Baroness Lynda Chalker Again

by Ugochukwu Ejinkeonye

I must confess that I am becoming increasingly weary, sick and utterly disgusted bythe way and manner one British woman they call Baroness Lynda Chalker carelessly throws her totally unedifying and exasperating self and words into the affairs of my country since the second term of this “woman-friendly” Administration of President Obasanjo. I sincerely hope that the end of this unpopular and failed regime some few days from now, will mark, to the utter relief of the nation, the end of whatever brings Lynda Chalker (the unrepentant enemy of the Nigerian masses) to Nigeria. What I find particularly irritating is the arrogance that wraps her diction, and the way she carries herself each time she feels compelled to shoot her mouth to remind her naïve paymasters in Abuja that she is still relevant and worth the huge pay packet she takes away periodically.

Baroness Chalker was Britain’s Minister of State for Overseas Development when the Conservative Party was in office, and until February 2005, when I stumbled on the report of the outrageous statement she made at the Nigerian Investment Forum in Abuja, I had practically forgotten about her, and even what she looked like. No doubt, Chalker, had since ceased to be of any real use to her country, and had probably been politely dumped in the camp of yesterday people, but you can trust my country, the Giant of Africa, with an unbridled lust for obsolete “tokunbo” materials, to find her attractive for a very lucrative appointment. President Obasanjo has appointed her the Chairperson of the so-called Honourary International Investment Council (HIIC). Her brief, I am told, is to use her real or imaginary “powerful influence” and “wide connections” to persuade the much sought-after foreign investors to troop to Nigeria in droves. But in this job, as any person can attest, she has woefully failed, just like the regime that hired her.

And so in order to justify her devastating failure, she reached into the repertoire of over-recycled phrases of the highly discredited Nigeria Image Laundering Project (NILP) of that time, dredged up the most hackneyed logic therein, beautifully plagiarized it, and slapped it on the Nigerian media and Nigerians in the Diaspora.

Hear what she reportedly said in Abuja in February 2005: “Many good things have happened in Nigeria in the last 18 months than in any other country in Africa but the outside world needs to know this to be able to take positive investment decisions on the country. . . . But often all that we see outside Nigeria are the negative things. The media and Nigerians in the Diaspora must take the challenge of telling the world that good things are happening here. Nigeria stands a good chance of attracting foreign investors if they have adequate knowledge of the real situation rather than the perception which is often wrong”.

As this silly statement reverberated around the country in that February 2005, I imagined President Obasanjo, nursing a wide, pleasant grin, muttering under his breath: Tell them my dear girl; tell these ungrateful people!

In my reaction in this column in March 2005, I had taken up Chalker on her clearly preposterous statement. It was clear to me that her conscience, if she had any, had since been seared beyond reclamation, that Nigeria and Nigerians meant nothing to her, and that all she was doing was straining to earn a living. Well, a character in Chinua Achebe’s classic novel, Anthills of The Savannah had noted that it was okay to admire Castro and sing his praises if you know very well you won’t ever have to live in Cuba. Yes, to the Baroness, Nigeria was merely a generous casino box where she hops in from time to time to collect jumbo consultancy fees with a very long spoon, and that’s all. What a hellish way to earn a living.

Now, what I found particularly offensive and grossly uncharitable in Chalker’s demoralizing remarks was what looked clearly like a conscienceless attempt to stop a cruelly hit innocent child from crying out? I could not understand why Chalker would choose to descend on me for daring to insist that my country had no business remaining in the prehistoric age of darkness, even after my government had announced that it had plunged more than 2.5 billion dollars in NEPA/PHCN, Nigeria’s official Agent of Darkness? Why should my country in the 21st century remain the biggest dumping ground for all sorts of poorly manufactured candles, hurricane lanterns, and lots of toy generators from that country of criminal prosperity called China?

Yes, why must I write this essay with the aid of candles, while my colleagues in nearby Niger, Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic and even AIDS-ravaged zones like Swaziland, countries not up to the size of Ikeja, and which sometimes look up to Nigeria for handouts, have since forgotten what it feels like to experience a blackout? Now if I must ask Chalker, how many times has she experienced a blackout in her country? Did she hear that whole families have been wiped out in Nigeria due to the generator fumes they had inhaled in course ofproviding power for themselves, because the government, whose praises Chalker vulgarly sings, is allergic to performance and success?

