By Yinka Odumakin
MY friend and brother, Olusegun Adeniyi made me roll on the floor years ago when he wrote this joke about God wanting to destroy the world again and made the mistake of giving the contract to build an Ark to a Nigerian Noah.
“And the Lord spoke to Noah and said: ”I will give you six months to build me an Ark. At the end of six months I will send rain to cover the entire earth and destroy all bad people. However, I want to save a few good people, and the animals, two of every kind. So I am ordering you to build an Ark for me”, said the Lord. In a flash of lightning he delivered the specifications for an Ark.
”No problem”, said Noah, trembling in fear and fumbling with the blueprints.
”Six months, and it starts to rain” thundered the Lord. ”You’d better have my Ark completed, or learn how to swim for a very long time”.
And six months passed. The skies began to cloud up and rain began to fall. The Lord saw that Noah was sitting in his front yard, weeping. And there was no Ark.
”Noah”, shouted the Lord, ”where is my Ark?”. A lightning bolt crashed into the ground next to Noah, for emphasis.
”Oga, a beg make you forgive me,” begged Noah. ”I don try – ah! Ah! De trouble wen my eye see no be small, I swear. Dem tell me say I need certificate of occupancy before I go kuku build de Ark. I don waka Ministry of Works so tey I tire.
Then, I come see say na money dem want, and I carry all de money wey I get gif dem. Na im dem tell me say make I add extra windows for ”cross ventilation”, and make I divide de toilet from de bath, so that if I de go toilet, another person fit de bath.
Anyway, I pay one engineer so, make im modify de plans for me. So, after I don finish dat one, I come go for forest to go get wood. Dem tell me say I no fit cut wood without permit from Forestry people. Anyway, I go see de forestry people dem and dem say I fit go cut de wood. When I reach de village now, dem no gree make I cut wood.
Dem say I must gif dem their share – because na so one big man compensation. Na waoh! and me think say government no de gree us export wood. Finally, as dem wan fight me, I quickly settle de village chief, and dem com gree say make I take wood.
Before I go carry de wood reach my house, na so so wahala for road. I settle police, I settle soldier, I settle customs, I settle immigration, I settle tax man, I settle local government, then when I don reach my house now, de truck driver and him boys say if I no settle dem, dem no go help me offload de wood”.
”As I start to build de Ark now, na im task force people come mark ‘X’ for de Ark, say I no suppose to build de Ark for dis place. Dem ask me say whether I no no say ”environmental sanitation decree” no de allow dis kind thing for inside town. Anyway I think say na my neighbour na im call dem, de man de jealous me well well. Wetin I go do, I settle dem too. As I say make I kuku hurry finish de Ark, naim de carpenters where de help me come talk say dem no go work again unless I gif dem extra money. Me sef I surprise wen dem tell me say de hear say na big government contract where I de do and plenty money dey inside. To cut long story, I settle dem too. Anyway, people plenty now wey de build de Ark, apprentice full ground”.
”As I begin to gather de animal dem, I come jam another trouble. De ”404” people dem no want make I take their dogs, dem say na delicacy. Bush meat and fowl people no gree me. Even de people wey de chop ”isi ewu” come vex with me. Dem ask me whether I no no say meat don too cost these days, where I wan carry de small meat where dey ground. So, I wan tell you now say, I no fit find dog, fowl, goat, or bush meat, and in fact I just manage get cow, as one mallam don nearly dagger me when I want take de cow dem”.
”One day as I de build de Ark now, na im NDLEA come arrest me carry me go prison for questioning. Dem talk say, dem hear say I wan carry de Ark smuggle cocaine & Indian hemp to America. Later, sha dem come find say no be me dem de look for, so dem release me, I never even reach home, when SSS come arrest me for further questioning, say dem hear say I be NADECO, and I wan carry de Ark go smuggle guns and bombs to come overthrow Naija government.
