Sunday, November 19, 2017


So, when did polygyny become a distasteful arrangement in Nigeria?

I am confused. This entire side-chick syndrome didn't exist a decade, or so, ago because most of you did come from a polygyny setup. And if you weren't aware of it initially, you were fully informed when your father died. Branches of his polygyny sprouted from the family tree at his burial, and you met new siblings that lived just as well as you did.

We despise polygyny because it isn't "woke" enough. That's the stuff our fathers did. Polyandry is being applauded in some quarters because, well, it sounds different. It's the same way we embrace feminism without having a clue what to do with it.

While you are all slashing the cheek of some side-chick for trespassing, realize that polygyny is going nowhere.

As long as the Nigerian masses still live below a dollar daily; as long as there are no jobs, no water, poor institutions that meet our health, legal, educational needs... as long as our aspirations cannot come true under the Nigerian dream, sorry, nightmare, polygyny is the only way average Nigerians can meet their needs. The few successful ones will have to love, sex, and provide for the majority of broken dreams. It's that simple.

I had a relationship where the account manager of my boyfriend would call by 11pm, flirting and throwing all the green lights she can afford to give. You think she is calling to share the word of God? She probably has a "fiance" somewhere, but she can see very clearly this customer has the kind of money that will sort her out for life. If he agreed to the chase, and ask that she come over to wherever he was at that moment, you really think she's going to turn him down? Of course not! It's a mix of a lot of errors - poverty is one. Not blatant poverty, but lower middle-class poverty that is always one cheque away from being broke.

Polygyny will thrive in a country where credit facilities do not exist. If you want a house, you're going to have to bring your N1.2m annual rent along. No monthly payment, except you, live in Oshodi, paying N4,800 monthly for a crib that occupies you and a chicken. If you have dreams, the system doesn't support you. You need a car? You'll have to bring the entire N8.6m cash along. Bank facilities? Don't even bother. As tough as the system is in Nigeria, religion allows you to act like you are against the lifestyle that keeps you.

Polyandry is hip now because a few "civilized" countries talk about it like a cool sport. And feminism along with transexual rights are focusing on empowering women. However, polygyny reminds us of the patriarchy we need to dismantle. But as long as Nigeria is concerned, I am yet to see how polygyny is a bad thing. 

In third world countries, many women rise out of poverty because polygyny exist. This country has no proper system for alimony, child support, spousal support... what we have is a man who is willing to love you and take care of you. It's belittling, yes. But so is profound lack. If you don't want to live that way, you'll need to work hard and think hard. But we are not thinkers per se.

There's a girl on Instagram that hops around celebrities' comment section to drop this:

"Plix I want to be in a movie. How do I do it? Help me."

She's an adult. But she wants a route that wouldn't require any kind of work. At the end of the day, she's going to find someone who'll invite her over to a guesthouse, have sex, play a dead role in a movie that mean absolutely nothing, continue with the sex for roles hoping it'll eventually mean something for her career, get pregnant, become a baby mama and probably get a neat crib at Mafoluku to keep baby and mama happy.

I worked with a writer once who drove a badass Mercedes Benz, hardly repeated a dress twice and lived in Lekki (No, it wasn't company accommodation).  Me, her boss, was riding a Rav4 and living on the mainland. Do you really think her staff writer wage could afford her that lifestyle? No, it is not her parents' money either. I earn ten times more than she could ever be paid as a writer. Yet she lived an easier life. We never talked about it, of course. It is none of my business. But that, to a large extent, is what I call "polygyny lite" - when a man keeps you happy whilst you roll your buttocks in circles to please him.

These things will always be with us, because poverty is always around the corner, and poverty is not an easy option.

Joy Isi Bewaji is a prolific writer, editor, columnist, Managing Director at Happenings Radio, co-founder of, and Creative Director at The Network Bank. 

Thursday, November 16, 2017

The Reinhard Bonnke's Farewell crusade : Great Lessons.

Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke
The just-concluded Reinhard Bonnke's farewell crusade taught me a great lesson that will remain with me all the days of my life on earth.

The preparation for the crusade centered around heads of churches and ministries, officers of the Christian Association of Nigeria ( CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria ( PFN). Committees were drawn from these groups to cater for accommodation, IT needs, counseling of new converts and transportation.

