Monday, September 10, 2007

The Burden Of History

Is it just me, or has Baba been sounding more and more like a petulant child of recent? First of all, he whined on and on about being stuck in a Lagos traffic jam for three hours. If I were in his shoes, I would have been overjoyed to have gotten out of the traffic jam without being lynched by irate Nigerians, or falling victim to the numerous armed robbers who treat traffic jams the way lions treat herds of buffalo.

Next, Baba whined that he'd stopped reading Nigerian newspapers because the journalists were always criticising him. This coming from a man who once had (or still has) a sign outside Ota Farm saying, "Women, Dogs, and Journalists Not Welcome"!

Now, Baba has issued perhaps his most famous gaffe yet. He's said that he doesn't listen to those who criticise his tenure because "History" would judge him. I am not 100% certain, but I think the impact of his butt hitting terra firma must have scrambled the old man's brains.

In case his Special Advisers (whose advice he famously declared he didn't have to take, despite having so many of them) forgot to mention it, his tenure officially became historical material on May 29, 2007. Once he handed over to Yar'adua, any detractors of his were free to line up batteries of artillery and take as many shots at his reign as they desired. They can now call him a liar, thief, dictator, corrupt man, etc. for one simple reason - he no longer has the coercive power of the state to crush them. And they will revel in their new found freedom. In any event, whether it's 3 months, 3 years, 3 decades, or even 3 millenia from now, History will remember Baba's tenure for the following events:

1. Incessant fuel price hikes.
2. Inability to reform power sector despite several arrogant boasts, eventually blamed woes on "saboteurs".
3. Inability to restore refineries despite billions of naira spent.
4. Increase in militant activities, crippling foreign investment in Niger-Delta, and leading to the loss of billions of naira.
5. Rampant corruption at all levels of government.
6. Monumentally fraudulent elections in 2003.
7. Astronomically fraudulent elections in 2007.
8. Use of anti-corruption agencies to harrass and intimidate political opponents.
9. Kidnap of a sitting governor with no repercussions for perpetrators.
10. Rampant disregard for court orders.
11. Blatant theft of public parastatals by government officials (including Baba) through "privatisation" fire sales.
12. Introduced and sustained an enabling environment for the continued rape of Nigerians by GSM companies.
13. The Senate President Relay Race.
14. Incessant throat clearing.
15. Attempted and failed to amend constitution to give himself third term as President.

And this is by no means an exhaustive list.

So, in my capacity as an "amateur" historian, I would give Baba a pass mark for his tenure. Why, you wonder? Well, if only for the fact that all his other failures were outweighed by his failure to get a third term. That, at least, brought unbridled joy and happiness to Nigerians, and for giving us all the opportunity to point fingers and laugh (at him) he should be fondly remembered.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Three men walk into view. Each carries a briefcase, and all are well dressed in suits and ties. They walk up to a door which is guarded by a large and powerfully built man, and attempt to walk past him.

Guard: Hold it fellas. Just where do you think you’re going?

1st Man: We’re here to update the security systems of this facility.

Guard: Nice try pal. Step back please.

1st Man: What’s the meaning of this? We built this installation, and we’re here to run a security update.

Guard: Really? Ok, let’s see some ID.

1st Man: This is an outrage. I’ll have your job for this, I promise you.

2nd Man: Just show him the ID.

3rd Man: Yeah.

1st Man: (Flashes Badge) Microsoft Security Systems. Now let us through.

Guard: Sorry, can’t do that.

MSS3: Why the hell not?

Guard: You don’t have clearance.

MSS2: What do you mean “clearance”? We built this joint, we know every loophole in it.

MSS1: As a matter of fact, I’d like to see your ID, and know what the hell you’re doing here.

Guard: (Sighs) Zone Labs Security.

MSS3: Zone Labs? What are you doing here?

(Sudden commotion, man, apparently just the recipient of a rather heavy beating, is frog marched out the door, and thrown unceremoniously into garbage dump)

MSS1: Who the fuck was that?

ZL: That was Mr. Norton. I take it he’s just been fired.

MSS2: Mr. Norton was our liaison here. What happened?

ZL: Apparently he allowed some unauthorized persons into the facility.

MSS3: And for that he got beaten up that badly?

ZL: Well, the Boss took exception to the fact that they were shacked up in his office.

MSS1: I don’t believe it. Mr. Norton is highly trained. He’d never allow something like that.

ZL: Look pal, Norton’s gone, we are now in charge of this facility, and if you want in, you’ll have to get clearance from the boss.

MSS2: So, call him, and let us speak with him.

ZL: Fine. (Dials wearily)

BOSS: What is it?

ZL: Sorry to disturb you sir, but there’s some guys down here asking me to let them in.

BOSS: And who are they?

ZL: Some Microsoft Security people.

BOSS: (Cigar glows suddenly, showing features in hideous mask of rage) Microsoft, eh?

ZL: Yes sir.

BOSS: Has Norton been disposed of?

ZL: Yes sir.

BOSS: Did the Microsoft people see it happen?

ZL: Yes sir. They were right here.

BOSS: Good. Put one of them on the phone.

ZL: Yes sir. (To MSS1) He wants to speak with you.

MSS1: Hello?

BOSS: Microsoft Security?

MSS1: Yes sir. We’re here to…

BOSS: Shut the fuck up.

MSS1: (Stunned gasp)

BOSS: Now, listen to me you worm, and listen good. That prick Norton you stuck me with couldn’t find his own asshole with both hands and a GPS-assisted map.

MSS1: Mr. Norton came with the highest recommend…

BOSS: Didn’t I tell you to shut up?

MSS1: (Swallows)

BOSS: Now, I’ve had to relieve Norton of his duties, and my facilities were naked until a friend recommended the Zone boys. And they do a helluva better job than Norton ever dreamed of.

MSS1: Yes sir.

BOSS: Now, what the fuck do you want?

MSS1: We’re here to run a security check.

BOSS: (Laughs uproariously) Security? Tell me you’re joking.

MSS1: Er, it was in er, the contract you signed, sir.

BOSS: Fine, fine. I’m a law-abiding man, and I’ll honor the contract.

MSS1: That’s good sir.

BOSS: However, the Zone people will accompany you every step of the way, and their permission must be granted for any thing you touch. Is that clear?

MSS1: Sir, that is highly irregular, and I’m not sure I can…

BOSS: Fine. You do it my way, or you don’t do it at all. I won’t have you pricks planting something on me.

MSS1: I must consult my team…

BOSS: While you’re consulting, bear in mind that I’ve got other people begging for your contract, and I find myself leaning their way a bit…

MSS1: (Clearly terrified) Of course, sir. (Hands phone back to ZL)

ZL: Boss?

BOSS: Shadow them all the way. And make sure they don’t leave anything behind.

ZL: Yes sir. (Hangs up, and signals three colleagues)

MSS2: Who are they?

ZL: They will be your escort. And if you so much as breathe funny, you boys will be discussing the contents of the garbage can with your pal Norton. Get me?

MSS1: (Subdued) Yes.

The End.

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I love my country, enjoy a cold beer once in a while, rabidly support Arsenal FC, but I don't get Diet Coke...