Frankly, we don’t care much about the political skulduggery that parades up on down the pages of Nigerian newspapers because, fuck politics, that’s why. Most of what you see is the same old news: ass licking, back stabbing and fifty shades of public masturbation. Even more importantly, there are world-shaking current events that requires our immediate attention, if not even outright demonstrations.
But, now and then, some gem of an ironic cock-up comes along, grabs you by the throat and tickles you hard in the ribs till you want to seize your office-issued laptop and throw it across the room in annoyance.(Which would be totally cool if you tried it right now.)
Now, this particular issue isn’t a shiny new story, it’s the same old crap, with a touched up tissue paper. And no, it isn’t the particular scandal you’re thinking: you know, that pile of wank about the Sanusi-Boko Haram conspiracy theory; that story circulated (allegedly, allegedly—this is for the damn lawyers) by a presidential aide who has to be the most interesting man in the Nigerian social media circle right now.
We’ll get back to Sanusi. But, for now, let’s focus on the ringleader of the president’s batshit crazy media circus, our erstwhile tutor and rebel leader, Mr Reuben Abati. See, back in 2009, before the mischievous gods took a hand in his affairs, Abati wrote this thoughtful article where he advised Nigerians to reflect before celebrating independence anniversaries. Not one to be intimidated by a few lines of hyperbole, Abati proclaimed that: “The world is passing us by. At 49, we are a nation of malcontents. When last did anyone tell a happy national story made on Nigerian soil?”
A fair enough observation, especially from a bright and hardworking intellectual who had had to face the hard knocks of working class reality in a country consistently administered by rouges since 1914. Life as an everyday Nigerian isn’t sexy–and damned if Reuben Abati didn’t know that shit. There was nothing to celebrate in 2009, and he looked ahead to proclaim that there was nothing to celebrate in 2010–and by extension, 2014. But Abati, hot and brilliant writer that he was, sucked hard in the prophecy department, for, as we all know, his personal life became a happy national story. The deadbeat jalopy gave way to presidential jets, and our previously angry discontent turned into a contented philosopher.
So, great, Abati discovered financial orgasm and renounced his activism. But the hunger-inspired words he wrote some four years ago still require some serious consideration. Especially after the Sanusi debacle. Especially after the Boko Haram debacle. Especially now that our government has gone bonkers with a centenary celebration which good old Soyinka frankly refers to as a “canonisation of terror“.
Of course, hard as his PR team may try to deny it, we all know that President Jonathan is quite the connoisseur of wine, women and the good life. Which are all fine things for the modern gentleman. But with a terrorist takeover of the North East, allegations of financial misconduct, and several other shenanigans, the dude needs to connect with the current atmosphere of the country—and then, you know, maybe take a break from one or two delicious female members of the cabinet.
We don’t begrudge celebrations. But the current socio-political mood is just as important as a sense of history, and neither of the these two point to the need for a jamboree today. Think of this: Abati wrote years ago that there was nothing worth celebrating; Sanusi, former member of that same government, says things are even worse than they were years ago. But Sanusi is what happens when you have an activist in the government, and Abati is what happens when you have the government in an activist. Somewhere in between these two is some common sense, but common sense doesn’t receive centenary awards. And if you still don’t get the point, then get the fuck outta this blog.
Don’t get fooled by the litigious nature of today’s topic. Frankly, we don’t like lawyers much. They tend to be an overbearing, cagey, self-infatuated, narrow-minded, briefcase slinging lot with an overblown estimation of their own relevance. Today’s post is not a free advert for lawyers, so don’t punch a hole through your screen yet—and the gods know, you have every reason to do so at the thought of those assholes. We’d sooner demand for the left eye of your only child than send your innocent psyche into the tortuous mindfuckery of a lawyer’s solicitations. And if you are any part of humanity, you should be fuming right now at that nefarious idea of having to interact with a lawyer.
But, leaving the vexatious issue of lawyers aside. There’s that whole problem of ensuring law and order in a society. In other to have an organised and functional society, some form of law is necessary. You need a system of rules that, at the very laziest, ensures that folks do not trample other folks’ right and provides a system of settling disputes—so that we won’t all resort to dragging out fans of opposing teams on the streets and slashing their throats at the end of every football match.
