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Between the devil and the deep blue sea

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By Tunde Odesola

(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, December 7, 2020)

The molue is a bizarre bus. It’s a bucket of bolts with the loud noise of a helicopter. Indeed, the 49-sitting-99-standing-passenger bus is renowned in Lagos, Africa’s largest capital city, as a mobile coffin.

With the clanking sound of an engine about to knock, this particular molue,  painted in green-white-green colours, jangled to a jerky stop as the driver squished the failing brake pedal to the floorboard, causing a collision of passengers against the unblunted metal edges of the shabby interior body work.

In a three-part choreographic sequence, human noise erupted from inside the molue after the deafening engine noise died down and a thick smoke enveloped the jagged metal contraption.

Cursing and coughing, Lucky, the driver of the molue, and his conductor, Sambi, were the first to emerge from the eye-peppering smoke of the bus. Swearing and sweating,  passengers of the fully loaded bus emerged from within the smoke like displaced cockroaches, coughing and furious.

Purchased since 1960, this molue had not been serviced by subsequent drivers who only fed fuel to the grumpy bus despite ceaseless complaints by passengers calling for a total overhaul of the vehicle.

At different times in the accident-ridden life of this molue, subsequent negligent drivers had ignored the demand for a turnaround maintenance by passengers whose flesh, clothes and goods were daily ripped by the sharp metal edges inside the bus.

After the cloud of smoke had cleared and the black oil dripping from under the vehicle had stopped, Lucky pinched a dripping hole in a sachet of ‘Sledgehammer’ with his teeth, and in one belching gulp, drained the alcoholic content.

However, all hell broke loose when Lucky implored the passengers to  go back into the bus to commence their journey to Abuja.

Lucky: Let’s go inside the bus and pray so that we can commence our journey in earnest.

Passenger 1: What kind of stupid and clueless driver is this? So, you can call for prayer after drinking ogogoro, abi? Are you supposed to call for prayer or fix your cursed bus?

Passenger 2: You kari bus komot for house, you no gauge oil, you no gauge tyre, brake no good, no whipper, no horn, no pointer, yet you collect money from us, and your motor come pafuka on top Third Mainland Bridge. Me, I no sabi swim o. I don warn you o, ehn-ehn!

Lucky: Don’t come and insult me here o. I’m not an ordinary driver, I am a graduate and I have my degrees, including a PhD. I’m here to serve the masses. So, don’t talk to me anyhow.

Sambi: (Appealing to the passengers) I’m also a graduate but I’ll speak pidgin so that everyone can understand.  Na because make we no delay una for road here, das why my oga say make we pray and manage the bus to Abuja. Na small thing dey worry the bus o; na just to change the crankshaft, gearbox and carburetor, then we go make it to Abuja in 24 hours; we can still manage the brake to Abuja, my oga sabi pump failing brake well, well.

Passenger 2: You must be mad, you this stupid conductor! You want to manage faulty brakes from Lagos to Abuja, abi? It’s you that will not see 2021, you murderer!

Just then, a sparkly bus parked in front of Lucky’s shambly molue. Written boldly on it was, “Integrity Airbus.” The bus owner, Eko, came out with his garage mob, and together, they poached passengers from Lucky’s bus. A tired old man called Baba Integrity was the driver of the bus.

Eko: (Appealing to the stranded passengers on Lucky’s bus) Abuja straight! Abuja straaaaight!! No stopping for road o. Fully air-conditioned bus at affordable price. Free wi-fi, free food, maximum security of life and property, peace and enjoyment guaranteed during the journey. Abuja sttraaaaaightt! You guys know I won’t lead you astray, this bus is heading to the Promised Land straight!

(The ensuing surge for space on the bus almost led to a stampede. All the passengers, except one, abandoned Lucky’s bus and went on to board Baba’s ‘Integrity Bus’. Three passengers, Johnbull, Paine and Iya Aburo spoke freely on Integrity Bus)

Paine: Ha, see Chief Eko himself vouchsafing for this bus, it must be reliable.

