Swans Commentary » swans.com May 3, 2010  



For Nigerians Life Is April Fools' Day


by Femi Akomolafe





(Swans - May 3, 2010)  

•   Ha, my broda, long time no see, no hear, no nothing, haba! (Nigerian speak).

•   Don't be angry, o, my good brother. Na dis mountain no dey let us see the other mountain (West African saying).

•   But why did you forget to send me April Fools' jokes this year? You know how much I always look forward to those jokes from Naija (Nigerians slang for Nigeria).

•   I didn't forget, my good brother. I just didn't want to waste your precious time in telling you that Nigerians have long given up on such mundane matters like April Fools.

•   Ha, I thought our people have a good time concocting those rib-cracking tales.

•   Ha, my brother. I guess it is because it's been a long time since you last set foot on our shores. Naija of today no be the Naija you left behind last year (Pidgin English).

•   You meant that things have gotten so worse.

•   My, brother, make you no talk. (Pidgin)

•   Ha.

•   You can say that again.

•   I thought we have seen it all; I didn't know that our country can still spring a few surprises.

•   Few, you say? Everything in our dear fatherland will continue to surprise any sane person. Tell me, in what other country will a president go missing for three months?


President Yar'Adua left Nigeria on November 23 complaining of chest pains and has not been seen in public since. He is thought to be receiving treatment for a heart condition at a clinic in Saudi Arabia, but his absence has created a dangerous power vacuum at the top of Africa's most populous nation and one of the continent's biggest oil producers.

While observers warn of an impending constitutional crisis, the Government insists that business continues as usual. Delivering the annual new year address in the absence of the President, Goodluck Jonathan, the Vice-President, insisted: "The ship of state continues to sail."

(Source: From TimesOnline, January 7, 2010.)

•   Yes, I remember that one clearly, it was a national embarrassment.

•   That's not all, my broda. In what other country would the whole Senate be impotent in the face of such a grave constitutional crisis? Take a look at this headline:


Thompson Sekibo, a Rivers State senator, whose effort to get his colleagues to discuss the disappearance of President Yar'Adua from public view was frustrated by the Senate president, has said he will re-introduce his motion.

Mr. Sekibo had on Wednesday, during the Senate sitting, tried to get the Senate to investigate the uncertainty of President Yar'Adua's actual location since his return to the country.

"Nobody has seen him since he left; we can't continue to stay like this," Mr. Sekibo told NEXT.

(Source: From NEXT, March 4, 2010.)

•   No, I didn't hear about that one.

•   My broda, I say wait. In what other country would the signature of the president be forged with no one clued as to who did it and no one was arrested? I am not making anything up. Take a look at this:


It has been reported that the purported signature on the 2009 supplementary budget by the President might have been forged to douse rising tension and prevent Vice President Goodluck Jonathan from assuming the position of acting President in the absence of President Yar'Adua. A Presidency official was said to have forged the signature of the ailing Nigeria President, Umaru Yar'adua. [...]

A Nigerian lawyer, Yinka Oyeniji said, told the Sun that the signing of the "2009 supplementary budget has been fraught with irregularity and illegality. Though, there is no law that says that this is how the budget should be signed, but we can rely on conventions and usual practice, budget is usually signed in the presence of media men, camera, vice president and relevant ministers, cabinet members and stakeholders. But this one was not done that way."

(Source: From Elombah.com, January 2, 2010.)

•   And what is the police doing about it? What about the other security agencies?

•   My broda, why are you talking as though you're not a Nigerian? Have you ever seen the Nigerian police doing anything apart from collecting bribes, harassing citizens, and shooting protestors? And what security agencies are you talking about?

•   I thought there is the State Security Service (SSS), Defense Intelligence Agency...

•   Stop there, my broda! There is no security in Nigeria, period! Of course, on paper the country is saturated with all forms of so-called security agencies. Of course everything is budgeted and paid for, but any Nigerian will tell you that, one, he does not feel secured and two, that you can get away with anything so long as you're willing to pay.

•   I didn't know that things were really that bad.

•   They are worse than your worst nightmares. How about this:


After much ado, the ailing president of Nigeria, Umaru Yar'Adua sneaked into Nigeria at the wee hours of 24th February from Saudi Arabia where he had been receiving medical treatment.

