Saturday, December 27, 2014

THE BEST MOMENTS OF 2014

Nigerians love to complain. If it rains, they want it to stop. If the sun comes out, they say it is too hot. You are poor they will insult you. You are rich, they will call you a thief. In fact I blame Nigerians for my spiritual condition. When you chase women they say you are womanizing, when you don’t they wonder if all is well down there or if you are gay. Anyone who tries to please Nigerians is sure to end up free falling in the dark abyss of ingratitude. 
This week I will break the year-long cycle of complaining by sharing ten of the best political moments of 2014 – moments which should make us proud of our country, our president, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan and his darling, stylish wife.
1.    January:
Our president and legislature got their priorities right and signed the anti-gay bill into law as the first piece of legislation of the year. Of course there was the Health bill and the Petroleum Industry bill, but none of them were half as important as criminalizing consensual same sex affection. You know how gay people make our roads bad and make it impossible for us to have good hospitals or electricity. It is pathetic. I had hoped that with the Same Sex Marriage (Prohibition) Act of 2014, the problems of the economy, corruption, poverty, power and infrastructure would finally be a thing of the past. Normally this would be the case but I am not sure what has happened 12 months after. Nigeria works in mysterious ways.
2.    February:
One of my favorite moments was when the President finally brought stability to the country by suspending the man who had declared that there were billions of dollars missing from the proceeds of oil sales. I mean, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had it coming. You can’t be insulting the president and be buying bow-ties with his money at the same time. Either you keep quiet or give up the bow ties. Plus really, bow-ties?  A bow tie is fine for a bartender or a person at a formal dinner. Every other time it just looks pretentious and awkward. Especially on a person his size. Anyway, that suspension made two things disappear: the rumours of the disappearance of billions of dollars and his bow ties – and especially now as Emir, it is unlikely that he will ever wear a bow tie again. It is also unlikely that we will ever know what happened to those billions of dollars. However let’s at least be happy about those hideous bow-ties.

Also in February, presidential aide Reno Omokri was discovered to have multiple personality disorder. He authored a document under the name “Wendell Simlin”
attempting to link Sanusi with the militant Islamist group Boko Haram and at least one murder in Kano. Gladly, well meaning Nigerians discovered his name in the document properties and started raising awareness about his condition. I don’t know if Reno Omokri has received treatment for this ailment. But as they say, diagnosis is already fifty percent of treatment.
3.    March:
Goodluck Jonathan declared open the National Conference which had newly pardoned ex-convict Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha, a man who went through a traumatizing phase of not being sure if he liked men or women’s clothes. Through an uncommon and brave act of forgiveness President Jonathan gave the Governor-General of the Ijaw nation his groove back. The man went on to represent his home state at the conference. I am sure great things were achieved at the conference only I am not sure what. Sometimes the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. And god says we should not judge. In fact, if all the conference did was provide Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha with 12 million naira for his post-pardon rehabilitation, that is something worth celebrating. How many countries have such a robust program of rehabilitating convicts?
4.    April:
Goodluck Jonathan dealt a huge blow to Boko Haram by going to Kano and dancing publicly right after a bomb killed over a hundred persons in the Federal Capital Territory. The idea of terror is to make you afraid and unhappy. But Jonathan showed them that it is never a bad time to dance. Plus we all know how Boko Haram hates music and dancing. That must have really hurt them. Kai. But Goodluck knows how to really get those people sha. You can’t learn these things. He was born that way.
5.    May:
Our first lady, Mama Peace, aka Dame Patience Jonathan summoned a meeting of people from Chibok who had attended a meeting of the Bing Back Our Girls Campaign. And she broke down and cried into a white handkerchief. On camera. Before the whole world. I don’t know of any public official who has shown as much emotion about the kidnap of the Chibok school girls. Crying is the ultimate symbol of mourning, but crying, tears or no tears, into a white handkerchief says: I mourn, but as a believer I have hope, I see the light, I see better times ahead. Sometimes we take Mama Peace for granted. Empathy is not about speaking good English. Empathy sometimes means crying in public into a white handkerchief.
6.    June:
The good people of Ekiti State participated in a free and fair election. Even though rice bearing both PDP and APC logos flooded the state prior to the elections, the people did not allow this to confuse them. In the end, after cooking Fayose’s rice and Fayemi’s rice they came to the wise conclusion that only a consumer can come to: that Fayose’s rice was more nutritious. And they voted out their popular incumbent governor Kayode Fayemi.

