All posts by Ose Oyamendan

Who Will Save The Children? By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

Ose Oyamendan

It’s Easter weekend and I’m driving down the Pacific coast, savoring the ocean breeze and listening to Kirk Franklin’s Lean On Me. At this time of the year, I tend to get a little spiritual, not like the traffic spirituality on the Lagos-Ibadan expressway. More like soul-searching with a bit of gospel hip-hop.

Easter used to be one of my favorite holidays. Four days of bliss when you’re told all your sins of last the last year are forgiven! Utter bliss! I remember those days when Easter and the Eid meant the world to us. How my friends will come to our house on Easter and tear into the rice and chicken with little mercy and how we’ll go to my friends’ houses and eat so much meat and amala during the Eid we’ll need our stomach purged at the end of the night.

I still remember the mounds of fresh meats our neighbors used to bring to my father on Sallah mornings. Back then, we had no clue we had different Gods we just knew we had a God we prayed to differently. There was no politics then. People didn’t need to divide us to win votes. They spoke to our hearts and we listened. And the military didn’t care if we had hearts anyway.

Normally, music lifts my spirit this season. But not this season. This Easter, I pull up by the ocean and think of my home on the other side of the waters and world. I’m expecting my mind to form a picture of cheers and hope. But, all I see is a sea of blood.

How can you have hope when down in the North East dozens of young girls are hostages to gun totting, hot-blooded young men who with itchy fingers? How can you sing Hallelujah when the pictures from the bomb blast in Abuja plays on your mind like a bad movie? How could you celebrate when your fellow countrymen and women are not sure if they are about to step into bullets on the street?

The song dips and the searing lines about girls got my heart bleeding.

And there’s a girl


Searching for a father and a friend


Praying that the storm someday will end

Deep inside me, I can hear the girls crying, praying for the government forces to free them. Girls whose sin was going to school. Girls who only wanted to better themselves and now they face an uncertain future. I think of those girls as my sisters, nieces, cousins and daughters and the tap opens up in my eyes. This is madness.

You try to escape the misery of this season of madness but the CD won’t let you. It keeps tugging at your heart.

Here’s a man



Standing on the corner


He has no home


He has no food


And his blue skies are gone


Can’t you hear him cryin’ out

You hear those lines and you’re at the Nyanya bus stop, a place that is supposed to be the safest place in Nigeria. After all if our seat of government is not safe, where is safe? And, you see all those who died in your head – people looking for a living, people on their way to loved ones, people just trying to live. And now, they are statistics in raging fire of terror.

I am here

You don’t have to worry


I can see your tears


I’ll be there in a hurry when you call

It gets really bad really quickly here. In most cultures, the government will do all it can to safeguard the people. You can’t say the Nigerian government is not doing anything. But, you just feel that more could be done. And, you feel the government should show more heart to a bleeding cause.

It doesn’t help seeing the president dancing at a political rally the day after the blast. I live in America where the official line is that terrorists won’t decide how we live our lives. But, can you imagine George Bush attending a political rally and dancing the day after 9/11? This is where the President’s handlers should have stepped in and said, ‘sir, this event would be on another day. The nation is in mourning, we have to mourn”.

And, you wonder who will care for the masses when the main political parties are playing politics with death? If there is anytime PDP and APC should join hands and work as one this is the time. But, PDP accuses APC of sponsoring terrorists, APC decides her governors won’t attend a security meeting with the President on the spurious excuse that someone from the presidency called the aide of a rather junior governor and said the meeting was off. You wonder if the governors were going for a federal allocation meeting they would all have reacted to the call the same way without checking and cross checking?

In the end, the main losers are the Nigerian people. When their leaders should care about them, they play politics. When the governments should come together and fight the terrorists, some turn a blind eye.

You just wonder if our leaders don’t care about the children, who will?

The Pest That Ruined Nigeria, By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

Ose Oyamendan

I spent my week enjoying the inside of an hospital.  I have never passed the night in the hospital before, except for the birth of my boys. And, even then, you’re free to go and come as you wish.

But, not this time. Seven letters ended my streak. Malaria! It’s like a bracelet that cuffs your ankles to the hospital bed. I have forgotten about malaria. I have forgotten about how devastating it is. I have forgotten because when you’re in Nigeria you run into people all the time who are just recovering from malaria so you get lulled into believing it can’t be that bad.

Now I know why they talk your ears full before you go to Nigeria. Beware of this, beware of that, don’t go to these places and whatever you do, take your prophylactic as directed by your physician. I used to be great at taking the prophylactic instructions but I got cocky after repeated visits. But, on that night in Kano last month when I saw a tribe of mosquitos converging in my room as if they’re at a convention, I knew I had a date with something very bad.

In America, when you have malaria, you’re like a pariah. Everyone panics. Your doctor screams at another physician for giving you seven pills less than you needed in Nigeria. Your managers are screaming at the accountants who are sympathetic you’re ill but wondering how it would affect projects. Your wife is screaming at the kids who think its cool to jump on daddy like they do at home.

The only one not screaming are the infectious diseases doctors. You look at their faces and you think you’re going to die. You look at all the tubes going in and out of your body and you start cursing yourself for not going to Antarctica when you had the chance, thinking you had your life ahead of you

What you don’t know is that the doctors can’t treat an infectious disease until they know what it is? They have to eliminate everything until there are sure what it is. While they do that they sort of build a medicinal wall against your brain so whatever parasite is in your body cannot attack your brain because that would be a near calamity. Chei, American wonder!

Then you start drifting off. Your mind drifts back home. And, that is then you know you’re not gonna die because if you’re gonna die, your mind would not drift back to Nigeria. It probably would drift to Ukraine or Afghanistan or maybe even Pakistan.When your mind drift to Nigeria in such a state it only means one thing – you’re going to survive this but you’re going to suffer a lot!

Your mind drifts through the streets and you see the hospitals, places that once were centers of excellence but are now centers of rot. I remember as a child when they said a relative was getting admitted at the University College Hospital (UCH), you knew that was a serious case and you knew you had the newspapers of that uncle to yourself for a few days. But you always knew they will return and they always did.

Now, when you hear people have gone to places like UCH you start a prayer vigil. I think Nigeria, my Nigeria, is one of the few places in the world where people like me remember the past with fondness because things worked then. And it kills you to think of life that way because Nigerians are some of the most brilliant people in the world.

In the last few years I’ve heard of a few deaths that just blows the mind. People driving themselves to the hospital for routine outpatient surgery and dying. People with cases of malaria and never making it out. People with so much life one day and no life the next. And, you look at the infrastructures and it makes you weep.

It’s why every time I meet someone who says he or she is trying to establish a hospital in Nigeria, I ask them to call me if there is anything I can offer to their good deeds. And that is why I think Nigerians should ask the babel trying to kill themselves for a chance at power in 2015 to sign an undertaking that they will reform the health sector within two years or go back to their villages, with or without shoes. A nation of healthy people has a chance. A sick nation with sick people is simply doomed.

Back at the hospital, after thirty-six hours and gallons of my blood drawn for blood work, the doctors danced into my room and shouted “malaria!”. Same thing I told them thirty-six hours earlier, same thing my personal physician was screaming at another physician for a few hours earlier.

But, boy – I felt bad for my body and malaria after they found out it was the one tearing through my body. I thought the saying was be careful of scorned woman. Not in malaria land when doctors attack. The doctors go after the malaria with so much venom that you’re treated between a cross of a pregnant woman (ultra sounds) and a HIV patient (many, many tubes).

At the end of the week, as I got wheeled to my car, because in America, patients are not allowed to walk to their car on discharge, one of my friends who always have this argument about Nigerians and our lack of collective spine in the face of deplorable leadership looked at me with a very mischievous wink.

“What?” I asked in a weak, raspy voice that the wife told me sounded like Marlon Brando on crack. Ouch!

“Now you know why Nigerians didn’t have to fight for our independence?” he replied.

“Why?” I asked, delighted I was about to learn something new.

“Malaria!” he replied and paused for effect, “the fucking pest was gonna kill them all so they left in a hurry. And that fucking pest cost us our spine! We could have gone all Mau Mau on the British ass, that would have told the military not to mess with us. Fucking malaria!”

Say it Ain’t So, By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

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The social media was abuzz late last week by some emerging news from Nigeria. Normally, when the social media goes off like that it’s always because somebody is showing her tits or some scandal is afoot. But, no – this was all politics.

According to the rumor mill, the two lords of the APC have decided to run on a presidential ticket next year. Yup, that’s right –Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu are, according to the tales, seriously considering running on a ticket against President Goodluck Jonathan. You know it’s gotta have some strands of truth because Alhaji Lai Mohammed has run out of ink.

That sound of jubilation you hear is of the camp of President Jonathan celebrating. A Buhari-Tinubu ticket just says to the nation that what had brought these two unlikely partnership together is a hunger for power. And, you gotta be worried about men who do things just for the sake of power.

I was one of those who were very optimistic about the prospect of APC becoming a giant counterforce to PDP in the Nigerian political space. I’m not a card-carrying member of either party, I don’t even know what they stand for. But, I do know that two strong parties will keep each party on their feet. And, when that happens, Nigerians are the likely winners.

But, the future of APC is not the Buharis and Tinubus or the Atikus for that matter. The future of the party is in the hands of the young Turks who have distinguished themselves in public and private service and yearn to contribute to the future of their country.

I have never understood the canonization of Buhari. This is the same dictator who as Head of state decided to hold Nigerians hostage. It was a great thing to instill some discipline in our lives but the willy-nilly carting of anybody at the bus stop with an opinion to Kirikiri was just foul. And, when General Sani Abacha, easily Nigeria’s worst dictator, decided he needed a flagman to shore up his reputation, whom did he reach to? Buhari.

And, now everyone seems to think he’s Saul on the way to Damascus. Somehow the gales have fallen from his eyes and he’s reformed. It does seem that in our need to reach out for hope, sometimes we forget the past. And, when you forget the past it sneaks up and bites you in the butt. There’s also the little disguised fact that both Buhari and Tinubu have an uneasy alliance. If they find themselves in Aso Villa, their fallout will make the Obasanjo-Atiku fallout a child’s play.

And, then there is Tinubu – a man who has overseen the political reengineering of the South West and Edo State. He has done what the venerable Chief Obafemi Awolowo sought to do in his lifetime – build a truly national opposition. This is the time for him to sit back, play the game of political power chess and ensure his party gets into power at the national level.

If he’s true to himself, he would also know that the Fasholas; Oshiomoles, Amaechis and the others are the future of the party. They can connect with the streets because they speak their language and they are not much older that the teeming youth out there. Between them, even with doctored birth certificates, Buhari and Tinubu are closer to 150 than 100. What’s the plan? Set up an adult day care center in the presidency when they get there?

I laugh when folks compare Buhari and Tinubu to Abiola who ran and won overwhelmingly on a Moslem-Moslem ticket. Like the late Texan Senator, Lloyd Bentsen, would have told the APC dream-ticket if he’s met them in an alley or on a plane, “gentlemen, I know Bashorun MKO Abiola. You are no Moshood Abiola”.

It was easy for Abiola to run on a Moslem-Moslem ticket because for much of his life, he contributed to Moslem causes as he contributed to Christian causes. He knew Christian prayers as he knew Moslem prayers. Some of his best friends were Christian leaders. He was not a philanthropist with a plan, he was a man in a hurry to change his country.

You cannot say that for Buhari who seems bent on living in Aso Villa because he was denied when he was head of state. And, you can’t say that for Tinubu who has succeeded in turning his party into some sort of family business.

I still think this is just a ruse, a leak to test the mood of the country. I do not know the General but I know Tinubu is one of the sharpest political minds you will ever find. He lives, sleeps and eats politics. And, surely he must know right know that there is a mini-insurrection waiting at his doorstep if he goes on this journey with the General.

I had a talk with an APC lord in Abuja a month ago. He’s one of the new apostles of APC and he’s in it for the top prize. I asked him what would happen if the landlords of APC deny him the ticket. Without flinching, he replied, “they didn’t drive us from PDP now”. God save Nigeria.

Crying For Hope, By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

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I’m 35,000 feet above the ground, floating in a giant mechanical bird that man calls an airplane. This has become a second home to me. I’ve had immigrations officials say “I just saw you a few days ago” to me at my local airport in Los Angeles. Once, flying was a pipe dream for a kid from a city with now airport of its own. Now, it’s a place of calm.

