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My Lord, Tell me where to keep your bribe, by Niyi Osundare


My Lord, Tell me where to keep your bribe, by Niyi Osundare

Do I drop it in your venerable chambers
Or carry the heavy booty to your immaculate mansion

Shall I bury it in the capacious water tank
In your well laundered backyard

Or will it breathe better in the septic tank
Since money can deodorize the smelliest crime

Shall I haul it up the attic

Between the ceiling and your lofty roof
Or shall I conjure the walls to open up

And swallow this sudden bounty from your honest labour

Shall I give a billion to each of your paramours

The black, the light, the Fanta-yellow

They will surely know how to keep the loot

In places too remote for the sniffing dog

Or shall I use the particulars

Of your anonymous maidservants and manservants

With their names on overflowing bank accounts

While they famish like ownerless dogs
Shall I haul it all to your village
In the valley behind seven mountains

Where potholes swallow up the hugest jeep
And Penury leaves a scar on every house

My Lord
It will take the fastest machine
Many, many days to count this booty; and lucky bank bosses
May help themselves to a fraction of the loot

My Lord
Tell me where to keep your bribe?

My Lord
Tell me where to keep your bribe?
The “last hope of the common man”
Has become the last bastion of the criminally rich

A terrible plague bestrides the land
Besieged by rapacious judges and venal lawyers

Behind the antiquated wig
And the slavish glove
The penguin gown and the obfuscating jargon

Is a rot and riot whose stench is choking the land
Behind the rituals and roted rigmaroles
Old antics connive with new tricks

Behind the prim-and-proper costumes of masquerades

Corruption stands, naked, in its insolent impunity

For sale to the highest bidder
Interlocutory and perpetual injunctions

Opulent criminals shop for pliant judges
Protect the criminal, enshrine the crime

And Election Petition Tribunals
Ah, bless those goldmines and bottomless booties!

Scoundrel vote-riggers romp to electoral victory

All hail our buyable Bench and conniving Bar
A million dollars in Their Lordship’s bedroom

A million euros in the parlor closet
Countless naira beneath the kitchen sink
Our courts are fast running out of Ghana-must-go’s*

The “Temple of Justice”
Is broken in every brick
The roof is roundly perforated
By termites of graft
My Lord

READ ALSO: A poem on the theme: “A United Nigeria”, by Fatima Garba Yusuf (A.Y.M)

Tell me where to keep your bribe?
Judges doze in the courtroom
Having spent all night, counting money and various “gifts”

And the Chief Justice looks on with tired eyes
As Corruption usurps his gavel.
Crime pays in this country

Corruption has its handsome rewards
Just one judgement sold to the richest bidder

Will catapult Judge & Lawyer to the Billionaires’ Club

The Law, they say, is an ass
Sometimes fast, sometimes slow
But the Law in Nigeria is a vulture
Fat on the cash-and-carry carrion of murdered Conscience
Won gb’ebi f’alare
Won gb’are f’elebi**

They kill our trust in the common good
These Monsters of Mammon in their garish gowns

Unhappy the land
Where jobbers are judges
Where Impunity walks the streets
Like a large, invincible Demon

Come Sunday, they troop to the church
Friday, they mouth their mantra in pious mosques

But they pervert Justice all week long
And dig us deeper into the hellish hole
Nigeria is a huge corpse
With milling maggots on its wretched hulk

They prey every day, they prey every night
For the endless decomposition of our common soul

My Most Honourable Lord
Just tell me where to keep your bribe.

Niyi Osundare is a leading African poet, dramatist, linguist, and literary critic. His poetry is influenced by the oral poetry of his Yoruba culture, which he capaciously hybridizes with other poetic traditions of the world, including African American, Latin American, Asian, and European.


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