It should be remembered that the president left the country over 70 days ago, leaving Nigerians in the dark as to the true condition of his health. Nigerians had to rely on a less than 3 minutes telephone interview on BBC to believe that Mr President was still alive.

We join millions of Nigeria in welcoming the news of the President's arrival with a table spoon of salt. This is so because this his clandestine arrival like a thief in the night has thrown Nigeria into murky water of uncertainty. Nobody has seen the President and apart from questionable statement, Nigerians are not sure that the President is mentally alive to carry on the constitutional responsibility of ruling Nigeria. [...]

With the current situation in Niger Republic Nigerian politicians should be careful the way and manner they handle these delicate times in the history of Nigeria.

These are trying times for the Nation as we march unsteadily towards 50 years as a "Nation"

(Source: Yar'Adua Sneaks Home - February 24, 2010 by Che Oyimnatumba, Which Way Nigeria.)

•   Things are really happening in Nigeria.

•   I told you so. We are no longer sure in our Nigeria today whether it is art that is imitating life, or life that is imitating art. Can you imagine what the speaker of the House of Representathieves (sorry, that's what we call them in Nigeria! I meant Representatives) said about the missing president?

•   No, tell me.

•   His answer was:


Speaker, House of Representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole, yesterday in Ibadan said it was not his business to be searching for, or to disclose the whereabouts of ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua.

A 300-Level student of the Department of Agriculture and Environmental Engineering, University of Ibadan , Mr. Lekan Amusa, had asked the Speaker to tell the country the location of Yar'Adua and whether he was still alive.

What we know is that the president is in the Presidential Villa, Abuja. But, it is neither here nor there.

(Source: From Nigerian Best Forum, March 31, 2010.)

•   Now, let me ask you a question.

•   Go ahead.

•   To whom does somebody's body belong?

•   I guess it belongs to the owner of the body.

•   And what if the owner is comatose, like our dear president?

•   Ha! That's a deep one? Why did you ask?

•   Here is why:


Just as Ag President Goodluck Jonathan was stopped from seeing returnee President Umaru Yar'Adua, the President's mother was also yesterday prevented from seeing her ailing son.

Also, Yar'Adua's siblings were blocked when they went to see their brother with their mother, Saturday Vanguard has learnt. Ag President Goodluck Jonathan was twice stopped from seeing the President. No Nigerian government official has seen him either.

(Source: From allAfrica.com, February 27, 2010.)

•   Now, I am sure you'd love to hear about our national pastime, corruption.

•   You are mantic, my brother.

•   I'm not going to disappoint you:


Fresh troubles may be in the horizon for members of the kitchen cabinet of ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua as they are said to be explaining how they disbursed a whopping N70 billion allegedly on behalf of the former Katsina governor as security vote between November 2009 and January 2010.

Sources claimed that two former close allies of the ailing leader who failed to make it back to the newly reconstituted cabinet by acting President Goodluck Jonathan, are said to be answering questions over the manner the money was spent and for what purpose.

(Source: From sunnewsonline.com, April 4, 2010.)

•   My broda, let me ask you another question. What would you do if you suddenly found yourself with half a billion American dollars?

•   What type of question is that -- where on earth, am I going to find it?

•   Don't get hyped up, my broda, it is purely hypothetical. But supposing someone ask for your advise on what to do with his half-billion dollars, what are you going to suggest?

•   I guess anyone smart enough to make that much would have the brainpower to know how to spend it. Such person would hardly need my input.

•   Don't be so hasty, my broda:


A former Minister of Defence, Lt.-Gen Theophilus Danjuma, shocked his audience at a consultative meeting his Foundation and some Non-Governmental Organisations had in Abuja on Wednesday when he narrated how he made $500m from an oil business, and was in a fix on how to spend it.

The chief executives of the NGOs at the meeting could not believe their ears after hearing Danjuma's narration.

The former Chief of Army Staff said the $500m, came as his profit from the total of $1bn he had realised from selling an oil block, which was allocated to him 12 years ago.

About $500m had been used to settle some pressing personal issues, pay his staff, and tax to the government. He also said that he was left with 'just' $500m after he had taken care of the essentials of life.

(Source: From Pointblanknews.com, February 17, 2010.)

•   My goodness, was Danjuma not part of the Junta that shot people for corruption in the 1970s?