But, something just upset my little idyllic world on this morning when I thought I heard the birds singing with the voice of cherubic angels. One minute, I’m chipper and showing a piece of cookie who’s the boss. The next moment, my mouth is dry and there are tears quickly filling my eyes

I’m in God’s won country battling a 20-year emotion in a country some swear God has forgotten even though there is a church in every street corner. I’m hearing tunes that promised hope yesterday but got mangled under the force of a soldier’s tank. I’m lucky the passenger nearest me is in dreamland or I would be a bag of embarrassment. A stewardess strolls by, gives me a look that says “I understand and I’m here for you” but she has absolute no clue.

How could she? How could anyone? How do you even begin to explain it?

The source of my grief is a twenty-one year old commercial I just played on my laptop. I’d gotten it in Lagos  week ago as part of the archival footage for a political documentary I’m working on. I’ve put off watching it for many weeks because I thought I knew it frame for frame, after all it was once the soundtrack to the Nigerian life.

Now, I’m watching it in this giant, big machine floating in the air. And, the tears are still dribbling down my face.

“On the march again.

On the march again.

Waiting for Mr. President.

MKO is our man O”.

If you’re below 30, you probably won’t get it. But, you know what, that was the beginning of the problem you face today. You know, the problem with power, the problem with security, the problems of kids getting trampled to death because they dared chase jobs that had probably been filled anyway. The problem that has turned us into a miserable, delusional giant of Africa.

I’m watching the MKO Abiola campaign video from 1993 and I’m crying because of what could have been. Like the line from the movie Raging Bull, we could have been somebody.

That was the summer Nigerians came together and voted for the promise of a better future. That jingle was the soundtrack to our summer. When I close my eyes, I can still see barefooted kids abandoning their football games to catch the 68seconds commercial every time it came on. I can still see mothers taking a breaking from dinner chores to see the commercial when it came on between the early evening news. I can still see the pride in the eyes of the youth who would boast of working “on the campaign” even though all they has was a poster from Abiola’s SDP. I could still see me who walked with pride knowing that their destinies was returning to their hands. I could still see those soldiers nodded their heads to the jingle whenever it was on radio.

Then, puff – and the dream was gone. Buried in a cloud of smoke. Murdered by a coalition of generals and politicians who only cared about the size of their bank accounts. And, with it, the dreams of a nation that has been raped and continued to be raped by the men and women who claim to want to lead it to a glorious future.

I’m watching the video again and the tears are playing a game on me. I’m watching a video of hope and wondering what really is the problem with Nigeria. A country of promise and natural wealth is cursed by the lack of basic infrastructure. A country with oil who now has to import kerosene from places like the Republic of Niger. A country with some of the brightest people in world reduced to looking like bumbling fools on the world stage.

I’ve traveled the whole land, asking folks what they think is the problem if Nigeria. It’s a question everyone has an answer to but no one seems to have a solution to the growing crisis. Every man and woman tells me the problem is leadership.

And, every time I want to run to a corner and cry. I want to cry because the men and women telling me the problem are our leaders. They are the problem with Nigeria. They know it and we know it. Nigeria’s leadership problem is worse than HIV right now because you know even with a full-blown AIDS, you have hope

Nigeria’s leadership problem is now a cancer, a disease that is fast killing the country. You pray cancer gets a cure soon the same way you pray Nigeria gets a break in this long streak of heartless leadership.

And, you have to keep praying because in this season of politics, you look left and you look right and all you see are people camped under different alphabets. But, they are all the same and one. Our politics and politicians shunned ideology a long time ago.

 

I’m still crying because I just wish yesterday hadn’t turned out the way it did. That the hope of 1993 had led us into the future. We could have been somebody. And, I’m probably going to keep crying because we’re far from being alive. And, this song keeps reminding me, just as the cacophony of nothingness fills the Nigerian political space.

“On the March Again.

“On the March Again.

“Waiting for Mr. president”.

An Open Letter To The Jonatithes, By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

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Dear Jonatithes;

I must apologize for not writing sooner to welcome you to our great capital city. I was a little bit confused as to the protocol of welcoming men and women to a city they visit often and where many of them have homes. But then I saw the government was bleeding the treasury to make you all comfortable and suddenly, the folly of my ways dawned on me.

Everyone knows the government cannot be wrong. They have information that even supermen do not have. They have seen the future and they know you all have needs. Abuja is an unforgiving city. The competition is intense yet all the street folks see is the exaggerated tales of corruption.

Sometimes I think many of us Nigerians are very rude. Here you are, in Abuja, trying to re-shape the fortunes of our country and we can’t even roll out the red carpets. Instead we’re all complaining about your salary. Do these people know who you are?

What in the name of wealth is N4m a month! You know what that breaks down to? A mere N200, 000.00 a day for the sixty or so days you will really work in the next three months! Now, if the cries that you’re living too large is not insulting, I don’t know what is.

What can N200, 000.00 buy these days? I’ve heard people say in most countries people will gladly work for their country for free for three months. I laugh when I hear and read that because we are not any country. We are Nigeria and we don’t roll that way. I mean, we’re so cool Robert Mugabe is taking jibes at us for corruption.

I will let you in on a little secret. I’m hoping this becomes a regular thing. At this rate, I may just make it into a constitutional conference at 80. N200, 000.00 a day, with some adjustment for inflation. That will be a cool way to retire.

By the way, I hope you brought your kids along. Isn’t it funny you’re all in Abuja to reshape the future of our dear Nigeria just when you’re mostly on your last legs? Think of it, when the Ahmadu Bellos, Azikiwes and Awolowos went to London to negotiate the future of our country with the British caretakers, they were in their 30s and 40s; their future was still ahead of them.

But, you whom the lords of Abuja have entrusted with rejigging this little experiment the British thought would have collapsed by now are grandfathers and grandmothers. I had a curious encounter the other day with an older man. A teenager had angered him and he gave him the look of a man who is about to ruin the young kid. I wonder if you have those thoughts some times. After all you’re not gonna have to carry the can for whatever decision you make in the next three months.

I’ve been looking at the list of delegates and thinking deep thoughts. I was wondering, do you all feel collectively guilty? Do you feel guilty that you whom Nigeria spent a lot of money training, you who had scholarships and free education, you who had a great life in public and private service, you who destroyed the future that we live in today, you who killed the hope of the future. I wonder if you feel any guilt for the past you managed so wrongly.

If you think of it, most of you went to school in the golden 60s, 70s and 80s when life still had meaning and when you could put Nigeria and a glorious future in the same sentence and not think of having your head checked. Back then, the government spent a fortune training you and settling you into public and private service. It was you and your peers that decided that the balance in the treasury and the future balances should take a short trek to your accounts

Do you have any guilt that you are the ones that are being asked to define our future? Do you have any guilt that you’re doing it without those whose future you should worry about? Do you really think you can give us hope for the future? Do you ever pause to think that the next three months may just be a whole lot of talk about nothing?

Do know something though; I do feel your pain. I think it’s really wrong for anyone to put you in Abuja without consideration for hangers-on or what the Nigerian elite call aides. Who is supposed to get you companions? Who is supposed to feed you, clothe you and drive you around? Do they expect you to think for yourselves? And, pray – what makes those elected representatives so special that they have to have aides and you do not.

By the way, I hope you like the way I addressed you. It was a tough thing to coin. I have no clue how to address you. The Senators are called distinguished, the house of representative members are called “honorable”. Since you all are creations of President Goodluck Jonathan, I think you’re his apostles. How does Jonatithes sound?

Valuable Wives in Power, By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

OSE OYAMENDAN

I had no clue there was that much “red” in Nigeria until Valentine’s Day. You gotta love Nigerians, despite the bleakness out there, no one can hold them down. This was something bigger than Christmas and Independence days combined. Even old women who you thought had retired from those things that induce headache had a dash of red in their clothing.

And, I guess in the spirit of Valentine Day some very ingenious Nigerians came up with what I think is a coup. They call it the most valuable governors’ wives award. And, in true Nigerian fashion, they made sure it reflects the geo-political zones of the country. Man, these guys should be running someone’s campaign.

Who knew a woman gets to compete for an award just because she’s married to a governor! Absolutely bank-account filling creative! Here I was, thinking a governor gets elected, appoints his advisers and aides and go about his business. But, I have been wrong all along. People know that the real power does not lie with the “oga at the top” but with the “oga at the top’s madam”. A position that has no place in the constitution now does not only have budgetary allocations but also an award for it.

I can’t even imagine the conversation in the household of a governor when the list of nominees comes out and a his first lady is not on it. How would a governor feel that his wife has fallen short again? Is it that he’s not expending enough security funds on her and her office? Or is it that his political enemies are at work again? How will he show his face at the national council of state meeting knowing some governors are snickering at him because his wife is not up to par?

Awards are the coolest things in Nigeria. They pop up like candy and flowers on Valentine’s Day. Every industry has a few awards. But, like everything in life, we have forgotten the little people – the folks who make the country thick. Has anyone ever thought of an award for the best housemaid? Or the best gateman? Or, best toy boy?

I was complaining about this obvious lack of spread in awards when a very mischievous and unpatriotic friend asks a question that should make her spend a long time in the slammer. “We all agree that this is a very corrupt country,” she began, “why not have MVP awards for the most corrupt governor, senator, house of representative member, minister and so on and so forth? That would be an award Nigerian genuinely get into”

Been the very patriotic person that I am, it took the Christian in me to stop from wrestling with her. The insults on our public officials have to stop. These folks work for peanuts, sacrifice their lives and people want to fault them for riding in multi-million naira cars, living in multi-billion naira houses and having a fleet of partners with stuffed bags. Is it a sin to be a public official? Are they the teachers of the new century and they should expect their rewards in heaven? People need to be more grateful.

I have always campaigned for women governors  but now I have an added incentive. If we have two women governors, I can start my own competition for the most valuable governor’s husband award. I will go straight to the point with MVP of governor’s husbands’ award, my house won’t build itself. It would have nothing to do with the bedroom or roles not recognized by the constitution. It would all be about the money – whoever pays more will be my governor’s husband of the year. 2015 can’t come too soon.

BOW AND GO

I wish this phenomenon was around when I was younger, you know – ministers showing up before the Senate, taking a bow and going on their merry way to their new offices. No questions asked, no pre-assessment on their plans and absolutely the question every Nigerian wants to ask, “will you chop our money” is a no-go area.

If it were around earlier, when the time came for kids to present their report cards to their parents, they could simply show up at home, bow to their father, swath a wad of cash from the family account and take a stroll.

It’s a great world where the highest officials in the land are held to no standards, where the fact that they have been former generals or assembly members qualifies them for public offices without question. It may not be laziness but who cares when you slap the faces of your electorates. Their necks are barely hanging on their necks anyway so they won’t understand what it means to “bow and go”.

Forget the little matter that a few of the heads of the national assembly have had to take a long trek into infamy. Ignore the little detail that if a man had done to another man what the military had done to Nigeria and the nation’s psyche and political development, they would have had to constitute a tribunal bigger than the International Court of Justice to try it. Just remember one thing – when you’re on your way to signing the big checks, the distinguished senators are not too blind to know they may hold the bread they realize who now has the butter.

Honor Among Politicians, By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

They say if you live long enough, you’ll see everything.  Maybe the folks who came up with that phrase were not that wise after all or maybe when they conned that bit of wisdom, they didn’t know the internet will be invented and you cans learn everything by age 12 if you have a keyboard and a computer.

Or maybe, just maybe, when they were spitting what they thought was wisdom, they hadn’t heard of a country across the street that would one day be named Nigeria by a foreign woman bored with her cup of tea.

I know I haven’t lived near what you can term enough but boy, have my eyes seen things and have my ears heard things in this country! At this rate, I might have to pay a higher premium for my health insurance just to keep my shrink happy.

How she keeps a straight face while she tries to make sense of the thoughts tumbling through my head I will never know. Every time I go to Nigeria or spend some time with things Nigeria, I seem to spend more time in that office – staring at the roof and spilling my guts.

I was determined to put that behind me, move on and live like a proper Nigerian. You know, where we deny the truth in our face and embrace the fears dancing around our little heads. I was ready to embrace that truth that says a shrink is who you go to when you’re crazy and wrap my hands around that traditions where you sink deep into your fears until it consumes you and you become a rabid insomniac in Abuja.

Then, I snuck into Nigeria and it all went into flames very quickly. Damn, the computer and damn Facebook! Who knew the simple touch of an icon will announce to the whole world where you are. In my case, the plane was still on the tarmac when my phone started going off. I thought the first few callers had juju or something. I didn’t know they were just on Facebook.

It got worse very quickly. I had barely sat down in my hotel when I got dragged into a friend’s domestic palaver. By the time my ears were loaded with the full tale, my mouth was so wide open a colony of flies may have just camped in there and declare a portion my mouth their new republic.

My friend’s partner had just announced to my friend that she was defecting from my friend to another friend. And, here I was – thinking the word defection died with the end of the cold war.

