Creating a soundscape similar to locomotive wheels in motion, the rapid footfalls of marching prisoners travel beyond the walls of National Prisons, Gashua: “Lef, rai! Lef, rai! Lef, rai!” the warder barks as numerous feet, rising and falling, left-right, thud the earth in unison, raising dust.
“A-t-t-e-n-t-i-o-n!” As the prisoners’ feet come to a simultaneous halt at exactly 7am, out goes electricity, like Shakespeare’s brief candle; the national power grid has collapsed yet again like Russian-Ukraine peace talks.
In Nigeria, power supply since ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo days fluctuates like cow tail swishing at hell-bent flies. Indeed, Nigeria’s power sector is a black market patronised by successive corrupt governments heartlessly selling darkness to the citizenry. The power sector is a casino where nobody wins. There’s no light at the end of Nigeria’s tunnel.
Parade dismissed!” roars Bubu, the chief warder.
Chike walks up to Adamu, and asks: “Where’s Bayo, the grammarian?” “Hey, look at him,” Adamu said, pointing to a prisoner in white shorts and vest, coming their way.
The three met in prison. Chike was arrested for ‘wandering’ on the way back home from his shop night. Bayo, a graduate, was arrested for hawking fuel while Adamu was arrested for listening to Dan Maraya Jos on his transistor radio without obtaining a ‘radio permit’.
The hunger-ravaged trio look like moving cadavers with their rib bones outlined against their prison uniforms as the morning wind presses their white-turned-brown vests against their skeletons.
Adamu: I hear say na Chidinma go bi di new Miss Prison?
Bayo: Where did you hear that news, Adamu de CNN?
Adamu: No bi me dey clean Bubu office? I dey hear tori nah. Also, I dey listen to BBC Hausa service before Bubu arrive office every morning.
Chike: Wait o, no be Chidinma bi dat university girl wey no dey follow do prison work?
Adamu: Yes nah. You no sabi say something dey happun for dis prison?
Bayo: I know a lot is happening. But how do the authorities want the Usifo Ataga family to feel? It’s wrong for a high-profile murder suspect to participate in a beauty pageant in prison when the case is still ongoing. This is capable of altering perception.
Chike: Na so di TV CEO go just die like dat?
Adamu: You no see how Chidinma dey shine like cockroach?
Bayo: It’s not only Chidinma that’s shining. Can’t you see all those young ladies in the ‘Awaiting Trial’ and ‘Condemned’ sections? But male prisoners thin like radio antenna.
Chike: Chai, prison na de palace of injustice.
Bayo: Why did you call prison the palace of injustice? The whole of Nigeria is the kingdom of injustice! Was Timothy Adegoke, the Obafemi Awolowo University postgraduate student, killed in prison? Wasn’t Bamise Ayanwole, the 23-year-old fashion designer, killed inside a Lagos State-owned bus?
Chike: Oil dey your head, Bayo. Your vibes dey always tortori me.
Bayo: Look at how the government is treating the case of Abba Kyari, the northern rogue in police uniform. I’m a graduate of 16 years, I have a master’s degree, but have to settle for hawking fuel because there’s no job. I know it’s a risky job, but I’ll feed my family. If the government made fuel available, and didn’t import adulterated fuel, there won’t be a need to hawk fuel.
Chike: No even talk about dat criminal called Kyari. NDLEA don trace N4.2bn to his accounts and those of his deputy, ACP Sunday Ubua, yet di government open mouth like cow wey train jam, dey crawl like chameleon on top di matter.
Adamu: I wish I fit escape from Nigeria, walahi.
Chike: Na Chad or Niger you wan escape go?
Adamu: Wetin dey for Chad or Niger? Na America I wan go.
(Chike and Bayo laugh)
Chike: Your people no dey travel abroad nah.
Adamu: Na because northern leaders no give us education nah. Dem don brainwash us to believe say poverty na our inheritance. But who no like better tin?
Chike: Suffering get level o. Di suffering for North na A1.
Adamu: If you hear wetin I hear for radio today, you go weak.
