If comparing the seasons with the butterfly’s famous serendipitous life stages is clever, then certainly to liken it to the life of my landlady is more appropriate. From a young age, she was the type to identify her blessings as they came and not scale them with measurements, or glut at how better off she is or isn’t or such. If she had bothered like most others around did sickeningly so often, it would have stunned her to see the scale floored on the plate of blessings gone. She had loads of reasons to complain about how life treated her, but she never did. In the neediness of her struggles she wasn’t lucky to be perched high up in the safety of height, to prey on time with that sort of impossible patience not real enough to be innocent.
She simply detached herself from all the cruel remarks and lived on. Over the years, she didn’t copy those who only humbled themselves because they were powerless. With the increase in her age, she had proven that what matters most is the destination of the being, surely and certainly burning itself out with time.
The stakes are always too high to falter and bother over inconsequential trivialities of daily living. She stuttered on the way here, but never strayed. If she couldn’t fairly satisfy people, then she most certainly cannot satisfy God, who is poised everywhere as time and patience; all in one sameness and form.
She embraced humanity like a mother does when saving her only child from drowning. Struggling along, she identified the invincible arms of inner peace from the deceptive entangling ropy sea weeds of wrongly labeled evil. She kept away from the many harbingers of this negativity and thrived into a good person.
My landlady has six children; three boys and three girls, all from her first marriage. She gave everything to her first husband but their marriage became the predicament it wasn’t meant to be. It demanded and got her best always and at the end, it was all worth it. She entrusted what little faith she had on the limitless hope she covered herself in. Her life was fair, it is hard to apportion any blame.
Her late husband was a good man, if there ever was one. It had nothing to do with him but with what he had done. He ran away into the lifeless embrace of another entity, when it was obvious that he was financially ruined and going to be socially discredited. My landlady found herself widowed still relatively young, with six children after just ten years of marriage. She struggled on after the finality of her spouse’s rude escape, her coldest season ever. It was harsh and as concrete hard as winter at the Poles. Her senses repelled this tough monster. She pegged her faith in hope and the future, in her children and the roving power of change and it paid off ultimately. With time she actually won, outlived yesterday’s difficulties and found herself poised for a successful today. Change made sure of that, but like all sweet fruit surely go stale, her bed of roses had its share of thorns.
Her children grew into an attitude that wasn’t of her own making. In a subtle manner they claimed they weren’t indebted to her or to their father’s memory. If she knew their minds as beings she had some help conceiving, if only she knew where they were then and could reach them? She wonder if a pact would have been reached with them. As it turned out, she couldn’t tell if they wanted to live, to want and wish and need. She only knew what she and her husband wanted when they conceived to have children. Like every conscious parent, they knew what they wanted and planned for it in a broad sense, if not in every detail. They had their wish and it was satisfying their personal need to have children. They got this with the birth of child after child, six times over. With every new child they appear to achieve extended immotarlity. They unconsciously kept making one relationship after another take shape like taking small baby steps on a continuous staircase of a lifelong ascension, that will most certainly end with one final fatal drop.
As parents they had thus unconsciously stepped on their individual off-springs to get to the next level of their aspirations. They fed onto an old idea and refused to nourish a healthier new one instead. They fear that when too many new ideas are being mooted out to replace the older ones in use, they are being changed merely for being old and not for being obsolete and utterly harmful and unhelpful.
As my landlady’s six children aged, each child revealed their own unique personality. Each child’s wants, all their separate wishes as well as their needs, were all made clear with time, in its slowly piling essence. These same things that the couple didn’t know about each of their six off-springs, before the children became their true selves, were clearly revealed. No one could tell their hopeful aspiration before they took form in them and were stated in their words and deeds. They are lost now as then and ever, as is the vagueness of their knowledge.
My landlady’s late husband had been incensed by the traditional logic behind being successful in the amassed might of being remembered long after he was gone. He queried people’s endless pride in the living assets children had become, she didn’t. When they argue, she averts her eyes respectfully in the traditional fashion. He considered that as rude by his enlightened European standards.
He was out of sorts in most other ways, his mental gaze followed the local crowd but he walked alone in his logic, like a harmless funny madman in a crowded market at dusk. The market people will look on amused, but still stay at a safe distance away, remaining only for the entertainment and not hurrying home.
Her children went to good schools at her expense, slaving humiliation and her selfless sacrifices. Now that they are all established, with spouses and reasonably comfortable, they all turned away from her over powering love with a diplomatic apathy that always seems to uniquely speak for younger people when it involves their much older kin. She continues to live alone with none of her children offering to her take in and savour the ever present love she yearns to drown them all in.
People add to nature’s diversity, when they feel up to it sometimes.
This lovely picture of a toy bird by Guilhem Ribart tells a story of man’s attempt to make nature immobile, has its attractions, somewhat….
Objects sometimes look more alive than people. They seem having their own feelings and dreams as this children’s toy that seem so eager to take off to join birds and fly with them in the sky. Unfortunately for him he’s stuck on the ground and is not yet capable to take off.
But may be one day his mind will be strong enough to free him and one morning he won’t be there anymore, flying high in the sky, free as a real bird he always dreams to be!
Imagination is the gift of an improved common mental talent, quite unlike the perceived useless dream which is uncontrollably pointless. If a choice is allowed to differentiate between the two, when analyzed individually, the distinct trait quite common to both dreams and imaginations, glares back with only one similarity; they are both activities of the mind. However that is as far as their resemblance reaches, since the ever spectacular dream is the sprinkled effortless unconscious resultant of the pressures put on the mind that are never vouchsafed.
Imagination on the other hand is the controlled reflexive expression of the active mind, resulting from the conscious response of the lucid mind to pressures applied to it. Dreams are a series of haphazard mental images played inside sleeping minds. They appear involuntarily inside the mind when it is unconscious, in a vague mixture of real and unreal personalities, items, places and incidences. The keyword of note here is Involuntary; thus it is an unconscious activity.
Imagination is summed up as the ability to visualize series of sequential mental images and ideas that have most likely never been experienced previously by the mind that composes them, in any earlier physical form. Their fullest potential have a reputation not deserved as actually earned. Imagination is the conscious creative expression of the mind. It is a revelation of its mystical resourcefulness, with which it fashions out a simple non-physical uncomplicated semblance of reality.
It samples life with continuous practice as it embarks on entertaining itself, creating varied lineaments of its desired character or simply unraveling issues confronting it. Some of the most intelligent minds around had become geniuses because they had polished and harnessed the art of imagination. Good imagination repeatedly added vital bits of information and given an unexpected heads up to deserving people. Imagination has become an art and is used to very good effect.
Strenght of a woman: Available at the following links
As I sit here right now
I hear the wind howling outside
Rain lashing at my window
And I remember,……. I remember days of serenity
Calm weather reigned supreme
Brilliant sunsets ensued
And I anticipate their return.
(excerpts from Boko Haram: Western Values are Forbidden; Chapter 7)
This is a tribute to the over two hundred girls abducted by Boko Haram from the north eastern Nigeria a year ago. You might find the following excerpt rather unsettling, but be advised that though the deductions are based on actual facts, what you are about to read is a work of fiction. #BringBackOurGirls #ChibokGirls
“But what message do you have for the Nigerian people and the rest of the world who were hopeful that they were rid of Boko Haram?”
“This is the calm before the storm. The long dormant seed of Boko Haram has germinated and grown into a massive oak tree that can not be uprooted with mere hands of the Nigerian Armed forces. The Western world must recognize this fact.”
“Boko Haram abducted more than two hundred Nigerian school girls that have not been heard of as a whole again. Do you know what has become of them?”
“That is a very funny incident for me personally.” “Funny?” The black reporter asked in amazement. The Sheik was sweating profusely as the reporter gasped.
“Yes funny, because it wasn’t made an issue that these girls had actually been gathered together by elements in the Nigerian Western Educational system; with the approval and sponsorship of their parents and guardians. They hid them away from the Nigerian authorities so they can secretly carry out their acts of gross examination practices. This is a very common practice in Nigeria. While the Nigerian authorities claim they weren’t aware of this, Boko Haram didn’t and took the initiative to put and end to it. They took away the girls and gave them more meaningful lives to live.” The reporter had no idea his mouth had stayed open.
“Incredible! So the innocent school girls were saved by their abduction?”
“Yes and like I told you earlier, the concept of ‘Innocent Victims’ it too vague. In this case will you call these girls, their parents or their school management or educational authorities innocent victims? They were all complacent and actually exposed in the act of defrauding their very own sick Western educational system.”
“But are the girls all alive and living somewhere else presently?”
“No, many of them are not. Some got the most glorious martyr death of suicide bombers. Some escaped, some were killed by the bombing of the Nigerian Armed forces over the Boko Haram positions. Some are with their good Muslim husbands around the world, enjoying their lives as good faithful obedient Muslim wives.”
“They were sold as slave wives?” the reporter asked and the Sheik laughed.
“If you like. In your view all dowries are payments for female slaves then?” The reporter didn’t recognize the ingenuity in the first and only joke they shared.
“I also found this so called abduction of the school girls funny for another reason,” the Sheik continued. “For centuries disgruntle militant fighters have abducted massive numbers of young innocent school boys as their main source of recruits and over hundreds of years forcibly turned them into ruthless fighters who terrorized local communities with relative ease. But there has never been such a worldwide out roar or a whole scale international effort to rescue them.
“Maybe if the militants had instead been taking young school girls in such huge numbers, there would have been genuine efforts to end it all. The abduction of young boys by militants actually pose more danger than the abduction of young girls because the boys instantly get directly involved with the fighting, becoming future militants themselves. Western values has lots of misplaced priorities, some of them out-rightly illogical. I remember reading about how decades ago the Jewish inventors of suicide bombing had bombed and killed lots of Germans. This was about a decade after the holocaust. But the Germans just wouldn’t retaliate.
“”Because we are Germans and they are Jews.” That is the reason a German federal minister gave when asked why they weren’t retaliating. That is stupid! The elimination of millions of Jews in the holocaust is the single most laudable act of the Western world and it should have been continued with equal zeal and craft.”
