by Nkanu Egbe
IT’S A THUG LIFE
“I didn’t choose the thug life; the thug life chose me.” – Tupac Shakur.
Everybody in Nigeria is a thug. Let those who agree say ‘aye’; and those disagreeing, say ‘nay’. The ayes have it. Most thugs do not know they are because no one chooses the thug life; instead, as Tupac says, the thug life chooses us. If one is in the business of earning Naira and kobo, then they must develop toughness because one must survive. Toughness is what defines us. If you fail, the society will adjudge you a ‘suegbe!’ The thug life defines our politics.
Politics is our life. For as simple as going to the polling booth on election day and casting our vote or staying at home. Indifference is itself a statement. The average Nigerian is animated by political issues – taxes, levies, security, potable water or germ-infested fluid, good roads or the absence of it, imported rice or local grain, good policy or badly-scripted theatre. Think about the element, it triggers us. If there is too much efficiency and good speech, it becomes boring. But if there is one fiasco after the other, it creates excitement. In the excitement, different conjectures are formed, each one telling their own version, which some find quite plausible and escalate through social media until the Chinese whispers get so loud and someone shouts, “Hate speech!” The attempt to stop this ‘excitement’ has seemingly ticked off some people to the extent that you must now choose: Hate speech, you die! Fake news, jail for three months! Tell the truth and one member of the ‘cabal’ does not like it, you still die. But are we not jumping to conclusions here?
Politics is like football. Has anyone ever wondered why the Nigerian football stands are empty and the women no longer play netball? Netball used to be the wife of football. So, let’s simplify it like this. Well, the military took over the football pitch and sent everyone home and because there were no soldier’s wives to play netball, the netball game died. Really died. No resurrection. By the time the military handed the football game back to its owners, the fans had gotten used to staying at home, watching their favourite European football club. How could that be possible? The military! When they were leaving the football pitch, they bought many TV sets, ordered the TV stations to show European football and joined the local football fans in watching the same European football. Nobody could return to the stands and watch the local ‘kick and follow’. That had become boring. And netball? What is that? How do they play that? Everybody has forgotten; except that whenever Nigeria goes to the Olympics, other nations win medals in netball, and Nigeria does not even show up.
So what is the correlation between football or netball with politics? Participation. Participate you lose; do not participate, you also lose. Is it the military again? Hell, no! You see enh! When the military was handing over the football back to its owners, they could not find them and so handed over to another set of ‘preferred bidders’ – the goons. This set of people are strong. They obey no rules. They are made for laws and not laws for them. They are the ones on ground. As Fela would sing, “Dem no be gentleman at all. Dem be African man original.” And when they play ball, it is winner takes all. All the gate-takings are theirs. Nothing for the visiting team. Because of fear, nobody wants to go to the stadium and be molested especially the female folk. Have you ever seen these guys returning from a football game? It is not pretty, especially if you are a lady. They will chase after you and strip you and do the unprintable! And nobody can do anything about it. They are bad ass. And so for fear the football stands stay empty. That is our country, Nigeria – Thugland.
In Nigeria, the goons are in charge. They are in every nook and cranny of the country. Speak all the political ideology you can muster, if one does not have the goons behind him, he loses. They are the ones who control the politics and the elections. They are either godfathers, playmakers or the mob. In Thugland, they are the ones ‘on ground’.
Thug life reigned supreme at the last Kogi State gubernatorial and Kogi West senatorial elections. Dramatis personae – Yahaya Bello, Musa Wada, Natasha Akpoti and Dino Melaye. APC’s Yahaya Bello took the prize as Alpha Goon; PDP’s Musa Wada could not match his throng. SDP’s Natasha Akpoti and PDP’s Dino Melaye were elbowed conveniently out of reckoning. They had the limelight. They hugged the media, social media. But social media is anathema to Thugland. Social media cannot be ‘on ground’ – intimidate voters or snatch ballot boxes. So while Natasha showed her tears, Dino’s popular thug song could not save him, no matter how loud he sang:
“Aje ku iya ni oje, ajeku iya ni o je, eni ti o to eni no, ton de na de ni (you will be beaten mercilessly if you fight someone who is stronger than you).”
Talking of social media, there are two bills now before the National Assembly – The Social Media Bill and the Hate Speech Bill. When those are passed and signed into law, the goons will have full control of all political conversation. And if you say, “pim!” You got it – you die!
It’s a thug life? Sure, it is.
*Politics Somewhat is satirical and does not convey an endorsement of undemocratic trends or behaviour.