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UNGASS and the bellringer’s impossible task

Every once in a while the rulers and ruiners of the world gather in the over-congested, crime-soaked city of New York for the so-called United…

Every once in a while the rulers and ruiners of the world gather in the over-congested, crime-soaked city of New York for the so-called United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS). Not to be confused with the most pressing problem of the world – hunger. While it rhymes, it’s not the same. Although the session itself is where those who determine who gets poor and hungry evaluate the effects of their policies on the rest of humanity. The meeting changes nothing, it validates the Orwellian principle that some animals are more equal than others.

They do this by first displaying their power over the inhabitants of the concrete jungle called New York City. While Manhattan, the venue of this jamboree, is the real city that never sleeps with ambulance sirens blaring round the clock, the power mongers add their unique vuvuzelas. You could imagine the chaos and bedlam as the fuel that powers the concrete jungle. 

Power brokers descend on the city in their monster trucks and planes cross-polluting the skyline and adding to the acrid smell of the city’s sewers. Yet, nobody wants to be left behind without feeling like missing their own wedding or being absent at their own funeral. So, they all contribute their quota to deforestation with the amount of papers they waste printing absolutely boring speeches. 

In fashion sense, UNGASS is a dress rehearsal where slaves compete with their masters on who wears the best suit all to the delight of   tailors, fashion designers and New York boutique owners who are certain to make flash sales. Wherever the so-called global leaders meet, there’s business to be made. Wives and side-chicks unwittingly rub shoulders at high-end boutiques at the expense of the global recession. The scandals hardly make it to the tabloids or portals of gist lovers. 

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To be declared persona non grata at these jamborees is to be sentenced to hell even though only the powerful nations have something worth reporting to say. The tag-alongs answer the register, some literally carried to the podium to speak to an empty hall. Back home, their praise singers make it look like the world came to New York to hear them speak. In reality, UNGASS is like the famous Oyingbo market; it does not know which stall is closed. Yet, these dinosaurs won’t miss it for a thing. 

Envoys and staff members tear through red-tape to ensure that their principals put up a good showing aided by regime-friendly camera operators. African leaders make it sound like this is the best spot for their business-recruitment drive. 

For Nigeria’s brand-new second-hand leader, Bola Ahmed Tinubu; it was a worthy show off. The self-proclaimed Chicago-trained leader just got the first legal validation for a contested election. So, this would be his first unveiling at a multi-national meet as his enemies are still struggling, like decapitated snakes to wrestle the mandate from him. 

In the tortuous campaign that produced him, his enemies swore that any attempt at entering the Big Apple would see him in handcuffs and Black Maria. It was important to prove them wrong and Tinubu wanted to make a good show of this one. 

As the leader of the most populous black nation, Tinubu chose to speak for the whole of Africa to an audience that thinks Africa is a country. His bungling media handlers would make you believe he was the first Nigerian ruler to address UNGASS. It is something that fact checkers love to debunk. After imploring the world to come and invest in Africa, since convincing anyone to invest in Nigeria dissipates for anyone with access to any search engine; our president got a special invitation – to be a bell ringer at the National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotations (NASDAQ). 

This must make my ancestors squirm in their graves. The last time one of my paternal uncles accepted the demeaning job of becoming the village town crier, my late father shed tears. He felt the new role destroys all the valour of the lineage. President Tinubu accepted the job of a toller with the enthusiasm of a railroad signaller. 

His media handlers pushed the narrative of the leader of 300 million people ringing a bell at one corner of New York City as equal to the honour that Frederick Lugard had, asking his girlfriend to name one of Africa’s greatest countries. Like the genuine patriot, Tinubu chose the occasion to ask for investments for Nigeria as he has now done at every forum. Trouble is, not everyone believes him. 

A search of Nigeria on any reputable search engines deflates the balloon of optimism that it is an investor-friendly nation. Rather, people might believe that we are competing with New York City and Chicago to become the crime capital of the universe. As Tinubu was marketing the Nigeria of his dreams, Washington was increasing its travel alert to Level 3 warning its citizens not to make a trip to Nigeria without taking survival lessons from America’s overrated marines. 

Wally Adeyemo, America’s deputy secretary of the treasury, who recently visited what could have been homeland, could not convince his American colleagues at the Department of State not to increase their travel advisory on Nigeria. They made it appear safer to walk through the Yankari Game Reserve before the pride have had lunch than it is to travel in 18 of Nigeria’s 36-state structure – including my home state – Kogi! 

This could only mean one thing – that the Americans are no fools, they know an insecure state when they see one and that the assurances of the occupant of Aso Rock should be taken with a pinch of Keana salt. Not every investor has the luxury of Tinubu’s convoy. 

Anyway, just as Tinubu’s pilots were firing Eagle One for their return journey, the so-called unknown gunmen were roasting a federal security patrol in the south east relayed live on social media. In Port Harcourt, A Divisional Police Officer’s headless body was discovered while in Ogun State government was battling gangs. In the entertainment world, where Nigeria appeared to be winning friends, a budding artiste, Ilerioluwa Oladimeji Aloba, aka MohBad, was being hurriedly buried and exhumed in controversial circumstances. 

It would appear that Nigeria is only open for business of lawlessness and brigandage. Even the country’s economy is scary. While Tinubu was ringing bells at the American Stock Exchange, the Naira slumped to an all-time low against the Greenback. If I had one piece of advice for the Jagaban of Africa (Tinubu’s new title), it would be for him to stop the junkets, sit back and find the blueprint to tackle the wanton insecurity confronting the nation headlong. It is the only way to attract and guarantee investment. Clean business and money only stay where yields multiply. You never hear leaders of the so-called developed world telling anyone they are open for business, the climate of peace and security in their countries makes it the place to go, to work and to live. Stay home and do the work you were “selected” to do sir.


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