Tolu Ogunlesi: The definitive list: Nigeria’s Top 5 good news items for 2012 (YNaija FrontPage)

Read my most recent YNaija piece for details. For the masses of Nigeria, every squabble between the members of an oppressive elite is good news.

What better way to end the year than on a note of good news. I get accused all the time, by deeply and genuinely patriotic Nigerians, of not being positive enough about Nigeria. I get accused of stereotyping, condescending, negativising, negavtive-vibing and a million other unpalatable iNgs. etc. To crown it — and this has to be considered a compliment — I have been accused of providing a useful and workable template for foreign journalists (*cough*) with a passion and mandate for Nigeria-bashing. I have therefore decided that, in atonement for this — we’re after all in Christmas, the season that celebrates atonement for sin — I will end Ongoing Concerns for the year with a focus on the good news that has bedeviled (I haven’t used that Nigerian word this year; at least not in this column) Nigeria and helped sustain, in 2012, her standing in the “Committee” of nations.

1. Step Aside Oprah Winfrey – While Aliko Dangote was busy struggling with (quoting Forbes) “Ethiopian-born Saudi billionaire Sheikh Mohammed Al-Amoudi” for the status of the world’s richest black man, Folorunsho “Who?” Alakija swept past and poured garri in Dangote’s cement. 2012 was the year in which the 61-year-old Nigerian oil mogulette effortlessly displaced Oprah Winfrey as the richest black woman in the world. And she did it away from the harsh glare of studio lights. And without talking too much. Now we can boldly say that: Behind every successful woman is a man still dreaming he got there first. This is a great feat for Nigerian women, seventeen years after Maryam Abacha invaded Beijing and smashed the Stupid Glass Ceiling. And there you were thinking ‘Better Life for Ruling Women’ was another White Elephant Project? Shame on you.

This is no doubt the greatest bit of good news to come from Nigeria in 2012. God has prepared a choice table for Nigeria in the presence of its enemies, and silenced the nay-sayers, fixated as they are on a Boko Haram that the government has almost finished crushing, and kidnappers who will soon — serves them right! — run out of people to kidnap. The next time Reuters or the AP reports on yet another bomb blast in Kano or Jos or Maiduguri, I’d like to encourage all well-meaning Nigerians to flood the comments boxes with pictures of Mrs. Alakija, her new London home, and her iconic clothing designs.


2. Africa’s Leading Monopolis – This is one good news the enemies of progress have loved hating on. They have said Monopoly Lagos is a smokescreen for a real-life game that happens on the space three spaces before ‘GO’ on the Lagos Game Board. My advice to them is to quit all the wicked rumours henceforth. May you not end up in the Lion’s Den and discover your name is not Daniel.

Back to the good news.

Monopoly. The board game we spent many blissful hours playing as children, do-not-passing-go-and-do-not-collecting-200-quid, rejecting Old Kent Road in Jesus Name because our God was and is and will forever be a God of Mayfair, building and owning the kinds of hotels we can only dream of stepping into in real life, earning the rents real life has destined us to pay to others.

Monopoly. How we love that game. Now, decades after those childhood days, we can now enjoy it in our Mother Tongue. It’s the most brilliant act of translation of 2013, and it’s given me even more joy than watching Wole Oguntokun direct a Yoruba version of The Winter’s Tale at Shakespeare’s Globe in London, in May. Now we have Monopoly in our own Language. For many Lagosians owning the Lagos Monopoly Board will be the closest they will ever get to Banana Island. Now you see why we should take this as good news. The gap between the haves and the have-nots just got, er, halved.

PS: Just in case you didn’t know, Lagos is the FIRST African city to have a Monopoly Board created for it.


3. Pass Me De Budget – Now you probably know that the Nigerian budget — post-1999 — never gets passed on time. Signings usually happen around March/April, a quarter into the year of implementation. I actually assumed the budget had never been passed before January 1 of implementation year until BudgIT (the budget analysis app — which you should check out) pointed out that the 2007 budget was actually signed into law by President Obasanjo in December 2006. [Of course that explains itself: Obasanjo’s second and final term was due to expire in May 2007, and it was in the best interests of those concerned to have the budget ready as soon as possible. A March/April signing would’ve meant they had only one month to spend the money before the arrival of the new government . Enlightened self-interest and other stories].

So, discounting 2007, we can conclude that David Mark and his people have given us good news with this unprecedented early passage of the 2103 budget. It’s now left to the President to sign, and I predict that he will sign it this week. We can all go into the New Year basking in this good news. This is the kind of transformation we were promised. This is the kind of transformation we will continue to enjoy, as we march inexorably towards the second term of Dr. and Mrs. Goodluck Jonathan.


4. Two Elephants Fighting – You’re wondering why this would be on my Good News List. Read my most recent YNaija piece for details. For the masses of Nigeria, every squabble between the members of an oppressive elite is good news. It’s good news because it’s a reminder that Karma is still alive, in a country where the justice system died a long time ago, where Okija Shrines are more likely than any other institution to dispense NAFDAC-certified justice, and where Karma is the de facto Chief Justice of the Federal Republic.

It wasn’t the EFCC or the ICPC or the Anti-Fraud Unit of the NPF that exposed the yanshes of the two Nnewi Moguls, was it?

No. It was God Almighty, ably assisted by Karma, the defender of the Helpless People’s Universe. Since Fela and Gani died it has been Karma who has been helping fight for us, ensuring that we can enjoy, in addition to the blissful distractions of Africa Magic, the naked dancing of dubious billionaires in market squares.

PS: The Germans have a name for this kind of Joy that falls on commoners when two or more Big Men dance naked in the market square and toss accusations of 419 at each other: Schadenfraud.


5. Annu$ Mirabili$ By the end of 2012, according to the World Bank, $21 billion — equivalent to seventy percent of Nigeria’s annual Federal Budget — would have flowed into the country as remittances from Nigerians living and working abroad. That figure is more than double the 2011 figure for Foreign Direct Investment into Nigeria.

I think that now is the time to recognise the vision of Ibrahim Babangida and the late Sani Abacha, who helped set up and maintain the Discomfort-Differential that ensured the consistent outflow of Nigerians in search of greener pastures everywhere from Libya to Luxembourg. Forget all those rumours that Abacha’s goons spent much of their time intercepting and burning US Visa Lottery applications at NIPOST offices across the country. I believe it was yet another of NADECO’s malicious lies to ridicule Mr. Abacha’s administration. If Abacha’s boys touched those applications it was to help ensure that all those fleeing Nigerians had filled them properly. It takes vision to do what Abacha and Babangida did for this country. Imagine if all those millions of Nigerians had stayed at home, enjoying NEPA, NITEL, state-of-the-art UCH/LUTH/UI/UNIBEN, and the unimpeachable security of the NPF — how would they have been able to create the sort of value they’re now creating abroad, that sees them able to send so much money back home?

It’s one of the outstanding items of good news from 2012, that the heavy investments in SAP and DMI and SSS and Strike Force et al all those years ago are now bringing in handsome rewards for the good people of Nigeria.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

One comment

  1. Unfortunately, outward remittances are just as generous.

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