Victor Ehikhamenor delivers one of his best, a satirical inaugural speech Obama would have delivered, as a Nigerian politician.
Vice President Barawo, Mr. Chief Justice Ole, members of the Nigerian Senate, political jobbers, distinguished House thieves, and hapless Nigerians watching from home.
Every time we gather to install an election rigger, we showcase our strength to the world on how easily subvertable our Constitution can be. We confirm that our democracy cannot deliver its intended promise. We recall that what keeps this nation in bondage is not the shape of our noses or structure of our faces, not the type of beads or rosary we pray with, or the origins of our religions but the insatiable greed of every agbada wearing man and buba and wrapper wearing woman in this place today. What makes us exceptional – what makes us enviable – is our resolve and allegiance to perpetually mismanage the proceeds of our natural resources (by which I mean oil) every time we claw and clubber our way to power. This has been the case since we asked our colonizers to go back to their cold countries fifty something years ago. And “We hold these truths to be the self-evident in our mansions, cars and jeeps, First Ladies, bank accounts both home and abroad, wives and mistresses and to show that all Nigerians are created unequal, though our creator saturated the land with natural resources which some citizens are alien to, that among these blessings are those living in bondage, squalor and forever pursuing happiness endlessly in molues and okadas”
Today we continue the never-ending circle of robbing the country blind, to widen that gap that separates the haves and have-nots of our time till it is longer than the road that links the southwest to the Far East. For history tells us that while truths may be self-evident, we never value it in this country. That while wealth is a gift from God, it must be secured tightly by those in power who have enough money to fence off others from drinking from that pool of wealth and donating some to churches.
The patriots of 1960 fought to replace colonialism with the privileges of a few coup plotters, looters, mobs and scalawags as we have witnessed over the years. Our patriots gave us independence on a platter of gold, a working government of and by, and for the soldiers and politicians, entrusting each generation to keep safe our founding creed. And for more than fifty years we have not squandered that creed with our greed.
Through blood drawn during the civil war and blood drawn during elections and riots and Niger Delta militant campaign and now Boko Haram’s insurgency, we refuse to learn that no country founded on violence, insincerity, inequality can survive for so long, but we are helpless in that regard. We try to make ourselves anew, yet we remain in the past as if we have vowed to stick our heads in the sand like a deranged ostrich.
Together, we determined not to create a modern economy like Dubai, Malaysia, Singapore or South Africa by embezzling money meant for railroads and dual-carriage ways from South to East, West to North to speed up transportation of our goods and farm produces. We totally destroyed our universities, polytechnics, grammar schools and colleges and refuse to train our ministry workers who gulp our money and watch African Magic all day in the office when they are not hiding files. Together, we discovered that a free market is not necessary as long as we here today are satisfied. We cannot afford a free market at all, since it will only thrive when there are rules to ensure competition and fair play, lets make sure such never happen.
Together, we resolved that it is not a good idea to care for our citizens no matter how vulnerable the ordinary man or woman may be. Those rulers we wrested power from were the first to resolve not to protect people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune. Annoyingly and through it all, most of our citizens have never relinquished the skepticism of central authority, nor have they succumbed to the lies and promises from local, state and federal governments. Our celebration of initiative and devastating political enterprise; our insistence on doing nothing but pilfer the treasury and disregard leadership responsibility are constant in our collective characters.
We have always misunderstood that when times change, the game must change; that infidelity to our founding principles requires new responses and challenges, hence our cronies’ presence on Twitter and Facebook and other anti-social media. Remember that preserving our individual enjoyment behind high electric fences ultimately requires a collective action between the three arms of government. We must protect each other, be our brother’s keeper and must not sellout nor snitch on one another. One of us down is all of us down. Even if there is convincing and convicting evidence of marked dollars or pounds or euro, we must thwart and frustrate any efforts by outsiders to taint our good names. For we the politicians can no more meet the demand of today’s worldly hangers on and high-end harlots by acting alone than our soldiers could have met with the forces of Boko Haram and militancy. No single person can teach our sycophants and liars a good lesson, we need to equip our children for future lootings, build private mansions and private schools and network with foreigners willing to help us loot and channel the money to offshore accounts. Why should we bother with building labs and creating new jobs as long as ours are secured? We must not feed our enemies fat enough to be able to engage with us. They must be left in abject poverty, so that anytime we offer them crumbs from our overflowing tables, they jump with excitement like catfish during feeding time. Now more than ever, we must plunder the central bank as one party, because the inflation and prices of private jets is astronomical.
