Naija Notes: Sitting On A Time Bomb

by Toni Kan Onwordi

I have always liked being in control.

And to this singular reason I can trace most of the actions I have taken or not taken in my short life.

I have never done drugs in spite of my well-known predilection for taking risks, which in this instance is defined as trying everything at least once. The fear of losing control has always been the most decisive factor in whipping this man into line.

Today, I look around me and I see my self in a terrible situation. I feel like the world around me is falling apart and I have no means of stopping the implosion and explosion.

As the elections approach I am faced with a terrible sense of dread. My mother hasn’t tired of telling me that she will not be in Lagos come April no matter what my dad says.

My old parents’ marriage is not experiencing hormonal imbalance. No. My mother is just discomfited by all the violence raging across the land.

Marshall Harry is dead in Abuja; Saraki and Lawal supporters are decimating Kwarans; Dariye and the Langtang/Tarok mafia’s differences is raping Jos; a bullet meant for Lucky Igbinedion kills a young lady in his entourage; a request for LGA boundary delineation leads to bloodshed in Warri, Paul Unongo’s campaign train leads to burnt houses and dead bodies.

From East to West and North to South the common denominator is violence. People are dying and fear is setting deep roots in the hearts of men.

And for once in my life, I am scared too. Very much so. I drive around armed the best way I can waiting for the mob, the thugs or the police whoever I encounter first. Every time I go out and return safely home to my wife and first-born daughter, I kneel and give thanks to God for his miracle of protection.

Now my mother who is usually easy going is very worried. News has just come from Delta state that violent clashes are erupting daily in our local government area making her home unsafe.

Last night she asked me for the address of her old school mate who lives with her family in Togo. After the Biafran war, my mother says she can’t bear to witness another.

God help us.


The story on the cover of a news magazine reads: “We are sitting on a time bomb” and the quote is attributed to Sultan Dasuki.

I may have never agreed with Sultan Dasuki who infamously said that the annulment of the election believed to have been won by MKO Abiola was the will of God, but in this instance without even bothering to read the story I can tell you that I agree completely with the deposed monarch.

Nigeria is indeed sitting on a time bomb, but like a friend tried to explain last week, this country possesses an uncanny facility for pulling itself back from the precipice. According to him, Nigeria has gone through difficulties that would have broken up less resilient nations.

My friend ended it all by saying that all this sound and fury may end up signifying nothing. As the Catholics would intone: we pray o Lord!

To get back to the April polls, the presidential candidate formerly known as a dictator, Muhammadu Buhari failed to turn up for the televised presidential debate with Olusegun Obasanjo.

Buhari’s people claim the man did not get a formal invitation. Good try, but the truth is out there or as the songwriter put it: the answer is blowing in the wind.

Fear dey catch Buhari. Simple.


Before I end this, let me tell you of a poem written by one of Nigeria’s exceptionally gifted young poets: Ogaga Ifowodo. The poem is entitled “God punish Lord Lugard” .The first day I heard it, was at a reading attended by many expatriates. When he uttered the first line, Nigerians guffawed but the oyinbos turned red from embarrassment.

Today, I say God punish Bush and Saddam for starting Gulf War II and depriving me of much needed cash. A business deal I was incubating has just gone belly up and my client is citing the Gulf War as reason.

And that just goes to show that sometimes, the things we have no part in often have a funny way of affecting our lives.

For whatever it may be worth, I make this invocation: Peace In the Middle East!

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