Beehive

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Every so often, a boorish character we are forced to put up with, drops on our universe.

You don’t have to do anything out of the ordinary to earn these characters. They just happen. They force themselves on us, maybe as punishment for sins committed by our ancestors. They are in our faces and won’t go away, no matter how much we wish them away. Like a bad coin, they dominate the news cycle every other day, for all the wrong reasons. Kanye West, Donald Trump, Idi Amin Dada, Muammar Gaddafi, Mobutu Sese Seko, Femi Fani Kayode, Ali Modu Sheriff, Queen of the Coast and Ayodele Fayose.

As Ekiti State governor for as long as anyone can recall, Fayose won’t just go away. He enjoys being in the news because he considers himself the news. Cantankerous, oafish, rambunctious and bullish all at once, he’s become Nigeria’s worst nightmare. You have to hark back several years in our checkered history to find a more unruly state executive. It says a lot about our values as a people when a murderer, motor park thug, unabashed cultist, a self confessed purveyor of evil, rabble rouser par excellence, ascends to one of the highest offices in our queer federation.

But here he is, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, sitting as governor of Ekiti State, all rambling thug of him; a man better suited to our public car parks as an agbero–who should be forcefully soliciting for stipends from motorists with a throaty voice that oozes of alcohol and agbo jedi–his natural habitat.

Here he is, in our faces on national television every other day, making very little by way of commonsense, appending his signature on cheques and joining civil servants on a strike. Here he is, uncouth, unruly and unleashed, hurling insults at the country’s first citizen and considering that act worthy of sainthood. Here he is, at an empty mall in China, wooing invisible investors.

Our country’s eternal shame, exporting his idiocy to the world. A scar we can’t polish away.

I have been reminded online and offline that should Fayose contest the governorship job of Ekiti 10 times, he’ll emerge winner 10 times. I have been told that the masses adore the pretend leader who delves into amala with them on the street corners, even if that same leader has no vision or plan for how to run a state. I have been told that an agbo jedi governor is beloved even if he can’t pay salaries and siphons the treasury into his personal estate. I have been told that as long as he keeps cutting Ponmo in the market-square with a fake grin to boot, he’s earned the right to be governor. In which case, we can all throw up our hands in despair and head home.

In the last couple of days, Fayose’s bank account has been frozen and he’s picked fights with his favorite punching bags–the first family and president Buhari. It has become clearer, however that the agbero governor is feeling the heat and that sometimes, what passes for a boisterous exterior is no more than a ploy to deflect attention from his thieving, corrupt interior. I can imagine the man at night, unable to sleep when no one is watching, petrified of his own shadow, scared of what tomorrow holds. A bully during the day and a sissy under the sheets. Look even closer and you’ll discover it’s all bluster.

Aisha Buhari was right. This mad dog needs to be chained and fast. But if that fails, when his immunity is stripped off him a few months hence, it will be time to herd this mad dog to the doghouse–where he truly belongs.

We’ll wait. It’s the least you can do when a boorish character drops on your universe.

_______

Jude Egbas is on Twitter as @egbas

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It seemed like yesterday when my colleague and brother, Chinedu Ekeke, attended the inauguration ceremony of President Muhammadu Buhari at the Eagle Square in Abuja alongside Ayo Oyalowo, Gbenga Olorunpomi and Segun Dada, amongst other children of change–with glee in their eyes.

Mr. Ekeke doesn’t adorn a Babariga often (ever the T-shirt and Jean person even during official hours), so it was something of a rarity for his friends to catch him in one on inauguration day. According to the rest of the story, tears of joy streamed down their eyes as Mr Goodluck Jonathan handed the reins of the country’s leadership to General Muhammadu Buhari (rtd) before the watching world.

For my friends, it was OK to cry at the time. They had been passionate advocates of the change process and to defeat an incumbent in an election year was unprecedented in Nigeria’s history and no mean feat. Like my friends, I was hopeful that things were never going to be the same again for our country.

365 days on, how much hope do we still retain? Here are 5 things we’ve picked up from the Buhari administration after one year….

1. The man can be annoyingly slow: 

It took him months to put together a cabinet, months to tinker with his budget, weeks to have the same budget assented to and it’s taking the president a whole year to name appointees into hundreds of board positions.

Plodding and ponderous is the Buhari way and boy, does it grate at times! The president is no spring chicken, we agree, but close aides have said it is his style to be deliberative and ponderous. The thing is that with 365 days now gone, he doesn’t have the luxury of time to carry on with this pace. “Hitting the ground running” never seemed like such a drag.

2. Change is a process

Let’s be honest with ourselves, the level of rot inherited by the Buhari administration was enormous. The country was pillaged like perhaps never before in our history. The then ruling PDP wanted to retain power at all cost, so the treasury was razed and stripped apart.

It would take some time to undo some of the damage, but that in no way excuses the pace of the administration in the last one year.  Institutions would have to be reformed, probity and accountability have to return to governance processes and infrastructure to help reflate the economy, have to be put in place. It would be a grind sometimes because there’s no other way. But the administration has to show that it’s going about its job the right way during every stage of the process.

3. Some of Buhari’s men don’t know what time of day it is

I would be surprised if there’s no cabinet reshuffle in Buhari’s second year, because on the evidence of what we’ve seen thus far, some of the guys in team Buhari are as cut off from the change mantra as Jonathan and his PDP. Only a handful of ministers have gone about articulating a clear cut policy of their ministries.

