Nigeria: That our jokes don’t turn poisoned chalice

May 30, 2017 Africa , Nigeria , Opinion , OPINION/NEWS , POLITICS


Reuters photo



Prince Charles Dickson


You can run with a lie, but you can’t hide from the truth. It will catch you – Anonymous


It is a popular fable, and I will use it to illustrate my admonition this week…A mouse looked through the crack in the wall to see the farmer and his wife open a package.


What food might this contain? The mouse wondered – he was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed the warning: There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!”

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, “Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it.”

The mouse turned to the goat and told him, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The goat sympathized, but said, “I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it but pray. Be assured you are in my prayers.”

The mouse turned to the cow and said, “There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!” The cow said, “Wow, Mr. Mouse. I’m sorry for you, but it’s no skin off my nose.”

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer’s mousetrap alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house – like the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer’s wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it was a venomous snake whose tail the trap had caught. The snake bit the farmer’s wife. The farmer rushed her to the hospital, and she returned home with a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup, so the farmer took his matchet to the farmyard for the soup’s main ingredient.

But his wife’s sickness continued, so friends and neighbours came to sit with her around the clock.

To feed them, the farmer butchered the goat.

The farmer’s wife did not get well; she died.

So many people came for her funeral; the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them.

The mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.


So for a second time in a year the poisoned chalice story was going round again, and a twist had been added–The Al Jazeera twist. That anyone believed it is another story entirely, but don’t forget that this is Nigeria.

My friend Aliyu Nuhu wrote…I sat with someone from presidency who just returned from London. I asked after the president and he said Baba has fully recovered and will soon be back. Then I asked the real question, was Buhari poisoned? He emphatically said NO! But added I should not mention his name.

You see their problem! Rumors are everywhere that refuse to leave the space and none of the media handlers or those close to the President are willing to dispel the rumor.

And JOK, as he is fondly referred to, chips this in…If you actually believe President Buhari was poisoned, you need psychiatric help.

This President, even as a candidate, was sickly and spent a reasonable time at a London clinic before the polls. Was he already poisoned while living in his Daura farm?

Have you forgotten so soon his health scare at about the time he showed up at Chatham House London before the election? Was he already poisoned then?

President Buhari is at least 74 years in age. Possibly more. What is his current health challenge that his mates are not having? Don’t you realize that the man has already lived well above the average life span even if God decides to call him home today?

At what age was YarAdua, called home by God? Was he also poisoned?

If you believe PMB was poisoned through the air conditioning system in his office or home does he live and work there alone? Or was his name injected into the supposed airborne poison so as to target him alone and specifically? How come not one person, including his wife, family and aides are down as a result of the poison?

If the President actually believed he was poisoned how come he has not sacked his cook, house help, wife, daughter and aides or arrested them? While he was in Nigeria recently were they not the same people that attended to him?

Wallahi with the type of dummies we have populating Nigerian social media community this country will soon win award as the biggest island of fools, if care is not taken.

I  am concerned that no one in government circles has been bold enough to tell us the truth…which is that Mr. President wasn’t poisoned, even when it was being allegedly spread by clerics, it was the same mute mode that greeted the story. On the other hand I also appreciate the wisdom in muting so that life is not given to a dead tale, but again this is Nigeria, where persons took salt as a preventive cure for Ebola and persons rape to avoid AIDS, or drink JIK concentrated washing agent as a healing wand.

This is a nation that thrives on lies…lies and plenty of it. They joke about serious matters, it’s our poisoned chalice, like the mouse our leaders hear there’s a problem and think it doesn’t concern them; remember when one of us is threatened, we are all at risk.

We are all involved in this amazing and complex, intricate weave called Nigeria. We must keep an eye out for one another and make an extra effort to encourage one another. It is an illusionary battle of haves and have-nots, they and us, north and south, Muslim and Christian, no one will win as long as we continue to lick the edge of the bowl that contains the chalice…for how long—Only time will tell.






Prince Charles Dickson

Currently Prince Charles, is based out of Jos, Plateau State, and conducts field research and investigations in the Middle Belt Region of Nigeria with an extensive reach out to the entire North and other parts. Prince Charles worked on projects for UN Women, Search for Common Ground, and International Crisis Group, among others. He is an alumnus of the University of Jos and the prestigious Humanitarian Academy at Harvard and Knight Center For Journalism, University of Texas at Austin. A doctoral candidate of Georgetown University

Born in Lagos State (South West Nigeria), Prince Charles is proud of his Nigerian roots. He is a Henry Luce Fellow, Ford Foundation grantee and is proficient in English, French, Yoruba Ibo and Hausa. Married with two boys, and a few dogs and birds.


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