In my primary four, the Yoruba text book we read was ‘Kola ati Kemi’ — a series of short stories depicting the “adventures” of two siblings: Kola and Kemi. Kola was the crafty one while his sister, Kemi, was the clever one. One day, Kola and Kemi followed their father to the farm. As they played around the farm, Kemi would announce: “Daddy, I found a snail!” And the father would reply: “Well done, my daughter.” Kola, not to be outdone, would also announce: “Daddy, I’ve found a snail!” And the father would reply: “Good job, my son.” It became a healthy competition as they went on picking snail after snail while their father kept himself busy cultivating the land.
They left for home and it was soon dinner time. So the father announced: “For your dinner tonight, you will eat the snails that you picked on the farm.” As it turned out, Kola did not pick any snail — he was just deceiving himself in order to keep up with his sister. Kemi had plenty snails and had a good dinner. When the true story came to their father’s attention, he said something like: “If you planted one hundred ridges of yam and claim it is two hundred, after eating one hundred yams, you will eat another one hundred lies.” In Nigeria, we have perfected a way of living on lies, cooking the books, dancing with the digits, and whitewashing the sepulchres. Whom are we deceiving but ourselves?
One of the biggest scandals rocking our education system is the yearly competition for the best-performing state in WAEC (I will leave that of the “best university” out of this discussion for sanity sake). As a result, many state governments give school principals the marching order to make sure the students pass very well. So the school authorities will, like Kola, game the system. They will aid and abet cheating. They will bribe invigilators and supervisors. The students will come out in “flying colours” and the state will get good ratings in WAEC. But states where things are done more decently will seem to perform poorly on the WAEC table. In the end, who is deceiving who?
A positive thing coming out of the controversy over the recent “competency test” conducted by Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, the governor of Kaduna state, is that we are now having a sustained conversation around the quality of instruction in our schools. For too long, our attention has been more on the quality of infrastructure. We often complain about leaking roofs and dilapidated classrooms. Politicians and their allies have made billions of naira from contracts to build schools, but the quality of teaching has not improved in billions. You can have a classroom that looks like a five-star hotel, but what are the pupils learning? That is what counts the most.
I have read a number of comments on the Kaduna issue that caught my attention. One is that a competency test can only be legally conducted by the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN). And since we claim to be operating a constitutional democracy, then we have to follow the law. You can hardly argue against this position if you believe in the rule of law. However, the teachers that were tested by Kaduna state all have certificates from the same TRCN legally proclaiming them as “qualified”. And then you will turn to the same TRCN to assess them? What is the likely outcome? So whom are we deceiving but ourselves?
How do people get certified in Nigeria today? How did you get your driving licence? Did you go to a driving school? Did you do a driving test? Did you read the laws and regulations of driving? Do you understand the road signs around you? Do you know who should give way at a roundabout? If your answer to all these questions is “yes”, you deserve a national honour. I know many people who have driving licences but are yet to learn driving. I kid you not. With just N20,000, you can get a driving licence in Nigeria and hit the road. I don’t know how much it costs to get a TRCN “qualified teacher” certification, but you can buy it even if you can’t spell “teacher” correctly.
I also noted the argument about the “validity and reliability” of the test. It is an extension of the legality argument. I support things being done properly, I should say, but I am just curious: if you cannot spell “Donald Trump”, does it matter who is conducting the test? Would you be able to spell the name of the eccentric American president only if the test was conducted by TRCN and not by a consultant? I don’t get the argument, but I will let it pass. It is also argued that a civil servant may not be able to sing the national anthem but that does not mean he or she is unpatriotic. Beautiful analogy. But it still breaks down at some point: the national anthem is a competency test.
The officials of the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the leaked scripts were not those of the teachers. They were filled by el-Rufai’s aides to ridicule the teachers, they said. In other words, the teachers are not that bad: el-Rufai is only calling a dog a bad name in order to hang it. Really? Do the NUT officials currently have their children in public schools? If so, are they happy with the quality of instruction their children are receiving there? Would the NUT officials please withdraw and enrol their children in public schools to prove their point, to put their money where their mouths are? It is very easy to pursue that line of argument when your own children are schooling at Corona.
