Of Intrigues, Half Truths And Ownerless Monies.

​A great man once hosted his contemporaries to a dinner. He was a respectable man and had risen to be a lord of the clan. His guests were quite sure they would be treated to a decent meal. Opposite the dinner hall was the kitchen, and as the evening wore on, the aroma of spices and soups tantalized their nostrils, and made their stomach churn. The guests saw servants enter and leave the kitchen bearing dishes. However, to their chagrin, none of the servants entered the room to feed them. One of the guests rose to his feet and asked this great man if they were not going to be served food. The latter feigned surprise. He was of the conviction that the aroma could feel their empty tummies and sate their hunger.

This is how clearly I can remember this Arabian tale. And when I look back at the incidents of this past week, I think I can see a connection. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) discovered a humongous amount of money stashed away in a residential building in Ikoyi. Immediately the news broke on mainstream and social media, there was an uproar on twitter- with many preaching the gospel according to President Muhammadu Buhari- of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) sixteen years’ misrule. When the story assumed a different colouration and accusing fingers were pointed at the Minister of Transport, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi as the likely landlord of the flat and the monies, the PDP stalwarts, hitherto cowered, commenced firing salvos at their APC counterparts.

The story took on another absurd dimension, with the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) laying claim to the money. Thereafter the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesome Wike, would brand the money the commonwealth of Rivers State which his predecessor allegedly siphoned. While the hue and cry concerning the scandalous discovery lasted, the EFCC stood removed from it all. It makes one begin to weigh in mind the reluctance of the organization in furnishing interested members of the public with a complete account of the sordid affair. Here is an anti- corruption agency which has substituted whipping up media frenzy with anti-corruption war. So far, the EFCC is yet to give a press statement as to the ownership of the money.

Consequent upon this, theories and conjectures about a Machiavellian distraction (the purport of which is to steal the attention of the masses from the underperformance of the Federal Government), possible government complicity are bandied about, some of which are quite offensive to the sensibility of a reasonable person who is able to pose questions. A prominent question which troubles the mind is why would the EFCC make the discovery to the public before the conclusion of diligent investigation. Investigation, in my opinion, does not require the mastering of rocket science. The first step would be to requisition the certificate of occupancy, or pay a visit to the land registry where the registration of the real property was documented. Once the landlord is known, the task of unmasking the phantom owner is half done.

However, as it stands, what we have is an anti- graft agency wary of carrying out its somewhat civic obligation to the end, conspiracy theories, half-truths and a loot which belongs to no one. Indeed, we never saw it in this fashion. Whether or not this scandal dies an unnatural death, or the Federal Government elects to prosecute this case to a logical conclusion, it would serve as a precedence to point out when assessing the commitment of the Federal Government towards ridding the land of corruption. In deed and in truth, we are keenly watching.

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Biafra Ought Not To Rise Again 

Conscience is an open wound, only truth will heal it-Othman Dan Fodio 


That the emergent generation of young South Easterners clamour for separation from the Nigerian Federation, some even favourably disposed to bringing this to fruition by the force of arms indicate the abysmal failing of the institution of education in Nigeria. I daresay if Nigerian History was taught as a core subject in all schools across the country, perhaps not a few will have a second thought about this movement that seem to be drawing youths in their thousands. 

It is quite baffling that, notwithstanding the fact that literature from the tail -end of the late sixties have come to be associated with  the  Nigerian-Biafran Civil War (fiction, memoirs, historical and  academic works, thrillers ) boasting of the authorship of even foreigners, many a Nigerian has elected to live in the bliss of ignorance. And rather than shut their mouths up, they would gleefully jump into any thread of conversation about that war and poke at wounds which the bearers have denied balm. The Biafra day saw the inundation of Social Media with extracts of controversial rhetorics from the War which seemed to suggest the thrust of the Gowon’s regime to wipe every Ibo from the face of the earth. Quotes credited to Benjamin Adekunle, the commander of the Third Marine Commandos to Chief Jeremiah Obafemi Awolowo came alive, and became a veritable spur for the propagation of bigotry. 
That day seemed to vest verisimilitude in the saying that the only way to hide something from a black man is to put it in a book. Reading would afford  every young Nigerian the requisite knowledge to evaluate the circumstances that led to the 30 months bloodbath from an informed, objective  perspective. The Ibos of today would  circumvent the fact that a war was waged against them (after all the first salvos  were fired by the Nigerian side at Garkem)  and the killing of combatants was not exclusive; to dwell on the economic blockade that was imposed  by Gowon regime in order to starve them into submission. Elegies from the Book of Lamentation must be sung to remind everyone of the atrocities that was perpetrated against them in that war. They would conveniently forget the fact that even as war bleeds so much life blood from both sides, the Nigerian Army felt the brunt of their heroic resistance. The routing of the Nigerian Army at Abagana to the repulsion of the men from the Second Division from crossing the River Niger attest to this. 

