Blog, Reverie

Mo Abudu Is Not A Role Model.

Aunty Mo Abudu is an ambitious woman. That is fine. She also wants to be noticed. And that is no problem either. But to be seen at creme de la creme events and every celebrity gathering with a stained snout may be why flies like Gistlover will always hover around her.

Blog, Reverie

Bawa In Dora’s ‘Dairy’ Room.

“the facts and circumstances within an arresting officer’s knowledge are sufficient to warrant the officer to believe that a suspect has committed, is committing or about to commit a crime”. Probable cause is presumed until the contrary is proved.

Blog, Diaspora Diary., Reverie

Diaspora Diary: Doings In Mbiri, Echoes In Cork.

I know he wouldn’t want this but I just couldn’t help it. I had to blog this one for posterity. Like the Biblical instruction, my friend is a man who would rather conceal the doings of his right hand from his left hand, but here I am, about to blow his trumpet and loudly too. My cab was already waiting while I was still heating water for my usual morning coffee when I glanced at the kitchen clock and saw it was 6.58 am. Damn! I had a 9.20 am flight to catch and in this pandemic era, you had better be at the airport at least 2 hours before your scheduled departure. So I ditched the coffee and rushed out to the cab. The tall elderly African man behind the wheel said hi as I settled into the front seat of the Mondeo. “Good morning sir”, I replied in the normal Nigerian way of greeting. I have never been a fan of that dry hi, hello greeting. He smiled back, a dry smile so to say. Just as I was thinking that there won’t be much to gist about with this one the name on the dashboard caught my attention. He is a Nigerian and an Igbo man for that matter. Nice! I am not one to shy away from starting a conversation and I always derive joy in chatting with a cabby, more especially when he is my “countryman”. So I hit this one up right away. “My name is Cmoni, Chinemelu for long and I’m Igbo too”, I said. “Yea, I guessed” he replied rather incuriously. A chatty driver would have asked where I was headed just to keep the convo going even though he would have been informed by the app but not this one. “I have a friend with the same surname as yours”, I said not giving up, “are you from Okija?”. “No, I’m from Delta”, he replied. “Yea, yea we are all the same, Ndigbo, we are everywhere innit?”, I said trying to liven up the discussion. “Of course we are”, he replied., “I’m from Mbiri and we trace our origin to Mbieri in Imo state, or so I heard but even if it’s debatable the similarity in both names is striking”. “Well, I‘ve read a few texts on the ancestry of the Ika people with some accounts linking them to Benin heritage and so on. But language is a great pointer to the origin of a people and the fact that they speak Igbo is enough said for me. Now speaking about Mbiri, I told him that I have a friend from there named Tony Alika-Igwebuike. His face suddenly lit up. The pale, drawn expression changed to a wide smile as he almost shrieked. “Wow!, so you know my brother?”. “You bet I do”, I replied, feeling more at ease now with the man. “That’s a brother to be proud of”, he said nodding with delight. “a great Mbiri son in whom we are well pleased”, he concluded. I told him that Tony is very proud of his hometown and even owns a farm there. “Is it only that?”, he asked, “the young man is involved in almost everything about the progress of Mbiri”. When I reminded him that Tony isn’t a young man because he graduated from Unizik over 20 years ago, he replied that he was already in his forties back then and so he could refer to Tony as a young man since they are not mates. I agreed with a “sorry sir”. He then reeled out a lengthy list of what Tony is doing for his people. From being the president of one Mbiri association (sorry I’ve forgotten the name now) to helping the youths gain admission, employment, and empowerment. He said my friend is currently leading the drive to raise funds from wealthy Mbiri sons for the rehabilitation of a dilapidated hospital in the town. He could have gone on and on but the ride to Cork Airport was just over 15 minutes that early morning. So when I stopped, he finally asked where I was headed and I told him I was going on a business trip to Naples. He shook his head and wished me luck saying that he gave up after failed attempts to set up some businesses back home. Some day we will discuss how Nigerians at home ruin the hopes of our ‘country people’ in the diaspora but that’s a story for another day. We bade each other farewell and I sauntered into the airport. So you see, we can all emulate Obi Cubana in our own little way by supporting our communities. You don’t have to be a millionaire to help your kinsman, you have everything to gain and nothing to lose. As they say, nothing is too small for Imo airport because anyhow is a how! I was proud of this echo of my friend’s Mbiri ‘doings’ in faraway Cork. I boarded my flight feeling inspired and determined to do more for Amawbia. And as we were about to take off I bent my head in prayer to commit the flight to God as usual but this time I also asked Him to bless Tony.

