Segun Adeniyi’s Roforofo Conversation with his Conscience

Conscience or whatever you call yourself, take your time O. Seriously, na by force? Why must you always invade my privacy and my space? Is it because you are invisible and I cannot ask Farida Waziri to arrest you with immediate effect? I am neither into Halloween nor Harry Potter. I do not like D.O. Fagunwa. Amos Tutuola and Ben Okri are not my favorite authors. In essence, monsters, gnomes, and ghomids are not my thing. Why must you then transform yourself into all these monstrous beings to disturb my life? I see you inside my skull, inside house, under pillow, under matrass, inside cooking pot, inside office (apologies to Fela). Your harassment is too much. You don’t even respect the presence of my boss. Every time I kneel down to do my daily ranka dede to Alhaji, you are there leering and banging on my skull. What exactly is your problem with me? Can’t you leave me alone to serve my Fatherland with every patriotic part of my patriotic body?

You keep saying that I used to be a progressive. I used to write articles on the side of the Nigerian people. I was on the right side of history, bla bla bla. You know what, Mr. Conscience, you’re talking rubbish. Did I sign an agreement with anybody that I would be glued permanently to one side of the Nigerian experience? Mr. Conscience, you are a stark illiterate! If you weren’t an illiterate, you would know that even our great writer, Chinua Achebe, supports my teleportation from Main Street to Aso Rock. Did he not say in Arrow of God that the world is like a mask dancing and to see it in its full and complete dimensions you must move from place to place and not stand in one place? For most of my life, I’ve been with the 99% of Nigerians that are oppressed by the internal colonizers who took over from the British. The remaining internal colonizers on the other side are also Nigerians. You will agree with me that their philosophy, actions, and experiences are equally Nigerian. What is bad in my shifting to their side in order to experience and appreciate their own version of Nigeria? Nigeria, after all, is like a mask dancing. I’ve seen that mask from the perspective of the sufferheads, now you are disturbing me for shifting to experience good old Naija from the perspective of the enjoymentation people.

Mr. Conscience, I suspect that you are White and Western. That is why you do not understand why I could not have said no when President Yar’Adua invited me to come and eat. You see, there is something called African hospitality. You do not say no to African hospitality. I was invited to come and eat- sorry, to come and serve! If I say no, e go be like say I vex. By the way, what exactly did you expect me to tell my kinsmen and my townspeople? That I rejected an Aso Rock appointment just because of you, my conscience? That I rejected their own share of “the national cake” just because of what my former readers, former admirers, and former fellow travelers in the progressive camp would think and say? This is why I keep suspecting, Mr. Conscience, that you have zero knowledge of Nigeria. I accepted this job for my people. In fact, I heard it authoritatively from the grapevine that the Kabiyesi of my hometown is already preparing a befitting Chieftaincy title for a worthy shon of the shoil.

It is even more frustrating that you are depriving me of sleep at night just because Alhaji has revived Decree 4 without actually saying that he has revived it. He has been closing television stations with immediate effect, arresting journalists, and hounding internet bloggers. Just because I used to belong in the family of progressive journalists, you’re wondering how I could be at peace with myself knowing that I now work for a man who has declared war on my former constituency and my former colleagues. Well, what you do not know is that I have been extremely instrumental to the humanitarian use of Decree 4 by my boss. Nigerians hardly ever acknowledge progress. They criticize, criticize, and criticize without admitting that there are areas where we have moved the country forward. What was the war against freedom of expression and press freedom like under Buhari, Babangida, and Abacha? Can anyone deny that the said war now has a human face under my boss? How many television stations or newspaper houses have been burnt by government-sponsored arsonists under President Yar’Adua? Isn’t that what would have happened to Channels under Abacha? John Momoh even had the luxury of returning from London to lobby for the reopening of his station. Did we harass him? Wouldn’t the Federal government have sent assassins after him in London in previous dispensations?

People are screaming about Jonathan Elendu. I pity folks who deny progress. Here’s a guy we merely invited for a chat with the SSS and the EFCC after which we detained him for only twelve days. Were journalists invited for chats in the past? Weren’t they hunted like dogs, thrown into Black Marias, and lumped among hardened criminals in Kirikiri? Was any member of Elendu’s family harassed or arrested? What happened to the families of folks associated with the guerilla journalism of The News and Tempo under Abacha? What happened to Dapo Olorunyomi’s wife and children? Have we done that to Elendu? When Wole Soyinka became a nuisance to the Federal government with his NALICON and Radio Kudirat, did the FGN not send assassin squads to trail him in Europe and America? Was he not hounded in Atlanta? Why do you think we opened a Nigerian Consulate in Atlanta to coincide with the position he accepted at Emory University at the time? It was to make Atlanta too hot for his white mane. Have we done any such thing at Elendu’s base in Lansing, Michigan?

