When You Have Nothing To Say
SIR: I am an indigene. She is a settler from Northsouth. He is a Yoruba Muslim. They are Igbo Christians. We are the ruling party. We are the caucus for change and I am the majority. I am a bonafide and original party member. It’s my turn. It’s my right. Zoning or no zoning, it’s me or nobody.
When you are the guest speaker and you have nothing to say, start by saying “Your Excellency, The President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, Federal Republic of West Germany; The Honourable Minister of State, Federal Ministry of Business As Usual; The Director General, Agency For Ghost Workers; Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen.” When you are through with a prolonged protocol, say next to nothing. If they ask you the reason for youth unemployment, open your mouth and say: “Nigerian graduates are unemployable.” After your speech, if people protest what you said, tell them you were quoted and misquoted out of context.
When they are speaking and you too want to speak, raise your hand and shout “Point of Order.” When you are talking and they are talking, warn them not to heat up the polity. When you move a motion and they oppose it, blame them for playing to the gallery. While you’re still on your feet speaking, they would interject and rule you out of order. Those in favour, say aye. Those against, say nay. The nays have it.
When people come to church and you’ve got nothing to preach, cajole them to sow bountifully to become millionaires and billionaires overnight. After that, collect tithes and offerings. When there is nothing left to talk, tell them to share the grace.
When it’s time to boast, “Nigeria is the giant of Africa.” Every now and then sing “Good People, Great Nation.” Once in a while dance with facts – “Over 140 million people, 250 ethnic groups with different cultural upbringings, approximately 500 languages, they live together in harmony.”
Children are the leaders of tomorrow but when you want power desperately, promise heaven and earth. When you assume office and people demand a rapid change, tell them you’re not a magician. If they are suffering from change delusion, remind them you’re a politician, you’re not a miracle worker.
When terrorists massacre their victims and you are short of words, condemn and call them cowards. When insecurity gets worse and you’re to address the Press, memorize and repeat what others are fond of saying – “Terrorism is a global problem; it has nothing to do with religion.” If they ask about the rising incidents of kidnapping, say, “We are on top of the situation.”
An African proverb says “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” You’re fast, they’re furious. When they go to their right, you go to the right side. When they drive around, you fly straight up. When they pull your leg and try to pull you down, tell them your hands are tied and no need to force your hand.
Corrupt people, hopeless country! When you want to entertain your audience and you have nothing to tell, tell a story. You know…everybody is corrupt except me. You see…when it was time for me to hand over. You know…those who wanted my job were all corrupt people. You know…the last man I put in power. You see…corruption was let loose under his watch. You know…it is your fault.
When you go to court before a judge, plead not guilty. If you’re a big man, you are granted bail on self-recognition. Finally, when the prosecution fails to prove its case, my lord, I rest my case.
• John Adebisi, Abuja.