Other Passengers: It must surely be.

Baba: (Speaking over the intercom) Trust me, I’m a tested and trusted driver. You know I’ve done it before. I’ll give you a trip you will live to remember for the rest of your lives.

Passengers: (Roar in applause)

Eko: You guys are very lucky Baba graciously agreed to drive you to Abuja by himself. No force in the world can stop this bus.

Paine: (Effusing joy) Yes, we sabi. Na God say make Baba show up to rescue us from the dangers on the Third Mainland Bridge and the sea under. For my life, I no go ever enter any motor driven by Lucky and his PindiPi company.

Johnbull: Na true, we all dey very lucky.

(Everyone was in amazement of the Integrity Bus – its sheen and perfect body work. But as Baba attempted to start the engine, the paints began to peel off. The engine failed to crank.)

Passengers: Haaaaa!

Paine: Wetin bi dis? Lucky’s bus still dey move small-small, dis one no even move at all. Na from frying pan to fire be dis o.

Johnbull: But why dem come build special cabin for Baba for driver seat nah? I mean, why we no fit see Baba face nah?

Eko: To drive the Integrity Bus no easy. All of us sabi Abuja road very well – armed robbers full everywhere, Boko Haram dey yanfu-yanfu, kidnappers dey berekete. So, Baba need concentration to drive and crush all the robbers, Boko Haram and kidnappers on the road.

Paine: Drive and crush Boko Haram, robbers and kidnappers at the same time? Baba na James Bond or Formula 1 driver, uhmm?

Johnbull: Abeg, wetin be di bus wi-fi password?

Garage boy: It’s not advisable to use wi-fi now because Boko Haram can use wi-fi signal to locate and blow up this bus.

Paine: Ha?! But we never even comot Third Mainland Bridge nah?

Garage boy: Yes, I know, but Boko Haram dey everywhere o.

(A baby lets out a shriek)

Garage girl: Make im mama give am breastmilk nah. Abi you no want make Baba concentrate ni?

Iya Aburo: It’s the hotness here that’s making my baby cry, not hunger. Please, switch on your full air-conditioner.

Eko: Iya Aburo, so you no sabi say air-conditioner no dey good for small pikin? Air-conditioner is a very dangerous thing o.

Johnbull: Wey the food una promise passengers?

Eko: When embarking on this type of dangerous journey, you need fasting and prayers.

Iya Aburo: Please, come and help me open the window by my seat so that my baby can get some fresh air.

Garage boy: Dat na very big security risk o; you want to expose other passengers to danger?  Passengers mustn’t even touch the window blinds. Everybody should just put their trust in Baba, he’s doing a fantastic job, we are moving so fast.

Iya Aburo: But I can’t hear the sound of the engine.

Paine: I can’t hear any engine sound, too. Is this bus flying or are we not riding on Nigerian roads full of potholes?

Eko: Baba is trained to dodge potholes.

A passenger angrily yanked off the blind from the window, alas!, the vehicle hadn’t moved from the same spot it picked the passengers.

Passengers: Whaaaaat!!! Why haven’t we moved from the same spot since?

Baba: You lazy passengers can’t understand. I’m trying to make a choice between staying with the devil, that is, the Third Mainland Bridge, or plunging you into the deep blue sea below!

Passengers: Haaaaaaa!

ENDS

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

Facebook: @tunde odesola

Twitter: @tunde_odesola

Opinion

Buhari rests in London, Nigeria boils by Tunde Odesola

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(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, April 12, 2021)

As a herdsman, ‘yowwa’ is the likeliest gratifying word to escape from the tight-lipped Nigerian President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) if his cows nuzzle their muzzles against him as they eat hay from his outstretched hands during a random visit to his herd.

And as a devout Muslim, ‘Auzubillahi!’ is the likeliest word the President would utter if a dog mistakenly snuggles up against his ankle; Islam forbids human-dog embrace.