Also, despite being probed, Stella “armoured cars” Oduah was in Ogbaru in Anambra to receive the title of Ada Eze Chukwu conferred by the traditional rulers from Anambra North. It is not easy to go from being probed to being crowned.
7.    July:
Goodluck Jonathan launched his first international article in the Washington Post. It was mostly about silence. He wrote: “My silence as we work to accomplish the task at hand is being misused by partisan critics to suggest inaction or even weakness. My silence has been necessary to avoid compromising the details of our investigation.” Silence is a great subject. You remember how we used to say “silence is the best answer for a fool” in primary school? It is not a lie.
Goodluck Jonathan also hung out with Malala in Abuja. When the 17 year old rights activist got on a plane I heard he ironed those his overalls with spray starch and practiced his speech. (See how Goodluck touches people: Malala became one of the lucky recipients of the 2014 the Nobel Peace Prize. Sometimes all you need in life is good luck.)
8.    August:
At the height of the Ebola scare, Jonathan fired the 16,000 resident doctors who were on strike trying to push for better wages and work conditions. Sometimes when you are fighting an external battle it might be best to get rid of internal enemies first. That is why during every war an army kills or jails people for treason or mutiny. You cannot fight well when your home is in disarray. The doctors should be happy that they were just sacked. Because if they were soldiers in an army they would have been shot for downing their tools. In the end, thanks to Jonathan, we were able to fight Ebola. Even Buhari can’t deny Jonathan the glory for ending Ebola.
9.    September:
Dozens of South Africans who were in Nigeria to seek miracle healing and breakthroughs at the synagogue of world famous Nigerian Pastor T. B. Joshua in Lagos became, “martyrs of the kingdom of [T.B. Joshua’s] god.” I am not sure of the full implications of this, but if T. B. Joshua is right, it means his god has arranged their spots in heaven. (I don't mean to mess with the suspense of this story, but as at December, the coroner and government seem to agree with T. B. Joshua that some UFO came from nowhere and made his church collapse. They even stopped calling him to the inquiries of his own church building collapse. I swear his god works in mysterious ways.)
10. October:
In his Independence Day speech, Goodluck Jonathan asked “all those waging war against our country” to “lay down their arms and embrace peace”. So nice our president. Sometimes when a person is blowing your citizens to smithereens every week and kidnaping dozens of women, girls and boys at will, you need to ask them nicely to please stop. Sometimes all they need is that soft voice of reason that says: Haba bros, it’s not good what you are doing. Kai! We have such a cool president.
(Unrelated, but interesting: Not to be outdone by other politicians, singer-turned-politician, Abolore Adegbola Akande, popularly known as 9ice, who was seeking election into the Oyo State House of Representatives representing Ogbomoso North/South/Orire Constituency allegedly handed out bottles of palm-oil & palm-wine to his supporters. Ingenious combination if you ask me.)
11. November:
Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola ignored calls for him to convert to Christianity and become a part of the most formidable political team ever with General Buhari. This is not really a best moment thing, I just wanted to include it. It was an almost best moment. I mean think if Fashola had done it – joined like Pastor Chris’s church (without perming his hair please!). We might have been talking of an APC landslide in Nigeria. Just that brief dream fills me with joy.
12. December:
By the grace of god, President Jonathan discovered Teleprompters and unwittingly started a teleprompter revolution. Now he can give speeches and use both of his long hands to gesticulate.
Jonathan also was declared by Doyin Okupe to be like Jesus Christ. Doyin did not even say like Saint Paul or Peter. He skipped to Jesus direct.

Amen?

