The worst of times, the best of times  by Reuben Abati

The worst of times, the best of times by Reuben Abati

“I just love this country, I won’t lie”

“What have you seen again that has suddenly turned you into a gushing patriot?”

“I mean, just look around, in spite of everything, Nigerians always give you an opportunity to laugh.”

“And if I may ask…”

“Did you read the report on what the Inspector General of Police, Ibrahim Idris said about the allegations against him by Senator Isa Misau?”

“What did he say? I didn’t find that funny at all.”

“He started by informing the Senate that he is free to have romantic affairs with any female police officer of his choice, fair or dark-skinned, plus-sized or lepacious, short or tall, heavy or flat chested, Oshodi Oke or Oshodi Isale, landcruiser or Volkswagen…”

“The man didn’t say all that.”

“You don’t get the picture. He said as a Muslim he is in fact entitled to four wives, and so, it goes to no point at all, when Senator Misau accuses him of having affairs with two police women-  Amina and Esther.”

“Imagine the Inspector General of Police boasting about his right to marry four women, and that makes headline news.”

“You can’t blame him for the headline news. You should blame journalists. He has a right to defend himself.  In fact, he gave Senator Misau a Technical Knock Out, when he reminded him that Misau’s own parents met each other as police officers. His father, a retired AIG, married his mother a Police Inspector when they were both in service. And let’s be fair to IGP Idris. He has a sense of balance in his private life: Amina and Esther, a Muslim and a Christian.”

“I really don’t find this whole thing funny at all. Instead of addressing the substance of Senator Misau’s allegations, what everyone is interested in is the right of police officers to marry their female colleagues or have affairs with them, and I guess vice versa. And by the way, didn’t the police PRO deny all of this?”

“He didn’t deny anything. The man issued a meaningless statement. He said the IGP did not say that he is free to romance policewomen, but that there is no law that stops a police officer from marrying another police officer.  What exactly is the PRO saying? Is he from one of those Kaduna State schools?”

“I think you can now see why the Nigeria Police has been branded the worst in the world. This kind of conversation can only take place in Nigeria.”

“It happens in other parts of the world too. In any case, that is not why one foreign group declared the Nigeria Police the worst in the world. The group talked about Capacity, Process, Legitimacy and Outcomes.”

“Break it down. So, in which of those categories is the Nigeria Police Force the best in the world?”

“We have performed very well in international peace-keeping operations!”

“Come to think of it, I wonder who wrote that on behalf of the Police Headquarters. Does anybody help to vet Police press statements at all?”

“Don’t be too hard on our policemen. We have fine police officers.”

“Like those ones that resorted to street-fighting in Port Harcourt, with one gang fighting for the Minister of Transportation, and the other gang defending the Governor of the State over whose convoy has the right of way.”

“That was shameful. But you can’t blame the police. Blame Nyesom Wike and Rotimi Amaechi. Instead of dragging the police into their matter, Wike and Amaechi should have settled the matter man-to-man, get down from their vehicles and use their fists. Unless they do that, there may be no peace in Port Harcourt.”

“You are recommending physical combat?”

“Yes, the way they are going. A heavyweight combat: It is called two-fighting. In any case, the Governor has immunity. He is free to fight.”

“But you see, when the international community sees Nigerian policemen getting involved in partisan politics or carrying bags for the wives of politicians, nobody needs to do any special investigation. They will just conclude that this must be the worst police in the world.”

“Don’t mind those ones. They should leave our Police for us, oh. They may not be very good at home, but they are winning international medals. That is ca-pa-city!”

“I see you keep defending the Police. Just find a way of advising the Inspector General of Police to focus more on important matters. He runs the risk of being remembered as a romantic Police IG of the Amina and Esther fame! For Heaven’s sake the PRO should have just denied that the IGP ever made a statement and leave it there.”

“You want to teach the Police how to start telling lies?”

“Okay. I just hope that some day in the future, some retired policewomen will not come forward to talk about how some of their former bosses used to harass them for romantic affairs!”

“That cannot happen in this country. Is this America?”

“Nigerian women must stand up for their rights”

“You like to speak grammar.  Go and ask those Nollywood actresses who stood up recently to say some actors have harassed them in the past. The way people burst out in laughter hen? The two girls were called names and asked to shut up. Here na Hollywood? Most of the people who condemned them are even their female colleagues. Don’t-come-and-spoil-business, you-these-small-girls!”

“We still have a long way to go. That is why there is so much rape and domestic violence.”

“Come and be going. Don’t come and be defending slay queens and waka-pass actresses here. Some girls will go to night vigils and the Bar Beach to pray for the anointing of a rich, handsome, ATM husband, some of them even go on instagram to say I like sex, I don’t wear pant, they go church pay tithe sef…but when any man calls them, they say they are being harassed. Er ber-gi.”

