The first time I interviewed Elnathan on the blog, it was the definition of a ‘no holds barred’ discussion. For me it was a blessing that we could have that chat, because I was fed up of the Moslems versus Christians angle to the carnage that happened (especially in the North) after the 2011 elections. Elnathan was a breath of fresh air (still is) and it was great to catch him for a few minutes a few days ago to get his opinion on a few issues.
D Fairy GodSister: Hello Elnathan! Nice to have you on the 3, 2, 1 series again; you know it’s always a pleasure to have you here.
ELNATHAN: The pleasure is mine Chioma
D Fairy GodSister: Are we going to start arguing about pleasure now? Lol!
ELNATHAN: Ok. I concede the pleasure
D Fairy GodSister: Lol! Let’s start with, I’m sure you heard of the bomb that went off in the Sultanate today (30th July 2012), what do you think of this whole bombing/Boko Haram business? As in your honest, unadulterated opinion?
ELNATHAN: I think these are symptoms of a much deeper country-wide decay. I do not like talking about the individual bombings. They are all together a pointer to what we as a nation have been sowing, namely, brazen corruption, deliberate underdevelopment, greed, clueless leadership, complacent complicit followership
D Fairy GodSister: Ok. It started out as a sect against Western Education, then on to Moslems destroying the worship places of other Christians, and vice versa. In the first interview you granted it had a political undertone, young people disgusted at their leaders. What is going on now?
ELNATHAN: Many people have bought a franchise in what was once a strictly. ‘Boko Haram’ affair. One isn’t even sure who is doing what. People know that there isn’t a sincere serious leadership. So they are taking advantage of it. The real Boko Haram is still an outstanding issue. This is the result of too much corrupt money in the hands of too many desperate people.
D Fairy GodSister: True that…. *sigh* Let’s say you woke up one morning, and you found you were president of Nigeria, with all its attendant positives and negatives. What would do in the first one week?
- Stop all payments by government. Track and verify all payments. I would freeze all government accounts and do an audit to find out what we really have.
- I would close our borders
- I would ban sirens even for the Presidential convoy (which won’t be more than 4 cars).
- I give MDA’s a deadline for all outstanding projects. Apart from these little things however I would nothing too quickly
D Fairy GodSister: Ha ha ha…. You would be very tough wouldn’t you?
ELNATHAN: I would assess the situation. Breathe. Then move cautiously but firmly.
D Fairy GodSister: True. Still sampling your opinions.. What do you think of ejecting the Fulani’s from Jos?
ELNATHAN: Do you mean Special Task Force eviction order in some Plateau towns? I think the STF initially didn’t handle the PR angle well so that what could have been a normal operation was read to mean an anti-Fulani campaign. Again because of the existing distrust between the Fulani and the Plateau government it was important for them to have done a lot of public relations work especially among the Ardo’s who would have passed a correct message together with assurances to their people.
There were many fears, a lot of them justified. Would they be allowed to return to their homes? Would they be taken care of? Would the Plateau Government be involved in relief distribution? Would they be assured of protection of their cattle as they moved out?
D Fairy GodSister: All that talk seems to have died down now. What are the options for them if they are evicted though? Where do they go?
ELNATHAN: There was supposed to be camps; temporary shelters where they would receive aid until the end of the operation when they would be able to go home. The STF to my knowledge has already started giving out these materials and I know that some Fulani have put together a fund to help primarily, the effort by Dr. Aliyu Tilde who has been in the forefront of protecting Fulani rights in this issue.
D Fairy GodSister: Why move them though? What’s the rationale behind moving people from a life they’ve known?
ELNATHAN: There was supposed to be a military operation to flush out certain ‘militants’ who were said to have been in the areas affected. The STF I believe did not want to incur a lot of collateral damage in the event of heavy fighting. However the issue of the sedentary Fulani communities in Plateau and the conflict with local (Berom) tribes is another issue. Complex as it is unfortunate.
D Fairy GodSister: *sigh* Away from the north, what was the inspiration for your ‘how to’ series?
ELNATHAN: The How To series was an attempt to shift a bit from the traditional sometimes heavy and boring way of talking about Nigeria. Satire is a perfect tool for this. It also makes for easy reading.
D Fairy GodSister: It’s absolutely hilarious!
ELNATHAN: I admire Peter Pan Enahoro and have looked up to him as an example in this regard with his ‘How to be a Nigerian‘ and ‘The complete Nigerian’. However one of the persons who have inspired me the most and still inspires me is the Kenyan writer Binyavanga Wainaina; His ‘How To write about Africa’ was my immediate inspiration.
D Fairy GodSister: Ok. What’s the next in the How To series? A little scoop for my readers?
ELNATHAN: Ah part of the fun is the waiting! I can say however that it will be a part two of something I have done before
D Fairy GodSister: Awwww, c’mon!
ELNATHAN: Trade secret; go ask coca cola their recipe
D Fairy GodSister: Smh! I’ll let that go, if you tell us what you’ve been up to since the last interview you gave us.
ELNATHAN: Writing a book. Teaching. Working on bringing back the literary movement in my home state, Kaduna, putting on weight and mourning the loss of the love of my life Funmi, my sepia notepad which was stolen by robbers in my house. Funmi held a good many unfinished stories. But I am healing.
D Fairy GodSister: Well done, and my condolences on Funmi! Any human ‘love of your life’? Male or female?
ELNATHAN: No. Only a best friend who is more than making up for it. And kind amazing friends who make my world go round.
D Fairy GodSister: True that! Thank you again Elnathan you always rock my pages!
ELNATHAN: You rock! I am honoured to be on your pages. Take care.