But such a system of rules will be ineffective if no one utilizes or implements it. And that’s what you’ll see in Nigeria today: a scenario where the freaking rules exist only as a mere shadow which we pay lip service to. The real substance of our legal system is whatever shitty action happens to be the generally acceptable standard at the moment—such as throwing tyres around people’s necks and setting them on fire, calling soldiers to kick the ass of your debtor, burning down a whole village or lying in wait for the person who insulted you on the internet and punching their face into another dimension.
Take another example: the inherited idea from the English legal system that everyone is “innocent until presumed guilty”. This optimism may work well in a society with proper police investigative techniques and sufficiently motivated law enforcement and judicial officers. But in a country where there are several loopholes for a suspect to sidestep the system, it is just more convenient for folks to stone the person to death instead of having him arrested. Now, we have no proof of our next statement, but a system of “guilty until you can prove yourself innocent” should make plenty folks happy here. Once you get arrested for any reason—you’re screwed and its up to you to unscrew yourself, which should be easy, if you’re actually innocent.
This avoidance of the judicial process is, again, not entirely your fault. Our legal system is not “ours”. Instead, it is the bastard child of the English colonists—more suited to the judicial procedures of a Kirikiri fiefdom than to the adjudicatory rules of a civilized society. And that is why some anomalies occur—such as a man going to jail with hard labour for stealing a phone while another pays a fine for defrauding the country of billions of Naira. Because, you see, when they were drawing up the criminal laws, it didn’t occur to the damned colonists that black folks might be clever enough one day to steal more money with a pen than with a machete.
And that’s why you need to take the legal system of your society more seriously—don’t be afraid to sue or be sued. Oh, of course, there’s those damned lawyers who come in and fuck up the entire process till doomsday. What with their adjournments, processes, pleadings, writs, motions, injunctions, objections, appeals, vegetables and rotten tomatoes. But, here’s the fact: lawyers and their application of law are only a fragment of society—and not greater than it. That’s why you can elect politicians into the executive and the legislature—so they can enact and execute the rules that make up the judicial system. You, as society, can change the entire legal system. You can rewrite the rules and limit—or increase—the fuckery of lawyers within the system. And the feeling of achievement you get from that alone is totally worth the effort.
And we’re absolutely not joking. We need a proper, “home grown” legal system. Law and order is too important to leave into the hands of the English system trained lawyers and judges you find around today. Few of these lawyers are interested in the betterment of the legal system, rightfully too. That’s your job—not theirs. You should be able to rewire your political mindset from the question of which candidate can arrest some specific individual to the question: “who can effect a system-wide legal reform?”
There are more important aspects to the functioning of a society than the simple arrest of corrupt officials. Any body can arrest anyone, but it is only a rational human that can create an effective system of rules for the allocation of resources and the settlement of disputes. When that system is set in place, you will not have to worry about lawyers and their headaches—you will be more concerned about the rule of law. And if you disagree with us on this, we are going to hunt you down, wait for you to step out of your door and hit you in the face with a lawyer’s briefcase.
Hello again, folks! This is our first post in 2013—no thanks to our entry into a state of catatonic shock upon seeing the rancour generated in the last week over Forbes’s ranking of Nigeria as one of the saddest countries in the world. Apparently a lot of people take Forbes seriously, and even lots more take the emotional state of Nigerians seriously.
Struggling out of that impromptu brain freeze, we’ve wandered with fine female forms in little or no fabrics to wash away the sour taste of social inanities. And now, fully refreshed from those shenanigans, we are apologetically ready to meet our blogging obligations. So, again, here’s our first post of 2013. Word of warning: next week, we will resume our scheduled Monday contraptions; but meanwhile, today is as good as any for a little finger-pointing, blame-shifting, and remembering our dearly beloved armed forces.
To kick off today’s Sermon on the Screen, let’s start with the life and times of Pieter Willem Botha, the pessimistic one-time ruler of South Africa and all-time pain in the neck of the United Nations. But before we begin our biographical perambulations, let’s be clear on the fact that this Botha dude was an asshole, and on this blog, we don’t admire assholes.
And so when, sometime in 1985, Botha took a knife to the throat of the entire black race, in a sour speech you can read here, no one was particularly surprised by the wholesome sentiments he expressed. Like we said, the dude was a freaking asshole. Right up till he died, the guy just didn’t give a fuck about what people think.
