Dele Momodu– “How I Became Addicted to Social Media”

Fellow Nigerians, if you are not yet on any social media platform, or you are one of those still doubting the efficacy of the new revolution in town, you are certainly on a long thing, to borrow one of those popular slangs of today’s youths. I often smile when I see myopic people who dismiss the social media phenomenon as nothing but a fad that is not as influential as many of us try to put it. Truth is, you can only ignore this twenty-first century wonder at your own peril. I know some politicians deluding themselves that the masses are not on social media and my response is they know not what they are saying. The penetration level of social media has certainly quadrupled since the General Elections of 2015. And it has continued to gallivant geometrically upward since then. News has become so instant such that woe betide any media organisation that has not embraced it, or upgraded its operations, to catch up with this most modern of trends.

I stumbled on social media initially as a form of entertainment in the last decade. I think my romance started with Facebook. I saw it as a veritable means of linking up with friends globally. The process was slow but steady. But we enjoyed what started in form of an elitist recreational tool but snowballed before our very eyes into a supersonic means of modern communications. Today, I’m able to easily and quickly connect with members of my families and friends, even in the remotest of villages. Social media is no longer for the bourgeois gang but for all and sundry. It has been spreading like bushfire in harmattan.

Social media became serious business for me when I decided to run for the highest office in our dear beloved country Nigeria in the year of our Lord 2011. My team in Nigeria and the United States, led by Ohimai Godwin Amaize, the Campaign Manager, and Bamikole Omishore, who coordinated our American operations were already social media aficionados! I was persuaded and coerced by both of them to accept the inevitability of social media as a powerful tool in political campaigns. What was more, we had by then studied the works of David Plouffe and David Axelrod, the brains behind Barack Obama’s monumental campaign and wished, or hoped, to replicate same in Nigeria.

We wanted as much of a clean break with the past era of political thuggery as possible. We didn’t even think we should join any of the big parties in existence. We wanted to associate mainly with ideologically conducive parties, the reason I approached, and joined, the Labour Party, thinking we could galvanise the long-suffering workers of Nigeria into action and activism. We soon hit a brick-wall and ended up in a cul de sac. We retreated in earnest and meandered our way to the National Conscience Party, a platform that had such a reputable friend of the poor, Chief Gani Fawehinmi, as a progenitor and forerunner. But it seemed we were too idealistic and certainly ahead of our time. The position we found ourselves sadly remains the same today.

While I do not wish to discourage or kill the enthusiasm of my legion of younger friends now in next year’s Presidential race, but I must tell them the gospel truth, and nothing but the truth. Nigeria is not yet ripe for the true and genuine hope and brilliant promise they can offer our troubled, and troublesome, country. I couldn’t believe, or imagine, the reaction, and attitude of the same grumblers, who saw nothing good in any of our leaders, to our exceptionally innovative campaign. We had no funds, but we had amazing guts and took on the Lions of our tough nation with bare hands. They showed us what we didn’t know. The experience was surreal. The young people who should appreciate, and applaud, our audacity, chose to tease, and diss, us endlessly. But we gained something, against all odds.

By January 2012, when the fuel subsidy controversy broke out, my team had moved my Twitter account admirably to about 13,000 followers. Not many politicians were visible on social media at that time. At a point, I was certainly amongst the top five, with Nasir El Rufai and Babatunde Fashola ahead. In those days, we grew our accounts organically unlike these days when with handsome money in the pocket, you can buy followership. I’m proud to say we never did and we still don’t. We engaged our followers directly and decorously. It was at this stage I decided to take over my account personally.

The moment I encountered Twitter, I was soon on a journey to addiction. My success came through my literary background in Yoruba oral and written literature and English language and literature. It is such an uncommon combination that had already launched and propelled me on an exciting journalistic excursion into worlds I had hitherto dreamt about. Unlike Facebook and Instagram, you need some sufficient, if not substantial, understanding of the use of English language and expression, logic and intellect to operate effectively on Twitter. Twitter easily and readily exposes illiterates, dim-wits, half-wits and nit-wits, many of whom now swam the cyberspace in droves as trolls. Nevertheless, you cannot even ignore these category of people because they have their followership and can do great damage to reputations and careers.

