‘Why did you involve my private wife in a public debate,’ cried the man who contested to be Nigeria’s president and commander-in-chief of armed forces, air, land, sea. ‘Oh my Abeni, my Ibadi aaran. Just because I asked you to remember your past as voice of the people, our columnist-in-chief you panel-beat me so.’

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‘It’s a job, Muhammad Ali said, grass grows, birds fly, waves pound the sand, I beat people up. You royalists say you gave my master the shoes he’s wearing, then leave me in peace to be his talented shoe shiner.’

‘O pari! That is where your distinguished certificates in Nigerian drama have led you? Abacha’s goons came with guns and cash, you bravely said no to bootlicking. Now you are prepared to bend down because shoes have replaced boots? Be the conscience in corridors of influence and limousines of power is all I ask. ’

‘Nigeria is bleeding because of hypocrites like you. Thank goodness no one but you voted for you. I can’t imagine you being the great president we’ve all been waiting for. More than anyone your magazine enjoyed access to power and money. When the Abachas granted you freedom to photograph their mansion including opulent bedrooms where they would conceive future Sani Abachas, did you remember to be the conscience of the masses? Yet that house contained codes to 4.3billion dollars of stolen public money. When you photographed Terry Waya’s one and only owambe London party that collected 19 shameless governors, did you remember conscience? What about your voluptuous edition on that chest vulcaniser of VI? You had your lecherous camera so close to her chest that your conscience must have hardened and took a firm stand, gbam. Why didn’t you remember to speak truth to it? Now you have the temerity to lecture me about conscience. Saying one thing and doing another is a classic Nigerian story. Just ask Ade Bendel or IBB.’

‘There you are! You have let the cat out of the bag! So that’s the analysis that now model your new world? Wahala wao! The greatest generation of journalists were those who migrated from Daily Times to The Guardian. They refused to allow military dictators permission to hack into the editorial board and turn the most successful newspaper in history of African journalism into a megaphone for power. But look at our generation? Achebe said when a man brings ants-ridden faggots into the hut, he should expect disturbances from lizards. What about a man who left his hut and went to live with the ants-ridden faggots?’

‘My job is to positively describe the presidency not faggots, to put a spin to president’s policies so that Nigerians would connect with his ideas and devotedly follow him not asking unnecessary questions. No leader can be great without great followers. Nigeria needs great leaders. Let me tell you something very personal to the president. Anytime he visits the North, there is no sight more inspiring to him than seeing fields of 500 cows herded by a boy with a mere sandaa. On a recent visit to Sokoto, he was almost in tears when he said how lovely Nigeria would be if Nigerians are like those: pointing to the cows dutifully following the boy with sandaa without asking unnecessary questions, trusting he is leading them to greener pastures. And my job is to persuade Nigerians to this vision of Mr President so that they can voluntarily surrender to be…’

‘To be uncritical cows?’

‘So that the country would be a better place.’

‘My friend, you don’t know how your reputation has unravelled as abject to your core fans who once held you in high esteem. Remember how Iyalode berated Eleshin after he bungled his moment of glory in Death and the King’s Horseman. She said, “Oh you self-vaunted stem of the plantain, how hollow it all proves…We said you were the hunter who brought the quarry down; to you belonged vital portions of the game. No, you said, I am the hunter’s dog and I shall eat the entrails of the game and the faeces of the hunter.” I am not only referring to the church renovation bribery. Though I am against the pervasive slander that says anyone working in government must be a treasury looter, but seeing someone of your moral and intellectual stature deploying your talent and energies to defend a Plainly Doddering Person(PDP) is horrifying. If someone like you is going to swerve dramatically into a shoe-shining, boot-licking career, make sure you are licking someone of substance. As our elders say, if you must eat a frog, make sure it is the nutritious one. If you must eat the faeces of the hunter make sure, it is…’

‘This president is a paragon of brilliant ideas and techniques. I have been into the depth of the man’s soul, all I found was unadulterated sincerity and indefatigable love of the nation. He’d pledged Nigeria’s destiny to an irreversible progress to greener pastures like those northern cows. It is the lies you plant in media that make the president’s noble cause illusory and my job of cowfication of Nigerians difficult. Hence, people suffer hunger and merciless poverty. Look at the deregulation debate.’

‘Yes, I remembered this New Year as the time when Mr President Deregulated Palaver when he Permanently Delivered Poverty. PDP: Plainly Dishonest Pack.’

‘Enough! See the lies you lousy lots fill the media with? His Excellency is Prosperity Distributing President. He is Passionately Destroying Poverty. But President Demands Patience. And my role is to Positively Defend the President.’

‘All the advanced countries you quoted then have social securities for their bottom citizens but in Nigeria we have none and the only thing that resembles welfare is government subsidy on petrol.’

‘The Chinese say don’t give me fish instead teach me to catch fish. Let me ask you, how many lines did NITEL have on the eve of 1999 telecom deregulation?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘And you ran to be president of Nigeria not commander-in-chief of education is forbidden? NITEL’s 50 year history produced 450,000 terrestrial lines and 7000 mobile lines for a nation of 120million people. What happened after deregulation? Millions of lines added, millions of jobs for youth, billions for the companies in profits and more telecom giants springing up to compete and knock down prices. This was exactly want his Excellency planned to do with the oil industry. Had he succeeded in raising the price to N150, investors will reap their profits and more will eager to compete hence knocking down cost of petrol. But because this was undone, we had to even out the score by creating more problems for Kainji dam and shutting it down to reassure oil investors that we will always look after them even if previous plans fail.’

‘Prosperity Distributing President, yeah? My friend, my dear friend, I call you by that name only this last time as the Praise Singer told Eleshin Oba. Once the juiciest fruit on every tree was yours, now you have a tongue that darted like a drummer’s stick. What does your conscience quietly tells you before you spread yourself to sleep at night? Talk to me, Eleshin? I am asking you not once, not twice but with thousand tongues, what do you say of those nights we were editing conscientious pieces together? We placed the reins of our civil society in your hands yet you watched it with folded arms plunged over the edge of the bitter precipice. But the young shoot has poured its sap into the parent stalk, and we know this is not the way of life.’

‘Are you blind? Can’t you see my master, the King is the best we’ve ever had since colonial looters left? Can’t you see he is already walking on water, turning stones to bread? He is creating the true civil society. Hurray for those that can see it. Long live His Excellency! Long live a greater Nigeria! And to those who want my master to fail, may their teeth catch fire. Yes!’