“Don’t you feel there are consequences for all actions, especially killing men?”
“It is because we will eventually face the consequences of all our actions that every one of our action must be as Allah wills it, for we exist for His pleasure. Gladly this concept is acceptable to all Abrahamic religions, only Muslims act on it.” The reporter succumbed to the urge to say something in defense of liberality.
“Still you must admit that the common truth about your kind of people is they are predominantly Muslims. What is it about your brand of Islam that makes you think it is justified to use deadly force and kill people, to make a point? One will think there is a distinct teaching in all Islam that encourages this sort of it?”
Boko Haram; Western Values Are Fobidden….
Available from the links below
Still on those upcoming explanations from government officials about their stewardship, this time I reflect on how most African nationals truly view their experience of military rule as against democratic rule. What are the gains or the loses in each regard? Where nations better off under oppressive military junta or under the governance of corrupt politicians?The glory seeking elite in most cases, are still evident whatever the governments. But in which case do the people gained the most? The promises are never fulfilled in most cases, but in which case are the common people actually better off?
Once more I urge you to enjoy the following fictitious interview with an ex-military man, with political interests. Remember Governor Fashola of Lagos State Nigeria once had an ‘incident’ with a military officer on the streets of Lagos? Well, you might want to read this interview for that reason too
(excerpts from The Whore; Chapter 6)
He had come into public limelight as the intelligence Colonel that supposedly slapped the influential executive Governor of the nation’s most economically viable state and prematurely retired from the Army just for popularly infamous insolent act. The Governor had just got nominated as the running mate of the presidential candidate of the ruling party. He brought in tow with him a massively popular following from his regional and tribal section of the country.
As the leading presidential candidate of the third largest party in the nation, he already had a laudable track record as a state Governor. A fishy deal was struck with the largest party in the land producing a joint ticket between his sectionalized party and the ruling party. The ruling party’s presidential candidate was the serving vice president, who was always billed to take over the mantle of leadership after the constitutional expiration of the second of two terms of his boss.
The Governor had accosted the highly decorated full Colonel, aiming to make a publicized unconventional citizen’s arrest. The setting was just perfect to boast the public appeal and dutiful credentials of the politician but it was by pure accident that the senior military intelligence officer had fallen victim of this publicized showmanship. It was purely coincidental.
Kengua had met the once disgraced officer at a private function in the United Kingdom a number of year later. Kengua had been invited there to supposedly meet a group of notable Nigerians in the diaspora. The Colonel was quite aware that he was talking to a high profiled Nigerian journalist and it seemed he felt it was his turn to tell his own side of the story. Kengua was immediately taken to his simplicity and decided he ought to make him look good.
It naturally felt right to start at the incident that had unfairly made Nigerians aware of the military intelligence Colonel’s existence. The now retired highly decorated secret operative officer is Colonel Sylvan Inalegwu Samuel, with the catchy pronounceable initials of SIS.
Kengua had set about telling the story like he initially heard and read it but the retired Colonel’s filling up the gaps sufficed into him telling his side of it. The piece Kengua had in mind wasn’t going to linger on that matter. Not on the injustice or not, of the manner it was handled into making this special officer look bad while making the Governor a near living saint.
It had all started on a very ordinary Saturday morning, the last one in the month. Those Saturdays were set aside but a pronvincial government edict, making it compulsory for the general public in that state to clean up their immediate environment. Movements of vehicles were strictly restricted for the three morning hours of seven to ten. Only vehicles on essential official services were allowed on the street during these official monthly sanitation hours.
Colonel Inalegwu was to be the honoured best man at his colleague’s church wedding, to be held that same morning, in the same commercial city. He had barely made it into the city in the very early hours of that morning, from yet another top secret mission for the Army. It was his fifty-sixth operation in a quite glorious military career spanning twenty very eventful years. That is not including six gruesome African sub-regional wars and nine peace keeping campaigns for the African Union and three for United Nations. He was just forty-three then and the most decorated infantry officer ever in his rank, worldwide. Little did he know that he had just concluded what was destined to be his last mission for that Army, but not his last ever.
Dressed in full Army ceremonial regalia and driving the official staff car of his commanding officer, which the General had borrowed him for the day, it was assumed he had to be on official essential duty and naturally waved through every checkpoint. He had an hour’s drive ahead of him and left his quarters in a rush, hoping to beat the dense city center traffic that would be unleashed as soon as the sanitation hours were over. He kept looking sideways frantically, looking for any sign of a tailoring shop or a hint of a boutique, praying he will find one open.
He had discovered his unused ceremonial sword belt was loose-fitting across his jacket. He hoped he could convince a willing clothes’ merchant to sell him a safety pin to fasten the sword belt with. With the corner of his eye, he saw a tailor’s signpost as he sped by deserted streets, without a single public or private transport on the quiet roads and very few pedestrians.
He stopped and reversed the staff car. Sure enough, there was someone sweeping inside the closed glass doors of a tailor’s shop. So he parked on the paved road side, at the very edge of the curb. He then walked across a wooded single plank bridge, over an open blackish green slime filled gutter, knocked on the shop’s glass door and an elderly lady let him in. She was very helpful and it took a lot of persuading before she accepted any payment for the single safety pin. The Colonel also bought a pack of hair clips for girls, she said her granddaughter makes.
He was about leaving when he heard a commotion in the street behind him, near his parked staff car. Two men of roughly his age, dressed in the official bright lemon-green loose vests tops of the designated municipal sanitation workers, were standing next to the military staff car he had parked on the street, shouting angrily and hitting the car severally with their open palms.
The audacity of the picture is unheard of, the oddity of the scene extraordinarily difficult to fathom at first sight. It is completely unimaginable that a mere city municipal sanitary worker will muster enough courage to hit a clearly identifiable senior Army officer’s staff car. They also had the guts to continue shouting obscenities at the approaching fully dressed Army officer in his highly decorated outfit, with the full accomplishments of his tags and numerous medals.
Colonel Inalegwu was furious and shouted back worded thunder before he got to the car and a brief shouting match ensued. Inalegwu threatened, as also did the two men in sanitary workers’ vest tops. They were incredibly querying the Army officer for parking on the marked out lane designated for public transport only. He pointed out that he was there only briefly and after all, there were no public transport about yet. He didn’t see the need to go on wasting his time with these suicidal maniacs. He made out to get into the borrowed staff car to leave the scene, when suddenly the slightly older and well-spoken one of these unusually bold Nigerian civilians, said he was going to make a citizen’s arrest, insinuating he would detain the Colonel for violating municipal traffic laws. It was so unusual sounding, almost out of a Hollywood comedy.
The military officer smiled at the obvious joke of it and leaned on the parked car good-naturedly, looking subdued and less menacing. He intended to humour these efficient men, who were clearly over enthusiastic about doing their menial work but obviously quite confused about their personal status and his far reaching immunity to certain aspects of state laws. Inalegwu noticed their little heated banter was beginning to attract the attention of bystanders, so he opened the driver’s door and stepped back to enter the car. That is when the less articulated man did the unthinkable. He pushed the well-dressed Colonel back against his borrowed staff car.
The collective sigh of utter amazement from the gathered spectators nearby, was quite audible from where they stood. It was such an unimaginable travesty to behold. The officer turned around in a flash, reacting with the coordinated physiological speed of years of military training and action. The soldier lashed out, swung a swift open right handed venomous slap at the face of the idiotic common civilian that dared to blind side him and shove him against the car. But before the Colonel’s slap had traveled the two feet between him and his retreating target, the other more articulate man had made it halfway into the gap between the slap and its intended target and accidently took in some of the force in the swing, with the back of his head.
The slap had continued to hit home squarely though. Incidentally, both the actual intended vengeful slap and the uncharacteristically siphoned residue force of it, had managed to quite effectively achieve the most impact possible. Both the bashful sanitary officer; the pushing brute that was the intended target, and his articulate arresting colleague; who unfortunately stepped in the way, were instantaneously knocked off their feet and sprawled in undignified postures on the asphalt ground like they were overnight drunks who spent the night on the street.
It turned out that the articulated and slightly older man, who intended to make a citizen’s arrest, was the serving State Governor. He was out on a covert mission to inspect the public’s adherence to the state’s sanitation laws. So the Executive Governor unfortunately got accidently knocked down. He was hit as he came between the angered law breaking military officer and the imprudently rash senior city municipal worker accompanying him on his official escapade.
Kengua loved the detailed description of the incident so much that he decided to print it separately as a different article. It was be the opening piece that ushered readers into the world of Retired Colonel Sylvan Inalegwu Samuel. The way that incident was handled by the Governor’s publicists and the favourable press the Governor ordinarily got as a result of his tagged unselfish dedication to duty, had made Colonel Inalegwu look really bad. Set against the already quite unsympathetic perspective of a majority of the public towards military officers, Inalegwu was always at a huge disadvantage. Nobody really wanted to even hear his own version of the story.
“Did you ever get to that wedding?” Kengua asked.
The retired officer laughed heartily, finding it funny that it is the first time anyone bothered to ask him that question, so many years later.
“I had a full plate already and wasn’t any longer looking forward to the wedding reception as soon as I realized I had just hit the man going to be my next vice-commander-in-chief.”
Kengua laughed along this time. That light-hearted remark simply set the tone for the interview. They progressed into the other areas of life Inalegwu had ventured into later on, following his premature discharge from the Army. But before then, it was only fair to allow the man to vent about how badly he felt he was treated, following that unfortunate incident with the Governor. It had unjustly painted him in bad light and changed the remaining of his life.
“Normally, this sort of thing is not heard of. The soldier is protected by the Army and dealt with within the workings of the military. His identity is not revealed. However, a generality of these cases never involves one of the most favoured political candidates in the history of the country. Even my colleagues were wary not to be seen to be sympathetic to my position.”
“And what was your position.”
“Well, I almost had none. I just waited silently like a good soldier. I obeyed orders and didn’t complain. The little I could do to make immediate amends for what happened, I did. I tried to undo the damage I had done. I did that on the spot, on that day.