•   Yes, the one and only Mr. Discipline. He is still part of the ruling elite.

•   What? I thought he was retired.

•   He was, but he wasn't tired. So they made him the head of a new Presidential Advisory Council! Sorry to break your heart, my broda, but you asked for it.

•   It makes depressing reading. How do you guys keep your sanity?

•   Ah! As we now say in Nigeria, we have left everything to God. Would you believe that ninety-eight percent of our students failed their exam?

•   Ninety what?

•   It is all true, my broda:


Only 1.80 percent of candidates that sat for the 2009 November National Examination Council (NECO) examinations passed with five credits including English and Mathematics, resulting in a failure rate of more than 98 percent.

NECO's registrar Professor Promise Okpala disclosed this in Minna yesterday while announcing the results of the November/ December Senior Secondary School Examination (SSCE).

He said 4,223 candidates passed the exam with five credits including Maths and English out of the 236,613 that sat for it in 1,708 centres spread across the country.

When asked to compare the current result with last year's, Okpala said, "Last year's result wasn't really good, so it is difficult to compare the two bad situations as both have very poor outcomes."

(Source: From allAfrica.com, March 17, 2010.)

•   And what is the government say and what are they doing about it?

•   What government are you talking about? Here, our government is doing what it does best and that's NOTHING. Do you know in what other country apart from our own that a taxi will ran into a taxiing plane?

•   You are kidding me, now.

•   I kid you not; I wish I were:


Shock gripped the about 95 Abuja-bound Arik Air's passengers yesterday when a taxi emerged from the blues and rammed into a B737-700 aircraft that was steaming on the tarmac, awaiting takeoff.

The incident, Daily Sun gathered, happened in the afternoon at the Margaret Ekpo International Airport, Calabar.

An eyewitness told Daily Sun that the Arik aircraft with registration number 5N-MJJ just arrived from Lagos and was loading passengers for Abuja at about 2:35pm when suddenly a taxi cab emerged from the Air Force gate within the airport and rammed into the belly of the aircraft.

Confirming the incident, the Airport Manager, Mahmud Sani, said, "it is true that the taxi driver came through the Airforce Base gates to carry out his dastardly act, but we thank God he failed in the process. For now, we are investigating the matter as the security operatives have taken over the whole airport for now."

(Source: From the Daily Sun, Nigeria, April 1, 2010.)

•   Wonders are really happening in Nigeria.

•   You can say that again. It is either the gods are tired of our prayers or we are praying to the wrong gods. Can you imagine what new tricks people here are using to smuggle drugs?

•   Tell me.

•   You will not believe the depth some people will really descent to in order to make money. You remember the Yoruba saying that it is the shameless one that involve his children in his nefarious activities? Today, our people no longer care:


Chairman of the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Ahmadu Giade, on Sunday, declared that the couple caught with 4.050kg of cocaine at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, would be charged with child abuse for using their innocent six-year-old twins in smuggling cocaine.

A 46-year-old father, Jimoh Oladega Bashir, was alleged to have connived with his wife, Mulikat Adebukola, in concealing 350 grammes of cocaine each in the diaper of their six-year-old twins while travelling to London.

According to the NDLEA boss, "the action of the couple is callous, morally depraved and unacceptable. Apart from charging them on the grounds of drug trafficking, they will also be charged with child abuse. It is unlawful for them to take advantage of the kids' innocence in involving them in a serious criminal act of drug trafficking. No society will overlook such act of debasement."

(Source: From gnaija.net, April 5, 2010.)

•   Now, my broda, I hope you now see why Nigerians no longer bother about April Fools'.

•   Hmmmm...


[ed. Links included in the article valid as of May 1, 2010.]


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About the Author

Femi Akomolafe (see his profile on Swans) is a computer consultant, a writer and social commentator, an avid reader, and a passionate Pan-Africanist who lives in Kasoa, Ghana. Femi is known to hold strong opinions and to express them in the strongest terms possible. As he likes to remind his readers: "As my Yoruba people say: Oju orun teye fo, lai fara gbara. It means that the sky is big enough for all the birds to fly without touching wings." Femi Akomolafe's views, opinions, and thoughts can be accessed on the blog he maintains: http://ekitiparapo.blogspot.com/.   (back)


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Swans -- ISSN: 1554-4915
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Published May 3, 2010