Queer quotes of last week

I counted eight queer statements that current and former top Nigerian public officials made last week, all of which raised eyebrows. One queer statement was made in Gusau last Friday by Zamfara State’s governor Bello Muhammad Mutawalle while receiving from the Police Commissioner some firearms collected from repentant bandits.

Mutawalle suddenly veered off the subject matter and threatened to arrest his predecessor, Abdulaziz Yari Abubakar, for allegedly sponsoring killings in the state. Referring to the recent killing of 14 persons at Karaye village in Gummi local government, an apparent reprisal attack because the locals had earlier killed Fulani elders, Mutawalle said he noticed that killings occurred in the state anytime Yari paid a visit. The governor said he will therefore go to Yari’s house personally and arrest him.

Very queer thing to say because Yari’s visit and the killings at Karaye could be a coincidence. Then also, governors do not personally go and arrest people. The last time any governor threatened that was in 1998 when Oyo State Military Governor Colonel Ahmed Usman said all those who organized anti-government riots in the state will be “captured” and held as “prisoners of war.”

Yari’s reply to Mutawalle’s threat was characteristically queer and belligerent. He tweeted, “How and where did I foment trouble? If my coming to Zamfara is the cause of the attacks, why nothing happens in my village, Mafara, which I visit?    From Sokoto airport, I go straight to my house in Mafara…every 30 to 40 days…to meet with my associates. From there I go straight back to the airport.” The problem for Yari is his belligerent past. Remember when, as governor, he threatened APC Chairman Adams Oshiomhole, saying “if his father and mother born him, he should come to Zamfara State.” Yari also told Mutawalle that “I am not his mate politically. I am far above him. When I was governor, he was too insignificant to appear even in my dreams.”

Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu fired off the third queer statement of last week. When reporters at the State House asked him why his men did nothing to stop thugs who had a field day during the Kogi and Bayelsa polls ten days ago, Adamu said it was fake policemen that perpetrated the mayhem. Very good. Didn’t he announce before the elections that he had deployed 66,000 additional policemen from ten different special units to the two states to ensure peace, and yet disorder reigned supreme, and his men could not apprehend any of the “fake policemen”?

Customs Comptroller General Colonel Hameed Ali reiterated last week his very queer claim, which he first made early November, that China shot into the top ranks of economic giants because of border closure. He had said, “We must grow Nigeria, we must eat and drink Nigeria. Even China closed its borders to the whole world for 40 years and today it is considered a great nation. Don’t you want to be a great Nigeria?”

If he was referring to the 1949-1979 period, the height of the Communist era when China was a difficult place to interact with, it never closed its borders to international trade, only that the US and most Western nations shunned it. In any case, China was very poor during those decades. Its economic boom since 1979 was precisely because Deng Xiaoping opened it up to deeper interactions with the world.

Indeed, if isolation is responsible for prosperity, North Korea should be the most prosperous country in the world today. DPRK is the least accessible country to foreigners since 1945, when the Workers Party of Korea led by the Great Leader Kim Il-Sung came to power. Remember that the late Nigerian global traveler Abdullahi No-Sweat once said he managed to enter every country in the world except North Korea. Vietnam too, which was largely inaccessible for decades, became prosperous only when it ended its isolation. Made in Vietnam products are now in Nigerian markets, when all we heard about that country when we were kids was valour in war. If isolation and border closure are the keys to prosperity, Albania under Enver Hoxha should have become the most prosperous country in Europe, but it is actually one of the poorest.

Yet another queer statement last week was President Buhari’s congratulatory message to Kogi State Governor Yahaya Bello. Buhari described Bello’s improbable re-election, in an election soaked in blood, thuggery, violence, ballot box snatching and vote buying, as “a race well run and a victory well won.” Let us be frank here. The presidential elections of 2003, 2007 and 2011, all of which President Buhari still believes he was rigged out of, were better in every material particular than the Kogi election of penultimate week.

The president also rubbed salt into injury when he said those who lost the Kogi and Bayelsa elections should go to court. On the face of it, it sounded like a statesmanly advice but for a man who publicly complained, when his former Dodan Barracks staff visited him, that his Muslim kinsmen always conspired with others to deny him justice in the courts, the advice sounded like a very cynical one.

Also queer was the president’s statement at the APC NEC meeting in Abuja last Friday, when he said he will not go for a Third Term. He said, “I am not going to make the mistake of attempting a third term. Beside the age, I swore by the holy book that I would go by the constitution and the constitution said two terms. I know that I am in my last term and I can afford to be reckless, because I am not going to ask for anybody’s vote.”

I have been reading about the daily activities of US Presidents since the days of Richard Nixon, and I never read where anyone of them said he will not go for third term. Since the 1950s when the US Constitution was amended to limit presidential terms to two, it was no longer an issue. Remember that before that, from 1789 to the 1950s when the US Constitution did not prescribe term limits, only Franklin Delano Roosevelt sought for and got a third and fourth terms, obviously because World War Two was already underway in 1940.

PDP’s response to PMB last week was also queer. Its hyper-active spokesman Kola Ologbondiyan said the president should, “instead of trying to bring the unconstitutional third term to public discourse, address the issues of violence, killings and alteration of election results.” When results were once being altered in its favour, did PDP ever stop to address it?

Being married for 80 years

Last week, Guinness Book of World Records declared a Texas couple, John and Charlotte Anderson, to be the oldest living couple in the world. Their combined age is 211 years; John is 106 and his wife is 105 years old.

Guinness, which should know, stated that the couple’s love story, which began in 1934, has stood the test of time, literally, because they have been married for 80 years. It said the couple first met in class at The University of Texas in 1934, where Charlotte was studying to become a teacher while John was a guard for the football team. They married in 1939, during the Great Depression, and that they spent just $7 on the hotel room for their honeymoon.

Let us put this in perspective. At the time they married, Nigeria was firmly under British colonial rule and our independence was still two decades away. Family expenses, boredom, nagging, ex-lovers, naughty children, school fees, hospital bills, rebellious adolescent children, in-laws, economic downturns, ups and downs of life and even politics of ‘the other room’ could not tear them apart, these Hendersons.


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