As spokesperson, Femi Adesina thinks his first job is to be arrogant towards the governing public. Communications minister Adebayo Shittu is the class clown, Agriculture minister Audu Ogbeh proffers 18th century solutions to 21st century problems, the FCT minister is an umbrella-wielding escort of the president, Labour minister Chris Ngige thinks now is the time to display his expensive jewelry and Lai Mohammed doesn’t know how to spin a truthful, logical yarn to save his life.

Some of Buhari’s men have been sleeping on a bicycle, like they say in my city. They’ll need to wake up.

4. Messing up information

There were at least 4 different versions of the administration’s policy on the petroleum downstream sector in the heat of the fuel crisis. Kachikwu said it was liberalization and added that it was a pathway to deregulation. No, said Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. It was simply a hike in pump price occasioned by foreign exchange shortage. That was until Lai Mohammed appeared to say Nigeria was broke and had no choice but to increase the pump price of petrol.

Up until this day, we still are not clear on what the mind of the president is concerning what just hit us at the pumps. Would he eventually deregulate or not? Are we going to keep hiking the pump price of petrol as the economy heads south no thanks to the plunge in the international price of crude? Would Buhari devalue the Naira or not?

In one year, we’ve learned that managing and disseminating information in one piece is not this administration’s strongest suit. If the information is not nebulous, hazy, badly mangled and unclear, it is not from the Buhari stable. The result has been market speculation, uncertainty and an economy that is now on all fours.

5. The tag of a regional champion hasn’t gone away

From his infamous 5 percent gaffe, President Muhammadu Buhari has fed those who consider him an ethnic jingoist, more munition for their slings. It’s become increasingly difficult to defend a president whose appointments thus far keep tilting to the geographical region where he hails from. And as has become typical of the man, he’s stopped offering explanations and really doesn’t care whose ox is gored. Or so it seems from the outside.

In one year, Buhari has cut the picture of a man set in his own ways–whether it is in his outdated economic models or his urge to hop on the next flight abroad; or his inability to communicate extemporaneously to Nigerians in the heat of a crisis.

In the next 365 days, a few things would have to give. One of those is that Buhari must show a regional balance in his appointments or risk further alienating a chunk of the country who held him in disdain before and during the 2015 general election; and who still sneer at him till this day.

An inclusive government that reflects the country’s rich diversity and disparate fault lines, has become an imperative.

Or Chinedu Ekeke and his friends would be ditching their Babariga for the T-shirts again.

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Catch Jude on Twitter @egbas

 

 

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This week, entertainer Tiwa Savage’s husband, Tunji Balogun (aka Teebillz) had a spectacular social media meltdown. A meltdown felt round the world.

It was a meltdown so gripping, we read his Instagram posts in rainy Lagos traffic, Ooohing and Aaahing until we arrived the office, where we quickly screen grabbed to be re-read much later, just in case we got out for lunch to realize the posts had been yanked off the internet and blamed on hackers.

And the posts were no more just before lunch time. Teebillz had deleted them all, predictably claiming he had been hacked.

Of course we knew he was lying through his false teeth, so we returned to our screen grabs to read Teebillz call his wife a cheat who had slept with Don Jazzy, Dr Sid and Tuface and who doesn’t bother to ask him if he’d had a bite.

Tiwa and Tunji

We returned to the blogs to take in all the X-rated Teebillz rant; at once calling his mother-in-law (or someone else) a witch, hitting at Tiwa for selling her body for musical fame, blaming his late dad for his marital woes, and admiring the wives of other male celebrities who are more homely and domesticated–whatever that means.

Just after lunch time, we learned Teebillz had taken to the Lekki-Ikoyi link bridge to hurl self into the Lagos lagoon and end his miserable existence. It took passersby and a few celebrities to rescue him from the railings of the bridge and from one suicide that would have adorned the front-pages the next morning. It was no longer funny.

tiwa-savage-and-husband

Of course Teebillz is a fool and we should help him.

As the cliche goes, celebrity marriages–or marriages the world over–aren’t always what they seem on the outside. Even courtships are a testy time for both parties. The last place you want to be airing your marriage or courtship laundry, is the internet. And while we were all entertained and laughed our heads off, none of Teebillz’s invective laden and grammatically incorrect Instagram offerings will help his cause. Because, for all his masculine posturing in those posts, he came across as an emasculated young man who still loves his Tiwa–a lady he now considers savage.

Clearly, there are cracks in their affair. There’ve been cracks in their affair for a while now. Teebillz has been accused of sleeping around as well. He came off his social media posts looking even more insecure and devastated. Tiwa’s musical success has become his pain. Certainly, concerns that should have been resolved any place else but the internet.

Tiwa-Savage-tibliz

In the end, what the internet does is amplify the voyeurism in all of us and we were certainly at our voyeuristic and narcissistic worst this week. We should however let the Baloguns decide what to do with their marriage from this point and accord them all the privacy they deserve.

And maybe also recommend that Teebillz be checked into a mental home without his gadgets. He needs a cranium check as speedily as possible and he needs to stay alive to be helped.

________

The writer is on Twitter as @egbas

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Editor’s note: To read Part 1, click here

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Senator Rhino Mendacity saunters across the room, his goatee draped in several tufts of grey–the spectacle of a ‘beard gang’ gone awry. 

