Interview With Sylvanus Omoniyi: Everyone Loves Attention

Have you met Sylvanus Omoniyi? He is, among many things, a writer, broadcaster and trouble-maker. I cornered him the other day and we had a chat. Some chat. Grab a sack of pop corn.

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Hard Voices: This interview was delayed for several days because I was mourning the defeat of Hillary Clinton. What came into your mind when I asked to postpone the interview because of what happened in America?

Sylvanus: I think you are just wasting your time because you will gain nothing from that mourning. And to me, either the victory of Donald Trump or the defeat of Hillary Clinton has nothing to offer Nigerians. Most of you are just having sleepless nights over things that don’t concern you. I want to ask you, has America’s election reduced the price of rice in the Nigerian market? Has it reduced the price of condom? Has it even brought food to your table? Please, continue to mourn o.

Hard Voices: Well, whether we like it or not, the world economy is so poorly aligned that if American economy coughs it trembles. Again, we poor countries have usually looked up to America for assistance, acceptance, patronage and refuge, even. And Trump, a mad man is now in charge of nuclear weapons capable of annihilating the whole world. Maybe this last one should worry you.

Sylvanus: I’m not worried a bit. We’ll all die eventually. And something must kill a man. Not everyone will die a natural death, but no one prays to have a painful ending.

Hard Voices: What is it that particularly worries you? Something that keeps you awake at night?

Sylvanus: I have many of them: some unfulfilled dreams. They are numerous. I’m someone who likes a simple life. And to some extent, I’m materialistic. I have had a lot of failures in the past. And sometimes I’m afraid of the future. I’m sometimes worried about my incapability to help a lot of people. These and many other things make me worry.

Hard Voices: Talking about helping people, the other day you posted on Facebook asking for people’s account numbers. I didn’t think you were serious (and I still don’t think otherwise) but many in your timeline took it seriously, typing their account numbers. I laughed when someone typed his BVN as well. Did anyone get anything from that?

Sylvanus: Yes. I had thought people won’t take it seriously as well. I thought people won’t respond to it until I got about five hundred inbox messages of bank account details. I became worried because I’m not rich yet. At the end I was able to send N500 each to 50 people. It is a little sum, but I believe we should do whatever we want to do, no matter how small. That’s part of my contribution to humanity.

Hard Voices: 500 naira is a lot of money. Did you say you got 500 account numbers? Wow! Now what does this say about the Nigerian situation?

Sylvanus: It shows that many people need help but most are afraid to come out and say it. There are times I feel this way too. You know, you can’t just predict people’s reactions. You don’t know who is able to help you and who is unable. So, you try to hold onto your dignity. That’s why most people are always afraid to talk about their problems. So, once in a while, I think we should all think of how we can be a source of comfort to people without them asking.

Hard Voices: This preacher side of you is one that people are not familiar with. Some people think you are controversial. You agree with that. Some think you are an attention seeker. I don’t think you agree with this.

Sylvanus: I don’t think I’m controversial. I just like to speak from my heart. I speak as it comes to me. I like freedom of expression. On attention, I won’t deny it. I’m a great attention seeker. I like it when people turn their heads to my direction. It excites me. You see, everyone loves attention. That’s why you see so many people on social media. They can’t deny it. As long as you have a social media account, you are an attention seeker. We all have something that makes us happy. Anyone who does not love attention should deactivate their social media account and go back to the village.

Hard Voices: Haha. I see. And now that you have mentioned village perhaps you should tell us what village you are from, give us a little background on you.

Sylvanus: I’m from Alla, Isin Local Government in Kwara State. I attended a nursery school in the city. I can’t even remember the name of the school. Then I attended St. Benedict’s R.C.M Primary School, Idi-Ogun Adedire, Ife South, Osun State; Ansarul Islam LGEA School, Kuntu, Ilorin; Government High School; Kwara State Polytechnic, and Nesburg School of Business and Management, South Africa.

Hard Voices: Now let’s come home. Let’s talk about literature. Let’s start with reading. What are you reading right now?

Sylvanus:  At the moment, I’m not reading anything.

Hard Voices: As you are a writer I find that curious. Why are you not reading anything at the moment? Is there any problem?

Sylvanus: No problem. I have many work to submit. I’m writing for bloggers and I have some books to edit. They have to be delivered at the speculated time.

Hard Voices: You write for a living?

Sylvanus: Yes. And I do other things as well. I’m also into broadcasting.

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Hard Voices: Want to talk about it?

Sylvanus: I won’t talk much about the writing. I do ghostwriting and write for bloggers. I won’t talk about it for privacy reasons. On the broadcasting, I was a freelance broadcaster with Midland FM. Later, I joined Cruise FM, an online radio station that is still spreading its tentacles.

