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Favour Afolabi: I have some confessions (A rejoinder to Pius Adesanmi’s ‘The silliest thing…’ )


Favour Afolabi: I have some confessions (A rejoinder to Pius Adesanmi’s ‘The silliest thing…’ )

by Favour Afolabi

“…On and on they go, the self-described patriots, self-appointed Stockholm Syndromed defenders of the status quo. One bla here, one bla there, another bla here, and yet another bla there. Bla bla bla all day long on social media, doing the work of Reno Omokri, Reuben Abati, and Doyin Okupe for them. At least those ones are paid to sell puff and powder to the people but what about the army of content and satisfied patriots they instrumentalize in their own oppression?” – Pius Adesanmi

I have a couple  of confessions to make as I write this.

I ‘no fit compete with the big big oyinbos wey Pius use inside his article’. Neither am I as well read a philosopher as he is with all the theories/hypotheses/examples he provided in the article.

I have also not lived outside of Nigeria – in fact I am the very opposite of what you would call a Diasporan, I would rather describe myself as a Homeporan.

In the entire 37 years that I have lived in Nigeria I have never received the sort of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS) office letter that Adesanmi described in his article. Such things are alien here; what you have here are friends warning you of such things in person.

I have never lived anywhere that power supply was constant; I have never in my entire 15 years of running my own business been able to access a single digit loan from any bank; I don’t pay weekly or monthly rentals at my residential or office abodes rather I must fork out 1-2 year rentals depending on the timing of the lease;  I have never been able to use the services of a general hospital for myself, my wife or my 4 children ranging between the ages of 6 and 11; I have never considered having my kids attend a public school meaning that I’ve had to cough out crazy amounts of monies to school them. In fact in this regard – I and my wife are considered one of the only two “mighty men families” at the school located around Omole/Agidingbi axis of Ikeja who can afford to have 4 children in this same school at the same time!

But before Pius and his admirers begin to think that I am only able to do this because I work for Goodluck Jonathan, I should provide them with some context here.

My children have been attending this same school for 6 years – which was way back during the Obasanjo administration – and I have had to sell 3 cars from time to time to keep my kids in this school.

The proprietress of the school has routinely used me and my family to encourage parents in the school having become an “adopted Aunty of mine.” She knew how and when I conducted “those 3 transactions” at different times to be able to have my children continue to attend this school and I have never for once considered moving them to cheaper schools at any time because I insisted that I won’t reduce the standard of education they already get as much as many other parents in the same school have had to do that.

My story and life journey therefore seems completely different from the world that Pius and the estimated 10 million Nigerians that live in the Diaspora are used to.

My kids have never been to Disneyland; they are not used to the experience of sprawling Walmart locations and until the Palms Shopping Mall Lekki came to the market a few years ago, they had never visited such a place. I therefore needed to beg them not to “disgrace me” while taking them on their first trip to the place a few years ago. Well trust my over-energized children  – they made sure not to keep to their side of the invisible contract.

I, my wife and children have also never been on one of those electric trains or underground transportation systems; in fact I am now wondering how to contain my kids the day I take them to use the ones about to be launched by the Fashola administration on the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.

I can go on and on about how “I am a certified bush man” in the definitions of a modern world.

Yet if you go through this “my mockery-based yet true life story lamentations” you would have thought that my singular biggest dream or objective for the next couple of years is “to move my family out of Nigeria to America, or the United Kingdom or at least South Africa” I am sorry to disappoint you: It’s not quite so. I have no foreseeable plans to jettison Nigeria for life outside of these shores.

Here is the thing – folks like Pius who describe others like myself as self-appointed Stockholm Syndromed defenders of the status quo do not know a lot of things that they assume they do.

Despite their much vaunted scholarship, they refuse to get it that even until the rapture the number of Africans that would ever set foot outside of the continent would still be less than 10% of the population of same – and that such would be the case with Latin America, Asia, and India – the bulk of which make up the hugest chunk of what you’ll call the developing or third world.

They refuse to understand that there would still be a huge percentage of Nigerians who would rather stay closer to their traditions; their ways of life; their food; their mode of entertainment; and yes some Nigerians would still treasure the sanctity of being able to practice their faith and beliefs in a saner clime than leave the continent for life abroad despite all the advancements of such climes and despite all the stress that comes along with living at home. Some people cannot just be offered anything to make them leave.

