Executive vigilante & other apparitions – By Louis Odion, FNGE40 views
In line with the tradition of this column, today, we look back with a view to compiling words/phrases which have crept treacherously into public conversation lately. As we shall soon find, nothing best dramatises, with searing intensity, the national condition presently than the frequency of the use and abuse of such terms in the ensuing public chatter.
Reject: In Christendom, particularly the Pentecostal community, adverbial phrases like "I decree", "I declare", "I reject" and "I bind" are no ordinary terms. They describe the never-ending fierce contestation between the pious on the one hand and "powers and principalities" and "spiritual wickedness in high places" on the other.
The reason it is therefore becoming a matter of grave national concern that when people get nominated for otherwise plum ("juicy", if you like) appointments lately, more and more of the supposed beneficiaries expected to be full of joy and rejoicing would rather casually intone "I reject". At the last count, out of the forty-something ambassadorial nominees unveiled last weekend, two had responded with "I reject" within two days (Paulen Tallen and Usman Bugaje).
Just when the nation was still striving to absorb the thunderous shock came another stunner: chairman-designate for the Nigeria Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Professor Akintunde Akinwande, rejected his own nomination. The senate screening committee waited all day on Tuesday; the nominee chose not to dignify either the appointing authority or the screening board with his presence, not even a word.
Now, there is growing apprehension as to what all of these portend. Does the much touted change mantra actually imply conscription (in the fashion of the military in a war situation) or people just getting listed for a national assignment without prior consultation?
Or, much more disturbing, is someone beginning to see what the rest of us, mere mortals, seem yet incapable of deciphering – the newly unmasked but no less fearsome "demons of Aso Rock" – thus necessitating the affirmative "I reject!"?
'Oga is unhappy': When and where next you hear this phrase, you are well advised to take another disapproving look at the speaker or better still, flee from them as swiftly as your feet will allow, particularly if uttered near court-room or home of top judicial officer. Moreso, if a high profile case is being heard. Lest you stand the risk of being subpoenaed as accessory in a premeditated bid to pervert the cause of justice either at an election tribunal or Appeal Court or, in the extreme circumstance, the Supreme Court.
So, to be on a safer side, it is highly recommended that you mind what text messages you send via your cell-phone or who you call or allow the line registered in your name, backed indisputably with your biometrics, be used to make a transactional call to serving judge or court registrar.
Additionally, it may not even be out of place if you add the wearing of hand-gloves to your personal safety routines, in case fingerprints are to be tracked.
As has now been sensationally revealed in the past few weeks by erstwhile judicial hunters stealthily hunted down in the dead of the night by hooded gnomes from DSS, the phrase "Oga is unhappy" is usually the prelude to being co-opted into probable treasonable felony.
Of course, it is not without a monetary offer conceived deliberately to out-bid other interested parties in influencing the judicial outcome. Someone, obviously a ranking member of the sitting government, would have begun to recount, unsolicited, how the proceedings thus far had generated jitters in the innermost sanctum of power.
Lexically unbundled, the statement is therefore half threat, half plea by the meddlesome executive interloper that the law be interpreted and the judgement worded in a manner that would make "Oga at the top" happy.
However, what remains undisclosed is in which currency would the other promise of "welfare" be redeemed – naira or dollars.
New-improved State Vigilante Service: Once, vigilante job was thought reserved only for low-life courtesans whose sole credentials were not more than heavy biceps and roughnecks bedecked with amulets and charms. For instance, in parts of South-east a decade or so ago, you would see the "Bakassi Boys" patrolling the street corners and the highways in open-roof vans, hunting for "criminals" and just any "undesirable element".
But as things appear to be getting more and more sophisticated in today's Nigeria, much glamour would appear to have been injected into vigilante service such that even some state governors themselves no longer seem to mind being re-designated as provider of vigilante solutions on demand. Anyone in doubt only needs to make enquiries at the Government House in Port Harcourt or Ado-Ekiti.