Saturday, December 20, 2014

JESUS OUR LORD AND PERSONAL SAVIOR

President King Nebuchadnezzar also known as Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, received a new anointing this week when no less than his spokesman, Mr Doyin Okupe, declared on national television that the president was “just like Jesus Christ”. Even though quite a few people I know were outraged, I respect this. Let me explain.
You see, when all the prophets were on earth, people doubted them. Their followers tried to convince people but most thought they were liars and refused to follow them. I have read the history of most of the prophets. I will not be caught in the same mistake. Because of this knowledge of history, I never question claims to divinity or prophethood. That is how many Jews missed out on heaven because they refused to believe that Jesus was sent by God. There is no way I am missing out on heaven – I have nothing to lose from taking Doyin Okupe seriously.
Let me examine Doyin Okupe’s assertion and the few ways that Goodluck Ebele Jonathan is like Jesus Christ.
1.     Jonathan is persecuted. Everyone hates him. I am not sure why. The same way I am not sure why the Jews in the time of Jesus hated him so much. Look at the life of Jonathan. Since he emerged as president, it has been one insult after another. From clueless to bigot to corrupt to divisive. There is no reason for this. It is not like he has not shown remarkable leadership. It is not like he has not led by example: he refused to give into the pressure of his detractors to declare his assets or to fire corrupt ministers in his government. This surely makes him a strong president. It is not like he has been wicked: he has shown mercy to many repentant criminals by granting them pardon. This takes me to point two.
2.     Jonathan is forgiving. Do you remember when they came to arrest Jesus and one of his disciples cut off the ear of one of the soldiers? What did Jesus do? He healed the ear of the man who came to take him away and said that he who kills by the sword will die by the sword. Mention one top criminal that Jonathan has successfully prosecuted and imprisoned? He has no time for such wickedness. And remember when Jesus said about the harlot, „he who is without sin let him cast the first stone“? Yes. That is what Jonathan was trying to say when he said that stealing is not corruption.
3.     Jonathan came from humble beginnings. You remember how Jonathan didn’t have shoes growing up? You remember also how his father was a fisherman? Ok. Jesus’ father was not a fisherman, but a carpenter is not that different from a fisherman. In fact without a carpenter, who would make boats for the fisherman?
4.     Jesus went from being born in a manger, to riding into Jerusalem in nice robes on a donkey. Goodluck Jonathan has gone from being shoeless and riding in a canoe to being Nigeria’s number one public officer riding in bullet proof cars. Let’s just say that donkeys were the bullet proof cars of the days of Jesus. And I strongly suspect that if you do the research, you will find that the place in that fishing village where Goodluck was born was just as lowly as Jesus’ manger.
5.     Jesus changed water into wine. There is no evidence that Jesus drank the wine that he produced. Just as there is no evidence that Goodluck is given to a lot of wine. Wicked people will spread rumours about the president liking his drink but who can provide proof? Red eyes alone mean nothing. Lack of sleep can cause red eyes.
6.     Jesus was a teacher from the time he was twelve years old in the temple until he started giving sermons on mountains. Goodluck Jonathan was a teacher in Rivers State College of Education. Yes a college of education is no temple or mountain but the key word is teaching. The venue is immaterial.
7.     Jesus had an overzealous apostle who on one occasion even chopped off the ear of someone who tried to arrest them. Jonathan has Doyin Okupe.
8.     Jesus had patience. Goodluck Jonathan has Patience.

There are many more reasons I can give to make people stop getting angry at Mr Okupe for comparing Jonathan to Jesus. Buhari can attack this Nigerian prophet at his own risk. But as an old man, Buhari should know better. If the people campaigning for him are insulting this man who is just like Jesus, he should be like Pilate who came out publicly when the Jews wanted Jesus dead, to wash his hands clean of the blood of Jesus. Buhari should address a press conference with a bowl of water and do this. What you don’t want is bad luck at a time of elections. A word is enough for the wise.  

Sunday, December 14, 2014

QUESTIONS FOR BUHARI


I have never been as excited about any political opponent as I am about General Buhari, who has just won the APC Presidential primaries. I want to congratulate him from the bottom of my heart. Of course as with all my other opponents for 2015, I would love to engage him on the way forward for our country. Since his victory I have been trying Buhari’s number to arrange for a presidential debate between him, Goodluck Jonathan and my humble self. I have since given up on Goodluck because he has never even once responded to my calls, texts or WhatsApp messages. But Buhari, I didn’t expect him not to pick. I will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he was tired from the marathon national convention in Lagos.
In lieu of a phone conversation however, I will be reaching out to Buhari here. I will be raising salient issues which I think should form the core of any attempt to move Nigeria forward as aggregated from my research and my discussions with Nigerians from all walks of life – from newspaper vendors to technocrats.
1.      FIRST LADIES
I know Buhari has one wife, but there was at least one contestant at the level of the APC primaries who is known to have more than one wife. At the level of gubernatorial primaries across the country also, there are many candidates who have multiple wives. We have also seen at least one case in our country’s history where in a certain state there was a quarrel over which of the governor’s wives would be first lady. It is unfair for Nigerians to have to experience this. It is important for those who are running for executive positions to decide which of their partners would follow them on their political journey. In fact, in this limited instance I will propose a two-pronged solution. First, I think that where there is more than one wife, citizens should be able to choose which of the wives should occupy the position of first lady. This can be done at an event called the First Spouses primaries. Second, after every candidate has just one spouse involved, I think that all candidates for the gubernatorial and presidential elections should have their spouses on the ballot in addition to themselves or risk having the office of the first lady scraped if they win. This will foster transparency and accountability. And I say this because we have known First Ladies in the past who virtually took over governance. If this happens, it is only fair that we know that we voted for her.
2.      GALA.
Nigerians should not laugh. This may look like a joke, but unless you have been in traffic or in public transport at the close of work, you will not understand how crucial this is to national life. Sometimes, Gala sold in hold-ups is the only thing stopping some people from fighting on the bus out of the irritation and frustration that extreme hunger causes. Not every worker has the endurance to wait until they reach home before they eat. Now, I do not eat Gala but I am reliably informed that first, the price has kept going up from its original 50 naira. This creates two problems. First, if Gala is 70 or 80 naira, there will always be the problem of change and it is not like people have all the time in the world to look for change when they are in a hold-up. Next, this makes it inaccessible to persons who have only 50 naira. Apart from this, I am also reliably informed that the sausage within is not what it used to be. So my question to Buhari at this crucial time: if elected, what will you do about Gala?
3.      SARDINES
Growing up, I used to know that four of us children shared one tin of sardines. Because each tin contained four fish. Over the years, manufacturers have betrayed the trust of Nigerians who have been going to the shops to buy opaque tins in the hope that when the tins are finally opened there will be four fish. Again, I am reliably informed that contrary to this hope, there are now in most tins, two pieces of fish. Sometimes young masses have nothing else to add to their small pieces of bread but these tinned sardines. To reduce the number without a negotiation with the Nigerian populace is very wrong. No leader should allow this. If elected, what will Buhari do about sardines?

