Friday, December 15, 2006

Surreality in Abuja

Abuja is completely mad at the moment. The fuel shortage continues (although the queues aren't what they were a few days ago). Meanwhile, this weekend, we get to find out who will be president next year. The PDP primaries are coming to a head. Who wins the primaries 'wins' the presidency, everyone knows this- INEC's activities are mere window dressing. The city centre of Abuja, also known as the Hilton, is complete chaos - hundreds of police, thousands of 'Big Men' wearing all kinds of hats. Odili gave out N50million in there today alone, apparently. Billions of naira in persuasion money will be spent in the next 48 hours. It seems like the whole of Northern Nigeria has descended on Abuja - men who wear agbada and only speak hausa are everywhere. There are traffic jams everywhere, and serious car crashes every few hours (Northerners are the worst drivers in the country in my experience) - a car nearly fell off a bridge this afternoon, the vehicle left dangling near the Ministry of Finance. It will be best not to go out tomorrow except for emergencies.

Meanwhile, a minor triumph this evening. We went to see Rag Tag (see a previous post) at Bolingo Hotel. It felt like a victory to all who went to see it that a film like this can still be shown in rampantly in self-denial Nigeria. In a glorious juxtaposition, downstairs, there was an anti-nudity fashion show (see the flyer to the left). A tall and very pretty woman, borderline scantily-clad, handed it to me. At first, I thought she was a million-naira per night courtesan come to make hay while the whole of the PDP bigs it up in FCT, but then she explained she was a fashion designer. I explained to her and her male organiser friend that I belonged to the PNP - the Progressive Nudity Party - and that therefore their event was against all my core political beliefs. You should have seen the look on their faces.

Meanwhile #2, big congrats to the Director of Rag Tag Adaora for a thoughtful and provocative first film. Long may she prosper. And congrats to her old man for being so supportive.


Marin 12:27 am  


you seem not to have heard that many candidates have withdrawn from the race at this eleventh hour. The northerners need not have bothered, from the word on the web, the nomination will be handed to them on a platter....

Akin 1:48 am  

Are they now equating nudity with HIV/AIDS?

Sometimes, I just cannot seem to think like a Nigerian as I have learnt lately.

Anonymous,  10:30 am  

eh? nudity? where did THAT come from? Is it that there are large numbers of people roaming the streets of Abuja nude these days? or is it an attempt to protect the private space of the home from nudity? Oh the wicked, wicked human body.

Anonymous,  5:44 pm  


Umaru Yar'Adua's kidney problems will see him stepping down from the Presidency around 2010. Our current focus is now on who becomes VP. Odili would be a disaster. He is known to have amassed close to US$550m since 1999 and has done little to improve the lives of those in Rivers State. Andy Uba might sneak in through the back door - he has been extremely loyal to Baba all these years and manages Baba's business interests. Unfortunately, Uba would probably be worse than Odili. That leaves Duke who, sadly, doesn't appear to be playing this game strategically enough. And then of course there's Charles Soludo. If you've ever seen the man in action it is obvious that he wants the Presidency. And he has proved himself to be a superlative technocrat, delivering on the extremely succesful banking sector restructuring exercise. He is a great friend of the West, much loved by the World Bank and IMF and has a first class intellect. He is likely to face some opposition, however, from El-Rufai and others in the economic team who often bristled at his desire to go it alone, stealing some of their thunder.....

Peju,  6:03 pm  

How can Duke compete with uber-thieves like Odili and Uba? The fact that he ain't Ibo is the final nail for the coffin. Although Yar'Adua may be pious and not milk the private jet for all its got (ie, contrast with Obj in many respects), with an unprincipled gangster-thief as vp (Odili or Uba), the economic reform will snarl to a halt. As for political reform - a move to genuine federalism starting with removal of the governor immunity-from-prosecution clause - forget it. Nigeria will continue to fall behind, continue with the instability in the Delta (Uba will Anambrise the nation), continue to be a sad joke for the rest of the world to sneer at. Its too painful to contemplate.

Yosh 11:30 am  

"Meanwhile, this weekend, we get to find out who will be president next year."

Wow, you already sealed the seat for Yar A'Dua? In essence, you are saying there's no need for elections any longer as we can be sure the echelon in PDP has already won the election w.out going to the all the other parties are just goofing.

I'm not doubting Naija's money politics, but emm...Unless I'm getting it all wrong from your post?

Anonymous,  2:06 am  

Who is the Iroko-man?

Let us be realistic. Democracy has not yet come of age in Nigeria. To think it has, is to get lost in the pleasant distractions of the politically inactive. Of course it is about money. Of course it is about power. Of course it is about ethnic hegemony. Given that, we must scrutinise the current state of play with this very much in mind. This is about an old man, fed only on the struggle for power, who quite simply wants to stay. In a moment of arrogant weakness and a power-drunk sense of immortality, he graciously offered to save the insolent masses time and trouble. Not the time and trouble to suffer the daily indignities of life in our country today, but the opportunity to exercise his God-given right to vote on a true represetenttive to serve his interests, to protect his liberty and to provide him with the opportunity to be whoever he wants to be. But the Third Term gambit failed. This was a sign, a critically prophetic sign, that we may have finally crossed the Rubicon. Change is finally here and here to stay....

..... but change, if it is to be truly sustainable, develops incrementally. It buds slowly but flowers well.

FACT: OBJ will remain in charge for at least the next decade. FACT: Yar Adua is his proxy. FACT: No-one, not even OBJ, knows where we go from here. As such, we must move quickly to respond, to shape and to nurture this challenge to our liberty. This does not mean the realities on the ground must be undermined, it means that we must think of how we can guide the progress of this new and unprecedented state of events beond the Rubicon. It means we must be POLITICALLY ACTIVE.

Painful to contemplate it might all be, but (i) face up to the facts; (ii) look closely in the mirror and (iii) ask yourself what YOU have done to shape Nigeria's destiny TODAY.

Anonymous,  2:17 am  

Sadly it appears that Duke too was compromised. Not averse to kickbacks, for how else could he afford to keep the wolves at bay, he was compromised. This, unfortunately, is also the likely fate of el-Rufai when the story is told.

This should teach us a very important lesson: The means should never, ever, ever justify the ends.
The sooner we build sustainable systems of technocratic, normative efficiency and the less we seek tin god heroes to lead us out of this mess, the better.

Reformers should be judged much more harshly than others. Duke failed us and therefore he should instantly be forgotten.

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