Thursday, February 17, 2011

My Children, Too, Want to Be Governor

"Government money is our money and no Jupiter can query us on how we spend it. Those who don't like it can go and 'suicide' themselves"

Alao! … Alao!! … yes, I say Alao! … hmmm… you say there’s no any Alao there… Is that what you are saying? Look at you! Who says he wants to talk to Alao? I’m just greeting you the alakowe way. Alao! Alao!! (Hallo, Hallo) Who’s there? I say who’s speaking? What?! Akalamagbo, so, it’s you… you mean you cannot recognise my voice again. It’s true I have always summoned you to my palace any time I want to talk to you but you should be able to recognise my voice on the phone … Haba! Alao! Alao!! Alao!!!… What has happened? I can hear something falling… Akalamagbo, hope nothing…? Yes, yes… what? You fell down? O! You mean you fell while trying to apologise to me… That’s alright… that’s alright… stand up. Thank you… no, no… no, that’s not why I’m calling you…

Ngbo, what happened between you and Igbakeji? I learnt you are doing 'two fighting' in the office. Sebi, I have told you to be careful or you want me to flog the two of you inside the Government House? Yes… yes… Shurrrup! You children of nowadays are too stubborn. Sebi I told the two of you that any time you want to cough or sneeze or even vomit, you must let me know… Shurrrup! I say shurrrup!… listen… Akalamagbo, abi you want to see the red of my eyes? Why are you behaving like a thug? If the two of you had listened to me, your boys will not be exchanging blows in Agodi over chickenfeed. If you want to eat frog, at least you must choose a fat, juicy one for supper… Alao!… Alao!… can you hear me? Alao! Alao!!… Thank God you are still there. I don’t know what’s wrong with all these GSM phones.

Can you hear me now? Good… I was saying that if you want to fight, fight over millions and billions, not over chickenfeed. Don’t disgrace our great party. The two of you are my sons, if you don’t know, and I did not put you there to be doing what you like. You hear? Alao!… Alao!!… can you still hear me? Okay. Yes… yes… yes… that’s alright. But wait. The N50 million you sent last time was not enough for the number of cars I wanted to buy for the lawbreakers. You had forgotten that I needed to buy, also, patrol vehicles for our local ‘police’ and bodyguards. In fact, I needed an extra N300 million to buy boats and canoes for some of our guests who will like to cruise around in the Premier Motel swimming pool any time they come for the convention of our great party.

And that reminds me, Akalamagbo, I learnt you said you, too, want to continue licking soup beyond 2007. You must be joking. Even if we are spraying political posts like confetti, not a single flake will drop on your lap. Nibo? For where? If not because Aare Latosa did not play ball according to my rules, would you have ever smelt that seat? Our people have said it, “Nobody will ride a horse and not gallop”. Akalamagbo, you are galloping… o nma ga (you are overdoing it). Take it easy o, I’m warning you. Impeachment is two for a kobo here and if you don’t mind, it is the money I have that I am lending you… What? What did you say? Ah, you say I am speaking Yoruba-English? Wonderful! Wetin you speak, Your Excellency? Is it not olopa (police) English you are speaking? Look at His Excellency! Let me remind you, the koboko (horsewhip) used to beat sense into the senior wife’s head is still hanging in the ceiling… Yes… remember what happened to Aare Latosa. After dealing with him, he could only order for pounded yam. Did you see him wait for the soup? The matter became, for him and his supporters, a case of if the rat cannot make a quick getaway, it should make way for the tortoise. That’s how they disappeared from Agodi one by one because it’s what we tell ogbo that ogbo will hear… When a child sees Fear he must run. Beeni.