Blog, Reverie

Motivation From Two Kens.

Your resume isn’t handed to you with your birth certificate. You create your own life and you can recreate it too. ~ Sir Ken Robinson The above quote from the renowned British author and Professor Emeritus is as inspiring as the fact that we will be starting the new year as we ended the last courtesy of his namesake Ken Moneke who recently blessed us with N20,000. Ken is a good friend and a co-traveller in this journey. He pledged to support us right from the first week of the #CmonionlineEssayCompetition. A diligent engineer, he is the CEO of Halidon and Halifax projects Ltd with numerous drilling projects in the kitty. He is also a politician by association and an ardent reader with whom I brainstorm regularly on varying socio-political topics. Like I said previously, I initiated this project with the intention of sponsoring it for the first six months before seeking for sponsorship. This is because I believe that you have to lead the way if you want others to follow. An Igbo adage says that the man who wants to defecate usually leads the way. However, we started receiving support as soon as the competition was announced. Many who were impressed by the initiative immediately made donations and pledges. We received support from good friends like Adaobi Nwasinoke, Winnie Oyigah, Uchenna Nnoli, Uju Okeke and Amobi Ogum. Newross & Co then closed 2020 in style for us and now Ken has kick-started 2021. We appreciate these compassionate gestures and ask God to replenish their coffers. We are now even more determined to grow bigger as we get better. So going forward we have increased the prize winnings to N20,000 weekly. N10, 000 each for the top two essays. We are taking the long route of slow, incremental gradual progress. And like I always say, the weekly monetary prize will be nothing compared to the experience and fulfilment in the creative journey we started because just like Richelle Goodrich eloquently captured it, “a writer writes knowing that nothing else will elicit the same kind of satisfaction and personal triumph as molding the written word into a reader’s great experience.” So we move!

Blog, Reverie

My Gateman Is From The Fulani Tribe by Chike Amobi.

