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Columnists, Conversation of an Angryman

Jumbo Buys Into The Change Agenda

Posted: Mar 14, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Michael John

Good, old Jumbo, my ex-soldier friend is the latest convert in the “Change revolution.” He has caught the fire and he now believes in “Sai Baba!” His transformation came when he saw pictures of Fulani herdsmen wielding assault rifles, machine guns and other assault weapons while guarding their cattle. He was beside himself in ecstasy. The sight of guns always sets his libido atwitter.

“That is my picture of a new Nigeria,” he exclaimed. “Elechi Amadi wrote the novel ‘One Man, One Matchet’ right? I am in favour of one man, one rifle. I want a Nigeria where men would be measured by the size and calibre of their guns and not by the size and calibre of their cars. A Nigeria I would train my daughters to shoot straight and talk straight.”

Attah, the retired policeman pointed out to him that “It was still illegal to own guns.” Such a society, the ex-cop maintained, would be lawless and the number of homicide cases would increase.

“Nonsense!” Jumbo screamed, “Can’t you see that it appears that they have already ‘legalized’ the ownership of guns for Fulanis? It is my hope that today’s legal tender for Fulani herdsmen would become tomorrow’s legal tender for the rest of us. More so, how can the number of homicide cases increase more than the current number given what happened in Benue State, Lagos State and Delta State recently? The worst days are behind. An entire society was wiped out in Benue State and you are telling me homicide cases would increase – it is at the pinnacle already and there is no more room for increase except you drop an atomic bomb.”

Always a fan of cowboy films (from his youth when John Wayne, Michael Landon, Robert Green, Clint Eastwood and others held sway in the silver screen, bobbing about with six shooters tied down their waists), Jumbo hopes to live in such a setting one day. Jumbo has forgotten that his hand now shakes with age, and he could not aim as straight as he used to in the days of yore.

The village still talks about the last time Jumbo tried to demonstrate his shooting skill as a testament to why he won a medal of honour in the army. On that occasion, he grabbed his gun, aimed at a bird and pressed the trigger. The gun exploded, but the bird did not die. It looked at Jumbo warily and did not even attempt to fly out of his path, which simply made Jumbo mad. Though the bullet missed the bird, it tore through a palm wine tree. The hapless old man, the town’s oldest tapper, who was tapping wine on the tree scrambled down screaming, “Someone stop him and tell him that I am not a bird! Stop him and tell him that I am not a bird! Do not let him shoot again.”

But everyone was so amazed that no one said anything for a while. Jumbo released another shot and it tore through the roof of the village’s oldest story building, sending the occupants into frenzy and pleading for someone to be kind enough to stop Jumbo. Happily, the bird disappeared from sight and Jumbo insisted the bird had been hit and would die somewhere. He did not want anyone to tell him that he could miss or that he did miss with two shots. “That,” he declared, “was impossible.”

When it was pointed out that he almost killed the palm wine tapper and almost brought down the ancient storey building, Jumbo shrugged and stated that “In war you would always have collateral damage.” He regretted that he almost brought down the palm wine tapper, though, in his estimation, he would have done the village some good because the man and his wine had expired and there was no more use for the man or his wine. He claimed that hitting the old building was not also designed but one could take consolation that having been built by a retired policeman, it may be ill-gotten wealth.

All the same, as far as Nigeria is concerned, Jumbo is dreaming of the day he would ride into a street and challenge anyone to a gunfight. He would step into the street and palm his gun like Clint Eastwood and “settle the argument.”

What Jumbo fails to understand is that what is sauce for Fulani herdsmen may not be sauce for the rest of us. That the police are looking the other way when herdsmen bear arms, does not mean they would look the other way if Igbo, Yoruba, Ijaw, Ibibio or Tiv boys bear alms in order to protect their families. Cattles, for the records, are much more important than human beings and oil installations. That is why they can stop traffic on Lagos roads and on any other road in the country.