Sunday, June 29, 2014


Sometimes when I want to write satire, things happen which make it impossible. Nigeria is living, breathing satire and all one needs to be filled with both laughter and incredulity is to read news coming out of Nigeria. Other times one is just too sad to use any humour as is the case with this article.
On June 25, a bomb was detonated in a shopping plaza a five minute ride away from where I live in Abuja. The windows and door rattled slightly and I didn’t realize that an event that ended the lives of at least 21 persons and permanently changed the lives of many others had just occurred. It made me think. Our first reaction when a bomb goes off or violence breaks out is to call our loved ones in the area and ask if they are ok, or if they knew anyone who died. When the answer is no, we end by saying a variant of ‘Thank God’. The frequency of the bombings and killings have numbed us and forcibly reduced the sphere of our worry to those we personally know. Tragedy fatigue has robbed us of normal responses to mass deaths: demanding answers, demanding accountability, demanding security.
My friend Abang Mercy missed the blast by only a few minutes and was visibly shaken when I met her later that day. Thank God for my life o, she said. As people around the country called me to find out if I was ok, I lost count of ‘Thank Gods’.
The failure of the Nigerian state has increased the significance of the Nigerian god. If there was a power tussle between a functional government or state and a supernatural wonder-working being, then that tussle has been resolved firmly in favour of the Nigerian god. That is why instead of demand accountability from humans who get rich pretending to run Nigeria, we ask the Nigerian god to take charge, to change things, to make things better, even to touch the heart of the leaders we elected into office.
I have a quarrel with this god though and wonder what one has to do to escape being slaughtered in the middle of the night by bandits, being blown to bits by suicide bombers and IEDs or dying because our hospitals have no decent emergency care. Are the persons who die senselessly because the people who should be doing their job aren’t, deserving of death? Should we be thanking god for taking their lives and sparing ours?
I have a bigger quarrel with Nigerians who have taken power away from those being paid to exercise it and dumped it in the arms of the Nigerian god whose desk is already full of requests for husbands, children, safe journeys, prosperity, dream cars, promotions, protection from village enemies, protection from wicked neighbours and mothers-in-law and holy ghost fire for general purposes which may or may not include consuming enemies by fire. I will explain why.
The same day the blast happened I was at a debate organised by the BBC which had the Nigerian Defence spokesperson, the Minister of Interior (who oversaw the deaths of young job seeking Nigerians), the Governors of Niger and Rivers and the Commissioner for Information of Borno State. The hall was also full of young entrepreneurs, professionals and activists. Accusations were traded and especially the Minister, Abba Moro, got booed more than once. In fact two persons directly accused Moro of the deaths of young people whose lives ended because of his woeful planning and negligence. The army was blamed for being ill equipped to fight the insurgency to the hearing of the Defence spokesperson. An outsider might have seen all of this and had hope for the future of Nigeria, thinking that perhaps young people were ready, finally, to take on their leaders. But just like actors in a show, the moment the debate was over, so was the anger and rage. Young people swarmed around the same people who had borne insults minutes earlier. The villains stood proudly to receive people bowing to greet them with smiles. Of course not everyone was part of this charade. At least a couple of people continued the confrontation, especially with Abba Moro who smelled like he must have fallen in a bucket of alcohol on his way to the event.
What is my point? For as long as we keep having two faces – one for when our corrupt leaders are not looking and another when we actually meet them – these men and women without consciences will keep raping us. Unless citizens can rise up and demand accountability and not cede their powers to the Nigerian god, nothing will change. Unless first we believe that we have the power and next, USE that power as citizens, we will keep making those calls after bomb blasts. And if it continues long enough, some day we will find ourselves saying not “Thank God”, but “O my God”.

The sooner we relieve the Nigerian god of duty, the better for us. The sooner we realise that as far as governance is concerned, we, the citizens are the only gods that our leaders need to fear, the better for our country. 

