is a fairly lengthy treatise, which may task your patience, but it is worth hearing.

A basic definition of colonisation is the imposition of the sovereignity of a country on an erstwhile independent political entity, with the resultant forfeiture of the sovereign rights of the latter. By extension, the subjugated entity becomes an integral – if arguably inferior – extension of the former. My request that Nigeria be recolonised is premised on the underlisted benefits to both the United Kingdom and Nigeria.

Benefits to the UK Government

Urgent need to forestall humanitarian disasters

It has been argued that Nigeria’s success is strategically important to the Anglo-Saxon Western world. I disagree with this assertion almost in its entirety. Nigeria is hardly as success, however one may choose to twist the definition of sucess. Nigeria has not been a success for almost 50 years and no Western nation has wobbled because of this.

On the other hand, the impact of the total failure of this drunken behemoth, I believe, is grossly under-stated. With a population that dwarfs that of Egypt and South Africa combined, any population displacement which may arise from total state failure would have dire consequences. I realise with the exception of Shell and Cadbury, there is hardly anything in Nigeria which the UK government would call corporate vested interest. Conversely however, there are other Anglophone or Anglophile countries around Nigeria which have better relationships with the UK, and which would be affected by such displacements.

To quantify this, a 15% population shift would mean about 20 million Nigerians would be seeking refuge in neighbouring countries. That is more than the combined population of the next two countries to her west – Benin Republic and Togo. That is roughly the population of Ghana, 300km away from the western border of Nigeria. I would place a wager, that should there be a Nigerian refugee crisis and any elections held in those regions, a Nigerian would end up ruling Benin, Togo and Ghana! I am sure even you with your studied indifference would not want PDP ruling in those countries.

Add to this the unspecified number of Nigerians who hold British citizenships or residency permit of one category or another but who currently live in Nigeria. Any influx of such people into the UK would turn Irish people who live in England into a white minority. I leave you to imagine the added impact of those who would also make their way to the UK to seek assylum. I do not know of what would hasten the BNP’s march to the seat in 10 Downing other than this.

So, colonise Nigeria and clip the BNP wings.

You think Somali pirates are bad news? Wait until a Nigerian crisis crystallises and creates Egbesu pirates. You may kiss Guinea-Bissau and Sao-Tome & Principe good-bye. You may also want to devise alternative shipping routes that do not bring you near the Gulf of Guinea. There virtually goes a significant slice of your Europe/Indian Ocean trade. Knowing the Nigerian penchant for over-doing things, do not be surprised if the Nigerian Navy joins in the jamboree.

Stable access to resources to bolster and support the UK’s industries and homes.

I would be blatant about this, Nigeria has more gas resources than her current leaders have brains or guts to harness. Nigerians don’t need gas-heated homes, the UK does. Bar the manufacturing sector (which is currently comatose) and domestic cooking, the energy needs of the country are not very great.

Colonising Nigeria again would resolve all of the UK’s energy needs. In fact, you may call the bluff of the Scottish National Party and let Scotland secede with her oil and gas reserves. Nigeria’s offshore reserves are not even fully assessed yet.

A caveat is required here though. An industrial development plan has to be devised and implemented which would also help the development of manufacturing in Nigeria. We however agree that this development can be capped at such levels that would always guarantee UK industries access to 40% of the energy resources in Nigeria. A corollary to this is that 60% of the energy resources would be used to develop Nigeria during this re-colonisation phase.

Stemming and ultimately reversing UK immigration

The very uninformed view of the right-wing in UK politics is that immigrants are out to fleece the system. Let me take liberties here to speak on behalf of the Nigerian immigrant. The average Nigerian immigrant is usually a well educated individual who is looking for an environment where his talents can be put to maximum use and consequently be remunerated for it.

Against this backdrop, place this Nigerian in any English-speaking environment where he is not hampered and he would hardly know the difference, as long as he can still pursue his objectives. I said English-speaking environment, because like our erstwhile Anglo-Saxon colonial masters, we loathe to learn other languages.

I foresee therefore a situation where improved infra-structural facilities would be enough to dissuade all but the most dis-illussioned of “Andrews” from checking out of Nigeria. By the time colonisation brings improved civil policing practices to Nigeria, I can assure you, the Nigeria House on Northumberland Avenue would not be able to cope with the number of Nigerians applying for Nigerian passports to head back to Lagos. If they do not leave in summer, I can give you the assurance that a ferocious winter like this year’s (2009/2010) would convince the rest to hightail to warmer climes.

Again, that is another nail in the coffin of the BNP.

Restoration of the Empire
May I ask, of what use is an empire without subjects? Come on, let’s bring back the lost glory days of the Empire! Once again, you would have subjects standing in the scorching sun of the National Stadium Abuja to receive the Queen (or would it be Prince Charles?)

Benefits to Nigerians

Infrastructural development

To my Nigerian audience, please think about this. The last significant piece of work done on the rail network in Nigeria was done before independence in 1960. This network was put in place by the British Masters to facilitate the movement of groundnut and other produce from the North to the Southern port cities of Port Hacourt and Lagos.

That was done because of groundnuts aka peanuts! Think of what might have been put in place for the petroleum industry? I would bet there would have been no unrest in the Niger Delta!

Think of the electricity transmission and distribution network that could be in place if we take the national grid from the hands of NEPA/PHCN and give it to Britsh Gas or EDF? Femi Otedola might object to this, but I would simply ask him to use his billions to buy British Gas shares.

I can safely infer that Benin/Ore would cease to be the hell it is at the moment if handed over to the British Highway Maintenance Agency. I would admit, I do not expect the BHMA to turn the Benin/Sagamu road to another M1 but we can demand a better job of them than the Ministry of Works.

Improved quality of life

Dare I dream of an NHS-type health care system to replace the non-existent services provided by the Nigerian Ministry of Health at the moment? I do not see any harm in such hopes. I think though, the fear of dying from malaria would make our proposed colonial masters keen to eradicate malaria and other diseases which have been virtually eradicated in the Western world; something we have been unable to do for 50 years.

Restoration of national pride

You know there is something gratifying about being a citizen of a country where things work, even if you do not know how those things work. Ask the black South African or the redneck from some backwater part of the US south. Maybe we, as Nigerians can gain some of that sense of national belonging which is not indexed against an accusation of being terrorists or scammers once more.

The Boring Fine Prints

Unlike the first round of colonisation, the only thing we insist on for this requested phase of re-colonisation is the right as British-Nigerians to vote like any other Briton.

This is to serve as a check/balance against mis-rule. You can be sure if 140million people vote against you in the Parliamentary elections, it would take a re-colonisation of India to save you from defeat! It would also work in your favour, should we, British-Nigerians, vote for you.

Thank you for listening.