Monthly Archives: August 2012

IDLEMINDSET | RICE, TWITTER VERIFICATION AND OTHER HILARIOUS SYMBOLS

Some things are too fucking funny to be ignored. But before we discuss the intricacies of extracting humour within the Nigerian social construct, we shall begin with a brief dissertation on our favourite topic: the weird as hell-stuck-in-a-deep-freezer mental state of the average Nigerian.

That is to say, you. Your head is full of the most terrifying ironies.

You simply have to love Nigerians–or you’ll blow up the whole country in disgust. But really, its quite a cute country. You cannot help but love a country that considers itself great without any particular claim to greatness. A country where the weirdest stuff can pass as a regular event and where things considered ordinary in other parts of the world are considered out of place.

“Dude, what’s with the candles? Are you seriously that poor?”

Its a regular madhouse where the insanest ideas are glorified and the intelligent ones vilified, where a Minister of Aviation thinks prayers are the answer to plane crashes, where politicians claim to receive divine instructions on public policy…

Where one of several regular pop musicians has sixty-six thousand more Facebook fans than the only Nobel Laureate.

Like your average drunk, the more Nigeria tries to act normal and sophisticated, the more unsteady it looks. That’s why even though, Nigerians consume the most bottles of champagne in Africa, only a handful of those who drink it realise that it is made in the Champagne region of northeastern France or that Dom Perignon is the Benedictine monk considered to have invented it in 1688.

“Oga, abeg leave story.”

Now, this is the latest hot gist on the social butterfly sites (read: “Linda Ikeji” and co.):  Omotola’ s handle got verified on Twitter. That’s it, the hot news. If you think I’m kidding about the hotness of the news, Google it. Its all over the social butterfly sites. But for my saner minded readers, I suppose your first Google check will be to find out who the hell is Omotola in the first place.

A regular Nollywood pop star. A sexy, regular Nollywood pop star.

And that’s the hot news. That’s the freaking hot news. Twitter verification. According to the Linda Ikeji pundits, Omotola has acheived superstar status because of this oh-so-life-changing-event. Wow! I suppose all Jonathan needs now is to get verified on Twitter to prove his superpresidency and get re-elected in 2015 and maybe even afterwards too.

Hehehe. Of course, Bro Sammy, of course. Jonathan again? No freaking way!

Now what’s all this got to do with rice? Everything. You see, Nigerians are so fucking fond of looking for the status symbol in everything: UK degree, motor cars, marriage, Shell, Dubai, Obudu, Engineer/Otunba/Chief, blackberry, and now twitter verification. The average Nigerian can see a connection in this list; and this sickening fact is what has led to the tragedy of rice.

This is where things get freaking funny.

You see, as Soyinka explains, there is nothing fundamentally great about rice itself, either nutritionally or culturally, at least not any more than yam, maize, or garri. Yet rice occupied an elevated status role in the early decades of the country—because it was imported. Eating rice “was only another status symbol, like the taking of numerous chieftaincy titles, inventing professional prefixes which do not exist in other nations––Engr. for Engineers, Arch. for Architects, etc.”

“Drv” for Drivers, “Cdr” for Conductors.

So, the folks rich enough to buy rice ate it and the poorer folks aspired to the day they would eat rice! Rice became the glorified food item for parties, special occasions and the entertaining of distinguished visitors. Again, not because rice was great in itself, but because some fucked-up social observer in some early version of Linda Ikeji’s blog thought eating rice qualified one as a “superstar” and thus began the craze for rice. Today, rice is everywhere and people at parties are beginning to request, more sanely, for Eba and bush meat.

Moral for today: neither rice nor twitter verification has offended anyone, its just that Nigerians are generally messed up in their thinking.

IDLEMINDSET | THE LIFE AND TIMES OF DOYIN OKUPE

In today’s mixture of polite sarcasm and social irreverence, we will take a look at the ordinary life and times of Mr Doyin Okupe, Senior Special Assistant to the President on Public Affairs. Of course, I don’t even know who he is and neither do you and we both don’t care. Both of us have more things to worry over than the President’s Senior Special Assistant. For that matter, I don’t even know what a Senior Special Assistant means and I’m willing to bet half my salary that you don’t as well. C’mon, folks, let’s be serious here: is there, like, an Assistant, a Special Assistant, a Junior Special Assistant then the Senior Special Assistant? Is the President an invalid that needs a series of Assistants to jackboot him up from his arse every morning like a pensioner’s old Peugeot 504?

Hard to tell. Very hard to tell.

Whatever the case may be, the fact is we, you and I, have collectively, and along with Good Ol’ Jo, donated all the “damns” we had to offer on any issue affecting the country. Jonathan may have just run out of “damns” as recently as his messed up television interview in June informed us, but we long ran out of damns to give ourselves since NLC sold out every Tom, Dick and Harry in January 2012.

