You Be Tief, I No Be Tief
By Pius Adesanmi
Somewhere in the background, Fela croons:
(You be tief, I no be tief
You dey steal, I no dey steal
You be rogue, I no be rogue
You be robber, I no be robber
You be armu robber, I no be armu robber
Argument argument, argue, argument argument
Dem argue, argument argument
Argument about stealing…)
"Hey, you this boy, get me today's newspapers kia kia!"
"Ah, Baba, they are already on your breakfast table sir. All your regulars are there sir. The New York Times, The Washington Post, International Herald Tribune, The Times of Afghanistan, The Nepal Chronicle, The Toronto Star, The Times of Papua New Guinea, The…"
"My friend, I'm not interested in international newspapers today. Get me our own papers"
"Are you deaf? Is your head correct at all? What is wrong with this boy today? Are you going to start counting my voice?"
"Sorry, Baba, but I don't understand"
"Mo ma daran o. You don't understand what? I say go and get me today's papers!"
"Like Tribune, Punch, Guardian, Vanguard, and ThisDay?"
"No. Like Toyota, Nissan, BMW, and Mercedes. Did you forget your brain in your room when you woke up today?"
"Em… em… Baba but those are Nigerian newspapers sir. You don't read local newspapers sir. Ever since you declared two years ago that Nigerian journalists and newspapers are worthless and that…"
"My friend, shut up and go and get me newspapers!"
"But, sir, all the vendors have run away from Otta since you declared war on local newspapers sir. And remember that you beat one vendor and nearly killed him for stealing two eggs from the poultry sir. So, it is not easy to get Nigerian newspapers around the farm here sir"
"You this foolish boy, I'm not going to continue this argument with you. If in 30 minutes I am not reading today's newspapers right here where I am seating, the ground on which you are standing will grow taller than you today. Iwo aso ni lenu omo buruku yi"
"Baba, I will try to get the papers."
"hm hm, don't try"
"Baba, you are in are in such a foul mood this morning sir. Abi it is Ayo Fayose again? Has he called you a father of bastards again? Abi it is Chief Bode George? Is he still refusing to do omoluabi and bring tibi to Ota?"
"Just go and get me the damned papers, my friend! If you must know, I just got a phone call that one idiot in Minna has developed diarrhea of the mouth and I want to confirm things. But I know that they are lying against him. Mo jeri e. He cannot say what they said he said about me"
"Okay, sir, let me run and get the papers sir"
"A ma dupe o! Finally, you have grown a brain. If it is true that that yeye man has abused me like people are telling me on the phone, I will make him understand that when you step on a viper, something that crawls on its chest will give you a fight. But I trust him sha. A barking dog knows the man from whose pocket came the money that bought it."
"Baba… Baba… Baba…. I've come back from town with the newspapers sir. Chei, Babangida has killed you sir. Mi o riru eleyi ri o. I've never seen anything like this before Baba. It's a combination of uppercuts and knockouts. Ayo Fayose was kese kese, this one is the real kasa kasa."
"Ogbeni, are you mad? Are you crazy? I may have to hire another personal assistant soon. Common, sit down and read the damned papers to me!"
"Sorry, sir, I got carried away. Em… em… here is how the Guardian puts it sir: ""In my eight years in office, I was able to manage poverty and achieved success while somebody for eight years managed affluence and achieved failure."
"Is that what Babangida is saying?"
"That is just the appetizer, Baba. He also said that…"
"Okay, ok, that's enough. If Babangida has decided, on becoming a septuagenarian, that he will be a fool, I think one should probably do what the Bible says in Proverbs Chapter 26, verse 4. It says don't answer a fool because you may also become like him. When you go to the same Proverbs chapter 26, verse 5, it says answer a fool so that he will not think he's a wise man. So, I am now torn between which of the two verses I should follow in this respect."
"Baba, what about Ese Ifa?"
"What did you say?"
"Sir, I mean, em…em… if the Bible is giving you contradicting verses, tossing you a little to the right and a little to the left, what about Ifa verses? There should be an Ifa verse that could guide you on how to respond to this Minna virus if the Bible confuses you instead of offering you a solution"
"O ma de tun ri yen so o. Your brain is not always useless. Ifa says an elder should never give his mark of superiority to an insolent child, you just show it to him. I will show that fool at seventy my mark of superiority."
