How is the (dis)comfort of Aso Rock? Permit me to skip the niceties and go straight to the crux of this letter: my plight and that of the teeming army of Nigeria’s almajiris. Lest I forget, I know the past few weeks have been difficult for you, especially with the absence of your lieutenant and friend of 42 years, Baba Kyari. I condole with you, Nigerians, and the Kyaris. May Allah (SWT) think kindly of him, forgive him his shortcomings, and grant him Aljanah Firdaus. Ameen!
I want to know the plans you have for me and my almajiri companions who on a daily basis adorn the streets, roads and commercial hubs of many Nigerian cities, especially in Northside. I thought that as a responsible leader who cares so much for the citizenry and who upon assumption of office made it clear that you belong to all Nigerians, you will bring up our issue. I did not hear a word on that. It is that loud silence of yours that has compelled me to write this.
Not long ago, we learnt that your government distributed some kudi to the poorest of the poor in the country. Nothing got to us. That made me to wonder if there is any group poorer than us. Or could it be we got nothing because we have no bank accounts? But then, do the poorest of the poor keep bank accounts? It is the same sad story with the food palliatives that was meant for those of us who are poor-verty stricken. Everything in this corruption-free country of ours works like an abracadabra; the more you look, the less you see. The palliatives we received only happened in government’s official records. Nonetheless, we give Allah the glory.
While we give Allah the glory for keeping us alive, we must bring to your notice that our lives are threatened by the deadly Coronavirus pandemic that has no regard for social class or qualifications. In fact, it kills the rich and then pounces on the poor in order to confuse us and make us incapable of guessing its next victim. Well, that is a gist for another day, when I’m more comfortable philosophising this.
Social-distancing, hygiene, alcohol-based hand-sanitisers, nose-masks, and other COVID-19 related jargon settle on our ears like Chinese incantations. They convey zero sense and zero meaning to us. Your government has done nothing to bring us up to speed on the prevailing situation. There is no plan to keep us under a roof and see to our welfare in these deadly times. Without sounding like a prophet of doom, I envisage a handsome number of my comrades falling to the shots of a brutal viral disease that does not miss. Maybe we don’t matter. Maybe we are faceless. Or could it be that you think we are too rugged to contract and die of the disease?
I am sure that you are aware that your state governors have found us a nuisance to be decisively dealt with. We have suddenly become unfit to remain in those states. Since cattle business no longer thrives at the moment, trailers used in conveying cattle are now being used to farm us out of the respective states. After all, we are regarded as being only a bit better than maalu. What pains me more is that my own state of origin, a state I brag about to my almajiri friends, refused to accept me. Where then can I call home in this country? What is my offence that has made me unfit to leave anywhere in Nigeria?
We have been the kingmakers in Nigeria since the return to civilian rule in 1999. Just so you know, when the dust of this pandemic settles, your attention will not be switched to reviving the country’s battered economy, rather it will switch to winning elections. Then you will come to us on bent backs and crawling knees to crown you kings again.
By the way, despite the hardship that your ineptitude and cluelessness meted out on Nigerians, failing to fulfil a tenth of your campaign promises, how on earth do you think you were re-elected? We sponsored you to that seat. Nigerians cannot forget the million of underage votes we gave you in Kaduna, Katsina, Kano, etc. Is this how you want to repay our loyalty and support?
When your government officials are tired of feminine companionship, they take their sexual adventure further by visiting our beds. When they want to rip out the heart(s) off their political opponent(s), they rush to us. When they want to ignite the fire of a riot that they seek to benefit from, they cajole us to help them out. It baffles me how easily we tend to forget things in this country.
We may appear to be nothing and good-for-nothing, but may I remind you sir that no condition is permanent. Who foresaw the rise to prominence of our underpaid medical officers? But as it is now they are more important than the politicians now. Who predicted that a kongo of garri would one day sell more than a barrel of Bonny crude? But what did COVID-19 make us realise? No condition is permanent. Where were you when Mandela and Obasanjo moved from prison to the presidency?
It is my utmost hope that the decisions you make regarding us and these trying times will not be rightly queried like your lopsided appointments, technical defeat of Boko Haram and Nigeria’s anti-corruption war. Now that Baba Kyari is no more, there is no one we can shed some of the blames of your shortcomings on. A STITCH IN TIME SAVES ALL!
A Nigerian Almajiri.