To grow astronomically on social media, you must maintain your presence constantly and feed your followers the food of life regularly. You must possess the gift of tolerance and forbearance. You will receive insults from all manner of ill-mannered and manner-less people who hide behind computers and smartphones to haul diatribes, invectives and vitriol at those old enough to be their parents. Many of them are so uninformed or ill-informed, or both, but come and charge at you as all-knowing, and what is worse, without control. I have been at the receiving end at the slightest provocation, for something as insignificant as doing my professional job by interviewing someone they despise and don’t want to see on your page. They forget that freedom of expression is a two-way street and that rational people know that it is always better to hear the other side, no matter how we feel about what they may have to say. Justice always demands that the principle of fair hearing should be a cardinal principle that journalists, judges and all fair-minded individuals embrace.

My all-time baptism of fire was when I supported Major General Muhammadu Buhari as APC Presidential candidate in the 2015 Presidential elections. The PDP supporters on the Internet immediately saw me as THE enemy. In all honesty, and in retrospect, those guys were brutal, but they still argued with some sense and facts. Somehow, we managed ourselves to the end. It was a game of tit for tat. But things have changed now for the worse. Tolerance has been thrown out of the windows and the worst forms of division, hatred and downright bestiality have taken over. Before you finish pronouncing the name Buhari, some trolls would have pounced on you, even if they are yet to hear you out. It is already assumed that you are about to attack their idol and object of worship. It is that simple. You are likely to trigger a third world war if you do not accept Buhari as your Lord and Saviour. Many distinguished people have been successfully bullied off social media lest they incur the wrath of the Buhari fanatics. They have absconded and gone into quiet retirement due to fear of savage attacks on not just their views but their personality, family and heritage. Unfortunately, in my view, these guys have created, and amassed, unseen, and unquantifiable, multitude of silent enemies for the President, who on a good day is so simple and jovial but, has been turned into a monstrosity by the words and actions, of his pyromaniac acolytes.

As for me and my house, I have become a porcupine, who has the capacity to rebuff all the poisoned darts, barbs and arrows they fire from different directions. Most of my followers have come to like and acknowledge my unusual calmness in the face of reckless insults. My job is my only means of survival and that of many dependants and no one can succeed in telling me not to report any human being just because you hate him/her. If you don’t like some faces you see on my page, you have the total freedom to move on to other accounts. If I have not complained about your choice, why complain about mine, when I have not attacked yours? I believe I’m old enough, and have acquired enough experience, to help me form an informed opinion and arrive at my reasonable choice, whether you consider it wise or utterly stupid. That’s the whole essence and beauty of democracy and free speech. Many of those opposed to the re-election of the President, again in my view, do so because of the palpable fear that he is incapable incapable of uniting the many ethnic nationalities that make up Nigeria. How he manages to control and correct this anomalous perception would ultimately determine his success or failure in the 2019 Presidential election. He needs to start by asking for greater decorum for his baying and rabid attack dogs. It is clear to me that they are currently not acting at his behest or doing his bidding.

WhatsApp seems to be the in thing at the moment with a massive cacophony of information, misinformation and disinformation flying left, right and centre. The Atiku and Buhari war machines are in full throttle. It is a battle royale between the two determined, if not desperate groups, and troops. Unfortunately, most of the rival advocates for the protagonists have focused largely on the personalities of the two main gladiators. There has been very little emphasis on ideology, principle, or policies of the respective Parties. Yet according to the Constitution, and as we have seen in practice, it is the Parties that contest the elections, and it is the Party that wins that is meant to run the country. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons, the present administration of President Buhari has not succeeded, because it has veered substantially from the policies it espoused in its manifesto before assuming power and the party has largely remained a rubber stamp. The curtailment or elimination of corruption cannot of itself make the government progress, unless effort and action are put into government and the provision of infrastructure and social welfare for the generality of the populace.

Social media could be used to re-energise and re-orientate the populace to focus on the essential things in this forthcoming election and compare the attributes of not just the two Presidential candidates, but what their respective Parties now have for us going forward. It is to the future, rather than the past, that the debate and discourse must focus. The past is merely something from which both sides should learn from. However, social media is not being properly utilised. Rather it has decimated friends and families like never before. All kinds of groups now exist where people tear at each other’s throats, in the name of politics, while the leaders still meet publicly or surreptitiously and cement pacts and relationships. My only hope is that Nigeria would survive the unprecedented bitterness of this foul season. Those who know how to pray should not stop screaming in their loudest voices to the God they worship.