Aside from the religious injunction, however, the 78-year-old northern leader is unlikely to prefer the dog to the cow. Quite unlike the slow, witless and clumsy cow, the dog is a very intelligent, friendly, sensitive and witty creature. Universally, the dog is seen as man’s best friend, not the cow. Notwithstanding all these attributes, President Buhari’s preference will still be for the cow, not the dog, any day, anytime – for ancestral reasons.

The age-long ‘yes-sir!’ military mentality that upholds loyalty to superiors over patriotism to Nigeria, predisposes Buhari, a veteran soldier, to choosing the pliant cow over the witty dog.

Surely, the flunkey ‘yes-sir’ mentality is the reason why the Nigerian military, police, DSS and other security agencies put Buhari far above the country and the Constitution, and would shoot at innocent youths at Lekki tollgate even when such an order is in clear breach of the rules of engagement and the Constitution.

Indeed, the distinction between sycophancy and patriotism was what saved the US when subversive forces rose against its democracy on January 6, 2021 at the Capitol as the judiciary, the legislature, the military and all other institutions of government stood in defence of the American Constitution over the shenanigans of former President Donald Trump and his cohorts.

The understanding of the distinction between racism and patriotism is what is currently playing out in the trial of the white police officer, Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the neck of African-American George Floyd on May 25, 2020, sending him to an early grave in Minneapolis city of Minnesota, USA.

Chauvin’s ongoing public trial, which commenced on March 29, 2021, displays the unquestionable ability of the American nation to reinvent itself when faced with challenges.

For the average Nigerian like me, it beggars belief to think that serving and retired Nigerian police officers would enter the witness box and vehemently condemn one of their own as it’s being done in the trial of Chauvin, who faces up to 40 years in prison if the second degree murder charge, which presupposes that he didn’t intentionally kill Floyd, is upheld.

Since public hearings on police killings and brutality opened in various states of the Nigerian federation, following the #Endsars nationwide protests last year, no ex-security officer or serving security officer has come out to condemn army-police extrajudicial killings.

Public officials’ arrogant misuse of state power against the citizenry is one of the reasons for the overwhelming call for the restructuring of the country.

The monumental failure of the Buhari-led regime in tackling insecurity, corruption, nepotism, poverty, ethnicity and government insensitivity is the fuel to the agitation for the break-up of the federation.

Arrogant, insensitive and utterly reckless, the All Progressives Congress-led Presidency, in 2019, released the picture of Buhari picking his teeth, probably after drinking some (nunu) milk from his cows – while the citizenry groaned under the weight of unemployment, lack and dejection. Only our I-don’t-care President would pick his teeth after drinking milk.

Commenting on the tooth-picking picture, presidential aide on New Media, Bashir Ahmad, displayed the characteristic arrogance and insensitivity of the Buhari regime when he said in a tweet, “It’s hard to understand why some people are genuinely angry because of this innocent pic. When I innocently snapped it on Feb 27 and posted (it) on my Snapchat, it didn’t occur to me that it’s going to give wailers that strong hit…”

As Nigerians have been gnashing their teeth since the beginning in 2015, so shall it be till the end in 2023. Nothing will stop the plunge. Buhari is on an eight-year vacation.

Displaying his nonchalance to public outcry for the umpteenth time, Buhari, on march 30, 2021, embarked upon a two-week medical check-up in London, despite the nationwide strike by medical doctors in public hospitals back home.

Without a word on the plight of millions of sick Nigerians condemned to attend public hospitals nationwide, the President hopped on a plane and zoomed off to England, probably with two toothpicks in his mouth after a meal of tuwo and isi ewu.

Defending Buhari’s shameless medical trips, the most meritless of Buhari’s media aides, Lauretta Onochie, tweeted on April 7, 2021, “NEXT YEAR. PRES. @MBuhari WILL GO FOR A ROUTINE CHECKUP.

  1. We have been here since 2016. Its been the same wailing. So the response will also be the same. At least, once a year, People across the world see their personal Doctors especially one they have seen for about 40 years.’

