Sunday, April 5, 2020 2:00 pm
By Johnson Babalola
He is bored. He sits at home not sure of what to do. For the 100th time, he checks his business card. He is a leader holding a prominent position in Nigeria. He can do and undo. He is very powerful. He acknowledges the enormous power he has and smiles in approval. He is Mr. Executive.
She too is bored. For the 50th time in the last three hours, her phone rings. She picks it. It is another caller who sings her praises. She checks the pictures on the wall of her massive office and smiles in approval of the proofs of her executive office in Nigeria. Who would not be happy. She has done well. She is Madam. Executive.
But they have many things in common. They hold executive positions in Nigeria. They are worshipped and feared by the people they govern. Their children are studying overseas. They have multiple mansions in major cities in Nigeria all over the world. They either own or have access to private jets. They eat the best of foods, sleep in the best hotels, give the best gifts ride the best cars, travel to foreign countries at will, visit the best hospitals in the world for regular medical checkups … all at the expense of the state and the people they govern.
Again, they are bored. Not because they miss positive governance but because they miss the most important governing functions they partake in almost daily: receiving visitors and attending high society parties.
By now, they would have at the expense of tax payers, move from one event to the other: the wedding of the children of Chief ABC, the installation of Chief JK as the Bobarock of Wahala, the opening of the supermarket of the girlfriend of the governor of Donothing state, the 10th anniversary of Carenot mosque, the thanksgiving service of Justpay church and many more.
They turn to their TVs bought with taxpayers’ money to watch some videos on Youtube of their presence at various party events. They smile as they watch one event after the other: their elegant entrances into the event halls, the singing of their praises by the likes of Wasiu Ayindes, the cutting of the three story event cakes, the exchange of banters with the high and the mighty in the society, the spraying of bundles of Naira by the richest men and women in our country. They are mad with COVID-19 for forcing them to now start thinking about serious governance. But they don’t know how to do it. Positive governance is foreign to them.
They check their calendars for the last one year. They are shocked that all they see are: party (local), party (another state), party (London), party (US), visit by the Emir of Thatplace, visit by the Oba of Missroad, donation to Idon’tcare Foundation, visit to Germany (medical), visit to Canada (children), visit to Jamaica (holiday)….
They are bored. By now, they would have spent the resources of the states on the private events of their friends, families and associates. By now, they would have donated money to their friends and others on behalf of their states
Then there is a knock on the door of Madam Executive. “Come in” she says. It is Mr. Errandboy, one of her 500 personal assistants. “Madam, the car is ready to take you on the inspection of the hospital where the COVID-19 patients are” he said. “Car or cars or SUVs?”. “Sorry ma, I meant five SUVs and seven cars in the convoy ma” he responds without looking into her eyes. “That’s better but then, I changed my mind. I don’t want to be infected. Since I cannot fly to the finest hospitals in India and then isolate in my house in Dubai, I cannot risk my life. Tell Dr. Workhard who heads the COVID-19 committee to visit on my behalf. I will grant an interview to journalists later about the great works we are doing. I have more YouTube videos to watch” she instructs. The assistant departs. Madam Executive continues with her work: watching her most recent attendance at the naming ceremony of the daughter of Oba Ageless by his 7th wife. She smiles but still bored
A call comes in for Mr. Executive. It was his son calling from Canada. “Dad, I am broke. I only have $100,000 left in my account “. “Really? Your mum must not hear that you are broke to that extent. I will send you $250,000 immediately”. He responds. “Thanks dad. You are the best. By the way, how are you coping with COVID-19?” the son asks. “Not easy. We have no funds for ventilators and masks. Hopefully our rich donors will continue to help with the situation. By the way, I miss you and your sister. Hopefully the new private jet I ordered will be here once this COVID-19 nonsense is over” he responds. “Miss you too dad. Please send some money to my sister too and tell mom I love her” the son says. “I will son. Love you too. I need to call Pastor Smallmoney and Imam Allgoes to come and pray for our family and the nation. Take care”. He hangs up and then places another call to one of his many special assistants. “Lucky, connect with two of those girls to meet me at the government guest house at 7pm today”. “Which of them sir?” Lucky asks. ” Must be foreigners. I don’t want any scandal” he responds. “Ok sir but how about social distancing sir”. Lucky asks. “Lucky, do your damn job and get the government doctor to test them first as usual and also get the guest house workers to report for work. I am tired of the boredom”.
They both turn on the TVs on other television sets in the rooms where they are and saw the news about Nigerians complaining that they are bored and inconvenienced in their homes as they continue to obey the stay at home order: lack of water, electricity, food, access to medical facilities etc. They are tired of the negative news and proceeds to turn off the TVs returning their focus on the YouTube channels.
They can’t wait for normalcy to return: start to lead again by attending society parties and visits by prominent people in the society. The poor will take care of themselves.
-Johnson Babalola, an immigration lawyer, writes from Canada