Glossary of a murky season (2) – By Louis Odion, FNGE

Jibrin Abdulmumin
Back in January, this column had taken time off the regular
“hard stuff” to compile a list of
 new words, phrases and terminologies which had treacherously crept
into the national conversation following the outbreak of Dasukigate, to help
the uninitiated get along. Judging by feedback, it was obviously well received
as one’s modest contribution to national understanding, thereby helping in no
small way to foster peaceful co-existence.

Pursuant to that same aspiration, we have decided to set today
aside to respond to now persistent and choking pressure from all and sundry
that the diary be updated in fact bi-monthly. We begin by apologizing profusely
for coming way behind schedule. It certainly could not be our prayers that the
“arrears” accumulate the way workers’ salaries have been mounting in
most states of the federation.

Louis Odion
While pledging our own “backlog” would be clear in a
record time hence, here we go.
Padding: Pad is unquestionably one of the few English words garnished over
the years in Nigerian-speak to convey different meanings. Womenfolk will
certainly not forget the fashion accessory either sewed or worn as add-on under
their garment to create a facade of broad shoulders. However, when
“dy” is added to form “paddy-paddy” in public transaction,
then utmost vigilance is expected of the non-initiates. It is a synonym for
insider abuse or deal.
Now, thanks to the embattled Reps from Kano, Jibrin Abdulmumin,
another derivative, “padding”, has gained currency. It refers to the
smuggling into or sexing up or inflation of the appropriation bill submitted by
the executive arm with selfish provisions by the legislative arm. A clear
example cited by the erstwhile chairman of House Committee on Appropriation is
the N40b-worth constituency projects allegedly smuggled into the current budget
by Speaker Yakubu Dogora and co to benefit only themselves, on top the initial
N60b provided by the Presidency.
In practical terms, padding offers a buffer to accommodate
lawmakers’ pecuniary interests. As payback for passing the bill, they expect to
nominate the contractors (often proxies) for the said constituency projects or,
if possible, directly draw down the funds so allocated themselves to
“execute” same. In the event that the presiding legislator is
scrupulous enough to do anything at all, such is later presented to their
constituency as a personal donation.
Matters became complicated last week when Dogara, the man at the
centre of what many would ordinarily classify as a monumental treason, cheekily
told news-hounds in Abuja that “padding” does not constitute an
offense in response to mounting calls that he step down. Exactly the same way
Goodluck Jonathan once infamously argued – albeit futilely – that stealing is
not corruption.
Restructure: It is the new battle-cry against the Buhari administration. In
truth, the agitation
 quietly began
after the military handed over power in 1979 and people felt the federalism
bequeathed had a unitarist soul. But what makes its resurgence at this point a
bit ironic, if not curious, is that those who seem most fierce in the advocacy
today were the most insolent saboteurs of the very idea until yesterday. Once
they could no longer preside over the monthly sharing of oil money in Abuja,
they too started carrying placards.


Mad dog: Back in the late 80s, this phrase had grabbed headlines after a
band of airmen rough-handled MKO Abiola along Airport road in Lagos. In
consoling him, then Chief of Air Staff under the Babangida administration
reportedly described his unruly lads as “mad dogs” who sometimes
would not even recognize the owner. To that, the inimitable MKO wittily
retorted that what remained for such mad dog was execution.
Three decades later and under a different circumstance, the wife
of President Buhari, Aisha, exhumed the phrase from the dead in describing
Governor Ayodele Fayose of Ekiti State after linking her to the multi-million
dollars Halliburton bribery scandal. Following the expiration of the ultimatum
she gave the governor to retract the “libel”, she concluded that the
voluble governor “is an unchained mad dog”. She was however quiet on
two grounds: whether she buys the MKO’s thesis on how to respond once the pet
had become deranged, and which breed is the one so diagnosed in Ekiti –
Alsatian or local species (called “Ibile” in Yorubaland).


Missing soup pot: “Stomach infrastructure” crept in in 2014 to describe
the electoral paradox in Ekiti State where people voted into office an
opposition party after apparently falling for instant gratification in form of
edible things and other material inducement against the less mouth-watering
appeal of a transformed physical landscape showcased by the incumbent governor
Not one to fall for cliches patronized by the
“plebeians”, flamboyant politician, Tom Ikimi, would create another
metaphor few months later to justify his exit from All Progressives Party (APC)
following his failure to emerge as its new national chairman.
Claiming to have been instrumental to the design and building of
the party, Ikimi, a fine architect by the way, lamented that just when he
thought the buffet was ready, his soup and the pot were snatched away. Of
course, he migrated to the PDP, the party already laying claims to the patent
of “stomach infrastructure”, and is presently one of those leading
PDP campaign in Edo State.


