Thursday, September 26, 2013

Human Classification Theory (2) - An Evening with Sanusi Lamido

Set in Lagos Nigeria, it was a dinner for the alumni of a great Nigerian institution, Kings College Lagos. It is no exaggeration that the school has produced some of the brightest and most successful brains in Nigeria as proven by the number of its ‘Old Boys’ who have been and are still in positions of authority in Nigeria at different levels in the public and private sector. So you can begin to imagine the caliber of people at this event.

There I was seated among few friends enjoying the evening of exotic wines, rich buffet, great music and networking with the crème de la crème young and old; then walked in one of the night’s special guests and vice-president of the KCOB, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and "custodian in chief" of the Nigerian economy. Tens of guests rose from their seats in honor of his arrival and as if embarrassed by the gesture, he immediately waved us to please sit and I thought "ok, humble man" albeit sarcastically.
Nothing changed with his arrival, the very relaxed atmosphere remained same except the amplified chit-chat, back slapping and hysteric laughter that reminds you only of your school days. Sanusi brought on the side of him that seemed truly him. Then it was time for his speech among few others which I had looked forward to. I was not disappointed, as it was another deep, yet unambiguous speech. The humor was on point and so was his time management which gives hope that one day Nigerian leaders will learn to make short and smart speeches.
My eyes were busy searching the whole garden for his Mopol (Mobile Police) or ‘men in black’ who in the name of security would slap and shove anyone who dared to offer him a handshake. Not seeing any of that did not make me feel it was not a scene waiting to be played. As he walked off the mini podium, I expected the moment to come as few people in the audience who were excited by the humorous crescendo of his speech would want to get closer with a handshake. I saw a glimpse of the man in black but I was not quite sure since he was dressed in mufti, a truly black one.
Back to his seat and it was time to mingle. I walked up to him and as we exchanged courtesies with calculated smiles, the man in black showed up again! The plan was to prevent me from doing so as I had seen him do to many young people as the event wound down but Mallam Sanusi’s reaction was swift. "What is it now?" He screamed at his bodyguard in a manner that seemed like he was wooing a lady and I thought again "na shout be that?" Almost falling into deep thoughts he cut short my journey with another outstretched arm for a warmer handshake as I engaged him in a chat.
As Mallam Sanusi Lamido and I shared thoughts on few issues amidst my admiration for his oratory skills and refusal to be shielded from the people, I remembered my New-York to Lagos flight experience and how similar this could be to it. I expected the same airport scenario to play out as soon as he steps out of the venue of that gathering of old school mates where he was expected and somehow morally mandated to make himself accessible to all. So out of curiosity I found myself a vantage position to watch his departure and short walk outside the venue. Of course I was not going to make myself the scapegoat this time, so as I discussed with a friend, I kept an eye on him and his small entourage but all I saw were zealous security operatives trying to impress a man bent on enjoying his freedom as a citizen. Even the ones who were on other duty posts within the quiet housing estate followed him to show this nauseating kind of loyalty which only the Nigerian Police can define.
Perhaps I should be right to say Mallam Sanusi Lamido has proven it that sometimes it is not the so-called rich and powerful that we should blame for this shameful scene that plays out every time politicians appear in public but their security operatives who are always desperate to establish their man-in-charge status. Many times it is the policemen behind who are power-drunk on behalf of the men in power. Looking back at the face of ‘Oga Madam’ as her SUV drove away that sunny afternoon at the Muritala Mohamed Airport, I get the feeling those policemen may have been too fast for her to stop but then I just saw how such excesses can be handled with one calm word from a man who was not willing to be misunderstood.
With these totally opposite scenarios, doing a comparative analysis of the different social attitudes displayed by people in the leadership of Nigeria will drive any intellectual crazy if at all he or she manages to survive the process. I will not take that risk; rather I will toe the line of asking the question, what kind of power do Nigerian politicians try to show when they cannot control those security operatives who work for them? Why are policemen working for our leaders and politicians usually the reckless and sometimes lawless?
I am yet to send Mallam Sanusi Lamido that email I promised to send. Why? Well…

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