This generation of politicians has been tested by Occupy Nigeria and other silly protests that steeled our resolve to crush any uprising and we proved our resilience. War of insurgency is not abating and we cannot help that, because we are secured in this building. But we must make sure we settle militants in Niger Delta because an economy without oil is unthinkable. Our possibilities and what we can get away with are limitless, for we possess limitless power and wealth that this world without boundaries demands we even loot more. Our youth make too much noise we must find a debilitating solution o that, our diversity should be used to foster divide and conquer, our secrecy to shield the truth and frustrate the FoI Bill. We should have an endless capacity for risk because there is no working judiciary and the gift to reinvent ourselves no matter how badly we have done in the past must be pursued with vigour.
My fellow politicians, we are made for this moment, and we will not fail to seize it – so long as we agree to share whatever booty we gather together.
We, our MDGs and aides, understand that our country cannot succeed even if they try to remove us in the next eight years. A shrinking few party members even do very well and grow fat on crumbs from our tables. We believe that Nigeria’s petrol-dollars must rest upon our private abroad bank accounts, not that of the loud-mouthed rising middle-class. We know that Nigerians will thrive if we do half of what we were actually voted in to do, every citizen just might see the true meaning of democracy and pride in being a citizen of Nigeria and the wages of honest labour will liberate families from the brink of hardship. But how will that help our course? We are true to our greed when a little girl born into the bleakest poverty knows she has no chance to succeed in life if she doesn’t hawk oranges on her head and the one on her chest on the streets, because she is a Nigerian, born to suffer. And what about the little boy, that has to wipe windshield in traffic to be able to eat, he is definitely born unequal not just in our eyes but also of many other passerby.
We understand that our tattered policies and programs are inadequate to the needs of our time, but what are we supposed to do about that? Why waste time in harnessing new ideas and technology that will hamper our glib ways and sticky fingers? How does revamping tax codes and reforming our school systems change the price of barrel of oil in the international market? Why empower our citizens with the skills needed to work more efficiently when we can afford expatriates? Why reform our schools when ASUU will give us headache every month? Some of you can change if you want, but the purpose of us winning this election is not to change anything but to enrich ourselves and that must endure and not be tampered with. That is the only reward we have for the effort and determination to rig ourselves to power. That is what will give real meaning to our greed.
We, the politicians, still believe that every citizen deserves no basic education, security and dignity. We must make the hard choices to protect ourselves and inflate the cost of healthcare in the country because we travel abroad for ours. Let’s disregard our deficit and inadequacies in budgetary allocations. We reject the belief that politicians must patronize local healthcare system in Abuja or Lagos instead of Saudi Arabia, Germany, America or UK. We do not want to hear about investing in the healthcare sector to cater for our aging past leaders and our vibrant future pathfinders. They can die if they wish, we must thrive to live forever.
Our chopping is now! We do not believe that in this country wellbeing and freedom are reserved for the ordinary man or happiness for the grass root voters, they have been settled during elections. We recognize that no matter how responsibly we rule this country, even our family will curse us for not appropriating enough to last forever. For we remember the lessons of our past purists who attempted to not loot while in power, they died in penury and got buried in paper casket. We care about our twilight years after office and it’s in the morning a wise woman gathers her firewood she will cook with in the evening. The commitment we make to each other today– through the various appointments of ministers, committees and board memberships – these things will help us remain relevant in latter years. Contrary to popular beliefs, setting up committee to oversee what another committee has recommended to the other committee’s recommendation does not make us lunatics, they free us to take more risks and help us return to power even when we are geriatrics.
