Adéwálé Májà-Pearce

27 March 2023

‘Grab it! Snatch it! And run with it!’

There is a doctored photo doing the rounds on social media that pretends to show Bọ́lá Ahmed Tinúbú, Nigeria’s president-elect, and Babájídé Sanwó-Olú, the re-elected Lagos State governor, on the back of a motorbike carrying a ballot box. It’s based on a real photo of two agbèrò, or hoodlums, who snatched a box from a polling booth during the state elections on 18 March. The caption is real, too: ‘Grab it! Snatch it! And run with it!’ Tinúbú instructed his inner circle at a meeting in London in early December, much to the amusement of those present, one of whom approvingly shouted ‘Jagaban!’ (‘warrior’), the title Tinúbú appears to treasure above his many others.

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15 March 2023

Not Village

There is now strong evidence that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) was in cahoots with the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) to ensure Bọ́lá Ahmed Tinúbú would be Nigeria’s next president come 29 May, the handover date. The Bimodal Voter Accreditation System (BVAS), which was supposed to upload the results in real time and so end once and for all the incessant rigging that has plagued Nigerian elections, failed to work in the 25 February presidential ballot but not the concurrent votes for the Senate and the House of Representatives.

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1 March 2023

Whose Turn?

Most of the results from Saturday’s presidential and national assembly elections in Nigeria are in and it seems that Bọ́lá Ahmed Tinúbú, of the ruling All Progressives Congress (if only!), has secured the necessary majority in 24 of the 36 states plus the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to become our next head of state. The general consensus among both Nigerians and the foreign observers who descend on the country every four years to monitor our progress since the end of military rule 24 years ago is that the voting was rigged.

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26 August 2022

The Rain in Lagos

Here in Lagos we are approaching the end of the so-called rainy season (as opposed to the so-called dry season). So-called because why include the word ‘season’ in the first place? Nobody says the ‘winter season’ or the ‘summer season’ but we’ve given up on our indigenous languages in favour of the English that colonised us and so rainy season it is.

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28 October 2020

In Lagos

On Thursday morning, I stood on my upstairs balcony in Surulere in Lagos and watched the smoke from a burning building. It turned out to be the house of the state governor’s mother. (The family house in another suburb was also torched.) Nearby, the headquarters of our House of Representatives member was spared the same fate only because it was next to a hospital, although all the windows were broken. It later transpired that politicians had been hoarding food – beans, noodles, sugar, salt, garri, rice, vegetable oil – meant for Covid-19 relief, some dating back months, in warehouses up and down the country. Nigerians of all ages were aghast. In some instances, even the soldiers sent to guard the warehouses – the police had made themselves scarce – assured the looters that they were there to keep the peace and not prevent them from carting off what was theirs anyway.

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19 October 2020


I am far from alone in admiring the protesters’ growing sense of their own inherent power, gaining in confidence with every passing day. Their dignity and self-possession mock the shamelessness of those who have so carelessly squandered their future; and at the same time they are asking how we could have allowed this state of affairs to prevail, six decades after Nigeria’s independence.

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31 March 2020

Rich Man’s Disease

It is cold comfort that this time around the wealthy cannot flee to London and Delhi for medical treatment, as they did during the 2014 Ebola outbreak. Every day, we hear of prominent people getting tested, even when they don’t have any symptoms, while ‘ordinary’ Nigerians who fear they may have caught the virus are told to come back in 14 days’ time. Covid-19 is known as ‘the rich man’s disease’: you needed the wherewithal to travel abroad in order to catch it in the first place, and the wherewithal to get tested on your return, having infected the ‘masses’ in the process.

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18 October 2016

Buhari Loses the Plot

In the run-up to last year’s presidential election, Patience Jonathan, the wife of Nigeria’s then president, warned women what they were letting themselves in for should they reject her husband in favour of Muhammadu Buhari. The last time Buhari was head of state, as a military strongman in the mid-1980s, ‘he said women should be confined to the kitchen,’ she said. ‘But under Jonathan’s administration, women have been liberated to contribute to national development. If you vote for Buhari again, you will return to the kitchen.’ Her advice was ignored and Buhari was duly elected. Everybody was happy at first. Sixteen years of mind-boggling corruption had left the people clamouring for ‘change’, which quickly became the new government’s mantra. And then everything went horribly wrong.

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30 October 2015

Being Lord Lugard

Frederick Lugard is a pivotal figure in Nigerian history. The colony’s first governor general, he effectively created and named it in 1914, amalgamating a multitude of disparate ethnicities, languages and religions into one of the most patchwork countries in the world. He compared the subjects he conquered to ‘attractive children’. In 1894, Lugard had led an expedition through the ancient kingdom of Borgu on behalf of the Royal Niger Company, to secure treaties with the local emirs ahead of his French counterpart during the so-called European scramble for Africa. He succeeded except for the westernmost outpost of Nikki, which subsequently fell into what is now the Republic of Benin. I was recently part of a 22-strong delegation which retraced Lugard’s steps through what is now Nigeria’s Middle Belt region.

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2 April 2015

Is there hope for Nigeria?

I have never made a secret of my distaste for Muhammadu Buhari – ‘the least awful option’, according to the Economist – and I am not doing so now that he has been declared winner of the presidential election in Nigeria. One of the more notorious dictators during the long years of the military, he now claims to be a born-again democrat. Perhaps so. All will be revealed after he moves into Aso Rock on 29 May, with the proviso that he will be obliged to work within the terms of a constitution he cannot abrogate by decree.

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