Occupying the streets (2)


I came out briefly for a breath of fresh air (aside: which I suppose wasn’t meant for everybody except for some of us privileged few, for instance the prostitutes who have a freedom bill in our favour being debated at the National Assembly) on the balcony of our expansive suite at Hotel de Lounge in Abuja. I tell you, this breath of fresh air (which I can say is blue in colour) is something you must taste! And that is if you are fortunate enough, like me, to cross that wedge of stubborn poverty and join the upper class because you see, in my country, nobody occupies the middle class. You are either poor or you are rich!

Just a few days ago, the lousy jailer and his flirty boss had come at our cell door; I didn’t know what they wanted but they took me through a tortuous journey in a convoy of exotic cars. In company of others, they had become my bodyguards; chaperoning me to another detainee who happens to be a former governor but arrested and detained by the country’s anti-graft agency for… (You know what the usual story is – ‘for servicing’). This is a terrible country; but her pain, my gain!

My return from Saudi Arabia, a dejected whore, initially seemed to be the end; now I see, with these new vistas opening before me, the deportation was obviously the beginning of life. (I am laughing). I went back inside the suite to stroke the groin and ego of my lover some more….

Inside, I discovered an apparent contrast; something that’s laughable! The Television stations were streaming with the anger and frustration of the people over the government’s plan to remove fuel subsidy, yet the streets were empty, quiet, like a dead man’s catacomb. I laughed and pecked Otunba, my lover’s forehead, while I walked away to get water.

When I returned to Otunba, I met a smile on his face! It was a smile that spoke to me of things not understood. A smile that knew, in spite of the allegations against Otunba, that he will still be released on bail to roam about the streets and get serviced by girls even many years younger than I (what other pastime is there for a hardworking fella?); a bail which, even if he disappears under the watchful nose of our sold-out security agents, would be shared as a shed largesse (like an over-ripe fruit falling off its tree) between Otunba and a few unknown people at one of their whore-pick-up clandestine gathering. The security agents will have a cut, the judges will too (what I don’t know is the asking price of the anti-graft agency to look the other way when all this happens, for surely the agency has a price!); some of the cut will be strewn around to be picked up by loyalists and the rest back-heeled into the government house pronounced Arsehole. At that point, everywhere will go silent, as if the country is as holy as the Garden of Eden at inception. I wondered, “If only the working class people of Nigeria would be like those of Libya, Tunisia and Egypt, then the naija canker-humans would be seized, burnt and thrown into the ocean. That’s if they don’t run for their lives!”

The smile was bigger now because he knew the people, whose oil and tax money they were spending without a thought, will only talk…talk…and talk through various media. “Talk is cheap, anyway!” I saw through Otunba and his Arsehole Villa friends, who must be lurking in Hotels everywhere playing with little ‘things’ like me, while the country burned of Islamic fundamentalists’ explosives. These same Arsehole people still test the patience of my people by throwing up the idea of Fuel subsidy removal; they wish to gauge the general feeling of the people. Or maybe their long-term intention is to wear out the mass of the people by allowing them too much talk for too long a time; and at the end, they having their way – more money to strewn around and to back-heel, while the worn-out working class die daily ‘after a brief illness’, of accidents on bad roads, of bombs and gunshots wrongly targeted and of the numerous diseases of hunger, frustration and poverty.

The working class (nay middle class) people are the people who sleep late and wake too early; who are constantly held up in traffic, day and night (especially in Lagos), cursing with a lack of breath and with a scowl permanently formed on their faces. These are the people who spend their sweat and blood on the helpless children and aged mothers down with arthritis in the villages around the country; who down crates of beer or pray ceaselessly with their last breath all to relieve a stress they are encumbered with.

There’s one thing Otunba knew as well as Arsehole, in spite of the strike actions by the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC), which were neither here nor there (that’s as far as I’m concerned because some people allude to the fact that this body, while priding herself in being the only mouthpiece for the working class, had been pocketed to fake protests that always amounted to nothing). They knew that when the people – the working class (who constitute the grass that suffers when two elephants – that is, two cartels routing for the control of fuel largess – fight) decide to occupy the streets protesting and demanding for a change in policies and, if possible, in leadership as already witnessed in North African countries – Egypt’s Tahir Square, Tunisia and Libya; protesting the government cuts and financial greed by the leadership (as recently happening globally), the arsehole government has no choice than to stand still!

When the working class people, who in their silence, are being bombed in places like the United Nations building during official meetings, when they are maimed amidst hysterical laughter at beer parlours, while they down volumes of beer to forget their miseries; when they are unexpectedly killed at marketplaces with explosives, while they hustle to make ends-meet; when these people, whose ancestors found out only at their deathbeds that they never lived, come to that realization in their closet that ENOUGH has to be ENOUGH; that it is now much more than despicable to sing their voices hoarse while the lazy ones, who only pledge their loyalties to sustain the lives of their cartels, dance, drink and drill holes in the damsels that they (the working class) spend their lives on will they abandon the folly of chasing after the wind – or rather stop pursuing a carrot that dangles before them (that they will never eat anyway) and take to the streets.

This is a call, as subtle as it may seem, for Nigerians to Occupy the streets, albeit in a non-violent manner, to demand what is rightfully theirs – an immediate end to the plan to remove fuel subsidy.

It is a call to put an end to the ride in which the working class people of our country, Nigeria are being taken.

Whether or not this is done, the Prostitution Bill (whatever it is called) is weighty on the National Assembly but our destiny has to be in our hands or else, we will say, also in our deathbeds when the time comes, that ACTUALLY, we never lived!

Written by
Lakunle Jaiyesimi
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