I was at an old friend’s wedding on Saturday, which doubled as a school reunion of sorts. There I ran into people that I had not seen in more than 12 years and we immediately started gossipping about our friends and schoolmates who were not present.
I quickly clocked that the number one reason for their absence was being based outside Nigeria. Of the entire Grange School class of 2006, we could identify three, maybe four of us who were actually in Nigeria, out of a graduating set of 40.
This particular list of old friends who have been lost to the diaspora includes medical doctors, engineers, architects, management professionals, artists, and entrepreneurs, among many others.
Afterwards, during the drive home, I decided that it was up to me to think of a radical new solution to this unacceptable brain drain problem. I decided I would need to create and put forward a political and economic solution that would be baked into the ideology of a revolutionary new political platform tentatively named Lekki Cannibals Congress, LCC.
Now – stay with me here – the radical solution that I am pitching to the world for the first time today will ensure that Nigeria’s best minds can remain in the country, thus improving the country’s economic productivity and human development indices overnight. It has one central animating ideology at its core, poor Nigerians are not really people. They are human-shaped battery livestock who inconveniently eat and take up space.
As those ordained as the un-poor by God himself, I believe it is our duty and our manifest destiny to artificially improve the quality of Nigeria’s population and thus save our dear country by cooking and eating poor people.
Eating poor people is wrong? Well, I have news for you…
I need you to stay with me on this because I know what you’re thinking: Has David gone completely mad? Is he seriously suggesting targeted cannibalism as a solution to Nigeria’s problems?
The answers to both questions are no and yes, respectively. While I do not have any particular desire to taste human flesh, I effectively already do, by being on the winning side of a system that literally eats poor people. That being the case, I believe whatever is worth doing, is worth doing with our proverbial chest.
We already cook and eat poor people across every aspect of their lives as it is; so why not cut out the middleman and settle down to enjoy premium guilt-free, Poverty-Broasted Human Being? I mean we eat their livelihoods when we suddenly announce bans and restrictions on the goods and services that they trade, literally taking food out of their mouths with no plan to replace it.
We eat their quality of life and economic productivity with policy somersaults like banning Okada and keke on major roads in Lagos – something that entrenches them further in poverty by increasing their geographical immobility and thus reducing their access to economic opportunities.
We feast on poor people’s terror and insecurity when different groups of uniformed personnel rob, extort, torture, abduct and even kill them extrajudicially, while we pretend that these personnel are not acting on the orders of their superiors whom we smile and clink champagne glasses with every weekend.
We even ate their children’s future in 2019 by spending N1.149trn on opaque and economically ruinous fuel subsidies that really benefit only a few you-know-whos, leaving only N620bn for education across all levels in the same year.
Let me reiterate – last year, Nigeria spent 13 per cent of its budget on a subsidy that does little except enriching a tiny group of my un-poor brethren and sistren. In the same year, Nigeria’s estimated 93.6 million people under the age of 20 were allocated a total of N620bn for their education, which comes to about N6,623 per Nigerian student for an entire year.
Why don’t we just cut out the niceties and eat them with ketchup instead of torturing them like so? LCC proposes to do just that. I believe instead of eating poor people slowly with predatory policies and non-investment in their future, we should do the right thing and make it quick.
When we are done eating all the poor people in Nigeria, maybe then us un-poor can start to figure out how to create a somewhat equitable society.
My party’s manifesto proposes to hurry this process along so that we can start building a country instead of pretending to do so while covering our mouths to hide the delicious bloodstains. Poor people are delicious, let’s admit it.
Think about it: why were Okada and Keke banned in Lagos? Is it because they “are not part of the Lagos masterplan?” This “masterplan” includes a comprehensive commuter railway system, which a certain B.S. Hundeyin was instrumental in designing and pushing in his position as Lagos State Commissioner of Works in the ’70s and early ’80s. Thirty-seven years after my great-uncle left office in 1983 and a certain Major General Muhammadu Buhari made the disgraceful decision to end the rail project, Lagos still has no functioning rail system. And 13 years after the Lagos Light Rail Blue Line construction started, Lagos remains by far the world’s largest city without any kind of mass transit rail system – which is how come the roads are so saturated, making okada and keke a necessity by default.
Why is nobody talking about that part of the Lagos masterplan or holding someone responsible for 13 years of such miserable failure? Is it only where poor people are involved that Lagos has a masterplan? If the “masterplan” was anything to the un-poor, Parkview Estate – technically an illegal development – would not exist. It was designated by the Lagos masterplan as a natural marshland that would drain Ikoyi whenever it rains.