"So, what do we do now, Baba?"
"Good question. Do we still have the secret files on Dele Giwa?"
"And the files on Gloria Okon?"
"And the files on Bongos Ikwue's love child with…"
"And the files on the secret cash bunker beneath his hilltop mansion in Minna?"
"And the files on the Ejigbo Hercules plane crash?"
"Yes sir. But…sir…"
"Sir, those are all code red files?"
"Well, when I got this job as your personal assistant, they told me during orientation that all the Generals who have ruled Nigeria possess code red files on one another and you all have a pact never to release those files to Nigerians no matter the degree of provocation. If you release the code red files you have on Babangida sir, do we know what code red files he has on you? Do you want to be the first of the Generals to ever cross that deadly line sir?"
"Ah, that's true. O tun ri yen so again. Alright, go and summon journalists to my Presidential library tomorrow. I will give a press conference there. Do we have enough cash in brown envelopes for them?"
"Yes, sir, but the journalists are always complaining that your brown envelopes are never brown enough"
"Did their fathers give me the money? My friend, go and do what I asked you to do!"
(Somewhere in Abuja…)
"Hello, hello, is that you, Reno?"
"Hello, yes this is Reno. Ah, Reuben, is that you?"
"You no know my voice again? I hope you and Trippi are enjoying the Federal Government's hospitality at the Presidential suite of that hotel?"
"My brother, we thank God o. We were just waiting for Oronto. Has he left the villa?"
"Yes, he will join you and Trippi soon at the hotel but there is a developing story. Have you read the papers today?"
"No, what's going on, Reuben?"
"Ah, Obj and IBB have been rolling in the gutter and I see an opportunity for us there."
"Really, how bad is it, Reuben?"
"Very bad, Reno. Get the papers."
"Fantastic! In that case, that would be a perfect diversion!"
"Precisely! My thoughts, exactly. That's why I called you. We should milk the situation to the maximum. It's not easy dealing with what people in my former constituency are now saying and writing about me."
"Reuben! Shebi me and Oronto don tell you make you no worry? You'll get used to it. You'll soon forget that that other world even exists"
"I hear you but we need to seize the opportunity of these Generals in the gutter"
"I agree with you. That could take Nigerians' attention away from tenure elongation, kerosene scarcity, Islamic banking, insecurity, unemployment, and the duplication of roles between the President's cabinet and his economic team."
"That's what I'm thinking. You have no idea how tough it is for me to release statements defending those things when I know what I would have written when…"
"Reuben, you are no longer allowed to think what you would have thought when you were outside. You are paid to think what we think! But I agree with you that these foolish Generals have provided a fantastic diversion for us."
"Yes, here is my plan. While we give the impression to the Nigerian people that the presidency is unhappy with the Generals' spat and that president Jonathan is working quietly behind the scenes with other eminent elder statesmen to resolve the issue, we can do other things underground to keep them tearing at each other for the next two weeks"
"Reuben! Brilliant! That is brilliant! You are already better at this job than Oronto and I combined! Why don't you work on your kinsman from Ogun? Oronto and I will work on the Minna General."
(A few minutes past midnight...)
"Hello, Baba, sorry I am calling this late sir"
"Who is this?"
"Emi omo yin ni sir"
"I know how many children I have"
"It's Reuben sir. From the presidency"
"Ah, Reuben! It's you. Omo daa daa. Are you calling on behalf of your boss?"
"No sir, I am calling in my private capacity sir. I just read what the Minna General has been saying about you. It's a collective insult on the Yoruba race sir and you must not allow him to get away with it. You must respond in full force sir. It's also another insult from the Muslim north. They treat our leaders in the Christian south with contempt."
"Reuben, you are a true omoluabi! Don't worry. Babangida is a small boy. By tomorrow you will see my hands."
"Em… Baba, you know that publicly the presidency will be making peace…"
"Thank you sir. Baba, e ma gba o. You must deal decisively with IBB and…"
"Reuben, don't worry. Wa gbele gbo."eHeHH