He’s also balded faster in the last one week than he had in the last 20 years of his life. He takes his seat in the lounge and awaits his next assignment. He’s lived for these assignments since Mokola Sarkodi emerged the senate president last summer against the wishes of his party.

Senate president Sarkodi sips from his glass of wine from across the room and stares down hard at the marbled floor, his hair also graying faster than he’d have liked. The end will come, he mutters to himself, but only if he allows that end to become his lot.

And he won’t.

Time check: 12 midnight….

____________________

Sarkodi: The calls for my resignation are growing louder. A deafening roar. So loud, I even hear them in my sleep.

Mendacity: But will you….

Sarkodi: Will I what? Is that even a question? Two can play this game. I’ll preside over the senate for as long as I want. Where are we, Rhino?

Mendacity: Will you resign, Mr. president?

Sarkodi: Not in a million years. They can hire all the columnists and civil society groups in the land all they want. The harder they come, the harder they’ll fall.

Mendacity: Better. Because I just wrote a Facebook post reminding everyone that 4 years tooo sure. Hehehehe.

Sarkodi: I read your lousy post. As usual, you ignored the spell check and space bar on your Ipad.

Mendacity: That’s beside the point. As long as everyone got the message, that’s fine by me.

Sarkodi: Did you mean it when you wrote that only death can stop you from standing by me?

Mendacity: Every word, Mr. President…every word.

Sarkodi: Hmmmm. (Reaches for a bottle of his favorite wine at the bar, pops open and pours plenty into his and Mendacity’s glasses. Raises his glass in a toast). Here’s to death….

Mendacity: No way we are going to die, Afonja! My Facebook post was only a figure of speech. An idiomatic expression, if you would.

Sarkodi: (Laughing heartily) Hahahahahaha. Atink say you nor dey fear.

Mendacity: Ya papa! Anyway, we made some progress this week.

Sarkodi: Shoot!

Mendacity: We rented a crowd to protest at the venue of the CCT, expressing support for you.

Sarkodi: I could have sworn you wrote the words for the banners and placards.

Mendacity: Why so?

Sarkodi: Oh well, who else can’t spell ‘courageous’? Who else has a reputation for such basic spelling errors?

Mendacity: Oh well…..

Sarkodi: Well what?

Mendacity: I’m sorry Mr. president. Won’t happen again.

Sarkodi: (Waves a hand in disgust) It’s fine, go on…Just hire university graduates next time.

Mendacity: We got one of our lead lawyers to scream at the tribunal hearing and cause some confusion.  And we’ll keep demanding that the CCT chairman steps down from hearing the case because he’s as tainted as they come. The corrupt son-of-a-bitch.

Sarkodi: Yeah, that exchange was something else. He kept saying ‘sit down, sit down’, like he’s some god. The bloody bastard! He’ll be in jail long before I do…

Mendacity: Certainly. This week, we’ll rent a bigger crowd, print more banners and placards….

Sarkodi: Just get the spelling right this time.

Mendacity: Sure thing.

Sarkodi: The senators?

Mendacity: They’ll keep flooding the venue of the CCT. Making laws for the Ofodua people will take a back seat as always.

Sarkodi: Before nko? We are in this for the long haul. I managed to get that Hoe-vation journalist to pen a piece in my name…

Mendacity: Read it…’twas brilliant!

Sarkodi: Mumu-Dee can write anything for anyone if the fee is right. I mean, if he could portray a lady who stole Ofodua oil money as a dying  saint….That will buy us plenty of time, hopefully.

Mendacity: Yeah…the newspapers, the blogs, the social media influencers …everyone lapping it up. So, you didn’t pen it?

Sarkodi: Hahahahahaha. Pen fire!!! Where’s the time to write a line when I’m shuttling between the CCT and NASS every day?

I just rang him up, told him what I wanted, wired his fee and bingo! I saw the draft the day before it was published and of course, liked what I saw. He had tweeted on Friday that everyone should expect my response to his previous column the next day. Everything checked out. Worked as planned.

Mendacity: Shit went viral. Baba O!

Sarkodi: We aren’t here for games, please. It’s fight to finish with Jagaban.

(General laughter).

Mendacity: Any new briefs for your boy?

Sarkodi: I’m working on a plan B. Get the stage ready for my defection back to the Fee-dee-fee.

Mendacity: Wow!

Sarkodi: (Quaffs from his goblet) Yeah, wow is right. And I’d be taking all of my crowd with me. All of them. That Muslim party loses everything–the senate presidency, my loyal supporters and me.

I’m the best politician they’ve managed in years and yet they throw me under the bus? (Voice raised, eyes bloodshot) They fucking threw me under the bus!!!!

Mendacity: Calm down, Afonja (Puts an arm on Sarkodi’s shoulder). It’s not that deep.

Sarkodi: (Wriggles self from Mendacity’s embrace, screams so much, the walls tremble) Don’t you tell me to calm down, Rhino! Don’t you ever!!!

(Walks to the wine bar, head on the wooden contraption) I gave the fucking Muslim party my all. I left my comfort zone and joined them for all it was worth. Threw the money in for good measure. We won the fucking presidency, Rhino….I said we won the fucking presidency, Rhino, thanks to my money...(Walks to the window panes). I wasn’t corrupt then. My money wasn’t the product of corruption at the time. My asset declaration papers were fine then.

Oh God of heaven, I’ll crush them!!! I will freaking crush all my enemies. My name is Sarkodi. Remind everyone, Rhino.