This is the conundrum that such people find themselves – they can only hope that things get better at home, they can only pray that things improve at home, they can only choose to believe that things will get better and they would of a necessity need to continue to listen to and YES, trust the political leaders who are expected to create the atmosphere that would make these things happen at home.

Such people will of a necessity not find it easy to sit back and say nothing as the Diasporans lambast everything at home as hopeless, they won’t find it funny when some of these people who have become “converted oyinbos” bore them with stories of how things work abroad asking “when will such things ever happen at home?” These homeporans would naturally stand up to challenge the others to desist from persistently painting the picture of impossibility about this clime.

So does that mean that they are satisfied with what they are going through at home? Of course not.

Which human being can ever become satisfied with noise and smoke oozing out of 174 generators from as many flats at the same time as is the case in my estate? Who can ever get used to paying the sort of exorbitant bills for substandard health services even in private hospitals as we get to experience here? How possible is it for anyone to get used to such situations as these?

Let’s discuss business and enterprise. There are Nigerians as myself in private practices who get turned down as we approach foreign companies to invest in Nigeria. Despite the myriad of supportive case studies and statistics that we send to them via email and sometimes in person, we still get turned down because they have received more bad press about Nigeria usually from Nigerians.

They say things like “Sorry, Africa is not in our plans for now” before we stumble on a news story on Bloomberg News that the same company is about to invest in South Africa or Ghana.

Does Pius feel that the loss of such multimillion dollars investment opportunities that daily slip out of the hands of the Homeporan businessmen/businesses make them happy? Does he think we throw parties every time such happens? Does he know I had my heart in my mouth when I heard last week of the blast around FESTAC knowing that I was 80% close to concluding two real estate transactions in that neighbourhood both with investors from South Africa – an opportunity that I had pitched for over 22 months to at least two dozen prospects before I secured these two?

Does he know how many agro-based multinationals that have turned down would-be local partners who pitched billion-dollar worth of investments to them in Northern Nigeria as they hoped that the reinvigorated drive being made by the Jonathan administration led by the Agriculture Minister, Dr. Adesina would appeal to these companies only for such companies to turn down such transactions because of the “menace of Boko Haram?” Does he think these Homeporans say “Alleluia, Thank God” when this happens?

So how in the world can Pius accuse us of Stockholm Syndrome? What does he want us to do – turn the nation into another Egypt? So that we can lose our children to riots, have our businesses destroyed in the process, become listed by the Establishment as “Terrorists” and reverse any progress that this nation has made in the last 14 years of Democracy after fighting for same for about 39 years prior to that?

When all of these happens, Pius and his other 10 million admirers will take solace in the comfy environments that they have already escaped to, as they follow the news of this “new chaos” via CNN and grant interviews to Christianne Amanpour. Some of them would become international celebrities in the process, being invited to talk at the UN, Clinton Global Initiative, Aspen, etc on “the ongoing Nigerian Crisis”

Well Teacher Pius, I and some of the homeporans refuse to be “taught nonsense.” We are wiser than that – we are not satisfied with the status quo but we are also not impatient to throw the nation into a state of perpetual chaos just for us to become compatible with “the international development trends” that Diasporans as yourself want us to adopt.

We shall remain here and work with the constituted governments of this nation to continue to develop it. When we find them to be wanting, we will guide them in the right directions based on what we have studied works in the more socially and economically advanced nations.

When they seek our support either as direct staff or as consultants or as private sector partners, we shall turn up irrespective of the names the “Over-enlightened Diasporans” and the “Outward-bound Homeporans” call us.

It is through that same way that people like Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, Andrew Alli, Wale Tinubu, Gbenga Osibodu, Femi Otedola, Barth Nnaji, Oba Otudeko, etc are now about to rescue the nation out of the epileptic power sector challenges we have faced for decades by investing billions of dollars in taking up stakes in the privatized companies even as some of them have also gone on to announce plans to expand their already established plants.

As Pius would have noticed, some of these guys are his age mates and some of them have equally schooled abroad and are familiar with “all these igbadun unlimited” that exists in those climes yet they have taken the very conscious decision to “invest rather than lament” in this same country!