However, anyone who speaks the truth, including an asshole like Botha, deserves to be listened to—occasionally. And as we begin a new year, starting off with resolutions and dissolution, a line from Botha’s tirade should strike a chord of truth. Speaking of blacks, Botha says: “And here is a creature that lacks foresight…. The average Black does not plan his life beyond a year….”
However, because we are happy people in this part of the world, and because we don’t want our dear readers feeling depressed, let’s just ignore Botha’s annual limitations and the findings of the researchers at Legatum, and get on with our merry Armed Forces Remembrance Day. But, wait, just before we do that, here’s another homely gem from kindly Botha: “By now everyone of us has seen it practically that the Blacks cannot rule themselves. Give them guns and they will kill each other. They are good in nothing else but making noise, dancing, marrying many wives and indulging in sex.”
So, now, let’s talk about the guns, and the significance of today’s date. January 15th is marked in Nigeria as a reminder, to would-be rebels, that on January 15, 1970, to finalise the fuckery that was called the Nigerian Civil War, the Federal forces of Nigeria whipped the Biafran troops right and proper—and are ready and prepared to do it again at any time. At any freaking time, whether it is called a civil war or a protest.
Today is another indication of the mental direction of modern Nigeria: a day is celebrated, not to mourn the people who died in the Civil War, but to celebrate the bullets that shot them. Give them guns and they will kill each other, was what Botha said. He might also have added “And they will also celebrate the killing and the guns.“ What is today? An anniversary created by a military regime and continued by a supposedly civilian governments. The irony of celebrating the Armed Forces, not for defending Nigerians against external aggression, but for killing Nigerians internally, unfortunately, is lost on Nigerians.
And here’s the lesson of today: maybe we just don’t care about the whole bowl of fish. After all, how does that satisfy our hunger? How does it fill our wallets? What has the remembrance or non-remembrance of the victims of the Civil War got to do with our continued ability to “make noise, dance, marry many wives and indulge in sex”? If you reply “Nothing”, you’re correct.
While you were busy cracking your head during your secondary school leaving certificate figuring out how to boolsheet your way through biology essay questions on the human senses, some more jobless folks figured out that it was a misconception to say that a human has only five senses. In fact, as at last count, humans have between 15 and 20 senses.
Now that you’ve long left the unfortunate world of high school biology, the number of human senses, whether 5 or 500, matters less to you than the number of zeros stacked behind a digit in your credit alert at the end of the month. Except of course, you’re some kind of doctor or a high school biology teacher, in which case, please take this senses thingy seriously—lives may depend on it.
The good thing about misconceptions is this: you’re not alone in your thinking. The chances that you will be chased out of your local bar for declaring with conviction that a human being has 5 senses is just as high as the IQ content of Nollywood movies.The bad thing about misconception is this: after a while, your thinking becomes truly fucked up—like Christians who insist that tithing is a mandatory 10% tribute to be laid before the church pastor every month.
But let’s forget the five-sense die-hards, pastor-worshiping tithing activists and other flat-earth theorists for the moment. On a probably more important level, our generation of Nigerians also grew up on some huge socio-political boners and bloopers. For instance, countless social studies teachers (who, hopefully, are now on their way to Hindu hell) taught lots of innocent school children that there were only 3 principal religions.
Or take the perspective with which you were taught Nigerian history: a perspective which regarded the amalgamation of Nigeria in 1914 as a glorious event by a sainted Lugard–instead of the self-serving administrative lack of judgment that the amalgation really is, by a man who despised the people he governed and was generally annoyed at having to serve in Africa.
Flowing from the sanctification of the long dead Lugard, we have developed the same lust for generating misconceptions about Nigerian leaders in general. Accordingly, in the latest ring fight to capture beer parlour interest, Achebe yabbed Awolowo in his recent book, There Was A Country, and habits automatically kicked in. Suddenly people chose sides based on misconceptions about the parties involved.
Achebe is a great writer and Awolowo was a great leader, but it is a misconception to assume that the one always wrote logically or that the other always acted righteously. In all of the hullabaloo, here’s probably what’s closest to the truth: Achebe could be a jerk and Awolowo an even greater jerk; and any argument that doesn’t account for that jerkiness is very likely a jerky misconception.