Ellupee Lawmakers Refuse Shishi, Collect Exotic Cars
By Tunde Odesola
I didn’t shoot the sheriff. I was only a member of a three-man gang that robbed a friend in Lagos in the mid-80s. Thank God, he survived the robbery and he’s alive to tell the story. Despite the incident, we remain friends. So, I’ll shield him from klieg light by referring to him by his first name and middle name, Abiodun Oluseyi, because he never liked being in the public eye. He’s an introvert, I’m an extrovert.
Towering above six feet, Biodun, a man of few words, doesn’t throw his weight and height around. When secondary school set our feet on the journey of friendship more than 40 years ago, lying ahead unbeknownst to us was a shared future of mutual respect, love and understanding.
We had our strengths and weaknesses; I was better than Biodun in football, table tennis, scrabble and non-school activities which our parents must not know. Biodun played excellent guitar and chess. He loved serenity. He also loved to be underrated. Like the Piscean that he is, the whale in him loved to swim from the depth of the deep, shooting up in the air, and splashing back into the ocean, swimming to the belly of the sea. Don’t think he didn’t see the shock and admiration in your eyes as he wowed you with his prowess, yes, he did; Biodun loves being appreciated but he won’t demand it.
His nickname, B-Fat, an amalgam of his first and last names, is incongruous with his slim and straight physique. However, B-Fat was fast like a pilot whale reaching a speed of 75.6 kilometres per hour at short bursts, and was intelligent like the killer whale, smashing the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board examination in 1985 to set a record and gaining admission to study medicine at Great Ife aka King of Nigerian Universities, a title bestowed on the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, by prankish students.
Another friend living in the neighbourhood, Lanre Akintunde, paid me a visit at home in company with his relative, whose name I can’t recall. Then, there was no smartphone to save time and money on wasted journeys. People risked lives and limbs crisscrossing the length and breadth of Nigeria only to discover that the relatives they went to visit had also travelled on a long journey like Apostle Paul.
On the fateful day of the robbery, I was seeing Lanre and his cousin off when I told them I was going to see Biodun, who lived two streets away. Lanre said he would like to say hi to Biodun, too. His cousin didn’t need to know Biodun; friendship then was as instant as making a coffee or splurging N160m each on 360 exotic cars to be enjoyed by heartless National Assembly members on toxic roads.
Was Biodun happy to see us? He showed it in the lavish food he provided. He fetched a massive bowl and went to buy rice, beans, fried plantain and pieces of meat enough to feed six hungry men. After all, he was a big boy studying medicine at Great Ife. So, four spoons, like shovels, set out to demolish the white and brown mound of food covered in a stew like magma covers a volcano mountain.
We all turned up in our best table manners. No one uttered a word as our teeth and tongues worked, crushing and grinding. There was no time to drink water even though we didn’t rush; we were all young, responsible adults, and our spoons didn’t clash. The mountain of rice and beans was going down gradually, like Stamford Bridge.
As the mountain finally gave way, hitting rock bottom, Biodun let out a shout, “Ha! Eyin people yi, e ti je gbogbo eran tan! Mi o ri nkankan je!,” lamenting, “You these people, you have eaten all the pieces of meat, I didn’t get any to eat!” Gentleman Biodun was waiting for the delicious meal to climax in the eating of pieces of orísirísi meat, but his patient dog didn’t even get a bone to eat. In the serenity of Biodun’s room, three separate spoons held by Lanre’s cousin, Lanre and Tunde airlifted the pieces of meat secretly and deposited them into colluding mouths. We didn’t connive to rob Biodun, there were no furtive glances, each of his guests was just concerned about his stomach, collective good was alien to them. We were the ajélójú onílé house rats that eat in the presence of the house owner.
Thank goodness, Biodun survived the robbery. He’s now a renowned consultant paediatrician in Nigeria while Lanre went on to become a lawyer, setting up his practice in Lagos and yours truly remained a journalist. The three of us are still friends to date.
Denouement in literature is the final part of a play, movie, or narrative in which the strands of the plot are drawn together and matters are explained or resolved.
In the ruinous action of the three visitors, I see the three leading Nigerian political parties – the callous All Progressives Congress, the confused Peoples Democratic Party, and the deceptive Labour Party. Biodun represents Nigeria, ever trusting and accommodating.
Lanre’s unknown cousin represents the Labour Party. Lanre symbolises the APC while Tunde exemplifies the PDP. Lanre’s cousin (LP) journeys with Lanre (APC) and Tunde (PDP) in the hope of forging new grounds at Biodun’s (Nigeria) home. Despite being young on the block and looking promising, Lanre’s cousin betrayed the trust Biodun (Nigeria) had in him as he joined corrupt Lanre (APC) and Tunde (PDP) to wreck Nigeria.
National Chairman of the Labour Party, Mr Julius Abure, a few days ago, told the eight senators and 34 House of Representatives members of the party to reject the N160m SUV vehicle per each lawmaker in the National Assembly. Abure described the ‘gifts’ as the height of insensitivity.
He said, “We are calling on Labour Party legislators in the 10th Assembly to kick against this unnecessary wastage of resources, in line with the ideology of the party which is social justice and equal opportunity for all. Nigerians will hold them responsible if they fail to live above board or give proper account of the electoral investment reposed in them. The poor must be allowed to breathe again in this country.”
But various LP lawmakers in the National Assembly, who spoke with THE PUNCH, said Abure was belching hot air, insisting that they would collect the Toyota Prado and Landcruiser SUVs. Specifically, LP’s lawmaker representing Aniocha North and South of Delta State, Ngozi Okolie, said Abure’s call was unrealistic, calling on Abure to provide LP lawmakers with cars to perform their jobs.
The representative of Igbo Etiti and Uzo-Uwani constituencies of Enugu State, Stainless Nwodo, commended President Bola Tinubu for approving the vehicles, adding that Tinubu deserved ‘three gbosas’.
The senator representing Edo-South senatorial district, Neda Imasuen, said he would not count his chicks before they hatch, maintaining that he would wait for the vehicle to arrive before he comments.
I’m not surprised that LP lawmakers abandoned the profligacy mantra the party levelled against the APC in the countdown to the last general elections. In many published articles, I’ve said that the LP doesn’t hold the key to the country’s emancipation and that the party is not better than any of the APC and the PDP.
If Peter Obi, the LP presidential candidate, had won the 2023 general election, some of these lawmakers would have been transmuted into ministers, Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Chief of Staff etc. Many of them would have influenced the appointments of the heads of the EFCC, ICPCP, CBN, Police, Army etc, and the vicious cycle would have continued.
The Chairman of the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission, Mohammed Shehu, says Tinubu’s total monthly earnings, including allowances, come up to N1.3m. With a monthly salary that is N1.3m, a N160m vehicle purchase means that Tinubu himself cannot afford either of the Prado or Landcruiser jeeps even if he saved up all his salaries in eight years.
Nigeria is a laughable country where the President’s salary doesn’t reflect his spending and wealth. The same ignoble level of sleaze is found in the judiciary, military, church, mosque, schools, media, civil service, private sector, and everywhere yet we pray noisily to God to heal our country when the blind can see our open sore.
Written by Tunde Odesola and first published in THE PUNCH, on Friday, October 27, 2023.
Facebook: @Tunde Odesola