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A queen for Kirikiri Prison

It is very hard to pilot the affairs of an ungrateful country. Just when you thought that Muhammadu Buhari could not be touched by the…

It is very hard to pilot the affairs of an ungrateful country. Just when you thought that Muhammadu Buhari could not be touched by the feelings of our nation’s infirmities, he does the altruistic returning home briefly from a UN event in Kenya. Before jetting out again for his natural medical leave in his favourite city, London. He suspected that the Nigeria he left behind was not peaceful. As petroleum minister, he had to overfly the country to see the long queues of cars waiting to tank up at any available price. Nobody quarrelled about subsidy withdrawal; they only wanted fuel for use. It was a tactic that worked for the ‘deregulation’ of the power sector. It always works without ASUU-type of discomfort. Citizens must always appreciate little acts of altruism wherever they manifest. Thank you, Sai Baba!

According to Nasir El-Rufai, the president also needed to let his party know his favoured candidate to lead the All Progressives Congress (APC), now the ruining party. Hitherto, he had no interest in who runs the show but El-Rufai and his associates reminded him of his right of first refusal. That is loyalty at its best.

In all things, most women benefitted from the long fuel queues. In Patience Jonathan-speak, they joined their ‘fellow widows’ in the knowledge of where their husbands were. It reduced the needless yawo or perambulation of some randy Nigerian men. You do not waste expensive gas chasing unnecessary things. The queues were so energy-sapping that by the time men returned from it, they were in no mood to quarrel or argue. They simply took a bath (since showers only happen where taps flow), ask for their dinner and just hit their beds. There is always light on the other side of the tunnel of adversity.

If bad news from home could make leaders uncomfortable, Buhari could have returned home during the week of March 9. It was the day in which 63 vigilantes were slaughtered from communities in Kebbi State. These were volunteers helping the commander-in-chief and his troops confront brigandage. But give it to the president; he issued a statement from his staycation bed in London, expressing regrets and assuring the nation he was working from London to keep peace in Nigeria.

Days later, the murderous louts unleashed their usual mayhem on Kaduna communities. Governor El-Rufai does not see the bloodshed in his state as hell on earth. That description goes to Lagos State. If El-Rufai were to be the gatekeeper of heaven and hell, Lagosians would go to heaven. He believes that Lagos is aljahim itself.

The Kaduna governor may be clever by half comparing the hell in Kaduna to the one in Lagos. It’s like rivalling the abyss with purgatory. 

Not too long ago, Bamishe Ayanwola, described as a 22-year-old fashion designer boarded the Lagos government-owned BRT on her homeward journey. As the bus pulled off from the station, she felt something messy about to happen to her and sent out an SOS. She could not be saved and was never seen alive again.

Days later, Bamishe’s dismembered body was found on a bridge named after Jimmy Carter in Lagos. Andrew Nice, the driver of that bus subsequently left his known address and was apprehended in neighbouring Ogun State. Nigerians moved from conceiving and acting evil plots on Nollywood to acting them out in real life. To paraphrase somebody, who could make you believe the impossible could make you commit atrocities. Bamishe left home without sickness and ended up a corpse on a bridge. New reports say her assailant is a serial rapist bus driver. 

In Lagos as in all Nigeria, background checks are non-essential for prospective public servants. News of national absurdities takes one hour of press review time on radio stations five days of the week.

Nigerian women bear the brunt of non-diagnosed mental illness. In Aguleri, a woman simply identified, as Aguese was stripped naked and paraded in town after her husband of seven years died. The couple were childless and the late husband’s relations believed she must have killed her husband by committing adultery.

Evidence? None, just an arcane tradition in which a woman who loses her husband in the prime of her youth must have been committing adultery. If she lost him at old age, she was a witch who must prove her innocence. One foul way of proof was to make her drink the water in which her late husband’s corpse is washed. Another way is to lock her up in the same room on the same bed where his dead body lies for at least a night. If there were reincarnation, most Nigerian women would never return here. 

However, things are not always stacked against Nigerian women. Take the case of 21-year-old Chidinma Ojukwu. The mass communication student was charged with the killing of a television CEO, Michael Ataga. She was remanded at the Kirikiri Maximum Security Prison. Strike that, it’s the Kirikiri Correction (al) Centre. The self-confessed sidekick of the late media mogul has become a celebrity of sorts. She even got a pass from police detention to grant tv interviews. Of course, jealous Nigerian free-birds shut her up. The court transfers her to Kirikiri, just as the nomenclature changed from prison into a correctional facility. 

And to prove that only walls and warders differentiate a free Nigerian from his incarcerated inmate compatriot, the correction officers organised a beauty pageant in which Chidinma came tops as Miss Cell 2022. Pictures of the pageant made it to news portals sparking a debate on propriety and rights of prisoners and detainees. It spurred the outpouring of jealous emotions from those who live in self-made vaults sealed with steel and padlocks and fear of their freedom to roam. These jealous free prisoners do not understand the privileges of correctional facility inmates. They earned voting rights before loquacious diasporans.

And they do deserve it. They are the only citizens who could sleep in peace even if they are packed like Moroccan sardines. They enjoy the same privileges as our elected and appointed vagabonds in power because they too enjoy the services of armed escorts. From all indications, the only privileges they could not get in their correction centres are the ones their influence or money could not buy. 

Let us pray for the president to finish his medication in London. Aregbesola might convince him to visit Kirikiri and meet its new Miss Cell 2022, the monarch Kirikiri Correctional Republic!

Come to think of it, Lagosians love titles. In every corner these days, an Erelu springs up. The latest Erelu Okin shares the same name with this Cell royalty – Chidinma Pearl Ogbulu. And to show how inventive she was at her iwuye or coronation ceremony, she hampered petrol in jerry cans as souvenir. It got her into the book of national scandals but only just. In the land of titles, someone might grant Chidinma the title – Erelu of Kirikiri if the stool is still vacant. If that happens, we’ll all rise up and to say – long live the Erelu of Kirikiri Correction Centre.