State of The Nation: A Continuous Assessment

by Adepoju Paul Olusegun

“Pauloh, you are a


“Why did you say that?”

“Sometimes you make

statements that are inappropriate and sound absurdly ludicrous, but

at the end, they are often true”

“Well that is what we

call foresight, something most people don’t have. By the way, why

are we having this conversation?”

“Remember the last time

we discussed Nigeria’s first lady”

“Patience? Yeah”

“You said she talks and

acts like a market woman”

“Well, I based my

conclusion on inferred assumptions made from empirical premises and

philosophical inquisitions that only Sigmund Freud can decipher”

“You’ve started


“I’m sorry. I’m

always distracted at the sound of intellectual discourse. Anyway,

what’s up with Patience?”

“Guess what happened

last Friday”


“She went to the market

and had a nice time buying, chatting and chanting with the market


“You see. It’s clear

that she feels more safe amidst the cacophony that characterize

buying and selling in the typical Nigerian market”

“Apart from that, do

you know what surprised me most?”


“She was very happy –

happier than she has ever been as the first lady”

“I don’t think it’s

just happiness, she’s glad to be home”

“Paul, don’t confuse

me. How can Nigeria’s first lady see the marketplace as home?”

“Well, home is where

you are relaxed and free to free yourself”

“I still don’t get


“Okay, let me make it

clearer. Every human being is like a drug addict; no matter how hard

he tries, he can’t ignore the aroma of nicotine which his body has

recognized as an epitope that triggers off series of reactions with

great avidity. For months, Patience has been enclosed in Aso Rock

without contacting those she’s freer with. But when she got the

opportunity, she couldn’t resist”

“Are you saying that

she is better around market women than the intelligentsia?”

“I guess so. If you

heard her speech at the market, and compare it with the one she gave

when the executive board of the Nigerian Paediatrics Association

visited her at the villa, you won’t need to bother”

“I find it difficult

disagreeing with you. Basically, you are saying that the first lady

is a great fan of the grassroots”

“Yes. And that is a

good thing.”

“Please explain”

“Apart from bad

leaders, Nigeria has been blessed with unique first ladies. The late

Stella was the delight of the corporate world. Her command of the

English language surpassed that of her husband; she was a beauty that

loved beauty; she even represented the president on several

occasions! She was the only Nigerian first lady that could challenge

Michelle Obama”

“Hmmm it’s like you

had a crush on her”

“I guess so. But the

first lady that crushed my heart is Turai”

“Paul, please let her

grieve in peace”

“Grief my foot. With

the ten billion Naira National Cancer Centre fund tightly secured

somewhere around her expensive Arabian hijab, I guess she is going to

be very comfortable. And have you read the Wikileaked secret that

linked her and her late hubby to some shady deals?”

“Pal, please focus on

the issue at hand”

“Okay. Like I’m

saying, I loved her at the outset until she went to Vienna to address

an international conference on cancer. It was the first time in my

linguistic life that I heard someone make grammatical errors while

reading a prepared and probably rehearsed speech”


“Please. Before she was

done with the salutations, hot bullets were flying around the cold

hall at a speed that surpassed the velocities of light and sound. It

was an embarrassing show that was shown on national TV. I couldn’t

take it any longer when I saw a woman from Trinidad laughing

hysterically at my country’s first lady. I was forced to change the


“Paul, is bad English

the only thing you can say about Turai? That is not fair. Isn’t

there anything good about her?”

“Well, I respect her

stance on her hubby’s sickness, and I don’t think any man can

hold the entire country to ransom like she did: commanding army

battalions, shutting down the airport, switching off the light at the

terminal, “importing” and “exporting” Mr President in the

middle of the night, leaving the vice president in the dark on the

state of the nation… I can go on. She’s a tough woman”

”What about Justice


“Like my Glo

line, she’s unavailable.”


“Back to Patience. I

believe she can be Nigeria’s best first lady ever if she can make

her market visits more frequent despite her “tight” schedule?”

“How do you mean?”

“Well, we all know that

there is no official constitutional assignment for her, and like past

first ladies, she is “busy” with her pet project. Since it’s

something she evidently enjoys, I think she should embark on a tour,

visiting every major market in Nigeria. That way, she will reach lots

of market women that monthly federal allocations will never reach.”

“But what will she gain

in return? You know this is Nigeria”

“For start, she needs

the exercise, and Jonathan can do with an athletic Patience.”