It has been written that considering the depletion of Biafra in fighting men and resources even before the start of that war, Nigeria had not expected her to defend herself for as long as thirty months. Yet the leader of the Biafran Army, while fielding  questions from journalists before the start of the war, asserted that the People’s Republic was ready for war with the Nigerian side; and that the latter “will be surprised at what they are going to get.” The drums of battle began to throb, and it soon appeared that Ojukwu might have seduced  a whole nation into buying the falsehood that there were more than enough arms and ammunition to withstand the onslaught of the Nigerian Army. From the narrative of Hilary Njoku’s A Tragedy Without Heroes, Wale Ademoyega’s Why We Struck, one would not be entirely wrong to conclude that the Biafran people were not only rendered casualties by the genocidal soldiering of Gowon’s officers, the lameduck inclination of Gowon but by the distrustful and precarious stewardship of Ojukwu himself. 

Today, the average Iboman might not shy away from expressing what he feels about the Hausa/ Fulani ( Unfortunately, there is no love lost between the President of the Federal Republic, Muhammadu Buhari and the South Easterners) and how soldiers from that stock massacred the civilian population of Biafra with the keenest measure of disdain for any extant rule of armed engagement. However, he ought to be reminded that the army of the People’s Republic of Biafra also did same to people from minority tribes whom they branded as saboteurs. If the descendants of these people would deal the victim card like the Iboman, I doubt if the people of Akwa Ibom, Rivers et al would be desirous of pledging their land to the territorial sovereignty of Biafra. But be it established that there is nothing civil in a civil war, and if the examples of other nations are anything to go by, it is the bloodiest of all wars placing the value of human life beneath that of livestock. 

It cannot be disputed that the election of President Muhammadu Buhari flared the agitation in the South East, and the latter, quite typical of his military heritage; one of sardonic brutality , unleashed the Nigerian Army on his citizens culminating in the deaths of hundreds. He had earlier festered sores and sowed discontent in the land with his appointments which was favourable to the North, of which the ibos who were severely disadvantaged cried foul. Here is a man who indicated that he would always be guided by the election results as he presided over the distribution of the dividends of democracy. The call for restructuring, and justifiably so,  seem to be loudest in this administration. I am of the conviction that the South Easterners are not wrong when they claim they have been marginalized. However I do join issues with their propenseness of tracing this perceived marginalization to events that set in motion the Nigerian Civil War, and beyond. The South East cannot be hated by all tribes. 

This leads me to question the inability of their ruling elite  to improve their lot. The elite are also to be blamed  for the economic deprivation that has come to afflict the region. Here is a region in which its foremost citizens put together  are richer than the entire region. The region boast of a representation in the National Assembly, inclusive of the deputy Senate President, yet none of its congressmen have deemed it wise to propose the provision  for a referendum to the ongoing piecemeal constitutional amendment. The tale of the South East is no different from other geopolitical zones where public office holders continue to loot the commonwealth of the people. My word, even if the South East were granted the right to self determination tomorrow, within the Republic of Biafra shall emerge the agitation of minority splinter tribes. (See the example of South Sudan). Nigeria desperately need to practice true federalism where each state can exercise control over its resources, with a weakened central government, and develop at its pace. 

In conclusion, it would be expedient to set some records of history straight which has been twisted out of factualness:

1. The January 15, 1966 coup was poorly executed by the coupist whose leadership comprised of several officers of eastern extraction. 

2. The leader of the coup, Major Emmanuel Ifeajuna was the nephew of the President of Nigeria, Dr Benjamin Nnamdi Azikiwe. Accounts exist to suggest that he informed his uncle about the imminent takeover. Nzeogwu would later accuse those in charge of the Lagos operations of bungling everything. Azikiwe stayed back in the Carribeans until the overthrow of the government of Tafawa Balewa. 

3. In the North where the most powerful politician, Sir Ahmadu Bello, was executed; the contingent that put an end to his life was made up of Nigerians from several stocks. Indeed Major Kaduna Nzeogwu would describe that group as a truly “Nigerian Gathering. ”

3. The news of the coup was largely welcomed by the Nigerian population.

4.The pogroms in the North and the July revenge coup was, among other factors,  a response to the delay of the Ironsi’s government in bringing the January 15 boys to justice. (Please read to get acquainted) 

I did not set out to reproduce the entire history of the Nigerian Civil War in this piece. However it needs be reiterated that by virtue of the fact that so much accounts have been produced about this war, Nigerians and South Easterners alike cannot afford to wallow in ignorance.