“I did what any other soldier would have done; recruit, NCO, junior or senior officer alike. Any other smart officer would do the same. My reaction in the form of instant multiple salutes and repeated apologies to the Governor did me good in the eyes of my mates and superiors by all regards. It seemed good enough initially as the Governor appeared to let it pass and had let me go on my way. Then pictures emerged in the press later and it became such a huge mess.
“So I became the identified pampered senior Army officer who habitually parked a tax payers’ given staff car inside a restricted public transport lane, specifically persevered for the use of only the poor masses, which they weren’t even allowed to use when I parked on it for just five minutes, while breaking a state edict by not staying at home to watch my Army orderly clean up my house, within a federal military barrack where state laws are completely useless.”
Kengua then contributed to Inalegwu’s summary.
“That is as it concerns the law, but then you are the officer who punched the Executive state Governor and slapped a senior member of his staff with one stroke of your deadly lethal, military trained arm. The same arm you had killed thousands of people with while fighting wars all over the world. Then you merely said a casual sorry and drove away like a maniac to a wedding.”
They both laughed again. Then Inalegwu took a brief moment to further expand the humour and sarcasm intended by Kengua with some serious reflection on the whole incident.
“That was the exciting thing about the incident for the media. The possibilities for scandalizing every twist and turn of it were boundless. They hoard bits of truth, told some, altered others and strangely fabricated some other aspects to fit into the easily recognizable picture of the top military guys thinking they are untouchable and can get away with anything.
“They didn’t even point out their own contradictions. I was the highly decorated and very rich killer officer that is above the law versus the celebrated public serving politician.
“To the press I wasn’t the Nigerian civil war orphan, the only child of a killed federal infantry soldier and a subsequently crippled mother, who was as a consequence forced to be a rural dwelling peasant subsistent farmer, until she worked herself to death putting me through school. I wouldn’t have, against all odds, strived to incredibly get into the very prestigious military officers’ academy on pure merit, if I had another choice.
“Without any ready and clear willing sponsorship for a tertiary education; which I was more than adequately qualified for with an exceptional national record equaling college result, the officer training academy was the best option if I wanted to excel. But to the media, the Governor isn’t the ninth son of a very wealthy polygamous traditional high chief, who had conveniently publicized his conversion to Islam from traditional occultism because it served his immediate business interests and political future, for his seven wives and thirty-six children.”
Kengua quickly came to the Governor’s defense because he is not the type to have any one’s public image tarnished for reasons that had nothing to do with the individuals own actions or utterances. Kengua has always felt that it transcended from the fair to sheer irrelevance, when opponents unfairly deploy the strongest criticism, manifesting as mere sprouts out of their targets’ early origins. He takes a steadfast position of complete disregard and disinterest for such defamatory degrading details. He firmly believes that when the later emergence of purely old superficial vials of uncontrollable natural occurrences are encouraged to create an atmosphere of credibility doubts, then the rational assessment of a subject is compromised. Subjective untruths wade in, get a foothold and slow down progressively fair objective logic.
Kengua also abhors blame being apportioned for just unlucky mishaps that are humanly extraordinarily difficult to avoid. He doesn’t query them because they just emerge like hiccups, unplanned and not as a result of conscious deeds or a deliberate neglect of knowledgeable action. The truth prevails when contemporary cliquishness is ignored and the relevant essentials are made more prominent, as it concerns every issue.
“What has the Governor’s father got to do with this?” Kengua fired. “It isn’t his fault his father was the way he was.”
“Indeed. But he is clearly an offspring of the massively influential old money of his family. It ensured he never went hungry for a day in his life and ensured he got the best possible education in prestigious local and European schools. It secured financial security for him above the average comfortable standard and established a good political platform for him. It put at his disposal a huge background of subjective followers to enable him have an almost wondrous rise to political and administrative fame. My critics didn’t see it fit to draw this lopsided parallel?”
“I honestly don’t see why they should either.” Kengua bluntly offered and it must have sent a disconcerting tingle down Inalegwu’s spine but still Inalegwu continued to disagree.
“But I feel that exception wasn’t deliberate. That ought to be evident to a man of your reputation. The media just chose to buttress his advantages over me and ignored mine over his.”
Kengua pondered that Inalegwu just might have a point there, but still it is manipulatively natural that the professionally proactive and very well paid Governor’s political machinery had seized the opportunity that particular incident provided to booster their candidates public image. The Colonel was just doomed from the very moment the mischievous roaming state Governor stumbled into the parked Army staff car on that sanitation Saturday morning.
At the Governor’s incessant prompting, Inalegwu was simply unstrung by the senior military hierarchy. Even they had to be seen to be favourable toward the serving political bigwigs. The Army left Inalegwu all alone, to dry on his own, publicizing his erstwhile top secret activities, without any hesitation. His Generals merely chose to spite their noses to save their faces.
For the sake of their plumb jobs, careers and ambitions, the head of the most decorated professional young senior officer is worth sacrificing, by their reckoning. Military loyalty is not an edifice like most civilians assume, it is ineffectually an invisible ruse. Most top military brasses simply absorb more of the hypocritical civilian characteristics they must function around. Thus they metamorphose into gruff aged men whose years of coy administrative and political meanderings make them a lot more crotchety and brusque than liberal and honourable.
Inalegwu’s recall of his ceremonious betrayal brought a flushed look upon his light brown face, which he momentarily supplemented with what he thought will appear as expressionless. But a slight tremble of confidence still showed through, even as he continued to speak. He was wounded by the way the media had hounded his previously very private life, once the license to do so was insinuated. Everyday a new damning detail emerged about his indiscretion. With time he ceased being shocked by the daily emerging bad news in the press about his incredibly manufactured abusive wryly remarks concerning the state Governor’s sacrificial deed.
He became disillusioned by the incredulity of it all as every side he turned, he felt both berated and humiliated. When he attempts to put right this seemingly inexhaustible barrage of lies, he was so easily misinterpreted. As he was increasingly depicted as woeful, the public barely reacted with any surprise when he was kicked out of the Army with eloquent prejudice.
This conformed to a pattern which had its origin years back, when an equally highly talented and decorated Air force officer was summarily executed by a firing squad for allegedly joining a rogue mutinous band in the armed forces. That renowned fighter pilot had lost his life despite the best attempts of numerous desperate top grade military forces from all over the developed world. Their offers of handsome compensations to the then Nigerian Military Government to secure the condemned man’s services and spare his life were rejected. This time around similar foreign interests just waited to gain from the Nigerian authorities’ conscious wasteful loss. And true to character, the Nigerian Army sought to act in tune with what they considered as locally popular.
The Army bigwigs made their priorities apparent with the rather hasty decision to dispense with the services of the phenomenal Colonel. Then the interview easily veered into the area Kengua wanted it to, because the talented Colonel had gone onto much bigger things.
“So being dumped by the Nigerian Army became a guile blessing in disguise, it turned out.” Kengua fished.
“Like they say; ‘Hasty actions err the most.’ The Nigerian Army made the mistake of not only losing my services but most importantly, my impeccable knowledge of its entire functions”. Inalegwu’s doubts, that were initially almost tangible with caged in expectancy in the booming sound of his voice, abated. He revealed how hurt he was in those long passed days of such pain. That feeling was completely gone and replaced by the supremely wondrous confidence of that euphoria of being the most sought after man in the military world, all of a sudden.
This is a man who thought the unduly imposed fervor of guilt that was crushing his existence was going to kill him. But he ended up being amazed by how well he adjusted and lived with it. It frightened him to learn the potentials he had. This had led him into living a life he had only dreamed of previously. The exuberance of this switch was quite intriguing.
His light complexioned face was flushed as his excited facial expression unscrewed the tensed worry that was pasted on it just minutes before. On a black person’s face, a blush is not registered with a change in the shade of skin colour. The lining of the brows are not quite helpful either, hence the commonly popular deduction that a Negro does not ever blush.
A tingle of anticipation came over Kengua as he readied himself for the real juicy stuff to come as he replaced the almost filled up tiny tape in the mini recorder with an empty one.
“It must have been like a pathetic excuse for an apology when the Nigerian authorities conferred a National award on you, recently. One you are yet to accept or reject.” Kengua had started this phase of the interview with the most recent twist in Inalegwu’s long tale. He merely hinted where he was headed. Colonel Inalegwu’s choice to dispense with instantly answering the question Kengua had just asked him, hinted of more to this interview than met the eye.
Inalegwu’s choice propounded a vista Kengua had not envisaged. The panorama suddenly had dynamism of its very own. Ultimately, the main question to be answered turns out to be that of Kengua to tackle on his own. Was he being used by the Colonel to get back at the current second term Nigerian Vice President? They already had a very well documented history together, when the VP was the highly influential State Governor and the Colonel was at his mercy.
It turned out that the retired Colonel had literally become the most influential intelligence operative on the African continent. He now has all the right intelligence contacts to throw spanners in the political works of the VP, who was paused to commence conversing for the Nigerian presidential seat in a few months. Clearly the VP had gotten the wiser of it and put out his reconciliatory hand, with the government’s suddenly conferring a highly exulted national merit award on a previously disgraced and discharged senior military officer. The ambitious Vice President wasn’t leaving anything to chance as he made his move upwards, yet again.
The VP simply reprioritized his activities once more, trying to make a friendly corner stone out of an old stepping stone. It was now obvious to Kengua that this interview is too timely to be anything but vengeful. It reeked of those Biblical Jewish mothers’ dispute, King Solomon had arbitrated. Just this time, the bereaved mother who killed her child, also embarks on smothering her mate’s to death, rather than steal and claim it. The creative imagination of vengeance almost always appears to fall short, compared to the initial act it is meant to be a reprisal for. But as an intelligence officer, the Colonel was obviously out to show how versed he is in plotting revenge.
Long ago, the opportune boldness of the state governor was met with the instant repentant submission of the erring Army officer. But it didn’t end there and the ambitious governor had sought to score cheap points in his engineered favorable press review of the incident. He also used his strong political connection to get helpful credits in the powerful eyes of the military, thereby influencing the handling of the matter by them. The VP’s actions discredited Inalegwu without any regard for what he is, a senior military officer in the most influential branch of the armed forces in a huge third world country. There are different facets to his experience.