For “Aluta” trade union leaders, these men are way too much into handshakes.

So why even bother to write about this at all? Simple. Its because some people (meaning, opposition parties) are of the opinion that Okupe is a hypocritical old man and is just a mere “attack dog” for the president. As usual, the Nigerian press did a good job of making me even more confused over the use of words. Apparently, the idea behind “attack dog” is to downgrade Mr Okupe somewhat by likening him to an imbecilic domestic pet, but a Google image search of “attack dog” will convince you of the inappropriateness of the nickname.

Pictured: Respect. Not Pictured: Doyin Okupe

Meanwhile, the man gets on a record high with the sleaziest of all Senior Special Assistants—Snoop Dogg—and calls himself an “attack lion.” WTF? Seriously, WTF? Google doesn’t even have an image for that combo. And Google has an image for everything. Go on, try googling any shit that comes to your head—just don’t blame me for whatever weird porn fetish that fills your screen. Anyway,  the point is this: too much unnecessary attention to an everyday, ordinary, chase-danfo Nigerian has given Mr Okupe the confidence that he is now to be considered as a lion of any kind.

Biiitch, pleeeeaze!

Well, so why are the political parties, the press and everyone else who cares on Mr Okupe’s case? Because the guy is good at his job. True story. You see, Nigerians are so used to mediocre work attitudes that when someone comes out full steam and wows us with some superlative performance we can’t help but hate. Mr Okupe was hired to make the president look good. Its irrelevant whether the president is an overachiever or an underperformer—

Who are we kidding here? He’s an underperformer!

–whether he is a good guy or a bad guy, a doer or a talker, all that matters is that Mr Okupe is paid to make him look good, and by hell, Mr Okupe is trying his best to make him look good. Mr Okupe is downgrading the president’s opponents, exalting the president’s abilities and generally showing the enthusiasm of a new employee looking for a double promotion.  Yet, for all you and I know or care, Mr. Okupe didn’t even vote for the president. Mr Okupe probably despises the president, in fact, it’s possible his private views on the state of the nation are just the same as yours and mine. But then, isn’t that how we all feel about our bosses at work? Don’t we all think one thing and do another? Aren’t we all part of the smile and bow, smile and bow brigade? From the Deputy MD to the gateman, everyone has to pay lip-service to the upper level, no matter how much said everyone despises said upper level—and in that way, Mr Okupe is just the same as you and I. Typical.

“Just earning my pay, same as you, brother.”

The long, and short, and long again is that Doyin Okupe is just another Nigerian earning a salary without any care for the state of the nation. He has a family to feed and friends to entertain. Screw the the mental state of his boss—as long as the guy on the top keeps paying his salary, then the job has got to be done. And damned if he’s quitting because other people who don’t influence his salary don’t like what he is paid to do.

Reuben Abati—on the other hand—that s one lying, turncoat, hypocritical, treacherous…arrgghhhh!

Ehn, Y U No?

IDLEMINDSET | THAT BLASTED TRAFFIC LAW

Unless, you’re not a Lagosian, or you’re  a Lagosian who’s been sleeping off a 2 month hangover, you know what today’s post is all about. Right?

Wrong.

We’re talking about the newly signed law which is guaranteed to fuck up your undisciplined Nigerian attitude to traffic behaviour  in more ways than one.

“For the good of society, bro.”

But before we go on, keep in mind a few facts about the new traffic law: (i) no one has read it; (ii) I have not read it; (iii) everyone has something to say about it.

Which is saying a lot.

The big deal of the new traffic law include: a three year jail term for one-way offenders, a three year jail term for riding a motor cycle without crash helmet for rider and passenger, a 6 month imprisonment for driving with a fake number plate, and a three year jail term for one-way offenders. Oh, I said that last one before? Good, you’re paying attention.

“Because. This shit is about to get. Real!”

Now, you may thank your stars that you don’t even have a car, “so whatever”, but, I’ll come to that later. For now, who here hasn’t gone wrongly on a one-way road in Lagos before? Either driving or being driven? Show of hands. No one? Nobody? I didn’t think so. You see, one-way roads in Lagos are like established men of God–you never see them coming. Whoever was in charge of crafting the one-way routes definitely has a sense of humour just barely above that of a foot-mat.  Unless you know the route, every one-way snaps on you by surprise and you’re already in the waiting arms of the happy law enforcers before you even realise that anything is amiss. With the absence of signs, and the confused state of traffic, it takes high powers of divination to be able to spot a one-way road before you land in it. Unfortunately, few Lagosians can divine their own identity much less that of a side street.

Well said, kid, well said.

