Friday, September 14, 2012

Five thousand naira denomination and accidents!

Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is looking for trouble! Or how do we describe this his new misadventure called the five thousand naira note?

I can see all the problems the man intends to cause already! He has declared that the note is for high-volume cash users only ( I thought we were now transiting into a cashless economy?) And that the circulation would be limited!

The rich, and powerful, those who do not want us to know their business, love the note! 

Can you imagine what would happen when next the presidency wants to bribe the national assembly members? 

Instead of the regular burlap sacks (Ghana must go) hitherto used, the delivery might just be forty bundles in a regular gift bag, with the inscription, "A complementary copy of the book, Do My Bidding" inscribed boldly on it!

The rest of us would see "books" being given to members who do not read, and we would not be wiser!

Imagine what Farouk Lawan would have done, if he had been paid (not bribed) with the five thousand naira denomination? Everything would have fitted in his babanriga, and he would not have needed his cap to carry more!

This note is a game changer! The world has been shrinking everything in the last twenty years, and so bribery needs to fall in line! It is uncool to begin to lug huge bags of currency, when everything could be "nanonized"!

This same denomination, would have been a big relief to the civil servant working with the National Pension Commission, who was caught with two billion naira at home! With this note, he probably would have needed just a small safe to keep everything in, as opposed to the rooms where the money was discovered!

In this life, problems come both for the rich, and the poor, and they are usually of different strokes!

You are probably thinking that common folks like us, will never see that money, but that is where you are wrong!

A story would suffice here! I was told,( I was not present at the occasions) that a particular governor from the South West of Nigeria, when he was still in office, had a ritual: anytime one of his girlfriends was visiting, her taxi fare was always five hundred thousand naira! If one of her friends was also on the girl's entourage, she would receive two hundred and fifty thousand naira!

They say this governor, who happens to be fond of bleaching his skin, and wearing a chain around his ankle,( I was not there, and these are just rumours, and allegations by some "alligators") did this every time!

Now imagine if that governor had been in office at this auspicious time of the imminent arrival of the messianic five thousand naira note, is there anyone who could prevent the fellow from slipping one bundle of the good stuff, to the object of his amorous affections?

The consequence would be that Sidika, to pretend that is her name, gets home, and subsequently decides to oppress the neighbours, by throwing her newly acquired fiancial muscle around!

If she buys a recharge card of five hundred naira from Chukwudi, with the wonderful note, Chukwudi suddenly finds himself in the elite class of those whom the gods have favored! 

But, there is a twist to the tale! In the afternoon, the young man decides to branch that wonderful amala joint behind Adamasingba stadium,Ibadan; and consumes amala fifty naira, and saki (offal) twenty naira! 

On finishing his meal, Chukwudi produces his newly acquired gold card, the five thousand naira note: the problem is that all the woman's sales for the day, is less that two thousand naira! You can imagine the tumultuous turmoil this would cause! The woman would probably beat him up, accusing him of premeditated fraud!

If, on the other hand, Chukwudi did not eat that day, but decided to go to Dugbe to see his Uncle, trouble would still dog him! Were he to hand his five thousand naira note to the conductor, for a twenty naira fare, you can see that the equation would not truly balance, and another round of trouble would ensue!

Conversely, if the conductor were to collect the note, and a strong wind were to snatch it out of his hand before one could shout "Mapo", we are more likely to witness a scene in which God receives two visitors in one day: the conductor, and Chukwudi, all on account of a piece of paper no larger than three by seven inches!

I have not even bothered to tell you about Husaini, the security man, who, on collecting his monthly salary of ten thousand naira, just two notes, decided to visit the market for some needed supplies for his small business on the side! 

Unbeknownst to him, as he fiddled with his pocket, trying to bring out his phone to answer a call, his two magic notes surreptitiously slipped out! Allah hu akbar! That day, they had to beg him to come down from the high tension power lines he had climbed to commit suicide!

Must I tell you of Chief Nonso, who while enjoying the music of Morroco Maduka at a party, did not know that the wad of notes he thought was just five thousand naira, was actually half a million! 

His eyes were closed, and the music was touching all the right spots! 

As he threw the bundle in the air, as is the fashion of spraying in the Eastern part on Nigeria, he wondered why people were screaming, and scrambling, for ordinary change: poverty, was his conclusion! 

It was when he opened his eyes, and saw half a million naira blowing in the wind, that he realized his error: he joined them in the scramble! Alas, he was only able to wrest a note, albeit from a little girl!

As you can see, the five thousand naira note is an accident waiting to happen, the problem is, it will be difficult to predict when, or prevent it!

I rise!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Blame The British!

There is a popular scapegoat among Nigerians that we love to pencil down as the genesis of our problems: the British!

Many argue that if the North, and the South, had not been amalgamated by Lord Luggard, that we would not be in the mess we are in now!

