And its finally here. Baba Risi and Sikiru the international weed seller of Oniru come together in this episode to deliver a rib cracking episode. I had immense fun with @SagaySagay cooking this one up.
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The smartly dressed female anchor looked straight into the camera and adopted the ‘I’m serious leaning on one arm forward’ pose as she said “Good evening Nigeria, and this is the show you’ve all been waiting for. I have here with me in the studio, the liveliest and most unexpected mix of guests today. We’re talking about the economy and what it takes to build a business in Nigeria today. I have here the honorable Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister for the economy, Professor Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala.”
The camera changed focus and the erudite professor filled the screen on the millions of Nigerian televisions tuned in for the broadcast. Sporting her trademark headtie and Ankara attire and glasses, she did not smile for the camera. “Good evening Nigeria,” she said simply and the camera move away.
The anchor continued “also here with us is a successful business man, with business interests spanning” she coughed here and she searched for the words “agriculture and downstream oil, Mr. Sikiru Oniru.”
The camera panned to Sikiru and zoomed in on his face. His Oyo tribal marks contrasted his sparkling white shirt and cardigan. Sikiru was looking like something from the pages of GQ, all you had to do was cut the scarred head off and replace with one of those sporting waves carrying guys. He had come a long way from his jeans and t-shirt hustling days on the sands of Oniru beach.
He smiled for the camera, exposing a Mecca acquired gold tooth and said ebulliently “Thank you very much for asking us to come. How are you Naija?”
“And my third and final guest for the evening is Alhaji Kazeem Faisal, better known as Baba Risi.”
Baba Risi came into view donning his favored white kaftan and skull cap. The AC in this Nigerian station was not working like the Aljazeera one. Naija sha. He raised his hands and said boisterously “Fellow Nigerians, welcome to the show. As I always say Ni-gee-ri-ya yi ti gbogbo wa ni” he burst into the popular Sunny Ade song and he was joined by Sikiru on the refrain “Ko ma gbodo ba je…”
When they were done, the anchor found a point to cut in and then completed her introductory talk “yes, I have interesting guests today, I’m sure you have seen some of this already. So call your friends, family, neighbors and everyone around. I’m your host, Adaku Achimologu. We…”
“Wetin be that oooo?” Baba Risi interrupted.
“What exactly sir?” Adaku asked, trying hard to mask her embarrassment. They were on air for Christ’s sake.
“Na so dem dey call your name? with sprin sprin like that wey we no go hear.”
“Abi o,” joined in Sikiru. “I dey watch am as she call madam name, call my own and your own join with this pho-ne wey I no understand. I say, even if she no know how dem dey call all our names, she must sabi her own name. She come talk the thing like this,” and he mimicked how she had pronounced her name.
“Madam, your name na Ada-aku Ashimologu” Baba Risi said pointedly in his thick Yoruba accent.
Ngozi had refused to comment until now, but with the murderous way both the owner of the name and the correctors had pronounced it, she stepped in addressing Adaku.
“How long were you away for?”
“Three years,” Adaku responded.
“I take it then that you were already an adult before you travelled. How then did you so quickly forget how to say your name correctly? I’ve been away from Nigeria for much longer and I still say Ngozi properly. Lady and gentlemen, the correct pronunciation is” she cleared her throat and said in the proper Ibo accent “Adaku Achimologu”.
If Adaku was white, she would have been red in the cheeks by now. They quickly went for the commercial break and she did all she could to regain her composure by the time they got back on air. If the monitoring systems for viewers tuned in for a TV program worked in Nigeria, they would have seen a sharp upsurge in the number of people that tuned in during the commercial break. Word of the small drama had spread on twitter and blackberries already and people tuned in. Even Femi Fani-Kayode’s statement about long term and intimate relationship with Bianca Ojukwu did not generate such interest.
“Welcome back viewers,” Adaku said, with the accent noticeably toned down. Twitter went gaga again for those few seconds with everyone falling over themselves to capture the moment in 140 characters. Adaku addressed Ngozi
“Recently, the midterm report on the economy you gave showed a lot of positives but it also drew many reactions from Nigerians. Can you shed light on this viz a viz the impact of such macro economics on Nigerians who want to do business?”
Ngozi cleared her throat “we have grown the economy by over 7% in the last five years, and inflation is single digit. Nigeria’s rating on ease of doing business has consistently improved year on year. Our banks are stronger due to banking reforms. Non oil revenue accounts for a larger chunk of our GDP now than it did five years ago. It is easy to do business and succeed in Nigeria.”
Adaku turned to Sikiru “Mr. Sikiru, what are your thoughts on this?”
Sikiru smiled “Madam dey blow grammar o. E no easy to do any business for Naija. Which inflation is single digit? Single digit ko, double barrel ni. Which bank dey borrow us money sef? Abegi. And she sabi how much we dey pay as ‘roger’ to police and wey we dey spend for generator? Even if her number dey talk 20% growth, that one na grammar. And as P Square talk am, grammar na for dictionary.”
Baba Risi cut in “I see am wey madam dey talk say e be like cake. Abeg, how many of the people wey she dey follow talk don chop cake this year? If she come my court, come see the number of cases of generator dispute wey I dey settle weekly. If light dey, people go dey fight on when to on generator? She dey talk GDP sef, who dey feel our GDP apart from PDP members? Me, I dey with Sikiru on this matter.”
Ngozi fumed. She had agreed to this debate on the advice of her PR team who told her perception was that she talked above ordinary Nigerians.
“Mr. Sikiru, you pay the police willingly only because your business is not legitimate. Are you not Sikiru the world renowned weed seller?”
