I left Lagos some years back for a job in Uyo. When I returned, a few months later, to see my family, I got the shock of my life. There was a colony in my house!
Everyone in the family knew, except me. But not even the ‘malam’ at the gate suspected a thing. It was calmly and calculatedly organized. And when I sought help, there was none. Not even the police or the Lagos State government could assist.
I simply realised it by chance, like the Lander brothers “discovered” River Niger in our backyard! I wanted something from my room and asked my five-year-old daughter to run the errand. “Udy, go to my room and…” She didn’t let me finish the sentence: “It’s not your room. It’s mummy’s room. You don’t have a room here anymore. Your room is in Uyo”, she announced authoritatively. Chi-i-s-o-o-o-s! In my house? I was lost for words.
But I wasn’t giving up easily, I swore. Insolence! Insubordination! Insult-upon-injury! Nonsense! I was burning red hot. At a point, I felt smoke coming out of my head. Imagine the effrontery; the alacrity! So, they’d started “annexing” my properties while I was still alive! I carried placard and crawled from Ikorodu to Alausa. I shouted myself hoarse but no one was listening. A colony was growing in my house! Suddenly, I felt very lonely!
In my absence, “mama-yard” had expansionist idea. She moved fully from her own bedroom into (mine) “za oza room” – dominating a bigger operational area. Her small space wasn’t enough for her. So, she used the kids to form a colony in my room. To make it clear that she was in-charge, her clothes, boxes, handbags, shoes and empty cartons followed. The once-upon-a-big room now looked so tiny. My few belongings were forced to dance “one corner; once corner!” And I learnt of it via “shock-treatment”. A replay of the British invasion of Lagos in 1851.
Now, I’m very lonely. And I guess there may be some homes like mine. Pity! President Buhari’s very occupied with pressing national emergencies – like speaking laboriously without a prepared text and receiving self-serving fellows, who “beg” him to re-contest in 2019. Else, I would’ve begged him to do mortals like us a favour – appoint a Minister of Loneliness! If such was available, I would’ve run to that officer to hold my hands, perhaps. Or read me some old tales, like they do in some orphanages and elderly peoples’ homes.
You see, funny appointments are no longer absurd. Theresa May, British PM and Gov Rochas Okorocha have proven that you can make any appointment and heaven will not fall. Okorocha just named a ministry of Happiness and May appointed a Minister of Loneliness. According to May, “For far too many people, loneliness is the sad reality of modern life”. True! And my people believe that loneliness has a way of playing tricks with a man’s brain. Like the devil inventing hi-tech nonsense in an idle mind. Sometimes, the result could be out of this world. Like creating some funny structures of government. Well, since some conventional ministries like Finance, Health, Power, Housing, Petroleum, Education, Agriculture, etc, have failed in Nigeria, we might as well try odd ones, abi? We need, for instance, a Minister of Commonsense; a Minister of Nepotism; a Minister of Stupidity; a Ministry of Colony, etc.
Ah! Colony! That word again. Always comes with trepidation. Nigerians have been allergic to it, long before the Britons left with one-leg of their shoes. Their ghost still hovers, though. Hence, since Audu Ogbeh, the Agric minister, mentioned “colony” recently, the nation’s been suffering stomach ache. As a solution to the herdsmen-farmers’ problem that blew open in parts of the country, recently, Ogbeh believes we should “colonize” the cattle. But some “idiot-commentators” challenged Ogbeh to breakdown his “colonial idea”.
Ogbeh: “Colonies and ranches are the same thing in many ways except that a colony is bigger that a ranch…20, 30 ranchers can share the same colony. A ranch is usually owned by an individual or company with few numbers of cows, in a cattle colony you could find 100, 200, 300 cows owned by different individuals.”
Idiot-commentator: Yes, Sa! Thank you, Sa! But oga, start small, small nah?! With ranches. Here’s the fear, in case you missed it. Lumping between 100 and 300 cows in one massive, exclusive camp in one state would attract an uncontrolled number of Fulanis to a particular state – from Niger, Chad, Senegal, Mali, Libya, etc. Our borders are so weak and the Immigration officers are too busy with N100 bribes to notice anything. Soon, the Fulanis would multiply, expand and annex the entire state. Like Bob Marley would say: “Give them an inch, they take a mile!” Experience of a settler usurping proprietorship rights abound – Ife/Modakeke; Israeli/Palestine; Zako/Kataf; etc. From experience, the idea of a colony is frightening. And considering the belligerent nature of the Fulanis, it’s even scarier. They are easily linked with religious extremism and expansionism. And if you want to risk that, raise your hand. Make up your mind quick. If it’s up, put it down again and remain that way. May God forgive you for you know what what you are doing, amen!
Maybe, Ogbeh’s idea isn’t altogether bad. Problem may be timing and his choice of word. The outburst against the idea is precautionary. Colony? Forget it, man! Maybe he believes that creating “embassies” for Fulanis in all the states would solve the “loneliness” problem for the nomads. But must it be in all the states? If indeed, 16 states, especially in the North are ready for it, go with that. If you are trying a new drug on how to tame the “waka-about” ailment of the Fulanis, create ranches in the South, instead of colonies! And if government’s ready to pump money into private businesses, I’ve a request, mbok.
You see, we in Akwa Ibom and Cross River are known for dog meat delicacy. Now, we are facing challenges like angry neighbours, dog tax, kill-and-run drivers, and, well, eat-on-credit customers! And, we need government support. To be able to supply the nation with quality dog meat, we need “dog colonies” all over the nation, too. Fair is fair! What justifies colonies for the cows should also excuse colonies for the dogs, abeg! Our dogs (especially, the local breed) also need veterinary services, protection against rustlers, and quality/ “expensive sh*t”, biko!
Well, this nation does not need cattle colonies to grow. Ranches could do. But we need colony of creative, functional and refreshing ideas. From all the sectors. And we also need a president who listens, and has the will to do the right thing by the people, without fear of loneliness! Right now, Buhari may be feeling lonely as his core supporters desert him, daily. Dele Momodu, Aisha Buhari, Obasanjo and others. But if he had sifted from the eclectic basket of positive ideas, he would’ve been one of the most loved, by now. And there would’ve been no need for arrangee “one-week; one-group” solidarity visit to Aso Rock. If he’d done well, he wouldn’t have been the first “beneficiary” (or, is it victim?) of Obasanjo’s 13-paged doctoral admonition.