Monday, March 23, 2015. Two separate incidents conspired to whip me back to life.
Deadened by Jona’s shock promise of 50% reduction in electricity tariff, my sweet passage had, first, been rudely awakened by a brat. I was slowly staggering to life when the intruder announced himself as President of the United States of America. He goes by the name Obama, and some say his forebears crawled their way to the US many years ago from the Masai kingdom of Kenya.
Initially, I gave no heed to this flabby-eared character, as I seriously pondered the audacity of his courage. In my state of graceful bliss, all that mattered was the arithmetic of paying just 50% for the darkness consumed in my household. I should be grateful for little tokens, I thought, and needed no Obama to influence my thoughts drifting elsewhere.
Jona’s promise was only a couple of days away from being accomplished. And, it didn’t matter if he failed to keep same. In these climes, a promise is no debt! Soon, just two days after March 28, I would jeer at the Power Holding Company (PHCN) in whose suffocating grip I had been made to sweat. I wanted no end to this dream but the intruder kept shoving me to reality.
I raved back to life to hear the guy from Kenya mutter stuff about democracy and the March 28 polls in Nigeria. ‘Who send you message?’ I yelled at him. He was unshaken. Rather, he steadied his voice and belched a few more advice. He said the world was watching and hoping that Naija would turn in a decent report at the end of the polls.
I wasn’t going to allow Obama walk away with such bragging rights. Was there anything in the books to suggest that his people were poles ahead of us in conducting free, fair, credible and violence-free elections? See me see wahala, I intoned. I scrambled for every argument in my defense.
To concede an inch in this battle for bragging right wasn’t an option. No, not before this self-acclaimed policeman who had put our friendship to test for fear of ‘rights abuses’. He had denied us guns to silence the vociferous Bokos who were angling for a piece of Naija’s body and soul. He even said, at the peak of the Ebola lockdown, that his people had no drug to spare us. I had him nailed but had no intention to stop at that.
I would regale the starry-eyed Obama with our many successes in conducting elections. How could he have forgotten the success we made of the Nigerian Governors Forum? In that election, we taught the world the true meaning of ‘simple majority’.
Amaechi, the enfant terrible and governor of Rivers State, lost out as Chair even though he scored the highest number of votes. Interesting is the fact that the election involved only 36 celebrities. The governor of Delta State, one of Nigeria’s richest enclaves, was Returning Officer! How else can credibility be measured? Today, there is a multiplicity of governors’ forum of this and that. Tell me, Obama, are we not better off? After all, the constitution speaks of freedom of association. Gbam!
If conduct of the governors doesn’t thrill you, check out the stunt pulled by members of the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) in a recent exercise. This body of self-styled puritans pointed the way of future elections, showing that it could become the easiest of all tasks. They built a simple movie model, letting the world know that elections should not be taken too seriously. Didn’t think Obama deserved too much education on that. It’s called ‘home-grown’ democracy.
If you missed out, the NLC elections were laced with a good dose of comedy, and that’s how it ought to be. It was a simple plot…Line up the dramatis personae, hand them the script, invite the cameras and…phew! If the elections don’t turn out as projected, gather the noisy few, have them thrash content of the transparent ballot boxes while chorusing, ‘Aluta Continua’. Sure, that’s the fastest way to seek redress rather than rely on the unreliable slow court processes.
Obama was unfazed. He let a little grin fly but I had a joker. Yeah, it was the story of Baba, a former president, who got someone to tear his party membership card just to show how pissed-off he was with his political son. OBJ simply typified our impatience. Shouldn’t Obama and his ilk realize that we do not have time to waste?
We have a lot of catching up to do, and things are better done in a hurry. The task of building a united country does not mean that we cannot shred our identification badges especially if they are made of paper. Can’t you see, Obama?
Frustrated, I asked to be excused, rather rudely, to ponder the second issue that had nudged me to life. All day, CNN had inundated the airwaves with the story of one man. It was about Ted Cruz, the US Senator who considers Obama a disaster of some sort. Same Monday, he had in a tight ceremony announced to a cheery gathering that he was aspiring to the office of President of USA. Which one concern vulture with barber, I thought?
I turned down the weird offer to think America. There was no better dream than Naija. I took Ted to task, just like I did Obama. I wondered if the quiet little gathering was the best he could muster. He made no outlandish promise of the kind that reminds you of story for the gods. Is that what they do to win hearts and minds, I asked myself? I branded him lazy and rated his campaign colourless.
I wished I could ask Ted over for a few lessons in brinkmanship. Why all the penny-pinching when you can bring the entire country to a halt. I felt proud that Jona and Buhari were showing the way in a very animated race. Between both, trillions of naira have been expended from our large vault of inexhaustible funds.
Wouldn’t Ted like to have his face etched on every piece of clothing circulating in America? If only he realized it was such a huge capital in Naija where records of public service do not count but how much was pilfered from the common till and redistributed through paltry handouts.
It was really disappointing not to see the big acts of Hollywood grace Ted’s event. Here, it takes a few wads to assemble the ecumenical and entertainment communities and have them sing one’s praise to high heavens. That leaves everyone excited and truly defines the glamour and glitz that shape our politics. The Americans must learn this.
For Obama, we are keen to understand your ways too, having shown more than a passing interest in us. Chew this, is it true that you have officially denied Ted benefits of Obamacare because he vehemently opposed it?
Na wa o! E be like say politics na the same thing everywhere. Abi?
– Article by Sam Ibemere
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