For those of us who believe that the teachers are as bad as the test results showed, the next question is: what should be done? Sack them and recruit new ones — as el-Rufai wants to do? Re-train them? An interesting recommendation coming from the debate is the need to re-train the teachers. Some think that with an intensive course of about nine months, these teachers will learn to differentiate between a triangle and a square. This is a very optimistic suggestion. I wish I could be this generous. What experience has shown, though, is that while there will be those who can be still be salvaged, the majority may be unserviceable and, thus, unsuitable for teaching.
No matter the criticism of el-Rufai, we have someone who is not just worried about the quality of education but is determined to do something about it. All the governors must address this issue. We live in a society where politics colours everything and where labour unions are so powerful they can stop the rain from falling, but after the fire and the brimstone, it is very important to keep asking the question: is this how things should be? Can we maintain the status quo and expect a turn-around? Can we ever make a fundamental change by papering over the cracks? Can we make omelette without breaking eggs? Can we cleanse the education sector without a major surgery?
The biggest headache for me, though, is that there are so many things to reform about Nigerian institutions. The bureaucracy is sick and weak — no thanks to corruption. You bribe to get certified as a teacher. You bribe to get certified as a nurse. You bribe to get certified as a driver. You bribe to get your uniform as a police officer. You bribe police to investigate the theft of your car. You bribe to get university admission. You bribe to pass your exams. You bribe to graduate. Bribe makes way for everything in Nigeria, and the teaching profession is just a victim of the system. We can’t move forward under this rigged system. If the foundation be destroyed, what can the righteous do?
President Muhammadu Buhari last week backed the strategic education plan of Mallam Adamu Adamu, the minister of education. It’s a well-articulated plan. But, as we all know by now, it takes more than a plan. It takes more than a vision. It takes more than a man. All hands must be on deck. The institutions and human beings to actualise the vision have to be on the same page. Unfortunately, most unfortunately, Nigeria is such a warped society that when you think about reforming a critical sector like education, the only thing some people can see is money. The unions are there to put a spanner in the wheel, in any case. Who really cares about any vision?
Let’s be honest: if the TRCN were driven by a vision and were doing such a great job, the complaint we would have about our schools would be the infrastructure, not the teaching. All sorts of characters, both literate and illiterate, are certified as “qualified teachers”. I can say confidently that I was well taught in my primary school, even if we didn’t have great toilets or cushioned chairs. Over the decades, everything has gone on sale. Everything has a price. That is why we keep rigging the figures. We keep deceiving ourselves that things are improving when they are not. After eating one hundred yams, we will feast on another one hundred lies — like Kola (no relation).
AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…
Just when you see and hear things that should make you finally give up on Nigeria, a light suddenly flashes in the darkness. I was so encouraged by the testimony of a Customs officer in court on Thursday on the illegally imported 661 pump action rifles. Abdullahi Muhammad said he was offered a bribe of N8 million but he turned it down — and his supervisor fully supported him. Oh my God! In Nigeria? How many Customs officers would do that? In a country where, for filthy lucre, fake and substandard drugs — including life-saving insulin and antibiotics — easily pass through Customs, this inspires some optimism about Nigeria. Maybe we are not genetically corrupt, after all. Hope.
President Muhammadu Buhari did what some called a “soft launch” of his 2019 re-election bid last week in the south-east, which is clearly the bastion of opposition to his government. He was received by the politicians and the traditional rulers. He was hosted to a banquet. He was even decorated with chieftaincy titles. Was this for real? Was it meant for the cameras? Is he genuinely wooing them? Are they genuinely responding to his touch? Are they faking it? Most crucially, are the Igbo elite and the people on the same page? In all honesty, it is difficult to know the fruits his overtures will produce, but I think there is a long way to go in winning them over. Dicey.
It was heart-warming that the Anambra state governorship election went on smoothly on Saturday. I had my fears. The IPOB threat was there, and with allegations that the APC was hell-bent on taking the state to please President Buhari, I was wondering if we were not about to reverse the gains of previous elections. I wondered if we would not need a massive deployment of soldiers to reinforce security. When police withdrew Governor Willie Obiano’s security aides a few days to the D-Day, I almost gave up. You can now understand my relief that it went without any major incident and the turn-out was good. At least we should be able to get something right in this country. Progress.
