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Author Name: gaga ekeh
Number of articles: 22

The year 2020 is upon us. While much ado is to be made about the upcoming 2019 elections, looking... (0) Comment

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Juju As Strategy For National Development
Author: gaga ekeh | June 02, 2018

The year 2020 is upon us. While much ado is to be made about the upcoming 2019 elections, looking beyond whoever wins that vote is an instructive exercise in African Peppersoup Philosophizing. After all, speaking about the outcome of Nigeria's Vision 2020 program without the aid of peppersoup is a sojourn fraught with peril, sorrow and delusion.

It is not that Nigeria cannot achieve what it ought to long have achieved. It is that Nigeria's strategy for development, the widespread implementation of juju and black magic, is unproven in modern economics and will arrive Nigeria at the same place it began when Vision 2020 was first drawn up.

Per my preamble, a tori don form. And it is told in this way. A while back I was visiting a family member in faraway New York City who happened to be visiting the U.S from his erstwhile abode in London--that storied ancient city of the Thames, dragons and the wailing banshee. Now, at the time I was a graduate student in one of Ameh's finest and thus was unspoiled by the trappings of wealth.

In essence, as any graduate student can attest, I was broke... like a joke. As Ameh might say. But to be broke, son, no be joke. In any case, counting my pennies like al majiri, I made my way to JKF airport to welcome my friend to the U.S. and there at the arrival area I saw what, in retrospect, was a metaphor for Nigeria today.

There was a man, in a humble kaftan, standing like a statue--still, without movement, unblinking and decidedly strange. As other passengers passed through customs he just waited until a customs officer finally could take it no more. "Sir," the officer walked up to him, " there a problem?"

The man did not respond, causing the customs man to now ask another Nigerian on the same flight if he understood what was occurring. The second Nigerian went to the statue of stillness and said, " ko si" "Shhhh!!!" the still man whispered loudly, "awon o le ri mi seh! You are spoiling the juju!" The Yoruba is loosely translated, "these ones cannot see me!"

Apparently, not having proper documentation he had, the story unfolds, been informed by one "alpha" in Felele Ibadan that once arriving in Ameh all he had to do was hit his neck with the "Shell of night" three times and he would become invisible. All he had to do was stand still and once everyone had left, he would walk unmolested through the customs stand.

Apparently he needed a refund for he was soon cooling his heels at an immigra detention center, and his "shell of night" did nothing that the proper documentation could have. In other words, it was not a useful strategy. Now, you say, OK... we have seen the like before.

Perhaps you once knew that fellow, from Eko, who used to "blow upon the forehead" of women, and then lead them to his tin shack where he snacked profusely upon their limbs and gorged himself on their entrails. Cyril was his name they said. Or maybe you heard about that other man who used the "shell of love" to tap a young lady upon the bum-bum after which she would follow him to his baby factory where he would impregnate her in order to sell the child.

He might have been from Umuahia, but I can't be certain. As one grows older, one's memory becomes a soliloquy in metaphor. Details no longer matter, but the point remains. And yet, whilst these strategies have often been known to work in Naija, in the rest of the world it is often more appropriate to be concerned with, shall we say, more modern utilitarian fancies... because, my brother Ikot, JUJU NO BE STRATEGY!

Why, just the other day I was perusing Youtube, the modern version of NTA of yore, when I came upon a very interesting video. In it, the video, President Goodluck Jonathan, known popularly to the villagers of Otuoke as "Jon-Jon the Izon" whose claim to fame continues to be the main road he builded from his house to the canoe depot of Ugborodo, was seen holding hands almost romantically with the wizard known as Bill Clinton, a former president of the United States.

Now, you immediately come to Jonathan's defense, and speak to me of the Federal University in the same village that he also builded as an House unto Egbesu. Ehn, I understand. I understand. That is another story, Boniface, another story for another day. Instead, for today, the two men holding hands like two teenage romancers were gushing over the Eko Pearl towers, built on an island recovered, we are told, from the greedy vice of Mammy Water's grip... on the outskirts of Nigeria's sovereign maritime border.

Bill Clinton was waxing effusive over how Eko Atlantic and these Pearl towers would be a symbol of Nigeria's ascent into the ranks of global powers, kini kan kini kan. Ah, guy, no be joke o. But you sef sabi say Clinton dey follow person yarn taya! Him fit yarn, ehn, chai! An him mout come sweet, soteeeeeh me sef I come sef belief am, say Eko Pearl towers, appropriated from the greedy arms of Mama Water, was to welcome Nigeria into the league of world powers.

Until son of man come remember the NISER compound in Ibadan. I remember how, during my second job as a youth (my first was a Nollywood movie in 1981, the first I believe), every day I saw the plans for the new NISER compound in the making. Pun intended, it would seem, NISER was to be NICER than the IITA compound also in Ibadan which, everyone said, was even prettier than America.

So, everyday, myself, Amaech, Godwin and Igben would sit down and help the institute tally spreadsheet upon spreadsheet as the excitement continued to build about when we would be moving to "the new office". At lunch time mama oni epa ati guguru would show up and we'd take a break, inspecting the architectural diagrams whilst tossing warming groundnut modules into our longa throats, being wowed by this... remarkable vision.

In fact, ehn, some of the pictures had ducks! Ducks... can you imogin. Ducks, waddling in a pond. But as the weeks turned into months and harmattan turned into rainy season, all that remained true of the NISER compound was the never ending retinue of cement blocks placed skillfully by its main entrance, a promise of a future that never came to be. What happened?

It turns out that the management of the institute failed to use what oyibo called "Best Practices" to account for the required funding, and so, every internal audit was attended to by Babalawo's who, though with titles including "PhD", were more skilled in magical transformation than in overseeing a development project. And so, as quiet village after quiet village in the heart of the Delta saw quiet houses springing up, and quiet roads being built that connected these quiet houses to the canoe depot of

Ugborodo, the only development the NISER compound saw was a never ending retinue of cement blocks skillfully placed by its entrance, tomorrow's promise today. And so, watching Bill Clinton carry the kolanut wey dem gi am chop, for his lovely speech that day, I looked around the Eko Pearl towers for any sign of cement blocks... and sure enough.

They were there... overseen by some babalawos who, though with PhD in their name, seem clearly more skilled at that magical transformation for which Nigeria is now globally renowned. Charlie, what can we say? DIARIS GOD O! But let me not be too skeptical. Maybe it is that Federal juju is not to be mistaken for the sort of childish nonsense an alpha from Felele can offer.

After all, was it not said that it was Juju that won the war for ECOMOG?? Was it not juju that the 3rd Marine Commando used to bring the civil war to an end? Why, if juju has been part of the national conversation for as long as it has, why change now? Um... well... There are alternatives you know? Transparency, accountability, those things have often worked where juju has failed.

And yet Nigeria's managers seem invested heavily in juju as a strategy for development I fear that Jaga Jaga is in the offing.... For which we would rather, in fact, concede to Perambulator. Because, truth be told, as 2020 arrives, and another litany of broken promises is foisted on the national psyche, the reality of our fruitless sojourn governed by the rulers of the darkness of this world is beginning to make itself apparent.

And so it is with the voice of the prophet I must now warn Nigeria's managers, and perhaps, Ngozi, you shall help me say this--and with one voice unified with the power of TRUTH, that the high and mighty might finally hear word. Ngozi, abeg tell dis babalawos who hold our country hostage:

JUJU NO BE DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY! Na my own be dat! Prove me wrong.

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