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I don’t want any gift of burden, thank you!

If you are planning to send me any gift, keep it. Unless it comes with everlasting life. My birthday is still some months away. And I don’t want any sleepless night wrapped as gift!

Gifts are causing problems for so many people now as 2019 approaches. So the Inspector General of Health (IGH) has advised that henceforth, all gifts should be accompanied with NAFDAC number; scandal-proof certificate; police clearance; approval from EFCC and a permit from Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON)! Investigation has shown that the directive came after due consultation involving some political parties, the police, the DSS, Aso Rock and the spirits controlling 2019. The main argument, it was learnt, was that gifts are gradually becoming a burden!

In Akwa Ibom State, for instance, if someone gives you a birthday gift, your name may appear in the next list of “empowerment” beneficiaries. Ask Rt. Hon Usenobong Akpabio, a former member of the Akwa Ibom House of Assembly. He danced quietly when he got a car gift on his birthday. The matter did not get to my ears. But when he was reportedly listed as one of those who benefited from Sen. Bassey Albert’s largess, my ear could no longer rest. Suddenly, Usenobong realised the car might even be bullet-proof, but not scandal-proof. And the gift didn’t come with guarantees, either for his long life or his ambition to replace Albert in the Senate in 2019.

Seriously, gifts branded as “empowerment” isn’t good for politicians’ health, right now. That’s why, just as I won’t receive, I would also not donate “empowerment” gifts. Last night, I even refused to buy beer for my friend. Ah, the guy was shocked and kept ranting that I had changed. But this is a season of gifts putting people in trouble o. So, supposing I bought him beer and he got home to impregnate his wife, nko? Would he not have “implicated” me in the hope that I would take care of the expected baby? One really needs to be careful these days, you know. I am learning fast from Senate President Saraki’s experience. See how car “empowerment” to the “boys” got him into trouble? Enhen!

In fact, Saraki’s car gift eventually attracted another type of gift – police invitation! IGP Idris gave Saraki invitation to “transmission”, sorry sir!, transmit himself to the Police Headquarters. But many fear that even when the security agencies pay for your trip to their offices, it’s most times a one-way thing. So, a worried Saraki raised political alarm. It’s not as if he couldn’t afford to buy fuel for his official car. Or pay keke down there, if he wanted to appear like a common man. He said Idris was after the gavel and the mace! Anyway, his noise probably jolted(?) the IG and he was asked to write a love letter to the police. My only concern is how all these would affect the supposed democratic institutions.

Police are like women. They like only to collect gifts; hardly do they give. So, whenever a police officer freely gives you something, be careful. It’s like obtaining from the devil. You would always be required to pay back, somehow. Ask a women to “give” you money and she would never have. But she can loan you. A woman’s money is always church money or a friend gave her to keep. Yet, she would be the first to remind you: “But I’ve been giving you all of my time, energy and love”. She may even add, depending on your case, that she gave you lovely children. “Are they not bearing your name?” Women are always the one-sided stakeholders!

Check it out. If a police friend buys you two bottles of beer, on your way home, a patrol car might stop you. If you can’t explain why your tyres are black, you must then part with three times the cost of the free beer! The other day, I asked some of them at a check-point to “roger” me. “Ah, ah! Oga, we be your boys nah. Na we supposed tell you”, one argued. I insisted and got N200. “Oga, today na we give you o. Next time…”. Next time, they asked me to drop “something” so they could buy bread and pure water. And two tyres! Another level of “empowerment”?

Few days after the police “gave” Saraki invitation, the National Assembly sent a “gift” to the president: conditions to avoid impeachment! The nPDP cancelled further talks with APC leadership and Sen Melaye’s case got revived! That’s how powerful gifts can be. Gifts can be “empowerment” towards love and it can also “empower” towards hatred. It depends on who is giving what, when, where and how.

“Empowerments” come in various forms – mostly as gifts. But usually, they turn out to be gifts given with the intention of tricking the recipient. Sometimes the intention could even be to harm. Greek gifts! Traps. For most politicians, such gifts are meant to elicit blind loyalty, docility, subservience, undying and unquestionable devotion. The type Buhari expects and even has for Abacha! For, It’s only such blind loyalty that could make a sitting president defend a former dictator whose loot Nigeria is still trying to recover from foreign lands. Both were once military dictators, abi? Esprit de corps, Sir! Rankadede! But, more than that, PMB is probably still loyal because Abacha gave him an “empowerment” as head of Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) in 1994. One nosy fellow said that place stank worse than my neighbour’s body odour!

Some gifts can act like the wind – lifting the “nyansh” of the fowl! Recently, Baba claimed that power supply has improved so much in the country that we no longer use generators. I almost destroyed all of mine. Only to read the next day of Gov Akinwumi Ambode of Lagos “giving” a number of generating sets to the police! So, if power has improved, why would the police need gens, oga? That’s how APC promised to “give” us change. Now, we are still confused whether it was to go forward or backward!

Gifts and empowerments are everywhere in Nigeria. In the political arena; in the civil society; in the labour movements; in the faith-based centres, etc. For instance, some churches now increasingly task members to “give” beyond their means. And the “empowerment” packages come with different names: “show love to your pastor”, “freewill offering”, “tithe”, “love feast”, etc.

Then, the self-(dis)appointed men/women of God claim that in return, they are “giving” financial breakthroughs, long life, good health, salvation, fruit of the womb, loss of weight, and even change in complexion! They call them miracles! Another level of empowerment! Abeg, next time you get a gift, ask what it’s for. And when next you send someone a gift, make it clear it’s not to aide crime. After all, “this is Najeria” – in Falz, (the bearded, sorry, bahd guy’s) voice!

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