I never believed that true life is stranger than fiction until I read the case of Joe Fortemose Chinakwe, the young man who named his dog after his hero, Buhari, only to be arrested and detained by the Nigerian Police on the excuse that his actions were likely to breach the prevailing peace in his community of Sango-Ota, Ogun State.
About two weeks ago, Chinakwe’s hero, President Muhammadu Buhari, ordered the police to reopen the cold case murder mysteries involving Bola Ige, a former Attorney General of the Federation and Chief Aminasoari Dikibo, a one time ex-Deputy National Chairman, South-South, of the Peoples Democratic Party.
Little or nothing has been heard from the police since that order was given only for Nigeria to wake up to the almost telenovela tale of a dog named Buhari. When they are meant to deliver results, the police is busy delivering activity. Comical activity.
Perhaps what I find most interesting is that a man can be arrested for naming his dog after his hero yet in this very same country no one thought it wrong when the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, called a man, and not just any man, but a governor at that, a ‘mad dog’!
Now I get it! In today’s Nigeria, you can name a man after a dog without consequence but you cannot name a dog after a man without consequences!
Do you see how low Nigeria has fallen? Perhaps our police would like to visit the netherworld to arrest the late English novelist, George Orwell, for naming the pig in his allegorical novel, Animal Farm, after the French Emperor, Napoleon Bonaparte.
Didn’t Chinua Achebe write that “when an adult is in the house, the she-goat is not left to suffer the pains of parturition on its tether.”
But why should I be surprised? Hasn’t Nigeria degenerated to become an ‘Animal Farm’? Just like in Orwell’s novella, we are living in a country where animals have displaced humans.
Why won’t our morals become warped to the extent that we care more for animal rights than for human rights when elders like Professor Wole Soyinka did not see anything wrong in calling the wife of a seating President a ‘Hippopotamus’?
Why won’t our morals go to the dogs when our government is more interested in protecting the rights of cows via grazing reserves rather than protecting the lives of its own citizens by way of prosecuting killer herdsmen, who, as our president assures us, are from ‘Libya’? These marauders, who have killed thousands of innocent Nigerians in the last 18 months have for some reason become so bold even as our security agents have become so timid before them.
And the case of Joe Fortemose Chinakwe exposes a troubling pattern. We seem to have a government that cares more for the right of certain categories of foreigners than for the right of its own citizens.
Why do I say so?
Well consider that the complainant who lodged a complaint with the police against Mr. Chinakwe is allegedly a foreigner from Niger Republic (by the testimony of Mr. Chinakwe). On the strength of a complaint by a foreigner that he feels offended by the name a Nigerian chose to give his dog, the Nigerian police swung into action and became so efficient overnight that it sent its men to fetch the erring Chinakwe and locked him up for his audacity.
Then also consider that the herdsmen (notice I said herdsmen, not Fulani herdsmen) that have killed thousands of Nigerians are said, by no less a personality than our President, to be foreigners from faraway ‘Libya’ and perhaps other nations in between.
Now we have established the pattern. But why is the pattern troubling?
It is troubling because it is beginning to seem that when the interests of Nigerian citizens clash with the interests of certain classes of foreigners, the interest of the foreigner prevails over the interest of the Nigerian.
And there are more instances to prove my hypothesis.
I was recently in Nigeria to preach at a church in Abuja and I noticed that foreigners clear through immigration faster than Nigerian citizens at our airports. At foreign airports the reverse is the case. Citizens clear faster than foreigners.
I am betting that I am not the only one who has experienced this anomaly.
What is it with Nigerians? It is this same attitude that makes us worship anybody with a foreign accent. We do not like ourselves and we like foreigners and yet we expect foreigners to like us.
Foreigners are not fools, you know. They will find it difficult to like us if we do not like ourselves. After all we know ourselves better than they know is, and if we do not like ourselves then that sends a red flag to the foreigner.
And to the Nigerian police, let me say that the popular flutist Tee Mac Omatshola Iseli has a dog named Obasanjo (seriously, he does). Should he also prepare for arrest?
What more can I say? Nigeria never ceases to amaze!
Omokri is the founder of the Mind of Christ Christian Center in California, author of Shunpiking: No Shortcuts to God and Why Jesus Wept and the host of Transformation with Reno Omokri