Special Courts For Terrorism Cases: Good Thinking

​I was quite elated to read in the newspaper that the Federal Government was committed towards establishing special courts for terrorism cases. While I believe it is long overdue, the contemporary history of the country’s fight against terrorism indicates that our Spartan fighting force, the Nigerian Army is back to winning ways. News of Boko Haram combatants orchestrating jail breaks seem to have faded into oblivion. We no longer hear of the tidings of full scale war; whether the Army units had routed the Boko Haram combatants or the other way round. But for the pockets of suicide bombings, one would have been conditioned to think that the end to the Boko Haram uprising is here.

Some time ago, Amnesty International published a report detailing the arbitrary detention of Boko Haram suspects without trial, torture and in some cases, summary execution. The report substantiated its allegations with pictorial evidence. Although the Military Authority have since denied all the charges of Amnesty International, it is my view that the allegations, even if it may be untrue, reflects a structural defect in our conventional criminal justice system. For noticing this defect, I remain grateful to the Federal Government.

This malady leads me to ask the questions weighing on my mind: What is the command issued to armed contingents when they face Boko Haram fighters? Is it to capture? I would not want to believe that it is to mete out instant justice, although there is no negating the fact that death is certain in the gun duel to follow. If it is to capture, what is the guarantee that they would be tried promptly in consonance to the 2013 Terrorism (Prevention) (Amendment) Act.

If they were detained without the assurance of trial, the Federal Government would only be violating the human rights of the Boko Haram suspects as guaranteed by the Nigerian constitution and other International Humanitarian Laws; of which Nigeria is signatory. You might be appalled but terrorists are humans too. Furthermore, our prison facilities across the country might have stretched their capacity to the limit considering the sizeable number of suspects that have been apprehended. It should be borne in mind that we still have conventional criminals cooling off their feet behind bars.

In conclusion, it is imperative for the Federal Government to set up this special court with judicial branches straddling the six geopolitical zones of the country. Whoever sits in judgment must be acquainted with the pseudo-military nature of the offence of terrorism, ably assisted by military officers who have had their tour of duty in the North- East. Most importantly, the court should have a designated time frame to dispense justice and must not tolerate the habits of lawyers who are wont to delay the wheels of justice with frivolous preliminary issues.

I Will Declare My Love

Your face is as pretty as tender petals
Swaying to the sunlit breeze of the afternoon
Splendid as the moon
I will declare my love, O Emotan!
Your eyes are as radiant as the sky king
You are clothed with the elegance of the rainbow
Spanning the horizon in an arc of glory

I will declare my love, O Emotan!
Emotan, Emotan
You are stronger than the lioness
Prowling the night
Poised to pounce on worthy preys
You are as tall as the Iroko tree
Your breath; the fragrance of roses
There will be no end to moonlight tales

I will declare my love, O Emotan!
Your anger
Is like the clap of thunder
The lightening’s assault on the rainforest
You are the gay sickle-swing in harvest
The veil of the harmattan
Enveloping distant hills
Rattling my teeth

I will declare my love, O Emotan!
You are the morning dew
Sating an earth so unjustly starved
Also her many, many diamonds
Look, the days are new!
Possessed by the grandeur of your presence
You are that blade of circumcision
Shedding my foreskin

Your voice has the sweetness of the nightingale’s
Lulling me to sleep on beauteous orchards
Why should I wake
When lovers mate?
You captivate me with the purity of your tears
And I feel the stillness of the churchyard
I need not fear
For you chase my mortality with the swiftness of a gale

I will declare my love, O Emotan!
Your pace, your pace
Is like the feline grace of the cat
You are the surface
of the mirror lake
Hear O image of immeasurable beauty
I haven’t come nigh the bucket, yet kinsmen weep
For they can’t bear to look upon my captivity

(October 30, 2008)

Titles: The Princes of The Academic World

The Radio Station Read Out His Self-Imposed Laurels, “His Excellency, Field Marshal Dr Alhaji Idi Amin Dada, Holder of The Victoria Cross, Conqueror of The British Empire, Master of All Men, The Birds of The Air And The Fishes of The Sea.”

 

