Maryam walked straight into my sitting room, in haste, only to stop right in her tracks when she saw me.
‘What is happening Bint? You aren’t even dressed for the luncheon. Do you realise we will be very late? It’s already 2pm. The time on the card says 1.30. And granted everyone is expected to pray Zuhr before setting out. But to still be in your house-wear at 2pm? Haba Bint!’ Maryam complained, the moment she saw the way I was casually dressed.
‘This means you didn’t see my reply to your message.’ I replied, equally casually.
‘No, which reply and when did you send it?’ She asked, rather impatiently, while taking the chair opposite mine.
‘I replied you through WhatsApp right after receiving the invitation card you sent to me. I told you the notice was too short so I won’t be able to make it.’ I answered.
‘Oh no, I didn’t check my Whatsapp before setting out. But if you had sent it by SMS I would have seen the notification. Then I would’ve read it.’ She complained.
‘Yes, but you sent the IV through WhatsApp, why should I reply you elsewhere?’ I protested. ‘In any case knowing how hooked you are on WhatsApp, I never thought you could stay for hours without checking it. I mean I sent that reply over an hour ago.’ I added.
‘Well, it doesn’t matter. Now that I’m here and you are doing nothing, I see no reason why you can’t rise up and get dressed. It’s obvious that Tahir’s lunch is already on the table and the good guy is nowhere in sight to stop you from going. And now that it’s clear your short notice claim was just an excuse to escape going, I won’t let you off the hook.’ She threatened.
‘Well, you are right on that Maryam. I only used the short notice as an excuse because I didn’t want to go. But what makes you think I’ll suddenly agree to go with you?’ I asked.
‘Well because Ra’ifa is our good friend and she invited us and it’s only right to join our friends in their moments of joy and sadness.’ She answered.
‘I’m sorry Maryam, I really have no wish to go. Yes Ra’ifa and her family have a reason to rejoice but I do not wish to be a part of of their joy.’ I declared.
‘You do wish to be part of their joy?’ Maryam echoed, ‘since when did you become a bad belle person?’ She queried.
‘Since I decided that people who do not deserve my good wishes must not have them. You see we were all living witnesses to the time Ra’ifa’s husband was declared wanted by the EFCC. We all saw him when he showed up at their headquarters and we all heard the various charges against him with regards to abuse of office and looting of public funds. Is it right for us to rush and join their celebration just because he has now been named a minister of the federal republic? I mean, what he was accused of is still fresh in our minds. The milions he allegedly diverted to private use, as a government official, cannot be written off easily, and we can’t forget that the case has not been completed in our courts of law.’ I argued.
‘But what is ‘your own’ in that Bint? The very people who should prosecute him have decided to give him another appontment; which made his wife decide to host us to a luncheon. So what have we got to lose? Let’s just go and eat the goodies prepared for us and leave. After all we didn’t beg them to invite us. And we have no hand in their sins.’ Maryam countered.
‘But that’s my point Maryam. After telling the world he was a looter who deserved prosecution and punishment, they then turn around and give him a federal appointment, all because he had joined the ruling party. And no one is asking questions. Is that the kind of thing we should applaud and even be a part of?’ I demanded.
‘Oh, so that’s your problem. You probably haven’t heard about the ‘wankan tsarki’ phenomenon Bint. That’s what’s at work anytime a politician quits his old party and joins them.’ Maryam replied.
But ‘wankan tsarki’ is ritual bath in Islam. Where does it come in here?’ I asked.
‘That’s easy Bint. It just means that any politician who crossed over from his party to the party at the top, is immediately cleansed of all past sins and hailed a saint. And with a saint nothing is impossible. From a ministerial slot to the headship of a parastatal to an ambassadorial posting. This is the way it works.’ She explained.
‘But you were there, at that particular Lady’s Parliament meeting, when Ra’ifa begged us for prayers because the EFCC was after her husband. You were also there when some people were whispering that he probably deserved the chase because of the million’s he allegedly looted at his last position. So how can anyone now justify giving that man another public office to run?’ I inquired.
‘I told you the man has had his wankan tsarki done. He is now as sinless as a new born baby; at least that’s the new logic, and it’s what happens when you renounce your party and join them.’ She restated.
‘But this is truly unfortunate Maryam. These are the guys who promised us a clean break from the corrupt past. They were supposed to give us change, a new morally-sound way of doing things. And now they have forgotten all that and are doing as much or even worse than the others had done. I mean with the others being a party memeber is no guarantee than you will remain sinless. Every once in a while party members get caught and are made to pay for their sins. Yet here we are, at a point where looters are allowed to take a bow and go ahead to loot again because they had been ‘cleansed’ of their sins? It’s truly disheartening.’ I observed, dejectedly.
‘And this is an administration that promised us to name, shame and punish looters. I wonder whether they are made to return the looted funds in the course of the wankan tsarki, otherwise I fail to see how they can justify forgiving people whose actions led to our decayed infrastructure, dilapidated hospitals and schools without necessary facilities.’ Maryam said.
‘You know, even if they returned part or all that they have looted, they should never be trusted with public office again. Yes, they can be welcomed as party members and maybe due to plea-bargaining they can escape prosecution by returning what they stole, but on no account should they be trusted with public office again.’ I opined.
Yes that’s true, and you know the hard part for me is what message we are sending to our youths. I mean here is a government shouting to high heavens that it’s waging an anti corruption war, yet an ex-governor who was hounded for looting is now a Federal minister. No explanation given, none demanded. Do you think our youths will not start believing that corruption pays because of this? I think you are right Bint. I’m not going to Ra’ifa’s event. It’s bad enough that her husband escaped justice. I won’t be there to applaud his elevation to the next level.’ Maryam announced, dropping her hand bag and relaxing more on her chair.
‘That’s the spirit sister, that’s the real spirit.’ I said, smiling her way and giving her a thumbs-up.