Sunday, June 22, 2014


I must begin by congratulating the good people of Ekiti State. We all watched the elections with bated breaths. Especially as on social media the elections had already been concluded in a free and fair manner with Fayemi being declared as the Twitter winner. In fact some declared that they would have nothing to do with Nigeria should the real Ekiti people vote in Fayose in a free and fair election. However, as rice bearing both PDP and APC logos flooded the state prior to the elections, I was afraid the people would get confused and not know which candidate to vote. Because rice, when stripped naked, looks all the same. But Ekiti people proved me wrong. They proved to me that they could tell rice from rice. In the end, after cooking Fayose’s rice and Fayemi’s rice they came to the wise conclusion that only a consumer can come to: that Fayose’s rice was more nutritious. That takes wisdom. Unlike my soon-to-be-predecessor who doesn’t congratulate foes who unexpectedly win, I wish to congratulate Fayose on his landslide victory. The people of Ekiti deserve him. I will work with him when I become president.
At this point in trying to write this article, the ideas in my head are clashing with the sound of my neighbor’s very noisy generator. The only ideas that emerge now are all the sinister things I could do to stop this generator from running. Permanently. I see the hand of my soon to be predecessor in all of this. His intention is to withhold electricity so that the noise from all the generators around will stop me from thinking my campaign through and defeating him come 2015. But his plans will fail.
However, it is not my political opponents who planted my neighbor’s loud generator close enough to irritate me and truncate my hustle. It is my neighbor who willingly became a pencil in the hands of my political enemies. Because I care, I will enact legislation to stop people like my wicked neighbor from truncating the hustle of all thinking people come 2015.
An Act to reduce air and sound pollution, to provide for punishment for stupid neighbors with loud generators and other matters related thereto.
1.       Notwithstanding decades of irresponsible leadership and sabotage which has situated most parts of Nigeria in perpetual darkness, and notwithstanding the rights of citizens to seek alternatives for power supply, no citizen shall irritate or abuse his or her neighbors with the sound of his generator.
2.      It shall be an offence to cause sound pollution with the use of noisy generators.
a.      Seeing as air pollution is pollution of air, water pollution, pollution of water, the correct term for infractions covered by this Act shall be sound pollution and not noise pollution which is a nonsensical term. The only other term allowed for pollution of this kind will be aural pollution.
b.      Persons who use the term noise pollution shall be liable to frog jumps for using a term that makes no sense.
3.      It shall count as a defense to culpability if the perpetrator of sound pollution via loud generators allows his neighbor’s to tap from his electricity.
4.      It shall NOT be an offence to pour water, salt or other damaging substances into the fuel tank of an offending loud generator belonging to one’s neighbor.
5.      Persons who cause sound pollution with their loud generators shall not bring an action for damages or bring a criminal report to the Police in the event that a neighbor who as a result of being irritated by sound pollution, destroys the engine of a generator by secretly or openly pouring water or salt in the fuel tank of an offending generator.
6.      Persons who cause sound or aural pollution with their generators shall be liable upon conviction to a term of imprisonment equal to the length of time they have cause sound pollution with their generators.
7.      Heat is not a defense to the offence of sound pollution.
8.      A crucial football match shall only be a partial defense to sound pollution, capable of becoming a full defense only if such person invites his neighbors in to watch the game together. The presence of cold drinks at this event shall be an added advantage.
9.      Anyone who causes sound pollution at any time past 10pm at night or before 7am in the morning commits the offence of aggravated sound pollution and shall be liable upon conviction to forfeiture of the offending generator and wearing squeezed clothes to work and other functions for one month.
10.   Generators shared by whole compounds or estates are exempt from this Act.

Ps. Next week I will be attending a security conference organized by the office of the National Security Adviser on “Security and Development Challenges of pastoralism in West and Central Africa”. To get my invitation, I had to send my home address to one of the organizers. Do you see where I am going with this? Yes. The government people now know where I live. Just thought to put it out there.  
Ps 2. It is almost 70 days since the largest single kidnap in recent Nigerian history occurred in Borno State. What is going on?
Ps 3. The spirit of Alamieyeseigha that helped him escape London police (in the form of a woman), helped the Super Eagles escape shame yesterday and finally win a World Cup game. I congratulate them.