As a full colonel, Inalegwu is like a teacher in the hierarchy of any school, not a pupil certainly. He had the equivalent of an honorary national award to the majority of his fellow citizens’ mere national identity cards. He was directly responsible for loads of vital national security stuff and international secrets that a whooping ninety-nine percent of the rest of the country’s people don’t even know exists. And for such a person to have been embittered by being treated in that way, it is natural that Inalegwu would want his pound of flesh.
Inalegwu naturally felt he shouldn’t have been so casually belittled by persons who haven’t ever risked their lives for their country in the slightest. It may be his poorly paid job to risk his life for his country, but that ought to come with the privilege of some respect. That is why the constitution allows him a separate court, as long as he remains in the military. He has a license to kill identified enemies of his nation as directed by his commander-in-chief without being prosecuted for it, no one else in the whole country does. He belonged to a tiny clique of citizens that can legally be accusers, judges & executioners, all in one instant, with no qualms.
But because society connives to favour some privileged member of its political class rather than him, it becomes his duty to also make this same belligerent quarrelsome and confrontational nation, change its exaggeration of wrong priorities. He has held different viewpoints from a lot of his people for so long. It is time he shows how right he was by making those who wronged him look silly. Kengua readied this preemptive conclusion. He had to be ahead of the game if he wanted to know what this highly experienced intelligence operative was on about.
The question Kengua had asked Inalegwu earlier on would be simple enough to answer, but the Colonel is no ignorant fool. His answers wouldn’t say as much as Kengua will want to hear. Inalegwu knows the industrious journalist is always fishing for more than others are willing to reveal. All press men naturally get to learn a simple fact in due course. They learn that the real important answers never get heard, they have to be deduced like they are insinuated.
“Tell me Colonel, what happened to you and what have you been really doing all these many years since you were forcibly retired from the service of the Nigerian Army?”
Inalegwu just smiled, and then curtly asked, not answer.
“What do retired military men do after being retired?”
“Oh I don’t know, maybe join other ex-service men in the private security sector and start off where they all left off?” Inalegwu chuckled and vaguely answered the next question.
“You were then sought after by the armed forces of the United States, Canada, Great Britain and South Africa. That much wasn’t a secret. But you didn’t join any of them, or did you do so secretly and opted for one of their secret services?” Kengua had asked.
“Yes that’s right; I didn’t join up with any of them,” Inalegwu answered.
“You didn’t join one secretly and just won’t say so because no right thinking intelligence operative says he is one.” Inalegwu laughed briefly but actually tried to explain.
“Offers did come in fast and quick, fat and thick too. But because virtually all of the very lucrative packages these foreign armed forces were offering me were practically for positions in their military training schools, I concluded that I could still do all of that, collect the big pay packages they proposed, and still do my own thing on the side without all the unnecessary pressure of being fastened to the shackles of their military administrative hassles.”
“So you taught in military schools?”
“Yes I did! Virtually all the important military schools in the western world have used and are still using my expertise on sub-Saharan warfare.” Inalegwu said quite proudly.
“And you don’t do anything more than just teach?”
“I did nothing more.”
The two men maintained their stares silently for three more seconds before Inalegwu emphasized his answer more firmly.
Indeed, the real important answers never get heard, they have to be deduced like they are insinuated, Kengua thought to himself.
“Then you started a military consulting firm?”
“That is in partnership with a retired US marine general, an interesting Texan. That is the guy who infamously made a near exact replica of the renowned World War II Nazi wrought iron archway entrance into its Human Extermination Camps; HEC. The infamous Death Camps.
“His own replica of the sign still hangs over the entrance into his huge farm at the edge of the South American Amazonian jungle. It was made as a publicity gimmick and it works rather well too; not only for the farm and its turnover, but for him and his popularity. He had copied the design from an internet printout and included the exact three German words too, in full. Only he had defaced the middle word with a boldly white painted metallic X, crossing out the still legible middle word. It was done in such a way that the original words were still fully readable.
“The original German words were ‘Arbeit Macht Frei’; meaning ‘Work Makes Free’. Thus the defaced replica sign the Texan had made would read in English as; ‘Work — Free’”.
Both men laughed at the seeming idiocy of it.
“It took a while for it to catch on but it caught on soon enough, once the larger local community got the gist of it. They embraced the lopsided morale the unorthodox coinage had advanced with its somewhat cynical but still eye-catching symbolism. It was such a huge hit. It was such that not only was the farm identified as ‘Work-free’, the new phrase in due course aptly became the Texan’s alias. It even attracted tourists and was hugely popular with all who saw it. His friends tried using the initials but abandoned the attempt because W. F. was such a mouthful and did not serve the abridged purpose it was meant to. So they were stuck with Work-free.”
Kengua further learnt the Texan’s Amazonian farm had since served as the official headquarters of their military consulting partnership. All the covert training of Special Forces is done on the farm’s ideal grounds. Then Inalegwu digressed to offer a personal insight.
“You know in a strange sort of way, these multiple tried ‘Work Makes Free’ ideologies suffer very natural deaths at the persistent steps of the belittled ‘Work-Free’ ideologies. When they are handled and borrowed metaphorically, they actually symbolize the ideological struggles of the entire civilized world, over its very long period of regulating economic systems. It is the reoccurring extended victories of the freest minds over the most coerced minds in the world.”
“That is human wisdom set against human intuition; the natural need to dominate versus the spurious compromise of allowing unprivileged people an equal opportunity to empower themselves so that they can in turn not do the same to you.” Kengua offered.
“I couldn’t have put it any better myself. Take the freest nation in the world for instance. It is only natural that the American state should turn out the way it did. It is in every sense of the term primarily; and still considerably for all intent, a migrant state. So its national conscience is still very much that of the typical average migrant; which is excusable for the fundamental reasons that make migrants what they are in the first place.
“These are simply revivification and the ramifications of the opportunist, escapist, rebel and adventurer. Americans thus reveal to be daring, brave, determined, hardworking, patient and tenaciously vengeful. They are all of these sorts and the likes of it, all comprehensively such; in that passively or actively and positive or negative qualities, respectively.”
“You mean when their highly principled thoughts are contrasted, they actually reveal to be more at a continuous state of being at Crossroads, than being on the free highway.”
“It is unfortunately the Double-edge sword of truth most liberals do not even like contemplating more less discoursing. The inoperative logic dimly entertained here being that by empowering the right kind of person with the wrong natural tendency to tenaciously survive by dominating everybody else, they are simply directly being reinforced to do the very same thing they were being reoriented not to do, not to dominate. Consider a perfect example, the dangerous logic behind the rather idiotic ‘Mutual Assured Destruction’. Only the human covetous nature could possibly make it tenable for world peace to be actually balanced on this razor sharp edge.”
“I couldn’t agree more. I guess the acronym says it all, doesn’t it? It is indeed unarguably and quite pointedly MAD!”
They paused for refreshed drinks. It was now clear the rest of the gathering had no intention of disturbing their open side attraction, which was actually the reason for the whole meet. Kengua has been emboldened into steering the interview into those sensitive insinuations concerning the huge amount of international influence Inalegwu now has at his disposal. It must be considerable, if the current Nigerian government would all of a sudden publicly announce it is conferring a big national merit award to the Colonel. It is obvious this is a very pregnant move.
“Before we go any further Colonel, how did you become aware of the conferring of the national award on you?”
“Like you must have, I suppose. I heard it in the news.”
“You mean you weren’t given an advance notice of what was in the offering? One would have thought they would let you know in advance, at least try to win you over to their thinking, get your thoughts about the award, know if you would accept or not?”
“No they didn’t say or do diddly-squat and I don’t think they would be interested in any foreknowledge of what my reaction will be either. The way I see it; it might as well be ramblings in the tabloids, since I’m yet to get official word from the Government.”
“I assure you sir, that you have been listed in the official website of the Nigerian federal government as one of the latest nominated recipients of a National merit award.”
“I don’t dispute that, but I haven’t been invited to accept or decline such a nomination; if that is what it is. I also haven’t been invited to collect such an award. When I am, then I will have a response ready of course; via the very same channels.”
Kengua smiled his comprehension. It was clear that his interview is meant to be Inalegwu’s express response to the current Nigerian government and especially its main candidate for the next presidential elections in a few months. It is Kengua’s duty to see this clearly.
“Feel free to make any deduction you wish from my remarks, just as it is the government’s prerogative to do same.” Colonel Inalegwu quickly added with that wryly grin of his.
“Do you have issues with the way Nigeria is being led presently? I notice you virtually never comment on this topic.”
It was time again to rally round his other sentiments, to make the cagy Colonel slip up into criticizing the current Nigerian leadership. Kengua felt he just might get lucky.
“Leadership is always a difficult thing. People easily get sensitively bias about how they interpret governmental policies. I guess the sort of impact the policies have on the people is the major determinant in this matters.” Kengua was fishing but Inalegwu wasn’t biting.
“Nigerians think their government is totalitarian in it policy making. The way our democracy works, with the dominant class making all the policies being mainly of the same privileged and corrupt sort, nothing that is beneficial to the masses ever comes through and is accepted as law. This is because aside from these people being evidently the dominant influential factor in every political party, they also dominate the civil service, the judiciary and the legislature. Therefore, the so called three arms is indeed just one trunk.” Kengua proffered.
“In Nigeria, there is the all too powerful fourth arm of government my friend; the civil service. This is massive in the structural hierarchy of the totalitarianism we are all querying.”
“You do agree then.” Kengua boosters the momentum of what is likely a glimmer of criticism from the cagy Colonel.
“The totalitarianism of policies actually does make them unsustainable. Capitalism has always made money and wealth supreme, fascism makes the state supreme, Nazism made the race supreme and Communism made an ideology supreme. A measure of most has to be balanced to carry everyone along.” With that bit the brief glimmer of criticism dimmed.
“Your Texan partner is very influential politically in the US, isn’t he? He is quite chummy with the ruling Democrats that there is talk of him being too Democratic to be a Republican.”
Inalegwu laughs at the now quite familiar joke about the retired US marine general he is in business partnership with, a very vocal cowboy rancher with questionable racial favoritism.
