Saturday, April 16, 2005

One bad apple

Hola peeps. Que tal? Bien. Y? Muy, muy mal. Que? I no longer hold the moral high ground. Before I left the UK I always complained about corruption in Nigeria and shouted from the rooftops that I’d never succumb so low as to offer anyone a bribe. Well, I messed up. Remember the LASTMA folk I told y’all about? Well, last Saturday I was caught going the wrong direction on a one-way road. Why, u ask? ‘Cos I didn’t see any signs to indicate what I was doing was wrong. The guys (u’ll notice I didn’t refer to them as punks ‘cos they were doing their job) appeared outta the blue like a pack of ninjas and I was forced to park the car; either that or I’da run them over.

The first guy, let’s call him good cop, came up to me and explained my offense. Told him I wasn’t from the area so didn’t know what roads were designated as one-way. The long and short of it was I was told my fine would be 25,000 Naira. (I laffed ‘cos I’d recently filled my gas tank so I’d all of 560 Naira on me.) Tried to intersperse my conversation with Yoruba phrases after I realized that the LASTMA folk were from the Western part of the country; it didn’t work. I then tried to pull the sympathy/student/Puss N Boots (from Shrek 2) card: I showed the good cop my rucksack and told him I was on my way for training – which was true, did I tell y’all I now work as a Julio? More on that later – but another guy, let’s call him bad cop kept insisting they tow my ride to their office. The good cop then asked me to “discuss properly” with them. I brought out my wallet so they’d see I didn’t have much bucks and offered them 500 Naira. After doing their ‘routine’ – man, these guys’ training must include mandatory viewing of bad American cop shows - good cop, bad cop and the other punks perused my wallet and took out an extra 40 Naira, leaving me with just 20 Naira. I almost snapped at them ‘cos 20 Naira can’t get u squat. If u gave that to a beggar he’d probably throw it back at u. So there u have it, my life as a corrupt Nigerian.

Is that all? Tunde, u wanna tell these good folk u haven’t done something, erm, not exactly as bad as bribery but not quite straight either? No. Are u sure? Okay, tell the peeps about ur time at camp. Damn, I hate u, Mr. Oh-so-goody-two-shoes Conscience. U see since the last blog I got my posting changed to Lagos – didn’t offer any gratuities to get the new posting, as u very well know Mr. Conscience! – and I was mandated to be at the orientation camp for 3 weeks, but didn’t spend a night at camp. Why, u ask? Well, I’d interviews to attend – didn’t know I’d have to jump through hoops, literally, to secure a position as a male stripper - and had to arrange some other stuff. On days when I did go to camp I escaped when the main gate wasn’t properly secured. During those days I bought some security staff lunch or the like so they’d aid in my escape. Why couldn’t I just get an exeat? I found out that the person in charge of issuing those is one tough cookie so didn’t wanna go meet her just in case she rejected my request and ended up monitoring my every move. So u see I’m just like every other Nigerian I’d been railing at; and it took less than 2 months for me to get ‘acclimatized’. Sad, real sad. I feel like crap ‘cos I didn’t do the right thing and I’ve made up my mind to do better next time. Anyways, u know how u have some really crappy days and then u watch The Jerry Springer Show or some reality shite on TV and immediately feel better ‘cos u find that ur life’s not as bad as u thought it was? Same principle’s gonna apply here. Wanna know what I’ve heard/seen/encountered since I’ve been back, here goes:

1. A member of the House of Representatives complained that ‘cos of the vast authority commanded by the President they’re mostly powerless to curb abuses of power by the President. For example, when the dude got elected in 1999 the President’s office had a yearly budget of 1 billion Naira (4 million pounds). This year? The dude wants about 25 billion Naira. Go figure.

2. The Minister of Education was alleged to have been involved in a 55 million Naira bribery scandal. He was approached by some members of the National Assembly and was asked to ‘settle’ in order to pass the Education budget. The dude’s been sacked from his post and other greedy punk asses like the erstwhile Senate President who were involved in this indignity have been forced to resign and been arraigned before a court.

3. The Minister of Housing and Urban Development was found to have offered prime govt property to an elite few without opening the bidding process to the general public. My sources, okay it was a frigging newspaper, informed me that the lady was particularly arrogant and didn’t give a hoot about the predicament of folks whose houses were to be sold off by the govt. She was attributed to have said something along the lines of: “…..they can fast and pray, but their prayers are not gonna stop them from being kicked out…”. Guess the chick was wrong after all.

