Monthly Archives: December 2012
Good news everyone: this is our last blog post for the year! Difficult as it is for some of you, our admiring readers, to believe, we don’t actually sit crossed-leg on the writing table, smoking profoundly on a kick-ass pipe, while the Good Lord inspires us with all these awesome posts. Hell, no! We work at these things, bro! These freaking blogs are actually brow-sweating work, just slightly below being forced to watch a Nollywood video for 12 hours without a toilet break.
And that’s why over the months, we’ve been chuffed at your appreciation, admiration and even the rare insults too. In fact, we wake up on mid-nights just to re-read your comments and count the page views one by one.
That said, today’s post, in the usual end-of-the-year fashion, is a quick introspection and an opportunity to ponder on all those missed calls we had during the year from unknown phone numbers. Who called us? Why did they call us? Would they ever call back? Was it some new business or a secret admirer? We may never know the answers to these most intricate of life’s questions. But what we know for sure is this: for those of you who have been brave enough to keep checking out our weekly editions—congrats—the size of the FG’s recurrent expenditure got nothing on your balls! And that’s even more true for you, ladies!
Unfortunately, though, your continued approval of our blog, dear readers, means our divinely inspired mission to annoy the hell out of every Nigerian, until we get banned in not less than 30 states, is becoming less and less realistic. Accordingly, this increase in page views is very sad news for all of us here. However, while we think up new strategies to get you raving mad until you smash your internet devices against the wall as you scream for our heads, we will continue to bring you our best combination of polite sarcasm and social irreverence. Meanwhile, our lesson has been learned: Nigerians have a high tolerance for boolsheet.
This tolerance for the most insipid and transparent of political, social and religious lies is more painful than a triple cockscrew wound up the anal cavities. It is even more painful this year, 2012; because, when in January, the country’s masses and not-quite-masses came together to protest the dumbfuckery of Goodluck Jonathan’s fuel subsidy removal, there was, quite almost, the possibility of a welcome change in the affairs of the country.
For a brief, but clear moment, the Nigerian people actually held political power—and the machinery of government was clearly submissive. But that moment was lost as soon as it came, because, when you have power without a plan, you will either lose the power or lose your life. So we lost the power, no thanks to the trickery and cowardice of the unions—as well as our own clueless stance—and went back to our freaking everyday lives: solidly grounded on Omotola’s Twitter verification and D’banj’s “Oyato” fiasco.
And what were the costs of January? What were the gains? Some people died, the rest of us live on. In retrospect, the protests could easily have been an imaginative and adventurous post on Omojuwa or Ekekee for all the difference it has made so far. The union leaders are alive and well, Diezani is yet to die zanily or otherwise, fuel has been scarce for several months, the reform in electric power is on paper only, Jonathan has publicly ascribed the January protests to the work of paid brigands, Abati’s apostasy has become even more sinful and Karen Igho is still getting slapped by security guards.
Of course, as we’ve pointed out before, we are also to blame for a lot of our woes. December is almost over, and a new January is around the corner. The oracles have been evasive on where this country is headed or how it should even be headed. And maybe, that’s the problem—maybe there are no fucking oracles and maybe we hold the key to the next year in our own hands. And like all those missed calls from unknown numbers, maybe you shouldn’t just wait for a call back—sometimes you gotta go out there, stalk and kidnap a phone company employee, torture them till they agree to trace the unknown number for you, and then you find out who the hell was calling you. It’s your call, baby. But it’s also too much work (like these blog posts), so while we sincerely wish you Merry Holidays and a Happy New Year, we are quite sure we’ll be back on this blog together, in the New Year, yarning the same old gist.
Today, we will talk culinary things and fine dining: where to get good food, how to eat good food, and most importantly, how to avoid paying for good food.
In the tradition of vain imaginations and inane glorification that exists in this country, a lot of Nigerians think Federal Executive Council meetings are a gathering of serious men and women who meet every Wednesday to critically discuss how to fix national issues and solve existing problems in a sane manner—like an episode of The Apprentice, except without an asshole Donald Trump messing up the works. Sorry to burst your bubble, but FEC meetings are actually not that serious. Not in the way you think, anyway.
Now let’s leave the FEC for a moment. I know you’re hooked on reading on, but take a look away from your screen and ask any random person to give you three problems plaguing Nigeria and how these could be fixed. Any three problems, there’s a long list to pick from: corruption, insecurity, economy, infrastructure, health care, education, power, agriculture, oil and gas…
Simple exercise, right? Any Nigerian can give you, not just the problems of the country, but also a fair, if crude, idea of how these problems can be fixed. So why do we still have these problems around? Folks usually assume this is because the government has no clue on what it takes, and these nice folks are quite happy to educate the government on the way forward. But, I’m sorry sweethearts, that’s a fucking wrong assumption. The government absolutely knows every in-your-face, down-and-out, expert-approved, consultant-sanctified, blueprinted, mapped out, long and short solution to the problems of the country. They know it far better than you and I can theorise. But they are never gonna be inclined to use this knowledge. Trust me on this. Why the fuck not, you ask me with exasperation. Simple, because the real goal of everyone in government is to find food to eat for the day.