Degrees and titles. I believe it is a thing of pride for the princes of the academic world I used to observe closely in my school. When he is addressed by his title in a non-university setting, it gives him an air of importance. In the university setting, students must conform to the rule of addressing their lecturers by whatever they have earned. Sometimes the rule doesn’t pertain to students alone.
Once upon a time, I was sitting in the reception room of the X-ray theatre, medical centre, University of Lagos. I was awaiting my turn to be examined. The medical officer seemed tired and nonchalant going by the way he conducted his business.
“Ayomide Alade Williams,” he called.
The man sitting beside me, rose to his feet as if he had been sitting on pins and blurted out; “Mister, I’m Dr Ayomide Alade Williams!”
The medical officer said he was sorry.
“Just be aware.”
“I’m sorry, doctor,” he said again.
November 11, 2015- I was listening to Fact file on Raypower. The topic for conversation was about the reluctance of Africans to resign from exalted offices in the face of moral crises. The case study was Dabengwa, former Chief Executive Officer of MTN who, as a departure from the norm, threw in the towel. This was the action of someone whose President, Robert Mugabe has been at the helm of affairs since 1980. Wasn’t it a sweet irony? He was compared to Ibrahim Lamorde, former EFCC chairman who had stayed put until he was unceremoniously shown the way out.
The conversation attracted several callers, responding with their opinions until the on-air-personalities put a call through to a Lagos based lawyer, Seun Akinbiyi Esq. They addressed him as Barrister Seun. The lawyer began sternly, “don’t address me as barrister.” There was a hint of agitation to his voice. Then he stated that many Nigerians were guilty of committing this error.
According to him, “the business of a barrister is confined within the premises of a courthouse.” Lawyer Seun did other things apart from going to court. He gave his opinion, introducing an innovative legal perspective:
“A person who has been removed may choose to go to court to challenge his removal if it was done arbitrarily.” I daresay this had no bearing on the the topic. I doubted if he understood the conversation. But in giving his parting shot, he called the OAP, Seun Somide. The poor chap’s name is Olutayo Somide. He merely laughed when his female confederate playfully suggested that the lawyer was having his pound of flesh for not addressing the former properly.
Now I believe it is not African the way educated people wear their titles and advanced degrees round their neck. I have a problem with the image they cut before the ambitious youth aspiring to be like them. They are like demigods! This is something, I believe, they allow to blossom. I doubt if a sizeable number of them are favourably disposed to mentoring the youth within the age-bracket of eighteen- twenty five. I am particular about those in the academic world- doctors and professors. I personally do not like reading their citations. I believe it has lost the objective to inform the lettered university community. And because of that, students are somewhat intimidated by the delicious academic labours and exploits, in the order of the labours of Hercules, written on paper. The way they carry themselves is reminiscent of the colonial days of yore when the overbearing mien of the educated Europeans, the boast of imperialism was witnessed; when an educated black man, who might have studied at oxford, was seen to be inferior to the white man. Pan- Africanists waged a protracted war against that.
Some doctors have even refused to answer to their own names because the “doctor” either by action or omission was conspicuously missing. I have seen that happen in my class. The man just earned his doctorate a month back and not a few were quite unaware about the latest development. It was interesting for me to find out that some Europeans do not care about their academic excellence neither do they rub it off on others. I met a Scottish professor who said to me, “call me Bob…” And I didn’t know he was a professor until he was hailed by another.
It leads me to pose the ultimate question, what is in a doctorate when it can be acquired honoris causa without beading a sweat? I may choose to be called a doctor in any field tomorrow, because I choose too. After Idi Amin, former dictator of Uganda had expelled the last droves of foreigners from his country, he bestowed upon himself this litany of laurels, perhaps to celebrate his feat. Yet he was an illiterate man, renowned for his buffoonery.
In the 1970s, just after the civil war, there was Dr Oyenusi who was notorious in the Lagos Metropolis. He was a prince among the gentlemen of the highway. He unleashed terror on the Lagos population, and had investigated murders pointing in his direction. But he had never seen the four walls of a university classroom. He wasn’t even literate. He was eventually apprehended and he smiled to his death by rifle-fire. Some years later, a crew of filmmakers wanted to do a movie concerning the life and times of the bandit. A certain Dr Oyenusi (this one, a medical practitioner) went to court to estopp them. He believed it would do grave damage to his name and practice. I wondered if he gave that much thought when his dreaded namesake was alive.
In conclusion, it isn’t how you comport or pride yourself that matters but the opinion people form about you. According to Milton Obote, the man Idi- Amin deposed, the latter was “the greatest brute ever brought to life by an African mother.” I believe that actually stuck.