At the committee level, a number of heads of ministries and churches were particular about the finance, how much will be available to them in cash but the Deeper life church was particular about the souls. I'm not a member of Deeper life but as a top officer I watched on. Others kept on demanding for money to work but the officials of the Deeper life Church were encouraging the brethren to sacrifice. The Deeper life church supplied about 50,000 counselors and provided their camp free of charge to any counselor who may want to sleep over irrespective of the church such may come from. Its like they are well grounded in the spirit of sacrifice. When the program eventually was begun, they were everywhere scouting for souls as others were scouting for financial remuneration. Immediately the committees were informed that there won't be any money for transportation, many went recumbent but the Deeper life church was spending their personal money and likewise spending themselves. Like I earlier said I'm not a member of the Deeper life church but their commitment in following up converts challenged me and left in me an indelible mark. They forsook all to ensuring none of the harvests was wasted.

The way some people appear and dance and behave is not in line with the Deeper life doctrine but they jettisoned all of that for them to harvest souls. I'm not surprised because their doctrine centers almost exclusively on the rewards afterlife and it brought for them a great dividend in this crusade. They never allowed the efforts of the Reinhard Bonnke's ministry go down the drain.

Many of us know too much, talk too much but none is translating to good quality service that will endear to the hearts of the master.

We need to change our attitude towards money as ministers because the love of money is the root of all the evils being witnessed in Nigeria and in the church today.


May I add this as an "eyewitness" and not just an "online witness". I saw the largest crowd I have ever witnessed. The Holy Spirit controlled the mammoth crowd that there was orderliness even though people were standing shoulder to shoulder. There were a lot of entertainments and true worship. However, when Bonnke came to the stage it was clear he was not there for entertainment. He was a man with burden and passion for the salvation of souls. No new message of salvation just like the Bible with the same old message of Christ crucified. However, there was power, power, as there was complete and full attention throughout. At times he appears to want to weep, at times you will hear the sound of his heavy breathing from the microphone like an aged person overstressing his energy limit. He must continue preaching because that is the last message or appeal of Christ's General, to Nigerians, no, the whole world, to embrace Christ. After the message, he made an altar call. 

Nearly all the crowd raised their hands. Most of them definitely are from Pentecostal churches and I begin to wonder why many Pentecostals are not sure of salvation and what their pastors are teaching them. After that his successor, Kolenda came up to minister healing. He started with praise worship which is not entertaining but really connecting to heaven. He made simple prayers. To my surprise, no single "falling under anointing". Did miracle happen? Kolenda asked those who received miracles to raise up their hands. They were in thousands. As if it was too much for him to believe, he clarified and asked only those who have experienced physical bodily changes to raise their hands; still the same thousands. From the testimonies, it was clear that the Man of Galilee actually visited us. Now listen, Bonnke came to transfer his anointing to those who care. A thousand Bonnke's are not enough to evangelize the ever-increasing godless world, but they can make a difference. May God raise thousands of Bonnke's for this generation and I want to be one. What about you? Just start somewhere and who knows...

Source: Facebook

Empowerment: Ad Hoc People, Ad Hoc Country.

Nigerians just like to trivialize issues unnecessarily. Frankly, it's annoying. Okay, I am annoyed. I don vex. Shey una happy now?

I have been following arguments on Ogbeni Ganduje's empowerment of the Mai Shai people in Kano. There has been some very powerful advocacy for the economy and the economics of Mai Shayism.

Those sympathetic to Ganduje's gesture have made seductive and persuasive submissions in favour of the legitimacy of the Mai Shai as a cornerstone of the informal and SME sectors, especially in the North.

I've been reading and following the arguments and wondering: who exactly is quarreling with any of these submissions? Who exactly is saying that Mai Shayism is not a legitimate pillar of the informal economy that should be encouraged? Who exactly is saying that the Mai Shai is not running an SME? Why do people like to set up a submission that nobody is making and spend two days demolishing it?

I even have a cultural stake in the Mai Shai stuff. I am a Professor of Literature and Culture. Think of what the barbershop represents in African American history and culture. The Mai Shai's stall is a cultural environment. It is a space of street culture and discourse. It is a space of critical agency for the people. It is not just about tea, bread, and eggs.