“He is a very controversial one, that one. It was he who brokered the deal between the very conservative Republicans and the very liberal Democrats years ago. That deal had successfully ushered in a setting where either a first black president or a first female president is swept into that exulted office in one bold history making move. The outcome is history now.
“The Republicans just had their worst ever presidency prior to that. Popularity and business boasting wars had turned unpopular and economically unsustainable. The world economy was at the brink of complete chaos. A huge change was inevitable and Americans looked elsewhere.
“Democrats represented obvious change. But they had to have an unusual leader in every physical ramification, someone easily identified with by the rest of the world now leaving inside the US. From what I understand, the idea was this; since the US was passionately hated across a huge section of the world, more than it is loved across another shrinking section, it became paramount to position one of these firsts to ease that tension. So the Republicans fielded their worst presidential candidate ever and gladly made a good show of famously losing to change.”
“Would you say it worked?”
“Maybe internationally, but it only brought forth the true nature of the American people and divided the nation along the line of the so-called Conservatives and so-called Liberals.”
“Are you with the Liberals?”
“I’m of the opinion that American Conservatism is just a necessity in the world right now. I’m not a republican, in the sense of full party allegiance. But really, you can’t help but understand that the ideals of the founding fathers of America and the true values of the American state are best represented by the Republicans. So I rather deal with a person that is a lot more true to his ideology than some self-styled ‘Liberal’ who is in essence, just a subtle charlatan in the guise of a Democrat.” It was quite the analytical response.
“This is the ‘Pretentious trading places’ you had termed as Crossroads earlier, I suppose?”
“Not quite so. I had aptly forwarded earlier that their highly principled thoughts are confused when they get compared with those of their founding fathers. Contrasting issues abound, as clearly insinuated in the close allegiance to Christianity for one.
“In ‘God we trust’ they say and not show it. There is the Same-Sex issue and the massive war like nature. When these Liberals try to adhere to these precepts then they actually reveal to be at a continuous Crossroads than actually being decisive.”
“Most liberals will disagree and argue that it is this kind of thinking that made America quite unpopular and hated.”
“It actually made America great. It is the big deviation from it that made America weak and common, note that fact. The Liberals refuse to see it this way. Their logic doesn’t even remotely entertain a simple fact. By empowering the right kind of person with the tendency and communal orientation to tenaciously survive by dominating everybody else, they in fact simply directly reinforce their natural rivals, and I dare say; enemies too. They let them do the very same things they keep reorienting themselves not to, becoming weak and dominated.”
“Maybe that is just the soldier in you talking, Colonel.” Kengua summed up. In response, Inalegwu chuckled and repeatedly shook his head sideways, in disagreement.
“That’s far from it, I assure you. I just understand how the Conservative American thinks. Don’t talk of peace to these Americans. They are after all from very violent stock and so obviously they are of the violent sort. Are you familiar with the words of their national anthem? They probably are amongst a trio or so of modern nations that still clasp their healthy beating well-nourished chest, look up a flag pole and proudly sing of ‘perilous fight; rocket’s red glare; and bombs bursting in the air’ and with very patriotic tears in their beaming eyes.”
Inalegwu meant every single word he said and Kengua wasn’t surprised in the least, surely you will expect no less conviction from a Texan’s business partner.
“But America is changing,” Kengua made a last ditched effort.
“No it is the people inside America that are changing, not America. That wouldn’t happen till hell freezes over.”
“But Americans are America.”
“That may be so in the past, but certainly not the case in the present day USA. In the past, the migrants that constituted the people that created and made the US what it became were driven by different things from those now partaking from their creation today. Economic interests are of course constant, they always are. But the ideological principle has greatly changed. You now have people actually coming into the US or being born in it merely to change and destroy what it represents and not because they admonish and advocate what it signifies.”
The last thing Kengua wanted was to get into a debate with the retired military officer seated across from him. But he had to point out his own convictions, if only to hear Inalegwu’s.
“As the world changes so does the US. Civility has now become synonymous with democracy. The people in the world are coming to terms with true freedom and demanding it.”
“You think?” The Colonel deferred in opinion clearly and he when ahead to expalin.
“Civility is really diminishing steadily. Old democracies would experience a surge of selfish demands on them, demands that will not readily seat over tea and talk things over endlessly. The countless innocent peaceful marches carried out by citizens of the west, to garner support for their diverse courses of interests, will suffer from violent changes as people accept negative outcomes of their popular choices. Majorities will successfully elect democracies and yet electoral victories will not provide succor. Continuous flow of migrants from other systems with democratic defective orientations, sired by bashful ways, will forcibly task the civility in these old democracies. Inevitable chaos is afoot and the only recipe for order is being neglected.”
“It is inevitable that these western societies are losing the way of life they are always defending. But it can’t be helped because the world is now a global village and must feel like it.”
“I always wonder how easily we accept the single merit of that term ‘Global Village’, without actually acknowledging the numerous damning demerits that comes with it also. The world as we once accepted it has been narrowed down to a simple information unit like it is in an ordinary village. It became that single interconnected forum as made by the World Wide Web. The Global village is thus an apt internet expression. But otherwise, the backward rudiments evident in a village like barbaric uncivilized jungle justice, cruel autocratic leadership, clan and clique favouritism, and selfish pettiness all crept into the picture as civility slowly leaves it.”
“That is a humongous misconception and you know it.”
“Is it now?”
“Yes it is!”
Both men’s demeanors paused for an argument. Kengua wasn’t about to let anyone shake his conviction and the man he was interviewing appeared to be on a course to not only sell his archaic and outlandish ideology to Kengua’s readers through him, but also to alter Kengua’s very own believes as well, while he is at it. Kengua set about changing the interview’s direction, determined not to be thrown off course once again. It seems that tiny stumble in temperament had exuded a burst of self-control into him and once more he became thankfully focused.
“Colonel, you talk of the US like the whole nation isn’t constituted of migrants. Every single one of these Americans is an illegal emigrant of sorts. Did the indigenous Indians of the American continent give any original pioneer even a tourist visa?”
“Then we shouldn’t recognize the American state for that reason. It in effect, has a worse case for its legality than the Jewish state because Israel can point to scriptural documents.”
“I’m not saying that.”
“Of course you’re not. Look my friend, let us bring this to a head. Going back in history to justify any action that has now led to an established form, entity or pattern, only digs up dirt of injustice and the most uncivilized behaviour ever. The world has always had and will ever need these big busy-bodies to check the excesses of others like them and those beneath them as well. It has to be so in the bullies’ hierarchy of survival of the fittest or else utter chaos will reign.
“Bully nations are like the large carnivores of prehistoric times. Their effect on the food chain maintains order in that cruel uncivilized harsh but naturally quite necessary manner. If they are unchecked well up on the food chain, there wouldn’t ever be enough to go round, not only for them but also any layer beneath them in due course. It is a fact of nature.”
Kengua went over Inalegwu’s short early civilian past in his head. The young lad’s entire childhood was spent in the sparse bushes surrounding his midland Nigerian village. He had to hunt almost every meat he ate and bush rats consisted of the main game available. There couldn’t be a better orientation for a soldier and a pro-gun trotting buff. He grew up like a pre-American civil war Texan. So his perspective is quite natural to him. Inalegwu also lost the last of his remaining close family members in the brutish civil riots of northern Nigerian. His only aunt’s entire family was murdered in the outskirts of Kaduna, in a particular suburban area called Rigasa. The entire non-Muslim residents there were evicted out of their homes for good.
Inalegwu had tried to look for survivors from amongst his aunt’s family. He searched the entire metropolis and combed all the military barracks, rummaging amongst all the refugees, but found none of them. Finally, he saw his aunt’s names in a compiled list of the dead but he never found any of the others. He was devastated for a long time. He had held the most extreme political views ever since. Life in the military had made him curtail them, but what made him political wasn’t as much that. Driving to work through slums daily, he rationalized that any child growing up in such neglected pig infested suburban area would be politicized too.
In the endlessly developing third world countries, the suburban areas are actually the ghettos. They don’t host posh rich people like in developed countries. It is in these places that the less privileged citizens have learned to live according to their faiths. They have surrendered what remains of their belief in the state protecting them and taken up basic arms to defend themselves. Oddly though, once the entire unsettled metropolis has wholly surrendered to living like this, relative tranquility became more sustainable. It became a way of life in no time.
Life in these cities became like the middle-east setting in Palestine and Israel. The common places were banks, markets and offices, where a kind of respite for foraging a living takes place. Once a riot starts, the rabbit and the ferret comes into play as the scrapple for safety commences. Christians dressed up like Muslims on Fridays and head for the safety of their homes before mid-Muslim prayers. Later, Muslims avoided Christian communities on Sundays too. Those who got caught out in the wrong side of town during civil riots are almost certainly lynched and killed.
After years of holding back his secret thoughts as a loyal soldier, Inalegwu doesn’t need to hide his controversial opinions any longer. He had it all clear in his head now who are is friends and who are his foes. He made his move and it was now his long time enemy’s turn to play his hand. The Nigerian government will have to work out if Inalegwu will accept their offer or not. The Vice president needs to have the influential Colonel to stand down and not secretly work against his aspiration for the ultimate prize of the presidency, even if he would not openly support him. A lot stood in the balance when Matters carried the Inalegwu interview and story.
It is always interesting to hear how government officials answer questions about their stewardship, before they get into power and after they leave it. Reflecting on how Nigerians will for the very first time experience what it is like to have a democratically unseated government explain how it failed to deliver, I pondered on the novelty of the experience that awaits us. This time around there will be no group of inheriting stooges in the incoming government to cover for the past government. Instead there will be a pack of roving glory seekers very eager to point out the past governments countless shortcoming as well as edging to make a notable difference of their own. Some of the promises the in-coming government made during its campaign sounded juvenile and naïve, now is the time to explain those away and substantiate the change they promised, while emphasizing the difference they will make. The major difference this time around is that a majority of Nigerian had a say in who does what explaining and all the politicians, across political divide know that the people have to like all their weighty explanation.
While we wait for the first of these explainations, enjoy the following ficticious one.
