[Reader, the piece below was addressed to my social media audience on Facebook today in reaction to the Sanusi Lamido Sanusi saga. It stands in for this column today. Forgive the casualness. It’s initial audience are regulars on my Facebook Wall and I have deemed modifications unnecessary as it goes to a wider audience here.]
Dis Nigeria sef! You miss a day’s news cycle and you wake up to news that you’ve missed ten lifetimes’ worth of odoriferous higi-hagaric kookaburra (apologies to Patrick Obahiagbon). Yesterday morning, I was ferried from Johannesburg to Pretoria at the instance of Anesh Maistry, Deputy Director, Foreign Service, at South Africa’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to give a talk on the possibilities of cultural diplomacy for Africa. Anesh had heard at the last minute that I was in Johannesburg for a lecture and insisted that I must come to Pretoria for a talk in his fief at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (alias Foreign Affairs Ministry in Abuja).
Unknown to Anesh and I, as I marveled at the impressive number of diplomats and foreign service Ogas and personnel he had been able to scramble at a day’s notice to come and listen to me, as we enjoyed two hours of a most intense intellectual communion in their conference room (my audience was very engaging), as I secretly wondered which Director or Permanent Secretary in our Foreign Affairs Ministry in Abuja would hear that a Nigerian public intellectual with an audience in the continent was in Abuja and would scramble to put this sort of intellectual event together unless there was something in it for him or her, as I made a mental note that only a white European or American intellectual in my bracket would be fawned over by Abuja officials the way the South African’s were fawning over me in their Foreign Affairs Ministry in Pretoria, little did my hosts and I know that katakata had burst in Nigeria.
After my lecture, I was driven straight from Pretoria to the airport in Johannesburg for my flight back to Accra. I arrived Accra late in the evening and went straight to bed, still blissfully unaware of events in Nigeria. I woke up this morning and decided to catch up by phone with family in Nigeria before going online. My first phone call was to my sister, Bamidele Ademola Olateju, and that’s where I got my first indication of all the wahala back home. “Nigeria ti daru o”, she screamed, before giving a quick account of developments since yesterday. As she spoke, I looked at my roof here in Accra and was relieved to see that my house was not on fire. So, I told Bamidele that I was going back to sleep because my roof was not on fire. I deserved more hours of rest and recuperation after two days of back to back lectures in Johannesburg and Pretoria.
Besides, I told her, I wasn’t keen on going online to join the brouhaha because I wanted to avoid the risk of encountering submissions from Nigerians that could give me a heart attack. I didn’t want to hear stupid submissions that it was not in Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s place to have blown that whistle; I didn’t want to hear asinine comments that he didn’t even get the missing figures right; I didn’t want to hear brain-dead rationalizations of the heist. Somehow, between NNPC and Aso Rock, some idiots numbering probably less than 200 people have disappeared twenty billion dollars from the lives and potential of 170 million people (sometimes you wonder if it isn’t a case of smarts stealing from idiots. If you are able to steal 20 billion dollars from 170 million people and still make a large chunk of your victims defend you, are you really an idiot? I think you are a genius) and you are going to hear every manner of stupid rationalizations from folks you thought were sane. I told Bamidele that I didn’t want any of that.
Having now woken up to follow some of the traffic online, boy, am I glad that I went back to sleep! Folks defending the President and his Diezani; folks defending impunity; folks completely indifferent to the reality of a twenty billion-dollar heist. Anyway, I’m up now around midday and I have just noticed that my roof is still not on fire here in Accra. The only thing I have to worry about is Accra’s unforgiving heat. Ah, I forget, I’ve got AC! So, I don’t really have a problem.
As for you, SLS, you did well my brother. None of your very significant sins should be allowed to erase the monumental service you have rendered to your fatherland by exposing these criminals and traitors who have now fired you. And, boy, your sins were myriad. 1) You sinned against us during Occupy Nigeria. Such was the level of your vomit-inducing elitism that you didn’t even know that most Nigerians do not power their I-better-pass-my-neighbour with diesel; 2)I did not like your dabbling into Islamic banking in a volatile religious context like Nigeria; 3) then, you started donating money like a drunken camel rider (sorry, there are no creeks in Kano so one cannot call you a drunken fisherman sailor), I did not make my criticism of you public. I emailed you and you replied citing spurious and nonsensical provisions in the statutes of the CBN which empowered you to embark on corporate social responsibility. I told you what you were doing was corporate social irresponsibility even if I agreed with your argument that your donations were not motivated by sectional and ethnic interests as you spread the donations across Nigeria. These three significant sins against Nigerians notwithstanding, you came, saw, spoke and were conquered by the forces of corruption. I wish you well in your future tasks.