Atiku: “Restructuring Is a Necessity, Not an Option”

My attention has been drawn to a letter written to Premium Times in response to an essay on restructuring authored by me.

Faced with an avalanche of public condemnation for his 360-degree turn on the concept of restructuring, it is understandable that the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, has written to Premium Times to douse the tension his comments created. However, in doing so, the Vice President should not attempt to revise history by saying that he spoke against ‘geographic restructuring’.

I have been in the forefront of the discourse on restructuring since the 1995 Abacha Constitutional Conference and to the best of my knowledge, there has not been any term like ‘geographic restructuring’. It is a strange concept, not only because it is not what the restructuring debate is all about, but also because the words of the Vice President, which prompted my response were clear, unambiguous and unequivocal.

Mr. Osinbajo said, the problem with our country is not a matter of restructuring. That I disagree with and so do many other Nigerians. If the Vice President has changed his stance, I welcome it, but we should not use one finger to hide behind semantics.

For the Vice President to say “Alhaji Atiku’s concept of restructuring is understandably vague, because he seeks to cover every aspect of human existence in that definition”, is most unfortunate.

I have been very clear, detailed, and unambiguous about my ideas for restructuring. At several occasions, including, but not limited to my speeches at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House), and at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (made in April this year and July 2017, respectively), I gave very clear and concise ideas about administrative, political and economic restructuring as followss:

  • Devolution of powers and resources to the states.
  • No state will receive less Federal funds than today as a result of restructuring
  • Matching grants from the federal government to the states to help them grow their internally generated revenue position.
  • The privatisation of unviable federal Government-owned assets.
  • A truly free market economy driven by the laws of demand and supply.
  • Replacing state of origin with state of residence, and
  • Passing the PIGD so that our oil and gas sector will run as a business with minimal governmental interference.

I am hard pressed to see how these clear and specific ideas can be described as ‘vague’. One would have thought that if anything is vague, it would be the idea of ‘geographic restructuring’ whose meaning is hanging in the air.

Be that as it may, in his letter, Vice President Osinbajo then jumps from the topic of restructuring and goes on to say:

“Good governance involves, inter alia, transparency and prudence in public finance. It involves social justice, investing in the poor, and jobs for young people; which explains our School Feeding Programme, providing a meal a day to over 9 million public school children in 25 States as of today. Our NPower is now employing 500,000 graduates; our TraderMoni that will be giving microcredit to 2 million petty traders; our Conditional Cash Transfers giving monthly grants to over 400,000 of the poorest in Nigeria. The plan is to cover a million households.”

While what Professor Osinbajo says may be true or false, I must say that his dovetailing into the area of the economy does not explain certain facts such as the fact that the Nigerian Bureau of Statistics reported in December 2017 that Nigeria lost 7.9 million jobs in the 21 month period under review.

If the Vice President cannot see that losing 7.9 million jobs in 21 months while creating 500,000 jobs is a deficit, then I do not know what to say to the honourable professor.

Professor Osinbajo also harps on about “prudence in public finance”, but he fails to show the wisdom in sharing out $322 million of Abacha funds to the poor only to take a loan of $328 million from the Chinese the very next month. Many Nigerians, myself included, see this as imprudence.

Finally, while the Vice President is not exactly correct when he says “In four years from 2010 to 2014 the PDP government earned the highest oil revenues in Nigeria’s history, USD381.9billion. By contrast the Buhari Administration has earned USD121 billion from May 2015 to June 2018”, let us for the sake of argument say that he is right.

My response to Vice President Osinbajo is that while I was Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in 2006, Nigeria’s Economic Management Team, of which I was a prominent member, paid off Nigeria’s entire foreign debt of $30 billion, at a time when we were earning one third of what the Buhari administration is currently earning from oil. So such arguments are puerile at best.

My advice to the Vice President is that he should choose whether he is for restructuring or whether he is against it and stick to his choice. This continuous prevarication, this approbation and reprobation, helps no one, least of all true progressives who know that Nigeria needs to be restructured and restructured soon.