“Did you say defecate?” I asked because I thought an early onset of jetlag was making me hear things that are not been said.

“No, defect – like leave him so I can go be with my new man,” she corrected me.

Now, in the interest of clarity and in obedience of the supreme laws of the land, by partners, I meant a man and a woman who are partners – not a gay couple. Knowing that my knowing a gay couple and not reporting it may sent me to prison for years, I must make that clear just in case I run into one of those road blocks and risk being framed just because I refused to part with my last naira.

Anyway, I know it’s a new world and a new century and I know if my grandmother was alive, the sex-craze of today will have her craving a one-way ticket to heaven but this was a new thing. I didn’t even know you can defect from a relationship. I thought you break up and move on.

“That’s the problem, she’s keeping her options open,” my friend explained.

“What options?” I asked.

“In case the new relationship doesn’t work, she can always slide back and claim she made a mistake,” he explained.

“In what world does that happen?” I screamed.

“It happens everywhere,” my friend’s defecting partner crowed

“I must have gone asleep and missed all the news,” I replied.

My friend explained to me that this was the fallout from Nigerian politics. He said Nigerian politicians have been crossing carpets like a man having diarrhea during a cross Atlantic flight. The men and women who were raised to obey and follow their leaders were doing just that – with their relationships.

Then, I looked at a newspaper and saw one name that stung my eyes. Gambo Sallau. It seems the man is not a Nigerian. And, most definitely he’s not cut out to be a politician. As the story goes, Sallau was the speaker of the Kano State House of Assembly; he stepped down from the speakership when members of his party decamped enmasse to the opposition.

Principles in Nigerian politics? Putting the people first in politics? This is getting too much. How much can one’s heart hold this all in?

I looked at my friend’s defecting partner.  And, being the smart cookie she is, she read right through you.

“Na principle I go chop? Abeg, the river don reverse course O,” she chuckled.

Boy, I miss my shrink’s cushy chair.

Mr. Oyamendan-Eimak is a Hollywood based film maker and writer with family roots in Nigeria.

Selling Nigeria Short, By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

Ose Oyamendan

It’s tough to be Nigeria. If the country could speak, I bet the first words would be “guys, easy! Damn!”

We’ve seemed to mastered life going in reverse. If the western scientist were fair, they would have made a study of Nigeria and let the world know how it works. Then, it may be they are the smart folks everyone makes them out to be. Maybe tackling Nigeria would send them to the metal ward.

You know it’s bad when a country doesn’t even know its age. And, we’re not talking about civil servants or football player miscalculating their ages. We’re talking a country with records. A country with huge age discrepancy in decades!

Was she born in 1914 or was she born in 1960? What date should be more celebrated? The military imposed democracy day that must rank as one of the biggest ironies of all time? Or the independence day of October 1st that was negotiated by the heroes of our history?

If she was really born on October 1st 1960, why spend mega-billions celebrating the 100th anniversary? There must be a sense to the centennial thing though, as my secondary school teacher once taught us – “go to the Aro mental hospital and find the patient in the worst mental health. Even he would talk to you, it may just not make sense. But, he will talk and it will make sense to him.”

I think I know what’s going on here. Two of Nigeria’s biggest passions are making money and celebrations. I figure someone came up with the brilliant idea of combining the two and the anniversary of the amalgamation makes a perfect sense. Or, why would you celebrate the centenary of your nightmare because let’s face it – colonialism was a nightmare. It was the rape of the worst order.

I was thinking Nigeria when I drove around the ancient city of Kano many weeks ago. I’d not been there in at least two decades. But, I always love coming here. I love going through Nigeria because if you don’t believe in God, all you have to do is meet Nigerians. The history is laid out there in front of you. You see what 53 years had made possible and you feel the impact of gross mismanagement. Yet, the people march on with huge smiles on their labored faces.

I love Kano because I knew it before it knew me. It was there in our history books, back in those days when the schools actually taught you about Nigerian history, back in those days when you learn about Nigerian heroes and you feel pride dancing from your brains to veins. These days, the kids learn more about foreign cultures and history than Nigeria’s.

A big shame, if you ask me because I’ve been around the world and there are few cultures that can beat ours collectively. And, there are few economies that can beat ours if we have not been cursed with decades of ineffectual, selfish leadership.

In Kano, I saw how the dual hydra-headed monsters called tribalism and politics have combined to keep Nigeria in the stone age. Or, how do you describe the falling fortunes of a city that was the pride of Africa long before the colonialists knew there was something across the Atlantic.

I’m driving through Kano and I don’t see the skyscrapers that say business is booming in this city that should be the hub of dessert trade. I don’t see the infrastructures that show a city in the 21st century. I don’t see the bustling commerce that we were told as kids once made Kano one of the centers of trade in the world.

I start asking why Kano is not what Kano should be. Why it’s not the paradise of the north and the oasis in the dessert? If we’d been a nation that plans properly, Kano would have the second largest airport in the country after Lagos. It would be center of trade for the entire north, Chad, Niger, northern Cameroon and all those countries within a thousand mile radius of the northern tip of Nigeria.

Kano should be the city that doesn’t sleep because business should flow through it like a water flows under a bridge. The three biggest airports in Nigeria should be Lagos, Port Harcourt and Kano. Those three cities are the economic lifeline of Nigeria and, if God had blessed us with the kind of visionary leaders we deserve, those cities will be on the tip of the global business tongue.

I heard a curious thing from a few “big men” and some aviation folks while I was in Kano. That Kano is being given the short shift because the Nigerian lady of aviation wants to develop the new airport in her region, that she’d ordered airlines to make it their first choice of destination outside Abuja and Lagos.

I had a good laugh about that because there is no way anyone can rise to the top in Nigeria with such narrow-minded views and disastrously selling Nigeria short. Then, I had a bigger laugh because when you compare the two airports and their potential, both in terms of economy and traffic, it’s not even apples and oranges – more like nuts and pine apples. And, you know the lady had a boss who has economists from all over the world around him who knows what is best for the economy. I couldn’t stop laughing at Nigerians and innuendoes.

Then, everyone laughed at me. You don’t Nigeria they say. When it’s a country with two birthday and is currently celebrating the anniversary for an event most countries confine to the dark pages of the history books, just one word comes to mind “Yikes!”

Mr. Oyamendan-Eimakhu is a film maker, soccer buff, and writer. He lives in Los Angeles in the United States

The Great Gay-bacle! By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

Ose Oyamendan

Words are a funny thing in life, aren’t they? If someone had walked up to me while I was having a blast in a club twenty years ago and asked if I was gay, the answer would have been a loud, “heck, yeah!”

Those were the days when to be gay was a good thing for your soul. It meant you were very happy. What you didn’t want to be, at least publicly, is a homosexual.

Then something very interesting happened, gay took the place of homosexual and a bland word like “cool” was redefined.

Imagine what would happen today if you stand in a crowded marketplace and sing, “I’m gay and I know it!” You surely won’t be carted off to a singing talent competition. In Nigeria, you get a one-way ticket to the big house.

That new law got a lot of people fuming and shaking as if malaria had spread to Europe and America. It also led to the discovery that there were indeed Nigerian “anti-gay activists”, at least on foreign television. I wonder what these folks were doing before last week. Nigeria is not exactly the kind of place you hang up a sign that either reads, “the place for all your gay needs”.

I didn’t even know Nigeria had passed an anti-gay law until I got roused out of bed by a text message from my friend in London. He was wondering how Nigeria could pass an anti-gay law and he ended by saying, “you have to do something about it”.

I told my friend that if I package his view and present it as mine to my father, he would not only disown me, he may even dust his dane gun. Then my friend told me I had to make him reconsider. And, that is one of the most frustrating thing about being a Nigerian in my little end of the world. People think your father is the paramount ruler of the little hamlet with oil in Africa. And, you’re always having to defend Nigeria and Nigerians.

The gay debacle is a different kind of battle. It’s old world versus new world, conservative culture versus liberal social media age. And, when Nigeria aligns with culture against anything inside Nigeria, it’s not even a contest. Now, the western world thinks Nigeria is back to the middle ages – a place the state of California was a few years ago when they voted against gay marriage and it took the courts to overturn the votes of the people. A place where much of America still is. Or, Russia.

Gay is not an easy sell in a place like Nigeria. It’s a country that is steeped in culture, tradition and religion.. A Nigerian kid grows up either completely oblivious that there are a set of people who are gay or knowing it is evil. It takes years and generations to color that perception. And, some people go to their graves believing if you’re gay they would not see you in heaven.

The gay debate has always been a fascinating one. When I moved to California, an elderly friend counseled me to start wearing diapers because “you never know when you may need an extra layer of protection with those people.” I thought it was a good advice because truly you never know when nature may call and a bathroom may not be close by.

But, there was this uncle whom, when he discovered I was not only going to Los Angeles but also going into the film industry, requested special prayers for me. For him the film industry was bad enough but now I was in Los Angeles. “Don’t you know they’re all gays in that place?” he bellowed when I talked to him.

I remember when I first got into California, I had a very Catholic view on gays. And, I held it in an industry that has been described as “a third Catholic; a third Jews, a third gays and the others that fall in there somewhere”. But, life plays ticks on you. I couldn’t tell a gay person even if he has a tattoo on his forehead that said “I’m gay.”  So, I made friends who were great people and when I found out they were gay, I had a moral dilemma – are they bad people because they were gay or are they the good people they were when I didn’t know they were gay?

In the end, I found refuge in my Bible. In the parts where it said not to judge so you would not be judged. And, I think it would help Nigeria and the world to take to that portion of the Bible too. People should be free to be who they are but cultures and traditions also must be nurtured.

It’s crazy but people seems to conveniently forget that President Barrack Obama was forced by his very loose-lipped vice president into acknowledging his support for gay marriage. It wasn’t that Obama did not support gay marriage, it was that there is a time and a place for everything.

Mr. Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu is a film maker based in Los Angeles.

That the Youth May Live, By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

Ose_Oyamendan

There is a saying that “the young shall grow.” Hidden in that concept is that they will not only grow but they will grow into a better world and take it over. It’s a legacy a previous generation owe the coming one. It’s a reason why parents pray their children outlive them.

I think it’s also a reason why I may be the sole reason my mother may have had a high blood pressure when I was younger. The poor woman believed I was always conniving with myself to try kill myself. I always felt it an odd accusation. Then the Abacha regime made my mother a sage. If a man can be picked up from a newsroom and charged with conniving to plot a coup then I reasoned a boy can connive with himself to kill himself.

My mother got a ironclad proof a few years ago when she heard I’m now into skydiving. The poor woman couldn’t understand what kind of child would want to jump out of plane.  In my part of the country, it’s not uncommon for a mother to blame such “wayward” behavior on what Mormons call “sister-wives”. But, it’s also a function of our state of development.

Trust mothers, they know how to blackmail you into a stationery position. The woman made me promise her I won’t try to kill myself again. I refined the deal and promised her I won’t let her know I was trying to kill myself.

Now, I think some people are trying to kill me. It’s so bad I run a lot to Nigeria these days because these folks are across the Atlantic. You know when you’re in Nigeria, your mother don’t have to worry about you jumping from the plane. She’s deathly scared enough of the planes coming down. What they call adventurism in other places is stuff you go to night virgin for in Nigeria.

But it’s not adventurism that’s trying to kill me. It’s another word. They call it technology. Life is moving at such a fast pace these days you barely have time to keep up. If you can think of something it’s likely its there in the market. There are appliances that talk to you! Forty years ago, that was called witchcraft.

I finally have proof of tech-assassination a few years ago when my busy body had caused me to wander into a function where they were talking about space tourism. This being Los Angeles and everyone else in the room being white, I was singing the song “come and see American wonder” in my heart when someone asked if I would be interested in registering for a tour of space.

I screamed, “God forbid” inside me and faked my best fake Hollywood smile as I filled out the information of the spouse. She loves singing R. Kelly “I believe I can fly”. This may be a chance for her to really fly. Since then I’ve often wonder what space looked like. I know it would be cool to see it. And, I know once I can talk a production company into letting me on a team to do some filming in the south pole, my next thought would be, “seen the end of the world, why not see the world from outside the world?”

Strange thing is, you can’t even see Nigeria well enough from Nigeria. It’s tough to get on those roads with potholes that can help train future Olympic swimmers. It’s scary to get in the air sometimes when the lords and ladies of aviation only care about where to park their private jets and not the health of the big birds in the air. It’s tough to have hope when the “ogas” have hope buried under their oriental rugs.

