By Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo
This is the last time you will see me speak to you on Nigeria’s Independence Day.
In fact, I have one more national address to make before I return to my beloved Daura and rest, surrounded by my cows and concubines.
That is when all of you will miss me. I am particular about those who blame me for everything wrong in your lives. If your wife is not pregnant, it must be Buhari’s fault. If your child fails WAEC & JAMB, Buhari’s refusal to share his long neck with your child caused it. If your soup is not sweet, Buhari must have added excess salt into the pot while you were tweeting. If your kini does not get up in the oza room, Buhari must have used remote juju to make it go limp.
I cannot wait for May 29, 2023, to come. You won’t have Buhari to abuse and kick around anymore.
I know millions of you are glued to your TV, waiting to hear me speak this October 1, 2022. From here in Aso Rock, I can feel your eyeballs on me. They are as intense and evil as those of APC’s vice presidential candidate, Kashim Shettima, on Labor Party’s presidential candidate, Peter Obi, during the signing of the Peace Accord in Abuja yesterday.
Oh, yes, you think I did not see it? Or the intense gaze that my wife, Aisha, gave me whenever I send her back to the kitchen, where she belongs. I did that again yesterday when she came home after apologizing to Nigerians at a public lecture for the so-called hardship you all have suffered under my government.
She wouldn’t have made the blunder and embarrassed herself if she had stayed in the kitchen. Do you agree?
Who cares if you do or not?
From the look of your eyes, you want to hear new policies I will lay out today that will move our great nation forward. You want to know how much of my new projects will go to those who gave me 97% of the votes compared to those who gave me 5%. You want to hear a new declaration I will make about who owns oil blocks, the Nigerian waterways, the upcoming Nigerian national airline, and all the important issues around ownership of Nigeria.
Who am I kidding?
None of you cares about what I say today, not even my family, my ministers, or the people in my inner circle that I have worked hard to improve their lives in the last seven years. You all have moved on. I noticed that at the UN General Assembly in New York City. Very few of you came around to see me and ask for one favor or another. Not even the noisy, inquisitive, and rude New York-based Nigerian journalists were interested in interviewing me, especially that stupid Dr. Damages.
I guess you all now see me as a lame-duck president.
You have moved on. Some of you are on the streets of Nigeria, Toronto, New York, and Johannesburg, being obedient. Some of you are in London, resting, while some are in Dubai, schooling.
I don’t want to bother you all with a long speech, not today and definitely, not tomorrow. Never, ever.
Let me just say this. I am happy that as a result of my presidency, for better or worse, more Nigerians today appear to believe in the possibilities of Nigeria than eight years ago. I take the credit. The man who swore in a ThisDay newspaper interview in 1997 that he did not believe in one Nigeria is now answering Mr. President whenever he manages to appear in public without falling asleep. As for those who used to debate whether I was Jubril from Sudan or Abdul from Niger, they have replaced their social media profile pictures. It used to be that of their Kenyan-loving hero. Now it is that of a bride who came out of a Pandora’s Box.
To have these profound changes happening despite the numerous financial, security, and political challenges we face today is a testament to my accomplishments.
Truth be told, I take joy in stating on this 62nd Independence Day that we had made Nigeria more independent than it was when we came. We now eat our homegrown rice, cassava, agbado, and corn. Very soon, we will power our cars with homegrown petrol from Dangote. Our well-fed school children are already using pencils made in Nigeria. Thanks to my friend, Ogbonnaya Onu. In the North, where the Islamic State militants threatened us seven years ago, we have replaced them with our homegrown bandits. It baffles me why Governor el-Rufai of Kaduna State is shy about paying our homegrown bandits to stop killing his people. Our dependence on US dollars has reduced across this country as we made it harder to find the dollar in Nigeria. Naira is king again. There again, I fulfilled another promise.
I deserve commendations, not the condemnations that I read in our newspapers.
Just like Femi Adesina wrote on his Facebook page the other day, I must say that I missed the South-East that we used to know and love. Those cannibals who have turned the place upside down must be dealt with in the language they understand. I have directed my good friend, Gov. Hope Uzodinma of Imo State, to meet with the Service Chiefs and request whatever resources he needs to crush them. The South-East used to be a playground of generals after the war. Some of us got our first girlfriends and wives there. We must not allow the region to be reduced to an out-of-control zoo, where animals run around without control.
Emeka Ihedioha was right; those destroying our beloved South-East are saboteurs.
Finally, I assure you we have made significant progress. If you have not seen any improvement where you live, it must be because you are busy tweeting on WhatApp, making indomie on Instagram, and schooling on social media. Go outside and smell the sweet scent of the hibiscus flower brought to you by the Buhari/Osinbajo change 2015 campaign. I know they don’t teach you history anymore, but don’t ever forget where the change started.
Even though most of you are not watching, even though our universities have been closed for seven months due to the irresponsible ASUU strike, and even though all the Kaduna-Abuja train kidnap victims are still not free due to Sheik Gumi’s incompetence, I want to assure you that the future of Nigeria is very bright. On this beautiful October 1, all that I ask you to do is to trust and obey, for there is no other way to be happy in Nigeria than to trust and obey.
Thank you all, and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Rudolf Ogoo Okonkwo teaches Post-Colonial African History at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He is also the host of Dr. Damages Show. His books include “This American Life Sef”, “Children of a Retired God,” among others.