How much is too much? President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe has always carried on as if he can do and undo. His actions and decisions go unchallenged by his subjects. Slammed with a hefty hammer by the West since 1990 over his insistence on implementing agreements with the colonialists to cede land to blacks, Mugabe has watched his country wither like herb but he would rather eat grass than backtrack. He has not helped himself with a series of rash and selfish decisions that have worsened his country’s economic and political fortunes. Removing his VP to pave the way for his wife as his successor appears to be the final straw leading to a military intervention. Snookered.
Source: Naija News
The Politics Of Amnesty: Like Niger Delta Militants, Like Bandits
By Fredrick Nwabufo
Did the activities of militants in the Niger Delta qualify as crime? Hell Yes! Militancy and kidnapping were a profitable pursuit in that oil-rich region in the early 2000s. Kidnapping as an organized venture entered our national lexicon at the time. Immigrants from Europe and America working with oil companies were kidnapped and huge ransoms extracted from them. Soldiers and police officers were killed, and public infrastructure destroyed. This is a fact of history.
Really, there was a method to the madness of the Niger Delta militants. They were fighting for a just cause — a region so endowed; yet so impoverished. But the genuineness of their cause does not obviate the criminality of their exertions. Militancy is a crime against the state. Lives were lost; some families traumatized and scarred for life.
As the tension in the Niger Delta thawed owing to the political engineering of the Umar Musa Yar’Adua administration, copycat crimes inspired by militants sputtered in the south-east. The kidnapping establishment now had new shareholders. The south-east was in the thrall of kidnappers who killed their victims even after ransom was paid. Igbo-on-Igbo crime. Kidnapping became so pervasive in the south-east that some governors of the region resorted to demolishing property acquired by the hostage takers to deter other human hunters. Quasi-security groups were set up to deal with the challenge – which even persists to this day.
The criminal commerce was later trafficked to Lagos where a certain Evans Onuamadike and his gang reigned in the kidnapping industry like a potentate. Some of his victims were allegedly killed, and from his own confession, he extracted millions of naira from his victims and bought a mansion for himself at Magodo in Lagos.
Nigeria is in the clutches of a more vicious stakeholder in the kidnapping enterprise. ‘’Bandits’’ as they have been tagged, do not only kidnap citizens, but also kill and maim some of them. They are more brutal in their execution – and without any regard for life. They have killed many Nigerians and sacked towns and villages. It is indubitable that ‘’bandits’’ are Nigeria’s most deadly adversary — after insurgents.
There is no method to the madness of bandits. There is no cause to justify the orgy of murders, rape and destruction.
However, Sheikh Ahmad Gumi in his proselytising for bandits has raised some prickly posers. He said bandits are waging an ethnic war against the state and that only by granting them amnesty can the titanic iceberg thaw. He said bandits believe their existence in Nigeria is threatened; so they fight. He said these people have endured the pillaging of their cattle and homes – with no protection from security agencies. I will not join the multitude to censure the Sheikh; I would rather plead we ponder on some of his revelations.
The Sheikh said: “People don’t know the Fulani at all. They are not after money. Even when they are burning houses in Oyo, don’t you see where they live? They stay in huts. They are not into buying flashy cars. They just like their cattle. The money they are collecting from kidnappings, they are buying weapons with them. The more you fight them, the more they fight back. They don’t surrender. They are saying if the air force continues to pester them, they will have to get anti-aircraft. Not all of them are criminals; the hard-line (position) taken against them turned them into the militants that they are.’’
Gumi made a salient point here if we care enough to shackle our emotions and interrogate the fact. Really, where does the money from kidnapping go to? These bandits do not buy cars or houses, instead they are acquiring ‘’armadas’’ – for what purpose? This validates the opinion that these bandits are waging an ethnic war. There is a backstory to every crisis. What we are witnessing could be beyond kidnapping and banditry. Kidnapping and banditry could just be the cash trove to finance this war.
It then makes sense that seeking an accord to end this crisis should not be banished out of the potpourri of remedies.
As a matter of fact, the nomadic Fulani has existed in the shadows – far removed from the presence of government. No protection or aid by the civil administration; so he becomes his own security. The present parlous state of affairs is as a result of successive years of failed leadership. The leadership has failed the Fulani; the leadership has failed the Igbo; the leadership has failed the Hausa; the leadership has failed the Yoruba; the leadership has failed all Nigerians.