Yes… yes… of course, that’s a warning for you. A foretold war does not catch the cripple unawares, but that depends on how clever your own cripple is. Just as wrestling is the favourite pastime of the Offa people, so is civil unrest our own hobby in Ebaodan. I know you are a young calf trying to cut his teeth in the politics of this city but let me warn you that Oluyole doesn’t take nonsense from any premier, or gomina (governor). Ask Akintola. Ask Ige. No past non-native civilian ruler left this city alive. We killed them right inside their bedrooms except Baba Layinka. You can prove me wrong. And… Akalamagbo, if you don’t want to die suddenly in your bedroom now or later, I think that’s a timely warning for you. So, this your “third time” ambition will not work. Drop it. My own children are also warming up for aksion. I am tired of doing ijagboro (street fighting) on account of somebody else’s children… What? Oh, sorry, Akalamagbo. I don’t mean it that way. You are all my children but as we say it here, "A father knows who his real children are…" Yeesi o! A nursing mother should be able to feed herself also as she breastfeeds her baby. Afterall, the child is not the only hungry mouth in the family. My children are also coming! You hear? You had better do. I don’t want you to do like all of them who don’t know when to say goodnight to ayo game. And that reminds me, you must not spend all the money in the treasury. You hear? But don’t forget to send the usual N10 million weekly security vote for me to police our area here. Remember also to send the N20 million for entertainment for this week. You may add something on top because I will be receiving more visitors from Oyo and Abeokuta. Sebi you know, these are the real amala people. While the Oyo take amala dudu, the Egba (Abeokuta) are fond of amala funfun with abula to match. And lest I forget… if there is another controversy over the money voted for my ‘office’ and ‘palace’, you must clear from me before talking to the press. I don’t like the way you handled the N50 million car gifts that I dished out like amala the other time. Government money is our money and no Jupiter can query us on how we spend it. Those who don’t like it can go and 'suicide' themselves in Igbo Agala… Yeesi o! Greet Her Excellency, your wife, for me. Greet also His Excellency Jnr, I mean your son. I hope he is drinking milk well, wellahaa … you are laughing? Hmmm… Okunrin meta (three-men-in-one)! When should I be expecting the Accountant-General? Yes… hmmm… Before I go for Jumat? Your head is correct! I know you are a good boy, any day.

Note: This Opilogue was first published in TELL, June 19, 2006

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Valentine Blues


"Marriage is the only war where you sleep with the enemy"

My friend, you must have been wondering where I have been since all these days. Well, it is Adio, my husband, who has been giving me the treat of my life. Since our reconciliation meeting, he has been showering me with blessings and affections, especially since his thugfather single-handedly made him the new president of the Semovita Kingdom. You need to see how he is now crazy about me. Without me, he cannot eat. Without me, he cannot sleep. Without me, he cannot even urinate. Because of me, he bought a book of text messages and, ever since, it has been messages galore on my handset. I never imagined that Oko mi Adio, without ever having been to Rome, could be so romantic… He has 're-valentined' my life.

You are making me jealous.

Jealous? Just spare me that crap lest you end up inside the well because that's where your type always ends. But, my friend, help me thank Baba Iyaboh, my national father-in-law, for the GSM he introduced to the country. If not for his revolution, I would not be receiving the kind of Valentine messages and calls I have been receiving from my heartthrob. I remember his first message to me the very day he purchased his GSM phone: "My darlin', where were you before you came camping in my heart? You started a fire and now my heart is filled with flames." I couldn't believe it. Oko mi Adio sending me a romantic message? I teasingly asked him to forward his message to the GSM provider or the Fire Brigade. The wonderful blockhead did not get the message. Instead, he sent what he thought to be another love booster: "Everyone wants to be the sun that lights up your life but I, your darlin' husband, would rather be your moon, so I can shine on you during your darkest hour when NEPA strikes". I quickly picked up my phone and told him some home truths. I said I deserved more than a standby generator. "I want you as my constant supply of light till death do us part", I concluded. You know what? Oko mi Adio lifts his text messages, word for word, without taking cognisance of the prevailing circumstance or mood. I have never seen such a pleasantly idiotic plagiarist in my life. The other day when I was on admission at St. Patient's Specialist Hospital, Apongbon, in downtown Lagos, all Oko mi Adio did was to send me this message: "Of all the friends I've ever met, you're the one I won't forget in a hurry. And if I die before you do, I'll go to heaven and wait for you." I read the message over and over again. What's Oko mi Adio up to?

He didn't mean any harm, you know.