Atiku Abubakar
(Waziri Adamawa, former Vice President of Nigeria, a dad, businessman, and philanthropist).

Pendulum | My Dear President, Let Your People Go! – By Dele Momodu

Your Excellency, it is with every sense of love and patriotism that I have decided to write you again despite the frustration of knowing that you may not hearken to my sincere advice to you, as I have written to plead with you on several occasions, but my entreaties have been to no avail. I pray this letter meets you well in the beautiful city of London where I expect you to be resting and relaxing by now whilst waiting to undergo your mandatory physical check-up. Sir, though this piece amounts to unsolicited advice from a self-appointed Special Adviser, I wish to reassure you that you should stop banking on professional politicians who are merely using you to feather their own nests. I demand and require no gratification whatsoever other than to put it permanently and indelibly on record that someone told you the truth while the unrepentant liars took over your space and led you astray.

Before I go on, please, permit me, Sir, to take you down memory lane, from the First Republic to the present. Practically all our leaders failed, or fell, usually not because of only what they did wrong but ostensibly because of what they did not do right. Let me also establish one fact. Most of our leaders have been catapulted to power, not by their superlative might, but by divine intervention. One day, I will chronicle how providence has been responsible for the exalted position all our leaders found themselves. Sadly, practically almost all of them forgot how they reached their lofty heights and sought to personally perpetuate themselves in power, but the celestial manner of their enthronement also saw to their humiliating, sometimes tragic, downfall. Consequently, virtually all, except may be General Abdulsalami Abubakar, were disgraced, removed or retired ignominiously or controversially. President Obasanjo who was easily the most efficient, efficacious and effervescent leader, after the brilliant and youthful General Yakubu Gowon, ended his tenure in 2007 with the reverberating hoopla surrounding his third term bid. Whether he was interested in it, or his acolytes forced him into it, all his good works would always attract that cloudy addendum. It is noteworthy, for emphasis, that no leader in Nigerian history has ever succeeded in enslaving Nigerians. We can stretch this further, by stating categorically, that no leader in the world has ever achieved absolute authority permanently. Indeed, that is a preserve meant only for God. If only humans reminded themselves constantly of this fact and their mortality!

This is the reason I wish to appeal to you once again to resist the temptation of wanting to take Nigeria back to those days of oppression and suppression. In case you need to be reminded of how much God loves you, I shall gladly oblige. When your military regime was toppled in 1985, your enemies danced on the streets. You were compared to the worst dictators on earth and many would have thought it was finished and over for you. But the ways of the Almighty are not the ways of man. 30 years later, the same Nigerians who rejoiced over the collapse of your military junta, in their collective wisdom or stupidity or amnesia, gave you a resounding victory at the polls against a powerful government and incumbent President. This was after you had tried for a record third time and had virtually given up any chance or hope of winning a Presidential election again. You had actually wept for Nigeria and yourself on that third inauspicious occasion. This time around, in 2015, everything seemed stacked against you, including old age and diminishing health. Yet Nigerians at home and abroad placed their abundant faith in you. What you have done with their faith since then is debatable.

What more could anyone ever ask for again in this life? Credit for that victory must go to everyone, including saints and sinners, in case such nomenclatures exist on planet earth. Please, let no one rewrite the history of that epic battle to dislodge the PDP behemoth. It was thus a gross miscalculation to get power by such default and try to change the narrative by saying you belonged to everyone and to no one, or whichever way it was crafted by your speechwriters. Truth is you belonged to the party that embraced you, warts and all, and all the foot-soldiers who made it possible for you to attain power once again. Not just that, you instantly became the father of the nation on that fateful May 29, 2015, and could no longer discriminate against anyone for that matter. If you wanted to govern in peace and make appreciable impact, you should have treaded softly and walked gingerly towards your ultimate destination. The war of attrition that broke out as soon as you took power was totally unnecessary and uncalled for. Except for your most loyal supporters, not many ever trusted the many fisticuffs were to the benefits of Nigeria, but only for the pecuniary gains of the privileged ones in power.