Mendacity: I will, Mr. president. Together we’ll crush them (fists balled).

Sarkodi: I’ll see you at the chamber tomorrow. Tick all the darn boxes. It’s battle royale from this point. And remember, money is no object.

Mendacity: I remain loyal Mr president.

Sarkodi: You’d better be. Shut the door behind you. (Sarkodi walks briskly through the cavernous corridor and out of sight).

Mendacity: Haahahahaha. We’ll show them what it means to toy with the tiger’s tail. The bloody Muslim party! Dear Jagaban, choke on the amala already. We are so giving you a fight…we are coming for you!

______________________

*Similarities of characters used here to people living or dead; or to real life events, is purely coincidental. The writer is on Twitter as @egbas

 

 

 

 

 

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In an apartment overlooking Maitama in upmarket Abuja, senate president Mokola Sarkodi is holding court. It’s a dimly lit affair with stubbed cigars, half filled and empty glasses of wine strewn everywhere.

Time check: 12:30pm

Sarkodi has just seen off the last batch of senators and now, only the senator from Kogi, Rhino Mendacity, remains; his pot belly competing with the room for space.

Mendacity is Sarkodi’s right hand man…always there when the chips are down and out.

Mendacity drags the last bit of smoke from his Cuban cigar, grinds the stub on the ash tray in anger, quaffs from his wine goblet and paces the room.

___________________

Mendacity: We are almost there. Breathe easy, man, we are almost there.

Sarkodi: (without taking his eyes off his glass of wine) I heard you the first time.

Mendacity: Tomorrow, the Fee-dee-fee senator moves the motion for amendment of the code of conduct bureau act and we’ll be one step closer to shifting the goalpost right in the middle of the game. Hahahahaha.

Sarkodi: That’s the problem. We can’t shift this particular goalpost with the game on. This is the toughest battle of my life. I shouldn’t have gone against the Jagaban and the party.

Mendacity: (Screams angrily, gyrating) Cut that crap, now!! We don’t organize pity parties around here. (Walks towards Sarkodi, stoops and stares into his face, eyeball to eyeball). We’ll put Jagaban in his place. Rhino doesn’t lose no battles. Ask around. From my days at the student union, at the House of Reps when my Babariga was ripped apart, to my anti-corruption battles. I win them all. (His eyes the color of blood now).

Sarkodi: Hit me with the progress reports, buddy.

Mendacity: The federal high court will rule in your favor later today on the fundamental rights suit. Justice Mamarati was wired 10million.

Sarkodi: Good.

Mendacity: We’ve also hired mainstream and online journalists to support the #JusticeForSarkodi campaign. Tomorrow, we begin the process of amending the laws establishing the CCB, on the floor of parliament. We are very much on course.

Sarkodi: How many senators do we have on our side now?

Mendacity: Well over 50.

Sarkodi: What the actual fuck?

Mendacity: Well, that’s a start. We are in the process…

Sarkodi: (Flies from his seat, aims his glass of wine on the wall, grabs Mendacity by the shirt collar) You mean after all the billions we’ve doled out for this cause, you’ve only been able to secure the support of 50 senators? Listen to me, man: If I go down, so will you!

Mendacity: Let go of the shirt, Afonja…just let go.

Sarkodi: (Lets go of the shirt collar, aims a fist at the television screen in a fit of rage).

Mendacity: I said well over 50…..

Sarkodi: Shut the fuck up, will you? At this stage, we deal with actual figures, specifics, not assumptions, not probabilities. Do you understand me?

Mendacity: Yes my Lord.

Sarkodi: Continue with the progress report.

Mendacity: We’ve also ensured that most of the traditional media outlets do not report your trial. And the icing on the cake, Mr. President, most of the online influencers won’t be relaying live updates of your trial. It’s “operation no-hype” with the Sarkodi trial from this point.

Sarkodi: That’s a good one. Continue…

Mendacity: The #PanamaPapers….I’m willing to act as your wife’s bodyguard to the Island of Panama when she decides to sue the companies who listed her as Director.

Sarkodi: You are an idiot. But go on…

Mendacity: I’m also putting up my bodyguard services pro bono whenever you are invited by the EFCC, ICPC, CCT…

Sarkodi: Rhino, you are steadily getting on my nerves. I want concrete updates here. And why did the number of senators dwindle at my last CCT appearance? After all the money we shelled out?

Mendacity: Never mind, there won’t be enough space at the CCT for senators at your next appearance. We’ll also be recruiting 150 lawyers to lend support to the lead counsel.

Sarkodi: (Walks towards Mendacity, a hand on his friend’s shoulder. His tone lowers) Look here, man, I just want you to do your own bit. And your bit means mobilizing the foot soldiers, ticking off all the darn boxes.

On my part, I’m working pretty hard to put the Jagaban and his party to shame. I have messed up their budget, I am messing up the president’s anti-graft war and I’m making sure the executive looks bad, daily. All I ask is you do your bit, ok?

Mendacity: Ok.

Sarkodi: Good

Mendacity: On the propaganda front, we are also doing OK, Mr. President.

Sarkodi: Not from where I sit. WahalaReporters has been dishing out exclusives on me, defaming my esteemed person on a daily. (Now screaming) What’s up with that, Rhino? What’s up with that?

Mendacity: We’ve long painted WahalaReporters as troublemakers who’ve been paid by the Jagaban to ruin your reputation. And trust me, the Ofodua people have long swallowed this.

