20 February 2013

Nigeria: Season of Confessions


By all standards, Chinua Achebe is not an attention seeking pen rookie. He is an iroko in the literary pantheon and the grandfather of African literature. Last year, Achebe stirred the hornet's nest with his new book - There was a Country.

Nasir el-Rufai left a successful practice at Afri-Projects Consortium became the bulldozer and recounts the tales as an Accidental Civil Servant. Peter Odili did the impossible; rising from a near-fatal political blow, he secured the first and subsistent perpetual injunction from prosecution, and sprang from political hibernation to tell his-story of alleged persecution.

Al-Mustapha used to drive the fear of death into army generals. They grovelled at his feet for favours. Ask Oladipo Diya, who was Abacha's deputy; until he entered the pepper soup of a phantom coup and discovered that his knees were much closer to the floor than he thought. Back then, there were generals but; there was a major. No court has accepted al-Mustapha's plea-bargain to freedom and so, he is taking his dirty garments to the printer and the world is waiting for a bombshell.

The other world has performed the obsequies of printed-paper, but Naija is doing a backward flip with printed matter. Trust us, quick to showcase the revival of pre-colonial train with wanton pomp and fanfare? Anything to revive a dead reading culture is welcome.

Any form of confession, including naked lies and half-truths may cause an avalanche of denials that may scour the nation's buried chancres and induce the required live-saving political chemotherapy. In the gulf between newspaper headlines and political hagiography lies the truth. Discerning minds would sieve it out. We are entertained in the here and now instead of waiting for aljanna firdaus to hear what Papa Nkechi did in the closet, apologies to Mamman Vatsa's poem Judgement Day.

We would not know as yet whether Sullivan Chime intends to add the title 'author' to his feathered red cap. If he ever does, it would make no mention of how much of Enugu's share of the federal allocation was devoted to his nose job. We should not to poke our nose into this shindig. Note that Chime did not rush to Father Mbaka in adoration ground to confess his disappearing act and seek indulgences for the blanket of lies used to cover it up. Instead he found a group of 'sympathetic journalists', read out his version and they ate in dinner happily ever after. It is possible that Enugu priests are tainted with the virus of populism. They may also be redundant if they are not 'indigene-priests' - borrowing a leaf from the Diocese of Nnewi.

Books are like masks. They are more forgiving than a country's virulent critics. They accept a hack's work without questions. They are better than confessions. With the priest you fear the judgement of the immortal, and your confession is to beg for mercy; as a political hagiographer, you owe no apologies, you are simply a literal Picasso looking partially into a mirror - the reflection you paint is that side of you that you want others to see and admire.

Our First Wife, Lame Pat may still be reviewing her rules of grammar but she is not far from the confession. On her return from medical pilgrimage last year, she told literary panel beaters (aka friendly reporters) that she is now to be addressed as the Saviour of the Masses. Doubting Thomases were asking - if anything good can come out of Okrika or Otuoke. She slipped into hibernation and came out with a confession. Earlier, we were told she was not ill, just in search of fresh air, so how could we have predicted last Sunday's Presidential Chapel inaugural homily? And what a place to begin her apostolic ministry, a church wholly owned and controlled by the state of which her husband is King. Now we have Queen Pat's Authorized Version and it contrasts sharply with the headlines that would have emerged from the corps of priests who have caught the virus of populism and arrogated to themselves the power to speak truth to leadership?

We would not know if consistent priestly heckling is driven by takes from the offertory but in Aso Rock Chapel, Madam Priest's road to ordination was paved with nine operations and a week in coma. She beat Lazarus to the death experience. Unfortunately, while walking through the valley of the shadow of death, her friends pawned her earthly possessions doubtful that their regular meal ticket may not return. Like Peter, they denied their saviour in her hour of need.

Now, the SSS has a new job. They must give the Ananias and Saphira who pawned Her Excellency's transformation agenda goods the shock treatment, preferably Esu River style. We hope that the cooks suspected of poisoning the saviour have been reinstated like Joseph; they are not the archetypal Judas. It's the season of confessions, and I cannot wait to hear what Danbaba Suntai and Lyel Imoke would have to say when they return to the throne of their forefathers.

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