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A new interpretation has however been given to the parable of
“missing soup pot” by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole as the September 10
governorship poll in Edo State draws closer. During a stop in Ikimi’s native
Esanland, the inimitable comrade governor squealed that the architect is
actually a “food-is-ready” politician only interested in self, with
little or no electoral value at home. This, according to him, explains why once
Ikimi calculated his “pot of soup” was missing in APC, he quickly
jumped to PDP where he thought “stomach infrastructure” was
guaranteed. The reason why he was soon linked to Dasukigate for which he has
since been going to EFCC to, in Oshiomhole’s words, probably explain which
building he might have helped design as an architect to justify hundreds of
millions paid him from the $15b arms loot.
Surely, “pot of soup” is the elite variant of
“stomach infrastructure”.
Lopsided: Ordinarily, it describes a situation in gravitation or physics.
When a scale is light on the one hand, the side overloaded weighs down. Early
in the day, President Buhari hinted that those who did not vote for him in the
March 28, 2015 polls should not expect to be feted like those who did. This is
now cited as perhaps the philosophical basis of appointments made so far by him
tilting heavily in favor of the section of the country where he hails from. So,
“lopsided” now refers to being provincial.


Fantastically: It is obviously David Cameron’s legacy. The man who dramatically
crashed out as British Prime Minister last month following the failed Brexit
referendum had, a glass of wine in hand, said “Nigerians are fantastically
corrupt” on the sidelines of an international confab on corruption in
London. And the comment went viral. Thereafter, it became the preferred phrase
by Nigerians themselves at home and everywhere in their everyday conversation.
But deep down, it is a bitter sarcasm that speaks partly to the shame of being
openly derided before the whole world, and partly anger at the generations of
political leaders who helped create that seedy distinction.
Madam’s property: In the deeply patrilineal society like Nigeria’s, property
ownership is often vested in the male gender as the recognized authority figure
in the family setting. Reason why not a few eyebrows were raised after two
stately castles in Dubai costing millions of US dollars were traced to the
spouses of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. General Tukur Buratai. Before now, that
would not have caused any stir. But not at a time Buhari has made
anti-corruption a fetish with state officials not expected to flaunt
possessions that do not reflect their legitimate earnings.
On a jovial note, when Buratai was named head of Army last year,
part of his appeal to teetotaler Buhari was thought to be his “lean”
frame, a rarity among a generation of generals who grow and nurse potbelly like
Initially, Buratai’s publicists defended his Dubai acquisitions
were from “personal savings”. But when busybodies persisted with some
in fact coming up with rough estimates of all the general could have earned
right from the day he enlisted in Army to date, Buratai’s people deftly
clarified that the two mansions actually belonged to his wives and were so
indicated in the claims submitted to the Assets Bureau.
So, to top public officials, whatever cannot be defended simply or
logically now is to be conveniently explained away as “Madam’s


Corruption fighting back: The phrase was originally used by Nobel laureate, Professor Wole
Soyinka. While no one can understate or underestimate the power of those who
got filthily rich through corrupt means to seek to cover their tracks or
flanks, authorities themselves spoil things by their own acts of indiscretion.
When security agents are for instance accused of acting in a manner that
breaches civil liberty these days, the standard response is “Oh,
corruption is fighting back”. So, the notion itself now seems corrupted to
convey a mixed message.
Inconclusive: Professor Atahiru Jega’s finest moment as the nation’s chief
electoral umpire was at the conclusion of the 2015 general elections in April
2015. Not only were the polls generally adjudged relatively free and fair,
their outcome across the country would go down as perhaps the least contested
in history. At that point, only a few would hesitate to acknowledge the
electoral body as truly Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). But
same can hardly be said of INEC today. Most of the elections held since have
been trailed by controversies bordering on tardiness, often resulting in their
being officially declared inconclusive midway. This has led to the body being
rechristened “Inconclusive National Electoral Commission”.
Sheriff: In ancient Greece, the creature was originally called Nemesis.
She earned fame as the goddess of retributive justice. Elsewhere in Asia among
adherents of Hinduism and Buddhism, Karma is regarded as an associate. In
contemporary Nigeria, she would seem to have reincarnated as a male in the
image of stocky Ali Modu Sheriff (SAS) and is now on rampage in Peoples
Democratic Party (PDP).
In its heyday, PDP prided itself on being the “largest party
in Africa” destined to rule for sixty uninterrupted years “in the
first instance”. Part of its success secret was to subvert other parties
by planting moles in their ranks. Victims included ANPP and AD. Now, PDP is
getting a dose of its own old bitter medicine, with the old Leviathan looking
helpless and pathetic. With SAS literally let loose, the iconic big umbrella is
now torn between two factions.