There are a lot of other issues of national importance but I do not want to inundate the General. A few at a time, so that we can discuss them exhaustively. I hope he replies. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The gods of Nigerian politics


It has been interesting watching the primaries of all my political opponents. Sometimes when your opponents put on a good show, it is ok to just lean back and enjoy. The easiest way to understand the way political parties in Nigeria operate is to compare them to religious systems.
I will start with the PDP. The ruling party of Nigeria is not like a monotheistic religion, like Christianity or Islam. There is no single all-powerful god. In fact, those who made the mistake of believing that there is, have paid very dearly with their political lives. The PDP is like Greek mythology. So many gods. Some hate each other, some love each other. Some of the gods die and new ones emerge. But there is always a clash of gods. That is why the gods in the Obasanjo years gave way to the gods in the Yaradua years. And people like El-Rufai were chased out because they didn’t understand how to play with the new gods. As a PDP loyalist you have to be loyal to many gods at once, because gods die as easily as they are born. Some people understand this and they are able to serve, or at least be friends with, every government in power. Look at people like Professor Jerry Gana or Ojo Madueke. Have you ever heard them condemn a government? They understand political polytheism and thus are able to eat at the table of every god that rises to prominence. They will live long.
The APC on the other hand, especially in the South West is very monotheistic. The APC god, based somewhere in Lagos, is a very jealous god. It will not share its glory, not even with good governors. There were some top APC officials who foolishly thought that it was enough to excel at their job or reform governance. Every member of a monotheistic religion knows that it is just not enough to be a good person. You also have to profess faith in that god and perform rituals prescribed by that god. There is nothing strange about this. A monotheist cannot make heaven by good works alone. Same with the APC. You cannot retain your seat or appoint your own successor by good works alone. Those who understand this have been rewarded with party tickets. And those who don’t have lost elections.
Personally, I think having to worship many gods is stressful. You end up spreading yourself too thin and having no certainty to go with that. You do not want to be like our Vice President, who in spite of all his loyalty cannot be absolutely certain that he will spend the next four years in Aso Rock. That is a very stressful kind of loyalty. Political monotheism makes it easier to determine if one will be successful or not. For example, hours before the end of the Lagos State APC gubernatorial primaries, many online news and gossip sites already had headlines that read ‘Ambode wins Lagos APC primaries’. At the time, many people online protested that the primaries were not yet over and thus no winner could be declared yet. But everyone who knew what the god of the APC wanted had no doubt about the outcome. I like the APC god. He is not only predictable and reliable; you can be sure that once you have obeyed his commandments you will make political heaven. A reliable god is a faithful god.
Political monotheism is a bit like watching reruns of your favourite football game that you have missed. Your blood pressure will not be unduly high and you can watch the game in peace, enjoying all the highlights. That is how watching the Lagos APC primaries was. It was clear that Ambode would win. But it was nice to watch anyway.
I do not envy the people who will take part in the Lagos State PDP gubernatorial primaries. There will be no superior god in charge. And no one knows if it will end in chaos or the child of which god will emerge victorious. Whatever the case, I wish them all the best.

On 10 December, the APC will be holding its presidential primaries. Only god knows who will emerge. 

