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Four wolves and a lamb Imagine four wolves and a lamb seated round a dinning table. 'What's for lunch,' the red-eyed wolf asks. 'I'm so hungry I could eat a house,' the most hairy one growls 'And this debate is taking too long. Let's put it to vote, what do you think, lamb,' asks the fattest wolf, smacking his lips

'Y—-e—-s, let's vote,' the shivering lamb shuttered.

Does the lamb need Nostradamus to tell him that he's the only thing on the menu? He's the starters, main course and dessert. And in case he has illusions about the let's-put-it-to-vote angle, he's the dumbest thing since Adam left Eden. The lamb is outnumbered, so he'd be outvoted. With those wolves grumbling, growling and smacking their lips, they know the lamb has no say on how they'll eat him - boiled, roasted or baked. The lamb is food, nothing more.

That is the story of the Nigerian ruled and rulers. Never mind that there are more ruled than the rulers, our political office holders have displayed enough meanness for us to realize that we are outnumbered. They are the wolves and we the shivering lambs. Our democracy is like those of the four wolves and the lamb. What's not been eaten will soon be. What's not been grabbed is just a few days away from being siphoned abroad. Whatever great house has not been bought in London or New York has not been discovered by one of our leaders. And wherever there is a holiday resort without a Nigerian leader is not worth mentioning.

The appetite of the big bad wolves is gluttonously ravenous. Yes, they award contracts before cameras but there are no good roads. They reel off lofty ideas for education but where are the schools? And they are supposed to give a hoot when their kids school abroad?

It's not just their thick fingers that are in the till. They live in our vaults. Like the wolves have evil designs on the entrails of the lamb (they are great for pepper soup and isi-ewu, by the way) our public office holders have it all figured out what they'd do with us. It's annoying, and exasperating when one's anger is almost totally impotent. The wolves are in high places, what can the lamb do except find an escape route? Unfortunately, a desperate man on the run from certain death has every tendency to be so overwhelmed by the terror on his trail as to run into a more dangerous alley. And that is the misfortune of an increasing number of Nigerians. They have taken refuge in the city of crime, a place that is just next door to hell.

There are too many suspicious things happening in our polity. Our politicians, political office holders and leaders have not given a good account of themselves except to their bankers. It does not look like Nigerians really count. For the wolves, it's politics as usual. The days between 2003 and 2007 were simply for getting ready for elections. They were days to stack up guns for unleashing terror to keep voters indoors while their party agents took off on Okada with ballot boxes. The days between one swearing-in ceremony and another are periods to buy new houses abroad, siphon allocations into foreign accounts and rationalize bad roads at media briefings.

The months between one May 29 and another in Nigeria are for Nigerian leaders to get fatter while Nigerian get thinner. The date May 29 means something to the rulers in Nigeria and another to the ruled.

Their worries differ.
For me it is bah and humbug worrying about the tribunals and analyzing political judgments. Complicated political issues that are difficult to understand on empty stomachs. Nigerians, poor fellows, don't really begrudge our rulers their wealth but they can't imagine why they have to, not only be poor, but get steadily poorer.

It is so annoying, the way we all concentrate on politics and the players while the real issues are left to fester. Perhaps I'm so angry I'm not making sense but there is so much pain, so many avoidable deaths, deprivation in the land and I just wonder if all our governors, local government chairmen do is play politics. They paste posters and stay in our faces for as long as they want; do whatever they have to do to get into office and then go ahead to tirelessly practice greed and manipulation for four years.

Slowly but steadily, our public office holders have turned our democracy into a process where four wolves and a lamb have to vote on what to have for lunch. Wolves know lunch when they see it. Just like our leaders know, even if we don't, that election, public office and four years in the laps of luxury is one big lunch date. We are the lambs. Of course, they won't own up to bang the wolves. But we know who is eating and who's getting eaten.

Sure, there are more brand-new cars on the streets than ever before but how many of their owners can drive with his windows down in traffic? Can you predict a one-year life span for your new communicator phone, especially if you live in Lagos? Without adding 'by the grace of God; can you boldly say your neighbourhood is so safe that you'd not be robbed? Crime, dishonesty, every shady deal under the sun have become the name of the game in Nigeria. Like the doomed lamb and the four democratic wolves, poor Nigerians in desperation have established a rapport with evil deeds. The biggest emerging sector of the economy is crime. I once wrote that hostage-taking was the emerging sector but the way things stand, it is but a sub-sector.

Scrambling for safety and in desperation, the cornered lamb has taken refuge in the city of crime.

20-year-olds are being jailed for internet fraud. The city of crime is catching them young, destroying our future with the precision of a Swiss watch.

But the drug trade takes the cake. Suddenly everybody is doing drugs - old men, pregnant women, footballers, even church leaders. When they are not wrapping cocaine in bitter leaf, they are tying it round their waists like 'jigida'. Abut two weeks ago, a young Nigerian was caught with the stuff tied round his waist, in addition to the 66 wraps he had ingested. How many balls of eba can any sane person swallow? 66 wraps of cocaine!

That is desperation in all the colours of the rainbow. Apart from the risk of a 15-year jail term, and public disgrace if he's caught, if 66 wraps of cocaine burst in a human stomach, I don't think even modern medicine would know how to stop the certain trip to the morgue. But a lamb the wolves want for lunch would use any escape route.

A young former Nigerian footballer decided that 10 years of ill-luck with the round leather game was all he could stand. He took to the drug trade. He got caught. Another desperate lamb, escaping from four hungry wolves.

And yet another report said a Cherubim and Seraphim church leader is cooling his feet at the Area 10 Garki police station in Abuja for drugs. Until now he had found ways out of many arrests and had never been convicted. Such is the popularity of the drug trade. It's like there is an IPO going on.

But the most pathetic is the story of Biodun whose parents (both) have been arrested for drugs smuggling. The poor SS3 boy is distressed, distraught. He is alone with his siblings with only an auntie to watch over them.

He can no longer concentrate on his studies. He is worried how his surname will affect his future. His parents' choice of line of business may have marred him for life.

'As you can see, I can't go to church because I don't know what people will say.'

Biodun has also stopped going to his extra-mural classes out of shame.

Illegal detention camps are springing up in Ibadan, Oyo State capital like mushrooms. Kidnappers are consolidating their capital bases.

I guess since the government can't do more than set up big offices for poverty alleviation, Nigerians have set up their own parallel poverty alleviation programmes. It's a sick way to be self-employed but it's working, isn't? Until you get caught.

Armed robbers now speak Queen's English because they are university degree holders. After their mandatory one-year service to the fatherland, they are now serving themselves. In traffic in Lagos, they simply whip out polythene bags and announce, 'offering time, blessing time', and car owners cheerfully give their money, jewelry and cell phones.

Can things get worse? Oh yes, they can and may, unless the wolves change their choice of food and remove the lamb from their menu list.

However, if the wolves persist in their ways, one day soon there will be blood spilling on the rug like it is from a broken jug. And it won't be the blood of the lamb.