“An an, Madam Ngo, this is not right. All of us have our sides that we don’t want to say here now. Why you no mention my chain of filling stations? Abi, you wey dey talk, na only Minister you be? You think say we no know Venture Capital ni and how the ownership structure be? Fifty Million Dollars to Jonjon. No call dog monkey for us abeg.” Sikiru responded.
“What the hell are you insinuating mister?” Ngozi asked, flaring up visibly.
Baba Risi laughed “Ngo, calm down now, oya drop hand for pastor. We know say na where you dey work you go chop, na why dem dey call am workshop, so we no dey talk say you do bad thing to put your brother as oga for the company.”
Adaku saw that the minister was about to boil over and she quickly moved to salvage the situation “Gentlemen, please refrain from making such sweeping statements.”
“An an, Adaku, no be she first accuse Sikiru ni? Anyway, oya we dey hear you.”
“So Madam, what would you say is the most important attribute a business must possess to stand strong?”
Ngozi adjusted her headtie and cleared her throat before responding “Like any good organization, a business must strive to improve transparency, accountability and leverage key alliances. They must keep on raising the bar, keep on pushing boundaries…”
“Kai, madam, with all this your English, you for come meet the man wey dey my court two days ago, Mr. Romanus of Haba Habatically People’s Congress! That one na for book o, e no dey work for streets. Adaku and Nigerians, abeg make Sikiru wey don build business tell us how he do am jare.”
“What the hell is wrong with you? Can’t you be civilized and let people finish speaking, wait your turn before jumping in?” Ngozi exploded.
Baba Risi responded “My honorable minister, you don vex ni? Oda no vex, I just dey…”
“Adaku, I’ll endure only one more of these outbursts!” Ngozi said.
“Yes ma,” Adaku said respectfully and then turned to the two men with a scowl “Gentlemen, I urge you to be civil.” Then she managed to wear a smile and then said “Now, Mr. Sikiru, please share your expertise with us as regards my last question.”
The gold tooth flashed again for the camera “On the streets, na only two things dey involved. One, you must make people know you as the person wey dem associate with the product. Me now, dem dey call me Sikiru Oniru. That rhyming alone don make am stick. Then the product, SK, na the same as my nickname SK. So when people talk say dem wan buy SK, na me dem dey think. Na that one madam Ngo people dey call branding. Na why dem do the re-branding programme the other time before dem dump am. All na street. Second thing be say make you fit defend your product. For my zone, nobody else fit sell my product, dem never born the mama. I sure say for Baba Risi side, nobody fit judge any case outside him court and once he judge, nothing fit shake am. Na wetin we dey talk be that,” Sikiru flashed his teeth again.
“Beeni, one hundred percent correct!”
Suddenly, there were sounds of scuffling people from outside the studio and they all froze. Seconds later, some men in military uniform stormed into the studio.
“Ha! Coup d’état! Please don’t Okotie Eboh me. Please!” Ngozi said as she stood up and raced behind Baba Risi who was also standing now.
Adaku exclaimed “ha! I don die o. Jesus come and save me o, biko!”
The soldiers ignored both of them and addressed Sikiru.
“So you think you can take away our petrol abi? And made a fool of us in your filling station. You now have the guts to show your face on TV and call yourself a business man. Your own don be today!”
Sikiru knew that he was in serious trouble. There was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. He was cornered and cornered for good. Already, two of the soldiers were closing in on him.
Somewhere inside the production room, the producer was yelling that they should keep the cameras rolling. This was vintage footage and he was going to get it.
“Oga, we can settle this amicably,” he said, eyes roving, looking for an exit. The only entrance into the room was manned by two hefty soldiers. On her seat, Adaku was transfixed, shaking like a leaf.
Baba Risi stepped forward. “Oga officer, you for wait am now, to settle this thing after we commot for TV, abi…” one of the overzealous soldiers stepped forward and landed a dirty slap on Baba Risi’s face.
“How dare you…” he was saying as he acted, but suddenly reeled backwards with a bent arm. Rather than moving Baba Risi, it was the soldier’s hands that the slap bent.
“Ah ah, you no know person? Na me you raise hand to slap?” Baba Risi asked, incensed.
The soldiers had shifted back a bit now.
He turned to Sikiru “My friend, you prepare come?” he asked.
Sikiru shook his head “Na TV station we dey come Baba, so I no prepare at all at all come o.”
“Kai, Sikiru, you should always be like Boy Scout, be prepared!” With that, he reached under his shirt and pulled out a string with beads tied on and handed it to Sikiru.
“Na from Ilishan that one come, anybody wey e touch, na to begin shake for floor. These ones wey their mates dey for Maiduguri, dey pursue Shekau to collect seven million dollars, come here come fight civilian. Una go take!” Baba Risi said.
With that, they both turned to the soldiers and moved towards them menacingly. “Oya come, make I nack you something,” Sikiru said, waving the beaded string. The soldiers backed toward the door, with the slapper clutching his twisted hand.
They did not notice that one of the soldiers at the door had left. Suddenly, the door burst open and soldiers began pouring in. About forty soldiers crammed into the small room.
“Ahhhh, battalion ke? Sikiru, me I don go o,” Baba Risi exclaimed. With that, he lifted one leg and he immediately disappeared.
Sikiru exclaimed “me sef dey come o” and he was gone too.
Pandemonium broke lose as all the soldiers scrambled to exit the room through the single door.
THE BABA RISI ILLUSTRATORS AWOOF PRIZE. GET DRAWING!