(excerpts from The Whore; Chapter 5)
“The infantile joke in the citizenry’s attitude towards very essential measures taken by government is appallingly so naïve most time,” said the government’s minister for finance.
Laraba was momentarily stunt, wondering what the guy was up to. She didn’t ask him to repeat himself or clarify what he actually meant. Doing so would give him an opportunity to either correct himself or attempt to soften the blow of the blunt and rather unguarded remark he had just made. She already had her mini tape recorder rolling away and had the vital advantage of being able to review what she knew she had just heard, again. The mere thought of the magnitude of this potentially damning bashful blunder and the silly rashness of the minister’s openness was elating. Laraba had already started toying with the limitless possibilities of this single statement, made only two question into the proposed two hours long interview.
Her concentration seemed to waver and his gaze pierced into her thought fruitlessly, as he contemplates clarifying what he had just said. It didn’t feel quite right and with the tactful use of a combination of coy reasoning and logic, he could tactically withdraw the remark. She sensed this and didn’t give him the chance by clearly pretending not to have registered the remark. She deviated into another aspect, dear to the boastful minister. She almost beseeched him to again briefly explain for the umpteenth time, how he had effortlessly got the nation such a massive foreign debt reprieve for a full decade. He fell for it like a winter starved Bear to catching jumping salmon slowed at a cliff edge waterfall, on their seasonal breeding trip up stream.
Tanimu Lawal was the Nigerian minister for finance and he has always thought the world of his looks, mainly because he appeared to attract a lot of interested stares when he walked around or spoke publicly. Clearly he needed to be reminded that badly dressed ugly people do attract even more looks from appalled spectators, than well-dressed, physically attractive people would ordinarily do. He wasn’t just qualified for his plumb job, but as a third generation professional international banker, one whose influential northern Nigerian family is continuously represented at the very top echelon of the federal government, he already had enough training and experience in international monetary dealings for his present job, before his early thirties. So that elegant mannerism of handling a simply press interview comes naturally to him, almost like a shaven coiffure to a balding young man. His rich folks gave him a lot more than life, they also gave him the kind of life to live as well. His family’s historical position gave him a living to live life with.
Laraba let him indulge himself, going over details that were not quite important to her, since the whole financial world had certified them as laudable and massively beneficial to the country. She waited patiently, making the right noises to both encourage him and put him at ease for what was to come. This interview was slated to be Kengua’s, but honourable Tanimu Lawal had insisted she handled it instead, he was that sure of himself. It was always going to be a duel between them and they both knew it. She had resisted doing the interview. Kengua didn’t mind in the least and Lawal was increasingly persistent she did it, even as she resisted further.
Finally she had cunningly made out she had only accepted to take the interview reluctantly, but she had actually just made the minister less ready for their duel. She hid away the advantage she had and made him feel comfortable, with the wrong impression. If he was under the illusion he would stroll through their two hours session because he is the darling of the financial world, he had goofed. As the latest wiz-kid on the block, he was to know better soon enough, she thought. Laraba is a butcher and fattened cows only come to the butcher for one reason only.
Lawal looked into Laraba’s eyes & smiled.
“My will is cast in hope re-enforced prayer,” he said. “Hope for my nation to flourish with a viable economy that will be envied the world over.” He had quickly added.
Laraba nodded, sensing he was about done with blowing his shiny trumpet. Lawal became uncomfortable, the interview was going too smoothly for his expectations. Even he knew reputations are not mere hand bills but solid structures that command space and respect.
“I merely did my little bit,” Tanimu Lawal concludes and waited expectantly for the fiery salvo he knew was certainly coming his way. Laraba didn’t waste any more time.
“Surely Mister honourable Minister Lawal sir, you don’t think most Nigerians are stupid, do you?” The glint in her eyes and the brief twitch on the right side of her lips is her tell, when she sets about ruffling up some one. But he didn’t know and had no way of telling.
Lawal curtly responded with an unqualified, uncertain Yes!
His answer hung there on its own, un-accompanied with more expansive elabourate clarification for an uncomfortable brief while, a couple of nervy heart beats too long. It wasn’t really a reply like it ought to be and Lawal looked unsure but Laraba though it was vague enough to be ideal for this purpose. When words get in the way of expressing real thoughts and feelings, unlike how they quite expertly express fake ones, they serve some real purpose all the same, as deceptive tools. He moved uncomfortably in the cozy armchair he was seated in, inside his huge office. He reached out his right hand for the glass of water on the transparent clear glass stool.
It gave him some time to think. Laraba had kept her eyes on him all along, as he refilled the already half empty glass with water from a half full jug. She enjoyed his effort to hide his visible discomfort and wondered if she wasn’t even thirstier than he was at that instant; thirstier for his famous prestigious blood. As both their gathering thoughts collect, hers permeates her mental notes for a better way to home in on him for the ultimate clincher. His thought sought to cathartically expunge the impurity in his earlier seemingly damning statement. Their separate motives were apart and ill-aligned to be anything but opposites. Their movements were only destined to be perpendicular and the interview was ever going to end with some dissatisfaction.
But it was yet early to tell still. Lawal filled up his glass and seemed to have received the misty glass with his eyes before he picked up the obviously cold drink. He swallowed nervously before downing the liquid content with visible relish. Being interviewed by Laraba is a hot proposition any day. He still had the half full glass in his hand but was just leaning forward to put it back on the glass stool when she asked the same question with completely different words.
“Isn’t naivety stupidity in this context?”
He instantly saw the opportunity for a rebound and she knew she had just unconsciously handed him a good strong life line. One he could use to either pull himself out onto solid ground or hang himself up with. But Lawal merely elabourated further.
“No, it is actually impatience, rather,” he answered and swallowed.
“If we say we will stop flaring up gas, they cheer us up. If we say we will burn up the gas in huge motored furnaces to generate electricity for the general public’s use, they jeer angrily. If we say we will stop using the gas and sell it, they cheer us up yet again.
“When the electricity they get is expensive, because we cannot use the cheap gas easily available to us, they jeer at us yet again. They cheer us, they jeer at us, then they cheer and again jeer, repeatedly like babies.” He had hung himself, but he had clearly made sense in doing so.
Was he taking a bullet for a sitting President because it is in his job description? Or was he being bold because he had such faith in the bulletproof vest of laudable financial achievements he had on? It was clear from the way he developed his argument that he meant well though, but Laraba has her own job description, which is satisfying her readers and upholding her reputation.
He waved eloquently in his argument, confident that his rational reasoning was clearly not as flawed as his critics make them out to be. Mentioning contrary views to his appear to have caused him plenty of aggravation. He would emphatically condemn these perspectives as; “Unfathomable logic, clearly biased to selfish sentiments, devoid of common sense and made by persons who have not acquainted themselves with recent world economic and social trends.”
Laraba instantly realized the amiable federal minister was on self-destruct mode. She only needs to let him talk freely and he will spill the beans. He is clearly the sort that truly means well but has to dishonourably befriend all the neighborhood’s meanest bullies with presents of stolen sweets. This allows him to do the little good he can, like save trapped kittens and rescue weaklings from severe trashing. She toyed with him, preparing him with ideological niceties.
“Maybe there is no such thing as a common good or even common bad. Maybe just from some perspective it exists, but not in any general real term. I mean it is either good or bad to some and bad or good to the other, not all good or all bad across the board. What is your take?”
He hesitated and sized her up.
Clearly he was trying to figure out her approach, but true to his character, he did let fly.
“I disagree. Certain things are commonly good, others commonly bad. Maybe perspectives will see them as mainly good or mainly bad. It really comes down to the context it is viewed in; No rain and a drought, too much and a flood, that kind of thing.”
Mild conscious start, Laraba thought.
Then almost out of nothing Lawal fired out.
“It is quite silly, really. All the harsh criticism we get is unfounded most times and you wonder sometimes if some of these grown up Nigerians actually know what they want”.
“You do mean, ‘What they need’ don’t you?”
“No, I do mean what they want!”
She realized once more she didn’t need to interrupt him, he wants to talk.
“Nations are like individuals. Where its citizens fail to successfully establish their core financial independence, nations will most certainly fail socially too. The merit and demerits of microeconomics are like those of macroeconomics. Parameters must be set in key areas of the economy to let it blossom on its own naturally. The whole Nigerian economy had really grown when it was finally decided to massively subsidize the steady input into electricity production and make power available, alongside all agricultural inputs; disregarding the western world’s threat not let Nigeria to do so. Then government removed all subsidies.
“The government removed subsidies on commercialized fossil fuel derivatives and produced electric power; disregarding all the politicized selfish local agitations not to do so. Luxury items and personal incomes were meticulously taxed but simultaneously, all basic modern living essentials were untaxed. These key steps were so unpopular with large sections that consider them inimical to their preference. We lost some foreign trade because of agricultural subsidies.”
“But the cost of living then doubled with the withdrawal of fuel and power subsidies.” Laraba pointed out quickly. Lawal shook his head, disagreeing with her.
“Actually we later gained twice the foreign trade we lost. The big economies shunned us but the smaller economies trooped in because we could offer stuffs at lesser prices. Then investors tripled as did employment and domestic income, all around.”
“Things didn’t get any better for the ordinary man still.” Laraba insisted.
“It’s just the lingering indefinite recession, so to speak.”
“So to speak, you do not consider this a recession?”
“I do. Just it is best described as a financial meltdown. Don’t you wonder why almost all the nations in the world are in debt and where all the money has gone to?”
Lawal started to explain further.
“As elementary as the answer might sound, it is indeed true that all the public funds have manage to go private. That is why there are more seriously rich people and corporations now than ever before. There is this massive accumulation of money stashed away for rainy days. It isn’t rendering the services most required now or creating nearly as much jobs as needed now.”
It was Laraba’s turn to reach for her glass of water, he just continued without breaking off.
“Also this breakdown in world finances was inevitable. No one continues to spend what they don’t make without the utopian fanfare ending abruptly at some time.” He just went on.
“‘Adache’ is a northern Nigerian close community thrift arrangement. It always ends after a very brief spell and it runs for only a short while at a time, repeatedly. People get to spend more than they are worth at a particular point in time, but not more than they can guarantee they can pay back within the specified period of the thrift’s session and repeatedly.