Sunday, November 30, 2014

IF I WAS JONATHAN - An Official Response To #Ferguson

While I admit quite a lot is going on the home front, a strong leader of the largest black nation on earth must be interested in international affairs. Especially where black people are involved.
This past week in America, events have occurred that have made me wish it was already 2015 and I was already president. In Ferguson, Missouri, the white killer of an unarmed black teenager was told by a grand jury that he did nothing wrong and was not going to be charged for any offence. (Also, in another city, police shot and killed a 12 year old black male who was holding a toy gun). Of course there were violent protests, which resulted in some arson and looting. As video evidence and documents emerge to emphasize the injustice (in both situations), protests have spread across the civilized world. But Goodluck Jonathan, the leader of the black world has said nothing in response to the killing of African Americans, who could be of Nigerian origin if traced, by American law enforcement officers.  I just want to make it clear that Jonathan does not speak for me in this issue. In fact, I have written a speech that I would have read out at an international press conference immediately after the protests broke out, if I was President Jonathan. Ok, I admit I poached most of the words from Obama’s 2011 Arab spring speech, but the words apply so perfectly. Please find below:

Dear fellow world leaders, Africans and black people trapped around the world,
For a few hours now we have witnessed extraordinary change taking place in America, a nation founded on the blood of innocent indigenous American Indians. In city after city people are rising up to demand basic human rights in a nation that takes pride in being the human rights watch dog of the world. To God be the glory.

Today I want to talk about this change, the forces that are driving it and how we can respond in a way that is both practical and sensible.

The events of the past few months in Ferguson and the violent outbursts that have justifiably followed, show us that strategies of repression and strategies of diversion will not work anymore. Camera phones, CCTV footages, a biased CNN, Don Lemon, bald thin-lipped Rudy Giuliani, Twitter and the internet as a whole now provide a window into a racially divided America – a world of astonishing contradictions where standards for global human rights are set but broken in the most brazen way. Social media and DSTV have allowed us to connect with our black brothers all over the world like never before. God bless DSTV. We know that the young black men being shot in the streets of America every day by white law enforcement officers could have been descendants of Nigerian slaves. (You can tell from the nose when someone is a Nigerian.)

The story of this attempt at a revolution, and the protests and arson that have followed should not come as a surprise. The slaves of America won their freedom a long time ago but in too many places, their descendants still get treated like slaves. In too many black cities, power has been concentrated in the hands of a few white policemen and politicians. A citizen like Michael Brown had no independent judiciary to hear his case, no independent media to challenge CNN and give him voice; no credible political party to represent his views and even though he may have elected a mixed-race leader, he had no equality.

And this lack of self-determination – the chance to live, unarmed, without being shot dead by policemen – has applied to America’s educational system and economy as well. Yet America is blessed with oil and gas and many mineral resources and military might.

Darren Wilson who shot this young unarmed teenager is no hero. He is simply a man who killed a black man whose descendants could have been Nigerian slaves. And that is unfortunate.

A new generation has emerged o! And their voices tell us that change cannot be denied. In Ferguson and all around America, shouts of human dignity are being heard for the first time, sometimes expressed through placards, other times by saying, Hands up, Don’t Shoot, other times by looting liquor stores and burning police vehicles.

The big question before us is what role Nigeria will play as this story unfolds. For decades, Nigerian leaders have foolishly refused to pursue any set of core interests in America and have simply relied on it to consume our crude oil. We will continue to try to sell oil to them but while standing up for the interests of its oppressed minorities. We will continue to remind them that Thanksgiving should be mourned and not celebrated, because it marked the death of many American Indian communities and people as well as the senseless slaughtering of turkeys.

Nigeria opposes the use of violence and repression against the people of Ferguson. Even our police officers who are notorious for extrajudicial killings are not that bad. American police cannot be more brutal than Nigerian police. God forbid. We will not allow that.

We look forward to working with all who embrace genuine and inclusive democracy – one that includes descendants of former slaves in addition to descendants of former slave owners as well as descendants of criminals exiled from Europe.

Now ultimately, it is for the blacks to take action. No peace can be imposed upon them. There is no straight line to progress, but however crooked, we will stand with all those who are reaching out for their rights. We promise to look for that white officer even harder than we are looking for our kidnapped schoolgirls and women, wherever he may be, and bring him to justice.

Like I have said, this doesn’t mean America should stop buying our oil. All I am saying is that black people have a right to defend themselves. Either that, or you return our black people to us.

Thank you and God bless. 