The Narcotic Side of Akoka

The incident strikes me, with the clarity of a yesterday happening, to this day. On a cold, drizzling morning, in the year 2013, someone was trying to leap to his death from a three storey floor. He danced, did a short run and stuck out his tongue. I would have guessed he was just a Creative Arts Student, readying for an event. Then he declared, “I am not afraid of the name of Jesus!” A good number of students began to collect, wondering what he was up to. He said, “I am going to jump.”
“Jump, jump,” his spectators jeered at him, calling his bluff. Then he lifted his bulk over the railing and shook the King Jaja Hall of Residence to its foundation. There was a full- throated roar. Then came the Hall Executives, hurrying to the rescue. I remember tweeting, “Thankful for the morning showers, another student trying to attempt a leap of fate.” The gossip mill began to grind- The boy was insane. What was the cause?
I reckon if the boy had made good his suicide bid, people would have been confronted with the sorry tale of what a good student he was. A student on a good standing. Incidents of many a student going crackers on the eve of examination abound in the University of Lagos. Many would attribute this to over-tasking the brain, reading non- stop day and night, until one can read no more, and the brain becomes toast.
But it is not in every situation that “over-reading” should be fingered as the remote cause of a student’s sudden mental imbalance. There is an incipient drug culture in the University of Lagos, and many a student is tailoring his lifestyle to this phenomenon. Either the school management is not aware, or has decided to look away. A veritable place you find adherents congregated is the notorious LONDON BRIDGE in King Jaja Hall. London Bridge is a thoroughfare linking A-wing to B-Wing. Marijuana smokers meet there on a cold, windy evening. It even has a collage of graffiti stating thus, “in weed we trust, in London Bridge…, Illumnichronic…., Money, Pussy and Weed.”
I have seen students swig beer as they read. Shekpe, Bullet, Alomo. There is the legend of an engineering student who made a first-class. It was said that his consumption of Marijuana accounted for his exploit. He weed whenever he had books to read.
“When you smoke the joint,” said an acquaintance, “It opens the brain to assimilate anything.” He went further to state that, “Marijuana smokers are naturally intelligent. It is good for the body.”
That this school of thought have a good number of students (which makes it a school) cannot be gainsaid. Inasmuch as the exploit of the Marijuana scholar amounts to hearsay, it is to be noted that many a student on the streets of the University of Lagos is not well. What would you say of a stranger who walks up to you, dishes you a slap, laughs and takes to his heels? Can you call a person, “normal” who sings by 3 AM every morning, “There is a fire stirring in my balls” Or “Nobody can do me like you”?
Once upon a time, Barbecue Nights were held by every Faculty in the institution, until the present Vice Chancellor deemed it expedient to do away with it. In those evening functions, weed was like a commodity which demand equalled that of garri. Freshmen had their induction into the sizzling night of the institution for which it is famous. The coaxing of a student by his pals to take weed, spirit or whisky is conventionally geared towards determining how high he can get, and recording his moments of vulnerability. I give an example: A friend who attended one of such, had to be wheeled back. He was deposited in the toilet, and as he vomited and defecated on his body, his buddies took snapshots. I have seen people challenge each other to a drinking match: The last man standing. You are cool if you weed, even if you only do it in a party where it is in supply. But it is gospel that the potency of Marijuana makes for religious users.
However, the University of Lagos, is to be credited for organising symposia against the dangers of drug abuse: OUR DRUG STORY: LIFE AS WE DON’T SEE IT. I trust that the school would address this menace within the shortest possible time.

A Righteous Man and His Free Lover

One day I will write about this olosho…
(Over five hundred retweets it got. Masterpiece. The ingenuity of a celeb.)
Nonso admired folks who had such a sizeable following on twitter. The acknowledgment every tweet got; howbeit stupid. The respect they seemed to command. You dare not pick a fight with such people, they only had to take the leash off their worshippers; and should they dignify you with a response, the hundreds of retweet which would follow would only earn you a feature in the trailer jam show. The trailer jam show is an account which brings to twitter- Nigerian prominence, the highlights; the epic clap- backs of twitter fights.