And increasingly now, I worry! I had never really been too conscious of this until recently. Ahmed is a slim lanky kid with yellow teeth and timid disposition. He is on the wrong side of 30. He respectfully bows down and pumps his fists in obedient reverence every time he greets you. And flashes those pale yellow teeth in his attempt to smile at you. A smile I believe in my heart is genuine as his face lights up. He resides in the gatehouse of my office building and has been there since construction started. He has been very efficient, works hard and never derelict in his duties. And also appears to get along very well with my driver who is Tiv. And there’s an irony in this because the bulk of Fulani Herdsmen massacres are perpetrated in Benue State. For the benefit of my Non-Nigerian brethren who may perhaps be wondering why I am throwing out all these tribes, here’s why. There’s an apparent and under reported pogrom going on in Nigeria now. Heartless killers who have now gained indubitable notoriety as “Fulani Herdsmen” are engaging in clandestine murderous adventures every day in neighborhoods that are clearly outside their geographical borders. And coming uncomfortably closer each day. Ostensibly in their bid to assert their “God Given” rights to have THEIR cattle graze on YOUR land without regards to the wanton destruction, they cause on YOUR land. Too bad! No one is spared in the massacre. Old women and children. Pregnant women and toddlers. Everyone in sight is either ‘AK 47ed’ down or cut into toast-sized slices with unfriendly and bloodied machetes. Leaving an aftermath of human abattoir after each of their unannounced and unwelcome visits. And leaving no doubt about their identities as “Fulani” Herdsmen. Recently, pictures and videos of these gun totting bloodhounds have been circulated on the internet. And at the risk of sounding stereotypical, they look no different from the Ahmed right here. Except that Ahmed is carrying no guns. And Ahmed smiles and washes cars very well. And doesn’t look like he could hurt a fly. And I know looks are deceptive. But still. Anyways, increasingly now, when he gives me that usual “Sanu De Zua” greeting, (basically, Good Morning) I’m increasingly and embarrassingly thankful to God that Ahmed has no contact with my family. And I find I’m now looking him deep in the eyes to see if I can identify any latent murderous proclivities by examining deep into his pupils. No way. Having been on the wrong side of racial profiling as an American Citizen, and having filed Civil Rights actions in the Courts over there to assert the Constitutional rights of people who have been unlawfully stereotyped and discriminated against, I try to keep that ol’ “you don’t judge a book by its cover” mentality and proceed with the mindset that not all Fulanis are murderers. All well and fine. But in this case, and with all the gory pictures circulating on the World Wide Web about the havoc that Fulanis are causing all over the place, mutual suspicion has set in between and amongst Fulanis and everyone else. I keep wondering whether Ahmed is unaware of what is happening with his tribesmen? And what he thinks of it? And what he really thinks of Non-Fulanis? And obviously, like Jesus asked his disciples, who do you, AHMED, say I am? I must confess that even with his smiles and timid disposition, I can’t help hearing that still small voice NOW that, whenever AHMED walks by and flashes that his usual smile, that still small voice mischievously whispers to me, “What If…” And I am now having to deal with the interrogatory, Does AHMED Go or Stay?

Blog, Reverie

Essay Competition: Our Appreciation And 2021 Objectives.

You are a man with very deep convictions. God bless you real good sir. ~ Alex Nwangwu. The above statement from my friend was the icing on my safe trip back to Ireland where I spent Christmas with my family after a hectic two months in Nigeria. It is amazing how spoken or written words can motivate us. That encouraging sentence inspired me to switch to vacation mode with a determination to do more. Hello, my good friends and family, I wish you a happy new year and hope you had a fun-filled yuletide. Welcome back to the progressive public sphere where your intellect and pocket are rewarded. To say that the journey to becoming better writers has been worthwhile will be putting it mildly. It has been fulfilling and now full of prospects. We started week 1 in August 2020 with eight entries all of which were published and by December we were getting up to twenty entries each week with over ten consistent writers. We also started with the aim of paying out N10,000 weekly, but by week 15 we had paid out close to N300,000 in cash prizes. This progress is in line with the ideology of starting small to grow big and we are doing just that. We can only get bigger and better. So firstly, I want to thank everyone who has been with us thus far. My special thanks to the judges some of whom I’ve only met on social media for devoting their time and resources to do a thorough and tasking job. It is not easy to spend long hours reading and assessing these essays. Some of you have even supported us financially and equally awarded separate cash prizes to encourage the writers. Together, we say a big thank you and ask God to reward you immensely. To our writers, we applaud you and encourage you to WRITE more. It is one of the sure paths to becoming a better writer. Don’t limit yourselves to the competition topics with the hope of winning the prize. Submit your other works and be rest assured that we will read all and publish those that meet our editorial standards. It is not easy to string words together into a comprehensible write-up and get published. All bestselling authors will tell you that every writer’s nightmare is filling those blank pages. Indeed, I’ve been impressed by a writer here who despite a seeming discourteous remark at the onset of the competition has become one of our consistent writers. So it should matter little whether or not you win, just keep writing. We must begin to perceive real success as developing into champions in our endeavours win or lose. It should be more about the process than the product because it is a journey and not a destination. We have to be proud of our efforts. It is not only the winning essay that is worthy of commendation. So feel free to share your essays among friends, family, mates and colleagues. Discuss and engage each other, because the bedrock of progressive egalitarian societies is dialogue. Whatsmore, chances are that encouragement will come from that as we learn from each other. We should strive to make the competition more responsive equally work to improve in other aspects like editing and sticking to the guidelines to make the job easier for our judges and the publisher. So in this regard, we will be pursuing the following broad measures to help in achieving our objective of becoming better writers, readers and thinkers. Make the competition more interesting and engaging with visual interactions. Improve the feedback mechanism with regular tips from recommended resources such as texts, websites and social media handles. Set a reading target of 50 books per annum. We shall elaborate further as we make progress. Next up will be the topics for week 16. Stay with us.