Saturday, November 22, 2014

HOW TO BE A NIGERIAN POLITICIAN

The biggest mistake any person interested in politics can make is to apply rules generally applicable to regular human beings to Nigeria. Often, Nigerians in the diaspora wishing to return home to enter politics assume that just because they are black or have a second green passport, they can fit right in. This is a manual for persons hoping to avoid embarrassment as they enter politics in Nigeria.
GOD
This is the first and most important thing. A Nigerian politician must understand how to tap into and use God, both in times of peace and times of trouble, because with God all things are possible – from the relocation of funds from public coffers into your private accounts to making sure that you sometimes get more votes from a polling unit than the number of human beings who are registered to vote. The latter is not strange. Do not let anyone make you feel bad about it. Did Jesus not take 5 loaves of bread and two fish and multiply it until it could feed five thousand people in Bethsaida? Was that rigging?
A good Nigerian politician knows how to use God for protection. So, for example when you want the people not to revolt against you, remind people that you were sent by God. Declare that you could never have entered office without God leading you by the hand and personally giving you the seat. Those who voted – including those who adjusted figures and thumb-printed on ballots – are nothing but biros in the hand of God. They should know that no one gets power unless by God’s permission. This will make anyone afraid of questioning the authority of God.
God is also important when you have just won an election and you need to emotionally blackmail the out-rigged opponent. Give an acceptance speech saying that you thank God for giving you the victory; say that you cannot question God who decided that you were the only person fit for that office. Your opponent will feel bad and let it go. God is great.
However, you need to know when not to use God. If you have a task that you doubt you will be able to perform, say, “I will do everything humanly possible”, to remind them that although God is personally involved in giving you power, they should not be disappointed if you fail. Because you are only human.
BRANDING
Your hustle as a politician involves a lot of branding. Forget the elitist social media people who make fun of politicians who brand bags of rice. Those people do not vote. They sit in Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt with their iPads and expensive smartphones, making noise. Some of them do not even live in Nigeria. The real Nigerians who vote, not only do not mind, they expect it. They expect to receive items like mint sweets, coffee mugs, t-shirts, small bags of rice, beans, flour, sugar or salt, exercise books, pens, phones, bottled water (or sachet water depending on how poor your constituents are) and rechargeable lanterns branded with your name and/or photo.
THE GODFATHER
Unless you ARE the godfather, you always NEED to have a godfather. If you do not realize this then you are standing on slippery ground. The identification of an appropriate godfather is the beginning of political wisdom. Show your loyalty by donating money at events organized by your godfather or his children and close relatives. So if your godfather’s child is getting married, you must make sure your large donation is seen and acknowledged. If your godfather is running for office you must sponsor billboards with his large photo and your small one in the corner where it says “Courtesy:”
If you ever meet your godfather’s wife or child at a shop, whether in Nigeria or abroad, make sure you pay for whatever they buy. Even if they say no, insist. Beg if you must. Tell them if they do not let you pay, you will kill yourself.
Pay for full page color ads in newspapers on their birthdays and call them a blessing to all of mankind.
A godfather can be the blessing to your hustle or the tool of your downfall. Never ever allow anyone to print your photo in the same size as that of your godfather on the same billboard or newspaper ad. Your photo must always be smaller and beneath that of the godfather.
SOCIAL MEDIA
Now I know I have said those people on social media are good-for-nothing. I insist that in real voting terms, they are useless. But it is important to have people who fight for you in the media. In Nigeria there is no good or evil. There is only for and against. An evil person is one that has no one fighting for them. There is poverty and unemployment in the land, so getting people to post tweets and Facebook posts for you is not very expensive. Many will even do it for free. Avoid those hustlers who call themselves social media consultants. They just know how to blow grammar. All you need are motivated guys who have internet connection and the hope that when their oga’s hustle is blessed, it will reach them. It is these ones who will identify any bad thing said about you and attack appropriately.
SCANDALS
When a real scandal happens, like say, foreign police caught you with stolen money, or people identify you as a sponsor of terrorism, the best thing to do is nothing. It does not matter how bad it is. Those who support you do not need your explanation, and those who demand an explanation will never support you. Plus, Nigerians have the shortest memories among human beings worldwide. Just be patient, and they will forget everything. It is more important to forget than to forgive. Of what good is forgiveness is people can remember the wrong that was done? That is why Nigeria is such a great place for politics. Yesterday’s murderer can become tomorrow’s statesman.
CATCH PHRASES
There are phrases that every Nigerian politician must use. I will give you a list which is by no means exhaustive:
Dastardly act
Campaign of calumny
Nascent democracy
Gratitude to God Almighty
All hands on deck
I have set up a committee
I remain committed
God (As in God-sent, God-willing, God’s grace etc)