If you fight a war for over three years and you are unable to defeat your enemies, you should realize that it is either they are stronger than you or your strategy is abysmally faulty and failing. I love the Yoruba adage: “ta a ba leni, ta a ba bani, iwon la a bani sota mo…” (If we pursue an adversary and cannot catch up with him, it is better to retreat, than continue to make enemies of such a person). It is not an act of cowardice to retreat or even surrender. The fight you are pursuing right now would eventually prove too costly for you and for Nigeria, even if you manage to win it, which I seriously doubt. By the time you reach the end of it, you will discover the meaning of anti-climax. The victory will be a pyrrhic one or if otherwise, a cataclysmic defeat. Therefore, I’m shocked that you’re allowing some reckless and vengeful politicians to goad you on and mislead you into victimising those who have left your party and are now opposing you. The same people you met and laughed with recently, before our very eyes, have suddenly become enemies who must be destroyed by all means. Sir, this act is totally unfortunate. Only God can give power and only HE can take it back. You did not use force to take power in 2015, why do you then think you need to retain that power by use of force and fire?

I’m not sure if you are familiar with world history, my dear President. You may need to ask your aides to print out some dark moments in human history for your perusal. What often happens is that you will, inadvertently, turn those you’re harassing now into superstars. What you are playing with is a game of David and Goliath. It is one of the most fascinating scenes in the Christian Bible. Goliath was so confident of his awesome strength and stamina and so looked down on pitiable and diminutive David. The Holy Bible recalls their fight was a classic example of a mismatch. But Goliath suffered a crushing defeat in the hands of David. That battle is still celebrated worldwide till today, and it is a story almost every child knows and is taught to learn from. The didactic lesson from it is that not every battle should be fought and not every arsenal should be deployed. Better to keep some things till they are absolutely needed. This cat and mouse game of using State apparatus to witch-hunt deserters is becoming predictable, boring and nauseating.

Those who have decamped from APC have only exercised their fundamental rights. Whether they are morally right is neither here nor there and is ultimately a verdict for the electorate to ponder and unravel when elections, which loom large, finally arrive. Similarly, whether they are legally justified in their defection is a matter which your party may seek to take up in the courts, and I am certain that the Courts will do justice to the case as they have been doing despite terrorisation, bullying and coercion from some over-exuberant agencies of your government. I pause to observe that some of these guys were hailed by us when they joined our side the last time. At that time, we justified their defection to us as being part of the democratic process. If they have now decided to go because they believe they are not wanted by some influential gladiators in the ruling party, my dear President, please let them go. Your party’s point that they have done so for less than altruistic reasons will be considered and digested by our people who are quite politically savvy and discerning. They will make up their minds as to the rights and wrongs of it all.

Your Excellency, I want you to remember that you will not be in power forever. You have your family and friends to consider. Those who have been locked up in prison today and those being hounded could never have envisaged a day like this would ever come when there would be a reversal of power and fortune. It is too cheap for a Governor to decamp today, and then he and his operatives are being terrorised tomorrow. Power should never be abused in this manner. Who knows what would happen when tomorrow comes again?

One of the reasons former President Jonathan is respected today and enjoys some peace is because he gave you great respect though both of you fought tooth and nail over power. He tolerated many of us who supported you and did not make the occupation of Aso Rock a matter of life and death. Sir, why can’t you reciprocate this wonderful gesture? It is to his eternal credit that, in the midst of our attacks on him, I got invited to the wedding of his daughter, and was treated with decorum. Politics should never be a matter of brutish animosity. That is why I always have tremendous regard for lawyers. They may fight like savage adversaries in Court but, whilst they are there, they still show themselves some honour and respect. It is their attitude once they step outside the courtroom that is even more remarkable. Then they shed the toga of adversaries and become noble and learned friends. I wish all of us could imbibe this kind of camaraderie in the practice of our political beliefs.

Furthermore, I have copious examples that show that what you sow is what you reap. I wish to plead with you to cool temper, Sir. I know how it feels to be abandoned in the lurch by your own friends and supporters. But that is life. Everything can’t be smooth all the time. When you go to the FIFA World Cup, you do so knowing only one team can grab the much-coveted trophy. You should try to play a good and clean game and leave the rest to Allah. You have played your part to the best of your abilities and should be happy once your conscience is clear that there was no better way to do things.

