“Funny People of the City, they are so much learned that they dribble themselves to the left and then to the right, dribble to the front and backwards, like a directionless football player who thinks the goal post would move to wherever he chooses to play the ball to.” It was the overwrought mind of Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts rumbling within him. You never can tell with the People of the City. They are like the masquerade, ‘Nwaotam”, played yearly by the people of Bonny Kingdom and Opobo. Whereas the face of the masquerade is facing East, it is actually moving towards the west. How is it possible to understand such species of people?
The distraught mind of Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts, continued its soliloquies without his control as he waited with others in the Parliamentary Hall for the appointed time. He is just a fisherman who goes out into the sea every night to get his share of the fishes. Yet, he could see clearly the shenanigans of the People of the City, particularly the learned ones among them. He felt the City would have been better and there would have been no incident of any Boko Haram menace, if the People of the City stopped being learned and become ordinary farmers or fishermen. He was sure they would have been tamed and have simple, straight-forward minds and avoid unnecessary complications and confusions.
Ordinarily, Injibabo would have been angry and asked what troublesome genie has fixed itself on the supposedly honourable men and women of the House of Representatives, leading them to reject a time limit bill on election cases since they would also be affected. However, events unraveling themselves have shown that the People of the City would make a mess of the noble idea. The bill sponsored by Hon. Suleiman Kawu Sumaila sought to set a 6-month time limit which all elections must be completed before the eventual winner is sworn into office. It would ensure that election disputes are disposed of before the swearing in of the newly elected political office holders. The sponsor of the bill said “It evolved out of the yearning and aspirations of Nigerians for free, fair and credible elections.” But what did one of the honourables say about the bill? Hon. Dakuku Peterside first of all lambasted the self-acclaimed learned People of the City. He said they lacked the capacity and personnel to administer justice before elected people are sworn in. He went on to say, “conducting election one year before the end of tenure of the incumbent will lead to lots of distractions of governance”. Can you imagine that? Is Peterside not aware that his party men, office holders, have started campaigning and seeking re-election in 2015 from now? If one year would distract them, then surely their campaign in 2012 for 2015 would make then insane. No wonder President Goodluck Jonathan berated them, telling them, “Nigerians are interested in what we put on the ground not in how many elections we win. What Nigerians want are good roads, health facilities, power and so on, not people wearing boxing gloves and doing shadow boxing in different forms.”
The rumblings were still going on in the wearied mind of Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts, when the Oldman of the Waterfronts got up, a clear signal that the appointed time has come. The Oldman stretched his left hand and picked up the bottle of the local white brew, while his right hand picked up the little glass cup. He filled it and began his call on the ancestors to take charge of the Parliamentary session.
“Odumodu, great ancestor of the People of the Waterfronts, he who dwells at the domain between the land and the sea, take and drink. It is only you that can unravel the labyrinthine minds of the People of the City. Their actions baffle sane people. Drink and make them realize who they are.
“Otumo-Ogugu, Favourite of the Maidens, he who goes in and out of the Maidens, detecting the unfaithful ones, take and drink. We are gathered once again to find ways of changing the destructive mindset of the People of the City. Help us.
Osokolo, another Favourite of the Maidens, he who pursues the Maidens out of the Waterfronts to perform their duties at home, take and drink. You the ancestors must be approached when intricate issues are to be discussed. Drink and assist us.”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts ended his libation, filled the little glass cup again and poured all into his mouth. He allowed the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup to go round the Parliamentary Hall. They swallowed a glassful each.
Injibabo, the Fisherman of the Waterfronts, was the first to take the floor. “People of the Waterfronts, I greet you all. We all know that the ways of the People of the City are mysterious. In fact, even they too, could not understand themselves. Do you know that the governor of Kebbi State, Usman Saidu Nasamu Dakingari has been removed? His was a case of the anus fouling the air and the head receiving the knock. The Supreme Court simply visited the error (deliberate or not, is yet to be known) of the court of Appeal on the governor.
“People of the Waterfronts, the court of Appeal in their decision upheld Dakingari’s election which a lower tribunal had earlier nullified. That decision was taken within the 60 days as stipulated by the constitution. Now, for reasons best known to the learned judges, they decide to give the reasons for their decision, eleven days after the stipulated 60days. The Supreme Court in their wisdom said a decision without the reasons for same is in law, no decision at all. They said the decision and the reasons for the decision, both constitute the judgment of the court and must go hand in hand, and must come within the time allowed in the constitution for both to be valid and subsisting. Now, because the Appeal Court did what it was not supposed to do, the Supreme Court nullified their decision and upheld the decision of the Lower Court which had earlier nullified the governor’s election and ordered a fresh one.
“Meanwhile, People of the Waterfronts, the very judges that made the mistake were not sanctioned. The governor has to suffer for their mistake. Tell me, can you make head or tail of this type of wisdom of the People of the City?”
Immediately Injibabo sat down, Arukulo, the man who says he is always at the front of the canoe, got up to speak.
“People of the Waterfronts, let us not try to understand the wisdom of the People of the City. Let us just take them as they are. Do you know that what my brother Injibabo has just told us has made me to realize why majority of the members of the House of Representatives voted against the bill seeking to set a 6-month time limit within which all election cases must be completed before the eventual winner is sworn into office? Just like the governor Dakingari’s case, any judge will just delay the decision or the reason for the decision until the time elapses and the wrong done during the election would be swept under the carpet because time has elapsed. Tell me, if you do not have a reason for a decision, why give the decision in the first place? Does it not mean that you just decided to do what you like and afterwards try to assemble words to justify why you gave that decision? Strange!
“People of the Waterfronts, the Rivers State All Progressive Grand Alliance, APGA, governorship candidate during the April 2011 governorship election suffered a similar fate. His petition was thrown away on Thursday, February 23, 2012. The re-constituted election tribunal sitting in Port Harcourt simply threw way his petition on the grounds that the 180 days stipulated have elapsed. The question is, was he the cause of the delay? Of a truth, the ways of the People of the City are mysterious.”
Angaladikibo, the Watcher of the Mangroves, got up to speak. He has been engaged in his favourite pastime of gazing at the Mangroves, even when the Parliament is in session. Instead of going ahead with his presentation, he gazed intently at the table. The Oldman of the Waterfronts understood and the bottle of the local white brew and the little glass cup moved to him. He allowed a glassful to slip down his throat.
“People of the Waterfronts,” he began, “honestly speaking, I just cannot understand why Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, the governor of Rivers State banned the buying of fuel with jerry cans. Was it a slip of tongue? Did he wake up on the wrong side of the bed that day? Is it a deliberate attempt to kill all small scale business in the state? Is the purchase of fuel with jerry cans the cause of fuel scarcity in the state? Is it because he does not buy fuel for his generators? Does he think we are all car owners? Has he restored 24-hour electricity supply in the state?
“People of the Waterfronts, I know that the ways of the People of the City are mysterious. However, it is getting more and more mysterious. How would the common barber operate his business? Should he carry his generator on his head to the filling station? How would the various business centres operate? Carry their generators on their heads to the filling station? What if you are a car owner and one way or the other, your tank dries up on the road, far away from a filling station, what do you do? Abandon it? Let the governor ensure 24-hour electricity and see if there would be any reason for people to buy fuel in jerry cans. First thing first, governor. If when you were in primary school you never had shoes and you walk barefooted to school, just know that right now there are still children going through the same experience.”
The Oldman of the Waterfronts shook his head, filled the little glass cup and swallowed all. ####
By Kenneth Amabipi
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