“It all depends on the slot beneficiaries fit into in the agreed sequence of collection. Some participants could literally be taking short, completely interest free loans from their group friends or colleagues. While others might just as well be saving up in a free fixed deposit bank account, with no access to it until the specified time elapses. It is very simple and very effective.
“Compare this to something only recently researched here; activities of an old failed arrangement in southern Nigeria decades back, where a smart banker ran a loose thrift set up.”
Laraba nodded, recollecting the particular reference.
“He duped a lot of people of millions in accumulated personal funds, I recollect.”
“That’s right. The smart banker had duped deserving gullible greedy people, if you ask me. His fraudulent bank; or something like that, was actually paying one hundred percent interest rates on any investment made within a year. Incredible as it sounds, the chap actually paid up for a couple of years. It was apparently a very huge success for a number of years and naturally, all went burst. That’s your world financial meltdown presently, and I am not exaggerating.”
Laraba saw the need to steer him away from his comfortable topic of world finance and let the bragging federal minister throw some more stones at the Nigerians he serves.
“You once said, ‘There is little good in most Nigerians.”
“That was taken out of context.”
“Then what did you actually say then?”
“I said just that, only I referred to most Nigerians who readily seize opportunities to paint government in bad light when they either didn’t do better when they were in government or don’t even remotely proffer better solutions or forward any constructive ideas to the problems they are arbitrarily bad mouthing so freely, regardless of the many successes they see being achieved.”
“So it is not possible for such criticism to mean well?”
“I am of the strong belief that all reasonable and logical virtues can be applied by or revealed simultaneously in one individual. As such their actions will speak as loud as their words. If they meant well and do mean well, it will show through. It doesn’t in these cases.”
“But these are very important people with loads of national and international experience in governing this country and international agencies, that you’re not giving any credence.”
“What they have is priority grades for their own selfish requests and attention. They are your VIPs; Very Important People. IPs: Improper Professionals. SPs: Special People. VSPs: Very Special Persons. These are all glossy personifications of corruption.”
Laraba scribbled down her first notes since the interview started.
She reassured herself that her mini recorder was still rolling and smiled at the thought of the material she already has.
Lawal had more creative quotes for her.
“It has been written once: There is bedlam and delirium and felicity for all. That is our Nigeria and the typical Nigerian.
“This country has it all wrong in its logic, sentiments and tastes across the board.”
There was no end to the controversial quotes he kept giving her.
“Nigeria may probably be the only country in the world where coins will never again be used, not ever again. And it has nothing to do with government policies.”
She simply led him on.
“Bankers always wanted a cash less economy, right?”
He chuckled at her joke. She joined in for good measure. Then Laraba tried to generalize.
“That is true indeed, but the entire world also has its logic all over the place. We have made water a commercialized commodity like we made conditioned air much earlier. Already all food kinds have been patented. Ultimately breathing would be branded as well, thus completely licensing life altogether. Is this the rise of the corporate world you envisage?”
“You make it sound like it truly isn’t and you know it. The world is changing and priorities are confused. But the Nigerian state has polished its bad and silenced it good.”
“Corruption, it is always corruption.”
“You have a country full of the best praise singers and the meanest critics. The irony of it is that these quite diverse functions are jointly exhibited, practiced and directed at only individuals of some perceived lofty economic and political standings, and oddly by the very same individuals of questionably coy repute, repeatedly. It is endlessly practiced by all and sundry across the length and width of the land. Its perverse tempo only heightens or reduces, depending on the occasion and place. Praise singing is a real national public pastime, which is mainly used to win favours from those pointedly praised and criticized inversely.”
“Are you insinuating that corruption; praise singing as you also tag it, is encouraged nationwide by Nigerians?”
“Most Nigerians will never readily admit this, but corruption is too widespread. Praise singing is the most visible form of corruption. Honest criticism is mainly undertaken in the private domain, when only obviously dependent relatives, harmless friends and domestic pets can discreetly hear and nod in fearful agreement, just like the good praise singers they also are.
“It is a cultural thing, I guess. The worst thing about the covetous need for this sort of hypocrisy is the lack of any real coercion. No one really needs to be so agreeable with thieves if they are not in harm’s way. This hypocrisy is purely a reflection of the internal corruption that encourages ‘praise for gain’. This is all towards gaining undue advantage cheaply, rather than to criticize appropriately or be ostracized and left ‘on your own’.”
Clearly, Lawal was on a roll and earning Laraba’s miserly given respect as he went along. She could see it now, all that privileged cozy upbringing he had, amidst the very gripping harsh improvised reality in the vastly visible suffering around him, must have pricked his conscience. It tugged at his literate sense of self efficiency in reasoning. It had made him question this disharmony, lack of moral uniformity and blatant fiendish wickedness so easily condoned.
The abrasive and rude concordance of this society had ingrained his self-promoting faculties with torrents of enmity for the system. There is also doubt in his capacity to effect genuine change without corrupting himself in the process. And because it didn’t ever take him far enough in doing the right thing sincerely and quite honestly, he made up for his groundless deficiencies by mating flawed affiliations. In order to impose his own laudable set of norms, evil entreaties won, making him responsibly responsive to what he considers as improper. Thus ultimately, Lawal had collaborated with the ploy of unassailable bad, only because by doing so, he continued to fester in his own imaginary world, in which he represents some good.
Laraba is familiar with the disposition of anchored fear and deep seated worries. The buzz of it reveals as an enticement disguising itself amidst the haunting shortcomings of energized good intent. It apprehensively proclaims itself, inside that solely unhappily insatiable and gloomy individual who surrounds self with the proudly rewarded dregs of society. The very same he is in defiant response with, but is still largely forsaken by them.
In this setting, whether they are in or out of government, the honest critic who speaks out and pushes for honest change, is all alone and on his own. He gets only verbal solidarity and nothing solid in his hour of need. Instead he is more flurried than frenzied into being a bitter person if he refuses to rest on his oars. He really only has his conscience to battle against, and all is covered with the must staggering unswerving disloyalty. Even the people he ought to trust assail him with overriding demands to lay back to let the status quo be and also belong. His renewed and refreshed perspective is cheered openly but chided for being a cynical attitude in the closet, as the entire world seems to come together to form bodies in protest.
Lawal was a revelation. He had seriously set out to and had jarred some usually unrevealed emotions. The anxiety his flippant remarks causes certainly will mostly attract the fiercest opposition in the most secret quarters. Laraba was sure even before the interview got published, that it will dwell and linger in the news scene for a long time. He had most definitely interposed.
His devastating bluntness presents a clash in the interest of the same clique he is criticizing but one he quite clearly belongs to.
A critique which they now cannot deny isn’t true, one they can’t put off but must deal with instantly. The anxiety his cronies would nurse will show through their worries. It would bother them mightily that Lawal loudly listed his worries like core dislikes and not principled opinions. This only fostered a continuous hesitancy in policy making, on the side of government. The direction of his critique assure of a tremendous impact. There surely wouldn’t be any retraction. This sort of interview always began a new adventure for both the personality and the journalist. They were both bound to get busy after it comes out and they weren’t set to be bored by the continuous petition for their comments afterwards.
What is more interesting about it all is the personality Lawal presents is bold and daring, almost beguilingly like a badly voiced over cartoon character. He looked implacable with a straight faced expression that doesn’t look any way like one with diverted attention. Yet his voice and utterances are those of the famished man whose perspective is increasingly fickle and unreliable. His eyes darted continually, only momentarily concentrating on something else other than the ball of huge responsibility he held as the federal minister of finance.
He attacked both the leaders and the led, with no distinction. It is after all quite natural to show interest in other people, that is what classifies all higher intellect animal as social animals, with people being fore mostly classed as the most advanced of the whole lot. Lawal states his views in a manner that sounds almost like they are some sort of divine manifesto of an ancient mythical deity. He looks to voice them out like they had no frailties of their own. But though they come out strong minded, they are actually weary calls for some justification.
They say they are not righteous alright, yet they are good. They are like the bold loud encouragement shouted out to a young healthy promising sprinter, by a spent old timer who has atrophied leg muscles for not exercising. He puts himself out as someone who had squandered his chance once and appears to be saying that his productive age has passed on for good. He envisages a new approach to fraternizing with the evil characters that abound everywhere, being doggedly above board in clear transparency, watching out for the needy. There is no stopping him as he unraveled what will probably be the new benchmark for the government he served.
“Look, let’s stop this lying to ourselves and face things the way they look. Nigerians are corrupt by their orientation and they will most probably always be corrupt. Kick out the entire heralded ruling class in governance, in one swift move if you like and replace every single one of them ten times over again with fresh Nigerians with untarnished credible images publicly. You will still have something not very different from the present lot.”
Laraba had to speak out in some form of defense.
“Are you saying most Nigerians are corrupt?”
“Yes indeed I am.”
“Isn’t that deeply harsh and an unfair generalization?”
“But is it?”
Lawal knew he could make something out of all this and he readied himself for such attempts to dissuade him from his rather extreme views.
He is aware that once this comes out, it would fully identify his true person finally. There will never be a lull in the clamoring chatter over the scandal that will ensue.
“The system simply churns out corruption and corrupt people successively.”
He allows a brief pause for effect.
“Not just singularly corrupt persons but in a vast majority of multitudes in every recognizable facet of life. Our great grandparents were less openly corrupt and more bias in their sentiments, they ushered the whole trend. Our grandparents and parents were corrupt, we are more corrupt than they were and without being in danger of exaggerating, our children have only naturally made corruption a way of life for they also know no better too.”
Laraba smiled back a tacit agreement as he went on.
“There is no aspect of our polity that isn’t tainted to a sooty dark screen of falsehood by corruption. No Nigerian; I repeat no Nigerian, is completely capable of being fully steadfast to a belief in the Nigerian project any longer. At least not without being unduly biased to their own personalized aspiration for the nation. If that isn’t corruption, then what is? This is the worst form of corruption because everyone simply transmits any sort of remote privilege they have into being subjective to issues that favour their very own orientation, ethnicity and religious leanings.