Sarkodi: Not enough, Rhino. Not enough. You mean there’s no way we can pay off its publisher, Oni-wahala Somolu, to go quiet at least for a while?

Mendacity: All previous attempts have failed, Mr. President.

Sarkodi: Keep trying. I won’t be here today if I ever gave up even once.

The senate president’s cell phone rings….

Sarkodi: Speaking please…..Oh wow…How did that…..(cuts the phone, hands on his head).

Mendacity: Who was that, Mr. President? Anything the matter?

Sarkodi: (Now staring at the ceiling pensively. There’s pin drop silence for some 5 minutes; with neither man uttering a word)

Sarkodi is stepping out of the apartment in a huff now after another generous gulp from his glass of wine.

Mendacity: Mr President…Mr President….

Sarkodi: (Mid-stride) That was my lawyer. Justice Mamarati ruled against us at the federal high court. Dismissed my fundamental rights suit as an abuse of court process. Says I must face trial.

Mendacity: The son-of-a-bitch!….it’s his father that is abusing court processes! After all that money? I’m so getting our money back!

Sarkodi: No, you won’t. We move to the next court…and then the next, file another suit aimed at halting this trial, on yet another ground….there’s enough money to go around…(Voice raised, meters away from the door knob) I’ll do everything to stop Sarkodi from sitting at the CCT dock like a common criminal. That’s not my portion as the senate president, do you understand me? I’m supposed to be making and passing laws for the Ofodua people, not getting tried. I don’t freaking bow to political witch-hunts! Do you understand me?

Mendacity: But….but….we’ve practically exhausted all our grounds for suits and courts at this rate…..Maybe we should try the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS), the magistrate court…oh wait, the customary court….

Sarkodi: You are a fool, Rhino, and you have no one to tell you. (Storms out of the apartment, slams the door after him).

Mendacity: (Pours himself a glass full of spirits, gulps all of it in one fell swoop). We are all fools in the eyes of the law, Mr. President…..we are all fools.

____________

*Similarities of characters used here to people living or dead, or to real life events, are purely coincidental.

The writer is on Twitter as @egbas

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Since November when president Muhammadu Buhari named himself the minister of petroleum resources after taking forever to put together his cabinet, the downstream sector of the petroleum industry has gone from bad to worse.

Here are 5 reasons why the president should finally let go of that most germane of portfolios….for good:

1. He has a lot on his plate already

As president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the federal republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari is directing affairs in the war with Boko Haram, he’s supervising the resurrection attempts of the country’s comatose economy and he’s got to attend all these bilateral meetings from Beijing to Saudi Arabia to Washington.

Resigning as minister of petroleum will give the president all the time in the world to focus on other areas of national importance.

2. Kachikwu looks caged

The minister of state for petroleum, Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu won’t tell you this, but I’m certain he’ll fancy a bit more leeway and discretionary powers.

I watched Kachikwu’s body language carefully on the day he made that infamous “I am not a magician” comment and you could see a man who’ll like to be unshackled from the grip of his immediate boss in the ministry. Kachikwu also said something along the lines of “it’s even a miracle that the NNPC has been able to do what it’s done so far…”

Well, if that’s not a clear indication of frustration that the president isn’t allowing him run with his ideas, I don’t know what else is.

3. The petroleum sector has changed since the ’80s

President Buhari is a dyed-in-the-wool nationalist who’ll like to bring back Nigeria airways if he could manage it. He’s a believer in government retaining some hold on certain aspects of the economy. Buhari loves to regale one with stories of how he built Nigeria’s refineries during his stint as military president and oil minister back in the day. He’ll want to bring the halcyon days back. He wants so desperately to bring the glory days back.

The bad news is that he can’t.

The world has changed rapidly since Buhari last ran this country and he’s got to come to terms with that. Government building and running refineries is the exception these days rather than the norm. Liberalisation of all sectors in a global village that the world has become is the way to go these days. Buhari’s economic ideas are better suited to the pre-historic era and the earlier he realises this, the better for everyone.

He’s got to let go of the oil sector and allow a hipster and avant-garde Kachikwu run that place, no matter how noble his intentions are.

4. He’s no spring chicken anymore

The oil industry is not for the slow and the slow at heart. Let’s face it, Buhari likes to take his time. It took the man months to put together his cabinet, it took him months to assemble his advisers, it’s taking him months to have a budget to work with and it will take him months (perhaps?) to assent to the document once parliament is done with its own ‘paddings’.

The president is deliberative….loves to take his time even when everything else is falling apart around him. You can’t teach an old dog new tricks. It’s the nature of the man to ponder and plod before arriving at a decision. And while that may be a good attribute in running a big government, you need a quicker pace in a sector as slick as oil and gas.

In the petroleum sector, you need someone who is young, who thinks at his feet and who moves with some urgency. Kachikwu ticks one or two of those boxes. For all his military training, the president doesn’t cut the picture of a man who understands that the times demand some urgency. He’s also on the wrong side of 70 and can’t be at meetings with major marketers and players in the oil sector at a snap of a finger and in the heat of a crisis; the way he would have loved to.

The industry needs a round-the-clock supervision as the country’s cash cow. He’s got to trust a younger Kachikwu to run things or get someone else he can trust to keep an eye on a sector laden with cowboys and corrupt businessmen.

