lekki, Ikoyi and Victoria Island have been the butt of jokes on the social media for a week. All kinds of posts, all manner of hilarious cracks about the flood that suffused these supposed neighbourhood of the rich. Let’s laugh again at some of the posts:
Live or work on the island? Call for your inflatable boats.
To move around and within Lekki, Ikoyi and Victoria Island, please call Uber to hire your speed boats.
And then there was the one with Lagos state Inland Revenue service in an helicopter asking residents of the rich neighbourhoods hiking their way out of their flooded homes in canoes ‘ Hey, have you paid your canoe license?
All of you who are cracking jokes about Lekki and VGC flood are only jealous because you don’t have community swimming pools.
I think all those rich folks deserve all the jokes about their pain and more. At least, for once, the not-so-rich can gloat. They can say ‘good for them’ loudly without fear of being fired or arrested. They can watch the rich squirm and swear under their breath and do ‘ntooo’. Yes, last weekend, the rich in Lagos acted the full script of ‘The rich also cry’ and the poor refused to offer them hankies. Everybody laughed as they scooted upstairs and peeped through the windows at their Range Rover, Landcruisers and Prado dancing in the rain. The unemployed laughed. The poor chuckled. Served them right, they chorused.
You think I’m being mean and wicked, right? Well, I live in that axis too. But I still insist that those rich folks had it coming. They are blaming everybody but themselves still and that’s where the problem lies. They don’t want to acknowledge that there is something wrong in the way they live and run their lives. They don’t want to look at how they got in the flood. They prefer cursing everybody out. They think they are not culpable at all.
Let us start from the beginning.
How many of the rich folks in Lagos are aware that the local government elections in the state will hold on July 22? Do they know their candidates? Apart from what they read, if they read anything, about the APC local government primaries, what else do they know about how the candidates for this election emerged? Where are these candidates coming from? Are they reformed kidnappers? Were they deported from China, Belgium or America for credit card frauds or sacked from the civil service for one scam or the other? My neighbours do not know these things, trust me. If the news is not related to their businesses or leisure directly, it’s really not important. For one, I can bet my little paycheck that so many of them have jetted out to the UK to watch the Wimbledon. The rest are all set for the summer holidays somewhere between Seychelles and the Caribbean. They work too hard and so must play very hard. They don’t want to be bothered by mundane issues like who their local government chairman is. Their councilors live 50 kilometres away from the people they represent and my people don’t know. They are more worried about whether they are shopping at Selfridges, Harrods, Saks, Fifth Avenue or the other nice places.
The closest they get to being involved in how their lives are planned in Nigeria is sitting in their penthouses with friends and discussing the issues with APC and PDP. For crying out loud, they don’t even know what those parties mean beyond the alphabets. That is why I’m telling them here and now that drinking cognac on their boats and telling jokes about the waists and boobs of their latest girlfriends is the reason their jaguars are swimming in their compounds. Problems do not go away just because we know how to analyse them to death. Knowing how the rest of the world works but ignoring how your backyard is governed is actually silly.
I bet we have all at one time or the other have had the displeasure (that is what it is, to me) of listening to our learned and world-travelled rich folks tell us how Singapore and China made it from third world. They have all the figures and dates. They know the names of the heroes who freed the nations from the clutches of war and disease. But that is all. They are like the learned Americans who sat on their patios, marked the map of the United States of America in blue and red and in their wisdom concluded that Hilary Clinton was a done deal. Well, while they were still putting away their red and blue markers, Big Bad Donald won ad now they are stuck with him. And in my own little wisdom, my advice is that they lie back and enjoy their inevitable rape to avoid bruises and damage. It is the way of democracy. There is a limit to what can be done in-between elections.
Now back to our flooded neighbourhoods and the rich men who throw big grammar at their problems. Of course, if they stop speaking big big Englishes now, a lot of damage has already been done but further damage can be stemmed if rich and influential Nigerians stop distancing themselves from the way their lives are run and ruined by politicians they did not choose or care how they are chosen.
You see, unlike those who think politics are beneath them, politicians want everything. Unlike my neighbours who only plan their boardrooms, stocks and investments, politicians plan everything. Politicians always have plans. Whether the plan is beneficial or detrimental, good or evil, for them or for us, politicians always have a plan, and also a strategy to bring those plans in to work for them. The rich guys? They expect their money to take of the rest. And you thought they were smart, right? Not so much, but don’t conclude yet.
Because the politician knows that the only structure you build from the top, at least in Nigeria, is a grave, he does not come out and aim for the Presidency on his first outing in politics. Only the arrogant millionaire and his talkative friends think knowing the history and politics of Europe, America and Asia qualifies him for political top jobs. He gets carried away by the adulations and ovations that follows his speeches and analysis at town-hall meetings and on television. The real politician knows better. He knows the scores, as they say on the streets. He looks for the political ladder, locates the man who is the current custodian of the ladder, asks questions about how to climb it and then starts the process of getting the right climbing shoes and the people who will hold that ladder to ensure he doesn’t come crashing on his way up. The rich dude thinks his designer shoes are all he needs.
While the rest of us are writing back pages of newspapers and postulating with figures and power point deliveries, the politicians position the councilors and local government chairmen who hand over funds meant for the development of local government to whoever and as rewards for being obedient servants, they are made honourables, senators and many times governors. They know how the ladder works and speak less grammar. The political godfathers position their biological and political children on the ladder for tomorrow. The rich, the middleclass send the children to schools abroad in frustration because the schools here are now fit only for cows! Because the infrastructure and indeed everything has gone bad, the rich kids are even being born abroad now. Those babies will grow up into professionals who will grow the British and Canadian economies. The ones schooling abroad can’t return home because there are no jobs here. Those ones are lost too.
The politicians, on the other hand, know where the goodies are and they position their children appropriately. The big boys look down on the councilors, refuse to be part of the process that will affect everything from their blocked drainages to the future of their fine babies. The councilors have successfully run the rich and their children out of town. The rich folks think all is well. What do they know? The tears ahead are in torrents for those who think driving posh cars and going on holidays during elections are cool.