When our Togolese Housemaid told us ‘Au Revoir’ in the Douglas residence, we waved back at him, and continued licking our fingers, from the delicious meal he had prepared. “He has gone to see his kinsmen for the weekend,” I said. But we did not know that there were more to Kofi’s ‘Au Revoir.’ How could we have known, when he has gotten his master, Alhaji drunk at the 4th storey?
Kofi Tenji, for that was his name. A tall, slim, and easy going young man who cooks for Alhaji, and feeds his dogs in the Douglas residence.
Whenever Kofi goes to the market to buy food stuffs for cooking, the men and women would be sighing. The condition Alhaji has kept them is worsening, and becoming unbearable by the day. The prices of goods in the market have gone high, and when Kofi asks the market women why, they reply him quickly in a French phrase, “Votre Maitre, Votre Maitre, Your Master.” Each new day in the Douglas residence presents Kofi with another story of how poverty has refused to stop holding Alhaji’s subject on their scrotum.
Nights latter, Alhaji came back home with bags of money. Kofi was happy because of the inscription written boldly on the bags, ‘Bail Out Fund.’ He has heard many stories about the fund, and how it is proposed to save the people from their poverty and penury. That was Kofi’s happiest night. For him, he would now go to the market without the cries of ‘Votre Maitre.’ Kofi helped in carrying the money to Alhaji’s room at the 4th storey, from where it will now be distributed for the ‘bail.’
One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six months passed. There was no distribution. No circulation. Not even stories of hope for the masses.
One night, Kofi did the unexpected. He waited patiently for his master to become drunk on a new wine, and when it happened, he carried the bags of money and fled successfully. When Alhaji woke up from his slumber, he called the press and told them that the stories were all lies. “There is no Kofi. There is no Housemaid. There is no money,” he said. But we all know Kofi. We know his ‘Au Revoir.’
Before I forget, I wish to categorically state here that the above anecdote is purely fictional. Any resemblance therefore of incidents, involving persons, dead or alive is hereby declared an accident. Readers are therefore advised to look beyond the story, and take the lessons contained therein, home.
A closer look into the affairs of Nigeria would give an alien a sense of wonder. But for a Nigerian, who was born in Nigeria, grew up in Nigeria, and even ready to die in Nigeria, the condition of things here have become normal. I can remember going to pick up a friend of mine at the airport in the company of his relations. He has been outside Nigeria for the past 15 years. Immediately he arrived, the airport lights went off, and he began to scream. I looked at him and said, “Welcome to Nigeria.”
Looting of public funds has become a normal affair amongst the Nigerian politicians, and that was why Dan Agbese in his article titled, ‘Because We Can’t’ published in the Guardian has the gores to opine: “We cannot really fight corruption because a) we can’t b) we can’t and c) we can’t. We might as well accept General Collin Powel’s diagnosis that corruption is wired into our DNA.”
Agbese, just like Powel, believes that corruption runs in our blood. Not in my blood, Agbese! Yours only, and in the veins of every man or woman who loots public fund for his or her eight, ninth, or tenth generation.
It is only in our Nigeria that looters are crowned Kings and Queens, honored with exuberant titles, assemble the front seats in public gatherings and cheered up. Come to think of it, was it not the same James Ibori who was jailed in London for drying up Delta State Account, that came back home and was welcomed with a grand reception programme, duly funded by the State Government with Millions of Naira? But when a young man was caught in Lagos, stealing a handful of garri, an angry mob gave him a chase, caught at him, beat him up and set him on fire. This same mob will have their wrappers spread on the ground and have their looters match upon them like the triumphant entry, as recorded in the bible, with shouts of Hossana.
I think it’s time for Nigerians to start asking serious questions, and push towards receiving vital answers. Such questions should come up in times like now, when every Nigerian awaits the return of the Paris Club Refund Money. Questions such as: How much is the refund in its entirety? How is it going to be divided? Zonal, Regional, or Tribal? What are the budgets? How would my State manage our own share of the National Cake? Who gets the Lion’s share and why?
The essence of questions of this nature is to raise awareness and consciousness, both among the masses and the leaders or rulers. Note here, that I tried to make a discrepancy between a leader and a ruler. While the former suggests persons like Mandela, the latter suggests the dreaded Hitler and his prototypes spread round the corners of the world.
In essence, asking of questions help the government to realize that there is a third-eye into their affairs, and therefore help them to redress their plans of corruption if truly corruption runs in their blood like Agbese and Powel suggests.
These questions could come in any format. They can come as criticism, or even propaganda, and the government should treat any of them kindly because, criticisms are very essential elements in governance. Now, imagine having a government that cannot be questioned or even ridiculed? Then, we would be worst than caged birds.
There are more works to be done in Nigeria than the incessant attack of people who raise their hands to ask questions. Let leaders who have answers to the questions answer them. It helps to curtail unnecessary suspicion and thoughts of unaccountability.
Few weeks ago, I tagged DSP Andrew Enwerem on a post I made on Facebook, asking him why Police Officers along Okigwe Road Owerri, leading to IMSU like to stop young boys on the road asking them to open their laptops. DSP Enwerem is the Police Public Relations Officer, Imo State Police Command. Interestingly, DSP Enwerem replied my question at the comment section. He wrote:
“It is wrong for any police officer to stop any person on the road and demand to inspect or read the content of the person's phone or laptop. It is overzealousness. Such victim should refuse and put a call to me on 08081574002 or police control room no. 08034773600."
Such prompt response should be emulated by all those in power. This questions has helped Imo youths, and youths all over the country to understand that they have rights that must be protected and respected. Without such question, and without such prompt answer, we would all be wallowing in darkness.
My People, My People!
In few days, $119 M will arrive Enugu, $145 M will land Ebonyi, $151 M will pull in Abia, $162 M will turn up in Anambra, and my darling Imo will receive $185 M, the Lion’s share in the entire South East. It is the Paris Club Money Refund –a payment of excessive deductions from creditor nations like Nigeria by the Paris Club.
As we await the arrival of these Million Dollars, let’s always remember our Togolese Housemaid and his 'Au Revoir.'