Sunday, June 15, 2014


I want it to be on record that I congratulated His Royal Highness, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Emir of Kano, ex-Central Bank Governor, and ex-bow tie addict. I also want it on record that at the time of writing this article my soon-to-be-predecessor, Goodluck Jonathan, has not yet congratulated the new Emir. And if there is any reason you should be suspicious of Jonathan come 2015 it is that a man who cannot even fake happiness for his neighbour’s success is a man you should be afraid of.
Many others have congratulated the new Emir of Kano. One of the first to do this was the unofficial Emir of Twitter and ‘certified ruffler of feathers’, Nasir E-lrufai. (I hear Nasir wants to be governor of my state and hasn't even thought to tell me- I will deal with this another time. Today is for another diminutive man.) But while Malam Nasir might be ecstatic about his friend Sanusi’s ascension to the throne I am not. Please be patient while I explain.
When I become president I would have to take off my shoes in his palace. If there is one part of my body I am self-conscious about (apart from my newly acquired beer belly), it is my feet. Not that my feet smell when I take off my shoes. (Ok, yes my feet smell, but that is not the point.) I lost all my toe nails growing up so if you took a picture of just my feet, you could swear they belonged to a seventy year old man. In fact I used to avoid houses where I knew I would have to take off my shoes (before I discovered socks, that is).  
Sanusi’s ascension to the throne has put a lot of people out of business. Of these many people I am most concerned about the person who used to sell him bow ties. One day the man was supplying dozens of expensive bow ties, and in one act of Kwankwasiyya rebellion, this bow tie dealer has to find something else to sell. Think also of the many young professionals and persons who began wearing bow ties because Sanusi made it fashionable. In fact, as a former critic of bow ties myself I can say that pre-Emir Sanusi cured me. I used to say that bow ties should only be worn by waiters and for special dinners. No one can tell the full impact of Governor Kwankwaso’s act of rebellion on Nigeria’s bow tie economy. And with the recent rebasing of our economy that made us leapfrog into first place ahead of people with better electricity, roads, healthcare, schools, wines, and vuvuzelas, the sudden deletion of bow ties from our national life is a threat.
However the least Jonathan could have done was send a congratulatory message. He could have called me to accompany him if he was too ashamed to go. Even a half-hearted one-liner would have sufficed. Like:
“Well done Sanusi.”
“Well done my boy.”
“We can’t question God.”
“I don’t know why God is doing this to me but congrats.”
“Your hustle cannot truncate my hustle, so, enjoy.”
“Enjoy your hot Emir’s regalia.”
“Good luck ruling Kano.”
“Good luck.”
I am just saying this because I don’t want to inherit an irritated emir of the largest and richest emirate in Nigeria. Jonathan should make peace with Sanusi for the sake of my presidency. I would do the same for him.
Now to the nagging issue of the passport of Emir Sanusi. Jonathan can very easily solve this issue of him not congratulating Sanusi by inviting the new emir to go to the Nigerian Immigration office for a new international passport in lieu of the one seized at Kano International Airport in May. Jonathan can say that they want to take a new photo of him with his turban because it is a shameful thing for anyone to see the emir’s naked head. This can be done quietly. Or if Jonathan wants to brag about it, he can invite newsmen and hand over the new passport himself. Because as president I don’t want to be dragged into issues of the previous presidency. I will be busy planning the invasion of a small European country.  
Speaking of traditional titles, Stella “armoured cars” Oduah was in Ogbaru in Anambra to receive the title of Ada Eze Chukwu conferred by the traditional rulers from Anambra North. I also want to congratulate her. It is not easy to go from being probed to being crowned. I wish her a long and fruitful reign. May her hustle never be truncated (again).
Ps. I have spent the last couple of weeks in Germany and let’s just say citizens will have to bear with me if in 2015 I ban sausages in Nigeria.
Ps. 2 Over 60 days have passed. The children of North-Eastern Nigeria still get kidnapped. They still live horrid lives in conditions beyond our imagination, with men who do not hesitate to kill or rape or maim. Is it too much to ask that our government stop hinting at knowing the sponsors and actually track down these funders of terror? Is it too much to ask that someone does something serious and secures the release of the girls (and boys) held by militants?