Hypothetical tears of a homeowner
Today, following the wrongful development of municipal wetland into a residential estate that traps runoff water with no exit point, Parkview Estate and Ikoyi both disappear under a foot of water whenever it rains, but masterplan, schmasterplan huh?
Deep down, we all know that such heavy-handed regulatory actions are only taken against poor people in Nigeria. Why? Because – and there is no easy way to say this – poor people’s tears, like poor people, in general, are simply delicious. The hypothetical tears of a homeowner in Parkview whose house is demolished, leaving them with only another three houses in Lekki and VI, are not as heartfelt and flavour-filled as the real tears of a homeowner in Ijegun whose house is demolished for encroaching on a perennially uncompleted road.
Let’s face it, we all love to eat poor people and their pain – if not them then who? LCC and I are here to give a long-overdue political voice to that position. LCC does not believe in pretending that banning the only form of transport that makes Lagos remotely liveable for poor people is born out of some sort of accountability. We are not pretending that the Lagos State Government and its NURTW co-travellers are not merely looking to stake their own claim in a new ride-hailing space specifically dominated by poor people.
Are we seriously going to pretend that nobody saw thousands of poor bike riders earning a dignified living for themselves and thought: “I should be making that money instead of them”? Are we going to pretend that poor people are not at their delicious best when they are helpless to stop predators from taking away their livelihoods, hopes, and dreams?
In this party, we believe that it is time to stop pussyfooting and do the needful with full awareness and zero guilt. We have been feasting on the poor for decades, pretending to regard them as humans in equal stature to us while sticking forks into them. Today LCC presents another way of doing things – a way that is transparent, fair and forward-looking.
In the event that the poor refuse to meekly submit to being eaten and they belatedly fight back when confronted with the true face of what they have always lived with, the LCC manifesto proposes that we immediately secede from Nigeria. To this end, we will napalm Third Mainland Bridge, dredge a 60-meter deep moat between Lekki and Epe, and build a border wall along Eko Bridge and Carter Bridge made out of abandoned containers and trailer carcasses from Tin Can Island port.
We will be fine in our new country, tentatively named Lekkitopia, complete with our own international airport, oil refinery and a mini Dubai sitting on the newly expanded coast of Victoria Island. LCC! Never change!
There is a possibility that some poor people may have managed to cram their way through a godawful educational system, then secured a miserable low-paying job after praying and fasting, trekked to work on an empty stomach after their usual transport was banned, and evaded uniformed predators while they were at it. Upon gratefully getting to their abusive place of employment three minutes ahead of time, thus buying themselves one more day in a job they hate, they may be reading this article using their employer’s metered WiFi connection and shaking with incandescent rage. How dare this guy compare us to farm animals?! To them, I say I’m sorry.
I have no intention of insulting you – all I want to do is join my brethren and sistren and stop being the Black Sheep. I’m tired of being the class traitor speaking out against a system that I am part of, one way or another. I have no real desire to taste Poverty-Broasted Human Being because I have lived in societies where people do well without needing to eat the poor, but I am now in Nigeria and I want to fit in.
I was at my secondary school’s 30-year anniversary gala on Saturday night and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was there. Wouldn’t it have been nice to do the smile and handshake like everyone else, instead of being the guy whose presence in the room provokes eye-rolling and nervous throat-clearing? “Who even invited him? Let him not go and use us to write an article.”
I mean it would help if you would stop acting like you want to be eaten. Maybe the next time an election comes around and the cannibal chefs present you with another predator, you shouldn’t fall for the usual ethnic dog-whistling and end up being the proverbial turkey voting for Christmas? What if the next time a predator offers you a few coins to launder their image so that they can win an election and eat your children afterwards, you choose your kids over yourself?
I realise that it is asking for a lot, but what if you would actually challenge those eating you to explain why it must always be you on the menu and never them? We’re entering the realms of fantasy here, but just imagine if instead of dancing like puppets before people who owe their entire office and power to you, you would instead treat them like the public employees they are? No? That’s asking for too much, yes?
Your ethnic and religious bigotries are stronger than your own desire for self-preservation? You’re still going to vote in favour of that bag of rice that won’t last you a week? You’d rather desperately hope for a personal miracle than take part in directed group action to stop the un-poor from eating you and your children? Your Imam or your Daddy G.O. is still going to make your electoral decisions for you instead of your conscience and common sense? What a shame. On the menu, you go. I hear poor people served with spring onions are delicious.
This piece was originally published on Wednesday, 5 February, by Vanguard Nigeria.