SHAME
Do you sometimes feel shame when you are caught doing something wrong? If the answer is yes, then you are not ready for Nigerian politics. Can you look at a crowd when you are caught with your fingers in a pot of soup, and tell them, while licking your fingers, that in fact, you have never entered a kitchen in your life, talk less of a pot of soup? No? Then you are not ready for Nigerian politics. A good Nigerian politician who is caught on camera stuffing wads of dollar notes into his cap, knows how to say ‘it wasn’t me’ without blinking. Nigerian supporters, especially those of your tribe or religion, do not need evidence of your innocence. Once they support you, they themselves will come up with reasons why you cannot be guilty.
RELIGION
Do you have doubts about the existence of God? Keep it to yourself. If you have a Christian background, find a few churches and start attending. Go to Jerusalem. Take a photo there and hang them in your office. If you have a Muslim background, then make sure you are visible at least once a week at Friday prayers. Go for the Hajj. It does not matter that when you are on holiday in London or America you enjoy bacon and lots of alcohol. Appearance is everything. Nigerians would rather a fornicating, lying, thieving Christian or Muslim, than a clean atheist. Keep your other beliefs to yourself, but claim one of the two foreign religions.
It is important to always have a good friend of the other acceptable religion. That friend will come in handy when people accuse you of favoring only people of your own religion or of being a fanatic. If you can’t find a friend, then have employees of the other religion, like a cook or driver. Otherwise, sleep with women of the other religion. That way, if someone says you are a fanatic, just say, if I hated the other religion, would I have slept with their women?
CAPS/HATS
You may take this for granted, but close your eyes for a minute and think of a successful Nigerian politician who doesn’t wear a cap? When was the last time you saw the bare head of a Nigerian president? I don’t know what it is about a cap, but it cannot be a coincidence that everyone, from our founding fathers to the current destructive fathers, wears a cap/hat. Better to be safe than sorry. Find a cap or hat and wear it often.
FITNESS
Especially if you plan to be a legislator at the state of federal level, it is important to be fit and strong for the occasional fights that will break out. You don’t want to be the one who ends up in hospital after a fight in a House of Assembly. Everyone has a phone with a camera these days and it would be a tragedy if you were caught on camera unable to fight back. Sometimes also our democracy means that you may need to break maces or climb over parliamentary gates. If you are currently unfit, register in a gym or start doing yoga.

Follow these tips and I assure you, you will be properly positioned for God to bless your political hustle.

Friday, November 7, 2014

HOW YOU EXPLAIN NIGERIA


You saw the suspicion in his darting eyes fade over a few visits, enough for him to recline in his tattered, once golden-brown cushion, speaking of how unkind your mother is, how nasty your grandfather – his father – was. You knew it was gone because he didn’t ask you a third time if your mother did not warn you against coming to visit him. Your most senior uncle told you how, decades before, your grandfather communicated in spitting, kicks and slaps; how the eighty-year-old man accepted a new, 'strange' religion and created a permanent rift in the family.

You were twenty when you realized you knew next to nothing about most of your relatives. Deep religious differences made social interaction between your immediate family and the uncles and aunts impossible: each side was convinced the other was going to hell or at least not going to heaven or paradise. But you had non-religious questions.

Being in a new city for university made it easier to start a relationship with your uncle and his wife who lived only one motorcycle ride away from your campus. One accusation at a time – against everyone but himself – and through equal periods of sobriety and inebriation, your uncle weaved a tale of multiple dysfunctions, across generations. However exaggerated, you got to hear another side of your quiet, stern-faced grandfather who always looked at you curiously like he was trying to make out if you were human or not. The summary is clear: your uncle blames everything but his childlessness on your grandfather and his new religion.
***
These days, when someone asks whether you believe in juju or black magic, you say you prefer not to express strong views about things you cannot explain. It is for the same reason you think declaring yourself to be an atheist requires too much certainty, too much faith and perhaps more emotional energy than it takes to believe that there is some God at the helm of affairs.

Your youngest uncle’s wife, a soft-spoken, religious Christian, lost some money she had kept locked in her office drawer. When all her colleagues swore they didn’t know who took the money, she phoned her mother over 200 kilometers away for advice. That same day, her mother called back, providing the name of the young man who had taken the money. A few creative hours of police interrogation later, the named man confessed and took the policemen to where he had hidden the money. One hundred thousand naira, still wrapped as it was in her drawer.

As you stared, puzzled, she explained a mystical procedure called “turning-key” which could accurately reveal the identity of a thief. It involved spinning a key on a table. You were too stunned to ask questions. Turning-key had recovered her money. Or maybe it was the zealous interrogation of the police that did. Or both.
***
A third uncle, the one in the middle, who himself had found a new prophet and become increasingly devout, started inquiring into his fortunes and misfortunes. His prophet looked into his past and gave him a divine revelation: the reason that, as a man in his 50s, his hustle was yet to make him wealthy and successful, was that his father had a wife before his mother, and this woman, in a moment of jealous rage after being dumped, cursed all the children of the new woman. This made him pack a bag and travel to confront your grandfather regarding the identity of this mystery woman so that she could be found and begged or otherwise prevailed upon to lift the curse. Your grandfather, irritated – you think understandably so – but admitting to a previous marriage, refused to engage in a conversation about a purported 50-year-old curse. Over his dead body, he said. While your uncle was frustrated with this response, he could at least provide an explanation to why he wasn’t rich and famous.