So, for fear of scaring away Chalker’s foreign investors, I should keep quiet and die in silence while the immoral bazaar goes on in Abuja uninterruptedly? Would Chalker be able to keep quiet if power supply was withdrawn in Britain during the next winter when she would need to operate her heating device? Will she be able to survive it? Has anybody tried to tell her that Nigeria does not start and end in Abuja, that there are fellow human beings with blood in their veins like her at Ilaje, Badia, Sari-Iganmu, Ajegunle, etc., who are forced by the very ungodly rulers Ms. Chalker ishugging and cavorting with to live in hell on earth?

She cannot deny that she is unaware that the outgoing regime is the most corrupt that ever passed through Abuja. Interestingly, at the time she was rebuking the media for reporting accurately the sordid activities of our rulers here, a man called David Blunket, in her own country, was being forced to resign as Home Secretary just because he had hastened the visa process for the nanny of his ex-lover? But here was Baroness Chalker hailing flamboyant treasury looters in Nigeria, men who sank billions of naira belonging to Nigerians in clearly spurious and criminal deals and expect to be applauded for that?

What made her stance so scandalous was that at the time she threw up her outrageous statement, she was still the Chair of the UK Chapter of Transparency International (TI). No wonder the Abuja regime always found it so easy to rubbish TI ratings. One of their own was in bed with them. So shameful.

How many of Nigeria’s public schools or government-owned hospitals has Chalker cared to visit? Now, say the truth here, Baroness: assuming you had a child or grand-child, would you send him or her a Nigerian university? Would you agree to be admitted in a hospital belonging to the government you said had recorded wonderful achievements? Would you even recommend any of them to your worst (white) enemy? Now, are you not a bloody racist for applauding clearly dilapidated institutions which Nigerians patronize because they have no choice, but which you would not even risk taking your dog to. I don’t blame you. I only blame those whose inferiority complex goads into the unwholesome preoccupation of inflicting the likes of you on Nigerians to insult us from time to time.

By the way, how much, Baroness Chalker, are you being paid to utter these damnable heresies on-behalf of these clearly reprobate minds in Abuja? Could you please list those wonderful achievements of this government, which only you saw from the comfort of your home in the UK? You are trying to attract foreign investors to Nigeria, what is the fate of the indigenous ones? Have you ever bothered to ask your paymasters in Abuja why Nigerians are moving their businesses to Ghana and developing those places and offering employment to the youths there instead of this place? Have you heard of Slock Airlines now flourishing in the Gambia after several hundreds of Nigerians were rendered unemployed because it had to be frustrated out of this place because of base and primitive politics?Baroness, honestly, you make me sick, very sick, to the very pit of my stomach!

Baroness, your desperation is so palpable. I can see that you are worried that the incoming Administration may not want to inherit the needless burden that you represent, hence your indecent haste to endorse an “election” that has left the whole world astounded and disgusted. You were quoted recently as saying that “it is all very well to believe that the system in America and Europe are without faults. They are not. I can tell you that I have had dead people vote against me in elections. We have evidence to prove it.”

What a racist arrogance! So, crimes are acceptable in Nigeria once Chalker can produce evidence that they are also being perpetrated in Europe and America? What a gratuitous insult! May I suggest that Prof Maurice Iwu should move over to Britain to supervise your next election there since you don’t mind his kind of elections. What a bag of rubbish!

Baroness, you must be willing to admit that the sole motivation for these horrifying remarks about the Nigerian media, Nigerians in Diaspora, and now election monitors and the international media, is just the juicy consultancy fees you collect from Abuja, which you are, perhaps, fearing may cease to come once the underachieving, “woman friendly” regime disappears into the pit of infamy on May 29. Nothing more, nothing less. Well, by taking such an immoral stance, which is clearly against the Nigerian people, you have clearly exposed yourself as overly unfeeling and an enthusiastic collaborator in this grand design to kill Nigeria.Indeed, you have most willingly and most clearly awarded yourself a prominent slot in the infamous list of the unambiguous enemies of the Nigerian people, and if you have any modicum of decency still remaining in you, you should hastily give up the juicy appointment that brings you to Nigeria and retire to the chilling embrace of your perennially inhospitable climate. That is the only path of honour remaining for you, Baroness.

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