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Michael Afenfia: Booohari!



The other day, I walked into my colleagues huddled around a phone. About six of them circled around this particular desk, gawking with so much intensity at the vantage point right in the centre of the table where the phone was placed. My less-than-subtle opening of the door didn’t break their concentration.

They didn’t notice my presence till the end of the video. Their laughter was stifled by shock, but I wasn’t about to let them off the hook so easily. So instead of leaving, I stayed.

Now, I wouldn’t describe myself as the boss from hell, but at that point, feeling like they had done something wrong, they scrambled back to their seats like the whole me-seeing-them-gathered-around-the-table thing was all in my head. One or two of them managed to say good morning to me, while the others tried their best to act normal and busy, like the video watching party was part of their job description.

Anyway, by this time I too had become curious so I asked to see what it was they had been watching. Going by how engrossed they had all been, I figured it must be something of grave national importance and wanted to be let in on it also – in case I needed to locate the nearest exit in the building or call home.

My colleagues smiled sheepishly at my request, turned to the owner of the phone, and then one of them said something like – play it for oga. So the owner of the phone did just that and what I saw made my day. People were doing all these crazy dance moves and an even crazier (and by crazier I meant funnier) voice was attempting to spell something.

Like it was a spelling bee competition gone wrong, the singer went B-O-O-O-B-U-L-S-M-Y…and then he went on and on mentioning alphabets that, when put together, spelt everything but the name he was trying to spell. This particular video went viral on social media, you may have seen it too.

Fast-forward to 19th December 2018 and I witnessed something on live television that reminded me of that particular funny video.

Some have described it as a show of shame, but considering how rowdy and boisterous even the UK parliament can get—particularly at this time when Prime Minister, Theresa May, is once again fighting for her political life as the confusion over Brexit or no Brexit lingers  and threatens to tear the United Kingdom apart—what happened on the floor of the Nigerian parliament may not make Al Jazeera, BBC or CNN top story for the day, but it was news to me!

President Buhari was booed by legislators while making his N8.9 Trillion 2019 budget presentation before the National Assembly. Reports have it that such a thing hasn’t happened in Nigeria since 1999. Clearly, Mr President wasn’t very pleased at the hostile reception he received, because he spoke out in anger and disappointment…but no one was listening to him.

In the end, things got so bad, the session ended abruptly, and our president had to be hurried out of the hollowed chambers  – like a child that had disagreed his parents in public.

I know opinions are split on the treatment our president received on Wednesday, with the whole world watching. But let’s face it: they acted out the wishes of many Nigerians.

If members of the Senate and House of Representatives—who do not have to worry about school fees in January, or the impact of a new minimum wage on their lives or the cost of a bag of rice, or how to get money to buy Christmas clothes for their children, or how to fuel their cars or even who to beg for transport fare to the village this December—can express disappointment at the way things are going in the country by booing at the president, then one can only imagine the frustration and dissatisfaction of ordinary Nigerians who voted for him in 2015, because they honestly believed he had to the capacity and temperament to make a difference.

Time has proven most Buhari believers wrong. In fact, most of them have disappeared from my timeline, because they have run out of excuses on the poor handling of the economy and the escalating spate of security in the country.

For those people who are unhappy at the conduct of the senators and members of the House of Representatives, I do not intend to hold brief for them. But maybe they didn’t boo and heckle the president, they may simply have been trying to spell B-O-O-O-H-A-R-I.

A proud son of the Ijaw nation and lover of Nigeria, Michael Afenfia associates with everything good and exciting about Nigeria. His ongoing work, the Mechanics of Yenagoa, is published on his blog every fortnight. So far, he has authored three critically acclaimed novels and a number of nonfiction writing, including a biography. He is @MichaelAfenfia on social media and can be reached via [email protected]

1 Comment

  1. AdeOlu

    December 24, 2018 at 12:01 pm

    I know it is not uncommon for leaders in other democracies to be booed. But you can’t trust these guys in NASS to have done so because they loved the people. No. They are not that selfless. It is possibly because Buhari hasn’t let them steal as much as they did before.

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