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Nigeria: Tales of the unexpected – by Olusegun Adeniyi

SCENE ONE: In the course of a break-in at a local branch of the Central Bank (not in Nigeria), one of the robbers, holding a pump action gun in his hands, shouted to everyone: 

“Don’t move, if you don’t want to die. The money in this bank belongs to the government while your life belongs to you.”

With that message, everyone in the banking hall laid down quietly. That is called “Mind Changing Concept”.

That is a lesson that will serve the people of Rivers State where the rerun legislative elections were conducted last weekend amid reports of beheading of security personnel, maiming and torture of innocent citizens, ballot snatching etc. 

The people must begin to ask themselves whether the violent men who preside over their affairs and the desperate invaders from Abuja really care about their welfare. 

Perhaps they may need to go and take lessons from their compatriots in Ondo State.

I understand that when the “Change agents” (and readers can take that both literally and figuratively) arrived polling stations in the Ondo State capital during the gubernatorial election last month, selling their “Dibo ko se ‘be” (vote and cook soup) philosophy, many of the voters also responded in deep Akure dialect: “Mi kin bami meo un ki mi sibe, omoluka ni Jegede, a se gomina lijomiran” (may I have the money now to enjoy the pot of soup; Jegede is a good man, he can still be governor another day).

At the end, without any blood-shedding, the vote-by-barter deal in Ondo State was closed!

SCENE TWO: When a lady in the banking hall lay on the floor in a suggestively provocative manner that exposed too much flesh, one of the robbers shouted at her: “Please cover up! This is a robbery, not a rape operation!”

That is called “being professional”.

On Monday, a gang of armed bandits who now operate freely in Zamfara abducted about 35 women working on a farm at Matankari village in Dansadau district of Maru local government area of the state. 

A few hours after whisking the women away, they sent back the aged ones among them while retaining the younger ones that they believed would command value for their nefarious activities. 

The bandits obviously have some “code of ethics” but the question remains: how can we encourage agriculture and ensure food security in a situation where farms are no longer safe with several rural communities now at the mercy of sundry marauders?

SCENE THREE: When the bank robbers returned home with the loot, the youngest of them (graduate of a local university) asked the leader of the gang, who did not complete primary education, “Big brother, can we begin to count the money so as to ascertain how much we got from the operation?” 

He got an instant response: “You no sabi anything! There is so much money in the bags that it will take us several hours to count. 

“Just put on the television. It will not be long before we know from the news how much we took from the bank!”

That is called “experience” which, as they say, is the best teacher.

I am sure that is the message President Muhammadu Buhari took with him to The Gambia where he led the ECOWAS delegation to plead with the eccentric dictator, Yahya Jammeh not to take down his country with him. 

In the bid for an amicable settlement, the delegation must also have had some quiet words with the victorious opposition leaders that it is foolish of them to begin to count chickens that were not yet hatched. 

In Africa, you don’t tell a defeated incumbent who still holds the lever of power that you are going to jail him.

In his intervention on BBC website on Tuesday, veteran Gambian journalist, Ebrima Sillah blamed the “opposition coalition’s political naivety” for the logjam despite admitting that there are many unanswered questions regarding secret killings and unexplained disappearances perpetrated under Jammeh. 

“The Gambia will heal faster if we muster the courage to forgive each other, even if we do not forget. 

“Living in a country where people nurture hatred for each other is a dangerous recipe for further conflict. 

“We cannot afford to focus on the past,” wrote Sillah who himself was nearly killed by Jammeh before fleeing into exile with his family more than a decade ago.

There is a lesson in there for so many people, including in our country!

SCENE FOUR: After the robbers had left the bank, the manager directed the supervisor to call the police quickly. 

But the supervisor said to him: “Not yet time for that! Let us take $1 million from the vault for ourselves and add it to the $7 million that we previously embezzled”.

That is called “thinking outside the box” or to put it in the proper Nigerian lexicon, “applying wisdom”!

I am sure those who have read the report of what transpired before the Senate ad-hoc committee on the north-east humanitarian crisis last week must have been aghast at how some fat cats in the Presidential Initiative for the North East, (PINE) spent N625.5 million to clear non-existent grass in Yobe State and another N422.5 million to provide temporary shelter (tents) to displaced families. 

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