Naija Notes: Who Is Obj’s Babalawo?

by Toni Kan Onwordi

If OBJ has a personal babalawo, the man must be sweating now. You want to know why? The reason is a simple one. OBJ has been the recipient of what Nigerians like to call BAD LUCK.

It started like a joke, but before we knew what was happening long lines of cars were stretching out at filling stations like concurrent jail terms.

As an optimist, I kept driving and pointedly ignored the filling stations and queues. Since I got my first car in 1997, I have only queued up to buy fuel just once. And on that occasion just as it came to my turn to buy, Area Boys had disrupted proceedings.

So how did I survive under Abacha as a poor, jeans-wearing journalist with an official car that took a terrible toll on my finances? I bought black market fuel or hopped buses.

That was then. Now, I work in a bank and my dress code favours a shirt and a tie, which is not very “bus hopping friendly”. So when I foolishly refused to economize my fuel, I had to agonize by midweek.

As we all know, the fuel scarcity is over and a panel has been set up to probe, as civil servants like to say “the immediate and remote causes.”

Not waiting for the white paper (why on earth do they even call it white paper?) PDP head honchoes have attributed the scarcity to the machinations of saboteur’s intent on undoing the good work of the OBJ administration.

And what a job the saboteurs have done of it. Less than two months to the Elections, things have gone terribly wrong: fuel scarcity has returned, NEPA is suffering from warapa again, AD is playing games with their support for OBJ and for two terrible days last week, the taps went dry in Lagos just as OBJ was due in town. Then when he landed at the venue of his re-election campaign, he met an empty stadium, the stands devoid of supporters.

Maybe it’s time to change that Babalawo. Okay, assuming he has one.


There is a telling scene in Steven Spielberg’s Catch Me If You Can where, called upon to decide on a course of treatment for an accident victim, Leo DiCaprio who is impersonating a doctor first seeks the opinion of one doctor. Then he turns to the other and asks point blank: Doctor do you concur? Flustered the doctor says: Yes, I concur. More on this later.

The good thing about Nigeria is that something is always happening to help us take our minds off our problems. That I think is the reason why Nigerians seldom ever commit suicide. Infact, I believe that Nigeria has the lowest suicide rate in the world and this is surprising when you consider the huge problems that confront us daily.

Right now, the main diversion is the Identity Card registration exercise. The exercise has been providing me with much-needed comic relief. Never mind that, two weeks into the exercise and even though there is a center right outside my gate, I am yet to register.

My interest does not lie in registration. My interest lies in what goes on there, the funny antics of the registration officers who are probably the most illiterate bunch of people ever employed to handle such a task.

Imagine this. A woman tells the registration officer that she is 73 years old. Now, the form makes provisions for a Date Of Birth, not age. Flustered the official turns to the crowd: “E joo, e ba mi minusi 73 from 2003” – (Can someone please deduct 73 from 2003?).

Or the official who when asked by a woman cradling a snotty nosed child what next-of- kin means, points to the baby and says: Na ya pikin now.

The Nuisance-formerly-known-as-Mohammadu Buhari has however called on the North to boycott the registration exercise for some inane reasons. But the North doesn’t seem to be listening. My meigadi and his friends have all registered and when I asked him why he did not heed Buhari’s call, the man, bared kola stained dentition and said: “dat one na dan iska”.

I concur!


And now for some good news, my state governor, James Onanefe Ibori has been cleared by the PDP as its flag bearer in the April 2003 guber race despite allegations of a prior conviction for theft.

Did I hear someone say that what is good for the goose is good for Uganda, Sorry, the gander. If Tinubu was cleared why shouldn’t Ibori be cleared? Talk of a bad precedent having already been set.

Thinking back though and while not holding brief for James Ibori, I find aspects of the case pretty funny. Why would a court fine a man a mere N500 for a theft of materials worth over N100m?

Did I hear someone say fish?

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