Sunday, June 8, 2014


I know. Bad question. 60% of you don’t have it at all and the remaining 40% see it only rarely. God will judge the matter. But stay with me as I explain a few things about the little electricity we have.
Ok. This one is complex. There are companies which were once part of the old NEPA that you know, broken into Generation companies (those who generate the light) and DISCOS or Distribution Companies (those who make sure the light, or darkness reaches your house). To control all these guys and make sure things run according to the law there is the oga at the top, NERC, Nigerian Electricity Regulation Commission. NERC makes sure people pay the right price for electricity and that everything goes according to plan. Don’t ask me what that plan is.
You used to have NEPA officials come to your house and ‘read your meter’. They used to ask you how many boiling ring you get? How many deep freezer? And then slam you a random bill. The new meter makes sure that you pay for only what you use plus a little something called a fixed charge.
Calm down. You know that people bought over these distribution companies. The investment they make in equipment and keeping that equipment running needs to be recovered somehow. The fixed charge should not last forever. It is a little less than 1,000 naira every month because the cost of the investment is spread over many years. So it is possible that when this cost is recovered you will stop paying the fixed charge. Maybe 10 years. Maybe 15. Who knows. That is why you should live healthy and use moringa. So that you will live to see what electricity will be in future.
Yes na. Don’t you want to pay for only what you use?
The ogas at the top in NERC say no. But sometimes because it is slow in coming, some people who can’t wait for the normal process may pay to make sure they get the meter. However you are supposed to get that money back.
To distribute electricity, the companies rely on fuel- gas. Because the ogas at the top who control everything in electricity- NERC- don’t have control over gas, sometimes, they have shortage and cannot distribute the electricity they have. Sometimes, vandals break gas pipelines and this too creates a shortage.
Look around. This is not the UK. It was proposed but people in the petroleum industry didn’t want to have gas removed from their control and we all know how powerful they are. So now we have the funny situation of control of electricity without control of gas upon which electricity companies depend. Not funny at all.
MYTO means Multi Year Tariff Order. It is a system of calculating how much you will pay over a period of time. Every year, minor reviews are done based on how much gas prices are or what the inflation rate is. The major review is done every 5 years and it will take into account everything and set new prices. Why they call it this complicated name beats me. Why not just Tariff Order?
Good. You were listening. Your electricity bill is made up of a few parts, one of which is the fixed charge or wholesale charge (or the cost of generation). That charge is different from the retail tariff which is the cost of transmission and distribution of electricity. So, the fixed charge has been reduced effective May 21, ranging from 17-50% depending on where you live. This is because, the minor reviews of the MYTO showed that the country was not as bad as they thought it would be so they don’t use as much for generation. Things like inflation and exchange rate is better than they thought it would be. However the retail tariff has actually increased. Why? After the minor review they found that the “available generation capacity”, was 4306 MW. This means the maximum amount of electricity they have to distribute. Their projection was that they will have 9061 MW to distribute, which would mean more money for them and cheaper electricity because they have more electricity to sell. Now, they use the same amount of money to distribute less than half of the electricity they thought they would have. This whole story means, you the consumer will have to bear the cost of this loss. It is not your fault I know, but now they say that the law says you should pay the fair price for electricity. Basically meaning that whatever losses they make in generation capacity will be borne by you. Life is not fair abi? I know.

Well, the NERC oga has said that there is an order effective May 1, 2014 which says that if you have not had electricity for 15 days no one should charge you fixed charge for that month. If they do, you can report to NERC. How will NERC resolve this? Don’t ask me, just report first and see what will happen.

Hold on, I don’t work for NERC. If you have any questions, go to their office at Adamawa Plaza in Central Business District, Abuja – the very bad road (the worst road in the Abuja City) near the Federal High Court. Or call them +234-9-4621400. Or tweet at one of the ogas at @eyoekpo. Or email them at I would have asked you to go to their website, but honestly, that thing is not designed for the average consumer of electricity in Nigeria- it can’t really help you. They need someone who has at the back of his or her mind that normal people will read it while writing, to write for their website.