“Your mind set is tragic.”

“My friend, don’t criticize me. If you are looking for people to criticize, try the Federal Government and the Nigerian military. In case you have not heard, they have just taken a decision to stop the admission of female regular combatant cadets into the Nigeria Defence Academy.”

“That is preposterous. It is impossible.”

“Yes. Go and tell them.”

“Those girls, the Jonathan Queens, have proven to be worthy of military service as combatants. Some of them are now in military schools overseas for further training.  And according to the NDA, many of them won prizes and even out-performed the boys as cadets. Is this about politics?”

“No. It is about Queens. What I hear is that some very powerful Muslim leaders in the North do not consider them Queens. I hear they say if the programme is not aborted, a day may well come when a woman will become a Service Chief in Nigeria and that in due course, you could have women leading Nigerian troops and giving orders to men.”

“And what is wrong with that?”

“I don’t know.  But some people are saying how can women leave the kitchen and za ozza room, and will now go to the battlefield to fight war.”

“Women have always been involved in war as combatants, even in traditional communities. Queen Amina of Zazzau. Princess Moremi of Ife. If the issue is religion, Libya and Algeria are Muslim countries but they have women Generals, all over the world there are women who are actively involved in combat duties.”

“I think may be the Armed Forces Council does not want the kind of situation they have in the Nigeria Police where male officers will be distracted because they are free to have romantic affairs with their female colleagues.  But I know one soldier. I ‘ll tell him I have a friend who would like to come and give the Armed Forces Council a history lecture on the role of women as military combatants.”

“The policy must be resisted. They must not implement it. Even in Saudi Arabia, women are now being granted more rights. So what would happen to the female combatants who are already in service in the Nigerian military?”

“They can be re-deployed to non-combat duties in the kitchen and za ozza room, fa!”

“That will be a violation of their Constitutional right under Section 42. We will go to court!.”

“You better don’t give yourself hypertension. Be like me; whenever something happens laugh it off. It is the only way left to survive in this country. What have we not seen in recent times? Even two of Nigeria’s airports are rated among the worst in the world.”

“Which ones?”

“Port Harcourt and Murtala Muhammed International in Lagos”

“Some of these labels are exaggerated and untrue. But if you are writing a report on Nigeria, and you arrive at the main airport in Lagos, and you see the airport authorities using buckets to collect rain water from a leaking roof in the arrival hall, and you look and actually see a collapsed roof, dangling electrical fittings, rats on the roof, smelling toilets, and corrupt officials, do you need to do any further research? Nigeria itself is rated the worst country to live in the world.”

“Our problem is maintenance culture and the implementation of policies.”

“I hope the Budget for 2018 will be implemented.”

“Yes, if there is no delay in passing the bill and no delay in signing it into law. That is where the problem lies, and nobody this time around should start talking about constituency projects.”

“You can’t rule that out, especially now that oil price is rising. If you know how some people have been jubilating.  Increase in oil prices means more money.”

“Not necessarily. There are other variables.”

“You think so?”

“Look, I don’t want to worry my head about money that other people will spend. But we just need to tell some of these state Governors too to get their priorities right. With all the things we said about the erection of statues, you know that guy in Imo state still went ahead and erected another statue for President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson of Liberia. He waved the people of Imo state away as hating haters and wailing wailers and asked them to shove it up…”

“These Governors! Just look at the one in Kano state for example. Governor Abdullahi Ganduje is advertising as one of the major achievements of his administration, the empowerment of 5, 200 tea hawkers. He gathered Mai-Shayi, Mai-tea hawkers from 44 local governments and distributed to them cartons of beverage, milk, tea, crates of eggs, sugar, cups, baskets and promised each person a take-off grant of N40, 000. Big ceremony. Big achievement.”

“The man must like tea a lot. Mai-Shayi Governor. But softly, softly, you know he is now our in-law in Oyo state. His daughter will soon come and teach the Constituted Authority and the people of Oyo State how to drink and enjoy tea better than Abula and Gbegiri.”

“You are joking. Oyo-state-people-will-never-abandon-Amala!  By the way, what is this story about the Niger Delta Development Commission Board and Senator Emmanuel Paulker?”

“Nothing to it. It is just politics. You know all eyes in the Niger Delta are on the NDDC. Even the Governors are interested in what goes on there. The Solicitor General of the Federation has offered a sound legal opinion.  The present Board is entitled to its term of four years, not the remainder of a previous Board that was dissolved.”

“Looks like Bayelsa state is in a hurry to grab the NDDC”

“If e be you nko. The moment the President announced that various Boards will be re-constituted, I knew there will be serious lobby and desperation.”

“And blackmail and mischief… It is the worst of times.”

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