This country sef

(This was first published in 2005. Not much has changed)

“This country sef!”

“What is it again?”

“Everything. Corruption, ethnicity, religious bigotry.”

“I don’t get it.”

“You won’t because you are like them.”

“I beg your pardon.”

“Well, if you weren’t you would be concerned with what is going on in this country.”

“Which is?”

“The country is in trouble my friend. If people had not used the occasion of the sack of the education minister…”

“The immediate past education minister you mean?”

“Oh don’t give me that.”

“I only mean to correct the impression by reminding you that Fabian Osuji is no longer the education minister, Liyel Imoke is.”

“Well, as I was saying, but for the disgrace of Osuji, the Senate and the House of Representatives which led to complains about selective persecution, the Tafa issue would have died a natural death.”

“I think the security agencies were still investigating Tafa Balogun all this while, not that they had abandoned the case.”

“Investigation my foot!”

“There you go again sounding like an intolerant leader.”

“The fact remains that since January, when Balogun was sacked as Inspector General of Police on allegation of corruption, he could have been tried by now if the authorities wanted to.”

“I said they were still investigating.”


“Meaning that they had not yet gathered all the facts to take him to court, which is why they have picked him up to get such facts.”

“I don’t trust this people. If not for the complaints last week, they would not have arrested or rearrested the man for further investigation. They are only playing on our intelligence. Even at that, I still think they have been too lenient on the man.”

“You don’t mean that they should deny him his fundamental rights do you? By the way, his lawyer was complaining the other day that both of them were denied access to see each other. He said he would apply to the court for a writ of, what do they call it, habeas…”

“The man should go and sit down.”


“His client was part and later head of the police force that constantly breached the fundamental rights of Nigerians. I think Tafa is lucky to be treated in as humane a manner as he is getting now. Police have been known to kill other persons accused of lesser crimes without the benefit of an arraignment. They call it ‘wasting’”.

“Are you suggesting that a whole retired IGP and lawyer should have been given such degrading treatment?”

“Point of correction, the man is a dismissed IGP, not a retired IGP. These are two different concepts you know.”

“I know, but the record shows that he retired.”

“Okay, I concede, but it doesn’t make much difference to me. The point is that he did not leave office with his integrity intact, if he ever had one.”

“Why don’t we just wait until the court says he is guilty or that the man lacked integrity?”

“My friend, what other confirmation are we waiting for after the discovery of the huge sums of money he had in different bank accounts? He is certainly guilty, no matter what anyone else says.”

“You don’t have to constitute yourself to an accuser, prosecutor, judge and executioner, do you?”

“If that is what we need to sanitise this country of corruption, I don’t mind.”

“Then you shouldn’t really have blamed the president for disgracing Osuji, Wabara and co.”

“Oh, come of it. Can’t you see that it was targeted at a certain ethnic group? It was ethnic cleansing pure and simple.”

“You have a way with words. And you love to reach conclusions on issues without giving adequate information and facts. Remember that the allegations were levelled against the officers, not on account of where they come from, but for what they did. Corruption is corruption, for God’s sake. It does not matter where the perpetrator comes from.”

“So why didn’t we take up all the cases before this one to their logical conclusions? Why didn’t the president broadcast to the country when his police chief was indicted for corruption? Why didn’t he do so after discovering the national identity card contract scam? And besides, why are we not investigating the Pentascope/NITEL deal, and the billions spent on road repair that were never carried out?”

“You seem to have a dossier on scams in government.”

“Thanks for the compliments, but I haven’t yet finished.”

“You mean there are many more?”

“Yes-o! Have they yet investigated the financial report of the All Africa Games and the hosting of CHOGM? How much did we spend in the Abuja National Stadium? Have they reconstructed the collapsed velodrome, and at what cost and to whom?”

“You mean you keep records of all those?”

“Why not? And for your information, Nigerians want to know what has happened to the report of the former acting auditor general of the federation, which indicted virtually everybody?”

“Don’t ask me. I am not in the government.”

“Well, you sounded like a government apologist a while ago?”

“I guess I was only playing the devil’s advocate.”

“Devil’s advocate? By the way which is your religion?”

“What does it matter?”

“A great deal in this country. It would make me know whether I could trust you to think right and make sound and reasonable judgments whenever we discuss national issues.”

“I don’t seem to get what you mean.”

“Aah! I can see you are not abreast of issues in this country. Some people have been making heavy weather of religion of late. They have even threatened to disrupt the national conference in Abuja unless there was equal representation of the two religions at the confab.”

“What do they mean by two religions. Don’t they know Nigeria is multi-religious? There are many more religions in Nigeria than Christianity and Islam. People should know that.”

“It is numbers we are talking about here. How many Nigerians are adherents to those other faiths you are talking about?”

“I don’t know, neither do I care. Even the government itself does not care. That is why they don’t want to ask people about their religion, during the next census.”

“I still think there are basically two religions in this country unless you can prove otherwise.”

“But you know that is not true. Apart from Christianity and Islam, we also have African traditional religion, Buddhism, Grail Movement, Eckankar, Hare Krishna and Judaism etc in this country.”


“So, people should not always see this country as property to be shared for and by Christians and Muslims only.”

“But the point has already been made that the country only recognises the two main religions. That is why government spends huge resources in sponsoring pilgrimages by Christians and Muslims each year or assisting them to build their temples.”

“Which is one big irony in a country that claims to be secular.”

“Do you have a problem with that?”

“Yes, I do. I cannot understand why government should be bothered about people’s private business, which is what the faith thing is. That is why many of these idle members of the elite class always stoke the embers of religious differences to achieve their private interests.”

“For once, I am tempted to agree with you there.”

“You just have to. An average Nigerian is not bothered about what religion the other subscribes to. Do you worry about the faith of the taxi driver, the security man, the butcher, or the lift operator that attends to you each day, even when for those moments of his attendance, he can literally endanger your life?”

“You know I have never thought of it that way. Even those in the elite class do not worry about the religion of their fellow elite when it comes to stealing the country’s resources together, neither do they care about which part of the country those persons come from. It is only when they disagree on the sharing of their loot that they shout ‘marginalisation’ on the basis of religion or ethnic group.”

“Which is the point I am always making.”

“And to think that nobody ever worries about where our sportsmen and women come from, as far as they keep winning laurels for the country.”


“Why should anyone then be bothered about the ethnic or religious background of the chairpersons of the confab subcommittees?”

“It beats me.”

“They should be told the Chinese proverb that ‘it does not matter whether a cat is white or black, provided it catches mice’”.

“You tell them, you are closer to them than me. I belong to the hoi polloi”.

“I hear you!”

*First published in NewAge newspaper on April 4, 2005

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