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Ominous Signs

Angaladikibo, the Watcher of the Mangroves, gazed at the Mangroves as he sat down in the Parliamentary Hall of the People of the Waterfronts, waiting for the appointed time to begin the deliberations. He gazed so intently that the Mangroves opened themselves to him.
“Angaladikibo, do you know why you felt so hot this December, a time you are supposed to cover yourself up against the harmattan? The Mangroves asked.
“No”, Angaladikibo replied.
“It is to foretell the hardship ahead from the beginning of the near year. From the beginning of the new year, that is, from today, you will realize the true import of the Christian song, ‘Everything na double, double’. Goodluck to you and your people”
Angaladikibo did not pay much attention to the warning of the Mangroves. It was the first day of the New Year and the People of the Waterfronts have gathered, very early in the morning, immediately after the second crow of the cock, to perform their usual ablutions at the beginning of the year and discuss the foibles of the People of the City.
The appointed time to perform the ablution came and the Oldman of the Waterfronts got up, stretched his left hand and picked up the bottle of the local white brew, while his right hand picked up the bottle of the local white brew.
It is the beginning of the New Year, 2012, and the People of the Waterfronts must fortify themselves against the shenanigans of the People of the City. You never can tell what goes on in the evil minds of the People of the City and so the ancestors must be consulted and the old year washed away from the People of the Waterfronts so that they would be fortified against any ill-wish from the People of the City in the New Year.
“Odumodu, great ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts, we give you greetings,” the Oldman of the Waterfronts began his call on the ancestors after filling the little glass cup with the local white brew.
“Odumodu, he who dwells at the domain between the land and the sea, take and drink. You loved your descendants so much that you still make yourself known to them at every promontory, as long as they go along with the local white brew. You so much loved us that at the time of your departure to the unseen world, you drained your precious blood and buried it beneath the mangroves which are your bones, within the mud, your flesh. You knew that your precious blood would be the liquid gold that would enrich your people. However, the People of the City stumbled upon it and ignorantly called it crude oil. Out of annoyance you swore at them and now crudeness has become their lot. Have pity. Their crudeness spills over and affects us, your people. Take and drink.
“Otumo-Ogugu, Favourite of the Maidens, he who goes in and out of the Maidens detecting the unfaithful ones, take and drink.
We also call on you to guide our footsteps so that we do not full into the snares of the People of the City.
“Osokolo, another Favourite of the Maidens, he who pursues the Maidens out of the Waterfronts, flogging the lazy ones, take and drink. Join your co-ancestors to avert any evil targeted at your people, the People of the Waterfronts.”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts ended his libation and ordered the People of the Waterfronts to be in a single file. Pouring the local white brew into a bowl, he washed their faces, their hands and their feet, saying, “I wash your faces with the favourite drink of our ancestors. Your eyes, will see good, your nose will perceive good, your mouth will take in and give out good and your ears will hear good. I wash your hands, you will receive good. I wash your feet, they will never lead you astray”.
One by one, all the People of the Waterfronts went through the ablution, confident that the evil machinations of the People of the City would never affect them. They were wrong. Just as the ablution ended and they have taken a glassful each of the local white brew, ready to begin their early morning deliberations, they heard the news that the so-called fuel subsidy which the minister of finance, Ngozi Okojo-Iweala said a date has not been fixed for its removal, has been removed and that fuel now sells at N150 and above. Angaladikibo, the Watcher of the Mangroves, immediately realized the import of the words of the Christian song, “Everything na double, double,” as transporters and others simply hiked up their charges.