The first six months of implementing the new law would then see almost all commercial drivers, and half of the private drivers sitting in jail, despairingly awaiting trial. “Damn, I’m almost late, let me take this shortcut.” is what you thought. Busted, is what happens next.  You’re going to jail, man. In fact, it will become normal for people to leave home for work in the morning and call lawyers before 9 has even struck the a.m. The rate at which people would be getting arrested, everyday would be blowjob day for criminal lawyers.

“Well, er, the new law makes a lot of sense—er, for us lawyers.”

Now, back to those who take solace in not driving cars. Ever heard of the word “accomplice”? Well, its a crime.  Accessory before the fact, accessory after the fact, aiding and abetting. Whatever. You’re all going to jail with the driver. Look it up. Maybe, you told the driver to stop, maybe you warned him against taking the one-way road—well, you may get an acquittal in court—but meanwhile, your boss has sacked you for getting arrested in the first place. By the time your ordeal with the lawyers, police, LASTMA, court officials and the judge is over, you’ll be wishing you had HIV instead—at least they are not discriminated against.

“Ever since LASTMA arrested me, Kunle has refused to pick my calls.”

And maybe you sent your friend a text message describing how to get to your house, and your friend follows your instruction, lands in a one-way road and gets arrested. Well, there’s good news for you! You can join him in jail for conspiracy to commit a felony! Isn’t that thoughtful? Look it up! Look it up! Now the two of you can simply get together in jail and plot even more dastardly crimes against society. Yeah?

Tomorrow. We shall all walk against oncoming traffic and cause unprecedented terror.

Now, here’s the sweetest part of this whole legal stuff and shit. You don’t even have to commit the crime to get your ass in jail. An attempt is sufficient. You and your buddies, just chilling at the junction debating whether to take a one-way or not. Then someone says: “C’mon folks, let’s do this shit. Its just a one-way road!” and everybody says “Yeah”. That’s it. Game up. The law on attempts says that’s just as bad as doing the act itself. The police can bust your collective asses right there, and you all get the green card to jail without even enjoying that so sweeeeet one-way road ride. Look it up! Look it up! LOOK IT UP!

“No policeman around. Oya, go on. I dare you.”

Meanwhile, with almost all of Lagos (including my humble self) nicely packed off into one prison cell or the other, we’ll have cleaner streets, saner roads, lesser or even no traffic…oh, wait, I see where you’re going with that, Gov. Fashola. Nice one. Nice one! Thumbs up, bro!

IDLEMINDSET | “MAXIMUM THIEFEREY NATIONWIDE”

If there is any single entity that has managed to generate the ire of Nigerians across all tribes, religions, social circles, age groups, education levels, and job descriptions and unite all of these in undisputed bitterness, anger and regret directed against the said entity on a level of distrust even worse than any government in power; if there is any symbol of tyranny and greed and exploitation in Nigeria on a level even more villainous than that of Shell in its decades of raping the Niger Delta; if there is one single entity who can be picked to have fucked up even more people’s best laid plans in a decade than NEPA did in 30 years, then that entity has got to be M-T- freaking N!

Warning: Never, ever mess around with folks who knockdown the government, Shell and NEPA combined. Just leave it to God.

I’m one of those people who think of a phone as useful either for receiving information or giving it and for little else. No time for frills talk, howyadoing and other chichat, a behaviour that has caused me reprimands from family, friends and lovers. This is partly due to my nature and partly due to years of MTN per-minute payphone conditioning which has perfected the ability to trim down phone conversations to the barest inescapable information in a bid not to pass the minute mark.

“0.99 seconds. Phew! That was close.”

Take WAP/GPRS/3G for example. For those in the know, the early days of mobile internet was a continuous battle to enjoy the pleasures of the mobile net (ordinary WAP!) without handing over the standard fee of one left eye which MTN demanded in the form of payments per kilobyte. With the aid of resourceful folks who were adept at kicking MTN’s ass VIA web access protocols and the ever wonderful, hackable Opera Mini, new codes were made available every week through which you could cheat MTN of a few hundred Nairas and browse for free. It wasn’t a case of not wanting to pay the money, it was one of necessity being the shove-mistress of invention.  You see, in those early days of mobile internet, the only people who cared enough for the new technology were students and geeks who could not afford even the call credit, much less the internet costs. The hacking was not stealing, it was protesting!

Every kilobyte downloaded, every page opened, was a giant blow against oppression and a victory for the victimized masses everywhere, in every age.

Even worse than the network charges, is the situation when the network just fails for no apparent reason. You’re willing to pay the call costs, you’ve loaded up your phone, you don’t mind the charges, all you want is just to make a phone call. In fact, you’re willing to trade a week’s worth of credit for just this one important call. And you can’t make the call! There’s network on the phone, there’s credit on the phone, everything looks all right on the phone and yet: “the number you are trying to call is not available at the moment” for no reason at all! No fucking reason! All you’re asking for is to be able to make “just this one call”, for a few minutes, but MTN simply frustrates the will to live out of you.