4. An elder Statesman is alleged to have used his power as the Chairman of a bank to loot investors’ bucks. The said loot was used in funding the gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns of his son and daughter, respectively. No action’s been taken against the guy, in fact he’s a delegate to the national conference presently taking place in Abuja.

5. The Inspector General of Police, the top cop in Nigeria, is alleged to siphoned police funds, totally 17 billion (yes, that billion with a B) Naira, into a number of bank accounts. The dude’s been arrested without bail and was said to be on a hunger strike for fear of being poisoned while in detention. Let’s see how long he can keep that up for.

Okay, that’s enough…….for now. Man, I feel so much better. I must say that I’m extremely impressed with the actions of Alhaji Ribadu, head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). There seems to be no sacred cows where this guy’s involved, though as we all know, some cows are more equal than others. All in all, the dude deserves a medal for bringing culprits to justice. I don’t know if y’all can help me but what’s EFCC’s remit and what’s ICPC’s? To the uninitiated, ICPC stands for Independent Corrupt Practices Commission. Can’t the two bodies be conflated into one? The thing I totally forgot about while outta the country is the Nigerian take on governing. We seem to be a nation of acronyms. Every president/minister/governor/village chief wants to establish an agency that has a catchy acronym. Sad thang is most times, this is changed when a successor comes along. Y’all Nigerians reading this, pls think about this. Now we’ve the NDDC (Niger Delta Development Commission) to hand out funds and oversee projects/activities in the Niger Delta region. Wasn’t this same job spec performed under another, yes, say it together, a-c-r-o-n-y-m in previous govts? Remember OMPADEC (Oil Mineral Producing Areas Development Commission)?

So how y’all been? Aiight? I’m enjoying Nigeria and my new job’s ace. Now I see why Julio always had a smile on his way. The opportunity to bring a smile to some housewife’s face by snapping a Velcro g-string while dancing to Mario’s U Should Let Me is a feeling outta this world. The downside of the job’s that there’s a church next door to the strip club and it’s gets kinda weird when I’m performing on nights when they have night vigils. Man, I hope no one I know attends that church. Speaking of church, it’s amazing how laziness creeps in. Do u know that I haven’t attended a church service on a Sunday since I arrived 2 months ago? Gonna attend my sister’s on Sunday. Man, really miss my church in England. Of course, I haven’t told them of my current line of work yet.

With the stress of my job I haven’t had time to begin a relationship. Besides most chicks I’ve met shy away once I tell them my, erm, occupation. Damn bigots. On the positive side the chick I told y’all about in the last blog seems to have gotten the message – well, I hope she has - and we’re just friends now. However, I’ve met a few chicks who might be girlfriend-material, but…….man, y’all wanna know the truth? I’m getting worried about myself. Peeps try to introduce me to chicks or maybe I meet them and the first phrase outta my mouth is, “she’s not my type”. It’s almost as if I’m the most pernickety guy ever. Now I’m gonna make a conscious decision to hook up with someone…….as long as she’s not looking to get married soon. Ha huh ha huh

Did I tell y’all I always fancied dating a baldheaded girl? Serious. (I was dating this girl once who always stated she wasn’t a big fan of money, but for some reason she always wanted to eat out and loved ME buying her drinks. Take note all y’all guys out there, beware of chicks who tell u they ain’t freaked out by money on ur first date. Anyways, I actually contemplated going on a TV game show ‘cos of this chick: I wanted to win huge prize money and put her disregard for money to the test. I’da offered her most of the prize money if she’d shave off her long, flowing locks. Man, such dreams never come true.) I haven’t found a girl with a baldhead yet, but I’m still looking.

Another thang bothering me is something I thought I’d never have to worry about: I’m getting attracted to a married chick. Man, I try not to but we seem to talk every other day. She’s separated from her husband, but technically, she’s still married and I WON’T go there. I’m sure she’s enjoying the attention ‘cos she keeps asking when we’re gonna hang out. I guess the only way to avoid ‘stuff’ from happening would be to take her kids along when we hanging out. Maybe this is payback for all the times I’ve cheated on chicks. Man, I really hate this. Maybe it’s high time I attended a Sunday sermon. Hey, y’all know must churches here collect offerings twice during a service? I’ll make enquiries about this practice and let y’all know. Maybe the second offering is for those who show up late.

Okay, I gotta go as the housewives are calling and can’t afford to keep them waiting ‘cos they tip very well. I must say that the aroma of cooking oil on all my bank notes is starting to arouse suspicion at the bank counter. Tot ziens and God bless y’all.

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