You think so? Is that the kind of message people send to their loved ones who are convalescing in hospital? You kuku know me. I managed to sit up in bed and scribble a wait-and-get response: "Obtain your visa fast but make sure you write your will". He thought of atoning for his deed by sending me another fast-food-like text package: "I have a little angel flying around with a hammer, each person he hits gets a little dose of my love. I hope he beats the hell out of you.” I was devastated. Why should Oko mi Adio send an Iron Mike Tyson as angel to me? I called him, “Haba! Oko mi Adio. I know where you got that message from but can’t you use your sixth sense to recycle and tailor it to suit the prevailing circumstances?” He did not allow me to finish when he said he would send another message that I'd definitely like. And what was it? He went through the text book and came out with a message that had recycle in it: "Darlin', it's true they recycle paper till it's as good as new; reproduce cans, jars and old bottles too, but they can never recycle another person as you." I said, "look at this suegbe. Where was he when the oyinbo people recycled a sheep and they named it Dolly? Very soon, they will recycle even Dolly Parton herself. Oko mi Adio was terribly angry and, for the first time in his life, asked the chief of staff, COS, of Government Villa to talk to me. "Is that Her Excellency?" the COS started. I told him, in no unmistaken terms, that I am not Her Excellency. Only God is His Excellency. All mortals are mediocre. Only Oko mi Adio and those who are backing him like his thugfather can call themselves Their Excellencies. I am simply Mrs. Adio.

And what was his response?

He pretended he did not hear me. Instead he launched out like a battering ram, "Madam, do you take His Excellency to be your lawful text mate, to love and to hold, in fine and good lexicon, in poor signal and no service, till low credit do you part?" I said, "I do, I do". He said if I did, then I should not harass His Excellency again over his text messages to me whether they were original or copied, creative or not, pedestrian or motorised, logical or illogical, wise or foolish. I said, "Yes, sir." Afterall, one should learn to say, "Yes, sir" to the mad man so he could make way for one to pass.

You don't mean it!

I do, but that was the greatest mistake of my life. Oko mi Adio now took liberty for licence. 'Gyraffing' and xeroxing became his real business as if he were a WASCE or JAMB candidate. He started lifting messages indiscriminately to 'impress' me. Only God knows whether he did the same for his thugfather. On my last birthday, Oko mi Adio sent me the most unromantic message any spouse could send to his partner. "I never forget my wife's birthday. It's usually the day after she reminds me about it. Happy birthday, Mrs. Adio." I know he lifted it ink, pen and paper. The only new thing there was my name. I ignored him and his message. Then he sent another after waiting, as through for Godot, for my response. "No man is truly married until he understands every word his wife is not saying." That sounded intelligent to me and I told him so. What he sent the following day was even more philosophical: "Marriage is the only war where you sleep with the enemy". I reflected on this message and wondered aloud whether it's not true, indeed, to always learn to endure what one cannot avoid like Oko mi Adio. As if he was reading my mind, another message just came into the inbox: "Love is not finding someone to live with, it's finding someone you can't live without". I called him to ask why this is so. You know what the graceful pig of a chauvinist said? He said the full meaning of wife is actually: "Worries Invited For Ever". I argued why anybody should live with worries at all. If my husband does not love me again, then I should have the right to seek for divorce.

And what's his take on that?

He said divorce is the past tense of marriage and we should rather focus on the present tense which is love and the future tense which is children. Can you believe that? But he agreed that nobody will ever win the battle of the sexes because "there's too much fraternising with the enemy". I asked if I should be considered an enemy. In his usual chauvinistic, arrogant style, he said even if women were in jet fighters or helicopter gunboats, men would always be on top in any war of the sexes. I quickly called off his bluff: "You may conquer with your sword, but you are easily conquered by a kiss". His response was devastating. "Love is like an hourglass, with the heart filling up as the brain empties". I chuckled to myself, "No wonder some men are empty upstairs despite their huge endowments downstairs".


Note: Valentine Blues first appeared in TELL March 6, 2006

Thursday, February 3, 2011

We Steal, We Kill, We Rig…

Ibadan City Pix:

“No matter how independent you may think you are, he who pays the viper dictates the poison”

Mr. Iru, I am surprised that you could initiate a political party conference without inviting people like me, or is it that you don't know me in this land? Who is your own father nihahin? If you don't know the sea, don't you taste salt in your wife's soup? It’s when people want to demystify the elephant that they say they saw something pass by. It’s a lie! Ajanaku (elephant) is more than "something" passing by. If I'm not the whale, at least I'm a shark, in the Niagaran waters. In this democracy, there is no stakeholder greater than I in our zone. Every politician, including the Owu chief, knows that I'm a free-for-all agent. If you want to be democratically elected before the election, you need to see me or else your pounded yam will turn into ordinary porridge in the mouth... Perhaps, I should introduce myself better. I'm a general political contractor. We beat. We kill. We steal. We rig, sorry, I mean...emmm...we can democratically elect you before the actual election. Ours is general merchandise.

