Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Nigeria As An Amusement Park

By Ikechukwu Amaechi
Nigeria is a huge amusement park. All you need do to have fun is sit back and watch the theatrics of the political gladiators. It is God’s doing, though. Our ability to laugh at our folly and the fact that there are so many clowns out there masquerading as statesmen is, perhaps, the only reason some are still sane.
In the face of the pervasive desolation, any iota of bitterness even against those whose cluelessness dug us into this hole would have been suicidal because, as the legendary global statesman, Nelson Mandela, would say, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”
*Buhari
Why should we commit suicide, which is exactly what those who superintend over our affairs want us to do, having tried every other strategy to accomplish the same goal, including the use of cruel economic policies without much success?
Of course, they think we are fools. Far from it, never mind that sometimes we behave in ways that tend to lend credence to their prejudice. But the truth is that they don’t get it, the joke is actually on them.
I had a good laugh every day of last week. The shenanigan that involved the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), the courts and the unseen hands of the All Progressives Congress (APC) was the icing on the cake.
As I watched the drama and the movements in and out of courts with injunctions and counter-injunctions, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was all deja vu.
But what really got me reeling with laughter was the alleged attempt by “mischief makers” to add the name of the Edo State APC governorship candidate, Godwin Obaseki, to the ever growing list of leaders without certificates or with unverifiable certificates.
Immediately the news broke, my first reaction was, “Oh! My God, not again.” You can then imagine my relief when Obaseki announced to the world that the certificates which he claimed to have lost have, indeed, been found. And guess where? In faraway God’s own country, the United States.

While playing host to members of civil society organisations in Edo State on Wednesday, August 17, Obaseki, who looked visibly relieved, gave the wonderful testimony.
"My certificate was missing in Lagos during this period so I had to get a sworn affidavit and all the institutions I attended acknowledged that I attended the schools.
“However, while the mischief makers in the PDP raised the alarm because they have nothing else to talk about me, my brother in New York read about it and called me to say Godwin your original certificate is here with me.
“I said, oh my God please send it down. So I have found it. These guys are intimidated by my qualifications, that is why they are running up and down.”
Can you beat that? Isn’t Obaseki a fluky guy? He was lucky his brother secured the documents in New York. Imagine those certificates being in Nigeria or in the custody of the Nigerian Military Board, nobody would see them again.
President Muhammadu Buhari is still looking for his, which he left in the custody of the military board. Or, has he seen it?
The only snag there is that Obaseki didn’t tell us when the certificate(s) got missing and when, and how he became aware they had disappeared from his Lagos home.
How did those very important documents end up in the custody of Obaseki’s brother? Could it be that he actually gave the certificate(s) to his brother knowing how unsafe those documents could be in Nigeria? Maybe he did, but forgot in the heat of politicking.
Who says some brothers are not guardian angels? If only Buhari knew, he would have taken wise counsel from Obaseki rather than trusting the military board.
And if he did, there wouldn’t have been any need to hire Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) or even dragging elder statesmen from their well-deserved retirement for a photo opportunity as proof of certificate.
While I was busy thanking God that Obaseki had found his missing certificates, the story of the dog named Buhari broke.
A 30-year-old trader, Joe Fortemose Chinakwe, allowed his excessive admiration for (President) Buhari to get him into trouble.
Chinakwe loves Buhari to the point of obsession. In fact, he adores the president. And the best way to profess this love openly is to name his pet dog after the president.
That is a patriotic act because he had the choice to name his pet dog Obama, Clinton, Bush, Trump or even The Donald. But that would have run against the grain of patriotism.
He is, therefore, as surprised as anybody else why he should be punished rather than being praised for his patriotism.
Hear him: “I named my beloved pet dog Buhari, who is my hero. My admiration for (President) Buhari started far back when he was a military head of state. It continues to date that he is a civilian president.
“After reading his dogged fight against corruption, which is like a cankerworm eating into the very existence of this country, I solely decided to rename my beloved dog, which I call Buhari, after him.
“I did not know that I was committing an offence for admiring (President) Buhari. I was intimidated and thrown inside the cell with hardened criminals for about three days.”
Of course, Chinakwe committed no crime except for the fact that he is a Nigerian and the name of the president is Muhammadu Buhari, who hails from Daura village in Katsina State.
In saner climes, who cares what you call your dog, particularly if the bond between you and your pet is as strong as the love and admiration you have for your president.
In fact, in such climes, you may have your five-minute fame by being a guest of CNN or the BBC. And your dog will become a celebrity in its own right.
In fact, if you are lucky, you may even be invited to the White House, the U.S. seat of power or No 10 Downing Street in London to have dinner with the British Prime Minister.
But here, Chinakwe, a father of two from the Niger Delta, who trades in second hands clothing, was incarcerated for three days in a police cell. Meanwhile, his traducers, a Nigerien and Musa, a police sergeant from the North, reportedly placed fatwa on him.
But he has himself to blame. He shouldn’t have allowed his love for (President) Buhari, a love that most likely will be unrequited, to put him in trouble.
While that controversy was raging, the PDP infuriated the APC by claiming it is on a mission to rescue Nigeria, a claim the APC likened to “the tale of a killer presenting himself as a life-saver.”
APC National Chairman, John Odigie-Oyegun, said it was impetuous for the PDP to claim to be on a rescue mission, and reeled out all the “crimes” committed by the opposition party against the Nigerian state in the 16 years it was in power.
Then he concluded thus: “This shameless distraction must stop forthwith, and here is serving notice that henceforth, the PDP will no longer have a field day in trying to twist facts and present the Buhari administration, which is on an urgent rescue mission, as the villain.”
Again, I had a hearty laugh. How fast roles change. It is instructive that 15 months after coming to power, many Nigerians are no longer sympathetic to APC’s moonlight tales, as reflected in the reaction of most people to the story published by Premium Times, an online newspaper.
In Nigeria, the more things change, or the more people claim that things have changed or are changing for the better, the more they remain the same or even worse.
Welcome to the ultimate amusement park, where people's only survive by having a laugh at their collective folly.
*Ikechukwu Amaechi writes from Lagos (ikechukwuamaechi@yahoo.com



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