Saturday, June 7, 2014


I am not sure when the entire urban population of Nigeria got into chewing gum. Growing up, chewing gum had such social stigma that it was common to hear someone being told that they were chewing gum like a prostitute or the more colourful term, ashawo. One day, I woke up and everyone was chewing gum, in offices, on the streets, everywhere. And every traffic jam had chewing gum for sale. A certain brand of chewing gum burst on the scene. Orbit chewing gum is now more ubiquitous than Coke on Nigerian streets. As president I would have to insist that whatever company produces that chewing gum sets up shop in Nigeria. That, or I ban the importation of Orbit chewing gum. They cannot be making so much money and not be paying us taxes. But that is a matter for 2015.

Orbit has become part of urban culture. Orbit is a conversation starter. A guy wanting to speak to a girl or vice versa only needs to whip out a pack of Orbit and offer it. Orbit is the one thing strangers don’t say no to. A person who doesn’t even like people of your tribe will take your Orbit chewing gum. As president I may not be able to stop the social impact of Orbit but I can make sure it does not become a problem. How can chewing gum become a problem?

I notice that many people get depressed or angry when, after offering a stranger or even a friend Orbit, that person proceeds to pull out two, three or more pieces from a pack of 14. And you can’t say to someone you have offered gum that they are taking too much. This is causing friction in our country. Some people have devised a way of preventing this by actually just giving one piece from the pack themselves. This can make a person appear stingy. And in Nigeria stinginess carries great stigma.

Nigerians need not despair. There is a solution. As the proactive president-in-waiting that I am, I have come up with legislation that will criminalise pulling out more than one piece of Orbit chewing gum when offered. Find below a draft:

An Act to promote generosity by persons able to purchase Orbit chewing gum and decide to carry same about, prevent greedy ingrates from shamelessly pulling out multiple pieces of Orbit when offered the pack to take gum from and to provide for punishment for chewing gum greed and matters related thereto.

1.   Interpretation
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires-
      Orbit means Orbit chewing gum in a pack of twenty, Orbit in a blister pack or any other type of imported chewing gum.

2.   The offence of Orbit Greed
(1)  A person commits the offence of Orbit Greed if
(a)  He or she, upon being the beneficiary of the generosity of an Orbit owner, decides to greedily take out more than one piece of gum from the pack
(b)  He or she asks for Orbit chewing gum again after already being the beneficiary of the generosity of an Orbit owner who has hitherto on the same day offered him/her Orbit chewing gum.
(2)  A person who commits the offence of Orbit Greed shall be liable upon conviction to public flogging for one hour every day for three weeks.

3.   The offence of Aggravated Orbit Greed
(1)  A person commits the offence of Aggravated Orbit Greed when he or she commits Orbit Greed more than once in the space of the same 24 hour period with the same person.
(2)  A person who commits the offence of Aggravated Orbit Greed shall be liable upon conviction to public flogging for three hours every day for three weeks.

4.   The offence of Serial Orbit Greed
(1)  A person commits the offence of Serial Orbit Greed when he or she commits Orbit Greed more than once in the space of the same 24 hour period with the different persons.
(2)  A person who commits the offence of Serial Orbit Greed shall be liable upon conviction to public flogging for three hours every day for three weeks in three different communities around where the offence was committed.

5.   Attempt to commit Orbit Greed
(1)  A person who attempts Orbit Greed commits a felony and is liable upon conviction to daily frog jumps on a highway of the courts choice, for 7 days.

Ps. President Jonathan’s army began the discombobulating confiscation of newspapers this week. To attack the only thing which is free in this country – expression – is to attack the very soul of the people. I do not understand it- how soldiers can intercept and take newspapers away. First off it is not even a very smart thing to do, seeing as you can find most stories online anyway and everyone is a click away from what they don’t want people to see. If nobody was searching, now everyone is going to want to know what was in those newspapers they confiscated. And the explanation of the army about “materials with grave security implications” is a too weak an explanation for sending armed soldiers in bullet proof vests to confiscate newspapers. Also, at a time when our army’s capacity to fight insurgency and insecurity is increasingly doubtful, it makes no sense using the army against a defenceless media.

And finally, if the president is going to let shameful things happen under him, can he at least have the balls to take responsibility and stop denying that he has anything to do with it? Can someone at least remind him the meaning of “Commander in Chief”?