When A Joke Has Gone Too Far

Elisha Abbo

COUNTERPOINT By Femi Akintunde-Johnson, fajswhatnots2011@gmail.com, 08033622806 (text only)

What else shall we say about the formerly arrogant Nigerian senator who caused quite a storm inside an Abuja sex-toy shop in July last year…and has now been canonized as patron saint of the Nigerian body of professional actors? Of course, we join our voice in condemning the process and pundits that co-joined to promote such a man whose acrobatic onslaught on two women store owners provoked widespread uproar across the world. The CCTV video seemed like a scene out of Nollywood’s depiction of savagery against women.

In verbal and physical demonstration of extreme anger mismanagement, the newly elected senator from Adamawa sought to teach a pesky woman how not to talk to a distinguished and utterly disconnected member of the power elite with few unforgettable slaps, and some kicks. The viral video was a sordid illustration of the depth and wantonness of our leadership misery.

The following scenarios of public apologies, feigned humility and dosage of intransigence, spiced with veiled hints of undisturbed collapse of any punitive consequences…all these built up simmering animosity against Nigerian men, irrespective of status and origin, who are seen as closet predators and abusers of women’s rights and privileges.

Elisha Abbo was justifiably vilified and held up as an example of human specie incapable of adequate emotional intelligence, among other inadequacies. The power of the men-dominated media, the unrelenting roll of Time, and tumbling series of unfortunate and distracting events conspired to sweep the matter under the carpet. Or so we thought.

Well, that delusional thinking must have been the cause of the robust lapse in judgement of the men and, I suppose, women of the Actors Guild of Nigeria, AGN, who recently stirred the devil awake by appointing Abbo, and some other notable (some would say objectionable) names into their board of trustees and patrons. The Emeka Rollas-led actors’ body (well, they seem to have assumed the American loose profiling of “actor” to represent both male and female species of the thespian way) has walked into a blinding gale of opposition to the selection of Abbo especially, and arguably to a lesser degree, that of former senator and noted amateur comic, Dino Melaye. Interestingly, Melaye has also been known to “molest” women verbally, and some would swear, physically… with names mentioned within the same acting enclave.

While one cannot legislate for a group of people on who they should associate with or pick as lamp-holders of their vision and principles, it is wise to respect and respond to the sensibilities of your people, the vast majority of whom you dote on to validate your creativity, and basically sustain and promote your economic rights and aspirations. Some sympathisers of the AGN’s gaffe argued that since Abbo has fully apologized (debatable) and the primary victim has duly accepted (very doubtful), it is incumbent on the nation (read the aggrieved womenfolk, especially feminists) to rise to the biblical injunction (to err is human, to forgive is divine), and let a contrite “sinner” be fully reintegrated into the comity of responsible and reasonable citizenry. Very well.
May be one of our problems in this country is that we are too forgiving, to the point that our tolerance is used as mop to smash us in the face, as so-called repentant rogues design bigger and more devastating schemes and heists to diminish and impoverish us further.

When people do bad things, and show contrition or remorse, it is good to forgive. It is also important that in forgiving, a kernel of punishment, corrective and regenerative, is served the guilty party to swallow. The purpose of this is two fold: the severity of the punishment is tempered in such a way that a repentant soul is not further crushed by heavy-handed censure. Secondly, the automatic consequence of wrong-doing is certain in a regime of corrective actions that ignores status or stature, and therefore serves as unmistakable deterrence to would-be offenders.

In the light of the foregone, it is remiss for the AGN to assume that Abbo has served enough punishment in the heart of an abused nation, and therefore should be decorated as some sort of refurbished saint. It is irresponsible of AGN, and vicariously those in support of his selection for whatever reason, to throw up issues that make our leaders confident in their infantile belief that they can get away with anything in Nigeria…it’s just a matter of time…and cash.

It is truly hoped that as you’re reading this, the AGN, or those who appreciate the meaning and possibilities of their statuses as lightning rods of our society, would have done the needful, and retraced from what is, all too clear, a stroll into ignominy.

A word for Senator Abbo though…if you seek to perform some acts of retribution, or suppress the demons that worry incorruptible misogynists, you can start by fronting a process or campaign that seeks to re-educate and reintegrate violators of women’s rights and space…using yourself as example of a wrong made right by the power of true repentance and forgiveness flowing from an indulgent society…. it’s a matter of time, and guts.
May the days ahead lead the characters involved in this non-evento to take the right steps, and not sit hunchback on a stinky pile of indecision or infamy.

COVID-19: A Life-Changing Twist
The world is coming to an end… No, the world is not coming to an end… The onslaught of the dreaded Novel Coronavirus (aka COVID-19) across the universe; the attendant struggles of governments and health authorities in the so-called advanced countries; and mid-level panic mode yonder in running supermarkets and grocery shops out of necessities…have combined to chase down other important news across the world.

In Nigeria, we are so busy counting the days and weeks, and waiting with baited breath amidst flagging optimism that our list of probable victims and confirmed patients of COVID-19 would remain within the low ambit of our suspected capacity.

We are praying our government, notorious for bungling of numbers during moments of calamities, are not macro-managing the actual numbers of suspected victims. We are worried that the world, especially Europe, were not proactively attentive to preventive and precautionary measures to manage and control their territorial borders, especially the very busy and open international airports.

These streaks of Armageddon and such end-time conspiracies and prophecies have saturated the internet, especially the social networks…that Nigerians hardly had time to worry about the impending implosion in APC as its chairman, Adam Oshiomhole fought for his political life… No one was engrossed with the multiple signatures of Amotekun bills across the South West states, nor did the musings of governors of South East and North West to knock out their versions of Amotekun warrant our interest.

Coronavirus has so overtaken our conversations and other narratives that we have not had time to evaluate the implications of Joe Biden’s late rally to shatter the dream of socialist-democrat, Bernie Sanders in the march to November, 2020 US presidential election.

One thing is certain though: our lives have been so scarred and defined by a wondrous pandemic which at once seems ordinary, and yet provocatively deadly. We will continue to monitor its sweep and spread… hoping and preparing for dwindling destruction and fewer deaths in its wake… We shall continue to report and review how our lives have completely transformed and, in some cases, reformed by the way and measures we respond to the threat and curse of Coronavirus, the invisible, sporadic killer.