We are all victims of the situation. The failure of leadership is the reason Nigerians take up arms against one another. The nomadic Fulani is a victim of failed leadership just like every one of us. We have to fix leadership.
THE POLITICS OF AMNESTY
Should it be unto bandits as it was unto Niger Delta militants? The ethnic cleavages have been revealed again in this crisis. The debate is now on ‘’my criminal is nicer than yours’’. While some Nigerians will not countenance any justification for banditry; yet they make strong arguments for Niger Delta militants who also kidnapped people, killed soldiers and extracted ransoms. ‘’My criminal is nicer than yours’’. We forget that at the end of the day, crime is crime whether by done by Ejiro, Kachalla or Chukwudi.
We cannot also rule out the possibility of some vultures seeking to use ‘’amnesty for bandits’’ as means to perpetuate their looting of the public till. So, if there must be amnesty for bandits, it should be at no financial cost to the government. However, the government should revisit the national livestock plan and work in consonance with state governors to see to its implementation. Already, the Nigeria Governors Forum has endorsed the plan. The government should not be seduced into doing a reprise of the ‘’amnesty package’’ of Niger Delta militants for bandits. Bandits should surrender their weapons unconditionally. In seeking peace, we must not create for ourselves future problems by rewarding crime.
I wish Nigeria peace.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.
President Buhari: The Unheralded Achievements – Femi Adesina
Let me give due credit for the idea of this piece. President Muhammadu Buhari had said recently that elites in the country were not giving due accolades to his administration in terms of where it met the country, what it grapples with, and where it has been able to take the nation to, thus far.
The position of Mr. President was widely published by the traditional and digital media, and it became an object of debate. In the middle of it all, I received a phone call from Prince Nduka Obaigbena, Chairman of Arise Television and Publisher of Thisday Newspapers.
“Mr President says the elite have not given due credit to the administration. That means there are achievements that are not reported, underreported, or not celebrated at all. Come to Arise Television, and talk about it.”
It was a good opportunity. What else was my duty, if not to inform and educate the country (and beyond) on the work my principal was doing for the country? So, to Arise Television I went, on The Morning Show, anchored by cerebral journalist and my immediate predecessor in the office I currently occupy, Dr. Reuben Abati.
The sparring session (that’s the way I see it) went well. Abati and his co-hosts came from different angles, trying to take me out with that sucker punch that would send me kissing the canvass. I floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee (apologies Muhammed Ali). At the end of it all, I believe we had a good show, with no side worsted.
So, what are the unheralded achievements of the Buhari Administration? What are the landmarks and milestones given scant attention by the elite, if even recognized at all?
Nigeria has challenges today. Very severe ones. Security is key in any country, if there would be progress and development. But here we are, battling insurgency, banditry, kidnappings, wanton killings, armed robbery, ethnic insularity leading to murder and mayhem, and other vicious criminalities. All these can only make a people sad and dolorous. But is that all there is to Nigeria of today?
The Buhari government is battling insecurity with all it has at its disposal. Naturally, the populace will want faster results, but some things are never by a sudden flight. You don’t just snap your fingers, and the problems disappear. And in the middle of it all, you must still continue to work, and make the time count for country and the people.
So, despite it all, what are some of the unreported or underreported achievements?
Annual budgets and how they perform have always been issues in the country. How timeously has the financial projections been delivered, and what has been the level of performance? These are germane to any economy.
The year 2020 was a remarkable one in the annals of mankind. A novel virus came, which you can’t see, smell or touch, but it succeeded in sending the world into a tailspin. There were national lockdowns round the globe, lives were lost in their numbers, economies suffered, and despondency was the order of the day.
But it was also the year Nigeria had resolved to return its budget cycle to January to December. It was achieved, and despite the fact that fallen oil prices compelled a review, the budget at the end of the day achieved 97.7 per cent performance. Holy Moses! It never happened before. In normal years, without a gripping pandemic, and the need to balance between lives and livelihoods, our budgets never attained such records. You often talk of 50 or 60 per cent performance, at the best. There were years in the past, when we even had 30 per cent performance. But under Buhari, in a year of collapsed oil prices, and income at about a quarter of what we used to earn, here was 97.7 per cent performance. Jumping Jehoshaphat! There must be more fiscal discipline in this government than Nigerians are crediting it for.