We, the politicians, still believe that our obligations are only to ourselves, not to all Nigerians. We will respond to the threat of detractors from ordinary citizens and other opposing political parties and set attack dogs on them, knowing that the failure to do so would prevent our children and future generations from excessive wealth and going to schools abroad or buy houses in Washington DC that we may never live in. Some may not see reason with this and tend to be good leaders, the overwhelming backlash will teach you the lessons no science can teach. If you try to disgrace or make us look bad, you cannot avoid the devastating impact of our EFCC, ICPC and the crippling drought that will befall your allocated oil blocs and importation licenses. Remember we are a government of point and kill.
The path towards getting a sustainable inverter to carry our air-conditioners and large refrigerator will be long and sometimes difficult. But we politicians cannot resist the lure and immediacy of Mikano generators. We must lead people to believe in gens and not NEPA. We cannot cede to other nations the income generated from our friends selling generators and creating jobs with the only thriving market. Through massive generators we should maintain our electricity and our national treasure – our fridges, electric fences, large flat-screen televisions and what have you, whether in the wetlands of Niger Delta or the dry lands of the Sahara desert. That is how we will preserve our power supply, increase our megawatts and command the respect of men of God who care about us. That is what will lend meaning to the greed of our fathers who once declared that office power and electricity power belong to the rich. We cannot allow what happened in the telecommunication sector to happen in the power sector, I am sure you all know how much we have lost to MTN by demonopolising the moribund NITEL!
We, the politicians, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace can not be achieved, hence we have ordered bullet proof jeeps and wagons for all elected rulers. Our brazen JTF soldiers in uniform are getting snuffed out by the day, tempered by flames of scorching Boko Haram whose unmatched skills and courage we have witnessed in the past years. Our citizens and churches, traumatized by the memories of those they have lost, know too well the price so they have resolved to hiring their own security and that has freed up some more money in the security vote. Voters keep paying the price of bombings and armed robbery and other forms of insecurity and natural disaster, but what is our concern? The knowledge of their sacrifice is worth applauding but it must keep us forever vigilant against those that might want to blame us for the insecurity in the country and come after us. We are no heirs to anyone that has won neither war nor peace for this country; we are neither victors nor vanquished. We have learnt our lessons and do not wish to carry them over to this administration this time.
We will only defend our children, wives, mistresses, cronies, aides and close friends and uphold their valuables through our strength, armed men and bent of rule. We will try and resolve our differences with other African countries to create a semblance of a powerful nation. We must not be naïve about their backstabbing and suspicions of our largesse. Nigeria will parade itself as the giant of Africa and we will constantly send our soldiers to help restore peace and order in other African countries, even if our people are getting bombed out on daily basis, burning and disintegrating, for no one has a greater stake in showing other Head of States that we are strong and decisive. We will applaud true democracy in Europe and America, even Ghana and attend their inaugurations not that our interests and conscience compel us to do this but because we buy our cars from them and sell our oil to them. And lets not forget the estacode that we reap each time we board a plane to just neighbouring Cameroun. We must never be a source of hope to the poor, the sick, the marginalized, victims of floods or bombings – because we can not afford to be so charitable when we have not built our fourth houses in Ikoyi, Banana Island, Maitama or Asokoro. They can riot and rot if they like, peace in our time is over rated anyways. Tolerance and opportunity are Pentecostal slogans not political realities.
We, the politicians, declare today that the most evident of truths – that all of us are created unequally in this country – is the coldness of the Star lager beer we will be drinking afterwards, just as our forebears drank it in Dodan Barracks, Federal Palace Hotel to Nicon Noga Hotel to Transcorp Hilton to Eko Hotel, just as our 1st and 2nd and 3rd republic rulers drank the same cold Star, sang and dance in 1004 Senators’ flats, and danced to King Sunny Ade juju music in nearby clubs on Saturdays and went to hear preachers preach on Sundays proclaiming freedom for those who have jollied all night, and the freedom of the rich that is inextricably bound to the enjoyment of our looted earth.
It is now our generation’s turn to carry on what those pioneers began, by chopping very well. For our journey is not complete until our wives go to Dubai to shop till they fall sick, our mothers go to America for hip replacements and tommy tucks, our daughters go to American universities and return to enjoy what we have looted for them.