It’s not hard to distinguish the noise of an empty barrel. So, Buhari, Onochie and the wastrels that make up the Presidency see nothing wrong in wasting Nigeria’s hard currency abroad in the last 40 years?

That Buhari cannot give Nigeria just one hospital he can attend, despite ruling Nigeria for eight years now, summarises his failure as a leader. It’s scandalous that Buhari didn’t feel ashamed about going to England still – for treatment – when he’s in an opportune position, in the last six year, to turn around Nigeria’s health sector.

The latest trip makes it Buhari’s 12th time to run off to London for medical treatment, despite his country having 72,000 registered medical doctors with over 50,000 of them, shamefully, out of the shores of the country due to lack of facilities and adequate welfare packages.

Buhari’s insensitivity doesn’t stop at the medical sector alone, where nurses, physiotherapists, health technologists etc are leaving the country in droves, the lethargy of his regime permeates every fabric of our national life, and holds the country down to slow death.

Even his wife, Aisha, left her matrimonial home, and took off to Dubai for six long months. It’s unheard of anywhere in the world that the wife of the president of a country, which isn’t at war, would go on vacation abroad for six months! Or, could it be that oga madam went on antenatal vacation ni?

Henceforth, I’ll be on the lookout for a bulge in the mid region of the beautiful Aisha. If Aisha gets pregnant penren? Eeeehhh!! Nigerians will put Buhari to the sword online. I bet you, trolls against the Buhari family will burn down the internet!

But seriously speaking, President Buhari won’t touch the dog. I’m sure he won’t touch the pig, either, because he’s a very pious Muslim. However, Buhari is the chichidodo, a bird that passionately hates feces but loves to eat the maggots in feces.

Buhari hates corruption, but corruption has been the signpost of his administration with millions of dollars yearly disappearing into non-working refineries and his former EFCC chair, Ibrahim Magu, enmeshed in financial scandals.

Buhari promised to stop medical tourism when campaigning to be President, but he and his family have made England, France, Germany, Canada, Dubai and the US their second homes.

Buhari promised to revamp the education sector, but his children never graduated from a Nigerian university.

Buhari, in 1983, promised to build infrastructure when he seized power in a military coup, but he cancelled the lofty Lagos metro line project initiated by the late Lateef Jakande administration, throwing the traffic of the lagoon city into eternal chaos. He came back in March 2019 to inaugurate a bus-stop in Lagos, though. Chai!

The alarming picture just keeps flashing in my head: Nigerian President on the bed of a random London hospital in an age when microchips can be implanted to monitor and control patients. Unmh!

Buhari rests peacefully in London while peace has fled his own country, Nigeria. Terrible.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

Facebook: @tunde odesola

Twitter: @tunde_odesola

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Video: Nigerian leaders won’t be part of a decision that will take them out of power – Fr. GEORGE EHUSANI

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Demise of Yinka Odumakin, a dependable ally of the masses

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By Lai Olurode

The passing away of Chief Yinka Odumakin was a great loss to this country.

He was committed to a great but restructured Nigeria.

He was a dogged and committed fighter for causes that he believed in. And really, he was committed to fighting whatever would rob off negatively on the masses, no matter their ethno-religious identity.

To my mind, not many living Nigerians are as committed to a restructured Nigeria as he is.

Odumakin was courageous, bold, painstaking in the pursuit of facts and figures.

He had a robust and versatile mind. He speaks fluently and unrelenting and consistent in the pursuit of truth.

He had no permanent friend except in what is just, fair and right

The last time he was in touch with me was a couple of weeks back and in respect of the death of yet a greater Nigerian, Alh. Lateef kayode Jakande. He wanted some clarifications about LKJ’s unbelievably spartan life, which I obliged him.

May the soul of Odumakin rest in peace and may God be with his wife,  Dr. Mrs. Joe-Odumakin and the children he left behind. His death is certainly a devastating loss to the progressive camp and to all lovers of a great and peaceful Nigerian.

 

*Olurode is a former National Commissioner at the INEC and professor of Sociology at the University of Lagos.

April 3 2021

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