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Columnists, Conversation of an Angryman

Still Quiet On The Western Front

Posted: Nov 16, 2015 at 12:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


Four months after, it is still all quiet on the western front. The talk is still about anti-corruption – an old tale with no new angle.

“For the record books and in case you missed the point, former President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, single-handedly invented corruption,” says old soldier Jumbo.  “As a matter of fact his administration holds corruption’s ‘NAFDAC’s’ registration number. Unfortunately the ‘NAFDAC’ number expired on May 29, 2015 and the ‘drug’ is now contraband. That is why those who were in the Jonathan administration and Jonathan’s allies are under intense investigation.

“Chief Olusegun Obasanjo was a saint and he still is,” he continues. “As you know, the ancient English saying is ‘show me your friend and I will tell you who you are.’ For a long time before he became president, Obasanjo befriended the livestock in his farm and they taught him the virtues and attributes of honesty and integrity… but not how to talk to people and proper etiquettes.  When he left the farm to head up to Abuja, the animals held a meeting in the farm to wish him a happy stay. Then the parrot raised a song, ‘Be kind and tender to OBJ and do not call him names… for no animal will more repay a treatment kind and fair.’ Obasanjo, in my estimation, was the best thing to happen to Nigeria apart from ewedu soup and foofoo.”

But last week there was a blip in the western front. A certain list Nigerians had been waiting for ages was rumoured to come out. Sure, the list of ministers came out last week, but it did not raise the dust in the “western front” expected. After the four-month period of meditation, contemplation and investigation, Rip Van Winkle woke up with a list. Jumbo, the old soldier said he expected a list of saints and angels – not neighbourhood men and women with a past and a story.

“That is not we bargained for,” Jumbo said with sneer. “We got old, sour wine poured into new wineskin, with new labels”

Jumbo is a downright boring guy. The talk about ministers is one of the most boring things to discuss in today’s Nigeria – only second in boredom content to discussing Chief Olusegun Obasanjo. But the more you try to avoid it the more some smart aleck who wants to impress you that he reads the newspapers once in a year would bring it up.

An old man accosted in the village on my last trip and said, “Son, I read in the newspaper three months ago that Buhari has not appointed his ministers, has he done it now?”

One scratched his head and asked him, “You mean you read the newspapers three months ago and you have not read the newspaper since then?”

The old man nodded and retorted, “The slow motion way Buhari is going, you do not need to buy newspapers every day to follow the action. If you buy it every quarter, you will keep abreast with facts… and save money. I will look up the newspaper next week but has something been done?”

“No, not yet, but he is thinking about it. He does not want to make a mistake.”

The old man nodded understandingly and snorted, “See why I do not buy newspapers every day the day the way I used to? Newspapers, like textbooks, should be read according to the subject and curriculum. When the school is on break, you do not read as if you have an examination. Right now Nigeria is on break and you have to choose how to read newspapers.”

Jumbo who was at hand pointed out to the man that Nigeria was contending with Boko Haram and they was need to read the newspapers and know what was happening in the country.

The old man looked at Jumbo aghast, “Did not Buhari tell us that he would end the Boko Haram insurgency within his first two months in office? That was why I voted for him. So what is going on? What is he saying? Why has he not stopped it.”

Jumbo explained that Boko Harm had increased their suicide bombings and recently killed fifteen persons in twin bombings in Abuja.

“Abuja?” the old man asked incredulously, “Abuja where you have Aso Rock and where Buhari lives? So what is he doing? Why has he not stopped them as he said? I remember that the All Progressives Congress asked Goodluck Jonathan to resign while he was the president, because he unable to find a solution to the Boko Haram problem. Why have they not asked Buhari to stop Boko Haram or resign?”

Jumbo snorted and said, “Same party, pal. Lions do not eat lions.”

The old man suddenly paused for thought. Then he blurted out a curse word and said, “I guess I have it figured now. The picture fits. You something?”

Jumbo said “What?”

“My son-in-law has had a running battle with his boss in his office,” the old man said, “suddenly the boss became all cosy with him and within a two weeks he has been transferred to Abuja. So this is like sending him to a battlefield like King David did to Uriah the Hittite. Well I will tell my daughter to stop him.”

It was time for one to volunteer information. “Abuja is not exactly a battlefield. I have been there several times and here I am still alive. The Federal Government is doing its best in condemning all attacks and calling Nigerians to join in condemning them. So we are making progress. Newspapers, which never used to join the Federal Government in condemning the attacks have now found their voices. The security thinking is that if enough Nigerians condemn the killing, Boko Haram will be ashamed and go back home.”

Jumbo sneered, “He is mocking you. Truth of the matter is that Buhari had as much of a solution to Boko Haram as I have for this nonsense snuff addiction I am unable to stop.”