I’ve been thinking.

Madam Ngozi Okonjo Iweala, the one Nigerian who should never have left Washington to happen to Nigeria with her lethal IMF cocktails, has told us that we are flat broke and that she and her staff have run out of ideas.

She says that she has high blood pressure.

She says that members of her immediate staff have high blood pressure.

She says that we are now effectively Unoka of Things Fall Apart. Unoka worries about paying only his big debts first. Unoka does not tolerate it when people he owes chicken change come to disturb his sleep. The Nigerian economy pays the gargantuan salaries, perks, and allowances of the most indolent and parasitic fragment of our population – the one percent otherwise known as Ministers, Governors, Senators, and the like. Those are the big debts that the Nigerian economy now pays exclusively. As for little debts like the salaries of teachers, pensioners, nurses, civil servants, and messengers, the Nigerian economy, like Unoka, does not worry. After all, the sun will shine on those standing before it shines on those kneeling beneath them.

But the Madam with the awkward gele is not done with us yet. She says that even the big debts of the big Ogas that she is paying, we are borrowing money from pillar to post to settle that one. She says that our Nigerian black behinds are so broke that we are borrowing money to pay the big Ogas while the rest of us, the ninety-nine percent rot in penury.

So, Ogbeni Aregbesola in the state of Osun is tactically manoeuvring out of every promise made to the people of Osun faster than Brigadier-General Olukolade’s trickster tongue has been manoeuvring in and out of Boko Haram scenarios. Ogbeni is no longer feeding the pupils. Ogbeni is no longer paying salaries. Ogbeni says he has no money. He says the remittances from Madam Okonjo in Abuja never come.

But Ogbeni is thankful that his own case is even still better than that of his friend, Idris Wada, in Kogi State. With Idris Wada, Kogi is in the running to clinch the gold medal for Nigeria’s most misgoverned state. After donating millions to the Jonathan campaign in Abuja, Wada returned to Lokoja to sack workers because he could not pay salaries. And now he has announced that the workers he has not sacked are entitled to only sixty percent of salaries he is not paying. Yes, you heard that right: a state Governor in Nigeria is announcing a forty-percent cut on salaries he is not paying. Idris Wada says he has no money. He says the remittances from Madam Okonjo in Abuja never come.

But Idris Wada is thankful that his own case is even still better than that of his friend, Ochendo, in Abia State. My young friend, Mitterand Okorie, insists that Kogi is the younger brother of Abia when we are talking about underdevelopment, backwardness, and kwashiokored governance. Personally, I don’t believe that it is possible to be more underdeveloped and more horribly governed than Kogi State. Anything worse than Kogi State ought to attract the attention of the international community for humanitarian intervention, but I will take Mitterand’s word for it that Kogi should not be beating her chest over her poor governance creds in the presence of Abia. Apart from running Nigeria’s dirtiest and filthiest state capital, Ochendo pays salaries by ballot and lottery. Ochendo says he has no money. He says the remittances from Madam Okonjo in Abuja never come.

Case after case after case: no state Governor is paying salaries in Nigeria because Madam Okonjo says we are broke. She says it is the fault of oil. Oil is not selling. Where it is selling at all, prices are not good. And we are losing customers left, right, and centre as those who used to buy our oil have either found other sellers or are gyrating towards cleaner, safer, and more efficient alternative sources of energy. They are investing in tomorrow whereas we are still fighting barbaric wars over the Niger Delta’s oil.

Madam Okonjo has been abusing the father and the mother of oil for being responsible for all our woes. Oil is why we are so blest; oil is why we are so underdeveloped; oil is why we have no light; oil is why we have no roads; oil is why we have no hospitals; oil is why our schools belong to the 19th century; oil is why we have no potable water; oil is why we cannot pay salaries; oil is why life is shorter and more brutish in Nigeria than it is for lions and hyenas in the Serengeti; oil is why ours is such a bitter life.

That is Madam Okonjo’s explanation.

And I start to think about the matriarch’s song. For Mama Isanlu, my grandmother, sings and sings. The matriarch sings:

“Ojo to ro s’ewuro lo ro s’ireke”!

“Ojo to ro s’ewuro lo ro s’ireke”!

The rain falls, sings Mama Isanlu. The rain falls on sugar cane and falls on bitter leaf. There is not a different rain for sugar cane and bitter leaf. Both plants receive the blessing of the same rain from nature, sings the matriarch. The same rain falls on sugar cane and bitter leaf. Sugar cane takes its own share of the rain and travels the path of sweetness while bitter leaf takes its own share of the same rain and travels the path of bitterness.

“Ojo to ro s’ewuro, lo ro s’ireke!”

“Ojo to ro s’ewuro lo ro s’ireke”!

The rain of oil falls on Dubai and falls on Nigeria. The rulers of Dubai use their own share of the rain of oil to launch their people on the path of sweetness while their Nigerian counterparts take the same rain and condemn their own people to the path of bitterness. The rain of oil waters sweetness and abundance for the people of Dubai and waters bitterness and penury for the people of Nigeria.

“Ojo to ro s’ewuro, lo ro s’ireke!”

“Ojo to ro s’ewuro lo ro s’ireke”!

And that is why you, President Buhari, must not allow Madam Okonjo Iweala’s gele to block your view to life after oil for Nigeria. She has been offering you advice lately from her location on top of Africa’s most disgraceful gbese economy. We have seen how well her advice to Obasanjo and Jonathan has worked since she happened to our lives. President Buhari, do not listen to her o. We cannot continue to rely on this single resource controlled by a feeding bottle in Abuja. We have squeezed enough bitterness out of it. Let us see if we are imaginative enough as a people to squeeze sweetness out of agriculture and the hundreds of other resources that litter our patch of earth called Nigeria.

Mama Isanlu’s dirge rings still in my ears:

“Ojo to ro s’ewuro, lo ro s’ireke!”

“Ojo to ro s’ewuro lo ro s’ireke”!