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.


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