I look at the band of politicians today and shake my head. In most cultures where the system is not working, the opposition rolls their sleeves and unfurls a road map to progress. But in Nigeria I see a committee of enemies of the president rolled into a political party. They do not have a manifesto or plan for the country or they have not really told us so. The luck these folks have is that the worst publicists a leader can find surround the president. He claims he’s done a lot, I think he has some stuff but he has men who have no clue how to communicate achievement with the masses so they end up defending failures.

And, the youth of today are the ones that suffer from the ills that ail the minds of the youth of yesterday that are the leaders of today. When I was younger, Nigeria seemed to be on the verge of something great. Kids would talk over several yards with the aid of a rope strung on the ends of milk cans. The older kids will unveil metal contraptions that move like a sputtering mini-car. Inventors were coming out of the woodworks. But, the government took one look at them and carted the funds that would have aided development into foreign banks. You got to pity the kids today who sometimes think being born in Nigeria is akin to a curse

You just hope that someday someone will open the door to the future to Nigeria, the door that seemed like it had creaked open when Nigerian thought they elected a new president in 1993 before the military decided to play god. And, you hope that day comes pretty soon so the Nigerian youth can live his dream like his western counterparts, after all being born a Nigerian used to be a blessing.

And maybe that day, mothers like mine will see technology and adventurism for what it is – progress.

Mr. Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhuiam, film maker, writer, and soccer buff, lives in Los Angeles and can be reached via his twitter handle: I am_ose

Obasanjo as Man of the Year, By Ose Oyamendan-Eimakhu

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I was going to nominate myself for man of the year because, well, I can and as our leaders show us every minute of the day, when you can do something, you do it – it doesn’t matter if its right or wrong.  Then I made a mistake of being outside the country because that’s where you get a conscience and get reminded that you’ve gone AWOL for weeks!

I discovered Nigeria’s newest saint and realized he was my man of the year all along. It took a misguided, blinded letter from his daughter to make me see the light that had been in my face all along. How dare Iyabo write that her venerable father, General Olusegun Obasanjo is not the owner of Nigeria and God’s gift to Nigeria?

It shows how estranged she is from her father. If Iyabo had been close to her father, she would have seen the huge certificate on his bedroom wall that screams, “Olusegun Aremu Matthew Obasanjo, eternal ruler of Nigeria and God’s emissary to Nigeria”. That’s the only way you explain a man who came within inches of death to rule Nigeria for eight years, sought another four that was inconveniently unconstitutional, and when he was foiled, gave Nigeria a political middle finger.

Funny that that middle finger also spawned an ungrateful political son in Goodluck Jonathan, a fact the eternal leader reminded him of in his latest love letter. I have no clue what the presidency or anybody in his or her right mind is whining about in that letter. Was Obasanjo wrong in saying without him Jonathan’s good luck would have been confined to teaching animals how to swim in the creeks? Is it right for a father to ask that his son pay homage to him every morning because he is the reason for his existence?

And why are some of Jonathan’s apologists and Jonathan himself in his incredulous letter pointing out the fact that Obasanjo left a bigger rot when the country forced him out of Aso Rock. It’s been seven years! Move on. It’s like a man still longing after a girlfriend that left him seven years ago! And, if anyone thinks that brilliant parable means Obasanjo is still longing after Aso Villa, I will sue him or her!

If anyone needs to advise anyone, it should be Jonathan they should be advising. If Jonathan has to be bold in replying the esteemed General why not call a spade a spade. In my part of the ghetto where truth is supreme, we call a rumor what it is – a lie!

Because of his tribulations and the general lack of grace of this class of politicians led by Jonathan, I am imposing Obasanjo as the man of the year, just like he tactically imposed men like Jonathan governors not long ago. If we were not in the early parts of a century, I would have named him the man of the century. Sometimes, you wonder what kind of drugs the members of the Nobel Peace prize committee are on. I mean, here is a man whose credentials scream Nobel, who would love it more than anything, even if to spite his kinsman Wole Soyinka who holds one merely for being smart.

You wanna know a man of the year, a man of peace and the sole proprietor of a country, you listen to this quote and scream OBJ. “We’re resolved and determined to rescue Nigeria… we want you to be our navigator”.

This is from Nigeria’s leader of opposition, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, the same man who once would rather wish cancer on a foe rather than wish Obasanjo on him or her because, in truth, at the height of his power, Obasanjo was more potent than any disaster known to man. Here is the same Tinubu wishing what he never wished on his enemy on the Nigeria he loves. You wonder why people pity Nigeria and wonder if our dear country would ever every shake off the disaster called her leadership? And, you also wonder if Abacha was alive today, would Tinubu be calling him “the Nigerian savior”?

But then that would be a disservice to any logical thought process. It just goes to show how putrid the waters of Nigerian politics is at the moment. Or, if you want to be logical, it shows how bad the Nobel peace prize is missing the plot. Or, how God uses Obasanjo to unravel the fraud in Nigerian political leadership. While politicians all over the world line up on the basis of ideology, Nigerian politicians line up on the basis of greed and trumped-up enmity.

And all this leads me to crowning Obasanjo as the man of the year. I wouldn’t have thought of it at the beginning of the year. But, who is there to pick? Jonathan? The man misses his own speeches! Buhari? Someone’s gotta tell the man sometimes, some men drown themselves in ridicule or how do you explain his embrace of the man who “stole” the 419 election from him and who he so despised he stayed away from his council of state meetings. Tinubu? His new best friend trumps him. Tambuwal? Which house is the prize gonna be delivered at? Bamanga Tukur? Dude can’t even win man of Adamawa PDP! The Nigerian people? They need a miracle!

All hail Obasanjo, the great navigator and my man of the year!

Oyamendan-Eimakhu, a film maker and public policy commentator, is based in California in the United States. Please follow him on Twitter:  @iam_ose

Thumbs Up for Amaechi, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose Oyamendan

It’s not every day that you walk on the streets or departure and arrival lounges of airports in western countries and something positive about Nigeria stops you dead in your tracks. Often, when you travel with Nigerians, you sense varying degrees of apprehension when they come in front of immigrations officials in foreign countries.

The conversation with foreign immigration officials sometimes is like being pulled over by a traffic cop who is trying to fulfill his monthly ticket quota. He treats you with suspicion and baits you to talk yourself into trouble. Nigerians being one of God’s smartest creations walk around that minefield gingerly.

Our government does not help much. Most foreign countries have a strong public relations unit in key foreign capitals. They fight back against every bad press, they turn their embassies into advertisement for their countries and they deploy their notable citizens as unofficial ambassadors.

Last week I saw something that made me stop in my tracks and practically obstruct the human traffic scurrying to their departure gates. I’m strolling casually from an airline lounge towards the departure gate of my flight at London Heathrow when two signs right outside Lounge F of British Airways greeted my eyes as if they were signs to the gates of heaven.

“Port Harcourt,” the sign screams. I’m strolling past it because I’m also busy talking shop with one of my big brothers. I’m strolling past it because you don’t expect stuff like this from Nigeria. I’m wondering why I’m just hearing of a Caribbean country called Port Harcourt. I thought I knew all the Caribbean countries and was wondering how ashamed my geography teacher was going to be if he could see me right then.

Tourism is a huge business. It’s where the bug bucks is. Some countries, especially the Caribbean nations depend on tourism for their livelihood. It’s the way the world works in this age. Nations spend a boatload of money telling the world about their country.

They know the alternative is that if they don’t, some other folks will do it for them in a very bad way. Nigeria should be in the vanguard of this. The country should be the Mecca of tourism in Africa. A lot of black people can trace their heritage back to Nigeria. The country is a political leader in Africa. The country’s heritage attracts a wide spectrum of people.

Imagine if there is a book on tourism on Nigeria and you pick it up from a bookstore in Manhattan or Paris. Just imagine if you’re a foreigner with a few thousands to spend knowing the world. Then you happen to pick up this book that tells you about Nigeria and Nigerians, the attractions and the cultures. And, just assume that there is power and a degree of security. You may just have to tighten your visa rules because a flood of tourists will flock into your nation.

But the custodians of Nigerian foreign policy and marketers are enigmatic. When they get attacked on CNN, they take out pages in Time magazine to explain their position, forgetting CNN and Time belong to the same parent company.  Nigeria is one country where our leaders battle themselves in the race to give the country a bad name.

When you try to read about Nigeria online or in newspapers, the impression you get is that Boko Haram has a blanket of terror spread all over one part of the country and the Niger Delta militants cover the other half. You think of a country bitterly divided by two religions and people who are so tribal two people from different tribes can never be in the same room.

But here I am, walking through London Heathrow and I’m seeing something that makes me do a double take, something that comes so easy to more forward thinking people but seems to elude us. Something from Nigeria that beats with pride, hope and promise. Something from Rivers State.

Here I am standing right smack in the middle of a walkway, taking pictures of two posters proudly, forcing groups of travellers to pause and see what the fuss was about and watching a group of Asian tourists taking pictures of me taking a picture of the posters while they took some too.

Here is little Rivers State trumpeting the values of the state in the heart of one of the busiest airports in the world. The positioning is fantastic. Hundreds of thousands of travelers from all over the world are bound to see it. Many of the big wallet businessmen and women who drift through the lunge are bound to stop and give the state a thought. Rivers State is gonna reap huge benefits from this.

Now, you gotta give kudos to any man or woman who does good. Rotimi Ameachi and his team in Rivers state have done a great thing selling their state to the world. They’re not only selling a state, they are selling the opportunities that abound there. They are selling the people and they are selling the culture. Even though it’s not his job, he’s also selling the Nigeria.

Hopefully, he can sell this dream to all his brother governors. And, hopefully when the katakata in PDP settles, he can sell it to his brother, Goodluck Jonathan. Heavens know Nigeria needs it.

Kindly follow me on Twitter @I_am Ose

A Week Without Planes, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose Oyamendan

By now, Stella Oduah would have realized that bit of Biblical text in Ecclesiastes that a season for everything is not a heavenly typo. Not that I’ve been near a church since the last time a friend and his bride lured us there with the promise of cake, rice and chicken. One day the woman is the madam on top, the next day she’s madam under fire!

The woman’s problem started with a very innocuous statement that air crashes were an act of God. You would think that earth bound journalists, critics and ex-aviation ministers will understand that the minister was probably thinking of two things – a passage in the Acts of Apostles to explain the Associated Airlines’ crash but the damned verse got stuck so she deftly put act and God together. Or, she probably feels that since we normally believe God is beyond the skies and planes fly above the clouds it may well be that it is angelic sneezes that sends planes crashing back to earth.

Instead of chorusing what the prayerful minister had probably seen in a vision during one of those boring Federal Executive Council meetings where folks probably pass the time in a prayerful snooze, busy body Nigerians sent a flood of condemnation the minister’s way.

I bet it’s because she’s a woman. Or, the work of nPDP. Or, the work of the opposition.

I actually side with the minister. Air accidents may indeed be an act of God. I’ve had a few brushes with acts of God myself.  They are what people who call themselves intellectuals or street royalties call human errors. Once, a friend got a girl impregnated. It wasn’t meant to happen. They were supposed to be on birth control. But, when the heat came, the birth control stuff had taken a walk. A few weeks later, the news came with a pee on a stick. You can’t call a baby bad luck. It’s gotta be something divine. It’s gotta be an act of God.

Not content with attacking the minister, folks are now lambasting one of her agencies, and indirectly her, for buying two N225m bulletproof cars. Seriously, how can this woman please Nigerians! If she was flying from the bedroom to the market, they will blame her for wasting the national resources.

Put yourself in her shoes. Would you fly when planes keep falling down from the skies? You may argue that she’s the minister for Aviation and she should put a stop to that. But, that’s just wicked and jealous. The woman never told anyone she knows anything planes beyond flying first class. But, what do you do when your country calls you? Simple, you call your bank manager.

If you’re the honorable minister would you drive in a car that is not bullet proof? You think people are going to throw flowers at her for overseeing the death of hundreds of their relatives; making thousands of air travellers hypertensive and making air travel in Nigeria more painful to a dentist chair for root canal? If I were in her shoes, I’ll drive around in anti-tank cars.

I have a solution for Nigerian aviation crisis. It’s called a week without planes. It’s simple. Nigerians should stay away from airports and airplanes for a week. It would be like that Occupy thing from a while back. Only this time, while people are voting with their feet, the “understanding” elite class will hop into their jets and fly away. You may hate that but you know when acts of God happen, you would be home in “aluta” mode.

Someone once described flying in planes into Nigeria like daring a man with a gun that has a few blank bullets. You never know when the real thing will fire. And, don’t bother with customer service.  Those folks exist to make your life miserable. It seems they’re sent to school where you learn the art of slow torture.