A mere phone call was all required recently to rouse Governor Nyesom Wike from presumed executive slumber in the swanky comfort of the Rivers White House to "mobilize" and rush to the aid of a Justice whose residence had been surrounded by columns of DSS snipers looking for a princely $2m allegedly warehoused by his lordship suspected to be his lordship's own share from the bazaar of cash-for-favourable-judgements against which a national crackdown is presently being enforced. (By the way, the embattled Justice had over the last couple of months entered judgments favourable to the Rivers governor.)
And so was the Rivers Executive Vigilante Service ably led by the muscular Wike able to successfully thwart the agents of federal authorities from performing what ordinarily was a legitimate duty, clearly underscoring the dysfunctionality of Nigeria's federalism.
But ask the hyperactive Wike if he would similarly react to an SOS from a nameless citizen surrounded by marauders in, say, the street next to the Government House at such ungodly hours, he is likely to response by first seeking to establish if the questioner belongs to the opposition party…
Elsewhere in Ado-Ekiti, Governor Ayo Fayose rendered similar vigilante services to Precious, spouse of Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode, when encircled at a local branch of Access Bank by EFCC following an alleged attempt by her to withdraw cash from a tainted account against which a lien had been placed.
What's more, the bespoke Ekiti Executive Vigilante Service is also available to be deployed, at short notice, against straying cows with a view to literally giving bite to a new law seeking to regulate the conduct of herdsmen in the state. So enamored of the twin virtues of transparency and accountability is Fayose that he has since declared that any cow found wanting would instantly be put to the service of "stomach infrastructure".
Now, the latest is that the herders union has rushed to Aso Rock for a closed door meeting, the communique of which is yet to be made public.
Sting: Other than bees, the only man known to have ever openly confessed to stinging since the dawn of time is boxing legend Muhammad Ali who "floated like butterfly and sting like bee." But not anymore. Certainly not in Nigeria following the recent coordinated night raids by agents of the Department of State Security (DSS) on the homes of seven top judges across the country.
So, to "sting" now means to "shock and awe" anyone suspected of illicit transactions and hiding the proceeds – preferably dollars – at home.
And now associated with this chilling word are a few annotations by way of drama sketch.
Determined to cart home his own loot at once, one of the judges "stung" was said to have, upon being handed $80,000 cash behind closed door, temporarily shed all magisterial pretenses, resorting to an improvisation thought too extreme given his status.
Pronto, his lordship reportedly removed his shoes and meticulously stacked the eight bundles of the greenbacks inside the pair in the fashion of a seasoned tomato vendor arranging their wares delicately.
With nothing left to hide, the said judge then clutched the "padded" shoes in his hands and, obviously drunken with joy at a mission clinically accomplished, did not mind walking barefoot thereafter to his vehicle in the car-park, under the cover of darkness.
In another instance, a judge simply chose to roll on the floor before the DSS boss upon reading halfway a detailed report of a clandestine surveillance of how he had been merchandising court judgments over the years.
Paden: Months ago, the word "pad" in political terms only described the incidence of lawmakers injecting budget proposal brought by the executive branch with their own pecuniary provisions. Refreshingly, the frontier has been extended. Add the suffix "en", it now means to lie willfully, worse, at old age. So, to "paden" a story or report or biography is to sugarcoat or exaggerate accounts given by sources without fear of being controverted.
We must thank American-born scholar, Professor John Paden, for this addition to our growing vocabulary by way of personal example. In the 80s, he was similarly commissioned to write a biography of the north's political folk hero, Sir Ahamdu Bello. Carried away by his commission, he ended up attracting more opprobrium than accolades to himself and his sponsors on account of the negative lights he chose to present the masses' own hero, Mallam Aminu Kano.
Like the proverbial leopard, the character of intellectual mercenary rarely changes.
Now paid to put together the narrative of President Buhari's political evolution three decades later, the old man again took liberty to falsify facts, worse, of recent history. Without research, he enters a mere hear-say as gospel truth in his biography of PMB presented recently that Professor Yemi Osinbajo emerged Vice President against the wishes and desire of the man widely known to be his political benefactor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu.