“Thus every Nigerian is corrupted by these constituted psyche of his person that he is taught to hold dear and use as a yardstick to measure his relationship with all other Nigerians.”
Laraba starts to worry Lawal would contemplate a possible doubt and ultimately some future denial of at least parts of what he has already said. But there is no hold on him big enough to dull the moment. He seems to know no bounds at the moment.
“This is however a very optimistic assessment and not a shut out pessimistic one, because Nigerians are mainly barking up the wrong tree when they tag this elite customized corruption as the main reason for their woes. They are choosing not to rightly blame their commonly diverse personalized inhibitions for their self-induced worries. It is a big contradiction of logic.”
It seemed he had completely forgotten that he was talking to possibly the most outlandishly cruel journalist in the country. Laraba is one journalist who wouldn’t break a sweat to make his subtle bad pronunciation appear like some blundering insult deliberately direct at her specific faceless readers. It completely baffled her why he was being so loose with his words. Clearly he wasn’t terrified of what she represented any longer. Apparently he has passed over that early fear of her huge reputation. Without being remotely scared of her as a very influential person, he continued to make his snide remarks, unperturbed.
“Historically, Nigerians have since time immemorial attached importance to social status, revering and respecting all forms of symbolic power and wealth.”
Lawal simply went on, not minding her perception. He was making the most of this opportunity to say it like he thinks it. He hinted treachery without evident dishonesty.
“Nigerians make every effort to get undue advantage from everyone; their siblings, parents, relatives, peers and their religious intermediaries and elders. They grew learning to solicit favours with physical gifts, paid homage or some other showy expressive behaviour, either in the simple act of greeting or pretentious show of allegiance. Even the Nigerian child now recognizes those who have and those who have not. The youngest Nigerian soon learns that the latter are fair game, while the former are noble hunters of the latter’s comforts and murderers of their rights.”
There wasn’t any need for more questions, any longer.
“Every chance I get, I tell even my relatives and closest friends that virtually all Nigerians must accept this fact about their nature. Accepting this fact about a majority of Nigerians is like agreeing that there is a God without requiring a regal booming heavenly bass voice calling down a damning sentence for every act of disobedience from the skies every morning.
“If the nation wishes to correct this wholesome abnormality unique to it and not wrest away advantage from one sect and hand it over to yet another, then Nigerians must have a system that immediately accommodates the real fact about the naturalized state of its corruption, quickly!
“To even start doing something about this problem entails being completely truthful about the hybrid culture of pretense and corruption created in the typical Nigerian’s gene.”
“Surely he was rounding up now,” she thought.
“Right now, what is happening is one set of thieves are lining up to take over from those thieves currently in power.”
“That means your set of ‘Thieves’ is the former?”
She couldn’t resist capitalizing on the glaring opening he offers and she even inserted the inverted commas with both her hands. But he was ready for her and matched her easily.
“Yes”, he agreed and smiled confidently.
This definitely has to be the clincher. The current federal minister of finance just branded the collection of persons that constitute the entire federal government he serves in, as a ‘Set of Thieves’. Even he couldn’t possibly surpass or out-do that!
“This is a fact and includes the long multiplied line of like-minded Nigerians, all the way down to the babies in their parents’ arms now. It is a fact Nigerians deny at their detriment.
“The Nigerian community must stop this charade about fighting corruption with witch hunting. This is only another way to give undue advantage to one thief against another.”
Laraba made a mental note to look up an authorized definition of the word ‘Thief’.
It would certainly prove to be essential.
“The nation is indeed represented in its legislature by its likeness. Look at those that deliberate on Nigerians’ behalf in the law making houses right now. Are they Nigerians? Oh yes they are in every sense of the identity. These are the most imminent Nigerians!”
“Who do you want them replaced with, you?”
“If our legislature is flawed, what or who replaces it?”
“Not the system; it is the people in the system that are flawed.”
“They are also ‘Thieves’?”
Again she gestured the inverted commas and for a brief while here, Lawal appeared to express some hesitation. But his subsequent words showed it was impatience.
“Please Miss Thomas, don’t bother discussing this with anyone but yourself. Right now inside your mind, will you honestly admit that you would only turn out to be a shade different? That is hardly ideal as you seat here in front of me.”
“I would expect I will fare better.”
“I thought so.”
“And your point is?”
“If we all think it, expect it from all and still are failed by all, what makes me, you or anyone else any different then?”
“It is a common problem everywhere, trust?”
“But here it is not just some bad apples in the barrel. It is the whole orchard that is infected and that is where we all fail, in admitting we are all ‘The Problem’; not just some part of it.”
It was his turn to insert inverted commas in the chill air. It brought a toothy smile to Laraba’s face as she acknowledged Lawal’s ingenious use of sarcasm.
“We are only victims to one aspect of the problem, while we actually victimized others.”
This wasn’t the inescapably mean individual with the self-made supreme air of importance Laraba was used to, neither is he without blemish. He is indignant to his enthralling version of the grim picture he paints vividly. He didn’t look or sound remotely like the sort to desert friends when he is needed. Clearly he didn’t see it like letting his friends down for he was never amidst friends. The penned up frustration he existed under had kept building up and now vents out. He was now letting off steam. He bore a grudge for so long with the echoing disservice that the polity had become so very accustomed to. Amidst the general loss that had become irreparable, the citizenry were alienated and estranged from the truth unsteadily dawning on everyone.
The system is rotten beyond the system. The sanctity of facts lost its sting in this country and all the leading proponents of truth lost out in their battles for the supremacy of sincerity.
A variety of plots, schemes and plans can easily turn a spurious manipulation into the God spoken truth. It isn’t a paradox to unravel from the mystery that encapsulates it. But the question is, was honorable Lawal merely depositing his versioned truth on her?
“This is where you offer a solution, in theory at least,” Laraba mused and Lawal giggled mildly. There was a quick glint on the worn out tiny silvery Alma Mata coat pin on his jacket collar flap, as it caught sunlight from the open window. His stomach is visibly flat and taut.
He wasn’t the type to be saddened because it is clearly insinuated that he is just ranting. Maybe if he was convinced that his solutions were not tenable, he would have been.
She busied her eyes with pretending to read her notes but her thoughts were momentarily engaged elsewhere. The outpour of words from the frail looking man before her demanded her close listening. She definitely represented a sure way for him to either lose plenty or gain more of the public affection he obviously craves for. She reasoned, why else would he want this interview and use it to lay out quite astonishing, blundering blandishments that she could easily use to bury him? There is no covert unanimity in their plain and simple arrangement to have this two hours long interview. The length of it was an indication of how extensive it was meant to be.
She was however free to use all the material she got from the interview like she pleases.
So she sat in front of him, a petite lady, with small hands and fitting tiny fingers, dressed in a rather tight fitting dark green gown, which looked exquisite despite the dull colour of it. This is because of the expensive suede fabric it was made from. She appeared well poised to either make yet another high profile person either dislike her a lot less or much more, it is always a present and imminent dual possibility with her, one she subtly threatened.
“You asked for my theoretical solution? It is simple. I said this is an optimistic assessment didn’t I? Hence the ultimate solution is in accepting the wholesomeness of the localized Nigerian corruption, then we can start to solve it. Now that is where the solution is, right there.”
Her gaze rose to penetrate him. Their countenance each conveyed their instant thought. There is by now no barrier to their discourse to gloat over. He wasn’t apparently saddened by how the process is going because he is now convinced he had been successful in leading the interview in the direction he wanted. Laraba’s guidance has been genuinely curious, with no ulterior intent left in it, once she realized she had a real talker.
After many years of handling so many controversial issues, Laraba has since learnt that a certain criterion repeatedly resurfaces in the most outlandish form in such matters. There are two of them. Firstly, all real possibilities of trashing the speakers’ so radically defined performance goes out the window from the very early stage of the interview itself. And secondly, definitely any likely bias fragmentation of the manner in which the entire interview turns out to be crafted by the writer is as a result also dashed, for the temporal permit for innovation is also lost.
There is always something that stretches credulity in these sorts of interviews. A kind of comradeship bounding grows out of it, as both speaker and writer lean on each other for good measure. Laraba recollects she once did a piece on an expatriate medical practitioner from an impoverished Asian country. He was doing brisk business within Nigeria, providing the most qualitative advanced medical services, which is completely not available in his own struggling tiny island nation of origin. He honestly admitted it was because his people couldn’t afford it.
Laraba was naturally shocked with this unforgivable insensitivity to the plight of the poor. She was also surprised to a mouth gaping stupor when she learnt that it was during that interview, he realized that Penicillin is not yet a century old. Laraba’s thoughts were visible in her awe filled eyes as the almost cream complexioned elderly man had wondered out loud, what on earth was used as antibiotics only a century ago. She didn’t break a sweat in making that interview huge and Lawal’s was billed to be a whole lot easier, by a wide margin.
“Nigeria is presently irredeemably corrupt and most Nigerians of virtually all ages are too. In their bashful nature, all Nigerians want what is due to them and most will not really mind shortchanging other Nigerians in their pursuit of it.” Lawal knew he couldn’t possibly achieve anymore from this interview than he already had. But the unbothered way he went on to make one blunt statement after another that could literally end his public life, made Laraba cringe.
She was likely writing his public resignation, so Laraba decided to improve on usual rule of sending hard copies of the transcripts and copies of the tapes to her subject a few days after the interview session. This is to reassure them only what they said will be in the published piece. For Lawal, she also sent the finished article too, days before it was published. She wanted to hear this guy try to take back some of the things he said. Not that it will matter any way.
Every reader will make their own mind about him, like she did. It seemed he was dying on the spot he spoke from as he talked like he was achieving more at that moment than ever in his entire privileged life. Laraba made sure he same last words concluded her piece on him, it was befitting in more ways than she could have ever made up herself. It was his moment and he had picked the words that spoke volumes for him and what he represents.
“Let us not pretend to treat one another with a sort of fake sincerity. Being true to ourselves is the way out. We don’t live in harmony now, all of us. Let us just make it official and actually start singing Nigeria we hail thee when we stop pretending to mime Arise O compatriots!”