As arguments go, it is neither here, nor there! 

It is, in my own opinion, a faulty crutch we seek to lean on, to excuse our self-induced abysmal failure!

For the sake of argument, let us ask a “stupid” question, if we had not been amalgamated, would each ethnic group have succeeded in becoming an independent nation on it's own?

 And if they had all attained “independent independence” as opposed to the collective one we all got, would they have gone on, as individual nations, to become world class economies, and societies?

To take the theory up a notch, if, as it could have happened, the Yorubas had actually gained independence as part of Benin Republic, or the Igbos as part of Cameroun, and the Hausas, as part of Niger Republic, would their lot have been better, or worse?

If one were to consider these hypothetical scenarios, one would discover that, geographical location plays a small part in determining if a nation would be great, or not! Rather, it is the adoption, and pursuit of policies, and values that engender greatness!

Policies like the rule of law, the pursuit of an open society, reward for hard work, honesty, equity and hard work, and many others, are the building blocks of great nations!

The British excuse, sounds hollowly shallow, and lacking much in substance! It is also eerily similar to the excuse given by some of the animals in George Orwell’s Animal Farm, in an attempt to vilify Snowball! 

Many acts of misdemeanor by other animals were attributed to him, in one instance some goats came forward and confessed that Snowball had appeared to them in a dream, and convinced them to urinate in the pool from which they all drank!

That is how silly our blaming the British sounds!

So our argument would be, the military overthrew a legitimate government in 1966, who do we blame? The British of course!

Nigerian politicians loot the treasury, while pauperizing the entire nation, who do we blame, the bleeding British!

Our refineries are criminally compromised, to ensure that a cabal continues to import petroleum products, who do we hold responsible, the British!

We killed our rail system, to enable the trailer cartel from the North get good haulage business; did I hear you say the British?

The British originated educational system that they handed to us at independence is no longer fit for purpose, because we refused to invest in infrastructure, and human capital, it was the British, they did it, they murdered our education!

We hold elections where the number of ballots cast, is twice the number of registered voters, the British sowed the seeds!

When a man leaves his lane, on a dual carriage way, and decides to drive against traffic, because he is impatient, the British put him up to it!

How about when we reward thievery, fraud, dishonesty, and skullduggery, with national awards, it is a British tradition that we copied!

The list of national malaise goes on, and on, and we can only blame the British!

Ghana, our fellow British colonized neighbour, has been quietly forging a solid path to greatness in a very determined fashion! 

They have done so, to the admiration of the rest of the world! Our children now school in Ghana, because we have no educational system to point to! 

Our businesses are relocating there too, because of stable power supply! 

They discovered oil some years ago, and one official there said, “we will show Nigeria how to use oil money” 

And you know what, they will, because they have shown us how to do other things, the proper way!

The day we decide that we are our own problem, and not some amalgamation which neither reduced, nor diminished us, we will begin our march to greatness! 

Until then, we should leave the British alone, because they have left us these past fifty years to get our act together!

Friday, September 7, 2012

What is Good For The Dame, Is Good For Her Followers

I am an idle man! That is why I have so much time on my hands, to talk about Nigeria!
When Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Mainasara Jonathan, GCFR, et cetera et cetera et cetera, was running his 100 million naira per day campaign, I remember one very touching thing he said! He declared, I am one of you! I did not have shoes when I was growing up!

Nigerians lapped up this uncanny, uncommon, and I must quickly add, unconfirmed, dose of empathy from leadership!

They all declared that this fellow was humble, he was in tune with the people, he knew their problems, and was sure to solve them!

What type of presidency were we expecting of Jonathan?
Talk is cheap they say, it only costs your breath, and a few muscle contractions! Deeds, on the other hand, show sincerity, or otherwise!

The president has declared that he only eats cassava bread, and Abakaliki rice! That is wonderful! Reuben Abati, who has suddenly woken up from slumber, has also told us, that he does not imbibe ogogoro, the locally produced gin, or Johnnie Walker, it’s foreign counterpart!

We too eat Abakaliki rice, but that is because it is the only option available to us, Thailand parboiled is a long way from our tables; as per the cassava bread, it is insidious, because it is making cassava expensive! And like we all know, it is the raw material that is used for producing the ‘cheapest’, but by no means affordable staples in Nigeria, garri, starch, and apu, making them more expensive!

The president, he declared with gusto, is a very frugal man! He fasts regularly, and seldom eats!  This is quite similar to the fasting by most Nigerians! The difference being that, while they fast because they do not have food, our president fasts in the midst of a billion naira budget on food!

His fasting would mean more to us, if the ridiculous budget on food in the presidential villa, was brought within commonsense!

When we make certain demands of leadership in Nigeria, it is not out of a sinister motive to make them do things that have never been done before! It is because we have seen them done in other places, to good effect!