Here is the trouble with Ganduje. The next time you hear the word, "empowerment", from any Nigerian politician and his aides, line them up in public and crack coconuts on their empowerment heads.
Empowerment competes with another word, ultramodern, for the position of the most abused, most bastardized word in Nigeria's postcolonial history. Empowerment is what replaced another famous word, "miscellaneous", in Nigeria's infamous imaginary of corruption.
When I was growing up, "miscellaneous", was your father's house of many mansions inside which you dumped every imaginable and unimaginable corruption detail in a budget or in an invoice heading. The life of three generations of Nigerians was mortgaged under "miscellaneous" in budget items by the destroyers of Nigeria.

Then, the UN, NGOs and other international agencies began to "empower" all over the global south. We hijacked the word and the concept, completely ignorant of the meaning, and began to replace "miscellaneous" with "empowerment" in every actuation of corruption in our national life.

Funny enough, the global instances who donated that register to us are moving away from it. It is actually now a pejorative term which connotes arrogance on the part of the "empowerer" and denies the "empoweree" critical agency.

In Nigeria, it has stuck. Every Governor, every Minister, every Rep, every Senator - and their wives - will steal billions, spend a few thousands or millions buying food items or domestic appliances or ero alota or sewing machines, line up women and children and farmers and traders, line up journalists, cut a ribbon, and declare empowerment!

The sociological impact of this nonsense has been immense. Nigeria is paying an immense price. Empowerment is the opium of the people. It is the way we legitimize an ad hoc culture and philosophy in our national life. If you want to account for Nigeria's laziness and apathy to 21st-century solutions to anything, study the culture of empowerment. We reach out for ad hoc solutions every time to every imaginable problem. And we absolve the oppressor of his responsibilities while clapping for him.

No light in the villages? No problem. Mr Governor will buy a few generators and distribute as empowerment. We clap and absolve him of the need for 21st-century solutions.
No light in our police stations? No worries. While the Inspector-General is busy on the amorous front, Ambode will empower his boys in Lagos with I better pass my neighbour. We clap and move on.

No potable water in the villages? No problem. Mr Governor will dig a borehole. His wife will buy 3 million sachets of pure water and distribute to women and traders to empower them. We clap and absolve them of the need for 21st-century durable and sustainable solutions.
No health facilities and no health insurance and no drugs in the hospitals? No problem. The Governor or his wife will pay an unscheduled visit to a hospital tomorrow and pick up the medical bills of every patient on admission in order to empower them. We clap and absolve him of his responsibility to deliver 21st-century health facilities and healthcare delivery system.

Some say there are street vendors too in obodo oyibo. Absolutely! Especially hot dog vendors with street stalls. However, it would be crazy for the Premier of Ontario to go and buy patties, hot dogs, burger buns, and stalls, line up a few hundred street vendors, distribute the goodies and say she is empowering their business.

No, Madam Premier, you can't do that. That's not how we roll in civilization. Leave such an irresponsible approach to human capital development to the 17th-century folks in Nigeria. You and your administration must go and fashion out policies, sound economic policies, that would empower the businesses of these people. What, for instance, are you doing to guarantee their access to micro-credit and sundry micro-finance? That is one way to ensure that their capital base will be enhanced and you won't have to give them fish. Madam Premier, you can't just dig your hands into public funds, buy hot dogs, and distribute them to street hot dog vendors in Ottawa as empowerment.

Because we are an ad hoc people with an ad hoc mentality, we never think of what happens after empowerment. A few years ago, maybe one year into Ogbeni's tenure in Osun, I recall Semiu Okanlawon gleefully posting photos of his Oga's empowerment materials in one village. We clapped and moved on.

Up until last year, my broda, Baaroyin Kayode Odunaro, was inundating Facebook with photos of empowerment materials donated to constituents by his Senator boss till I took my irritated ass and went after him with koboko. After the ero alota and sewing machines, what next? We clap and absolve the Senator and the Governor of their responsibility to really empower people with durable and sustainable solutions.

Two years ago, Commonsense Tweetnator, Ben Murray-Bruce, made a show of riding okada to his constituency to distribute rice, Ajinomoto, exercise books, and other empowerment materials. What next? He has since retreated to Twitter and forgotten his constituents.