“You are still not

talking like a Nigerian”

“If you are thinking of

money, I guess you know she will be getting travel allowance for the

trips, will be given gifts by the host cities, and her fame will

spread across the abattoirs as the first lady that frequents the


“But will she be safe?

Especially in Aba market and other notorious kidnappers’ dens”

“I’m sure she will be


“Why are you so


“Didn’t you read

about IBB?”

“IBB the Maradona?”


“What then does IBB

stand for in Nigeria apart from the genius himself?”

“I’m referring to

Independence Bomb Blast – IBB!”

“Okay! What about it,

and how does it exclude Patience from the kidnappers’ list?”

“The swift response of

the various security arms of government surprised me, and surpassed

my informed understanding of the activities of the police SSS, and

the likes. As if we were watching Hollywood action movies, they gave

us interesting information on how the bombings were masterminded and

carried out to the extent that I began to ask myself if Nigeria is

really as bad as we present it to be. This shows that whenever

government is interested in an investigation, they know where to get

the files”

“Whoa! I never reasoned

in that line. So if I’m following your thoughts, no kidnapper who

read how the masterminds of IBB were apprehended would think of

kidnapping the first lady. Hence Patience has no reason to worry

because she’s safe”

“Now you are thinking.

But some politicians are no longer safe”

“Who are they?”

“They are your

legislators who received an early Christmas package last week from

the bow tie-loving CBN governor. You know what? I was surprised that

the boring house could become lively less than 24 hours that Sanusi

made the statement. The person that amazed me wasn’t Sanusi, but

the bespectacled Senator from Osun state. What is his name again?”

“Are you referring to

Senator Iyiola Omisore?”

“Yes. Prior to the

allegations and counter-accusations, the only thing we know about him

is the record he set as the first man in Nigeria to win a senatorial

seat while in jail. But he has added the feather of the most

perturbed senator to his Awo-like cap”.

Paul, what do you think

could be responsible for that?”

“I think it’s related

to the recent Appeal Court judgment that gave the AC victory in Osun

state. You know he’s gunning for the post and has invested

enormously in campaigns and other “logistics” to ensure that he

emerge as the next governor of Osun state. Hence he would vehemently

reject any attempt to cut his well invested salary.”

“Basically, you are

saying that like his colleagues, Senator Omisore is only seeking for


“Yes. But as bad as

this might make them feel, they should take consolation in the fact

that it’s a Nigerian phenomenon. Like I always say, the major

problem we have in Nigeria is that of selfish leadership and

unperturbed followers that will also be selfish when given the

opportunity to lead.”

“It’s like you have

another issue on your mind. Spit it.”

“You must be good at

horoscopy. Okay. Look at the presidency’s decision to build six new

federal universities in addition to the numerous dilapidating ones.

Imagine the tremendous improvements and transformations he could make

to the already established ones with the funds we want to use to

build not one, but six federal universities.”

“I agree with you. But

it doesn’t make him selfish and self-seeking like the National


“Yes it does.

Personally, I think the president only want a university for his

hometown, just like Alao Akala wants a state university for Ogbomoso,

and my local government chairman situates and personally supervises

projects around his place of abode, while my councillor will only

recommend his relatives for government loans”

“But Mr President gave

a good reason for the new universities”

“My friend, stop

thinking like a suckling child. Do you think he would have had it

easy if he proposed just a university for his hometown? No way! His

think tanks came up with five additional universities to support the

one to be built in Bayelsa without considering probable

sustainability challenges for present and future governments”

“Paul, I now agree with

you totally that we are being led by people who only seek for

themselves and their villages at the expense of the entire 150

million Nigerians. It’s this self-centeredness that will make them

dispatch every national resource to ensure that their loved ones are

safe, their bank accounts continue to be in ten or more digits and

they get whatever they want without considering future generations or

the impacts that their actions might have on standards and the

quality of life in the nation”

“I think you are

becoming smarter than ever; a worthy protégé of my unique school of

thought. Anyway, I’m off to market. I need garri and vegetable.”

“Paul, you are not


“Yes I am. If patient

Patience can do it, I don’t have to be a patient before I learn how

to cook and eat good meal. Like our leaders, my wellbeing must come


“Okay. But before you

go, how much does a cup of rice cost?”

“Hmmm, I don’t know”

“You are also like our

leaders; you don’t know the cost of your actions, inactions and

wrong actions”

“Nice one”

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