One day in Umuikuku, a small town North West of Umuofia, people started to disappear. Every morning, elders of the town gathered at the town square to gossip about the latest person to disappear. “Did you hear that Okonkwo has disappeared?” an elder asked.
“That stupid Efulufu man, he deserves it,” another elder responded. “His impotent juju has failed him,” added yet another. They laughed and gloated about their survival skills. The following morning, another person disappeared and the elders reacted the same way. The disappearance continued until nobody was left in Umuikuku.
The I-dey-laugh plague sweeping through Nigeria reminds me of the extinct people of Umuikiku. For those who do not know the origin of I-dey-laugh, it all started after I-dey-kampe failed. The failure of I-dey-kampe devastated the polity so much that the doctrine of necessity was adopted. Of course, the doctrine of necessity came about when our nascent democracy identified a recurring mistake. Typically, a recurring mistake is often identified with the year when it occurred. Like the mistakes of 1914, 1948, 1954, 1956, 1960, 1964, 1966, 1970, 1979, 1983, 1990 and so on and so forth.
If you follow Nigeria’s politics, one of the things you will notice is that Nigerian politicians do not retire. On the long line of stakeholders, the Bob Doles of Nigeria still hold the largest part of the steak. These old men are not ashamed of the blood dripping down their pants. Even those dead and long buried resurrect to cause commotions. That is exactly what Zik, Awo and Belewa trio do every now and then in the caves of yahoogroups. Somehow, they hack into Nigerian yahoogroups and make those who live inside those dark enclaves to lose their minds.
Another dead Nigerian who makes routine appearances is Wada Nas. For those too young to remember, he was to Sani Abacha what Muhammed Saeed al-Sahaf was to Saddam Hussein. Like an abiku, this son of a machete frequently appears on Nigerian websites. He terrorizes writers with his caustic comments. Pot-belly writers with banana hearts pee in their pants when Wada Nas comes after them.
So, Nigerian politicians do not retire. They do not even go away when they die. The only bad thing that happens to them is that they get finished. Oh, yes. Politicians like Arthur Nzeribe, Babagana Kingibe and Lateef Jakande are finished. As a politician, you know you are finished when your name is marked XXXXXX on wikileak cables. Finished politicians wriggle around like earthworms sprinkled with salt. You can feel their pain because not a lot of people visit them every morning to plead that they come and save their people. I understand that they are the reason why Nuhu Ribadu is brandishing a broom all over the place. None of Ribadu’s aides have the heart to tell him that those men are spirits and you cannot sweep spirits away.
One politician who refuses to be finished is Omo Omoruyi. His on and off love affair with Ibrahim Babangida is like a chronic decimal. Not even the eight pellets the Abacha warriors left inside him have been able to slow him down. He continues to dazzle the local media with fabulous inter-play of political jargons that smell like pellets pulled out of a horse’s behind.
I once asked one political reporter, “Why do reporters like you continue to run to Omo Omoruyi for his views on Nigerian issues when there are many new breed public intellectuals, with brand new PhDs and fresh ideas, itching to express their views? “
“Because he is home,” the reporter answered.
“Really?” I asked.
“Not only that,” the reporter said, “He serves us delicious rice from Babangida’s farm, too,”
Maybe a disclosure is appropriate at this time. I used to live in the Boston area with Omo Omoruyi. We used to fight over whether he ate rice or fofo at the launching of his book on June 12th. Then Comrade Adam Oshimhole had not explained to the world that rice meant so much to people from Edo State. Anyway, he won the fight and as part of his prize he had to return to Nigeria to continue his very important work as the NUMBER ONE public intellectual of Nigeria. Omoruyi captured that prestigious position from Prof. Sam Aluko.
Just the other day, Omo Omoruyi granted the Daily Sun an exclusive interview. In Nigeria, an exclusive interview is one in which the press secretary of a politician decides to send self-generated questions and answers to only one media house at a time. Just like that final interview Umaru Yar’Adua granted the Guardian newspaper where he appeared sharp, alert, bubbling, hell and wealthy. Otherwise, the same interview is usually sent to several media houses. And with the right payment, all the editors can claim that they conducted the interview themselves. Just like Maurice Iwu did with several media houses before that 2007 world’s freest election on record.
In the interview, Omoruyi expressed shock at what Babangida, his client in 2003 and 2007 presidential bids, had turned into. (For the record, the contours of his face showed nothing but the number of ozu okuko - dead fowls, his mouth had eaten). Omoruyi sounded like a man in a divorce court yelling, “That woman wasn’t the woman I married.” According to the New York University trained political scientist, Babangida was under the influence of bad spirits. He mentioned the man named Adamu Ciroma as one of the bad spirits.
Let’s be serious. Spirits are what have kept Nigeria afloat after everything else has failed. Even Babangida said this long ago when he could not find the logic of Nigeria’s continuing existence. And Omoruyi should know because he, too, is a spirit. He is a card carrying member of ACN but markets himself as an Independent. He has dumped Babangida for Jonathan because he wants the ‘minorities to rear their ugly heads.’ Those are his words, not mine. I have argued at several forums that there are no beautiful or ugly heads. There are only two kinds of heads- those that the DDC machines will read their fingerprints and those the machine will take a look at and scream, “Hell no. Next?”
Talking about ubiquitous ugly heads, Omoruyi, who consulted for Babangida, revealed in the interview that Olusegun Obasanjo promised to hand over the PDP to his client in 2006 only to renege on it. In fact, Omoruyi said that Obasanjo deceived Babangida. Hold it! What do you call someone that deceived an evil genius? How evil must you be to deceive a self-professed evil genius?
The only time Omoruyi was not regurgitating the same antiquated talking points of his was when he was calling Maitama Sule his own Papa. I know an old professor loses his faculty, but I did not know that it can get to the point of forgetting who his papa was. According to Omo Omoruyi, the minorities are small people. He thinks that the minorities are destined to be slaves of those who are in the majority.
I am not an intellectual, but I know that the tragedy of a people who see themselves as small people is that they will remain slaves of people who see themselves as big people. Please correct me if I’m right.