Take the case of Medview Airlines where I had a stellar experience this past Thursday. I booked a flight to Lagos but within moments of submitting the transaction online I realized I’d picked the wrong route. I called the customer service line and the representative on the other end gleefully told me I would be charged over 10% of the fare just to fix that. In most countries, you have up to twenty-four hours to cancel a flight free of charge.

I got to the airport on time on Saturday, bought my ticket, climbed three stories to the departure lounge feeling someone must think passengers need to lose some weight before their flight. We get into the plane and the attendant at the door informs us, we’re making a “quick stopover in Yola to pick up stranded customers”.

I thought it was a joke. Who goes from Lagos to Abidjan just to catch a flight to Ibadan! But, the joke was on the passengers. The pilot plainly told the protesting passengers,  “if you don’t want to go on this flight, get down because once the gate closes, that’s it”.  But, this is Nigeria. We do not protest. Folks complained then strapped their seat belts.

I’d fixed a meeting for Ikeja for ninety minutes after take off from Abuja knowing I’ll make it. But here am I, on a three and half hour journey to Lagos. And, I’m thinking, do I ask the airline for a refund? Does the airline even reward their customers for such colossal error? Who is in charge here when an airline can arbitrarily ruin people’s day and drive people to hypertensive heights?

I call my meeting to apologize. She smiles and simply says, “welcome to Nigeria, Ose”. And, I muttered, “let’s hope there’s no act of God”. She thundered back, “in Jesus name. Amen!” God must be weeping in heaven. The things they blame him for on earth.

 Kindly follow Ose on Twitter @iam_ose.  You can also review his site www.oseoyamendan.com

Dancing to Jonathan’s Tune, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose Oyamendan

I may be wrong but President Goodluck Jonathan’s gotta be one of the most underappreciated leaders of our time, maybe in history. If these were the Biblical times, the odds are high that some angel in flowing white agbada would have rowed down the river on a raining day, stop at the doorsteps of Jonathan’s home and doorstep proclaim his birth and future greatness.

Wanna know who’s jealous of Jonathan right now? Barrack Obama. Yup, the same one. President of the United States, the most powerful man on God’s earth. How powerful does he feel right now that he can’t order his frat Congress around?

Obama is not even the most powerful man in Washington these days. The most powerful man has got to be a cab driver because they keep shuttling people back and forth. Obama can’t get his own government to run because some upstarts down the street who lost an election that was basically a referendum on Obama’s revolutionary health care policy are trying to outmuscle him like pimpled schoolyard bullies trying to steal your cookie.

Now, Jonathan does not have that problem. Nigeria’s account is like Daddy’s trust fund. Once you live to a certain age you can binge. But, Jonathan doesn’t even do that. The man from Bayelsa is so disciplined he still walks around with the caution of a man who didn’t wear shoes on the way to school when he was a kid. David Mark must be wishing he’s Republican and in American Congress right now.

But, here is Jonathan, surprising folks who have long given up on surprises. His latest masterpiece is something that he didn’t even have to reach into his sleeves for. It was right on his palm all along. Hello, National conference.

Wanna know who damn right can’t stand the president’s gut right now? The opposition lords. These men have spent years bemoaning the inequalities in Nigeria’s house of cards. They wanted the country looked at again with clean glasses not ordered from Whitehall.

But, they didn’t quite expect Jonathan to open the doors to such gabfest. Now that he has, it is like Armageddon in a political minefield.

They can’t be seen to be praising Jonathan. That would be worse than Judas betraying Jesus. But then they can’t pretend to stay on the sidelines for too long or some smart bloke would start another Association for Better Nigeria, make a few cool millions and watch his campaign of deceit roll Nigeria into a constitutional one party state.

I have been waiting for the national conference forever.  I didn’t even know that was what I was waiting for when I was waiting for it. I always thought the national conference is like one of those conferences in Las Vegas where you go get wasted and belch your way through some talking points and come home with a hangover.

Who knew it’s something so serious political and tribal leaders would do the unthinkable – turn against their masters and dance to the tune of the enemy presidente. Now all Jonathan has to do is get his party’s rebellious governors to buy some dancing shoes. But, they better watch out – folks may just go to Abuja and push for a law that effectively makes these governors Jamaicans. That would teach them a lesson on getting high on themselves.

I’m ready to go to the national conference and I have some great points I’m going to raise. First, how much are we getting paid to talk about reshaping Nigeria again? Is it gonna be enough to buy me a mansion in Abuja and a small, ten bedroom house in the village? Where will we have sub-committee meetings? On a beach in Miami or in the casinos of Monaco? Can the distinguished members organize themselves into one super party?

I know what our first order of business would be. We’ll push for the restoration of the old national anthem. We like it because it’s nostalgic. We like it because it gives us an opportunity to piss off President Olusegun Obasanjo and we all know the General is at his best when he’s pissed off at something.

Secondly, we will push for the reduction of states to twelve at the most. That way the numbers of big men and their cell phone waving assistants will reduce drastically. Who knows some men would go to bed comfortable that the girl next to them would still be their girlfriend tomorrow night. Today, they don’t even know if their relationship is past or present tense because of all these pot bellied big men who spend security votes at Harrods.

I have not thought this through but I’m thinking of a finders’ keeper’s rule. Confused? Well, you know how a white man “discovered Nigeria”? Or how our leaders sometimes go into the treasury with Ghana must go bags and emerge smiling like they’ve just had a dance with Father Christmas? Well, it’s the same principle. We may make a law that Nigerians have to acquire a government property in distaste as long as we see the list first and help ourselves.

I can’t wait for the confab. It would be Nigerians trying to get Nigerians right for the umpteenth time. We will blow through the money we don’t have. We will build a housing estate we can own for a pittance in a few months. Then we will wait a few years for another confab again. Nigeria, we hail thee!

America, Like Naija, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose_Oyamendan

This has been an awful week. The Republicans decided to shut down the government in America. If you’re a government employee, it’s like going on leave without pay.

To make matters worse, my passport booklet was full and I needed to travel. Government workers take care of those things, which means I was out of luck. I would have slapped the person who forgot to remember to fix the passport if that person wasn’t me. But, I’m a Nigerian too and I hate to admit fault so blamed the Republicans.

I was so distraught I called my uncle Sal who has the answer to all of life’s problems. Although he is in Abuja and has no clue what the insides of an airplane look like, he can tell you how life works from Dominican Republic to Dominica’s bedroom in Las Vegas. And, he doesn’t even have a passport!

“Is that sadness I hear in your voice?” he asks.

“Yes, sir,” I lamented.

“You give the wrong girl belle?” he asked.

“Not to my knowledge, sir,” I replied.

“So, what’s your problem?”

“The Republicans have shut down the government.”

“Shut down government? Obama no get duplicate keys or which kind gate be that.”

It took me a few seconds to absorb that. The all-knowing uncle Sal did not know the American government had been shut down. Worse, he didn’t know what a shut down meant. This is one of those historic times you absolutely have to know where you were and what you were doing when something happened. I looked at the clock, snapped my picture against the street sign and filed it away.

I decided that I must teach Uncle Sal something in this lifetime.

“Uncle, a shut down is when the Congress refuses to fund the government,” I began.

“Like when David Mark and that Tumbler guy refuse to pass the budget?” my uncle, ever the quick learner, asked.

“Exactly. So, what happens is that government workers go unpaid until the whole thing is over,” I continued.

“Just like our civil servants, huh? They work and are lucky to get paid. Yours are unlucky not to work and don’t get paid,” he reasoned.

I had no clue how to answer that so I just moved on.

“This always happens when one party is in the White House, like the Democrats and the Republicans are in the House,” I told him.

“Ah, so this is like PDP and APC?” he asked.

“I doubt it,” I replied unconvincingly.

“It’s the same thing. You democrats can never agree on anything. PDP can never agree on anything except there’s a lot of money involved. APC will never see anything good in PDP but go to their states and sometimes, you need to cover your eyes and nose,” he lectured.

It seemed like Greek to me and he must have noticed because he continued.

“Can’t the president just send them some serious dollars in Ghana must go bags and let the party go on?”

“This is not Nigeria O, uncle. People will go to jail for that.”

“Haba! God, in his infinite wisdom, created Ghana must go bags, why not use it?

My Uncle Sal is always wise. I wonder if Obama is thinking the same thing. Then, I quickly realized this is not Nigeria. I drank a bottle of water and washed the thought out of my system before the IRS knows what I’m thinking.

“You know that your America is not different from our Naija,” uncle Sal continued.

I had to draw the line somewhere.  This was it.

“Uncle Sal, this is not even comparing apples with oranges. It’s like comparing kai-kai with water,” I told him.

“You and your over-sabi,” he began, switching his English to something the Queen would understand because he thinks I will understand better too.

“What has Obama done that the Republicans are pleased with? They wanted better life for Americans. Obama gave them affordable health care and they hate him. They said the economy is dying, Obama restores it and they say it’s luck. Your debt is flying through the roof, Obama say raise the debt ceiling they begin abusing him.  Do you ever think why they don’t like him?”

“Because he’s half-black,” I replied knowing where my uncle was going.

“Half-black! If I can e-slap you right know I would have given you a backhand and a front hand. There is nothing like half-black. If your great-grandfather is black and everyone else is white, you’re black”.

I wanted to tell him he was wrong but you don’t argue with my Uncle Sal when he’s on a roll.

“It’s just like Nigeria. You know why they don’t like Jonathan,” he asked.

“Because he’s black?” I proffered.

“Well, he’s sure is not half-caste,” he replied. “It’s because he’s an Ijaw man. They say he speaks like a bushman yet the man has a doctorate degree while people bashing him did not even go to the school they claim they went to. They say Patience is too powerful yet their wives and children are in the Senate and House. They say we have to redefine Nigeria, Jonathan gives them national conference they say it’s a gimmick. See wetin I dey talk?”

“Still kai-kai and water, uncle. I don’t see how…” I began.

Then, the line went off. Not sure which network was array. Nigeria or America.

Kindly follow the writer on Twitter @iam_ose

My Tribe is Nigeria, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose_Oyamendan_891284957

A year ago, my five year-old son was asked to give a talk to his class about himself. He stuns his teachers when he tells them he’s Nigerian. The teacher corrects him. “You’re American, your father was Nigerian as were your grandparents,” the head teacher tries to correct him.

“No, I’m not American. I’m a Nigerian. I just live in America,” he shot back.

The panicked teacher who has probably never taught a black kid in her career puts a call to his mother. His mother tried to correct my son’s impression of who he was. But, the boy was stubborn. This is what his father told him and his father is never wrong.

Funny thing was, at about that same period, I was making my way through the immigrations lines at Murtala Muhammed airport where there is really no sign that says “welcome to Nigeria” but the stuffy heat in the tiny hall and the customs and immigrations officials with 19th century methods and attitudes straight out of a dentist’s chair welcome you in their own unique way.

At the moment my son was affirming his “Nigerian-ness” I was probably staring angrily, as I always do, on a portion of the form that asks questions about my tribe, religion and local government area. Of all those, the one I hate the most is tribe, disguised on the forms as place of origin.

Tribe. Just five alphabets and it’s the one poison that is ruining the Nigerian nation. Once, men and women fought for Nigeria’s independence. They were called nationalists because they represented a nation. Then came the military who set in motion a bitter war that made us aware of how very different we were.

My son sees my friends gather in the house and talk things Nigeria. He sees us watch Nigerian games on television and proudly waves the green-white-green flag. He rides in the car and mimes the Nigerian hip-hop songs. He doesn’t know under the American skies, he’s been shielded from the reality of a country sometimes so divided you wonder, is it really a country?

A government that should be busy repairing infrastructures instead tasks itself with reminding Nigerians what makes them different. Once, a key part of the anthem was, “though tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand”. Now, it might as well mean “ yes, tribe and tongue are different so pack your bags and go to your forefathers’ house”.

A man is born in Lagos but his parents are Ibo. He has no right to aspire to the highest office in the state because everyone thinks he’s a stranger in the land of birth even though he pays his taxes in Lagos. It’s the same for a Yoruba in Kano and an Hausa kid in Onitsha. Forget it if you’re a minority. You have no hope except you were lucky enough to go to school without a shoe and happen to be reading newspapers to pass the time when your boss dies and you have to fill his shoes.

Worse, you can get deported in your own country. I thought the Russians did it just to freeze the butts of criminals in Siberia. In Nigeria, they do it because you’re poor, forgetting that it’s the government’s duty to provide a threshold of survival for the citizens. And, everyone is quiet until it affects one tribe and they forget that within that tribe, they also self-discriminate.

Yet, we are a federation. We’re not talking Goodluck Jonathan. He’s just been here a few years and being a minority, you can’t accuse him of getting here on the wings of his tribe. Or, can you? We’re talking about a life, a pattern and a cancer that’s ridden the whole nation for decades.