You senators have no business with laws that will create jobs for our youth or empower our women to prevent them from been perpetually harassed or raped. Your journey is not complete until you catch some men who wear makeup, walk like women, hold other men’s hand or women wearing pinafore and waist coat and liking other women allover the place – and throw them into Kuje jail for 14 years just to pretend you are doing your jobs. Our journey is not complete until our houses in Ministers’ Hill are uncountable. Our journey is not complete until you breakdown every little shanty and poor people’s living quarters that make foreigners think our neighbourhood is ghetto. Until we crush the hope of every little boy or girl from a remote minority village who dreams of ever rising to the top and leading this country to greatness, our journey is not complete. Our journey is not complete until we teach all our own children that you can only win elections through rigging and distribution of bribe in Ghana-Must-Go, from Sabon Gari, Kano to Eguare, Ekpoma. Our journey is not complete until we consider people from Sokoto as immigrants in Isikuato and people from Umuahia as infidels in Maiduguri and don’t give a damn about their safety and security. We should always cherish the fact that the ordinary citizen is perpetually in harm’s way, until then before our journey is complete.
That is our generation’s task – to jeopardize ordinary Nigerians’ worlds, their rights, their values – in life and liberty and in the pursuit of happiness. Being true to our party’s founding documents does not require us to agree with every utterances of our ordinary citizens, it does not mean we should give them the liberty to jostle and hustle us, or taunt us to follow the same precise path of respecting the constitution like Ghana. That this country must progress does not mean we should be rattled by the age long debate that politicians are thieves or compel us to settle every activist and journalist – but it does require us to either send hired assassin after them or trump up corruption charges against any dissenter in our time.
For now powers are upon us, and we cannot afford to waste time in arranging ourselves, we must chop. We cannot make the mistake of subverting leadership principles, or substitute corruption for good governance, or treat name-calling by investigative journalists as a reasoned debate. We must chop, we must chop decisively knowing that our work will always be imperfect like that of our predecessors. We must chop fast, knowing that today’s victories might be challenged in courts tomorrow and we be removed from power like we have seen in recent times. We must chop and clean mouth and it will be up to those who stand here in four years, eight years and for life to find their solution to the myriad of problems we were supposed to solve. We cannot waste time in this timeless spirit of chopping once conferred on us by the British in Lagos.
My fellow politicians, the oath I have sworn before you today, like the one recited by others who are chopping in the Senate and state levels was not an oath of God and country, but of us as a band of fresh filches, inner caucus of our party, national working committee, godfathers and godmothers – and we must faithfully execute that pledge during the duration of our chopping.
The words I spoke today are exactly the same from the oath that is taken by other lower level choppers in local governments, even when soldiers ruled us or when a nonentity realizes his dream. My oath is not so different from the pledge our jailed ex-leaders in foreign countries made before the flag that wave above and fills our hearts with happiness that we can now finally sign central bank cheque with impunity. They are not the words of ordinary citizens and they by no means represent any great hope. What a pride!
You and I, as politicians, have the power to set this country’s course ablaze if we are not allowed to chop as we like. You and I, as rulers, have no obligations whatsoever to shape the debates of our time. We can not waste the votes we rigged, remember how much we spent to silence the voices of opposition, which can no longer be lifted to challenge us when we go on our looting spree, that is our acquired values and enduring style.
Let each of us now embrace sudden excessive wealth, not with solemnity but with awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright to rule and ruin. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and wholesome dedication, let us ignore the common man on the street who has no shoes nor bicycle while we order bullet proof G-Wagons and private jets and yachts, inflate budgets and find contractors willing to help us launder our wealth of nation. Let us not answer the call of history today to fix our broken land, because we weren’t the one that broke it in the first place. Lets carry on with business as usual, lets drive the country into uncertain future and snuff out this little flickering light of hope and freedom. Let’s be shameless in our chopping.
Free at last! Free at last! Thank God almighty we are free to chop at last!
Thank you, God bless you and may we forever ruin the Federal Republic of Nigeria and handover to our children and children’s children.
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