This is everyday life in Nigeria. The life of most Nigerians continually revolves around choosing between having food to eat in the short term and consequently postponing a pressing problem, or going hungry and fixing the problem. Take a look at the now cliched scenario of the N20 police bribe. The problem in that scenario is corruption, but the need common to the parties in the scenario is that of food. You can’t quite blame the lean looking policeman for disinterest in fixing corruption, and interest in eating. He joined the police not to secure lives and property–but to get a job to eat. Also, you can’t quite blame the danfo driver who is not inclined to fix corruption either, but wants to pursue his daily bread. The market woman is out to find money for food, she is not in the market to fix environmental problems. The lawyer needs money to be able to eat, he did not nearly sell his soul to raise the law school fees because he wants to fix the legal and judicial system. From the professionals who zoom out in cars in the mornings to the labourers on the field—everyone is looking for a means of livelihood. Bed and breakfast. Food to eat. No one leaves the house and says, today, I want to go out and solve a damned problem.
Now, let’s get back to that unserious FEC meeting. Imagine in the meeting, a fresh Minister for Works, excitedly outlining a proposal to construct a super metro system. When he is done with his yarn, the President asks him a few questions. (1) How long would the project take? Our Minister answers: 5 to 6 years. (2) Who are the proposed contractors? Some French engineers. (3) Who will put up the project money? Some Nigerian and international banks. (4) Will there be any profit? Yes, of course, from the commercial proceeds of the completed metro system. (5) Who will make this profit? Well, the Minister says nervously: the same banks that put up the money. (6) How, can we get our people into the deal? Errm, no way sir, this is strictly project finance, only the investors can make any money in the long term.
The room goes quiet as the President stares coldly at the Minister before he lashes out: “How the fuck do I explain to the contractors in the Party that I approved a multi-billion Naira project they cannot benefit from? Get your French engineers to construct a defense for me, asshole! Do you think we are here to joke around?”
And here’s the moral for today: the President, his ministers and the rest of the government are as Nigerian as you and I. They know the problems, they have the answers and they know how to implement them. But few problems can be fixed without someone giving up, or suffering, something. The elected official has no inclination to give up the perks or endure the suffering. Therefore, the government will only try to fix problems that excludes the government from the pain of the fix—and too bad if the masses have to suffer that pain. On the other side of the battlefield, and especially in these days of Twitter and Google, the masses are beginning to understand the long con, and since they want to eat just as well as the government, they will also resist these kinds of one-sided fixes. So the country doesn’t progress, and things remain the same. And that’s what Fela calls “stalemate”.
Naturally, the masses are not going to give up their hard-earned pleasures to please the government’s selfish projects. And that’s the real problem with Nigeria—no one wants to suffer the fix to a problem while someone else gets away with the food. That’s the real issue: not corruption, not insecurity, not the economy, not infrastructure, not health care, not education, not power, not agriculture, not oil and gas.
Of course, the ideal solution is for all of us, government and governed to endure the pain together. But who the hell is gonna start first? The general consensus of the masses is: let the government stop its selfish spending and selfish “fixes”, and show a willingness to trim its bloated belly to a reasonable size, then the masses will be willing to share the pain. Its not necessarily the nicest ideology, but folks wanna eat too. So, your move, government.
P.S. For our readers who look out for reference links, sorry for the absence today. Meanwhile, here’s something for you.
Let’s take time to laugh at ourselves today. And what better way to light up the laugh lines than with the hallowed traditions of this country? You see, there’s this line of the Nigerian national anthem that’s obviously there for shit and giggles. Actually, every line of the anthem is for laughs, but this line is particularly extra comical: “The labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain.”
The hilarity here is not that we have no heroes in the objective sense (we do, seriously) nor is it that we have consigned the labours of these heroes to the recycle bin (we have). The real joke is that our problem is much more serious: we have no freaking idea what a hero is or who our heroes are. These days, a number of odd figures show up on the hero radar, the word “hero” has lost all meaning and the criteria for selection has become quite jumbled.
So here’s a quick test: if you’re able to identify Uti in the picture above, but not Saro-Wiwa in the picture further above, then congrats! You’re the fucking problem with this country. But before you jump off the nearest bridge—a solution which we highly recommend—its not entirely your fault that Uti is more recognizable than Ken.
The creepy value system most of us were bred with has blatantly encouraged us to regard winning a million Naira in an effortless venture as a more worthwhile life achievement than fighting social injustice without pay. Even worse, our moral and religious systems have encouraged the idea that a good spiritual life is necessarily rewarded with riches.
That is why our leaders keep getting away with corruption. Because deep down, we value those leaders who cram their mouths full much more than those who go hungry for us. In the latest installment of materialistic hero-worship, lots of folks went gaga over the fact that some Nigerian woman took Oprah’s place at the top of the dollar counting scale. In typical Nigerian fashion, this was enough reason to be proud to be a Nigerian. Worse, this non-news was taken seriously by a lot of people.
Of course, it is irrelevant to most of the Alakija hero worshipers that Oprah’s influence over the years derived from what was basically community service, and not from the number of dollar bills in her wallet. This inability to discern what is worthwhile is why the prayer meetings are going to speed up like an expressway on drugs, as pastors get new material to feed their congregation. And all over Nigeria, folks will keep on begging God desperately for their chance at mouth-watering riches in a misguided attempt to involve the divine in material aspirations.
Now here’s the lesson today: a people are defined by their heroes. Heroes are ordinary people who manage to do extraordinary things. Extraordinary things such as defending the weaker and battling the stronger. We used to have such heroes; some kickass awe-inspiring heroes that stood their grounds before teargas and gun bullets. We used to have men and women who stood and died for what was right.
From the days of the Aba Women’s Riot to the nights of Occupy Nigeria. We had voices that spoke without fear or guilt. Yes, Superman and Batman used to live among us. But they are mostly gone now. What we have today are bratty guys who win reality shows and silver-fed women with oil blocks. These are our freaking heroes. Well played, Nigerians. You messed up in heroic proportions.