Hard Voices: Are these radio stations in Nigeria?

Sylvanus: Yes. They are in Nigeria.

Hard Voices: I ask because there are times I get the impression that you are in South Africa.

Sylvanus: No. I’m still in Nigeria.

Hard Voices: But you might want to talk about writing in general. As a creative writer what genre are you most into and why?

Sylvanus: Just like you said, as a creative writer, I write anything that comes to my mind. I write as it comes to me.

Hard Voices: I doubt if I can remember reading a short story you wrote.

Sylvanus: The fact is that I’m not a serious writer. I doubt if I can remember writing a short story myself. I’m more of a socialite than a writer. I just write for fun. I think there was a time I wrote a short story titled ‘The Californian Dream’. I don’t even know where it is now.

Hard Voices: You once said in Nigeria, any idiot can get an award. Will you say you don’t believe in awards? What awards most define your annoyance against awards in Nigeria?

Sylvanus: Nigeria is a jungle. We all know that. Except we don’t want to be honest. We reward mediocrity and ignore excellence. Anyone can get an award in Nigeria as long as they have money. We pander to nonsense in this country. The people that are stealing our billions and spoiling our country are the ones we deify. We worship money but we will always deny it. Let me stop here because I’m beginning to get angry.

And concerning the ones that define my annoyance: I have seen useless Nigerian politicians being honoured with awards. The latest one that sparked my outrage is the one of Chidinma Okeke. Tell me, in all honesty, what has Chidinma done to deserve an award? Because of cucumber?

Hard Voices: Who gave Chidinma an award?

Sylvanus: They just made the announcement. They are to give her on December 18, 2016. The organisers of Miss Diva Awards. You can read their nonsense here. I have nothing against Chidinma but I think the organisers of this award are stupid.

Hard Voices: Perhaps, but they are no more stupid than Nigerians who are practically shaming Chidinma towards suicide.

Let’s bring this award issue to literature. Some awards can be crazy; didn’t the Nobel people of Sweden give the Nobel Prize for Literature to a musician? But without awards, how can we judge literary excellence? With sales figures or critical acclaim? What makes a good book for you?

Sylvanus: No one is telling her to commit suicide. Anyone who chooses to commit suicide is a coward. A coward who is afraid to fight and win.

Giving a Nobel Prize for Literature to a musician is ignorance. They should call it another name. We can judge literary excellence with sales and critical acclaim, not by online votes or anything else. To me, a good book is the one that comes from the heart of the writer and which is free of grammatical blunders and typographical errors.

Hard Voices: How do you tell a book that comes out from the heart of the writer?

Sylvanus: There is always a kind of resonance that follows. You will feel it with your heart.

Hard Voices: What do you think of Nigerian literature?

Sylvanus: We are improving. There are great writers in Nigeria. I’m proud of Nigerian writers.

Hard Voices: Great writers but what about the readership, have we done enough as readers to encourage Nigerian writers?

Sylvanus: Not at all. Nigerians don’t read. We don’t have the time. We are always busy making money. And I don’t blame us. The government of Nigeria doesn’t care about anyone, so you are on your own.

Hard Voices: How will you rate Buhari After nearly two years in office?

Sylvanus: Buhari is a failure.

Hard Voices: What do you make of the education system in Nigeria? The other day, you were ranting about Covenant University. Few days back it was the turn of Nsukka.

Sylvanus: Education in Nigeria is a hogwash. You are expected to cram things and pour it on paper for some old lecturers who know nothing. The system is like a prison yard. They frustrate your life with everything. You struggle for everything. They believe you must suffer to succeed. For me, I don’t think it is necessary. It is idiotic to say people must suffer before they succeed. And we have been brought up with this mentality. That is why we sweat for almost everything in Nigeria.

And besides, I don’t think people should be defined by their grades. The educational system in Nigeria is fucked up. There are times the schools choose a course for you. You put in for one course and they give you another. How do they expect you to pass without cheating? I don’t blame people who cheat during examinations in schools. I don’t blame them at all because everyone wants to succeed. Nigeria has a long way to go. I hope the day will come in Nigeria when people will go to school and study based on their ability.

Hard Voices: Religion is one aspect I find your views quite entertaining. Describe your relationship with God.

Sylvanus: There are times I believe in God and there are times I don’t believe in Him. I think God is a confusionist! And those who belong to a religion don’t know what they are doing. They are the confused.

Hard Voices: What informed this belief? Are there background tales?

SylvanusWhen you look at the sufferings in the world, you will ask yourself whether God really cares. The truth is that there are times that God will leave you to sort yourself out. These days, I seem to believe more in myself than in any God.

Hard Voices: Koredo Bello sang a song with the major theme being ‘Oga Don Jazzy, when you go marry?’ A lousy music if you ask me. But the song raised a question many young men should be answering. Oga Sylvanus, when you go marry?
 