When they don’t haul tribe at you, they fish out its twin – religion.

Love him or deride him, one thing Majek Fashek, the one time musical prodigy who took a wrong turn on the streets of New York got eternally right about Nigeria was the line in his song that “religion na politics. Lots of people know all the tricks. Religion na politics”.

You wonder why this is so? Why should this continue? Why should a country with so much promise because of its diversity at birth be trashed in the gutters of history half a century later? You wonder if there’s a way out?

You can’t hide from the grip of tribalism in Nigeria, even amongst the learned elite. I’ve noticed that even my friends now congregate mostly in tribal caucuses. I sit with a politician waving a broom that he says will sweep the country clean but he’s surrounded by men who speak his tongue.

You can argue that tribe is essential to an identity, that a tongue gives you a sense of historical continuum and you may argue that every country has a tribe. But, what you can’t argue is that no country uses tribe and religion to divide and batter its people like our leaders do in Nigeria.

I still wonder what I’ll tell my son the day he asks me what is the meaning of tribe. They don’t really have it in his America. And, you wonder why they still celebrate it in his father’s father Nigeria fifty-three years after we all came together formally as a nation.

Kindly follow the writer  on Twitter:  @iam_ose 

Best Damn Minister. Period, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose Oyamendan

Dear Mr. President;

​I trust you’re well because God knows our dear country needs you more at this time than at any other time. Every time the cold season rolls in, I go to church, barricade myself in and start a fast and marathon prayer for you. I can’t even think of cold on your corridor. God forbid!

​I’m sorry I haven’t written you in a while. I’ve been traveling the world spreading the gospel of Goodluck. It’s a different world from when you were a professor and the smart kids test your knowledge. These days, people have thick brains. You gotta keep pounding and pounding information into their heads before you even make a dent.

​Talking about dents, when do we stop this nPDP nonsense, sir? It’s a joke that’s gone too far. They are so out of date, I’m sure they’re still dancing to Bonny M before their conspiratorial meetings. I’m sure you must laugh that they call themselves nPDP while the whole world knows that if you want to be hip, the prefix you add is “e”.

​But, we have a chance to change everything and I am sure you’re doing it with an eye for the future of the Nigerian child. Isn’t it crazy what your predecessors have done to mortgage their future? You keep trying your utmost to right the past wrongs and these folks who call themselves politicians don’t just see it.

​It really makes me sick, which is not a good thing because when I’m sick, I eat a lot and because I’m near the government pie it means a lot of pie from people’s taxes end up in my big fat belly. I hate it but what’s an hungry man to do. From what I read, much of the country is hungry, deprived and depressed. Oops, sorry sir – that wasn’t me. Nigeria is great!

​Sir, my high school teacher back in the days when ASUU hardly ever wnet on strike and teachers could write their own names, used to say, “call a spade a spade”. I had no clue what he meant since if you hung around him long enough he would practise his drumming skills with a peppered whip on your backside. But, today I think I know what it means.

​It means get to the point. In Nigeria, people don’t get to the point. Abubakar Atiku wants to be president so he goes a roundabout way with nPDP. Bola Tinubu wants to attack you on some messy points, he asks Lai Mohammed to write a press release. Even your aides that need to tell Nigeria the great job you’re doing end up fighting everybody. Only Muhammadu Buhari gets it. He wants to be president and whoever doesn’t like it can return to the PDP.

Mr, president, I will get to the point. I want to be a minister. I know you must be wondering why a man as busy as myself will be making such a huge sacrifice for his country? Is he broke? Is he trying to finance his castle in the sky? Has he failed in the private sector? Is he fronting for some foreign institutions? Is this a stepping stone to a gubernatorial run?

I know the questions will grow as the days go by. But, your excellency, I can assure you, I am very different. I just want to serve my country. And, if I line my pockets along the way, that would just be patriotic icing on the cake. Ah, another hacker’s job there – that wasn’t me. I will pay to serve my country.

​Thank god for timing and expediency. There are vacancies now. My two states are in the hands of the opposition. What better way to fix that than by giving me a ministerial position so I can use my skill and sizeable vocabulary to confuse the opposion.

I am not ambitious. I don’t want too much. The mistry of power will do. If not, that of works and housing is perfectly okay by me. But, if you want somebody you can absolutely trust to take over frm Diezani then I will consider it my national duty to do so.

One thing you can be sure of is my loyalty. I won’t join the nPDP or whatever else Atiku comes up with in the future. I won’t join APC or whatever the opposition merges into after their current experiemnt fails. I will wake up every morning and sing your praises. I will put on my gloves and hunt down anyone who thinks something bad about you. And I will consult Labaran and Diezani to know how I can be the ultimate GEJer.

I will sit by the radio and pretent I am surprised by your announcement of my appointment, sir. I know we’ll reach a deal in New York in the next few hours. I will use the wait period to take out some loans to update my wardrobe, scout for some choice properties and maybe look for a fifth wife. Someone has to rescue these female student from ASUU.

KENYA ON MY MIND

​My heart hasn’t stopped weepping since the news from Nairobi came with blood and deaths. I am in Nairobi a lot. I have a production company there with my partners. I have friends there. Nairobi has been good to me. If I was in Nairobi, the chances are very high I would have been having lunch or shopping at the Westgate mall at the time of the attack. I was not but a colleague was and saw friends killed right in front of her. The stand off goes on. And, my heart continues to weep. The madness has to stop.

My Affair With Bianca, By Ose Oyamendan

OSE OYAMENDAN

​I am a man. I have to start with that caveat in case some people think I’m not. I’m also not necessarily anti-women but they need to give men a break. First, they sucked us into eating that miserable apple which meant we have to work instead of lounging by the pool all our lives. Then, they tricked us into supporting women liberation forgetting what we lose they get.

​And, what did we get for all these? Nothing.

Except you count the mundane stuff like women making our meals sometimes, having our kids and keeping us sane always. Okay, sometimes they help keep us alive. So, what? It’s all they can do after denying us the chance at retirement from birth.

​That’s not even the worst of it. Ostensibly, men with great taste are no longer allowed to publicly announce that we have long-standing and intimate relationship with beautiful women. If we do, we run the risk of being called a tribalist, a liar, a mad man out of control or worse, all three.

​This has to stop!

​Take the case of several times a Chief Femi Fani Kayode, or as some of his pals call him, FFK. You don’t get better educated than a man who went to Cambridge like his fathers. You don’t get more Nigerian than a man who served as a federal minister. You won’t see a more incorruptible public official than FFK except he happens to be standing to the cleanest of them all, Nasir El Rufai. You don’t get more detribalized than a man who sows his seeds across state and ethnic lines. The closest you come to that is swapping spit and sweat across ethnic boundaries. Men like that should be given the highest national honors because they keep the tribal line blurred as they should be.

​This is the man that some people have very unpatriotically decided to slander. And, why? Because in his attempt to prove that he loves the Igbos he told the world he had a long-standing and intimate relationship with Bianca Ojukwu. What’s the man supposed to say? That the proof that he’s a true Nigerian is that he dated street hawker at the Aba market!

​So, he kissed and told. Have you guys met Bianca? If you’ve not, have you seen her picture? If you kissed that kind of woman, tell me you won’t hire a megaphone, go to the middle of the market and let the whole village know it. My problem with FFK is that he kept it to himself for far too long. I would have respected him more, perhaps find a woman to give me a son so I can name him after FFK.

​The cool thing though is that I share something in common with FFK. I also have a secret. I dated Bianca. Yes, there it is – a secret that I’ve hidden in the farthest corner of my heart for the longest time. In the interest of full disclosure, I am like FFK too. My liaison was before the bearded general stole her heart away.

​The weird thing is, when I was dating Bianca, I didn’t know that made me a lover of the Igbo tribe or boosted my nationalist credentials. Had I known, I would have sent my resume to General Olusegun Obasanjo and demand a seat in his cabinet.

​Since I’m spilling my romantic secrets, I will also admit to two other long-standing and intimate relationships. One was with the Welsh, Hollywood A-list actress, Catherine Zeta-Jones. The other was with my teacher in primary three. Yeah, I know what you guys are thinking. Was she not old enough to be my mother? Actually she’s older than my mother. But, what can a seven-year-old boy do. If it’s love, it’s love.

​I met my teacher predictably in the classroom. While she taught the three “R” I was busy lusting after her. To this day, some people claim it’s the reason I spent three years in primary three. But, I know they just don’t understand. My one regret is that I never told her we were in love.

Next came Catherine. I met her on a British television show. She was as hot as a Tabasco sauce and I knew she had to be mine. So, I got myself a magazine, got her picture and put it in my notebook. When other kids were busy studying their text and notebooks, I was busy studying her. Everything would have worked out fine it that old man Douglas hadn’t showed up and did what every smooth old man does – swept a damsel off her feet.

​Which is why Bianca still hurts. See, I was deciding what to do after high school when I ran into her. It was love at first sight. She replaced Jesus Christ on my bedroom wall and every morning and night we’ll talk like young lovers did. My jealous friends tried to steal her from me. My supportive friends were happy to hear of our tales.

​Then, Ojukwu walked into her life.

Some people called our relationship a fantasy. But, they don’t know love. Just like they don’t know what they’re talking about when they go hard after FFK for admitting her was intimate with a woman.

It’s sad that when a nationalist like FFK comes out and tries to point out the holes in a federation, people take stones out of their bags and hurl it at him, forgetting the man has tall fences around his houses. But, who cares. One man’s villain is another man’s hero. Thank God 2015 is around the corner. FFK needs his tribe to back him not Nigeria.

If you’re reading this, Madame ambassador, please sue me too. At least we will be in the same room at last.

Twitter: iam_ose

The Prophesy of Uncle Sal, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose Oyamendan

I was confused about the whole political logjam in the PDP this week. I read every book, watched all the shows I can and listened to as much radio as possible. But, this is Nigeria. Most times things defy logic.

So, I got on my bike and took the long hike to the one man I know has the answers to everything. He may not have been a farmer with a gun instead of a hoe. He may not be a retired policeman who can fix any sort of tire. He may not be a genius dangling evil on his fingernail. I don’t think he even went to school that much so the issue of him walking barefoot to class is out of question.

But, he knows a lot because he’s my uncle Sal. If he tells me it’s raining outside even though the sun is baking people, I believe him. You never know, what people think is the sun may actually be mercury rain. After all, rain soaks you and the heat is soaking people with sweat.

“Uncle Sal, I’m worried,” I cut right to the chase as soon as I’d dropped the bottle of whiskey on the table and sat down.

“Wetin concern pastor with Mecca?” he asks. I had no clue where that came from. My uncle Sal is good at throwing words at you like that. I think it wakes your brain up.

“This whole crisis with the PDP is crazy,  uncle. We’re hanging on the edge precipice,” I lamented.

“You know problem, too much school. Where the edge, where the Pepsi or what is that word? PDP na bird?”

“It’s a worrisome trend O”.

“This na nothing. These people just wan quench Buhari and Tinubu fire.”

”You mean fuel their fire?”

“Listen, my boy. As PDP dey do dem katakata you hear anything from APC?”

“No, sir.”

“Ehn, ehn! When you wake up before every day na one press release after the other from that Kwara Alhaji. Now, all those Tinubu boys just dey siddon look now because wetin concern poor man with tooth pick?

“I’m more confused now, uncle”.

“You think say baba dey happy say Tinubu don dey shout again? The man must checkmate ‘am now. All these governors na baba boys now.”

“But, if they’re his boys, why is he doing al these reconciliation thing when he can just call them to order?”

“Call dem to order? You think this na soja time. Even small boy must think say since him don get hair for yonder im fit give the whole town belle. Na big show, my brother!”

I must have looked so confused because he burst out into one of those laughter of his that sounds like a tribe of cannons.

“But, Baba and Atiku don’t jell. Atiku is leading the new faction,” I reminded him.

“Good. Now, wey you don mention Atiku and because you go school well well, you no recognize anything in all these drama?”

“No.”

“You don stay abroad too much O! Haba, no be the same thing Atiku do Baba before. That time Baba just cool down like say he no get water for mouth. But, you never take the gentility of a tiger to mean say he do lose im prick. When Baba finish with Atiku the man no even know where im house dey again. Atiku wey be vice president for one party go become presidential candidate for another party. Na wetin Fela dey call proper “craze world” be dat. Abeg forget Atiku.”

“But, the man wants to be president too.”

“President of What?”

“Nigeria”

“Nigeria what?”

“Federal Republic of Nigeria?”

“Abeg, leave that matter. God don stamp exit visa for him political ambition.”

“How is the president taking all these?”

