( A conversation between two friends on #FreeJoeChinakwe)
Neighbour: My neighbour, nkan beǃ
Ahmed: Neighbour, neighbour. How far na? What’s the meaning of this “nkan be” you keep saying sef?
Neighbour: “Nkan be” means “strange things are happening.” It was a TV show by one late Kola Olawuyi. A friend introduced me to the horror TV show in my early teenage years. I never really watched past the introduction where the presenter almost always said, “Oti sele ni Ibadan” (It has happened in Ibadan). As if Ibadan was the home of strange things.
Ahmed: This is good oh. “Ahǃ Nkan be” should be the response to “Sai Buhari” henceforth because since he took over power, strange things have been happening.
Neighbour: Ehenǃ Now that you have mentioned Buhari, have you heard that a man was arrested because he named his dog “Buhari”?
Ahmed: Really? Where did you hear that from? I’m sure you read it from Linda Ikeji or one of those your blogs.
Neighbour: No ohǃ Vanguard is reporting… so are other credible news media.
Ahmed: Interesting. But wait ohǃ Muhammadu get monopoly over the name, Buhari?
Neighbour: Me I know?
Ahmed: How can you not know?
Neighbour: Wetin consain agbero with overload?
Ahmed: Who be agbero and who be overload in this circumstance?
Neighbour: Na from my mouth you wan hear say yansh dey back or e get parting?
Ahmed: Ok oh. Abeg, you get onions? I wan cook beans. My card no gree work; my bank has placed a ban on international transactions. I go give you back the onions when I transfer money from my account. Since we are back in our old ways of doing things.
Neighbour: Haǃ Na wa oh. I even wan come borrow 20 pounds from you sef.
Ahmed: So, I beat you to it. I no get cash for house. But wetin you want use the cash do sef? How much is exchange rate?
Neighbour: Abeg face front, E no concern you. Exchange rate na around N510 to a British pound.
Ahmed: Oti oǃ Mai chanji, e be like say the change for Naija get global effect oh.
Neighbour: Bros, na everybody dey complain oh. I no dey like call Naija again these days. The complaints don too much sef. I hear say people dey checkout anyhow with no hope of returning.
Ahmed: E don reach like that? In just how many months? Hmmm na wa oǃ I just dey read am online say them don rearrest Joe Chinakwe. Omo, this na serious nkan beǃ
Neighbour: Who be Joe Chinakwe?
Ahmed: Chai, so you no even know papa Buhari name? And the name of the dog owner wey dey cause kasala? You just dey spread news of person wey you no fit identify. Shaking my head at you ohǃ
Neighbour: Wetin consain me, consain him name? Na the situation na him matter pass the person.
Ahmed: There you goǃ We need to attach names to these people so that we go fit humanise their situations. If you no know him name how you go fit feel him pain or advocate for am?
Neighbour: Ok oh, oga lawyer. Advocate general of the massesǃ You have joined bad gang. Who advocacy don epp? Abeg, make I go find who go borrow or dash me 20 pounds.
Ahmed: Ehen, going back to names and dogs. Do you know the idiom that goes, “giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it?”
Neighbour: That one na old saying na. I go even interprete am for you.
Ahmed: Oya, interprete am make I hear.
Neighbour: It means when someone has been accused of behaving badly in the past, people should expect them to behave like that in the future.
Ahmed: But you know say our people think say to give dog bad name na to just accuse person of what he didn’t do just so that you can either kill or castigate the person?
Neighbour: Like them do Ken Saro Wiwa and the Ogoni 9 abi?
Ahmed: Something of that nature but in this case, the main dog in this fight has not really changed its name.
Neighbour: But why Buhari dey fight this thing sef?
Ahmed: Him no get work na. Na the kind thing wey we vote am to do be that. See as economy don kpafuka, we cannot even spend our money abroad. Boko Haram don increase attacks in the North East, herdsmen are on rampage against farmers, foreign exchange is at its all time peak, and the naira is gradually competing with Zimbabwean dollar from the bottom.
Neighbour: This man is just destroying his good name.
Ahmed: Good name? In this case na, give a dog a good name and hang it, abi? This good name seems synonymous with the evil that came with Decree 4 of 1984 (Protection Against False Accusation). Decree 4 was a clamp down on free speech. Have you heard that recently bloggers have been arrested with unimaginable charges for disagreeing with the government? Have you heard that some people have been held in custody by the Department of State Services for several months without granting them bail even when the court has said they should be released? These are the kind of things that happened in 1984 when he was in power. The impunity was too much; people were given punishments that were not proportional to the offences committed. Did you hear what Aunty Oby Ekwesili said about the economy in 1984?
Neighbour: No, I haven’t.
Ahmed: Bros., Google is your friend. Ok. Let me read you some of the things she said.