Even if you decide to keep all your opponents in the gulag, it still does not guarantee that you will win the next election in 2019. But if you do it in God’s way by embracing decency and fairness, your rating will go higher. You will attract natural admiration. The love of the people cannot be forced. You’ve been drawing sympathies to the decampees because of the high-handedness and intolerance of some of your agents. As I started this mail, what kept coming back to me was a very popular autobiography I read as a youth, LET MY PEOPLE GO, written by Albert John Luthuli, the very first Black African man to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Luthuli led the African National Congress in South Africa in the apartheid years for 15 agonising years and coordinated mass resistance and non-violent crusade against the White supremacists. Though he did not live long enough to see the end of apartheid, others carried on the task and Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison, came back alive to become the first President of an independent and free South Africa.

Mr President, there is a moralistic lesson to learn from the life and trajectory of the great Madiba Nelson Mandela. He became a world Statesman for his uncommon magnanimity and spirit of forgiveness. He had the power to exterminate his former tormentors and jailers but instead he decided to set up a Truth and Reconciliation Committee that tried to integrate the whites into a new black-dominated government. Nigeria needs urgent reconciliation, healing and unification, which has led to a strident clamouring for restructuring. We should be tired of fighting for power for personal aggrandisement after groping in darkness for 58 ugly years. There are no prizes for war but there are beautiful garlands for peace.

Sir, I’m begging you in the name of God, please, let your people go, in peace.

I remain yours most sincerely…

Dele Momodu
CEO Ovation Magazine

Before It Is Too Late for Her | By Pius Adesanmi

I return from a three-week sojourn in Kenya to general election season in Ontario. I return to the chromatic effervescence of electoral flyers, posters, and sundry campaign materials. Campaign ads become oxygen – inescapable, unavoidable. Ontario politicians, like their peers all over the world, are doing their do.

My voter information card, I am told, arrived a week ago in the mail. My six-year-old wields it in excitement, flashing a dentition with window designs that weren’t there when I left three weeks ago for Nairobi. The tooth faerie has had a rich harvest of two teeth while I was away.

Daddy, voter card, voter card, she screams.

Oh, that’s my PVC, I say.

Daddy, what’s PVC?

A voice in my head says: there you go again! Inflicting Nigeria on this Canadian child. Years before she will ever vote, they probably have started teaching her elementary notions of elections in civic classes in school. They are breaking down elections to juvenile concepts for them. Her teacher taught her voter information card, you are saying PVC. Must every detail of life pass through a Nigerian semantic sieve in your brain?

Daddy, what’s PVC?

That is what we call that card you are holding in Nigeria.

Daddy this is Canada.

A bere niyen. Give me my card jor, Madam Canada.
Father and daughter joke and fool around. I chase her for the card. Then I settle down to the serious business of getting into election mode and spirit.

I am a very important person in my upper middle class suburbia neighbourhood. Because oyinbo people are always buying and selling homes like suya, many of our original neighbours who were here when we bought ten years ago have all sold and moved to other neighbourhoods, making us one of the oldest residents.

Were my neighbourhood in Nigeria – there you again, Pius! – I’d be something of an Area Father in Lekki or VI, a ceremonial Baba Isale. In political terms, I’d be a very important ward or neighbourhood chieftain – the person party elders and stalwarts go to see or send emissaries to during an election cycle.

These considerations are on my mind as I start to inspect the house.

I check the pantry. Nothing there beyond our usual wholesale Costco shopping. I was expecting sacks of rice, beans, cartons of this and that, garawas of ororo and palm oil.

I move on to our deep freezers. We have three deep freezers in the house. Nothing in them beyond our own regular supplies. I was expecting all three freezers to be overloaded with beef, goat meat, turkey, and chicken.

Maybe all the stuff is in our backyard, I say to myself, after all, we have a huge backyard.

I go to the backyard, expecting to see tethered cows, goats, and turkeys struggling for space. Again, nothing.

By now, I am getting alarmed. I rush back inside to check my bank accounts online: no deposits. Now, I know something is seriously wrong somewhere. I query madam.

Didn’t you say that politicians and their campaign volunteers were all over the neighbourhood, stomping and doing door to door campaigning while I was away in Kenya?

Yes now. Is this not election season? Shebi you have your voter information card. You better tune in and decide on a party and candidate.

She does not know why I asked that question. She only implores me to go do early voting. Me, I am thinking of other serious stuff. All around the house are campaign literature.