Once the Mai Shais of Kano are done with this largesse, I hope they do not think that Ganduje owes them any responsibility for social and economic policies that could really help them. He has provided an ad hoc solution.

By now, he has moved on. He is probably thinking of the next demographic to empower. What about the market porters in Kano? I won't be surprised to hear that he has sent a delegation to Samuel Ortom in Benue to study the immediate and remote strategies of distributing wheelbarrows to porters as empowerment.

He will steal N1 billion, spend an N100 million on wheelbarrows...

We clap.
We move on.
Ad hoc people, ad hoc country.

Pius Adesanmi is a Professor of English and Director, Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. He was previously an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University in the United States. He is the inaugural winner of the Penguin Prize for African Writing in the non-fiction category

Sunday, November 12, 2017


Today, the convoys of Rotimi Amaechi and Nyesom Wike clashed in Port Harcourt. Tomorrow, the airwaves will be flooded by their aides. There will be narratives and counter-narratives. Colourful lies will clash with colourful hyperbole. Aides will be locked in a competition to win public sympathy for their bosses. On all sides, the scramble for the winning story actually starts tonight.

Citizen, let me advise you. Let the aides do what they are paid to do. You have no dog in this fight. It is just two irresponsible Nigerian leaders involved in a street fight. Who is right and who is wrong between Wike and Amaechi is none of your business. Both men are mountains on your back. They are your oppressor. In these tough economic times, do not be misled by aides to waste your precious data taking sides with one man against the other. The only way this applies to you is that you are the grass beneath the feet of the two elephants going at it naked in public.

You want to know how you are the grass? Come with me.

Thanks are due to Sahara Reporters for providing photographic slides of the street location of the skirmish in Port Harcourt. They are fighting in dirty, rain-soaked streets. Evidence of horrible drainage abounds in the photos. There is some flooding. Everything looks jaga jaga like the streets of urban Nigeria look whenever the rains come.
Between the two shameless adults fighting in streets without proper drainage, you can account for nearly twenty years of visionless and irresponsible leadership of Rivers, one of Nigeria's richest states. These would cover Rotimi Amaechi's years as Speaker of the State House of Assembly and Governor, as well as Wike's two years as Governor thus far.
Two men, twenty wasted years in the life of a state, twenty wasted years in the lives of the citizens! Yet they are there in the streets of Port Harcourt, fighting against the backdrop of the very urban poverty and planlessness that are evidence of their combined failure of leadership. The lack of any capacity for sober reflection on the part of these two men is galling. Anyway, if there was anybody capable of sober reflection in the leadership of Nigeria, we would not be here, would we?

The only other thing that should concern you is the detail that there were armed soldiers in Amaechi's convoy. No soldiers were reported in Wike's convoy. Allah be praised for that one.

The irresponsible use of the Nigerian Army is one area where it has been tough, really tough, so tough for us to develop enough civic consciousness in the people and mobilize them, even at the symbolic level, against such primitive practices in the 21st century.

Nationally, we are at a stage of psychological and prelogical development which has a very large swathe of our citizens form a Greek chorus of praise every time the military is misused in civilian spaces. I do not know the solution to this sociopathy because many among those who should form the public enlightenment and reorientation cohort draw a line the moment it comes to the misuse of the military and instead transforms themselves to the intellectual vanguard of the military in civilian spaces.

For now, if you support the government of the day, every use of the military is welcome. When we support this demented violations of governance and democratic ethos by the Nigerian ruling class, you end up in a situation in which soldiers form part of the convoy of a Federal Minister! It could be that people just do not understand that there is a direct line from using the military for routine law enforcement to using the military to drive civilian Ogas around town. I understand that in certain cases, soldiers even carry madam's handbag when she is going to the market.

On what basis is Rotimi Amaechi going around the streets of Nigeria with armed soldiers in his convoy? How is this even imaginable? How is this even allowable?

One of Nigeria's great sons, also from Rivers state, was murdered by the Federal Government many years ago. Ken Saro Wiwa went to the hangman asking a question we must repeat again and again:

What manner of a country is this?
What manner of a country is this?
What manner of a country is this?

Pius Adesanmi is a Professor of English and Director, Institute of African Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada. He was previously an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the Pennsylvania State University in the United States. He is the inaugural winner of the Penguin Prize for African Writing in the non-fiction category