RuinAnAfricanBookTitle is a hashtag trending this day. The Ebony Blog is the first to fire the first salvo of tweets using the hashtag, and its followers join in the fun. Nonso sees tweets like yellow jollof, we need new corruption revelations, the goitre around your neck etc. He attempts a funny tweet, or so he thinks: Waiting for a runs girl. Nonso is delighted when tweeps begin to mention him: Lol @nonso_ikenwa it’s gonna be a very long wait.
“@nonso_ikenwa there are many fish in the sea.” “@nonso_ikenwa Helon Habila won’t forgive you oooh… Nice one, bro.”
Nonso feels a sense of beatitude as he lies on his bed. Today he is having an interaction on twitter, and he is pleased with himself. He retweets every tweet to his handle. The Ebony Blog is going to award the tweep with the highest number of retweets a book. Nonso’s tweet has reaped twenty endorsements so far. He is becoming quite sure of carrying the day until @soledad comes along with one day I will write about this olosho. When the tweet gets eighteen retweets, Nonso knows he has lost out.
Somebody tweets, “@soledad perhaps there is something special about this olosho.” Everyone soon forgets, that not long ago, Nonso is poised to win this context. Nonso feels that this soledad fellow just refined his tweet. He feels cheated. But he cannot take on the guy. His friends would be talking about his humiliation for days, just as they were talking about April and Pastor Igboro…
This story begins on the day Jaiye read a note from a deeply disturbed sister during a conference for the single.
“I do not know what is wrong with me,” said the note, “how do I determine if a boy truly loves me, or not. I am so gullible that I cannot read the handwriting on the wall until they have had their fill of me.”
The church murmured with laughter.
“This sister,” said Jaiye, “needs deliverance. For Jehovah’s sake, you are not Animashaun. Why don’t you surrender yourself to Jesus so we can lay hands on you, and make the spirit of fornication jump out of your life?”
“Preach Pastor!”
There were people who found fault with Jaiye’s statement. Some of them used to be quite close to him; his buddies, before the good Lord told him to separate himself.
“Who does Igboro think he is” Queried Boniface, “that he should judge April?”
“He didn’t judge her,” said Dickson, “he only voiced his opinion.”
“I laugh in spiritual powers,” Nonso jeered. “How does the word fornicator sound to your ears?”
“He has forgotten he was once an expert fornicator, at whose feet we learnt.”
“If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. God has sanctified Jaiye. Igboro is dead to sin”
“Dickson, cut that out. The sins Igboro committed shall live after him. Imagine him, calling someone Animashaun. Has he any idea how many people bear that surname in his assembly of dummies?”
Conversations about their friend and his new found love in Christ threatened to murder their peace. It snowballed twice into fisticuffs, several times-into a heated exchange of words. Dickson was warming up:
“Nonso why are you always on the offensive whenever April’s name is mentioned. Is she not a useless girl, is she not an olosho?”
April Balogun is not a useless girl, Nonso would rise gallantly to her defence, neither is she an olosho. God blessed her with so much beauty and in the right places too, that many a Casanova laid in wait for her. And she was quite susceptible to their charms, her intuition could not offer her salvation against their predatory instinct. Nonso was of the conviction that April had been steadfast in her love; not cheating on her boyfriend but loving only one in his time.
“But she is always in a relationship, always in that catch-22 situation.”
“They just use and discard her like a piece of rag.”
“One day, a real nigger will call your sister a piece of stinking rag.”
This was the flare to their passion. Dickson would leap to his feet and make for Nonso, as if to strike him. The latter would also take a dive for his legs; and if there was none to separate them, there would be a fight. The last time there was such a fight Nonso hit Dickson so viciously that others began to suspect he was having a clandestine affair with April!
The saying, Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder did not apply to April Balogun, Nonso thought. Tall, slim and light- skinned; quite rare for a child of the South- West. Her face was oval shaped, dimpled and cut in the centre of her chin by a cleft. She also had a gap in the front of her dentition. In their institution, the University of Lagos, guys had contrived three basic requirement girls had to pass: sense, front and back. The saying went thus: if she get front, she no go get back, if she get back, she no go get front. If she get back, if she get front, she no go get sense!
Someone tweeted this and was celebrated. But what was meant by a girl not having sense was because she was on her high throne of beauty, she looked down on prospective boyfriends of lowly means. She either became the companion to senators and aristocratic dandies, or dated the Lagos big boys who reigned supreme over the coast and night life of the Island. She was a material girl. A runs girl.
Nonso would argue that April Balogun was not deserving of such an appellation-runs girl, olosho. A pejorative which riddled the lyrical content of many a Nigerian recording artiste. Her parents were well to do. She drove a car around campus and lived all by herself in a private apartment. Though she dated guys below her net worth, they would have her crucified. How unfair the society was to women, thought Nonso.
“Because she has slept with a few loud-mouthed idiots whom she loved with all her heart shouldn’t make her one.”
