Isa Pantami: My beer parlour experience

Promise Adiele

And so? If I drink beer nko? What is wrong with a tired lecturer sauntering into a beer parlour and requesting a cold bottle of beer? Legalistic, religious, and sanctimonious persons with their queer, orthodox inclinations should please give me a break.

I will not entertain any of those moralistic but insincere religious pieties, which characterize the everyday life of a typical puritan.

The Almighty frowns at external demonstrations of holiness but inwardly rotten like a decomposing compost mixture of garbage among those who call upon His name.

I am a frustrated Nigerian and I make no pretences about it. I know there are millions of Nigerians like me, soaked in the morning dew of frustration.

The hitherto primal consciousness of oneness daily animated by a sense of belonging in our country is long gone. Gradually, our country is collapsing before us, and we are helpless. OK, this is what happened.

Last Friday, while in my office grappling with Soyinka’s novel ‘The Interpreters’, my phone rang. It was a colleague. He wanted us to meet and discuss the newly formed Literary Scholars Association of Nigeria and ways to drive membership. He chose a venue somewhere in Ikeja GRA, time, 7 pm.

When I arrived at the venue, he was yet to arrive. I asked for my favourite and it was promptly served dead cold. Pouring the cold contents into a glass cup, the tiny bubbles struggled to rise to the top of the glass. Struggle everywhere.

As I watched the competition in the cup among the tiny bubbles, I heard voices behind me. Turning around, I saw five men, perhaps all in their fifties, shouting at the top of their voices. The topic of their conversation caught my attention.

I slowly moved closer to have a better view and listen more, making sure they do not notice me. I immediately set my phone to record the conversation by these five Nigerians interpreting the situation in our country.

First man: Please please, don’t even start. So you think because I am a Northerner, I am stupid? Do you think everybody from the North is foolish? Look, it is obvious that this government has sympathy for terrorists.

Do you think all Northerners are supporting Pantami and his reckless pronouncements many years ago? His pronouncements led to the death of many people. If we were living in a saner clime, he should have been sacked and even arrested.

What I am telling you is the view of Nigerians including Northerners. So, I don’t understand what you are saying when you make such sweeping statements that Northerners are also supporting Pantami.

If Mr President supports a man who in turn supports terrorism, does it mean that all Northerners support terrorism too? Does the President represent or speak for the North?

Those of you from the South are making a big mistake my brothers. The North is the worst hit and has suffered more under this hellish administration. But..I am not…wait

Second man: ( Cuts in) Wait wait, you are getting it all wrong, my brother. If…if the North does not support Pantami and his utterances, why has no Northern elite come forward to openly condemn what is a clear case of treacherous behaviour on the part of Pantami and the disgraceful support by Mr President, why?

Third man: Kunle, your question is valid. But also no elite in the South-West has come forward to do the same. Everyone is quiet. The South-West single-handedly foisted this nightmare of a government on Nigerians.

Without the collaboration of South-West politicians, Buhari won’t be in power and Nigerians would have successfully dodged a bullet.

So while you point accusing fingers at the Northern elite, point it also to the South-West elite. No one from there has spoken against Pantami and Buhari’s shameless support for him.

All the South-West big-wigs are dreaming and hallucinating about 2023, therefore they don’t want to upset the applecart.

Fourth man: Well, I still insist on my earlier point, APC means Al-Qaeda People’s Congress. It is a family of terrorists. A group that harbours someone who openly declared support for terrorism can’t be anything else. Pantami is a disgrace to Nigeria and this government.

When a senior army officer once declared that a repentant terrorist will one day emerge as the president of Nigeria, we all thought that he was joking.

Now, we are told that this Pantami, a repented terrorist, was twenty years when he made those supporting comments in favour of terrorist groups. Don’t be surprised if he succeeds Buhari in 2023. Remember, Mr. President likes people he can trust and clearly, he trusts this Pantami.

So I tell you, my friends, there is no country. Nigeria is finished and that is why my people are agitating to have Biafra….and if…

Fifth man: (Slowly) Friends, let’s trade carefully, please. I understand the anger in our hearts but let us all remember that Nigeria is the only country we have. Yes, we agree that times are not good but what is the solution?

How can we get out of the present morass? Chike my man, you talk about Biafra but I am more concerned with what is happening in the South-East especially in Imo State. The spate of bloodshed and destruction there is frightening.

We should be concerned about these things and think of what can be done to salvage our country. If Nigeria implodes, all these politicians will quickly fly abroad and leave us here to bear the brunt of their unconscionable recklessness.

Therefore, while I agree that the circumstances are worrisome, while I agree that Pantami should face the law, I want us to look deeper and look ahead. If..we do… not

Second man: We are all powerless in Nigeria and can only do what we are doing. We should mobilize through the media, through any available means and expose the immorality in this government.

Adeosun was sacked for a forgery she committed some years ago but this repentant terrorist Pantami is forgiven for a crime against humanity because according to the presidency, he was young then.

I am going to take this campaign abroad and ensure that this government is sufficiently embarrassed.

If we don’t do this, then nobody has any moral justification to vilify Shekau the Boko Haram leader. Shekau should contest for the office of the President since we are all idiots in this country.

But I believe in the power of the people. Go and ask Babangida what the people did to him, we practically forced him out of office. I am very…

Fifth man: But you can’t force Buhari out of office because he was democratically elected and…

Second man: Who elected him? Leave that story for another day. One day, the real gist of that election will be told. Now, Pantami has embarked on a spurious NIN exercise to register foreigners with their cows to vote in 2023. Look, I am sure that even if…if …if

First man: Many yahoo boys are being sent to prison today in Nigeria because they swindled some white people many years ago.

If you committed rape or murder twenty years ago and the crime is discovered today, you will face the law. In the North, a woman can be stoned today for committing adultery many years ago.

Time does not wipe out or reduce the weight of a crime. So, the statement by the presidency supporting Pantami is not only sterile but an illustration of double-standard and insincerity.

Fourth man: Posterity will never forgive those who defend this ugly charade in Nigeria. Only God knows how Garba Shehu and Femi Adesina sleep at night.

Oga Priye, thanks for your concern about the South-East but the truth is that there is no smoke without fire. The house of the Imo State governor was burnt and his Rolls Royce was also burnt abi?

Are you aware that heavily armed mobile policemen were guarding the house before it was burnt? Where were the police officers? My brother, nothing is beyond this government o!!!

Fifth man: I am for a solution. Let us pray that God will keep us together until 2023 when we can choose what direction we want to take as a nation…because

Third man: …and what is the guarantee that there will be a country called Nigeria by 2023? Let us leave God out of this and face what is facing us because…

Second man: No no, we cannot leave God out of it. He intervened during Abacha’s era, he can still intervene now but… (General laughter)

First man: What are you insinuating…ehn? (General laughter) That God should intervene in Nigeria now the way he intervened during Abacha’s time…(more rancorous laughter)

At this point, my colleague arrives and interrupts my attention. As I exchange greetings with him, the five men notice us and suddenly keep quiet.

They looked at us suspiciously and silence descended on the bar. Chai!!! Beer parlour can be a merry-making spot but sometimes it can be a classroom for learning.

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Promise Adiele

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