But did the news hug the headlines? Did it become the talking point of talk shows on radio and television? For where? No herdsmen were involved, so it was not going to be sweet to discuss. It was going to make the government of the day look good, so the elite was not interested. That was how that budget feat went uncelebrated, unheralded. Shout yourself hoarse announcing it, those who should run with it were uninterested. They would rather talk of yet unfulfilled promises in the areas of security, economy and anti-corruption.
We have always had stiff antagonism between states and the Federal Government. They were always like Tom and Jerry, with each striving to outdo and undermine the other. Till Buhari came.
At the advent of the administration in 2015, at least 27 states could not pay salaries. President Buhari did not ask them to stew in their juice, but rather made deft footworks, which bailed the states out of their predicament. Succor came for the people. Did it hug the headlines? No. Because herdsmen were not involved.
It used to be that Federal Government never gave states their dues in terms of refunds for projects executed. But not under Buhari. At the last count, about 700 billion naira had been paid to states as refund for road projects. The largest chunk of N78 billion went to Rivers, a state governed by the opposition party, and who’s governor rarely has good things to say about government at the centre. Also approved and paid were Paris Club refunds in excess of five billion dollars, owed by previous administrations. Uncelebrated, unheralded.
We have always talked about the need to have modular refineries in the country, to ensure that glitches in the supply of petroleum products were eliminated. For years, licenses were given, but there was only one such refinery working in the country. Till Buhari came, and recalibrated the oil industry. Today, many modular refineries are in the works, almost completed. Late last year, the Waltersmith refinery was commissioned by the President himself, and has gone into operation. But not a whimper from the traditional and social media. Why? No herdsman was involved. No interest.
Infrastructure. Ah, infrastructure. This is where Buhari would leave his largest footprints. Roads. Bridges. Rail. Airports. AKK gas pipeline. All to be delivered before the administration exits in 2023. Second Bridge over River Niger, built with mouth for 16 years under the administration of another political party, is now about 50% completed. Lagos-Ibadan Expressway racing towards completion. Abuja-Kaduna-Kano Expressway being reconstructed. Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki Expressway being reconstructed.for the first time in 40 years. Bonny-Bodo Bridge and road finally underway, more than four decades after it was conceived. Rail projects round the country. Abuja-Kaduna, Warri-Itakpe already in operation, Lagos-Ibadan to be commissioned anytime soon, Ibadan to Kano under works, Kano to Maradi flagged off last week. Brand new airports in Abuja, Port Harcourt, Lagos, Kano. Enugu has been rehabilitated.
Headquarters of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) completed after decades of lack of will, the local content skyscraper dots the Bayelsa State skyline, the Nnamdi Azikiwe mausoleum completed in Anambra State after 22 years, all by Buhari. No plaudits. No accolades. All they talk about are things not done. No thanksgiving to God for small mercies, which are the real mercies. It all reminds me of the line from China Achebe, in Things Fall Apart, about a man and his consort: “If I hold her hands, she says; don’t touch. If I hold her foot, she says; don’t touch. But when I hold her waist beads, she pretends not to know.”
Why is President Buhari touching our waist beads, and some Nigerians, particularly the elite, are pretending not to know?
In areas where we had opacities, there is now transparency. The first audited financial report of the NNPC is now done in more than 40 years. The Open Treasury Portal now publishes Federal Government expenditure online. Corruption is being robustly fought. There is public sector reform in many areas. Our waist beads are being touched, but we are pretending not to know. Wetin?
Let’s look at private investments in the country. Such things never thrive, unless government provides the enabling environment. Now see what we have, under Buhari:
*Dangote Refinery. The largest single-train crude oil refinery in the world.
*Lekki Deep Sea Port. A brand new port to serve as alternative to Apapa port.
*Dangote Fertilizer and Petrochemical plant.
*Segilola Gold Project in Osun State, described as “Nigeria’s most advanced gold exploration and production project.”
*Nigeria’s first ever gold refineries under construction in Ogun State and FCT.
*Olam’s $150million investment in poultry feed mills, hatchery and breeder farms in Kaduna and Kwara states, commissioned in 2017.
*GB Foods 20 billion naira tomato paste factory in Kebbi.