Sylvanus: Honestly, I don’t know when. I don’t know the exact time. Personally, a lot of things have to be put in place. I want the future of my children to be brighter than my own. I’m also someone who doesn’t like trouble. So I have to look well before leaping. Marriage is an eternal project. I don’t want to get in and regret later. I want peace and happiness.
Hard Voices: Have you seen her?
Sylvanus: Yes. I have seen her. And she has seen me too. We have seen each other.
 
Hard Voices: Who are your best friends on social media? Perhaps, in this era of Facebook subs and dissing, I should say allies.
Sylvanus: They are many. They are legions. I like realists. I like to befriend people who are sincere. People who speak from their hearts. There are too many hypocrites in the world.
Hard Voices: You seem to have found one in Olufunke Phillips

Sylvanus: Yes. That’s true. About Olufunke, she can never be wrong in my eyes.God knows I love her. If I come back to this world one thousand times, I will still love her as much. Olufunke is real. I’m naturally drawn to real people.

Hard Voices: If you have the power to resurrect someone from the death, who would that be?

Sylvanus: That would be my grandmother.

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Last Rambling Of A Very Angry Nigerian

Read the very first rambling here .

I don’t know why I have the feeling that this is the last time I ramble about Nigeria. I have a few suggestions.

  1. Maybe I am going to die tomorrow.
  2. Maybe I am going to prison after this.
  3. Maybe data will become too expensive.
  4. Maybe I am going to be appointed by the government and put in charge of some big loot.

But in any of these cases, my rambling won’t stop. If I died tomorrow, then it is the government or people who work for the government who killed me; I can’t just die like that, in my mid-twenties (don’t be silly). Something must kill a man. Only one thing can kill a healthy angry Nigerian who has just begun life. My death will give birth to hundreds of ramblers more dangerous than me, and less likely to listen to reason. Remember the ‘silent working-class whites’ who elected Trump president? There are silent angry Nigerians reading and waiting for me to die before they set Nigeria on fire. (By the way, thunder will fire anyone who wants me dead before they stand up to the misdirection of Buhari and other idiocies in Nigeria. Ndiara).

Even if I go to prison, I will come out someday. Abi, is it life imprisonment? Whatever it is won’t stop me from rambling. If it’s a life term, I will ramble on from my cell. Didn’t Nnamdi Kanu write a letter to Trump from prison? I will ramble from prison.

If data become too expensive, I will still ramble. Remember that Psquare line, ‘If I no get money I get where to borrow.’ Ah ha. I does.

If I am appointed to oversee governmental loot, I won’t stop rambling. In fact, I will ramble smoother. I will open a new site and ramble under a moniker. I will also contract people to ramble every blessed in the site and I will pay them handsomely. You see.

So I don’t think today is my last rambling. Maybe for the year. Not forever, I guarantee you. Yea, that is the number 4 suggestion.

         5. I am not going to stop rambling.

But why use the title last rambling, to clickbait? Not really. Martin Luther King Jnr said for us to live and act as though everyday is the last day on earth. So I assume this blog post will be the last I ever blog. So I am going to write it with the fearlessness of a deathbed epistle. With the clarity of a lifetime tutelage in the field of wailing about the Nigerian Sickness.

I have broken the rambling into ten sub-sections. Some demand explanations, some don’t.

1, Nigerian Government is the only Ponzi Scheme in Nigeria

You know the CBN, governmental agencies and even the clueless House of Representatives are vocal in their disdain for MMM. They dismiss it as a ponzi scheme and call on all the good people of Nigeria to reject it. Laughs. It is laughable that the government only call on the ‘good people of Nigeria’ only when they want to shortchange Nigerians. ‘The good people of Nigeria must support subsidy removal. The good people of Nigeria must support Buhari’s change agenda’ (what the hell is it?). Etc.

But there are no good people in Nigeria no more. Only hungry people. Only frustrated people. You sit at home, hungry and watching your child walk home from school because you couldn’t pay her school fees. But you are being owed by the government, but no one cares; so the school owned by the same government pursues your child away. So you tune in the radio and hear the milk-softened voice of a politician who has never being owed, who will never be owed no matter what saying, ‘all good people of Nigeria must…’ ‘Hold it!’ It is hard to be good at this time. Nay, impossible.

This is not an endorsement of MMM; if anything, it is a shaming of government who know that we are on recession yet they buy jeep worth ten million naira every three months. Who budget billions on hardship allowances. And change furniture because they cannot sit in the same chair vacated by the previous corrupt government. And include in government payroll every member of their crony, both the living and death, plus the unborn and the un-thought of. They inflate every contract by 200 percent. But they are angry about MMM. Let thunder judge.

