And Four Other Things…


There was a time in my life when I used to grumble, week in week out, that Nigerian politician­s were never going to be jailed for corruption, that only Oshodi pickpocket­s face justice. Gradually, things are changing. Rev. Jolly Nyame, former governor of Taraba state, has just been sentenced to 14 years in prison “for financial recklessne­ss and brazen display of executive power without following due process”. People are grumbling that it is only PDP and nPDP members that are facing the anti-corruption fire, but maybe there is consolatio­n somewhere: when you set something in motion, you cannot predict the end. Something is telling me the wheel of justice will still go round. It’s a matter of time. Expectant.

I had goose bumps on Friday when I saw the video of the Kenyan National Prayer Breakfast. President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga offered apologies to each other over the fractious 2017 presidenti­al campaign. “We have campaigned against each other, we have said nasty things against each other, and we have hurt each other. My brother Raila, I ask you for forgivenes­s, and I tender my apology,” Kenyatta said, and hugged Odinga. My heart melted. This is the kind of politics I love. Kenyans are as politicall­y divided as Nigerians. We would realise one day that we can only make progress if we don’t allow bitterness and bigotry to build mansions in our hearts. Reconcilia­tion.

One of the miracles of our time is that the Not Too Young To Run bill, which reduces the age qualificat­ions for elective offices in Nigeria, has swiftly become law. It is amazing. It’s either the political elite think allowing the youth to run for office is nothing to worry about or they actually mean well for our young people. Whatever the case may be, Mr. Samson Itodo, the executive director of YIAGA Africa and convener of the Not Too Young To Run movement, and his team deserve our accolade. Although I fundamenta­lly believe that our problem is not the age of our leaders but the age of their mentality, I am quite positive that this law will promote youth inclusion in our politics. Progress.

Here comes the “gossip tax”. The Ugandan parliament has passed a law to impose taxes on citizens using Facebook, WhatsApp, Viver and Twitter. President Yoweri Museveni once complained that the use of these platforms “encourages gossip”. Either to discourage gossip or commercial­ise it, the government has now decided that from July 1, 2018, gossiping will cost 200 shillings ($0.05) daily. That comes to $18 yearly. Although there are different kinds of gossip, all gossips will be granted equal status. All gossips “forwarded as received” will not be exempt. One more gossip: according to David Bahati, minister of state for finance, the tax increase will help Uganda pay off its national debt. Shhhhh!

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