Modu Sheriff

The result is that barely four weeks to the governorship election
in Edo State, there is confusion on who is its legitimate flag-bearer. INEC
earlier accepted Osagie Ize-Iyamu of the Markafi faction at the close of
nomination last month. But with an Abuja High Court reaffirming him as the
authentic national chairman, SAS few days ago restated that Mathew
Iduoriyekemwen is it. Hear him: “If Pastor Ize-Iyamu likes, let him
campaign from now to a thousand years to come, the governorship candidate for
Edo State is Mathew Iduoriyekemwen; nothing can stand on nothing.”
In Ondo State, similar drama is unfolding as two of Governor Segun
Mimiko’s commissioners resigned and obtained nomination form from Sheriff’s
faction even though their erstwhile boss belongs to the Markafi faction.
The air of uncertainty also hangs over the “national
convention” being planned by the Markafi faction to hold in Port Harcourt
next Wednesday. Given the latest ruling by the Abuja Court favouring SAS, it is
being whispered that the Markafi group might approach a “friendly”
court early next week to obtain another ruling to vacate that order and clear
the legal encumbrance to their show in Port Harcourt.
But who says SAS will not return to the Abuja court to obtain
another counter-order?Dalung:
 In this stern season of recession, Solomon Dalung is increasingly
emerging Buhari administration’s perfect comic relief to the nation. As Sports
Minister, his has been a rich harvest of gaffes and missteps all the way. On a
good day, he would probably be mistaken for a Nigerien gendarme in his gaudy
costume of red beret and khaki camouflage. He prefers to humour himself by
claiming to be a comrade.


His exotic sartorial preference mirrors a quixotic approach to
official duty as well. Boxer Bash Ali first gave a hint early in the year when
he ranted in an open letter to President Buhari over his ordeal at the Sports
Ministry vis-a-vis his stalled novelty boxing bout that the Sports minister
“looks like an hungry man”. Maybe that was why he recently chose to
abandon his primary assignment to embark on a trip, uninvited, to the dangerous
creeks of Delta State to “persuade” the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) to
quit their bombing activities.
While encroaching other’s territory, the Sports Minister forgot
his own core duties. He neither attended nor sent a representative at the
burial of Stephen Keshi, one of Nigeria’s most accomplished soccer star, in
Delta State last month. The other day, he did not consider it inappropriate to
post a selfie from the European Championship in France revealing he was
sponsored by Multichoice, a private cable TV company.


Under Dalung’s watch, the nation’s football envoys to the Rio
Olympics were stranded in Atlanta for three days last week as funds were not
made available to buy their flight tickets to Brazil. It took the mercy of
American airliner, Delta Airline, to finally evacuate them to Rio barely few
hours to the commencement of their opening match against Japan. Of course, the
Minister had already landed ahead in the land of samba dance and fine girls.
Obviously carried away by such distractions in his new environment, the
bungling minister was soon quoted as falsely describing the nation as
“United States of Nigeria”.
The comedy of errors reached a head during the opening ceremony of
the games. While other nations paraded in colourful iconic attires, Nigeria’s
contingent came out in drab track suits. As usual, the consignment of national
dress for which a fat contract must have been awarded could not make it to Rio!


Herder: The euphemism for member of a tribe of mass killers increasingly
incentivized by the government. There is a little confusion on his root.
Victims, mostly in the North-Central and the entire South, swear he is Fulani.
But top government functionaries like Agric minister Audu Ogbeh believe he is a
migrant who took advantage of ECOWAS protocols to enter the country without
He is the new-age cattle rearer armed with AK-47 in the place of
bow and arrow carried by his forebear. Curiously, his new audacity began after
the inauguration last year of President Buhari, an accomplished cattle farmer
On the surface, he is a herder. But unlike other mortals, when he
destroys other people’s farms, kills, maims or rapes, he rarely gets
apprehended, let alone prosecuted. Instead, he is placated with the promise
that public fund would be spent to import special grass for his herd and
grazing reserve built for his comfort.