“Hundreds, you mean,” Teased Dickson. “She is so cheap.”
“She may be cheap. But one thing is certain, you will never get between her legs.”
The room roared with laughter.
“You may not be far from the truth,” said Boniface. “Dickson once asked her out. But she told him a blunt no.”
Nonso’s eyes widened with surprise. It felt good knowing April Balogun had a standard in his friend.
April Balogun wanted that demon out of her. To Pastor Jaiye she went.
“You were the author of that note?”
She nodded her assent, barely meeting his gaze, tugging at the strap of her bag. If seeking exorcism from this pastor, a student like her, would liberate her, she would better do it.
“How many boys have you slept with?”
“May I know why you are asking?”
“Don’t bother.” Pastor Jaiye leaned back in his seat and surveyed her. He tensed for the merest fraction of some seconds. He had to get his shit together. Who hadn’t heard of April Balogun? She had been voted the most beautiful girl in the Faculty of Arts three times. She was even related to a former police sheriff.
“Sister April I want to help you. But in so doing, I will need you to help me. Do you understand?”
She nodded.
“By virtue of this, I might have to ask you some searching questions in order to avail myself of facts with which to work. Do you understand?”
“Questions like how many guys I have slept with eh?” She raised her face to stare incredulously at him. “You must think me a commercial sex hawker!”
“On the contrary, I see you as a beautiful Christian sister whom the Lord loves so much and desires to express it in any physical way. That is why he is telling me to ask you…”
“So you hear from God?”
“I do. Men of God like me are usually modest and refrain from talking about the benefits of their spiritual work with God. Here is how he sees your challenge: You violated a commandment of God- Ye shall have no other gods beside me… for I am a jealous God.”
April Balogun restrained herself from screaming, “this is balderdash!” and cursing for good measure.
“You have had several boyfriends; you have other gods. And God is not happy about it. He needs you to come clean with him so that he can use me to help you.”
“How is that going to happen?”
“Right from time immemorial, the activity of sex has been manipulated by Satan the Devil to serve some anti- Christian purposes. In occult and coven induction of a new member. In fusing two souls together. The Bible made reference to it where it is written the two shall become one. God imbued sex with life- giving powers. It belongs to the matrimonial bed. But for those who have erred and have been made vulnerable to the attacks of the Devil, Jesus will have to come personally and set such a fellow free. He says in the scriptures whoever the Son of Man shall set free shall be free indeed.
“But you cannot have him in our presence. His holy eyes cannot behold sin. My righteousness is like a filthy rag. So the mandate is on the Pastor, my very good self, to set you free with the bible, anointing oil, and God’s rod and staff which will be mine in this circumstances as necessity dictates. The Psalmist said, thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.”
April Balogun would later say to Nonso that Jaiye sinned against her three times- He called her a free lover, and spoke so smoothly she felt he was used to having women in his lair and talking like that. He also lied against God.
Jaiye was still speaking and she cut in, easing her face into a wry smile;
“Why cannot Jesus come down and do the fucking himself? He made us as we are, didn’t he?”
The youtube video generated over ten thousand views. It was also featured on Instagram and on twitter, and a meme was made out of it. The University community was agog with the news. One more pastor caught pants down. No. Dancing pants down holding his bible to his head. That which was done in secret shall be shouted from the rooftop.
“Damisa can never change its spot,” Nonso jeered at Dickson. “You condemned April in the past, didn’t you?”
“I shall never go to any campus fellowship again,” declared Boniface. “this paper reveals that most executives are always fond of having illicit affairs within the fold; reason why many of them get married when they leave school. H’mmm.”
He tossed the paper away. “Investigative bit of journalism. Good work.” The headline in Lagos Today screamed, THE PASTOR WHO COMMANDEERS THE BED ON BEHALF OF THE LORD.
Dickson picked up another paper, the publication of a student media outlet: DELIVERANCE IN A HOTEL ROOM TURN NASTY. Yet another. EXPOSED: ANOTHER RUNS BOYS- SERVANT OF JAH. And another: LIBIDO AND THE POWER OF A WOMAN. This was an article.
“Did you know that April even paid for the room in the hotel?” Queried Nonso.
Boniface chewed his lips reflectively. “Igboro, the runs boy. Let him come back to us. We won’t turn him away.”
“Did he have to do that humiliating dance without music, like a madman.”
That was April’s condition to having the deliverance. If she had nursed any second thought that Jaiye might be relaying whatever he had heard; howbeit incredulous, she quickly put away the thought when he shed off his clothes and began to dance about, wildly. She had some big- muscled boys planted behind the curtains filming everything. They waited for him to pounce on her, tearing off her clothes and crying, “this deliverance must begin” before they zeroed in on him. If Jaiye thought he was going to have his way that evening, the unexpected happened. He was made to kneel down and raise his hands heavenwards as they took pictures of him.
Nonso smiles to himself. Perhaps @soledad is deserving of his victory after all. He hopes to write about Jaiye some day.

