Saturday 8 August 2020

Permit To Whack (PTW)


I was thinking this morning..... In the early days of my career, I worked with a company providing public health services to one of the Oil majors in Nigeria. We visited the company locations weekly to sample potable water and food contact surfaces to determine their hygiene status. One day in 1998, we set out on a day trip to a flow station in Delta State. After delays at the jetty, we set sail and eventually arrived at about 1pm. We got off the boat tired and hungry and headed for the office of the Superintendent for clearance before we commenced work. Having been directed to the cafeteria where everyone was having lunch, we met the Superintendent sweating over a scrumptious meal. The service we were providing allowed us to take swabs of the food to ensure it is safe, but we were not permitted to eat. The Superintendent, being aware of this clause, requested us, two tired and hungry souls, for our Permit to Work (PTW). I reached out and handed him the coloured piece of paper to sign. As he did in the midst of the noise from the clanging cutlery and people chatting as they enjoyed their lunch, my mind segued from work to 'whack.' I looked at the man and said smiling, 'Sir, we don't have a problem with permit to work (PTW), all we need right now is 'permit to whack (PTW).'

In the fastest growing organic language in the world, pidgin English, 'to whack' means to eat. But do we all have enough to eat? According to the National Bureau of Statistics, more than 82 million Nigerians live on less than $1 (N385) a day meaning they don't have enough to eat. While they were scrambling for food this past week, our political leaders were busy with Edo State politics and the Amaechi China loans, and millions of misguided Nigerian youths and adults were watching Big Brother Naija Season 5 also known as 'Big Brother Naija: Lockdown' on DSTV. Chai! As I considered it all, I remembered 1998 and imagined the 82 million Nigerians saying we don't care about politics and social media rave, all we need right now is permit to whack (PTW).

In a bit, my attention shifted to international news and I saw the Bloomberg headline 'Almost 30 Million in U.S. Didn’t Have Enough to Eat Last Week.' 'Really? Hunger in America?' I didn't see that coming because major discussions across America have been on the impact of Covid-19, politics of Donald Trump's response and the November election. But then as the news anchors were yapping away, I could imagine the 30 million hungry Americans saying 'we don't have a problem with politics and the fight against Coronavirus, all we need right now is permit to whack (PTW).

In the Oil and Gas industries, Permit to Work (PTW) could be a life saver for the average worker, but for the average Nigerian ranging from the hundreds of pilots sacked by Air Peace and Bristow Helicopters to the millions in Niger Delta made poor by their thieving leaders and the corruption and looting going on in NDDC, the only life saver they know is permit to whack (PTW). The right to adequate food is a long-standing international human right to which many countries including Nigeria are committed, yet over 40% of Nigerians are hungry. Not to worry, Joel 2:26 says 'And ye shall eat in plenty, and be satisfied, and praise the name of the LORD your God, that hath dealt wondrously with you: and my people shall never be ashamed.'

Your permit to whack has been approved. Happy Sunday.

......Just the thoughts of a certain Wey Mey

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