*$250 million brewery by International Breweries Plc, commissioned 2018 in Sagamu, Ogun State, said to be the biggest in West Africa.
*Indorama Fertilizer Plant Train 2, nearing completion in Port Harcourt.
*NLNG Train 7, which will expand the company’s production capacity by more than 30%
*Agric investment hits six-year high.
And many more…
President Buhari is surely touching the waist beads of Nigerians. We should no longer pretend not to know.
Adesina is Special Adviser to President Buhari on Media and Publicity.
Leaked Conversations From Aso Villa Demons’ Annual General Meeting 2021
It has been a minute since I wrote one of these — the last was in 2018 — but the state is deserving of one at this interesting time. Nigeria is a difficult place to write satires, seeing how satirical the country itself gets. But here is the disclaimer; this is a SATIRE.
Sitting at the recently-renovated presidential ante-room, the Aso Villa demons are having their annual general meeting for 2021. The ante-room is the new location where the president is forced to hold many of his meetings, so the rest of the villa is not exposed to the not-so-novel coronavirus. The meeting is to review their performance in the previous year and plan for the new year.
The loud drums and unending laughter finally come to a halt, as the chief demon waves at other demons to take their seats. He goes on to deliver his first speech in 2021.
“I’d like to congratulate you all for a remarkable job done in 2020. Despite all the ups and downs, we achieved all our goals in that terrific year. Could you imagine that Nigeria planned to join the top 20 economies in the world by 2020. What a joke?
(The demons laugh like robots programmed to respond at the same time. The chief signals them to silence)
“How could they even think a country like Nigeria could come into the same space as Saudi Arabia, Switzerland, and the Netherlands? But the country tried nonetheless, they climbed up to number 26, and somehow maintained top spot as Africa’s largest economy. For sixty years, the country has had potential to be one of the biggest drivers of the global economy. But you know our job is toooooo…”
“Our job is to keep the nation having potential, but never really becoming what it is capable of becoming.”
(They all continue the laughter, with a little drumming this time. The chief dances along to the songs of mockery they sang. He signals them to silence again, and waved them back to their seats)
“You see, we need to send special gratitude to those who made our job easy in 2020. Those hampers we sent may not be enough for people like the former helmsman at the financial crimes bureau. In 2017, he staged a war against the Department of Sorry State, which gave us so much joy. In 2020, he stood up to that Ant-onion general of the Federation, which ended in tears for him. We need to appreciate him for his sacrifice, not many people will sacrifice their careers for our cause. He’s a good man.
(The demons laugh in mockery)
“Need I speak of Abike and the minister of telephones who hosted a fighting show on Twitter, dragging each other like stubborn generating sets. Confusion, you really outdid yourself in 2020″ the chief said, pointing to the demon which made the fights happen.
“We must also send gratitude to Detective Fash, who distracted the undiscerning from the shooting in Lekki. Special gratitude also goes to the lying minister, who immensely made Naija a laughing stock on the global scene. We need to thank him for his many press conferences attacking the international community. Can you believe he really wanted to sanction the American news channel over the Lekki shootings? If anyone told me you demons could pull that off, I’d have doubted you immensely.
“Time will not permit me to speak of the family drama we pulled off in this villa. The heightened level of insecurity and all the other great things we achieved in 2020. I believe we can do better this year.”
DEMONS PLAN FOR 2021
(The chief asks the demons to share their plans for the year 2021 and how they plan to destabilise Naija further in the new year.)
“I see some of you already taking giant steps, but I’d like you to furnish the house with the details of your plans,” the chief says as he takes a seat.
(Four demons step forward to share their plans. Insensitivity, Insecurity, Confusion, and Nepotism take turns.)
Insentivity: “My plans this year are already in motion. From our grand plan, I am employing whispers to drive frustration within the country. The last time the governor of the chief bank of Naija visited the Harry’s Boo, I whispered into their ears and joined in on their conversations without their knowledge. I told them cryptocurrency was bad for the country and a ban on such will ensure development and security in the country. It will also make cow-to-currency thrive.
“I reminded Harry’s Boo of the kidnap of Aisha Hardo, his wife’s name sake, who paid $15,000 in bitcoin to kidnappers in 2019. I told him that if this can be done in Abuja, imagine what is happening elsewhere. He bought it. the governor of the chief bank did not agree, but he could not say anything. Funny thing was that I could hear him thinking, “so if Kidnappers ask for food as ransom, would Harry’s Boo also ban food?” But he couldn’t say that lest he loses his job. Now, the bank will defend and poorly implement a policy it doesn’t believe in.