5. The senate can’t summon him

For all their bluster, the national assembly couldn’t muster the courage to summon the minister of petroleum at the height of a crisis….with queues becoming a permanent feature at gas stations from Lagos to Borno. So, they settled for the minister of state for petroleum instead–the fall guy. It was the clearest example of cold feet in recent history, this side of the Atlantic.

In any case, the summon to the minister of petroleum wouldn’t have reached him in the skies where he’s permanently perched these days.

It will help to have a petroleum minister the senate or the national assembly can summon when things go pear shaped as they’ve done since Buhari became minister of petroleum.

………………

As president, Buhari can still keep an eye on the petroleum sector occasionally as he’d love to, but he just can’t run the place like a modern day CEO. The most honorable thing to do at the moment is to relinquish that role to someone who can, 24/7.

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Follow this writer on Twitter @egbas

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I knew Femi Adesina was a disaster waiting to happen the moment he sat down with Channels Television’s Seun Okinbaloye on Politics Today on Easter Sunday.

The presidential spokesperson looked and sounded irritated from the off. There were no apologies when the host mentioned he’d spent a better part of the day (5-6 hours) queuing to buy petrol.

“But you eventually bought”, said the man who coined the pejorative phrase ‘wailing wailers‘, smugly.

He spoke with the air of a man who wasn’t in the studio to entertain any opposing views aimed at the government that guarantees his pay cheque.  When the host asked about president Muhammdu Buhari’s countless apologies even as Nigerians continue to suffer in an economy on a tailspin, Adesina said something along the lines of with Nigerians you never win. You are damned if you apologized and damned if you didn’t.

It was Easter Sunday and I had just stormed the apartment to catch my breath after queuing to get petrol the entire day. If I was looking to get some assurance and comfort from the presidency to the effect that things were going to get better any sooner, surely Mr. Adesina wasn’t ready and willing to provide it. He didn’t look the man to provide it. This was we don’t give a damn all over again from an administration that promised to change the way government had been run in Africa’s most populous nation.

Okinbaloye sought to know from the presidential spokesperson why the country’s power woes have continued and if the Buhari led federal government will be able to hit its promised target of 10,000mw; given its apparent snail speed.

It was as though Adesina had been waiting for this moment his entire life. The last time the country attained a high of 5,000mw, he said, vandals blew up oil installations, crashing down grid capacity.

“If some people are crying that they are in darkness”, said Adesina gruffly and unapologetically, “they should go and hold those who vandalized the installations…Dazzit”.

He was irritated, furious and pesky all at once and throughout the interview, Adesina seemed to wonder why the Buhari administration should have critics at all. It was as though the entire country should never question the Buhari administration. Critics of the Buhari administration were insane, Adesina seemed to say without actually uttering the words.

Days earlier, oil minister Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu had worn that arrogant toga as he entertained questions from the media, moments after emerging from a meeting with the president and major players in the oil sector on the perennial petrol scarcity which has all but grounded Nigeria’s economy.

“Unfortunately one of the trainings I didn’t receive was that of a magician”, said Kachikwu before rambling on about how NNPC (the state run oil company) has even exceeded its target by importing 100 percent of Nigeria’s gas needs and why everyone has to wait for another two months for the situation to return to normal.

Kachikwu, like Adesina, was flippant, unapologetic and unable to conceal his irritation at being questioned regarding a job he swore to diligently carry on. A public job paid from the public purse.

These new change agents are the very definition of arrogance and we are sadly witnessing that time and again. Months ago, I chastised the president and his minister of women affairs for the arrogance shown to the Bring Back Our Girls group at the villa. There appears to be an unwritten rule somewhere within the Buhari presidency that they are all beyond reproach.

They bristle at the slightest questions posed regarding their job performances. I have watched president Buhari get all red in the face and gaunt just because he was asked a question or two concerning the job he campaigned and begged to do.

Things have got to change. Adesina was a shame last night and the least I expect from him is a public apology to Nigerians. Asking the folks paying his salary to go fight armed vandals was uncouth, disrespectful and insulting. Asking civilians without a penny in security vote and without arms to their names, to go confront dare-devil vandals in the creeks, was pushing insanity to its very limits.

Between now and the spring of 2019, the Buhari presidency would be taken to task more and more on deliverables and election promises. The seat of power had better brace up because this is still a democracy after all.

And oh, I still haven’t got petrol for my generator after 72hrs of trying.

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The writer is on Twitter as @egbas

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Jude

Last weekend, something grisly happened in Dalori, a farming community which lies some 12 kilometers off Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

Boko Haram terrorists arrived Dalori in Golf cars and motorbikes laden with explosives and petro-bombs; and set the entire community ablaze.

Dalori was a graveyard by the time the terrorists left town–100 corpses have been counted and livestock and farms are no more.

President Muhammadu Buhari was straddling Kenya and Ethiopia when tragedy struck Dalori. With the international, social and mainstream media running the story every other hour for days on end, the Nigerian leader flew on a plane to Ogun State instead to wine and dine as that community commemorates 40 years of its existence.

Save for a vapid, routine statement from the presidential aides condemning the attack on the president’s behalf, it hasn’t been reported that Buhari uttered a word in anger to the terrorists or in comfort to the people of Dalori or Borno.

Presidential trips are a scheduled affair and the Ogun visit must have been on Aso Villa’s itinerary for days. Nothing wrong with that. Presidential trips are also a mightily choreographed affair with the security apparatus of state having to be deployed to the visit location well in advance. Presidential trips also can’t be cancelled on a whim or at short notice. To do so will mean tampering with the schedules of a long line of other persons and state officials in the bureaucracy.