“Why? MTN, why?”

Maybe the hefty fees MTN pays the government and its regulators is responsible for the don’t-give-a-damn attitude displayed by the company, maybe its the lack of any serious competition, maybe it has to do with the general willingness of Nigerians to take any shit it lying down, I don’t know. What I know is this: I’ve had a rough deal from MTN, and whatever they’ve thrown as “bonuses”, from midnight calls to free MMS has not done jack to make me feel I’ve received a fair bargain. The only reason I’m yet to toss out my MTN sim-card is because the competition is hardly any better and I’ve gotten used to the rough treatment. The co-authored story: The Robots of the Corporate World was my only attempt to take down the network via literature. But MTN ignored the story.

‘Cos they gangster like that.

And that’s why when this weekend I realized that apart from the monthly 3k charge for my BIS, I had loaded little credit and yet I had over a N1,000 balance on my phone, I had a shock.  MTN had actually been giving me money for almost a week.  Most of my phone calls had been on the bonus, same for text messages. I was not even aware that any promo was in place, I’d long given up on MTN’s so called promos. But I noticed this one, because that shit was working. I was actually beginning to enjoy using MTN, it was scary. No hang ups, no failure to connect, no me giving the middle finger to nothing in particular.

Pure. Unadulterated. Bliss.

The nice guy part of me has been eager to believe that someone in MTN has found Christ, become born-again, sold his property, given the proceeds to the poor and turned over a new leaf, but that stuff never happens except in Mount Zion videos. Nobody goes from being Lex Luthor to Superman without a gun sticking in the small of their back—and something like that is what a friend and I think happened to MTN that made them so nice and well behaved in the last few weeks. Here’s what I think really, really happened.

As imaginatively told to me one fine Sunday afternoon…

Boko Haram.

After unsuccessfully trying to synchronize timing and location during one of their dastardly missions, BH council members got together to vent their frustrations over the network.

One of them stood up angrily: “Guys! We are the terrors of the North and yet MTN kicks our teeth in every time, and we do nothing about it! MTN is worse than having pork for lunch during Ramadan!”

“Patience, Abdul,” said the gang leader.  “MTN is no ordinary company. Remember, MTN is far more powerful than the government, Shell and NEPA combined together. We have to be very careful here.”

“I know this, my lord. But with your permission, I will kidnap the CEO and shake him up a little. If we succeed in scaring him, he will definitely roll out a new company policy. I swear, I will resign from this Boko Haram instead of allowing that network to kill me.”

“Hmm, Abdul, many of our men have been frustrated because of this failure to connect. You have a point. I am tired of this MTN wahala myself. Ok, do what you have to. MTN must work or they will pay for it.”

***

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how you get to have some free money from MTN.

THE WORKSHOP FOR CONCRETE AGITATION

Hello, Folks Who Love to Read Stuff on This blog.

There’s plenty to do at work today, so I can’t do the idle stuff you love to read. My bad. So while you wait for Monday’s inevitable blend of polite sarcasm and social irreverence, enjoy this poem from ayosogunro says—if you’re into things like poetry, that is. Otherwise just get back to work before your boss notices its not a Word document open before you.

“This is the last time you will ever go near a blog!”

Bosses aside, here’s today’s retro:

THE WORKSHOP FOR CONCRETE AGITATION
–where the people reign and the rulers tremble

A rhyme for our Oga, the legislator
Very well known for his tackling drill
They call him “The Tyson Senator”
He bites his colleagues as he goes for the kill
Eager to start the honourable fights
Always on behalf of the ruling side
He’s a champion of allowance rights
And his house in Apo is our local pride
Today, he rides the town in big campaign
With bags of goods and a merry face
We’re happy to receive the imported grain
The fila, the gele and the expensive lace
We can help his aims financially
But this time, not politically!

The people’s workshop for concrete agitation
We decide which man is better for our nation

The President gave a speech last night
He was desperate to show off his plans
How he was going to help with our plight
And convert us to number one fans
We loved our leader, his trademark hat
The goofy smile and the slow motion
He hadn’t done much to get our pat
But his talk and puff deserved the ovation
We were all eager to hear his yarn
And waited till eight with a curious itch
The electricity then took flight at seven
And though we had a gen, we missed the speech
The president may have important news
But our hard-got fuel was for better use

Come into the workshop for concrete agitation
Where the President takes a second position

Don’t forget the Lagos godfather
With the hundred sons and one servant
Life is hard when you are the master
And a single slave can make you rant
This man’s servant was just too bold!
So the boys and their father plotted thick
Who cared for schools, bridges or a road
And socialist hospitals for the sick?
If the work contracts didn’t come their way
Then the hard-worker just had to go.
But the people will have their day
As every godfather comes to know


Join the workshop for concrete agitation
Help to dismantle the grand machination

 

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