Clearing The Decks For New Year

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We guarantee this satirical piece by Daily Trust columnist Mahmud Jega will make your day. Enjoy Reading.

The New Year 2018 began a few hours ago and I am calling on all segments of Nigerian society with the reason, intention, inclination, capacity, history, tradition, grudge and effrontery to mar the national mood to join in declaring a moratorium on actions that could cause anxiety, grief and anguish in this New Year. We should do so by clearing the decks of all possible sources of tension and apprehension. I have identified eight issues that are capable of causing anguish in Nigeria this year and I would like us to clear them this week.

The first one is fuel scarcity. It has already marred Christmas and New Year and threatens to continue in some places until Easter. Last year ended without Nigerians ever finding out what or who caused the debilitating scarcity. Buhari blamed hoarders; NNPC said it was marketers; marketers said it was NNPC; reporters said it was the dormant refineries; refiners said it was pipeline vandals; importers said it was rising crude oil prices; bankers said it was the dollar; CBN said it was forex round trippers; MPs said it was illegal subsidy payment; Baru said it was rumour of a petrol price hike and Kachikwu said it was a supply shortfall. All of them should be interrogated at Force CID, Alagbon Close until the truth emerges and the queues disappear.

President Buhari’s promise of a cabinet reshuffle has caused a lot of anxiety and uncertainty among ministers, politicians, investors, contractors, diplomats and newspaper analysts. The latter have run out of ink speculating as to who could be changed and when. I urge the president to call off the planned reshuffle. It is already too late to appease Nigerian sadists who love to see what Dr. Chidobelu Offia called “periodic remassification” of the elite. Buhari has no Political Adviser to remind him of a truism of Nigerian politics, that whenever you remove a minister or a commissioner from your cabinet, no matter the number of years you let him serve and no matter how juicy the ministry you let him occupy, he migrates straight into the ranks of your opponents. People who have been ministers for two years are too dangerous to be turned into opponents in an election year so we should forget about this cabinet reshuffle for now.

The continued detention of Colonel Sambo Dasuki and Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky should also be cleared from the decks early this year. The Shiites made a terrible tactical mistake in December 2015 but they paid a price much higher than the mistake. Since then, the movement has behaved far better than anyone thought possible and it did not resort to armed struggle. It is time to free their leader and make the movement to sign an undertaking to respect the Nigerian state and its laws and rules. Indefinite detention of persons on alleged security grounds should not be allowed to become a feature of Nigerian democracy. As for Dasuki, since four courts said he should be set free on bail and courts are the guardians of the Constitution, DSS should release him and then monitor every inch of his movements lest he flees to North Korea.

Advocates of restructuring fouled the national mood last year with their insistence on foisting an agenda on a government that did not see it as part of its election mandate. Luckily, we have arrived in another election year so I urge campaigners for restructuring to register a Restructuring Peoples Party, RPP. INEC is currently registering political parties by the dozen. If RPP wins the next election it can give Nigeria any structure it wants, including that of the Aztec civilisation.

Talking about political parties, INEC registered 21 political parties in December, bringing the total number to 67. It had registered five parties last June and one more last August, thanks to the liberalised party registration guidelines handed down by a Supreme Court ruling in 2003. Since their registration we have heard almost nothing from these new parties about their leaders, manifesto or intentions, apart from Senator Sa’idu Dansadau’s National Rescue Movement. All of them must fish or cut bait. If all they intend to do is to hold their registration certificates in their briefcases and wait for losers of primary elections in the major parties looking for a platform of any kind to defect at the last minute, INEC should cancel their registration well before then.

One group that has the capacity as well as the grouse and the inclination to foul the national atmosphere this year is labour. Nigerian labour unions most prone to strikes are ASUU, its sisters SSANU, NASU and NAAT; the powerful oil unions NUPENG, PENGASSAN and Tanker Drivers Union; Nigeria Union of Teachers; National Association of Resident Doctors; Joint Health Sector Unions [JOHESU]; Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria [JUSUN] and their parents, NLC and TUC. All of them should declare a national strike moratorium in 2018 and try other options such as lobbying MPs, court action, intensive media campaign, protest marches and threatening to mobilise their members to deal with government at the polls. Let’s see if it works. If it doesn’t, they can all go on strike on January 1, 2019.

After fuel scarcity, the biggest source of anxiety and anguish in Nigeria is the activities of criminals who have overrun the highways and who invade our homes at will. In Nigeria we have the added problem that our criminals are not unionised and one does not know where to go to and buy his peace, since the police cannot guarantee it. In order to modernise Nigerian criminality, Corporate Affairs Commission [CAC] should immediately grant registration to a National Union of Kidnappers, Bandits, Highway Robbers, Cattle Rustlers, Burglars and Pick Pockets, NUKBAHIRCARUBPIPO. CAC should encourage this union to register by waiving some of the registration rules such as regular filing of its annual reports, demanding its tax clearance and updating its board of directors. Instead of the present chaotic arrangement where any group of bandits can storm any house, rustle any cattle or block any highway, the Union should neatly parcel out the country to different branches of its members. It should also make use of modern technology and advertise rates payable for shop security, house protection and road pass with the account numbers. Anyone who pays the correct rate into the bank account should get a PIN number, which he can show to any bandit team and after appropriate verification with a Criminal Card Reader, he will be left alone. This is better than the current criminal system in Nigeria.

We should also have a moratorium on the killing of husbands or otherwise attacking them with razor blades, acid, knives, rat poison and hired killers. The Ministry of Women Affairs should collect all child brides in the North and educate them on the best ways to repudiate unwanted husbands, some of them old enough to be their parents. I am sorry that I cannot discuss such methods here because this is an open forum. The brides’ usual reason for the rejection is that they don’t love their husbands. Well, a thousand seminars around the world have still not succeeded in properly defining what love is. The best definition I have seen so far is that love is a chemical pathway in the brain that closely resembles drug addiction. How does that qualify as a reason to attack anyone?