Others like myself who are still 10 to 20 years younger than them are also already taking positions in other industries where we intend to replicate the positive developments from those foreign Nations.

We have told ourselves that since we are not ready to live abroad then we should work towards creating those same realities at home no matter how long it takes us. And yes, Rome was not built in one day; we are not the ones that invented that saying.

You can call us sycophants for taking such a stand – you should drop the same accusation at the doorsteps of Americans who insist that “outsourcing jobs to Asia should be discouraged” and that “Americans should be encouraged to buy American products made on American Soil” and that “Tax incentives should be given to American companies that are able to do these.”

I am continually surprised at how guys like Pius treat those who don’t see things from their point of view – people like him are obviously the ones who now control all the Nigerian blogs, Twittersphere, and Facebook communities; they are the ones who control SaharaReporters, PremiumTimes, Nigeria Village Square and others; they are the ones that live abroad and are the first port of call for foreign journalists seeking information or views about Nigeria.

They are the ones that successfully organize #OccupyNigeria rallies at home and abroad, they are the ones that storm meeting rooms where Nigerian Ambassadors go to represent Nigeria abroad singing “Aluta and Solidarity forever”, they are the ones that have moles in Aso Rock who brief them of every single move of the Presidency long before such becomes public knowledge, leaking stories of “how $5Trillion has been stolen by Jonathan’s Administration in 2 years.”

They are apparently the ones in the majority – as others like myself continually become the minority. Yet Pius would still choose to describe us of suffering from self-inflicted Stockholm Syndrome when he and his friends have already won over the better part of the polity, only coming short of being able to convert such following into electoral victories due to reasons that I will discuss on another day.

So is Pius’ constituency now becoming a new brand of dictatorship? One that already controls the entire Nigerian Social Media and increasingly the conventional media space and yet would continually become alarmist once one person as me summons the courage to respond to 1 of every other 20 articles and commentaries they publish?

What is the ratio of Maku/Abati/Okupe/Omokri compared to the likes of Pius Adesanmi/Kayode Ogundamisi/Japheth Omojuwa/Nasir El-Rufai/Dino Melaye within the polity nowadays?

When would Free-Speeched-Democrats like Pius realize that those who choose to side and be patient with what they term “the Establishment” despite all the flaws and failings of same are equally Nigerians as themselves who share one thing in common – one vote.

Or does the one vote from those on Pius’s side now represent 1,000 votes on election day? Are they now practising “Intellectual Rigging of Elections” in which the polity must be convinced to vote for their own positions because they can speak more grammar or because they live abroad and are therefore more experienced and qualified to tell the local Voters how to cast their votes?

Herein lies the duplicitous trend: the holy and uncontestable opinions shared and published by Pius & Co cannot be said to be neutral or altruistic or simply in favor of the Nigerian cause rather they soon dovetail into propaganda that would eventually support the opposing politicians, political parties, and political movements that would run against the PDP.

This same thing happened in 2011 as they majorly aligned behind Buhari and the failed alliance talks as they would do again in 2015 behind the same Buhari/the newer and possibly aspiring lieutenants like Fashola, El-Rufai, Ribadu, Tambuwal/the being-hatched APC merger candidates.

Their opinions are not really apolitical. The idea as it was before the 2011 polls is to heat up plenty of tension under Goodluck Jonathan so that “by the time they are done with him” his already battered reputation would have been shredded to the point that even his wife would consider not voting for him.

These “Saintly Checkers of Corruption in Nigeria” would refuse to speak of the reputations and antecedences of some of the politicians that are currently gathering around the proposed APC merger, they won’t alarm the polity that they claim to love to equally be weary of these politicians.

Why would they? When the enemy of their enemy is automatically their friend and when they care more about removing PDP from Aso Rock than they care about the integrity of the process that brings that about. Haven’t some of these same “erudite scholars” practically called for “Forced Revolutions” in recent history?

All Nigerians at home and abroad are now politicians.  Most share something in common with me – we both claim to be unpaid for the services that we render to our chosen constituencies. So in what way is Pius different from me?

As I leave you to ponder on these thoughts I urge to await my follow-up article to this one to be titled ‘The Over-population of Nigerians in the Diaspora.”

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