The end of the year is usually a time to reflect on what has happened in the immediate past year and the beer parlour gives you the opportunity to reminisce about these old good or bad memories. With a bottle of Trophy, Goldberg, Star or whatever drink that appeals to you, the reflections would be quite stylish. For a country like Nigeria, 2018 has been a remarkable year with different turns and twists. With the numerous dramas, it would not be out of place to talk about some of these issues. When the discussions started in the beer parlour, some of the memories were nostalgic, some deserve coming back while some make people languish in some melancholic strains. Today’s gist captured some of the major issues that made waves during the year and my virtuoso and cerebral brethren in the beer parlour did enough justice to it.
‘In the whole of 2018, I think the most controversial issue was that of the ‘JAMB snake’ that swallowed 36Million naira’, a man in the bar said. ‘Although, the issue sprung up in February, Nigerians still talk about it today. Philomina Chieshe, an official of JAMB in Makurdi, Benue confidently said that an unaccounted N38 Million was swallowed by a snake. Her claim was that her housemaid connived with another JAMB official, Joan Asen, to “spiritually” steal the money from the vault. Even after taking eight bottles, I can never say snakes swallowed money and I even heard Philomina does not drink but her ‘family people’ are not happy with her so let the snake just swallow the money rather than Philomina spending it. Maybe Senator Shehu Sanni would tell us what the snake did with the money because he visited the head office of JAMB with snake charmers during the controversy. Till date, there is no account of the snake, the money and Sister Philo, did I just say ‘snake’?”
Almost everyone in the beer parlour laughed and keenly listened to what the first person said but the contribution of the second person generated more laughter than attention. He said ‘Nigeria is an Animal kingdom, snakes, rats and monkeys run the day. My amazement when I read that Rats sent our president packing from Aso rock was second to none. The president’s long absence from office for over 100 days made the rats the first family in Nigeria for some time. The rats took over completely and made the President work from home. Only in our beloved Nigeria can something of such happen. The Nigerian rats damaged the furniture and air-conditioning fittings in the President’s official office in Abuja. Can you now see that we are in an animal kingdom? Snakes eat money and Rats take over offices’.
The first female to contribute to today’s discussion was not following the ‘animal kingdom’ line. She said “You are making it sound as if only animals had a field’s day in the country in 2018. Well, some people claim we are higher animals, I don’t believe that. My scripture has told me that I am made in the image of God and He is definitely not an animal. Let the animals go back to the jungle and let us talk about how some of our leaders goofed this passing year. The chief of all is the chief of the armed forces, President Muhammadu Buhari. In April 2018, our ‘hardworking’ president strongly inferred that most Nigerian youths are ‘lazy’. Although what he said verbatim was that ‘More than 60 percent of the population is below 30, a lot of them haven’t been to school and they are claiming that Nigeria is an oil producing country, therefore, they should sit and do nothing, and get housing, healthcare, education free’. The President’s ‘people’ argued that he never said the youths are lazy but what else can we call that Nigerian youth who sits at home and do nothing but expect to get things for free if not a Lazy Nigerian youth? Although I personally believe that majority of Nigerian youths are not lazy, we just want to ‘cash-out’ without much stress”, she jokingly said.
One of the educationists in the beer parlour was quick to remind those of us in the beer parlour another issue that made rounds during the year 2018. “Throughout this year, nothing interests me more than the Kemi Adeosun NYSC certificate scandal and the ruse about Buhari’s WAEC certificate’, he said. ‘In July, thanks to PREMIUM TIMES, we found out that the former minister of finance, Kemi Adeosun, was in possession of a forged National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) exemption certificate. It was reported that she failed to participate in the NYSC programme as at when due. Having finished her first degree at the age of 22, she was not entitled to exemption on the grounds of age. According to the NYSC Act, only those above the age of 30 can be exempted. The heat of the controversy made her resign her position and ‘ran’ out of the country. The President was also in the midst of such certificate scandal. His failure to produce his WAEC certificate led to various calls by some pressure groups and opposition parties that he should be disqualified from contesting during the coming election. The president’s head was eventually saved when the examination body presented an attestation certificate to the president. What was ridiculous to me was the photograph showing our president and some members of WAEC posing with an ‘ordinary’ WAEC certificate as if it were a newly wedded bride!”
“2018 is a memorable year”, another man in the beer parlour added. “When you talk about Nigerian politicians, one man I averagely admire before October 2018 was the governor of Kano state, Abdullahi Ganduje. I wrongly thought he was the most sincere person among the ruling class in the struggle against corruption, I was outright wrong. In October, a video by an online newspaper DAILY NIGERIAN showed Ganduje receiving bundles of dollars as kickback from contractors. After the first video, more surfaced showing this same man hiding dollars under his ‘babanriga’ attire. And when the Kano Assembly decided to probe the allegations, a high court in the state ordered them to stop the investigation. The most maddening aftermath of the scandal was when this same man received the best Governor of the year by a national newspaper among other awards. This can only happen in Nigeria!” he said annoyingly.
“The tragic Offa robbery and the revelations that came after it was the biggest event in the year 2018 to me”, a man who apparently was more concerned with the gist than the bottles on his table said. “I am from Offa in Kwara state and the robbery incidence was a personal tragedy to me. In April, there were armed robbery attacks in about five different banks in Offa communities. The robbers had their way and carted away an undisclosed amount of money in different currencies. The nation was still in awe about the robbery before it was publicized that the senate president’s name was mentioned by one of the suspect arrested by the police. But just like most of the open-ended issues in Nigeria begging for answers, what has happened to the investigations of the robbery suspects and even the Senate President’s role in the robbery?
The gist in the beer parlour today was like bringing back the past and almost everyone around had some news-worthy reminiscence. Contributions were quick and everyone seems to be very good students in the Nigerian History School (NHIS?) in 2018. The next person to contribute to the discussion said “Talking of the Senate and Senate President, I could remember there was a time in this same April, on the 18th precisely, when the mace of the National Assembly was dramatically stolen. It was like a free-for-all when some thugs reportedly broke into the chamber and carted away the mace. A senator from Delta state, Ovie Omo-Agege was alleged to have led the thugs who stole the mace and he was later arrested by the police. The mace was also recovered under a flyover but I am just happy it did not take as long as Buhari’s WAEC attestation certificate before it was recovered’.
I would have said today’s gist is a reminiscence of evanescence but for the (n)ever efficient judiciary arm, most of these issues could still spring up till 2020 or more. Lots of other issues also made the year worthy of being remembered. The entertainment and sports industry also had their share of exclusive offbeat stories. Even Politics and entertainment met when the media were bombarded with rumours of an affair between the out-of-favour Governor of Lagos state, Akinwunmi Ambode and the popular nollywood actress, Mercy Aigbe. All in all, the year 2018 was filled with various kinds of drama that we could sometime see only among eerie creatures and the sky-rocketed expectations of the 2019 elections created through the Osun and Ekiti elections could be good for Nigeria’s democracy. For the beer parlour gist loyalists, the pen of our satires would be more sharpened and we would be there to further appreciate the ‘trophys’, interrogate the ‘gobacks’ and celebrate the stars!