First it was Melania Trump, wife of USA president-elect, Donald Trump plagiarizing the outgoing First lady, Michelle Obama’s 2008 Democratic National Convention speech. Then, just as Nigerians joined a host of other nationals to poke fun at the Slovenia born ex-model, it was revealed that our own president was guilty of the same offence. His “Change Begins With Me” campaign speech was discovered to have some too-coincidental-to-be-ignored similarities with that given by President Barack Obama during his 2008 victory speech. And just when one would have thought any other presidential team, speechwriter or public figure for that matter would be extra careful not to fall into the same pit of embarrassment, the newly elected Ghanaian president, Nana Akufo-Addo took his a notch higher by plagiarizing not just one, but two presidential inauguration speeches; passages from speeches delivered by Bill Clinton and George Bush were lifted in President Akufo-Addo’s inaugural address.
I know the title of this essay is a paradox. I know… it’s borne out of a discovery I made only last week. I wasn’t going to comment on Toke Makinwa and her marital woes; at least not in the way many news sites and blogs have jumped on the story, but I made a discovery which struck me profoundly, and it would be selfish of me not to share, especially with the female folk. Before now I didn’t know, nor would I have ever have imagined that a woman could be legally married to a man, yet wear the toga of the mistress or what we colloquially call the side chick. I was totally unaware of this until I read the much talked about memoir by the Media Personality, On Becoming. Yes, you can be the wife and the side chick all at once.
Call it a gaffe, an embarrassing social blunder, a joke in bad taste, or a slip of tongue, one thing is sure it’s a faux pas of gigantic proportions. As far as slip-ups go, the statement made by President Muhammadu Buhari when asked about his wife’s criticism of recent developments in his administration will always rank high in the annals of history when compared with sundry errors made by his predecessors. In a joint press statement with German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, President Buhari had said his wife belongs to his kitchen, his living room, and the “other room” (whatever that means), even though virtually everyone has assumed the other room the president referred to is the bedroom. A conclusion that is hard to argue with given his slightly mischievous countenance.
You can’t miss them if you live in a country as hugely populated and as diverse as Nigeria, more so if you live in a cosmopolitan city like Lagos. They remain a part and parcel of the metropolis. Even though beggars are not unique to these parts, the method and manner of soliciting for cash on the streets is certainly unique here. I first really began to pay attention to the growing aggression of beggars when I was observing the compulsory National Youth Service programme in Port-Harcourt, Rivers State years ago. One time, I was in a colleague’s car in traffic when this man walked up to us to beg for alms. Apparently feeling ignored, he began to rap on the side glass in an attempt to get our attention, and probably force us to part with some cash, if not out of mercy, then as a way of escaping the nuisance he was constituting. It didn’t work.
Two lawmakers butt heads and engage in a war of words on the floor of the upper legislative chamber. One is the controversial Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial district, while the other is the lawmaker representing Lagos Central and wife of the equally controversial former governor of Lagos State and National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, Bola Tinubu. The feuding senators belong to the same party, but have been able to get their colleagues, fellow party members, other politicians and the general public divided on whom to queue behind.
First, it was the controversial N8.64 billion wardrobe allowance for the then newly sworn in legislators. Then the most incredulous and shocking one so far…in what was described by the Senate President, as “a watershed moment in our vision to take lawmaking back to the people,” the Senate President’s Suggestion box was launched. Just in case you haven’t been in tune with happenings in Nigeria’s political space; Yes, you read right. Suggestion boxes were launched in the chambers of the nation’s highest law making body. In the 21st century. In this digital/technological age. Ribbons were used for decoration and a tape was cut (you get the drift…all the works were in place) to launch suggestion boxes by our senators. Then, the latest may just be the final straw that breaks the proverbial camel’s back- the proposed clampdown on social media critics who “falsely” criticize public officials or institutions.
Last Friday was “Black Friday.” It was hard to miss, what with the hype from retail stores about the massive discounts and promo sales that would be enjoyed on various household items, cloths and electronics which had been on for a while. I wondered what all the euphoria was all about until I googled it and discovered that it was yet another “American imported idea.” Black Friday is the day after thanksgiving, which is marked on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States. The Friday following that highly significant day is seen as the unofficial beginning of the Christmas season, hence, the day is sort of set aside to mark the beginning of the shopping season towards Christmas. And so, I wondered – since we don’t celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday over here, why were we identifying with Black Friday? I couldn’t really think of any answer, save for our usual penchant for copying the Western world in almost everything regardless of its practicality over here or not.
Monday saw me at one of the new generation banks to perform some transactions. While being attended to, I observed the teller who was attending to the lady next to me asking her why she had not done her Bank Verification Number (BVN) registration, and subsequently informing her that she was not allowed to withdraw from her account as a restriction had been placed on it following the directive from the CBN. I was waiting for the lady whose account had been restricted to offer some form of explanation as to why she was yet to get the registration done up till that moment, but she offered none. She just stood there, staring at the teller with that guilty-as-charged look. Then I thought…why are we like this? Why do Nigerians always take things for granted?
The news of the death of the “Governor-General of the Ijaw Nation,” Diepreye Alamieyeseigha came out of the blue considering the fact that there was no fore knowledge or prior information of his illness from the media. The 62-year old former governor of Bayelsa State reportedly died after a protracted battle with kidney disease, diabetes and high blood pressure at the University of Port-Harcourt Teaching Hospital after slipping into a coma two days before. Like almost every other subject in Nigeria, the news of his death has resulted in controversy as Nigerians have continued to elicit varying reactions to it. The revelation that the British Government had requested to have the ex-governor extradited to the UK in a bid to resurrect the inconclusive case of money laundering against him certainly added fuel to the ongoing debate.
By now the story of Ahmed Mohamed, the teenage ninth grader who was arrested and interrogated on suspicion of bringing a “hoax bomb” to school is stale gist that has blown over as many of us would say. However, Ahmed’s ordeal in the hands of his teachers and police officers in Irving, Texas USA has once again brought the bigger problem of stereotypes and its effect on individuals, groups of people, and the society in general to the fore. Many times, people are stereotyped because of their race, religion, ethnicity, sex, skin colour, nationality or anything else the human mind can conjure up. The reality is that virtually all of us are guilty of prejudice against another person or group of people because we have a preconceived notion about who we think they are or how we feel they should be.