“How he go take am now? You no say even though him na the big Oga, he still get some Oga on top of am.”

“He must be a wreck .”

‘Wreck, he get accident for Kenya?”

“No, wreck is like a new age speak for emotional turmoil.

“kai, you just dey throway grammar like say na banana. The man dey kampe. Na the people wey dey fight am I dey pity.”

“How?”

“How? You do forget simple things from your area?”

“In Ring Road?”

“You be Ibadan man? Which one be yeye Ring Road? I dey talk south- south! My brother, all these I be Nigerian first and foremost thing, na your semi-oyinbo nonsense O! You be proper Ishan man and your zone na south-south. But, my point be say, no vex Ijaw man O! Their fight no dey end!”

“You mean there is vengeance in the President’s DNA?”

“Which one be DNA? When Ijaw man fight town go scatter O!”.

“So, Rotimi Amaechi too will keep on fighting?”

“Abeg, we dey talk Ijaw man you dey talk Lagos boy. Na Rotimi go sweat pass when all this katakata settle. Him no be baba boy, he no bey Atiku boy. Him oga dem na Tinubu and co. And, you know Tinubu, go settle himself and run comot go count him money for Bourdillon. Then everyone go know who be who.”

“So, how does this all end?”

“Like he begin now. The dust go settle. Life go continue. Boys go get appointment. Goodluck go be president again. And we go begin talk about 2019.”

But, how do you know all these, Uncle?

“I dey siddon for Transcorp Hilton lobby all day, just like all the Oga on top dem”.

Repping My People, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose Oyamendan

God wasn’t joking when he inserted that bit about respecting your parents in the Ten Commandments.  For a long time I felt God was throwing the old folks a bone, knowing the Internet and social media were going to be allies of the kids in sending their parents to bonkers’ avenue.

Now, I know different. Parents are smart. And, that’s not because I’m now a parent and will force my kid to read the first three paragraphs of this piece as if he’s preparing for an exam. Truth is, parents see the future! Since I could hear, my father has drummed the importance of working for the government and helping the country into my ears. Seeing he did that and he’s always battling to get his pension I often snickered behind his back.

But, now I can see the light. The man was drawing me a map to the bank. In his days, working for the government was a sacrifice you made to build Nigeria. In my day, working for Nigeria is a sacrifice the country makes to build your bank account. I’m taking my father ultra-seriously.

I started a few weeks ago by making three trips to three different locales in three days. I was like a roaming ambassador without the large allowance, convoy and retinue of assistants. And, I wore a smile like I was advertising a new toothpaste.

When people applauded me, I closed my eyes briefly and pictured myself letting out that evil guttural laughter you see in horror movies right before someone gets slashed.

My trips were to Abuja, Ibadan and Irrua. If you’ve never heard of Irrua  don’t worry. If everything goes according to plans, you’re gonna hear a lot of it in the next few years. Martin Luther King had a dream, I have a plan.

My trips were for one reason– getting elected to the National Assembly in 2015.  Right now, I’m not even thinking of just winning. I’m thinking of whether I want to be a Senator or suffer the indignity of being called an honorable. I’m so sure of a seat in Abuja I’m beginning to plan my race for election in an office in the National Assembly.

People tell me it won’t be easy. I ask what, to be a speaker or Senate president? They laugh and say just getting there. They tell me there are men and women who have sacrificed a tribe of cows over the years and betrayed everything they believe in to position themselves at the door of such an opportunity.

That’s their problem. I just have to decide what place to run from and whose office to command when I get there. Besides, I have sacrificed too. You think it’s cool to go to Irrua on that two-lane road that’s been there since Yakubu Gowon was lamenting what Nigeria was going to do with her surplus oil money? Or, travel to Ibadan on that death trap of a highway from Lagos? Or go to Abuja in a commercial flight when you don’t have a contract waiting for you? Let me tell ya, they serve something they call snacks on those flights. Last time I threw a snack at a wall, the wall split!

I won’t be distracted though. I’m thinking Ibadan may be a great place to run from. I’m practically an “omo onile” I was born there, I’m from the Ring Road area so I don’t have to bother about the backlash from the indigenous Ibadan folks on the other side of the Ogunpa River. I don’t even have to kowtow to the princes of the ruling party in Abuja or the lords of the opposition party because there are new parties in town. Better hop aboard now before the big re-union that ensures all the good old boys and girls are taken care of and the river keeps flowing.

I have to give Irrua a shot too though. It would be bad to deny them of my brilliance or what jealous people call notoriety. Good thing they don’t know me well enough there. I’m a clean canvas there and I can create a new Ose. That shouldn’t be a tough thing to do since I have successfully convinced everyone I’m a writer and that includes you.

You must be wondering, why an ex-altar boy like me wants to muddy himself in the world of the National Assembly. First, have you seen our federal legislators? Do you see mud on their heavily starched outfits? If you think you do, go see your optometrist. What you see is most likely lipstick stains or naira stains from spraying over the weekend.

You still wondering why I’m running? Well, don’t let me keep you in suspense. I’m tired of working and the whole rat race. It’s time I retire. And, there is no better plan to retire than running for the National Assembly.

You see, if everything goes according to plans for the big boys and girls in Abuja, once you’re a member of the National Assembly you can retire for life on your salary and benefits. At around N50m a year at least, you know that’s a well-laid plan.

Now, I know a few people are worried. What about my profession that I love so dearly? Have you seen the attendance log in the National Assembly? Naija for life, baby!

Do They Remember? By Ose Oyamendan

Ose Oyamendan

The Lagos sky is setting on this glorious Saturday evening. Out in the streets, millions of people are wondering where the weekend went, just like they are wondering where their lives are going. A few thousands are getting ready to wash the streets with bottles of champagne.

I’m in a house I haven’t been in seventeen years. I’m standing in front of two gravestones – one wasn’t there the last time I was here.  Back then hope was smoldering in a raging, maddening fire of a goggled dictator. But, you can never really bury hope. Like they say, when there is life, there is hope.

Standing in front of the grave of Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola, I’m wondering, do we have another shot at hope?

Worse, I’m thinking, do they even know it’s his birthday today?

We have democracy today because of the ultimate sacrifice of Abiola. There are so many people who have profited from the blood of one man and they’re in power and on the corridors of power.  You just wander if they’ll pause for a moment and remember that day when Nigeria came so close to Eldorado and the man who embodied it all.

At this time of the year, I sort get a melancholic feeling. My mind travels back a long time, twenty years back to the days when hope was floating on the horizon and everyone was camped out under the clear skies waiting to be swept away in the blissful river of hope.

And, then it was snatched away by a smoldering gun. They called him Abacha and he was sent by the angry gods to butcher the dream

Hope got killed and dreams got buried. Life took on the normalcy of a quiet graveyard a few years later but no one was fooled that the hope that once was so close was gone for a long time. If they were unsure the politicians that took over made sure they let the people know by the piles of misery dumped on their doorsteps.

I’m driving through the streets of Nigeria and I still see people with that lost look of men and women who just left the funeral of a child. You look down the streets and you see the mighty lords and ladies of politics swimming laps in the pool of wealth. And, you pause and wonder.

Why?

Abiola was like a last hope back then, like the swing of a tiring boxer that somehow connected and knocked his opponent to the ground. Nigeria was tired, there was little hope and here comes Abiola with a broom of hope. I always think of him as the last Nigerian – a man so detribalized he was at home in all parts of the country. A devout Muslim who could make references to Biblical passages better than today’s jet-set preachers. A man Nigerians trusted so much they agreed to elect him in large numbers even though he was running on a Muslim-Muslim ticket.

But, do they still remember the man? If the politicians don’t, surely the people must.

It’s the Nigerian way to forget the past. It’s why simple things elude us. It’s why the simple act of replacing light bulbs in the international terminals of the airports is too tough a task no one does it, forgetting it’s every foreigners’ first impression of the country

And, you want politicians to remember the birthday of the man in whose path they walk? It’s like asking the Americans to remember George Washington. Oh, stop – they do. The named the capital after him.

But, I remember. I remember yesterday like a glorious dream. I remember it like a giant rock of diamond in the sky. I still hope I won’t wake up from this dream until that man of hope, MKO, returns and shatter the diamond into tiny pieces so we all can have a slice of the goods of this blessed nation.

But, I always wake up and the truth is a stench so thick you can’t run away from it. It’s on the hopeless faces on the streets; it’s in the economy teetering on the brink of collapse; it’s in the opposition politicians screaming “thief” at those in power when they are busy looting their states dry.

Sometimes you want to cry then you remember the mother crying for her children who had gone to war and would never return and you know you should save your tears because the sweat of poverty would soon drain them off you. And, you stop because mothers all over Nigeria are crying for children who are out at war on the street of Nigeria and are getting swallowed by the hopelessness.

Make no mistake about it, Nigeria is at war – a war unleashed by poverty. You can blame President Goodluck Jonathan all you want but the simple truth is that the worst you can accuse him of is swimming along in a filthy current that’s been dragging along for decades, a current that kills Nigeria’s dreams and murdered the one man who dared to save us from the abyss two decades ago.

But there is one thing you can blame the president for not doing. It’s not doing the right thing. As the current chief beneficiary of the seeds of democracy planted by Abiola’s blood. the president and indeed every Nigerian owe him one simple thing – a posthumous honor.

And, not just some University in Akoka. The man was a national figure. You wanna honor him, you give him the highest award in the land and you acknowledge him as “ex-president”. After all, he did win the freest and fairest election we may ever have.

Kindly follow him on twitter through his handle @ iam_ose

King of the Season, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose Oyamendan

I love days like this. After the doldrums of the summer, when all you’re consigned to as a sports fan is watching female basketball, here comes life again. Not that anything is wrong watching ten tall, sweaty and screaming women run up and down the court. If they were rolling through my room individually in their bikinis, I’ll stay up all night just to pray with them.

But, nothing compares to football.

Football is the king of sports. Thrills and madness. When you think you’ve had enough, these gladiators on the green grass take it up another level. And, this is the day before hopes are systematically crushed. So, you learn to enjoy it.

If you’re an Arsenal fan, for instance, you know this is the last day you can conceivable think you have a shot at winning a title, any title. When the men come to play, the fans know the boys who have refused to grow up will queue behind their manager and whine until the season fades away. I mean, the invisibles of yesterday can not even win the only cup they’re guaranteed of, their own preseason tournament!

If you love football, you must know a team of rascals down in Madrid. In the post-Jose Mourinho era, and with Barcelona seemingly in a funk, they seem poised to stay atop the two-team race in Spain. But, this little fascination with Gareth Bale may just derail them a little bit. A team in debt in a country in economic crisis is hoping to lure a #100m talent! It’s like me showing up in a bank and trying to withdraw a billion naira. I’ll either be laughed off or arrested for wasting the bank’s time.

This year, all necks gotta be craned in the direction of Munich where Bayern is threatening to be the new Barcelona. They don’t have the skills that makes people suspect Barcelona always play with a ball magnet in their cleats but they have a system that feels like a train on a roll. They may just continue to roll all over Europe.

But, nothing compares to the English Premier League. It’s the king of all leagues. It attracts both the sane and insane. Or, how do you explain a bunch of guys on the west coast of the United States of America waking up at 4 am just to watch their team play? If that’s not madness then I’m completely sane. Or, in Nigeria for instance where people have shunned their own league in embrace of a league whose leaders are charging them #3,000 to even be considered for a visa.

The EPL turns you into a zombie, a reference number at a team’s ticket offices or just a plain number in the offices of some data crunchers for team sponsors. You become a walking wallet. You drink the official beer, you wear the official shirts, you stay on hold forever waiting for an extra ticket to a game and you worry for hours on end about a team list while the coach is busy sampling the menu in another city.

The one I love the most is the official bra and bikini. It helps these days that women are getting more and more interested in football. Hell, they play it better than most men over here anyway. A God-fearing Christian like me has no choice but to buy pretty girls that support my team bras and bikinis. Someone’s gotta do it anyway.

Since they have to strip before they wear it and since I’m a Christian who likes to pray, I always insist on two things – that they put the bra and bikini on as they normally would when I’m not there then before they take it off, we hold each other and say the Lord’s prayer but skip that bit about “lead us not into temptations”.  I’m too way deep in tempt-ville.

This season looks like a very open one in the premiership – at the bottom. Who would get relegated? It seems the consensus is that Chelsea will coast home with the crown. But, never underestimate a Manuel Pelligrini coached team. He’s done splendidly with little. He may yet turn golden with his spoilt, rich bunch at Manchester city?

Then, there’s Arsenal, a team whose coach has admitted that their ceiling in 4th place. I suspect this is Arsene Wenger’s last year and I can’t wait to see him march off leaving his team wrapped in the stench of failure.

