“Branding” Nigeria, drug courier, etcetera – Tola Adenle

June 11, 2012



Things are happening in such rapid succession in Nigeria these days that one could almost write a column a day and still have materials to spare!  To avoid writing on stale topics, I have decided to crowd quite some items that call for immediate comments.  There are topics – like the man of a god of evil – Johnson that a female reader in the United States e-mailed me to write on.  After all, his victims – like most followers of “men of God” are and were all women and before the Nigerian situation made a political commentator of me beginning in 2003, the brief I gave myself was to write social commentaries. “Rev.” King deserves a full column and I shall do that soon.


Branding Nigeria, I dare say, does not call for the millions in foreign exchange being expended on all those splashy ads on foreign cable networks and other activities thatwill not take Nigeria beyond its negative image.  I know that the Information Minister will not like to hear this and no Nigerian can blame him, if you know what I mean! In the movie, Field of Dreams several years ago, there is a line “if you build it, they will come”.


If Nigeria becomes a stable and safe country where the rule of law obtains at every level; if her physical environment becomes very clean; if crime rate is drastically reduced; if her political space says “well-governed nation”; if miscreants who harass passersby are considerably reduced; if the education of the public about such evil practices like kidnapping and killing people for rituals are embarked on, and IF there is great improvement in infrastructure like roads, etcetera, tourists and investors will come.


What became of oversea jaunts to “attract foreign investors” beyond giving governors opportunities to stash away stolen wealth?


Of course, I see splashy multi-million dollar ads about many countries, including, Greece, Croatia, etcetera and perhaps, the best of them all – Malaysia – on television everyday. The tourism in these countries is well-developed and the situation on the ground – pardon the Nigerian cliché – makes those places conducive to tourism.  The money being spent on the so-called ‘heart of Africa’ Project, therefore, is money spent to buy horses that would be pulled by carts!


A kid who once worked for me went to Malaysia a couple of years ago and within days sent me an e-mail with these words:  “Mommy, I walked around Kuala Lumpur till two in the morning after dropping my luggage. Very clean streets; no crime …”.


Now, these hordes that Nigeria is supposedly expecting in under-counted and under-funded Lagos; soul-less Abuja, dirty Ibadan and other cities that are filled with unemployed youth, miscreants, … ‘scuse me, shiny Hummers and state-of-the-art vehicles, massive gated mansions … How about murders everyday … tension in the land over abracadabra census … fear of coming elections …  posters on EVERY available space, including decorative trees …?



Citizens’ opinions as “market noises”


In Yoruba idioms, “market noises” are irrelevancies – sort of flotsams and jetsams – that one does not need to worry about.


It seems to be the case in Nigeria today and evidences abound from the presidency to the state houses to local government levels.  All the allegations laid out, for example, by Vice President Atiku at the PTDF hearing against President Obasanjo have not been answered beyond abuses, etcetera on Atiku by presidential aides who have contributed a great deal to the very apt 6-part series “Bolekaja  Presidency” by Reuben Abati in the Guardian.  What do Nigerians think?  Should the president worry about these?  Is it a case of: Nigerians can do their worst even as elections loom because their opinions matter not to election outcomes?


How can Mr. Nnamdi (Andy) Uba run for governor when the case of smuggling foreign currency in Nigeria’s jet for her [the country’s] president was proven – no matter the plea-bargaining?  How about his qualification scandal that has unearthed his never having finished a first degree in spite of claiming a doctorate?  Does his answer that he needs only a School Certificate square with a corruption-averse administration? How did Officer Ribadu arrive at those so-called disqualified candidate list, a list that does not have the names of elected officers like Governor Daniel of Ogun State who purportedly purchased a home worth almost two million pounds in England? How come no PDP governor who is pro the president is on the list? The same Ribadu who has “cleared” Akala is the same person who recently accused him of fraud?


How could Officer Bode George continue to feature prominently in the administration of President Obasanjo in spite of the NPA probe which has never been disproved?  How about Their Highnesses Oyinlola of Osun whose NGO for The Wife has – among other public donations – Osun’s N50 million while the building erected for the NGO is now claimed as Her Highness’ property?


The cases of Wunmi, the actress drug courier who got away with barely a slap on the wrist and Tochi, who paid with his life would yield a whole column; I may re-visit it someday but a few things need mentioning here. I read an interview recently in which former career Ambassador Otunla, explained why Nigeria’s image is very bad.


I wonder how the Information Minister felt about drug pushers Wunmi, and Tochi’s execution which happened about the take-off time of his glittering “Heart of Africa” campaign.  There are drug barons everywhere in the world, including the most consuming nation, the U.S.A. but drug pushers are not cuddled. There are many reports as well as unwritten comments that put as much as 50 percent of Nigeria’s wealth on drugs and 419 proceeds. Remember the Brazilian bank that Anajemba & Co. brought down? A Federal legislator was among that company.  What efforts have been made and are still being made to render laundering proceeds of internet scams impossible?


Do I think Tochi, the teenager, should have been killed in spite of the worldwide condemnation?  I believe life in prison is a form of hell. Singapore, anyway, is a nation that prides itself on her great economic and social gains and is NOT Nigeria where a star actress who swallowed several wraps of drugs got away with a million naira fine.  I read  somewhere that Wunmi had a smile on her face at a point while being led in public! A first time offender?  She knew hers is not a country where you reap what you sow and that she would soon walk, as the saying goes.


Pray, what deterrent is 3 years with the option of a million naira fine to a drug pusher?  Nigeria deserves better laws; Wunmi deserves to spend several years in jail and if an option of fine would be given, the law should make this so steep that it would serve as a deterrent to all those “society ladies” and “big boys” who return from jail to huge parties! What a country!




On December 24, I wrote on Alhaji Yar Adua and his platter of gold candidature: I am not aware of the guy’s impact in Katsina; his ideas on public discourses are unknown: south-south issue; revenue sharing, ‘Third Term, etcetera.  I am not aware, either, that he was a silentachiever. In view of the fact that all that continues to be credited to the man is – like a broken record, pardon me – “I will continue … reforms”, exactly what does this man stand for?


Alhaji, can you speak for yourself?


Ditto the Katsina General.  For instance, I remember one afternoon in 1984 when what I can only describe as the “morality police” caused pandemonium in downtown Ibadan in the attempt to Islamize Nigeria.  I was one of those who wore pants – a mode of dressing I had adopted since my days at the Ibadan Polytechnic in 1967.  While I was not arrested and the commotion soon died down, it is remarkable that the period in 1984 coincided with the arrival of several flowing white-robed Arab-looking men who settled at Basorun Area, Ibadan. They were not part of the Lebanese-Syrian community that had always made Ibadan home and did not seem to have their families with them.


General Buhari, please speak up on my perception of you as a religious extremist. I also remember your government attempted to have Nigerians obtain exit visas a laold USSR. In spite of an already very settled and comfortable family life, those were the seeds of our Andrew years.


If someone wants to rule Nigeria, I do not think it is “beneath” their dignity to answer questions that worry the populace about their candidature.


I think it is part of the dismantling of the political system that allows Yar Adua, a presidential candidate to summon governors – like himself – even if he’s the presidential candidate, to meetings. How about the matter of the plane?  Does it belong to the PDP or to him personally?




On a lighter, though equally important note, from far away Malawi comes a bizarre sports story: while a camera rolled, the national football coach, a German, was punched, pulled and humiliated off the pitch while coaching because he was no longer wanted!  The sports minister’s puerile statement that the German’s money would be paid merely shows why “uncivilized” and “Africa” are not, all the time, oxymoronic!



The Nation on Sunday, February 11, 2007



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