JAMB:Size and spjecies of snake that swallowed JAMB’S money

Our first task is to determine the species of snake that invaded
JAMB’s office. There are 81 species of snake in Nigeria; my
professor once told me that only 11 of them are poisonous. So
if you encounter a snake in Nigeria, the chances are 86.5%
that it is not poisonous. Some sceptical readers will however
say when I encounter a snake, how do I know that it is not the
13.5% off chance that it is poisonous? There are certain
indicators, such as what we biologists call “warning colours”
but if you don’t know these colours, you should better vote
with your feet.

Snakes bite for only two reasons: food and defence. Snakes
bite people mostly when they step on them. If you step on a
poisonous snake, it might decide to deliver to you a “dry bite,”
that is, bite you without injecting the poison. This is because it
has either squandered its poison elsewhere, made a mistake
in coordinating between biting and injecting poison, or
because it decided not to waste its poison on you because
you are too big to be eaten. A snake is not foolish. When it
moves about shooting out its forked tongue, it is “smelling” for
other animals and also detecting heat emitted by a warm-
bloodied animal. The snake can determine both the direction
and size of the animal nearby. If it is too big to be eaten, the
snake will change direction. Now, for a snake’s forked tongue
to detect either the smell or heat emitted by a sack of money,
locate its direction and size, stealthily approach and swallow it
suggests that something went wrong with the snake’s
biological set up.
Mint naira notes have a sweet smell but they do not ordinarily
emit heat, not being what we call homoeothermic or “warm
blooded” in Biology. In fact naira notes do not have blood, as
far as I know, apart from the single mercury strand that The
Mint inserts in a note as proof that it is genuine. I suspect that
the naira notes at JAMB’s Makurdi office were freshly minted.
Naira notes rolling off the Mint are quite warm. It must be that
heat that deceived our dear snake, which mistook the JAMB
money for food and swallowed it. Since this event happened
in Benue, maybe herdsmen had a hand in it. Benue is the
Ground Zero of herdsmen’s activities; it could be that the naira
notes were transported to Makurdi on the backs of cattle. A
cow’s backside is very warm and the offloaded naira notes
will be emitting heat long after the cow crossed back into
Nasarawa State to feed and drink because of the Anti Open
Grazing Law.
The puzzle is, most snakes in Nigeria feed on grasshoppers,
mice and rats and could not possibly swallow a wad of naira
notes. In any case, snakes first sneak up on a moving animal,
strike it dead before they begin to swallow. If it is a python, it
would first wrap the animal in a coil and squeeze it to death
before it swallows. My fear for Mrs Philomena Chieshe’s
account is if a python wraps a sack of money in its coils and it
does not sense movement, it would simply uncoil and move
on. After all, the Benue State Assembly has not yet banned
open grazing by snakes in the Benue River valley.

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We must now determine the snake’s size. The largest snake in
Nigeria is the African Rock Python, sometimes called Sheba’s
python because the biblical Queen of Sheba kept them as pets.
I do not know if our sister Mrs Philomena Chieshe’s name was
mentioned in the Bible, which could explain why she is
attractive to snakes. Now, one Nigerian man has already
stated that the size of a sack containing N36m depends on
whether the money is in N1,000 or N500 notes. If it is in what
Abeokuta market women call “one with two heads” [i.e.
N1000], then N36m is only 360 wads of notes. A six foot
python might be able to swallow this sack whole. If the money
was in N500 notes then we are talking of 720 wads. A rock
python may have trouble swallowing 720 wads, unless it fed
fat on River Benue banks after the cows left.
Quite possibly, this JAMB snake was imported from abroad. It
could either be a Reticulated Python imported from Asia,
or a Giant Anaconda imported from Brazil’s Amazon
jungle. Either of these pythons could grow to be as long as
Dangote Cement truck. To them, JAMB’s sack of money is but
a small snack. I really pity our sister Mrs. Philomena Chieshe
because her racing to the Police Station to seek help will be of
little use. Even before the current fuel scarcity, most police
patrol vehicles that you see parked by the roadside have no
fuel in their tanks. So, before the police can get a few gallons
of fuel and race to JAMB’s office, the python would have
digested the money.

A python has one of the most powerful stomach juices in the
Animal Kingdom. Unlike a human stomach that could be upset
by a meal of beans, a python’s stomach can digest bone, hair,
horns and hooves. When a python swallows an animal, all that
is left after some hours is a tiny drop of excrement. Such a
stomach will make short work of JAMB’s naira notes including
the paper, colours, pictures, wrappers and mercury. Sorry
Professor Oloyede; your N36m is now but a drop of python

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