Molly Kilete, Abuja The public presentation of the policy framework and national action plan for preventing violent extremism is right now ongoing, in Abuja. The programme, which is being organised by the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA), is being attended by the NSA, Maj.-Gen. Babagana Munguno, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai…
Each time there is going to be a free kick during a football match, we all know the part of the body the boys quickly protect with both hands. Yeah, the family jewels are never allowed to be exposed to the soccer elements. Consider how much these footballers are paid per week and then how swiftly they cup the real balls that matter when push comes to shove. No man is so careless that he forgets the value of his third leg, his staff of office. Even mothers take extra precaution with the little man’s little thing long before it is commissioned for active service. I remember how my mum used to warn us when we got into rough noisy plays, climbing and jumping:
Don’t hit my son around that area where you can spoil my reason for cooking drums of yams o.
We girls would laugh and poke the boys in the ribs. We knew the area she was talking about, the manufacturing industry of my mother’s grandchildren, the ones that would eventually bear the family name. A boy’s pecker is that important.
But have you witnessed the circumcision of an infant boy? Have you seen the agony of a male child as his foreskin is peeled away to commission his staff of office? I’m not talking about the modern ring and bloodless technique of the 21st century. I’m talking about analogue circumcision. As a mother, even when you were not the one feeling the tip of the sharp blade, the pain you felt was still palpable. Watching a two-week-old boy’s lips quiver, his face red, his little limbs shake, his innocent eyes full of pain and tears is one of the moments no mother can forget. For me, the part that is indelibly etched on my mind was when my little guy was handed over to me and I cradled him in my shaking arms to breastfeed him and he could not suck. He was in so much pain. That was the point I joined him to cry. It was like he was saying with his beautiful eyes: Mum, what did I do? Why am I in so much pain?
The first 48 hours of male circumcision is emotional for all around the tyke but steadily after that, he begins to assert himself and his little manhood. Mums, I bet you all remember the little man’s first pee from his designer pecker, the surprising little arch as you remove his diapers…Yeah, now you remember.
But that circumcision story is really about the closed Abuja Airport and the relief Kaduna Airport. The Yoruba have a saying that sums it up: Tita riro laa ko’la, to ba jinna tan, a d’oge. Translation: Circumcision is painful but when it heals, it is beautiful. When the Federal Government announced that it was going to close down the runway of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport down for six whole weeks so the aging runway could be fixed, didn’t we all kick like Marie Antoinette being hauled off to the guillotine? How could they do such a thing? Indeed, who shuts down an international airport, a major one for that matter for six weeks? What do they expect us to do, drive on the bad road to and from Kaduna or Minna? Does this government have a pact with trouble? Do they even know the kind of fiesta kidnappers would have, just randomly picking all those big men and women with uncommon hostage value? Is someone planning six weeks of human sacrifice on that road? Who will bear the cost of the shuttle and the inconvenience? I, for instance, love to take first flight because that is the time of the day when our airlines are still innocent. From noon, they get up to all kinds of painful mischief under some tag called ‘operational reasons’. So, if I have to catch an 8.00am flight in Kaduna, I’d have to wake up at 4.am in Abuja and hope that I make it to Kaduna at 7.00am or set out at 3.00am and hope all kidnappers and armed robbers would still be sleeping. Or what? Train? Seriously? Nigerian train? Did anything change while I was sleeping? The only time I was on an interstate train service in Nigeria, the old thing packed up in one forest around Abeokuta. That cured me of any infatuation I had for trains.
Everybody was worried. Everybody was angry. The National Assembly folks threatened to bring down Armageddon. There were protests. We were all like the infant boy watching the knife move slowly towards his foreskin. We screamed and foamed in the mouth. Fruitless effort. President Buhari, Rotimi Amaechi and Hadi Sirika had their ear plugs firmly in place. They were determined to do this circumcision. We all muttered unprintable things under our breath. The trio held us down and peeled away the foreskin. We bled. We writhed in pain. We sweated and cursed some more. And now? We are peeing in a beautiful arch like real men, ready to take on the world.
And what have we gained? What beauty have we achieved? Those who thought, like me, that Nigerian trains are no trains are reassessing their opinion. According to available statistics, as at March 30, 2017,1,100 local flights had landed in Kaduna. Who would have known that Kaduna Airport had capacity to process 4,000 international passengers? What Nigeria would have done in the six weeks is not just fix the bad runway in Abuja. We have used the opportunity to fix the Kaduna airport, the Abuja-Kaduna highway, reintroduce rail service to the old, young and mighty and then all the deficiencies reminded us to put a second Abuja runway in the 2017 budget. Now, we know that one runway for an international airport is bad business and we sure must have learnt our lesson that waiting for the day of a party to do manicure and pedicure is what kids do. Real adults fix their roofs before the rain sets in.
The six-week interregnum is almost over. We have endure the knife, shed the required amount of blood, we will soon be able to flaunt our designer pecker and pee like a landlord.