Anyway, I come convince dem say I no know wetin be NADECO, dem release me but tell me say make I de report to Force headquarters every day. As I de gather de animal dem, naim FEPA come send me letter say I never gif dem environmental impact assessment for de animal poo where I go throway and de flood wen you wan send. I tell dem say na you wan send flood cover de whole world. Dem no happy at all! Dem tell me say nobody fit do dat kind ting without permission from dem. Anyway, as de chief engineer say make I show am de place where de flood go start. I give am map of de world, he no satisfy, so I settle am too.”
”As you see me de cry so, na because ee be like say dis wahala no de finish. De local government chairman where my house dey come call me tribalistic. Him talk say almost all de carpenters and labourers wey de work for me come from my village. Him talk say I must gif work to some of de town boys. I tell am make he send them, him no gree. Everyday him go send ”area boys” to come cause wahala for me. Dem wan spoil de small part of de Ark where I don build so. Dem no dey gree us work again. Everyday when dem come here, I must gif dem money otherwise, dem wan scatter de Ark.”
”Oga Lord, I tell you, I don tire, even sef de other day, tax collector come, come say I never pay tax, say dem wan arrest me. I tell dem say I don pay tax last year, dem tell me say dis year I must pay de tax in advance, so I don kuku spend all de money where I get for settling. Make I tell you de truth, I no think say I go finish dis your Ark sef, even if you gif me five years,” Noah wailed.
The sky began to clear. The sun began to shine. A rainbow arched across the sky. Noah looked up and smiled. ”You mean say you no go send flood take destroy de earth?” Noah asked, hopefully.
”Wrong!” thundered the Lord. ”But being Lord of the Universe has its advantages. I fully intend to smite the Earth, but with something far worse than a flood. Something man invented himself.”
”Wetin be dat?” asked Noah.
There was a long pause, and then the Lord spaketh his last word,”Government.”
And this story rushed at me last Saturday as the Independent National Electoral Commission postponed the scheduled Presidential Polls hours before the scheduled time. All international observers were already in Nigeria and many Nigerians had travelled to their home states to exercise their franchise. Nigeria was again on the global radar as a country where nothing works.
As the INEC chairman addressed stakeholders on Saturday in Abuja on the botched polls,my stomach turned when the Chairman of the ruling APC, Adams Oshiomhole got up to speak. He rose like a village headmaster and tucked his hand in his pocket the way he did the day he molested a poor widow as governor of Edo State. He railed to no end at the incompetence of INEC and demanded an apology for what had happened. His demagoguery even drew some applause from the unwary.
The man talking is the chairman of a party not having candidates in Zamfara and Rivers not because his party was not aware of what the rules were but failed to adhere to them.The government that his party runs has a year to present annual budget but every cycle has been a disaster in the last four years. The government every now and then fails to distinguish between those alive and those who are dead when making appointments. A kettle having the temerity to abuse the pot for being black!
The World Cup holds every four years and Nigeria goes to sleep at the end of each event only to wake up six months to the next event looking for a coach who begins to scout for players and we would start praying to defeat those who started preparations the day after the last event came to an end.
While what happened with last Saturday elections is inexcusable, it would be a misnomer to single out INEC for our culture of incompetence. The logistics challenges INEC faced was mostly about our entire national failure.The Air Force is largely believed to be responsible for air movements of materials for the body. As at the time of writing this, it is under the Commander-in-Chief. A country like India has empowered its Electoral Commission to be in total control of its operations including policemen who are deployed for elections duty. The allowances are paid by the commission which also deploys them and recommends all those who infracted the laws for discipline at the end of the elections .
It is hoped that all hands would be on deck to ensure that we mitigate this embarrassment on the rescheduled day. The truth however is that we need to get to the foundation of our problem and address our structural challenges to get Nigeria working again.
This is why Nigerians must not allow what has happened to dampen their spirits, they must come out en-masse on 23rd to make a choice that will give Nigeria a fresh start .