However, on the list of the president’s priorities for the week, Dalori should have come before Ogun and rightly so. An unscheduled trip by President Muhammadu Buhari to the scene of the attack would have lifted everyone’s spirit, no less those of the fighting forces. An unscheduled visit to Borno or anywhere near the scene of the attack would have comforted the displaced, the wounded, the traumatized, much more than any bare-bone press statement would have done. An address from Ogun directly aimed at the terrorists or commending the soldiers for the efforts they put in daily, would have been right on the money.

Even canceling the Ogun trip because Dalori happened would have been commended by everyone across the partisan aisle.

Instead, what we saw were images of the president grinning with Olamide, pumping fists and acknowledging the mortality of billionaire Adenuga and sharing drinks with the Ogun State governor Ibikunle Amosun while all of Borno was in sackcloth and ashes. It was bad for optics, bad for politics and bad for the values the once candidate Buhari promised to uphold and pursue.

This was like dancing on the graves of the deceased. And you have to go back to then president Goodluck Jonathan barnstorming at a campaign rally in Kano just hours after terrorists abducted schoolgirls and slit the throats of schoolboys in the north-east, to find this degree of coldness and mistimed blitheness.

Nigeria is at war and war-time presidents have to keep addressing the wounded and the battered from presidential jets, from hotels in foreign lands and from international conferences–on camera.

The president is in Strasbourg, France as you read this and will be touring Europe as well. A penny for each time he mentions Dalori on his foreign trips.

Father Mbaka, biko face your work

Reverend Father Ejike Mbaka of the Adoration Ground fame, has been throwing his toys out of the pram lately because the Bishop of a Diocese in Enugu dared to transfer him from one parish to another.

By their calling, catholic priests are itinerant and peripatetic and do not need to be taken into confidence before being asked to proceed to Siberia if need be. The job of a catholic priest is missionary in nature, demanding that once you are signed to the priesthood, you do not care about where next you are going to lay your head.

Father Mbaka may have all the gifts of prophecy in the world, but he’s still a Reverend Father under a Diocese with the Bishop as his boss. All this talk of suffering because he predicted Buhari’s victory at the ballot is baloney and unnecessary. Catholic priests go where the Bishop or the church secretariat orders.

And what was the APC doing issuing press statements regarding the incident? There are lines the church and politics should never cross or meet. Classless.

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The writer is on Twitter as @egbas

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Jude

Yesterday, on-air personality, Gbemi Olateru-Olagbegi got into trouble with Adejoro and Dokun Olumofin–now famously referred to as the Olumofin brothers.

From Gbemi’s twitter subliminals, the Olumofin brothers are a pair who love to attend weddings and would do anything to extract wedding invites from the bride and groom even if their company isn’t wanted anywhere near the wedding venue. “Social climbers”, Gbemi called them without referring to them by name.

Wedding Gate-crashers, she also must think of them.

She depicted the Olumofin brothers as a bunch of social wannabes–the kind of persons who would want to attend any society or celebrity wedding just to rub shoulders with the creme-de-la-creme.

“It’s just tacky and desperate. If he/she didn’t invite you, don’t be annoyed. Sit in your house. Shout out to the two brothers who make sure they attend every society wedding, whether they are invited or not. Awon social climbers”, Gbemi signed off on her Twitter page.

It took a while, but the Olumofin brothers finally decoded that the ‘sub’ was theirs. And so where Gbemi left out names, they came for her in unsparring terms and hard as well. No deprecating or profane words were considered off limits.

Gbemi was described as “ugly”, “frustrated” and the kind of lady who wouldn’t find a husband because she is not good to look at. Her vagina was described as “cobweb” infested for lack of regular use and she was described as being inflicted with halitosis; a medical term for bad breath. She was called out for her endless masturbating sessions (how the Olumofin brothers knew all this, I’ll never fathom).

The Olumofin brothers posted screenshots to prove that the groom, Tunde Demuren, did invite them for the next big society wedding which Gbemi was referring to in her ‘sub’ laden tweets.

Now, Gbemi and the bride, Tolu Oniru (popularly referred to as Toolz) are besties (best friends) and Toolz provided enough to prove she supplied Gbemi with the gist of the Olumofins harassing the would-be couple for wedding invites.

“Someone can’t even gist Gbemi small without her subbing the person’s entire generation on Twitter”, Toolz tweeted to her army of followers.

For hours, Nigerian social media was lit on account of the invectives, diatribes and name-calling that the Gbemi Vs Olumofin spectacle had become. Like it often happens when celebrities choose to air their dirty laundry in public, almost everyone had an opinion.

As I read the different viewpoints on the subject, it occurred to me that very few were calling out Toolz for her role in the shameful episode. Apparently, she supplied the gist to her friend Gbemi, who in keeping to character, went to town, running her mouth (or fingers).

I have followed the pair of Gbemi and Toolz all my adult life from Cool FM, to Inspiration FM and now to Beat FM. They provide plenty of gist and celebrity gossip during drive time traffic to keep your mind on everything but the Lagos bedlam in front of you. They are a witty, entertaining pair with the most acerbic of tongues. It makes for good radio when the hosts are on top of their game, dishing out small talk aplenty with a cocktail of the latest urban hits.

