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Will Tinubu Crash Like Saraki This Saturday?

written by Tunde Odesola 
Death is stupid. Mammoth, menacing and mean, death is an unintelligent, inartificial robot unmoved by goodness, reason, pleading and praise. Death is a blind idiot, a reckless solitary reaper. But it is not half as stupid and blind as man because each day, man cuddles death through reckless eating, excessive drinking, smoking, dangerous driving, careless talks and several other deathly acts.

And when death strikes like the blind cobra it is, we wail.

No mortal loves death. Nobody wants to see, let alone, argue with or listen to death defend its actions. Like any other earthling, I’ve cheated death a number of times on the superhighway of grace. But this isn’t the reason why I’m going to pass the microphone to death now. It was in an 8th-grade class recommended prose fiction, The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, that death spoke.

My son, Ireoluwa, read as I wrote the opening paragraph of this article, and he said, “This looks like the book I’m reading for my English class.” My heart hiccupped. How can a 12-year-old be reading about death in school? “Go and bring the book,” I said calmly. He went to his bag, brought the bestseller by Zusak, leafed through it, and showed me a portion. In the portion, death said, “I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations. Please, trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that’s only the A’s. Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me.”

Did you hear the stupid creature called death? It says it could be cheerful. Can you imagine that? So, it laughs to see us cry? What a confusing moron the creep is. With this confusing disposition, death and the Nigerian politician appear to have something in common. It’s called deception – the former lures man to eternal sleep, the latter lures him to eternal poverty. Though death didn’t contest the 2019 elections, its insignia littered the twists and turns of Nigeria’s political terrain.

The uproar of rigging allegations and the faces of defeated incumbent senators and House of Representatives members don’t add up. For instance, were the outgoing Senate President, caged Bukola Saraki; boastful ex-Governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio; mowed Iroko of Ondo, ex-governor Olusegun Mimiko; crushed Koseleri of Ibadan politics, Governor Isiaka Ajimobi; and the battered ex-Governor of Benue, George Akume, rigged out from retaining their seats at the Senate? The long list of woeful losers also includes the Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige; Gombe Governor, Ibrahim Dankwambo; two-week governor of Anambra, Andy Ubah; former Delta governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, among others.

I consider the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, a clayey colossus because his party, despite having an incumbent governor in the person of Godwin Obaseki, not only lost to the main presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar of the Peoples Democratic Party, it also lost two of the three senate seats to the rampaging PDP. Ondo Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, also failed to secure a win for President Muhammadu Buhari in the Sunshine State as the PDP trounced the APC, winning two of the three senatorial seats.

Death is inevitable. But may we not die stupid death. Many Nigerians died stupidly last week fighting for either the APC or the PDP – two parties that don’t care they ever existed. What could be stupider than able-bodied men who stand to gain nothing, taking up arms against one another, forcefully opening death’s door and waking it up to feast – in the name of political differences? The stupidest death is dying for a Nigerian politician.

Last week, my imagination leapt: I was in Apapa and I needed to go to Tinubu Square for a crucial appointment. I had no means to hire a copter for a quick airlift across the ocean. I was left with two unpleasant options. One is to snail through the static labyrinth of craters called Apapa-Marina gridlock. I shuddered at the thought of being marooned in the Apapa road traffic for hours on end. I considered my second option, which is journeying on water from Apapa to Marina. I can afford the N150 boat transport fare to Marina, but the dunghill called Apapa jetty echoes a significant letdown of the Lagos State Government since the days of Bola Tinubu. The jetty stank beyond heavens! Beggars, young and old, outnumber passengers at the jetty, which has just wooden benches and no car park, and whose boats boast only tattered lifejackets and flies. I learnt the dingy Ajah jetty only works in the morning. Talk about a multibillion dollars income earner left untapped by successive Lagos governors since 1999, the waterways come to mind.

There’s no word for the shocking abandonment of the Lagos waterways by subsequent governments except failure. More than half of Lagosians daily trapped in heavy traffics could commute on water from Ikorodu to Epe to Ajah to Lagos Island to Apapa, Akoka, Bariga to Badagry, Oworosonki etc, freeing congested roads, creating jobs and making the environment cleaner and safer. When the state government chased the terrorizing rectangular buses called ‘Molue’ from Lagos roads, they probably turned to boats and took their terrorism to Lagos waterways, where apothecaries now peddle inside boats wonder drugs capable of curing fibroid, HIV/AIDS, hypertension, enhancing sexual performance, genital organs and curing fear! But because Apapa to Marina is a 15-minute journey, I chose to endure the terrorism on water and board the dirtiest and most unsafe boat on the planet. Sea wind drove the stench of excreta, urine and sweat into the nostrils. I soldiered on in the belief that my ordeal would be over in 15 minutes.

“Look at how horrible the whole jetty is,” a young lady in a black suit hissed, spitting into the sea as she tried to get into the boat. As if waiting to punish her for her outburst, the boat violently shook as the wave roughly hit its underbelly, she let out a cry and held tightly to the railing, shaking, otherwise, she would have been tossed into water.
She let out a longer hiss as she took her seat beside me. Some co-passengers offered their sympathies to her, setting the stage for the ensuing political debate to follow. “Don’t mind them, my sister,” a fair young man told the ruffled lady, adding, “When one man sits at Bourdillon and perpetually dictates policies to the state government, this is the type of jetty you get in 21st Century Lagos. As they are shouting ‘O to ge’in Kwara; they should be shouting ‘Kilo de?’ in Lagos.”

The boat driver cuts in, “E no fit happen! ‘E gbagbe e’! Perish the thought!” The flustered lady cuts back, “Why can’t it happen in Lagos? Are Lagosians slaves?” The boat driver countered, “Can you compare the population and challenges of Lagos with those of other states? Leave it for Jaga of the universe, na only im sabi fix Lagos. Twale for father!” An aged passenger cleared his throat and said, “I’m a Lagosian. This is not the Lagos of our dream. Lagos is a land of prosperity. But is the prosperity of Lagos judiciously used for the masses? What were the statements of accounts of successive politicians who served Lagos since 1999 – before they got into offices and after they left? The 132,798 vote margin won by Buhari in the 2019 presidential election shows that the ‘O to ge’ tsunami is capable of sweeping through Lagos. Many more politicians will die politically in the days ahead.”

I was the first to get off the boat at Marina and I proceeded to my appointment at Tinubu Square.

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