Me? A whole neighbourhood chieftain? Candidates and campaign volunteers have been visiting and dropping campaign documents and related literature? No mobilization! No infrastructure of any sort! A whole me, my house is littered with campaign paper. Me fa! Do they know who I am?

Whatever happened to:

Madam, good evening, we are from XYZ party. Is Chief at home?

No, he is in Kenya.

Eeya, we met his absence?


In that case, tell Chief that we want to do well in this neighbourhood and we know that we have a father in him and we don’t have to worry. We have some campaign materials for the entire neighbourhood that we have brought for Chief to share as he deems fit. Please ma, where can we offload these two trailer loads of rice, beans, salt, palm oil, and ororo? We also have a trailer load of cows, goats, rams, turkey, and chicken. Can we tether them all in your backyard?

Ehen, Madam, before we leave, can you please give us Chief’s account details? The party chairman asked for it. Chief will receive an alert. Please tell Chief to help us manage whatever he sees. We know that he is more than that. The Party Chairman will pay him a visit when he returns from Kenya.

Nothing like the desirable scenario above has happened. Instead, I have a voter information card and loads of literature from the parties and the candidates. I tell myself that Canadian democracy is backward, primitive, and underdeveloped. I tell myself that Canadian politicians belong in the 17th century.

My six-year-old boss interrupts my thought. Whatever elementary civics they are teaching her at school has combined with weeks of relentless political ads on TV to turn her to a precocious little political animal. I am amazed by the sophistication of her political chatter.

So, Daddy, who will you vote for? I like the woman. She speaks about interesting issues…

Oh, my Gosh, young lady, what in the name of Baba Adesanmi do you know about political issues?

She smiles and resumes her game but I am extremely worried. Here is a six-year-old tuning in to campaign season, listening to politicians on TV, and trying to break down their campaign issues.

If care is not taken (as we say in Nigeria), this child may start to talk about what a particular politician has said about health, education, infrastructure, wages, social safety net, commodities prices, housing, the future generation and such other nonsense.

I mean, here am I, her father, in a murderous mood, ruing the insult of politicians coming around without “seeing” him with mobilization and stomach infrastructure commensurate with his status and standing in the neighbourhood and she is opening her six-year-old mouth to talk nonsense about issues? Who issues epp?

I decide that before Canada ruins my daughter’s life with civics and issues, I will have to take her urgently to Nigeria. I will have to introduce her to her people and their world so she does not grow up clinging to the dangerous and erroneous notion that elections should be about vision and issues.

Come to think of it, by the time we vote next week, she would have gone through this entire election season in Ontario without hearing a single gun shot. People will be counting votes next week. Not corpses. What sort of life is that? I can’t allow my child to grow up without associating elections with guns, cutlasses, and corpses. I have to take her urgently to her people in Nigeria.

Evening. The door bell screams. My daughter rushes to the door. I follow. At the door, three foot soldiers of a particular candidate. All young girls. Everything about them screams teenagers. They are pounding the pavement. They are campaign volunteers. Their enthusiasm is infectious.

How old are Y’all, if I may ask.

Two chorus eighteen, one says nineteen.

My six-year-old is already plastering them with questions. They try to sell their candidate to me. They are doing the issues thing. My daughter too is relating to them. Four Canadians, one alienated Nigerian. They are telling me about their candidate’s website. I can go there for elaborations on each campaign issue, they say. Or call any of these dedicated numbers.

I am drifting away from them. And. From. My. Daughter.

I am now hearing only the occasional word.





Is important.

To our candidate.

I continue hearing them in bit parts as my mind drifts away. Two eighteen-year-olds, one nineteen-year-old. So passionate about campaign issues.

They have not come to my doorstep bearing mobilization.

They have not come to my doorstep bearing any kind of infrastructure and facilitation.

They have come bearing campaign literature and issues. Like the Canadian politicians they represent and believe in, like Canadian democracy, these girls are backward and primitive.

I look at them and see the future of my daughter. At eighteen, she too would be pounding pavements after school, volunteering and campaigning for politicians about issues important to her life and her future. Unless I do something drastic, she will be talking the sort of nonsense that these teenagers are yarning to me and her now.