Your grandfather died with all his secrets and, as far as this uncle is concerned, the key to his hustle.
***
It is easy, you find, for one to fall into the trap of explaining Nigeria in terms extraneous to oneself and one’s family; too easy to find examples far removed from oneself to illustrate theories of why this country is like this. And always when people complain, it is impossible to identify that Nigerian – the one who gives us all a bad name by jumping queues, giving bribes, using witchcraft or superstitiously blaming all their problems on phantom enemies. Except perhaps in Nollywood movies.

You find the answers to Nigerian mysteries around you in things and people you can feel and touch. The answers are sometimes as plain to see as simple cause and effect. Other times they raise more questions. Nigeria is in your family, both hell and heaven-bound, in turning-key, in Lagos prophets who can trace where your ball dropped 50 years ago, in your grandfather and his secrets; it is in you.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

WHY FASHOLA NEEDS JESUS


I try to stay out of religion. Partly because people are so sensitive about history and invisible things and miracles. But mostly because I don’t understand it. However, it is impossible to discuss Nigeria without discussing the things and prophets they believe in and how this contributes to national development.
For a long time now my political opponents in the APC have been foaming at the mouth over the reaction to the purported Muslim-Muslim ticket. While I see their point, I also understand those who find a Buhari-Tinubu or Buhari-Fashola pairing preposterous. For one thing, we don’t want to attract the wrath of the Christian God who would be underrepresented in the Presidential Villa. We don’t know which of the Gods will bless the hustle of our country through the presidency, so it is best to have both of them present.
In theory however, it would be awesome for me to run against Buhari and Fashola. The reason is that first, I like a tough fight because it brings out the best in me and Nigerians will appreciate me more if I defeat a formidable pairing like Buhari-Fashola. Beating Jonathan will be easy. If that is all I do, it will feel like bullying the handicapped kid in the playground. There is nothing gratifying about that.
But just for the sake of argument, say I don’t win. Who do I see winning if they are allowed to run? Buhari-Fashola. Yes. That is how awesome my sportsmanship is: I am even willing to entertain the thought of another candidate winning.
So, how do we get Buhari and Fashola to run without offending the sensibilities of almost half of Nigerians who call themselves Christians? I have a simple solution. Let one of them convert to Christianity before the elections.
Buhari is an old man in his 70's. One should not ask a man who has almost reached the Biblical lifespan of a human being to change his religion. The shock of change might not be good for his blood pressure, especially with all the singing and dancing involved in Christianity. Buhari is not just ready for that kind of big change. Also Buhari is known for his austerity. It will be hard for him to suddenly start giving tithes and “first fruits” to any pastor. This will truncate whatever Christian blessing that should have accrued to him and would defeat the whole purpose of having the favor of two different Gods in the Presidential Villa. We don’t want that. Also, what would Buhari do with his Muslim wife if he converts? We don’t want that awkward situation.
Fashola on the other hand is a younger Lagosian. Let me provide a list of reasons why it would be easier for Fashola to convert to Christianity.
1.      Lagosians love their parties. Parties at which there is usually loud music and dancing. Fashola can bring his dancing experience to a new, preferably Pentecostal, Christian experience.
2.     In Lagos parties there is always money being sprayed. So Fashola is used to giving out money. It will thus be easier for him to do church things like tithing, sowing seed and giving firstfruits.
3.     Fashola is married to a Christian woman. Finally, his family will be united in religion. No one will be happier than his wife who will finally be able to take him along to crusades, bazaars, dedications, and miracle services. They will be able to commit all their family affairs to the office of the same God. It must be awkward now for one family to have their files scattered between two Gods. Think of the problems that can result from Fashola and his Christian wife praying separately for their children. The different Gods may have different answers for the same children. The last thing we want is a clash of Gods. That is one of the reasons we don’t have world peace.
4.     Fashola does not keep a beard or wear Muslim clothing. What is the physical difference between a Fashola and say Pastor David Oyedepo? Nothing. They are both clean shaven and wear suits. Fashola could even pass for a pastor. He will not need to get a new wardrobe.
5.     Fashola has no Muslim names. No need to pick a new name. If it was Buhari, he would have had to consider changing or tweaking his names.
6.     Fashola’s wife Bimbo Fashola is a recipient of a papal medal award from His Holiness Pope Benedict the XVI. The pope himself blessed her hustle. Think of what that would mean if as the Vice President’s wife she moves that award from her Lagos home to the Villa, filling the whole place with holiness, cleansing it from all the infidelity, corruption and ritual sacrifices. She might just be the key to saving this nation!

Because of these reasons and because it would be a shame to lose a powerful pairing of hardworking, conscientious politicians, I urge Babatunde Fashola to join his wife, accept Jesus and save the APC from possible disaster. And in the unlikely case that I don’t win the elections, Fashola would also be saving Nigeria from imminent collapse. I hope he listens to the voice of reason and does the needful. I am only giving this advice because, I care.