But it makes for a pretty poor spectacle as well when on-air personalities or celebrities don’t know where to draw the line between their private and professional lives. I’ll never for the life of me understand why Gbemi would tweet a private gist about her friend’s wedding and why that friend would admit publicly and shamelessly to providing the gist.

If the Olumofin brothers aren’t wanted at her wedding, Toolz more than anyone else has the powers to stop them from coming. She didn’t need to confide her helplessness in stopping them in a friend. And besides, since when has it become acceptable behavior to call out certain guests before one’s nuptial?

I reckon that Mr. Demuren must have been sorely embarrassed that his upcoming wedding has become chat fodder for the online-savvy, “twittering and facebooking children of anger”. Exactly the kind of pre-wedding publicity he wouldn’t have wanted.

The Olumofin brothers are also a pretty shameless lot as well from what I was able to make of their posts. Calling a lady all those unprintable names because she is un-married? I mean, who makes these stupid rules where a young unmarried woman is deemed a societal failure? I can understand that they were justifiably aggrieved but they went overboard with the invectives and slurs they threw Gbemi’s way.

Lagos is a city that loves its weddings, its parties and its nite clubs and no one who goes through the kind of traffic we go through in this city all year long, should deprive anyone of the city’s little pleasures. The Olumofins shouldn’t be called out or ridiculed for making wedding appearances their pastime–invited or not. I also like that they publicly admitted to loving weddings. We shouldn’t begrudge them whatever makes them happy.

In the final analysis, while a bit of celebrity drama is good for spicing up our social media spaces, it has to be said that celebrities can also choose to act as grown-ups and spare the public the drama and entertainment when they can. Not everything should be made public fodder.

The quartet of Gbemi, Toolz, Dokun and Adejoro, have displayed enough pettiness, jejune and infantile qualities to last us a year. This is hoping they some day find it within themselves to grow up.

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The writer is on Twitter as @egbas

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Jude

The video was barely one minute long, but it was one minute too long.

I couldn’t bear to watch, but by day’s end, I had viewed it twenty times and over. I promised self not to write about it, if only as a mark of protest for how gross it all felt to me. But here I am, devoting an entire column to the shoe shiner in suit and his ‘Oga at the top’…the very top.

There he sat, Nigeria’s Interior Minister, Abdulrahman Dambazau, unmoved, unperturbed and unraveling.

A man bedecked in a well-tailored suit, stooping to wipe the dust off Dambazau’s shoes at a public function. Dambazau, the one and only, offered the other foot as the orderly, complete with a pistol in its holster, took the offered  Dambazau foot with gossamer dexterity and wiped the shoe off until he was sure not a speck of dust was in sight.

It was like watching some Greek god berth in Nigeria. Except that this was neither Greek nor god. This was Dambazau, a minister in Nigeria’s federal cabinet in the dispensation of ‘change’. I winced in agony. I’m still wincing in agony.

The shoe shiner has been established to be an SSS (State Security Service) operative by the Nigeria Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC). He also doubles as the Minister’s orderly.

An orderly. Paid to watch the minister’s back and presumably paid by the state. An orderly from an intelligence outfit in the land. An orderly. Trained to watch the backs of very important persons; paid to ensure his ‘Ogas’ are safe.

But for Dambazau, multi-tasking has never killed anyone before. So he let his personal bodyguard wipe his shoes in the full glare of the watching world and the cameras. His job description and call of duty didn’t matter to Dambazau. A dove could have perched on the minister’s shoulder and he wouldn’t have felt a thing. Such was the bliss of the moment.

It is almost a week since that nauseous video surfaced online, sparking vitriolic comments, outrage and piling up YouTube numbers. The Honorable minister of Interior hasn’t said a word in defense. He probably never will unless forced to do so by the presidency. He must consider it standard practice and must be used to his personal and official staff kissing and licking his ass and feet; and fawning at his every word.

If the outrage is ever brought to his notice, he’ll dismiss it with a wave of the hand, while wondering why anyone should pay further attention to the ‘children of anger’ or his ‘traducers’ who are just out to get him.

As a retired army general, he’ll wonder why ‘bloody civilians’ are making that much of a fuss about an act that should be applauded by everyone—a public show of humility from a junior officer. After all, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples and heavens did not fall.  Rather, the man ascended into heaven.

In that moment of a ‘lowly’ security detail shining Oga’s shoes, Dambazau must have oozed utter satisfaction. He had arrived as a Nigerian big man, if he ever harbored any doubts.

But those who hold public office holders to account have to keep reminding the Dambazaus of our nation that it is dehumanizing to do what he did to a member of his staff. Granted, he probably didn’t ask for it, but stopping the ‘overzealous’ security detail dead in his tracks wouldn’t have brought the world to an abrupt end. Offering the other foot? Nah!! This was King Herod, Adolf Hitler, the slave trade era and Idi Amin all over again–in a democracy.

The thing with Nigeria is that such acts of dehumanizing servitude are commonplace. Ogas belong to different realms in our society. Those who earn their keep working for them are regarded as little worse than slaves. It’s a Nigerian thing to treat house helps and domestic staff with disdain; to watch vassals cower as Oga and Madam bark instructions from the bedroom.

But just because we are culturally wired to demean persons on the lower rungs of the societal ladder doesn’t make it right. Dambazau should be thoroughly ashamed of himself.

As should all of us for the monsters we have now created.

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Jude Egbas can be reached on Twitter @egbas