“…During the first coming (1984) of this our new president, a command and control economic system was adopted…”
“…During that era, inflation spiralled, jobs were lost. The economic growth level dipped. That era wasn’t the best of eras in our economic progress…”
“…In over one year (of his second coming), the president is still holding to the premise that command and control is the only way out. In one year, we lost the single digit inflation status we maintained in past administrations…”
“…What did not work in 1984 cannot possibly be a solution in a global economy that’s much more integrated…”
Did you also know that in October 1984, over 200,000 civil servants were retrenched and critics of the regime were thrown in jail?
Did your parents ever tell you of the meaning of austerity measures?
Neighbour: I told you, my parents don’t like politics. They don’t even talk about it.
Ahmed: No wonder. Oya sit down and stop standing like soldier ant. Buhari introduced austerity measures when he was confused about what to do to with the economy. In those days, austerity measures made it difficult for local industries to procure essential imported raw materials, leading many of them to close or to operate at greatly reduced capacity. Many workers were laid off, and government itself retrenched workers to increase its cost effectiveness. All of these actions were accompanied by high inflation.
Neighbour: Come, how old were you in 1984? How come you know so much?
Ahmed: I be ya mate? Use your internet data wisely instead of using it to watch videos of girls twerking. Infact, stop digressing. We are still talking about giving a dog a bad name.
Neighbour: I’m tired, I need water to drink.
Ahmed: Abeg, go fetch water for tap. I no get bottled water.
Neighbour: Tap water ke? Abeg oh. I no wan get typhoid.
Ahmed: See ya life? You think say you still dey Naija abi? Na tap water I don dey drink in the past four weeks. Oyinbo tap water be like cele water, you fit use am soak garri without sugar.
Neigbour: Me, I no be cele.
Ahmed: Na me come be cele abi? I don tell you, no dey distract me on top this matter. So, as I was saying about a dog and name. Have you ever read about Brigadier General Joshua Dogonyaro’s coup speech against Buhari in 1984?
Neighbour: Who be Dogonyaro? Is that not an anti-malaria herbal tea?
Ahmed: Chairman himself, I hail ohǃ Na agbo you don polish like this? You even dey call am anti-malaria herbal tea. You do well.
Anyway, make I save you some headache. In his speech, Dogonyaro mentioned that,
“…all the energies of the rulership were directed at his imaginary opposition rather than to effective leadership…”
“…The result of this misdirected effort is now very evident in the country as a whole…”
“…The government has started to drift…”
“…The economy does not seem to be getting any better as we witness daily increased inflation…”
Neighbour: Ah. You mean everything that happened in 1984 is a repeat of what is happening now? Ahǃ This dog has not changed its bad name oh.
Ahmed: Shhhhhhhhhhǃ Watch ya mouth before you become diplomatic luggage like Umaru Dikko. I’m sure you don’t know what that is again, as a Dundy United that it is na.
Neighbour: What is a diplomatic luggage?
Ahmed: Shortly after Buhari overthrew Shehu Shagari…
Neighbour: [Interjects] Which Buhari are you referring to, the dog itself or Joe Chinakwe?
Ahmed: Ahǃ You see why I call you Dundy United? Joe is just 30 years old, how could he have been born at the time of Shehu Shagari? He doesn’t even know these things.
Neighbour: No wonder he takes Buhari as his hero. How would you know all these things and still consider him a hero?
Ahmed: Wait first, I’m not done with Dikko. So, Dikko was a minister under Shagari and Buhari overthrew Shagari based on corruption and blah blah blah. Dikko went on exile in England. Then, Buhari employed the services of Isreali Mossad and Nigerian security officials to kidnap him in England since he couldn’t extradite him. Umaru Dikko and his secretary were injected with a drug to render him unconscious and put in a crate.
Ahmed: They were injected and almost wisked away in a Nigerian Airways aircraft but for the vigilance of a British Customs officer, Charles David Morrow, who insisted on seeing documents of the crate which was otherwise referred to as a diplomatic luggage.
Neighbour: You don’t mean itǃ Why didn’t he just seek an extradition instead of embarrassing the whole country through this operation? What’s the difference between Buhari’s plan and Alamieyeseigha’s escape from the UK?
Ahmed: My brother, I wonder oh. The man has never liked due process and does not have regard for rule of law. This dog does not have a bad name… but wait oh is it actually a dog or a leopard?
Neighbour: Ah ah! Which kain elevation be that? Na dog jor. Joe was right.
Ahmed: Not in that context jor. Open your Bible and tell me what’s in Jeremiah 13: 23.
Neighbour: Chaiǃ Diaris God ohǃ
Ahmed: Nkan be. Oti sele ni Aso rock (strange things are happening in Aso Rock).