The British Prime Minister, does not have a presidential jet,he flies commercial!

Nigeria’s president has six! I suspect that if our president flew commercial, our airspace would be safer, and service would be much better!

The American president pays for the food he consumes at the White House, except at state banquets, we will not go to that extreme! Just moderation, we plead! If Jonathan was paying for what he consumed at the villa, would the budget be that sinful? 

And this week, a comedy of errors has been running on the political stage! It seems we have one every week!

It was a game of peek-a-boo of sorts! The dame is sick, people declared! No she is not, Reuben Abati countered!

When the presidential magicians saw that it was foolhardy to seek to play magical tricks with a person blessed with the corpulence of the dame, they finally admitted in bits, and stages, at first, that she was resting in Dubai! Then the story changed to, she was being treated for food poisoning! And finally, they accepted that she had actually been misdiagnosed for food poisoning by her doctors back home, when her actual problem, was appendicitis!

This morbid medical madness, is actually similar to what the ordinary Nigerian goes through daily! 

As I write, a loved one is not very well! She has been misdiagnosed more than eight times, in the space of four months, after seeing more than ten specialists in six different hospitals! The missed steps have included asthma, ulcer, enlarged heart, cancer, blocked lung, and hypochondria! From all the enquiries I have made, it will cost me a small fortune to seek treatment abroad!

While my income is above the average Nigerian’s, it is still not easy to achieve!

For the dame however, it comes as effortlessly, as farting!

So how is the president like us?

He lives here, but his help comes from abroad, where there are no medical mistakes, or misdiagnoses!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Letter To Dame Patience Jonathan.

My dear Dame Patience Jonathan, I thank god for your life o! The bad thing that bad people wished on you, food poisoning-appendicitis, did not come to pass! All glory to Jah, the Most High, for spearing your life for Nigeria!

As you are ensconced in the luxurious setting that the German people have created through their building an open, transparent, and democratic society, there are a few things I would like to trouble you with!

The first is the small matter of how you came to Germany in the first place: rumours ( you know I do not peddle them) have it that you were actually being treated in Nigeria for food poisoning! 

May the wishes of the enemies of Nigeria not come true, and may an American submarine run them over anytime they are driving to work! The same alligators (for anyone who alleges anything is an alligator in my book) claim that you were not suffering from food poisoning, but appendicitis! Jesu oyingboooooooooooo!

How can a presidential medical team, miss it so grossly? Could it be that the long-standing medical personnel, who were probably not from your husband's ethnic group, were replaced with new, inexperienced ones, who are ethnically correct? It is not possible, that such vital positions, are now being staffed on the bases of ethnic considerations! I know your husband does not do things like that!

My beloved Dame, please be patient with my "merry-go-rounding", the Yoruba people have a proverb, that when the Moslem cleric, who usually sports a full, and lush beard, is consumed in a fire incident, that it is spurious to inquire if his beautiful beard survived the fire! Also, Ola Rotimi, of blessed memory, also wrote, that when crocodiles begin to eat their eggs, that there is nothing they would not do to the flesh of frogs! 

Madam, if you, the Very First, and Only Lady of Nigeria et cetera et cetera et cetera, could suffer such egregious medical malpractice, you can imagine what the rest of us, your always humble subjects, who patronize the popular side, when it comes to medicare, have to put up with!

We are daily at the receiving end of our own home-grown Jekyll, and Hyde, cum Dr Frankenstein! People go to hospitals for minor complaints, and when next they would emerge after some days, it is in a narrow wooden box, on the way to the cemetery!

I am sure you Remember Racheal Adinoyi Onukaba, the wife of Adinoyi Onukaba, whose case was scandalously mismanaged at the wrongly named National Hospital, Abuja, a supposed centre of excellence! You may also recall the case of Adeola Olulana, the female journalist who died in Lagos two years ago, who was refused medical care, for lack of money at four am in the morning!

My humble appeal to you is this, when next you find yourself lying on the chest of your husband, our president ( I know it does not happen often often, because you are so busy serving Nigeria, and are not given to such worldly matters), tell him to give us hospitals that actually save lives, and not the mere portals to morgues they are gradually becoming!

I thank God for your life o, because it was only food poisoning-appendicitis, that you had! You can imagine what would have happened, if it had been something more serious, like a pulmonary embolism, or a coronary thrombosis, with either of these, Germany would have been too far!

Please give our love to the doctors that treated president Yar Adua, you may be shocked to find out, that the hospital is probably owned by a Nigerian who stole public money, and went to Germany to invest!

I know you, and your husband are not like that, you can never steal Nigeria's money, why should you, you being a permanent secretary, with your pension to look forward to!

As you recuperate with delicate Deutsche delicacies, I bid you, auf wiedersehen!