Koro no dey, e go do NIN

Thirty-six years after his first reign was aborted, President Muhammadu Buhari has surely not changed his mindset of the Nigerian people; that we are mainly a tribe of what Texans would call roughnecks, lacking in discipline and not one to obey simple instructions from constituted authorities, until either our daily bread is affected or indulgences are taken away. Though he didn’t return with WAI, he has been consistent in relating with Nigerians, particularly the vocal elite, like a father whose children have propensity to be stubborn with warnings, brusque with correction and always waiting for a semblance of Armageddon before scampering to do what is right. Right? Fine, but will that not make it a case of “omo o le jo baba” (like father, like son), considering the predilection of Baba himself to always wait until urgency moves from emergency to nearly-irredeemable before moving a muscle? When two bad things, situations or people are too similar for comfort, Yoruba will say “efa da ninu eje”? (no difference to spot).

I know Baba is Fulani, but I will be staying more with Yoruba sociological wisdom to speak to two of a kind, who are finding it difficult to see each other in the other person. Thankfully, the president too has his ways with governance that should sit him pretty in an atmosphere of the olori ebi (family head) concept, while his three predecessors-in-office since 1999 would fall in different arenas of Yoruba’s thoughts on managing family units. Olusegun Aremu Okikiola Obasanjo is your typical baba palo (literally living-room daddy, but connoting family dictator) who must be obeyed or you are whipped, either verbally or physically, to submission. His kind always have “boys” around to hold the stubborn one down when applying the stick. In the early days of his presidency, did Aremu not collect horsewhip from a soldier brutalising a citizen and publicly using same on the owner to the wild applause of Nigerians who desired an end to military terrorism? Did the same Nigerians not ululate when he asked soldiers to sack Odi? That is the typical baba palo leadership.

Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was the quintessential happy daddy who frowned only when seriously discomfited. Goodluck Jonathan, uhm, more like atesibi aye tesi (not wanting to be against run of play though eventually lost against run of play). If this NIN palava was during his reign and coro is leveling everywhere, he would have either suspended the exercise even before the current din or give a wide extension to give a relief to those yet to be captured.

But not Baba Buhari. An average olori ebi in Yoruba land isn’t likely to give a warning thrice. They love it when the situation gets to “didn’t I warn you” and if there is an unloved mother around to be pounded for her children being bad, it makes the situation juicer for such men who are most times revered for their drawn age, rather than noticeable modicum of native intelligence or wisdom.

Bolaji Amusan, popularly known as Mr. Latin in Nigerian home video industry, would be my best pick for the olori ebi role. Vacuous in presentation and dramatic in execution, Latin is always cast to complicate disputes as olori ebi, instead of wisely resolving them and he then exploits the bad situation to enrich self.

The NIN registration situation today is an argument that favours no one; not Nigerians who are yet to register in obedience to constituted authority, despite a strong case that can be made against its needlessness and certainly not the president and his administration, choosing a bad timing to push their argument against a people taken to be deviants.

Well, social security may never be provided, but Nigerians should have official identity. So, NIN in itself as PIN (Personal Identification Number) is okay, though the exercise, long before now, has been a major flop and the gra gra (rush) being deployed now isn’t more than a face-saving measure.

On September 12, 2019, I had an official reason to reach out to NIMC leadership in Abuja and a certain Braimoh attended to me. He, among other things, explained to me that the Nigerian government had shifted focus from production of NIN cards to ensuring that all Nigerians, are first and foremost captured. Fantastic move. Then he said this, “Once you are registered and we issue you a number, you are already captured and the number you will get is transactable anywhere, which means you can use it for required purposes. If you are talking about card production, I can tell you we are on October 2013 and anyone who registered during the period, will have their cards ready.” Ha!

Does olori ebi even ask his appointees questions at all? Eight full moons and billions of naira in budgetary allocations and cards aren’t ready? How does that encourage anyone to willingly leave the tortuous search for disappearing daily bread in Nigeria to go engage the exploiters at NIN centres? Taken, Nigerians can be stiff-necked and sloppy until they have to race through a thorny path, but it would do the equally sloppy and stiff-necked father in Aso Rock to listen to the cries and apply sanction on merit. Considering the current pandemic, those who love their lives beyond SIM connectivity, INEC/voting registration and even banking services won’t venture near those morgue-in-waiting over-crowded centres, February 9 deadline or not. The fact remains this is a bad timing to be issuing threat, when NIMC itself, has proved to be irredeemably clueless, visionless and inept. Nigerians should not risk their lives, carrying NIMC’s mess. If sanctions must be allotted, President Buhari must start with the total clearing-out of NIMC leadership, though I understand Aliyu Abubakar Aziz, the DG/CEO, is from Gembu, a Northern space bordering Cameroun. With the farce going on at the Civil Defence Corp, where a retiring Northern CG has been asked to return to duty and recollect the baton from the succeeding South Easterner, Baba Buhari will go back to his Creator loving North more than others. But he can’t ask us to get into your-money-or-your-life situation at NIN registration centres where you can only bribe to escape the crowd and coro, then still keeping incompetent characters at NIMC for consanguinity sake. Some have braced themselves for a marathon with this olori ebi till May 29, 2023, and ready to surrender their comfort, mobile lines et al, to ensure he doesn’t get away every time, behaving like Mr. Latin. Why not allow banks and telecos to do the registration and share backends, with NIMC, since they are going to be substantial users of the information at the end of the day?


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