Surely, Mr. Conscience, you know that my former brothers in the profession have thrown decency to the dogs. Look at that rabble-rouser, Omoyele Sowore, and his Sahara Reporters. I can’t wait till he moves anywhere near our airports. Those who know him should warn him to take the NADECO route when next he is coming home. If we catch him, e go hear am! He deserves a lot more than the Elendu treatment. I will personally supervise his arrest and have him sent to Guantanamo Bay to be detained along with his fellow terrorists. Yes, I used that word deliberately. What he has been doing is nothing short of terrorizing the most trusted aides and friends of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. These are all eminent Nigerians and he keeps rearing his vegetable head on their paths. Mrs. Farida Waziri is doing a heck of a job in our war on corruption. Don’t you see what they are doing to her at Sahara Reporters? His Excellency Dr Chief James Ibori, His Excellency Alhaji Dr Bukola Saraki, and Mike Okiro, our esteemed Inspector General of Police, are not spared either. These are all exemplary Nigerians who enjoy the full confidence of Mr. President. So, Mr. Conscience, do you expect us to allow that foolish man to continue to embarrass the most patriotic friends of the President while eating pizza and drinking hot chocolate in America?

To make matters worse, he is now obsessed with the President’s thirteen year-old son. Pray, does he expect nature and biology to make an exception when it comes to President Yar’Adua? What has that boy done that thirteen year-olds do not do all over the world? Anyway, that is not even why I am angry. By attacking that boy, Mr. Sowore is attacking a future President of Nigeria and that is treason. Where was he when our esteemed Chair, Chief Vincent Ogbulafor, handed over Nigeria to our esteemed party, the PDP, for the next sixty years? That being the case, anybody with the slightest claim to logic and the laws of probability should know that fifty of those sixty years belong naturally to the North – unless the pot of gold dries up in the Niger Delta before then. The southeast, south-south, and southwest will fight and call one another unprintable names while struggling for the remaining ten years in the spirit of rotation and the necessary handshake across the Niger. Now, shouldn’t it be clear that the fifty years belonging to the North would be carved out among the families annointed by providence to rule Nigeria? Is there an part of Maitama Sule’s theology that Sowore does not understand? Those fifty years belong to the scions of Babangida, Abacha, Abubakar, and of course, my boss. It bears repeating, the thirteen year-old being insulted by Sahara Reporters is a future president of this country. It is a Federal offence to insult a President-in-waiting. Come to think of it, Mr. Sowore accuses my boss of parental negligence. Hypocrisy! You accuse someone of being Baba Go-Slow, you call him a sleepy president. You claim that he spends his whole life either sleeping or being treated for minor ailments in Germany and Saudi Arabia. So, if he is either permanently sleeping or always in the hospital, where do you expect him to find the time to prevent the boy from using wads of Nigerian currency as an area rug in his bedroom?

Mr. Conscience, you are allowing yourself to be used by those foolish diasporic Nigerians who are writing me open letters. They more than deserve the spanking they got from Pat Utomi who calls them empty internet warriors. These are folks who won’t even reject appointments at the state level, let alone Federal level. At the drop of a hat, they crawl back quietly to serve as special assistants or special advisers to the governors of their states. They make noise only when they are not invited home. We know them. There was Diran Odeyemi, a progressive internet blogger whose grammar, spoken and written, was unbelievably horrible. He made a lot of noise from his base in London before Baba Adedibu and Governor Akala invited him to come and eat. He rushed to Ibadan, making sure he flushed his principles and his voice down the toilet of the British Airways plane that brought him back to Nigeria. That is at state level O. Were he still in London today, the fool would be among the progressive noise makers questioning my decision to work in and for Aso Rock.

Anyway sha, when people invoke you, Mr. Conscience, in their appeals to me to resign, they must doubt my Nigerianness. I’m a NAFDAC-certified Nigerian. Have they ever seen an authentic Nigerian resign voluntarily from the environment of the national cake? I will be here kampe till Alhaji tells me he no longer needs my humble services.

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