Bayo: Adamu and radio! What did you hear?
Adamu: I hear plenty music and news.
Chike: Which music did you hear?
Adamu: As I carry my stick across my neck dey dance Palaver by Fela Anikulapo-Kuti for inside Bubu office, na so Bubu enter o. I stop, but e say no, make I continue. Na so I continue by force.
(Chike chuckles, and asks: Wetin come happun)
Adamu: After Palaver, the radio station come dey play more music wey go annoy Bubu. Dem play International Thief Thief, Bubu say make I dance am; I dance am. After dat dem play Shuffering and Shmiling; Bubu say make I dance am; I dance am. Dem play Zombie and Basket Mouth which Bubu force me to dance.
Chike: Wetin come happun after you dance all the music finish?
Adamu: Bubu say make I comot my dress like Fela, e come tell four warder make dem flog me like terrorist. Foolish Bubu, shey na me bi Abami Eda wey sing? Abi no bi truth wey Fela sing?
(Chike and Bayo laugh uncontrollably)
Adamu: As I comot Bubu office, I come go officers’ mess.
Chike: Those warders no flog you well.
Bayo: What happened at the officers’ mess?
Adamu: I go there go watch TV to cool off the beating.
Bayo: You like delaying gist; what happened at the mess?
Adamu: Di slap wey dem give one woman for TV pass the beating wey I receive.
Chike: Who, why, when, where, and how dem give di slap?
Adamu: Which kain JAMB question bi dis? Well, na Ebele Obiano, wife of di immediate past Anambra governor, Willy Obiano, dem dash di earthquake slap for Governor Chukwuma Soludo inauguration in Anambra on Thursday.
Chike: Na battalion of soldiers giam di slap?
Adamu: No o, na Biafra slap am.
Bayo: Why are you evasive? How can Biafra slap someone?
Adamu: Na Bianca, di widow of Biafra warlord, Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, whooz Ebele di Amadioha slap.
Chike: Chai, na Biafra slap am true true!
Bayo: But that’s disruption of public peace!
Chike: Abeg, no mind dis hawking graduate; give me gist, jare. Why Bianca giam di slap?
Adamu: She waka go where Bianca siddon jeje, go harass and call am ashewo.
Chike: Where Obiano dey when all dis dey happun?
Adamu: Di man siddon dey watch im wife show of shame. Bianca say na early moh-moh kai-kai dey push Ebele.
Bayo: The PDP devastated Nigeria for 16 years. The APC ruined it in less than eight years. When Nigerians are thinking other political parties could offer hope in 2023, look at what APGA is doing? Where lies the country’s hope?
Adamu: Tori never finish o. In the heat of the scuffle, come see as how one man grab Bianca frontally, come wrap im hand round the ex-beauty queen like UFC wrestler sake say e dey pacify am. Ha, Ikemba go grumble for heaven o.
Chike: Who commit that touchery?
Adamu: I no sabi o.
Bayo: How can you grab someone’s widow like dat?
Adamu: I tire o. But Bible talk say blessed are the peacemakers.
Chike: After dem separate dem, wetin come happun?
Adamu: Ebele go siddon beside her husband.
Chike: Wetin Obiano come do?
Adamu: Obiano no talk o. Di woman eye Obiano ferociously, like a tigress.
Chike: She wan slap Obiano?
Adamu: Me, I no sabi o; make you go ask EFCC.
Bayo: Why EFCC?
Adamu: Na there oga Obiano dey o.
Chike: But no bi Obiano cause public nuisance nah. Na di two fighters nah.
Adamu: Na for past financial fights wey EFCC arrest am.
Chike: Chai! Governor for morning, cell for night.
Adamu: Bianca slap na to reset one head but na everyday Buhari dey slap 200m Nigerians with different corrupt actions like evacuating Nigerians from Ukraine with $8.5bn when Boeing 737-700 cost less than $90m. Buhari slap na di dirtiest ever. Na we three prisoners symbolise Nigeria wey dey inside chains.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
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