2, Violence is the Only Area Our Government is Efficient

Our president only reads cartoon. Can you blame him? He doesn’t even have high school certificate. Political analysis tires him; economic postulations and graphs confuse him.

‘Biafrans are protesting in Onitsha.’

‘Shias are in procession in Zaria.’

‘Niger Delta  avengers just bombed Chevron pipeline.’

These are the things Aso Rock is good at. I can (almost) hear Buhari issuing the orders, ‘Crush them! Shegu.’

Even this efficiency is tainted by northern bias which is normal with anything Buhari touches. Because Fulani herdsmen rampaging Benue, Enugu and Southern Kaduna have been spared this ‘crush them’ mentality. And with Boko Haram we see issues like: ‘We don’t have ammunition. US blocks arms sale. Soldiers morale is low. Corruption fights back. Bla bla  bla.’

3, Buhari Cares About Oyibo People More Than Us

The only criticism Buhari or the servants of Buhari respond to is the criticism in Daily Mail, the Economist, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post etc. You that is wailing in Vanguard Newspaper on Facebook, Twitter or WordPress is wasting your time and energy. The Government doesn’t care about the fact that you don’t have light, you haven’t eaten or seen no kobo of your pension. As long as the international community thinks that Buhari is a good leader and a world player, he and his people are fine.

Buhari is the woman who starves her children in order to pay jewelleries for the dance of the maiden in the market square.

4, Federal Government Values Law-Breakers More than You

Since Buhari became president no law-abiding citizen has benefitted one naira (name that person). But Boko Haram and Niger Delta Avengers have gotten alerts worth billions of naira. They are still negotiating with Boko Haram for billions more.

5, Corruption Is Still Lucrative.

If you listen to government officials like the crude Lai Mohammed and the shockingly and ingenuously clueless Kemi Adeosun you must have heard of the tiring ‘Corruption fights back’. That is also the key word of the rabid fanatical supporters of Buhari on Facebook comment boxes. Corruption doesn’t have to fight back because no one is fighting corruption. To paraphrase Ezeulu of Achebe’s Arrow of God, ‘If anybody tells you that Buhari or anyone is fighting corruption, tell him he is lying. I say tell him there is no grain of truth in his belly.’

What are Buhari and his people doing? They are fighting Buhari’s enemies. Period. How can Buhari fight corruption when:

i) his secretary of the federation used 270 million to cut grass in IDP camps;

ii) his chief of staff as Rivers governor spent billions of naira on monorail and couldn’t complete one kilometre;

iii) his chief of army staff  used snake farming to buy mansions in Dubai;

iv) his minister of power used 78 million naira for one bore hole;

v) his minister of Interior is a beneficiary of Dasuki loot;

vi) when his minister of communication reduced MTN’s fine after MTN dashed him 500 million naira data.

Etc.

I can go on and on. It is as long as the cast at the end of a Chinese movie—it’s endless. These people are sacred cows. No one can touch them.

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Now you get the picture, no one is fighting corruption.

‘At least no one is stealing’. That is another insensible excuse Buhari’s thinning supporters parrot. Even those who parrot this don’t believe their sermon. Billions are being stolen every day. How do I know? It is simple. We are running on six million naira budget. One single project hasn’t being executed yet FG is looking for addition 30 billion dollars loan. Hahaha.

Pass me the bottle jor.

6, Nollywood Will Never Change.

I know there are some movie-makers who are out to make good movies, I have heard of the movie CEO. I have seen the trailer and I believe it will make for a decent seeing. But I have also seen the poster of the movie, Chidinma and the Cucumber. I have made a post on facebook dissing the filmmaker Elvis Ogbonna whom I refer to as animal-in-chief of the federal republic (I am lenient). Imagine the punk making film from the scandal of a young girl. With the like of Elvis being able to make movies, until we deny vultures the power to make films, Nollywood will remain the laughing stock of movie industries worldwide. For every one good movie Kunle Afolayan makes there are hundreds of Elvises making nonsense. I don’t think the few creative filmmakers can compete with the Upper-Iwekalisation of Nollywood.

8, Nigerian Government is the Only Ponzi Scheme in Nigeria

I think I have said this before. Well, it can’t be overstated. The federal, state, local governments and all their arms combined are the yahoo yahoo happening in Nigeria. They are the official 419 of the Federal Republic.

Wait, did I skip item seven? I think you know why.

9, Nigeria is in the Stone Age.

Yeah, we still burn thieves alive. You steal, we catch you, we put tire around your neck, douse you with gasoline and light the light. Then we go home, take our bath and attend a rally done in defence of a big politician who stole billions.

Nigeria is jungle. And some people ask Soyinka to tear his green card; the same card which is the only link he has with the 21st century. Is like your head is not correct.

10, This is not my last rambling.

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