No sooner had the book been presented than all hell literally broke loose. Key actors in the political drama that culminated first in Buhari's victory at APC's primaries in December 2014 and eventually his triumph in the March 28, 2015 presidential polls have since punctured Paden's account as revisionism, if not pure fiction. The coup de grace was delivered by no other than VP Osinbajo himself who has unambiguously stated that "somebody somewhere nominated me" as VP.
Aisha: Tired of sermonising about innovation and improvisation in this dry season of recession without any tangible result, President Buhari seems resolved to inspire all henceforth with the force of personal example. And what better forum could there be than Germany, the acclaimed industrial headquarters of Europe, to formally unveil his futuristic invention certain to alter completely man's age-hold conception of the kitchen as mere storeroom of utensils like cutlery and raw materials for "stomach infrastructure".
Buhari's creation has simply been named Aisha. So far, the clearest reading anyone could make of the construct is that of a robot, a far cry from the familiar stove or gas burner, frying pan, spoons, plates and ladle (turning stick).
That, at least, is the literal meaning widely read to PMB's declaration in Germany a fortnight ago that "My wife belongs to my kitchen, the living room and the other room" in response to the First Lady's blistering attack on BBC that her husband was running a government that is all but inclusive.
Now, with PMB's second daughter from his first marriage scheduled to be given out in marriage tomorrow in his native Daura town, it remains to be seen if the father-of-the-bride would himself agree that his beautiful girl be treated merely as a decorative article in another man's "kitchen, living-room and the other room".
Cabal: These words beginning with letter “c” evoke dark imageries – cabal, clique and cartel. Of the three synonyms, cabal has however gained more currency today relative to the rise of two or three power-brokers in Abuja said to determine who gets what in the Buhari presidency.
True, the spectre of a cabal is not entirely new phenomenon within the Abuja power calculus. Just like the effervescence of power, it surely has its own expiry date. For instance, how much of Turai, Ruma, Tanimu Yakubu et al do we hear today? Yet, they constituted the all-powerful cabal in the Umar Yar'Adua presidency.
Under Goodluck Jonathan, power was obviously shared between four cabals led, curiously, by women: Patience, Dieziani, Stella Oduah and Okonjo-Iweala. So much that, for example, not on a few occasions did Patience (a.k.a Mama Peace) physically lead her husband out of the presidential jet on foreign soil during what was supposed to be state visits.
What however makes its latest mutation under Buhari a bit spectacular is that the new cabalists are either PMB's uncle or nephew and collectively make little or no pretense at finesse in person or show care for national sensibilities in public conduct.
Though inconsequential and invisible during the titanic battle to wrestle down a sitting president, these men have suddenly transformed to the ultimate beneficiaries of APC victory who, according to Aisha Buhari, now virtually dictate the terms of all the transactions in Abuja and dominate even little matters like NTA spotlight. While her husband appears to be more fixated on who occupies the kitchen, living room and the "other room".
Being Dumb: For those still stupefied at the phenomenon of Donald Trump in the US 2016 elections and its dire implications for the peaceful co-existence of the human races across the universe, a simple lexical formula has been provided by a US talk-show host to explain the absurdity.
According to him, when Donald is merged with Trump (d+ump), the hybrid sounds like "dumb". This is said to be why no tactic seems too vile, nor weapon considered unthinkable or word too vulgar for Trump to utter in his obsession to be US' next president.
The latest to disavow the Trump candidacy are British tycoon Richard Branson and the influential Harvard Republican Club. Whereas the Virgin Atlantic boss on Wednesday recalled Trump struck him during lunch together earlier as "someone who likes listening only to himself", HRC is breaking its tradition of endorsing the Republican nominee on election eve for the first time in its 128-yr history. Its reason: "In Trump's eyes, disagreement with his actions or his policies warrants incessant name-calling and derision: stupid, lying, fat, ugly, weak, falling, idiot – and that's just his 'fellow' Republicans. He isn't eschewing political correctness. He is eschewing basic human decency."
Indeed, when not found groping vulnerable women, Trump is either busy threatening to build massive wall instead of bridge between US and neighbours or making incendiary comments against the black race.
Well, never mind. It is all part of being plain dumb, they say.