July 20, 2018

Food on the Table is all we ask by by Sylva Ifedigbo

Food on the Table is all we ask by by Sylva Ifedigbo

Change over Baton 1

Oga Landlord,

You had a second take on your official portrait. Good for you. Rest assured however that now that you have sworn to bear true allegiance to the needs, opinions and expectations of over 160 million of us tenants, there is no room for second takes. You either get it right the first time or watch as the hosanna choruses you hear today metamorphose into “hang him, hang the yeye man” tomorrow.

Your best imagination I assure you cannot capture the height and depth of expectations our people have. You see, for many, you are the long sought after messiah that has come to free the people from captivity, straight into the Promised Land. And this messiahship starts right away, not after 100 days, not after three years. In fact it started since yesterday. If you don’t know it, a great number of our people believe that the night your body makes contact with the mattress in your new apartment in the Rock, the life expectancy of their problems will drop by half and as soon as you speak the word, the dollar will begin to exchange for one naira. That is how serious the situation is.

It does not help matters that while you and your gang traversed our large compound to sweet tongue us into thumbing the broom, you promised and promised and over promised. We watched and cheered, adrenaline gushed into veins. Inked thumbs landed like motifs on Mallam Attahiru’s papers.  It is those promises, the hope they evoked, that helped the broom take the wind out of the umbrella and catapulted you onto this portrait that will stare down at us for the next 4 years as a ranka dede with a hula …for the second time.

It is said that of the many landlords we have had, you are the only one that has prepared body and soul to carry this cross, so our people expect that the blue print must have been polished and polished into near perfection all these years. Hence we do not expect a settling down period or studying the situation excuse. Our people certainly do not expect and will not accept any tweaking of the promises, or late in the day changing of mouth. That will amount to OBT…obtaining by trickery, which is punishable by among other things, a renaming ceremony on twitter during which one of the many synonyms for clueless, will become your alias.

Be it also known to you that we can see through the propaganda. You see, the picture of you drinking akamu with N50 sachet milo can get your praise singers having orgasms but the total work done by that activity is zero as far as the stomach of that tenant who is not sure of the next meal is concerned. Have your pictures taken by all means, we are the instagram generation, we gush over such things, but remember the campaigns ended a long time ago. If the miracles take longer than expected in manifesting, those pictures will become meme your well-oiled media machinery will have nightmares about.

So what exactly do the tenants of this compound want from you oga landlord? The answer to this question can fill up a dictionary sized notebook if I am  to write it. But it will be wicked of me to belabor your busy self with the arduous task of reading through all such sad stories especially as you are still in celebration mood. So instead, I will summarize it all for you in one simple sentence that I hope is easily understood and which does not require the services of any ‘estate agent’ with beautifully designed power-point slides, to help you appreciate.

The biggest complaint of all the ordinary tenants who see you as messiah is simply food on the table.


That is it,  sir. We are hungry. All the beautiful statistics and economic jargon make no sense to us. All the political gimmicks and pretence in the newspapers are now jarring to our ears. Calls for probes and audits do not change the price of garri. Enough of the talk. What we need, to make us happy and mind our business while your rich friends do their business is food on the table;  full stop. It is our first, second, and third complaint.  Forget anything you hear anywhere else. All our issues, no matter their colouration, or composition boils down to this very same matter. Food.

I believe with this revelation sir, your job has been made a lot easier. No need troubling your presidential head any longer listening to the sorry stories of all these tenants who like to grumble a lot or reading through endless memos of how other landlords are turning their compounds around. Just focus on how to get food on our tables and you would have sealed your messiahship in our hearts forever. How you get this done oga landlord, is entirely your cup of kunu.

Muhammadu Buhari at an APC rally
Muhammadu Buhari at an APC rally

As you can see, there is no opposition anymore, we your tenants are the new opposition and believe me, we can cook up a storm. We are watching and time is ticking.

I congratulate you once more on your victory and wish you a successful time in our public kitchen.

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo writes from Lagos and tweets from @nzesylva

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