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.
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