No. This daughter of mine must go to Nigeria before it is too late for her!

She must go and meet her people and learn how they see themselves. She must learn that everything is reducible to food right now, food at this very moment. She must learn to become a prisoner of her belly and the moment. When you shit the food you have just eaten this moment, you move on to another this moment of food. And you must develop a culture of guns and bullets to secure this food this moment. That is how generation after generation of her people have done it. I must save her from Canada’s backwardness. She must evolve from Canada’s 17th century democracy to Nigeria’s 21st century democracy.

The Canadian teenagers drone on, punctuating my reverie. I hear them in single words and not in sentences:





Our future…

Codeine is the New Cocaine – Tunde Asaju

Even when the Asiwaju Peoples Congress turns Naija into paradise on Sai Baba’s second term, enemies would keep the focus on the negative. If we used them, body bags would have been sent to Birnin Gwari, Mubi and Maiduguri where people are dying left, right and center. Our lacrimogenous glands have been blocked since adversaries took away our sense of national outrage replacing it with ethnicity and religious bigotry.

The business-savvy among us has called for arms rather than seek the path to peace. An eye for an eye does not leave half the world blind as some would say; it evens the score. Isn’t that what we want – an even world?

If you were sitting in a coffee shop trying to catch up with what is going on in Naija, you should be blamed for increasing national heartache and hyperventilation over the death of a few disposable individuals. Why should anyone be outraged when Fulanis are killing Gambaris?

Alhamdullilah! At least General Brutal is not sitting down on his table at Defence Headquarters doing nothing. That is not what a gallant general does when his daytime hobby is wrestling pythons as anyone with Google could verify. No, they skirt trouble spots and portray their gallantry to shame the likes of Jerry Rawlings who think we make more pepper soup generals than real fighters.

We are lucky to have a working general at the command of our troops in these times. Only the wicked would suggest his resignation just because under his watch, too many people, soldiers included have died. A soldier swears to lay down his life, even for an ungrateful and uncaring nation.

If every time a soldier is ambushed; if every time a town is razed and raided or a displaced people’s camp is attacked we sheepishly follow after muzungus and resign, who would be left to prosecute the war? General Brutal has been upandan rallying his troops. If you’re not a Naija speaker, befriend one and increase your vocabulary.

General Brutal has done it again reinforcing security after attacks – yippee! Birnin Gwari would get a new formation. It takes over 40 deaths to get that – martyrs all. Last Saturday he intercepted and arrested the four (4) armed robbers terrorising the Numan-Yola axis. Har abadaa forever, you’ll never hear of robbery on that road again.

If Donald Trump’s army chief had accomplished this feat, the world would have shared the Nobel Peace Prize nomination with him. But, let’s not go there, because if half of the people who died in Birnin Gwari had died anywhere in America, even Trump would have increased his vocabulary and flags would have flown at half-mast for the rest of his presidency. Forgive Naija migrants for refusing Rudolf Ogwo’s recommended reading – This American Life.

That’s not all. Somewhere in the northcentral region, one checkpoint yielded 92-armed herdsmen. It actually happened, but the BBC would not make a documentary about it. They prefer to chase codeine upandan.

Talking about codeine, I have come across an appreciation letter from the League of Smugglers to acknowledge the federal government’s efforts at beating President Jones billionaires list and increasing current job numbers. In the letter, the League declared it’s loyalty to the Sai Baba administration for putting codeine on the banned substance list without a plan of action for drug rehabilitation.

The group believes that this action would boost the country’s economy and increase the number of zombies roaming the streets or chained to trees. Then, enjiowo or NGOs would have something to harangue donors about.

According to the statement, members would vote for Buhari’s re-election to augment Ganduje’s magical numbers. The movement affirms that with codeine officially banned, its value would now surpass gbana or cocaine on major outlets. In a rare show of patriotism, the group assured Netanyahu that his agency would meet and surpass its targets this year and the next, as it would cooperate in exposing any outsider hoping to cash in on the trade without paying registration fees. Provided, the group says, officers cooperate with registered members whose list would be forwarded to all border posts.

The group affirmed that as long as the law of demand drives supplies, it would continue to make brisk business and urged statisticians to add thousands into the number of employment that would be created as a result of this ban. Now, who says Sai Baba would not win a second term?