“I also whispered reminded the presidential spokesperson that his only job is to defend the president. Nothing more. And I see he is already doing it at all cost. He recently blamed Naija people — and not Harry’s Boo — for the corruption in the country. Insensitivity doesn’t get better than that my lord. This year, the people will see more of this blame-shifting and gross insensitivity. I will put my best to it.”
(Insensitivity takes a bow, as Confusion takes over)
Confusion: My lord, this year will be a great one for me. Toward the end of 2020, I set plans in motion to employ confusion in reducing economic activity and increasing COVID-19 numbers. I whispered a question to the minister of telephones, I asked him how powerful he was. He said he was very powerful. I told him he was powerless, that all he had was an illusion of power and not power itself.
I told him that if he thinks he is really powerful, he should shut the country down. The man is a genius. How he cooked up a storm is beyond. A few days after our discussion, I saw a memo to all telcos to disconnect all phone numbers not linked to a National Identity (NID). Everyone began to run around to get NID. The man indeed almost shut down the country.
“From mid-December till now, my lord, no telco has sold a single sim card. It is for this reason that telcos in the country lost over three million subscribers in December. Those who want sim cards for 4G routers or modems cannot get this. This economic line has been blocked just to romance the ego of the powerful genius. It was after this brilliant take that I googled him. Guess what my lord, he has a Ph.D. from the UK, and has been to Harvard and MIT. Such a genius will be good for our plans this year.
“I have now told him that he has shown his powers nationally, he now needs to take things global — disturb the diaspora. Working with his idea, I told him to replace Bank verification ID with National ID, after all, the nation is bigger than the banks? This plan will mean that those in the diaspora who don’t have NID will have to come home to get it or lose their bank accounts when NID replaces BVD. With him, we can reduce how much revenue Naija makes from telecommunications — all while increasing COVID cases from long queues with no social distance. My Lord, this is only the beginning.
“From this meeting, I am planning to attend the next FEC to revive my plans on funding 2021 budget. I have confused them so much that they do not know where to borrow money to increase the nation’s debt profile. They want to borrow from the poor, from dormant accounts and unclaimed dividend. I want more. I want them to borrow from the dead. I want them to ask banks to check on accounts whose owners have not visited the bank in one year. Who knows the virus could have killed them. I’d remind them that if you borrow from the dead, you need not payback.
“My lord, watch out for more policy confusion in 2021. You’d say I said so”
(Confusion takes a bow as Insecurity takes the stage. As he sought to speak, the demons begin hailing him in the typical singing call and response)
Insecurity: “Na me,” he chants, thumping his chest.
Insecurity: Na me
Demons: Boko Boko Boko
Insecurity: “Na me ooooooooo,” he chants, bringing them to a halt, before going on with his speech.
“My lord, may your days be long in this villa. In 2020, I raised my game. Na me be bandit, na me be kidnapper, na me be insurgent, na me come be freedom fighter. My lord, The southwest that has been a fortress, has finally been broken down. We have found an emissary in the region; my plan is to make him look like a hero for months, give him fresh enemies, inspire good but dangerous statements, make him the shadow Ona kankafo. This would mean two traditional generals in the region.
“They would work to undermine themselves and play hard into the hands of my killer herdsmen. In months, his heroics would begin to fade, but his act would have given us full access into the southwest; then I can bring my boys in.
“My lord, I promise you that by the end of the year, nowhere in the country will be safe. I am Insecurity, I belong to nobody and I belong to everybody.”
(The demons repeat the call and response as Nepotism takes the stage)
“My lord, in 2021, I will be on sabbatical; Harry’s Boo has taken over my job, and he promised to double down this year. Just as Khaki no be leather, 97 percent no be 5 percent. He will be as nepotic as ever. That’s it my lord.”
(The demons begin another round of singing, drumming, laughing and dancing, as the chief stands to give his closing charge).
“I leave you with the words of our fathers; when they think Naija has shown them the worst, break new grounds.”
(They all rise as the meeting is adjourned.)
The story never ends…
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