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My list is longer than yours

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It is the veritable season of lists. And what lists we can make. Shopping list. Children’s school textbook list. Innocent lists. And other lists. List of possible kidnap targets. List of banks to attack. List of possible collateral dead at the shoot out. List of friends to press for loan. List of beggars available at any traffic difficulty. List of police road blocks on any stretch of our roads. All the country is a list and every political party that has been in power merely list makers. They have their lengths and their breadths. And in this country each lists has its court challenges!

It is a wonder that only the APC and the PDP are producing lists. And for a little moment it seemed as if they were presenting the list of their candidates for the 2019 elections. One elderly journalist asked why the names of the big guns were absent from the list. And why was it that some names occurred on the list of APC as well as that of PDP? There was great laughter. The reason is simple. When one politician does not get adopted by one party, he and she move to the list of the other party. The list is the same. What appears where is a question of time.

A young journalist was angry. This is not a list of candidates for next year elections old fool! This is a list of aluta continua! Is that not about the struggle for economic freedom and social integration? Depends how you understand the list. And who are you calling old fool? Sorry sir, I am just angry, never mind me. If you asked me I thought the list was made for the benefit of the police and the criminal courts.

Why? Are the police arresting candidates for next year elections? They don’t have their tax clearance certificates? They haven’t been paying tax? They were outside the country in Libya, on their was to Italy? What confusion is all this? Two political parties have made rival lists of other parties members. Yes, I understand that, answered the old journalist who is still smattering under the abuse of the young journalist who has no respect for age. What is our society becoming when the young abuse the elderly because they are angry? Anyway, yes, the list from two parties. What about the amount of money placed against each name? What does it mean? Is that the amount they have won in betfootball.com?

The young journalist was going to begin another string of abusive words when he checked himself. Patiently, he asked if the elder journalist recognised any of the names on the lists. The elder journalist said he hardly recognised anybody, any name on the list. You have been out of the country Daddy? Don’t you call me daddy. I’m not your daddy. Where does all this nonsense daddy this daddy that come from?

Sir, since you were away from the country, the people of this country have become a large happy crappy family where the elders are the daddies and mummies while the young are children. Thank you for the explanation. Tell me about the figures against their names.

Well, began the young man, it is not easy. In fact it is difficult. Those figures are amounts of money. Young man, shouted the old journalist, I can see that. Tell me what I don’t know.

Well, it is not easy, as I was saying. To be candid with you, I do not know that it is the duty of political parties to produce the lists of thieves of state in the country. Wait a minute, requested the elderly journalist. Are the lists the lists of thieves? Why are the police not arresting the people on the lists? That is a good question. Maybe you should go to Abuja and go and ask the Inspector General of Police. Maybe he will be able to give an answer. But let me give you my little piece of answer.
Before the police can arrest a potential criminal in Nigeria, it must be assumed that they are innocent until proven guilty. And if someone is innocent how can you arrest such a person? Moreover, the police have more serious thing to do than running after innocent people.

Let us take these issues one by one. The list contains names of people accused of stealing amounts of money. Where did they steal the money from? There is an accusation. Can the people not insist of defending themselves in a court of law? They are innocent until proven guilty. Well, let them go and clear their names in court.
Excuse me sir, you don’t understand. They are innocent.
Yes, innocent until proven guilty.

No, it is enough that they are innocent. That’s all. They don’t have to go to court to prove anything. This is a free country. This is not a dictatorship where governments bundle people into wooden boxes and put them in plane holds. Nigeria is a democracy.

So, list-making is a game that one party began. Then the second party joined the game and made its own list as well. There are over a hundred political parties in the country. When will they join the game and make their own lists?

From the past other lists come up. The list of abandoned projects by the federal government, by state governments, by local governments? The list of containers abandoned at our ports by various levels of governments because the roads cannot carry them to where they are needed! The list of how many times a particular project has been awarded and re-awarded, sometimes to the same foreign companies.

Ajaokuta is a good example of such a project. That famous project has been awarded and re-awarded and re-re-awarded to no avail. It never works and swallows money at every award. It began with Obasanjo. Babangida re-awarded it. And everybody since. And once more it is to be awarded. And it is being suggested that it be awarded to the original company that collapsed with the Soviet Union and goes under a different now but still doing the same creating steel factories successfully in every country. Except in Nigeria, the country of lists that matter to nobody!

bankole.omotoso@elizadeuniversity.edu.ng


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