Angaladikibo marveled at the wisdom of the Mangroves. However, he was confused. He realized that during a stakeholders meeting, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala stated that the President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan Ebele, he of the Goodluck fame, has not taken a decision on the removal of the fuel subsidy and that he would not do so until he has consulted fully with all stakeholders. Has he done so? If not, how would the masses believe them when they say they would channel the gains from the removal of subsidy for the good of the masses? What is the guarantee that it is not another form of deceit? If without the removal of subsidy the economy would collapse, when did President Jonathan know this? He has been Deputy Governor, governor, Vice president, president, before being elected a president again in 2011. Why didn’t he make it one of his campaign promises, since it is for the good of the masses?
In the midst of insecurity, Angaladikibo wondered, when the fear of Boko Haram has become the beginning of wisdom, armed robbers and kidnappers are on the prowl, a price hike on every commodity has been imposed on the masses. And what a time to implement the removal of the subsidy! On a New Year day when everyone wishes every other person good luck, pains and tears from high cost of transportation have been foisted on people. They say we pay less for fuel compared to other countries that produces oil, but if so, why couldn’t they disprove Prof. Tam David-West who has given out the actual cost of the fuel to be N40.02? Now, if it is true that the cost of fuel per litre in OPEC countries is N48 in Algeria, N97 in Angola, N79 in Ecuador, N15 in Iran, N117 in Iraq, N34 in Kuwait, N25 in Libya, N28 in Qatar, N24 in Saudi Arabia, N70 in United Arab Emirates and N3 in venezuala, why should we pay up to N150 and above for a litre of fuel in Nigeria? Besides do they have NEPA sorry, PHCN wahala in those countries that perpetually keep them in darkness, forcing them to purchase fuel for their cars, homes and offices? Do they also rely on satchet water or boreholes for their water supply? Do they also have dilapidated roads, empty hospitals and glorified schools in their countries? Is this not the same country that a head of state once said has enough money, the only trouble being how to spend it? Why are our refineries not functioning? Why are politicians having stupendous allowances with almost everything free while the masses have to pay for everything including the so-called subsidy?
Angaladikibo was almost running mad when his mind rushed through all these. As if to drive him into the point of no return, he remembered the words of Venezuela Ambassador to Nigeria, Enerigue Fernando Arrundell who told Mrs. Dora Akunyili, the then Minister of Information and Communications, two years ago, when he refuelled his car with N12, 000. “In Venezuela, since 1999, we’ve never had a raise in fuel price. We only pay $1.02 to fill the tank. What I pay for with N12,000 here (Nigeria), in Venezuela I’ll pay N400. What is happening is simple. Our President (Hugo Chavez) decided one day to control the industry because it belongs to the Venezuelans? If you don’t control the industry, your development will be in the hands of the foreigners. You have to have your own country. The oil is yours. Sorry, I am telling you this. I am giving you the experience of Venezuela. We have 12 refineries in the United States, 18,000 gas stations in the West Coast. All we are doing is in the hands of the Venezuelans. Before 1999, we had three or four foreign companies working with us. That time they were taking 80% and giving us 20. Now, we have 90% and giving them 10%. But now we have 22 countries working with us in that condition.
“It is the Venezuelan condition. You know why? It is because 60% of the income goes to social programme. That is why we have 22,000 medical doctors assisting the people in the community. The people don’t go to the hospital, doctors go to their houses. This is because the money is handled by the Venezuelans. How come Nigeria that has more technical manpower than Venezuela with 150 million people and very intellectual people all around, not been able to get it right?
“The question is, if you are not, handling your resources, how are you going to handle the country? So it is important that Nigeria takes control of her resources. We have no illiterate people. We have over 17 new universities totally free. I graduated from the university without paying one cent, and take three meals every day, because we have the resources. We want the resources of the Nigerian people for the Nigerians. It is enough! It is enough, minister!”
Angaladikibo went straight to the table and without taking permission, took the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup, filled it and gulped all. The Oldman of the Waterfronts smiled. He knew what was going on in the minds of Angaladikibo. He too, filled the little glass cup and emptied all into his stomach.
“People of the Waterfronts, we must keep moving. Life must continue. Remember, to stay balanced on a bicycle, you must continue moving”, the Oldman of the Waterfronts stated. ####

Kenneth Amabipi

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