I'm sorry, it's not your type that we want here. This is not democracy of mediocre politicians.

Stop there! Mondioka ko, Mondi amala ni! You think this thing called politics is for alakowe (the elite)? You must be joking. You think politics is child's play? Ah! I'm sorry for me. What a pity! Can you do roforofo fight in the streets? Can you kill? Can you lie three thousand times before the cock crows at dawn? Can you swear for fun with the Koran or the Bible? The real alakowe that I know cannot do these, can they?

Are these the only criteria for participation in Niagaran politics?

What have bacteria got to do with what we are saying?

I didn't say bacteria. What I wanted to know is if these are the only conditions that can make one participate successfully in party politics...

Not enough o! You must have money. You must have mouth...

Beg your pardon? Is there anybody who does not have mouth?

There you are! And that's exactly what we are saying. You are just alakowe for nothing, you don't know anything. Listen to me carefully. You must have money, you must have big mouth or what these larodo (young) people call basket mouth and … emm…plenty juju...

What?! Juju for what?

Look at you! Can't you see all of them just dying like rats all over the place? Before the assassin pulls the trigger, they have fallen down yakata and died, just like that! Is that how to do oselu (politics)? If it's not Ewedu State today, it's Lagoon State tomorrow. And if it's not Osemawe State this week, it's Okitiland next week.

Chief, you mean you still rely on this your useless juju power? As for me, it's blood of Jesus...

Look at you! Who says it is blood of satan that is in his own vein...? A youngster, not knowing danger, sees hand grenade and calls it small pineapple! If you cannot carry a tortoise around on your chest and be ever ready to pull the trigger first before the assassin does, like the mystery man of Ado Okiti did, then you are a goner!

I'm still baffled how you got here, chief.

Don't worry. Actually, my governor is not here because I sent him on an errand to Upper Yemoja River to settle some disputes between the Ibariba and the Fulani herdsmen who are always fighting over grazing land. And as for his deputy, you know that one is my house boy. He was still busy cleaning my bedroom when I decided to come myself.

By the way, who really allowed you in?!

Iru, or what do you call yourself? You have to be very careful when it comes to election in Niagara. You must consult and listen to the elders. If not, you will regret the day you were born, like Henry Nwosu.

You mean the footballer? Has he ever regretted being a footballer?

Who is talking about a footballer? I mean your oga before before. That one overstepped his boundaries by not consulting with the council of elders before releasing the so-called free, fair and peaceful election result. Na peace we go chop? We quickly sent our thugs in uniform after him. Have you heard from him ever since? Those boys dealt with him well, well. They slapped him a little to the right and kicked him a little to the left. He was so dazed that if he saw Babangida then, he would have thought it was Nzeribe he saw. Your own will not be like that o! Say "aamen!!" But let me tell you, to be forewarned is to be forearmed. No matter how independent you may think you are, he who pays the viper dictates the poison...

It’s not like that. It is “he who pays the piper dictates the tune”.

Is it not the same thing? Just let me warn you…

If you will just allow me to talk, sir…

Sure, why not? The slave master cannot be so wicked that he will deny his steward the right to urinate. Spoke on (sic).

With people like you in the corridors of power, there is no hope for the electoral process.

Eeemi?! (Me?!). Who is talking of hope? Politics in Niagara is not for HOPE but GOLD. Have you not heard their excellencies arguing lately?

Over what?

One says his goldmine is big. The other says his is bigger. And they are drawing more daggers as they dig in in their respective holes. While they are at each other's throat, the other parties are making hay on the campaign ground, trying to win the heart of both the men and womenfolk.

What are they saying?

One is trying to woo the male voters by saying: "The other party has been robbing you for eight years, now give us a chance too". Another says to the women: "That party has been killing your husbands' batteries for too long, we are here to revive them with ACiD, insha Allah!".

We are in trouble!

Note: This Opilogue was first published in TELL, September 25, 2006.