Memories Of A Young Man As A Teacher (31)

The last time I published this story, I mentioned that I was out for six weeks and it was considered too long and I made sure never to stay too long away. Now, six months later, I have returned to continue the story you love so much. I apologize for the generation without publishing. I have always wanted to return but fail each time, being completely owned by Chief Exhaustion and Ms Procastination.

Today, Moses’ birthday gave me the push and hopefully, I am back for good. Austin, this is for you. Live forever, prosper.

In case you missed the last episode, catch it here. In that episode, Aunty Peace having cried because the gateman said he liked her, I got to the block industry near my apartment and gave Bismarck Aunty Oge’s phone number just for the violence love to go round.

Christmas was at the backyard, exams fever was storey-high, the date of the Christmas party had been named, and I was without 14 thousand naira. I had collected the one thousand naira each student was charged for the party, for my class, and I spent them as I got them. I was sure I could easily raise the money when it was needed.

It was now needed and I had no 14K.

I was, as was painfully usual, broke. Broke may not be the right word. I should say broken into pieces. If you were ordinarily broke, you didn’t have enough money for your basic needs. But since nothing of mine was ever ordinary, I was broken into tiny pieces, sharp-glassy pieces.

I didn’t have money for my needs. I was owing the school authorities.

Today, while standing behind during the assembly, I saw the school bursar with the corner of my eye, approaching. Mrs. Anozie was by my shoulder. “Do you have 15K you are not using before salary is paid?”

She smiled. “You mean if I have three-quarters of my salary still remaining?”

I saw the picture which I refused to take in. “Your husband is the biggest man in Nkwo Nnewi,” I said.

“Yea,”she agreed, “Maybe you should have his phone number.”

“Whatever.”

She scoffed. “I can spare 5K because because of your prophecy on my husband’s head,” she said.

I said no. “I get 5K from you, I get 5K from the VP, and another 5K from the local government chairman or whoever, during complete Babi Allah? Not me.”

She said something about someone having the ego of Ifeanyi Ubah but the pocket of a dry crayfish.

The bursar who had slowed down to answer a phone call was now before me.

“CBN governor,”I greeted her.

“Do you have a moment?” she asked.

“Everyone has a moment for the treasury secretary.”

“You have to be consistent with this titles,” she said.

“I will think about it.”

I followed her to her office in the first floor of the primary section.

“I need your help,” she said when I was seated.

“You won’t ask about the 14K I am supposed to remit?” I said.

She smiled. “You will remit it when you will. For now, a friend of mine is looking for someone to write a project. She just gave birth and just doesn’t have the energy for that.”

I sat back and crossed a leg on top of another leg. No, let me retake: I sat back and crossed a bony leg on top of another bony leg. “This sounds like exam malpractise,” I said.

“Some people see it as runs,” she said. “Name an amount that would make you see it as runs.”

I hesitated, she pressed on. “I have already remitted your 14K. So, whatever amount you name is minus 14K. But I would still give you something substantial to start.”

I said nothing.

She said, “I like how you didn’t even ask me the department, I am sure you would kill it. I love that. You know, she asked me to look for a sharp guy and your name came up in a 4K screen.”

I almost smiled. “Can I think about it?”

She made a little face. “You know, during WAEC, you are supposed to help the kids with English and Literature. I think you should begin to see these things as runs, as part of the occupational hazards of teaching in Mount Sinai.”

I didn’t like her tone. I rose calmly to my feet.

“You don’t have to make a decision now,” she said quickly. “I will expect an answer on Saturday.” Today was Tuesday.

I released a small sigh and turned to.

“Wait,” she said.

I stopped at the door. I faced her. She opened a file.

“Forgive me for eavesdropping but I heard something about 5K when you were talking with Mrs. Anozie.” And she counted ten five hundred naira notes. “This is a loan. If you agree to work for my friend, we will do plus and minus.”

And if I refused to work for her or her friend or both of them, whatever, I would be owing her 19 thousand naira, 6K short of my salary. Now, this is the stick aspect of the whole thing. She was giving me a carrot which was also a stick, a sticky carrot.

Say no, something inside me said to me. Say no, thanks then leave, the voice said to me.

I collected the money.

“Thank you.”

When you are broke, as broke as I was, broken into pieces, you don’t take every advice something inside you gives you.

To be continued…

IPOB Is Playing A High-Risk Zero-Reward Game, But Who Will Tell Them?

When IPOB mandated that there would be a sit-at-home every Monday until their leader Nnamdi Kanu is released from detention, I saw blood. I knew it wouldn’t be as peaceful as the ones held every May 30th. After the events of yesterday, burning a passenger alive, wasting the lives of this duo, etc., I hate myself a little for foreseeing this.

