Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Man of the Year, By Ose Oyamendan


Ose Oyamendan

About this time last year, I had picked my likely candidates for the man of the year. It was going to be easy. 2012 was the year of the Olympics. Given the assurances and boasts from the Nigerian Lords of sports, I thought it was not going to be tough choosing from the medal winners.

But, the Nigerian Olympic team went shopping in London for souvenirs instead of medals.  To make it worse, the current Lords of Nigerian sports told the tall tales they and their predecessors have told for eternity – other countries invest heavily in sports and Nigeria does very little.

And, just to satisfy all the old men with fading memories, they promised to start preparing immediately for the next Olympics. Just like always. A few weeks ago, I took a drive around some sports centers. And, I could see athletes and officials were preparing hard in beer parlors at the stadia. Just like old times.

Who would have thought that the “Occupy Movement” would berth in Nigeria? But, the Nigerian leadership contrived to make it happen. Nigerian leaders who never feel a rise in prices of goods tried to slip a hike in gas prices overnight hoping no one would listen. It blew up in their faces like all those pipeline explosions.

It’s tough to name the “Occupy” activists as my men of the year. Who do I pick? The big men in Ikoyi and the elitist streets of Abuja who took occupy stroll around their blocks and return to champagnes lunch in their mansions. Or, the ordinary folks who were protesting against the excesses of the previous group?

Two women were prominent on my shortlist. Allison Diezani-Maduekwe and Aruma Oteh. The two women are powerful and I love powerful women.

I had to disqualify Oteh because she’s kicking the butt of Nigerian legislators. And, we can’t allow that. What would women do after that? Tell the men the ruined the country? Or win this man of the year award I’m seriously trying to rig for the men?

Diezani blew it by agreeing to the appointment of Nuhu Ribadu to look into the immaculate house of Nigeria’s gas. Since when did Ribadu not find fault with anything? You would think he would return a verdict of best gas management system in the world and get a few oil wells as a reward. Then, I can tell him what he has always suspected – that I’m his long lost brother.

I thought of two radical choices. Muhammadu Buhari and Bola Tinubu. They are leaders of the opposition and seem hell bent on pushing PDP out of power. I’m not crazy about Buhari but you know the man has built a reputation on credibility and forthrightness. I like Tinubu but the yet to be forcefully denied stories down the coast about his empire puts the two men at odds. So, if the marriage is not exactly made in heaven, you’re not getting my award. Besides, they ain’t done nothing yet but make white noise.

As a last resort, I thought of giving the award to the Nigerian people. But, there was a problem. Who will accept the award on their behalf? You know how Nigerians love parties, what if they all decide to show up? Where are we going to host the award? Besides, what have the Nigerian people done in 2012? Despite all their complaints, there still exists a group called Nigerians. Not too impressive.

The president was of course on my short list. Why wouldn’t he be? Being the president of Nigeria qualifies you for the man of the year award. The peaceful looking man wandered into a position where he wears the national headache. You gotta pity the man. People hate him. People insult him. People blame him for what he hasn’t done. No one gives him credit for what he has done. And, some spiteful people even say he’s clueless. Just sad. He deserves my man of the year. But, I don’t give awards out of pity.

Turns out, my man of the year was right in my face all along. He’s not on the corridors of power. He has been in power so long he’s a power unto himself. He gets his boys to bash the presidency on weekdays and on Sundays, he’s right there beside the president at Sunday service. He’s so smooth if he was a woman, I’ll take a loan and take him out to dinner.

I first met him a long time ago when he was in Babangida’s Armed Forces Ruling Council. I was this bumbling teenager who stupidly believed my pen is mightier a guns. I cornered him for a quick interview. He shot me a look that I read to mean, “buzz off you, little pest!” But he did it with a smile. Unlike Theophilus  Danjuma who took my interview request note, tore it to shreds, summoned me and promptly turned my open arms into a dustbin.

My man of the year is the Senate President, John David Mark. Any man who has three of the key names in the Bible would be on my short list any day.  If I was the president, I would go medieval on his butt and send him into exile before 2013 is over. That’s what you do to your rivals in the old days. But, then Mark may go Biblical on the president’s butt. All of which makes the road to 2015 very interesting.




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