You gottas wonder about Manchester United. Alex Ferguson was always good for ten points a season on his own. He did that by cajoling and intimidating the league and the referees. David Moyes is good but this is really not a league of the blind where the one-eyed man is King. Everyone has 20/20 vision here. Is this the year Manchester United start their slide?

And yes, have a good laugh now when you can. I’m a rabid fan of the mighty Tottenham of London. This year, we will march on and conquer England and annex the Europa Cup. We have the players and the coast seems really clear. This is the season we will fulfill our potential and be the team. Come on you Spurs.

Wait, I said that last year. And, the year before. And, we crumbled. Oh, well – this is what makes football fun.

Be Like Anenih, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose Oyamendan

A few years ago, there was this cool Gatorade commercial about basketball legend Michael Jordan. It was a sing and dance thing about people trying to be like Michael Jordan. The chorus was “I wanna be like Mike”.

The commercial swept an entire nation into frenzy. I loved it too. But, I didn’t want to be like Mike. Basketball was not football. It’s something I pretend I do because I’m of average height and very fat. I was the guy under the rim. You pass me the ball at your own peril. I couldn’t make a basket even if the rim was as huge as the ocean.

I did not want to be like Mike. But, it got me thinking who I would like to be when I grow up. Since I was already all grown up, I would wonder who I’d like to be when I grow up a little bit more, like pre-retirement grow up. I wanted to be someone ballsy, someone with some savvy and Naijaa-style swagger.

My first choice was General Ibrahim Babangida. I figured that with a face like his, a smile like that and a bank account like his, I couldn’t go wrong. I could have dinner in Monaco and breakfast in Abuja. And, I’ll be sleeping in my cushy bed in my private jet. Then, some killjoy told me I’d have to perfect the art of coup plotting first. Not that I minded at first, since I know I would probably be at some radio station broadcasting a speech that starts with “fellow Nigerians”. But then I dug deeper and found out if I’m in a coup plot and it fails, I won’t be in a pot of boiling soup, I’ll be six feet under so, I moved on.

Sports figures didn’t do it for me because they whined too much. One day it’s bonuses, the next day is bonuses and the third day it’s bonuses again. And, they’ve not even won a game or medalled. Then, I thought of academics but grammar gave me headache. I love my English like a bowl of amala and ewedu soup. And, God forbid the arts and entertainment people.

For a moment, my goal was to be OBJ. I thought he had it easy. A man who was always there at the right time. The general who ended the war without really fighting in it. The deputy  head of state who succeeded his slain boss. The condemned prisoner who became president because his kinsman had been denied the presidency. Easy as Sunday morning, I thought.

Then Goodluck Jonathan shows up and I knew there is easy like working your way near the top and there was easy like having an incredible good luck. But, I don’t want to be Jonathan. I can’t swing that hat five days a week. And, boy there’s the dress! Yikes!

Last week I finally found who I want to be like when I grow up. He has been right in front of me all this time. I even shook his hands once in front of the hallowed chamber of the National Assembly where lawmakers sign off on undistinguishing laws like approving rape in the name of early marriage and dishonorable things like fighting each other.

I want to be like Chief Anthony Anenih. As a matter of fact, I’m singing the song in my head right now.  I would write it out here but it’s in Wazobia, with a chorus line in Esan language.

I know I’m not the smartest bulb in on the street but boy, I had no clue I was this slow. I mean why did it take me this long to realize it? If I wasn’t fat and pushing One hundred and fifty pounds, I would have punished myself with a set of push-ups. But, it would be suicidal doing push-ups with a stomach and frame like mine.

It was his birthday that made me realize I want to be like him. Have you seen the pictures? Man, it was like Jesus resurrected and landed in Abuja. Everybody who was somebody was there – the Presidents, Ex-presidents, governors and stinking rich people on Forbes list. There were even APC members there and they’ve not even lost an election yet. They all came to worship the godfather.

They call him Mr. Fix-it. And, boy – did he fix that birthday! If I have a birthday like that, I’m sending a picture to Time magazine because that definitely makes me a Top 100 influential person rather than one of those Nollywood actresses who can’t even get their fellow actresses to come to their birthday party. And, they’re still below 40. Try being 80 then we can talk.

You can hear the hisses and see eyes rolling from miles away. The man fixes things. So he fixes it for his party to win? Boo, he should have fixed for PDP to lose? Where would the contracts come from? Have you ever seen a queue of losers? Or, you think he could have swung that birthday party if he had been General Muhammadu Buhari’s campaign manager since 1999?

Whatever anyone says, I know who I want to be like when I grow up. You can go wrong with that – 80, rich and having the nation’s balls in your hand! Man oh man, the things I can do with those balls. Now, I can’t wait to grow up.

A Day for Nigerians, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose Oyamendan

Last Wednesday was a day to be proud as a Nigerian. That is if you’re a Nigerian who is not a member of the ruling People’s Democratic Party (PDP. And, the five travelling PDP governors do no count because you gotta have a poker face not to laugh at that little circus.

Five governors, four of whom lost the last presidential elections in their states, yet they think they hold their party’s balls in their hands. What’s the worst they can do? Lose the states again! If some members of PDP don’t own most of the banks, they sure would be laughing to them now.

​But you know why these governors are “fronting” in kidspeak? It’s the three words that have the possibility of altering Nigeria’s political landscape. All Progressives Congress (APC).

​I’m proud of and happy for APC and I’m not even a member of the party. You have to be happy because APC sounds and looks like a worthy opposition that may give PDP a fight for the throne. When things like this go down, the winners are the people who can finally look up.

​It’s not an accident that Nigeria has developed at a snail speed because the leaders only feel accountable to their godfathers not the people. The reason is simple – lack of viable opposition. And, the band of the opposition in the past where so worried about survival they were busy consolidating whatever it is they have than to bother with the people who elect them.

​Well, not anymore – we hope. Now, we can watch our leaders sweat inside air-conditioned room. Now, they will know what it means to be in a molue on Eko Bridge where the passengers know that an miscalculated steering of the wheel and the bus may tumble into the ocean. The difference now is, it won’t be the destiny of the country floating away into abyss. It may just be the fortunes of the political lords.

​Ever since I was a kid in Ibadan whose night was incomplete until my friends and I spot Chief Obafemi Awolowo and his fingers flashing the victory sign inside the moon from a galaxy far, far away, I’d nursed the hope of a viable opposition that will make our leaders accountable just like I was the viable opposition to my sister for the last piece of meat on our father’s plate. That meat meant responsibility because I had to behave during the day; something Nigerian politicians often have no clue about.

​In Nigeria’s ego driven politics, the opposition have been something of a mirage. It’s tough to convince a politician to be in the opposition because the juicy contracts are not there and without juicy contracts your pot belly and all the glories that come with it is likely to disappear like a thief in the night. So, what to do? You join the winning party.

​Now, if I was PDP, I won’t sit and pretend APC is just a pesky fly. I would go to court! Yes, I will sue APC. Good thing their leaders – Bola Tinubu and Mohammadu Buhari, are veterans of the Nigerian courtrooms. What would be my grouse? Simple. It’s the word “progressives”. If APC is the All Progressives Congress, what is PDP? The People’s Degenerate (or regressive) Party?

​You can let some things sit or before you know it, they would change the name of the party to Only Progressives Party. A lawsuit would make them sit up. I know it’s not going to be a winning fight but I would have fired the first shot that would be heard from Daura to Bourdillon. Then, I will sit and watch the ego destroy the party.

​Make no mistake about it, APC will rise or fall on one trait: ego.

How does its leaders subsume their egos for the greater good of their new baby. The little matter of national officers almost left a crack on the party. You wonder what elective offices would do to the party whose leaders are rumored to favor selecting rather than electing candidates.

Tinubu is probably going to be a little easy. I do not know a better political strategist in Nigeria. He seems to be a couple of steps ahead of most politicians, definitely anyone in the APC. He has also sacrificed ambitions in the past, like when he reluctantly step aside for Iyorchia Ayu to be Senate President almost twenty years ago, settling for the chairmanship of the banking and finance committee. So, sacrificing the presidency should be easy right? Stop laughing!

​Buhari is a different ball game. He has the fervor of a man whose soothsayer has told would be king again and he doesn’t look like he’s going to allow himself be talked out of it. If he can sacrifice his presidential ambition for the good of the nation then politics in Nigeria is about to get very interesting.

​Whatever happens, the war drums are out now, 2015 is going to be the political war of all wars. Get your cameras ready and buy some earplugs because the airwaves are about to be bombarded. I can see the cards now – in one corner, Goodluck Jonathan. In the other corner, an APC candidate from the north. Let’s get ready to rumble!

Finally, the Senate Approves the Rape of Girls, By Ose Oyamendan

Ose_Oyamendan_891284957

I was finishing a late lunch in Ashkelon in late April when I saw a look of concern on the face of my friend. When you’re in that part of Israel, looks like that often dive.  But, he wasn’t asking me to dive on the floor to shield myself from a bomb. His stunned face was riveted on the television.

I turned and saw what had turned his normally cheerful face into one of shock. Regular programing on the station had been interrupted to bring the news of a bomb blast at the finishing line of the Boston Marathon.

I got up and walked to the television set with an expression so livid it surprised these folks who have never seen me angry in the last three years I’ve been coming here for filming. A couple of guys came and stood behind me, as if to comfort this American far away from home.

A stranger sided up to me and said; “now you understand how we feel?” I didn’t need to know how he felt. I know. Before lunch, the bomb alert had gone off and I found out later that a rocket had landed a few miles from where I was staying.

I wasn’t just mad at the act of terrorism itself. That scared the hell out of me because I have friends in Boston and everyone who goes to the marathon try to get as close to the finish line as possible because that’s where the fun was.

I was mad that I had been denied of something special, the final race of Dick and Rick Hoyt. A journey that started thirty-one years ago was finally coming to an end. It was why I opted for lunch instead of an early dinner. I wanted to cheer them on, on the telly.

If you don’t know the Hoyts then you’ve missed one of the most remarkable tales in the history of God’s earth. When Rick was born in 1962, the umbilical chord was wrapped around his neck causing a blockage of oxygen and prevented his brain from communicating with his muscles. In most places that is a death sentence. Doctors asked the Hoyts to institutionalize their son, they refused believing this gift of God is special and everyone would soon see. At 11, he was fitted with a computer that helps him communicate. Rick graduated at age 31 with a degree from Boston University.

That is not even the story. In 1977, Rick read an article on racing and was so inspired he told his father he wanted to run a race too. Now, Rick is wheelchair bound. His father is 37 and not active. But, what’s a good father to do. He said yes. After the race, Rick told his father he didn’t feel handicapped when he’s running.

Hurray! Dick finally found something fun he can do with his little boy. He would not let his lack of athleticism stop him. He started a Spartan training regimen to be fit to push a wheelchair with a teenager for ten or twenty-five miles. He would put bags of cement in the wheelchair and race around when his son was indisposed.

They became an inspiring site on the long distance race circle. In April, they’d done 1,077 endurance races, including 70 marathons and six Ironman triathlons. If this had happened six hundred years ago, Dick would be a saint. But, today he’s a hero.

I was mad that the terrorists denied them a glorious opportunity to end their careers in their hometown. Rick is 51 now and his father is 73. You know the story ended without the flourish it deserves. Then on Wednesday, I finally saw these two for the first time outside a race at the ESPYs, ESPN’s sports award.

The wife has never seen or heard of them and her handkerchief was damp by the time the Hoyts were done. You think you’re a great parent. Watch Dick and you know you can do more – for your kids and the world. The best part of the night for was when the Hoyts said they won’t let the terrorists stop them. They will run one more time at next year’s Boston marathon. I couldn’t stop applauding.

I was still high on the Hoyt encounter when I got home and logged on to the Internet. I shouldn’t have because the news from Nigeria has a way of wiping the smile off your face. This time, it actually slapped you numb. Nigerian Senators had finally approved the rape of girls.

Or, what do you call a law that stipulates kids can marry way before they are 18? 18 is the age when kids step into adulthood. It’s why the law says they can’t drink, drive or make decisions for themselves before they are 18. Now, thanks to Nigerian Senators, a few of whom are veterans of exploiting under-aged girls, you can cart under-aged girls home before they are 18 and claim them as your wives.

Where is the humanity!

You think of the Hoyts and you’re inspired. You think of the Nigerian Senate this week and you get depressed. Hopefully, we’re all gonna wake up tomorrow and realize this is some form of late April fool’s joke. It’s gotta be a joke, right? Even in Nigeria!

Ose Oyamendan, a film maker in California, writes a weekly column for Premium Times and can be reached on his twitter handle  @iam_ose