A Thesis in Toilets.

Monday morning: I believe it is the busiest day of the week. On the streets, you find office holders hurrying to work, the day student hurrying to beat the assembly- bell. It is trite fact that many, in villages, awake at the first rooster crow. Talking about the fortunate ones, helped by nature. In the city, recourse may be had to the innovation afforded by phones, alarm clocks etc. However, in King Jaja Hall of Residence, University of Lagos, life begins even before the muezzin call to prayer. You see boys forming a queue at the taps, then you see the taps hissing and water trickling forth. The queue continues to stretch, and boys; barely awake, are spooned a dose of the harsh reality of a breaking dawn. My friend, if you have an exam scheduled for 8 A.M., you may have to go to the examination hall without bathing.
The boys begin to complain, as always. Some blame the federal government, and some heap curses on the school authority. Some make reference to extant J.F. Kennedy’s quote about asking what one can do for country: “King Jaja Hall is our country.”
There is a subdued burst of laughter, and a boy suggests, “why not appeal to the private sector.” They continue to shout; some openly calling for the cotton head of Professor Rahman Bello, the vice chancellor. Then you want to contest the assertion that Nigerians are the happiest people on the face of the earth. After two hours have elapsed, the queue is dwarfed as water gushes out. Then you see boys nodding in unspoken approval, and you are reminded that the passion of the masses will always be ephemeral, subject to their change in fortune. The toilets, the bathroom presents topics upon which doctorates could be earned.
As you fill your bucket with water, you see a conspicuous signpost hanging on the coloured brick wall: “BATHING HERE IS PROHIBITED; order by management.” That notwithstanding, a guy fetches water, then moves a short distance away. He sheds his clothes to reveal his penis at full mast. You can only look away. Then he takes his bath, and you can’t but notice his kingly confidence. He is quite oblivious of your presence; the way he throws water on himself. It glistens on his boxer’s chest, spreading onto his seemingly sculpted packs. My God, what a “laptop chest” he has got! No homo please.
Then you cast your mind to the seemingly eternal season of impunity in Nigeria which has refused to be dispelled by a favourable climate. You wonder why laws are so brazenly violated, why nobody is saying anything, and why everyone seems to have gotten accustomed to such a menacing trend.
You hasten to the bathroom, and as you step in; you sniff out the sharp, tell- tale smell of “Indian Hemp”. Just so you know, the authorities in India once wrote to the National Drug and Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) asking them to quit referring to weed as Indian Hemp. According to the man who disclosed this on Political Platform, a programme on Raypower, the missive made it succinct, that the illegal cultivation of this hard drug wasn’t a peculiar menace to India.
If you have an allergy to dust and smoke, you are momentarily dazed but then, you would want to laugh at the smoker who is bawling praises to God in the toilet, “thank you for saving me, thank you my Lord.” You make a mental note of the similarity between this incident and the errant governor who delves into state coffers, and tithes a ten- percent. In fact, he has assumed the backbone of the church. The pastor is never sparing in intercession to God on his behalf.
You wait your turn to use the bathroom, in a queue. The occupant is urinating all over the floor and at the same time, spitting his irritation. You are the next person to use the bathroom. You are painfully reminded of the dilemma of an incoming government, formerly in the opposition, quite unprepared for the monumental mess staring it in the face. And when you begin to rail at the nasty occupant, you enact the first strategy of the new government which is- releasing a press statement as to the glaring nature of things and vilifying the outgone administration over years of waste and decadence.
Sounds familiar? Perhaps the new administration is trying to seek for itself a cushion effect, a kind of justification if it doesn’t perform stricto sensu everything inherent in its manifesto. In this clime, it is called “the sixteen years of PDP misrule.”
Now you wish to belong to the category of those who are so appalled by the sight they meet in the bathroom that they cannot venture inside. Or those who go to the toilet to relieve themselves but flee at the sight which confront them. From the aforementioned categories may emerge that lily- livered governor who cannot, or who is unsettled on how to confront the daunting challenges of his state. There is also the ex- citizen of Nigeria who has refused to come home.
You let the water run down your trunk. In one of the toilets, a guy is relieving himself and the stench is so stifling, you want to grab your nose and suck in your breath. There are people who create mess like that, along the corridors of power, whose antecedents reek to the high heavens. But, clever folks they are; they have been able to launder their image. So they are seen as the paragon of virtue. The British have a saying that “behind every great fortune, there is a greater crime.”

Picture Credit: Chibuzor Ejims.  

In another toilet, the occupant who has come out is debarred from taking another step, because he didn’t flush.
“Nigger you must flush your fucking shit now!”
EFCC!!!
“But it was messed up before I used it.”
“I don’t give a damn.”
EFCC is poised to disgrace somebody. The boys in the bathrooms, encased in soap lather, turn their attention to the offender. There is none among them fit to cast the first stone but by virtue of the eleventh commandment, “thou shall not be caught,” they are blameless and without guile. They chant, “flush it, flush it.” The offender, tail between his legs, submits to their will. Then you examine the spirituous solidarity driving Occupy Nigeria, and all such protests. Many an agitator would be guilty of the same offence, given the same situation.
A preacher has grouped the social ills committed by Nigeria into a hierarchy of three concepts. These concepts could be best examined in relation to this topic.
1. The first is Disobedience: You are told not to take your bath by the taps. You do not wish to visit the bathroom because you have no heart to withstand the stench and the resultant nausea, or perhaps, you haven’t laid eyes on the notice.
2. The second is Iniquity: You know it is an offence. You know it is wrong but you are confident you cannot be caught. Even if you are caught, this is your first time.
3. The third is rebellion: Whether the Hostel Management likes it or not, you must have your bath by the taps. Iya Jaja and her boys can do their worse, or go and die!
Such an outlook, I must say, leads to civil disobedience.