The May 30th sit-at-home is for a higher cause, reflecting on the lives lost during the civil war and mourning them. This Monday sit-at-home is about one man, no matter how symbolic he can be, he is one man. Nnamdi Kanu is not the only IPOB member in prison. There are hundreds of them in prison.

The fact that it is okay for IPOB to ignore all their incarcerated colleagues and fight, maim, kill, and die for one man doesn’t sound like a group trying to create an equal society. We are all equal but Nnamdi Kanu is more equal than the others in prison and he is more important than the people who would die, they seem to be saying.

But it is their right. They can say and do whatever they like, but I have a problem with forcing people to follow your ideology.

Pictures, they say don’t lie but the images of the compliance of the sit-at-home order do not tell the whole story. A lot of people are afraid of being violated by IPOB members and a lot more do not want to be caught in the middle of the fight between security operatives and IPOB.

The way yesterday’s sit-at-home unfolded is a pointer to my point.

On Sunday, a news item emerged that IPOB has called off the sit-at-home until further notice. I thought reason has ruled and even Ohanaeze lauded them for this. Then IPOB’s Emma Powerful denied the report and affirmed that the exercise must go on and threatened violators. It is the arrogance for me. And the irony.

Let me spell it out.

You do not fight for freedom because you hate injustice and then deny people the just right to be free.

You do not complain of exclusion of Ndigbo then exclude millions of Ndigbos from deciding whether or not they want to earn a living every Monday.

You do not lock down the South East and wound or kill people breaking the order hundreds of miles from Abuja in order to impress a man in Abuja so as to release your man held in Abuja. If the whole of South East burns do you think that Buhari will lose sleep? So why are you undertaking an experiment with people’s freedom, livelihood, and lives?

Why don’t you take the battle to Buhari’s backyard in Abuja?

When we did EndSARS, we took the battle to Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, government houses, parliaments, police units, etc. (Then Lekki Massacre happened and hoodlums took over). And no one was forced to be on board.

When El Zakzaky was imprisoned in Abuja, his followers went to the capital to protest. I don’t think they would have found a lot of sympathy disrupting movements and business in Zaria and Kaduna.

When Trump’s supporters felt (erroneously) that the election was stolen, they marched to Washington where the results were being certified. They didn’t hold people in Texas, Florida, Alabama, and other Trump stronghold ransom.

So why is IPOB not marching to Abuja? Why does it seem like they are willing to throw innocent Igbo people under the Free Nnamdi’ Kanu’s bus?

It is a dangerous business and the reward is so low, non-existent even. It is not just a high-risk low-result approach, it is a high-risk no-result approach. The only result that IPOB can get from their Monday-Monday ritual is sentimental and symbolic.

They won’t get a practical release of Nnamdi Kanu. Not while Buhari, or Jibrin as they tag him, is still in power. And most of them know this. So why are they hell-bent on disrupting schools, markets, and business and making the South East a four-day-a-week economy?

I know a lot of shops that didn’t open today and students that stayed at home Tuesday because of what happened Monday. We may end up working only two to three days every week in the East. Do IPOB members understand this? Do they care?

I have no clue.

Perhaps they just want to be seen to be doing something. Perhaps, they just want to constantly be in the news, no matter how ill-advised their action. Perhaps it is the wish of Nnamdi Kanu who is in prison and may not understand or/and does not care about the repercussions of such action.

The fact that many people are afraid to speak out against this wrong move is a testament to the kind of nation IPOB is trying to be. I don’t think there would be freedom of expression under whatever government they would end up forming. I don’t think there would be a free press and an entertaining ear for contrary opinions.

Sabo, they would call you as you may be calling me now. You know, it is easy to dismiss someone as a saboteur, a betrayer when you have no reasonable response to their charge.

What I am saying is that shutting down the South East every Monday is too much of a loss and too much of a risk. I need someone to write back and explain how shutting down this region would help get Nnamdi Kanu out. I am waiting. I fear I may wait in vain.

Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for 27 years before South Africa defeated the Apartheid system. Nnamdi Kanu has not stayed 27 weeks behind bars and he is willing to watch the East burn. IPOB are better off working to build their allies’ base and they can’t expand their friends’ network by sending thugs into the streets and roads of South Eastern towns and cities to harass, humiliate, rob, and possibly lynch fellow Igbo men and women.

In chess, when you overextend your pieces, it would be hard to defend them. IPOB is overextending their sympathy and goodwill and testing the people’s patience/tolerance.

The order to sit-at-home every Monday, plus the killings that follow it, is too dangerous and I struggle to see a practical reward at the end of this thoughtless tactic. I usually sign off my writings with “it’s well”. Today, I am not sure.

Tweets @Oke4chukwu

This post was first published yesterday on Anaedoonline.ng, South East biggest blog as Sit-At-Home: IPOB Is Playing A High-Risk Little-Reward Game, But Who Will Tell Them?