Blog, FEATURES, Reverie

Ada Pioneers Funding Our Essay Competition.

  For the past two years, I‘ve been a student of Julia Cameron — Author of “The Artist’s Way At Work”. Her writings have inspired and encouraged millions of us to keep pushing. She is a great proponent of the idea that creativity is in everyone, but we just have to discover it in what she aptly calls “creative emergence”. She believes that the creative life is a journey, a work in progress which should be cherished as well as relished. A postulation which sides with James Baldwin’s counsel to writers that “beyond talent lie all the usual words: discipline, love, luck, but most of all, endurance”. Indeed one of my favourite motivational quotes: “As you move towards a dream, the dream moves toward you” is culled from Julia Cameron’s repertoire. Contextually, she explained this in a sentiment reminiscent of my late dad’s frequent observation; “there is never a good or bad time to start”. If you keep waiting for the best time to get going then you may never take off. You just have to start and believe in the timeless natural law that the Omnipotent One will supply your needs according to His riches in glory. And this is exactly what I want to relay in this brief treatise. I had planned to kick-off this essay competition in May, precisely on my birthday. And since they say, charity begins at home, I wanted to launch it offline with a media event in Amawbia. But the pandemic derailed everything as we were all locked down in one location. I waited and hoped for a respite to no avail. So I decided to proceed anyway. There was yet another problem. The pandemic had slowed down economic activities and everyone’s income suffered so how would I fund the competition with little inflow? Each time I received a bulk sum the usual string of expenditure came knocking. Determined to push on, I decided to fund it with the proceeds from my shop. At least I can always apply my usual ideology of “start small, grow big” even though it is not a business concern. Our July sales encouraged me to go ahead. The plan was to lead by example. I will fund the project for a reasonable period before seeking for sponsorship. But no sooner had I announced the competition than encouragement came from three friends. I was surprised because I know what the pandemic has done to our pockets, but I wasn’t too surprised because I know I have the most wonderful friends. So it happened that even before the competition proper started funding is already underway. And the first person that the Omnipotent used to commence the actualisation of the dream is none other than Ada Gbuluefi Na Ukpo who generously donated the sum of fifty thousand naira (N50,000). By so doing she has already taken the competition as far as 5 weeks! It is said that the most selfish thing a person can do is to be selfless. By this selfless act, Ada Gbuluefi Na Ukpo will not only reward the intellect of 5 writers but will also inspire many others. We cannot be more effusive in showing our sincere appreciation and we pray God to replenish her coffers a millionfold. I know she would have preferred anonymity in place of this publicity. Many of us are like that but since we are getting older I couldn’t care less about publicity when I am doing good. The intent matters more. So these days I‘ll rather blush than remain anonymous if my deed will motivate others. Thanks to all of you for your support. Please anticipate the first essay topics on Sunday 23rd August 2020 and do have a nice weekend.

Blog, FEATURES, Reverie

Why African Parents Abroad Should Adapt.

The video of a boy destroying his mother’s kitchen recently went viral in our social media space and as usual, opinions have been flying around. Most of them are totally absurd as the comments lack any appreciation of the environment where the incident took place. I am currently wearing similar shoes because I am raising a son who will soon be 14 in Ireland. Teenagers will show dissent and my son is no exception but I struggle to imagine him doing this to his mum. Without justifying the boy’s action let’s take a closer look at the video. You could hear his mum admit that she ignored him. Granted he may be stubborn like many teenagers yet their legal rights become manifest from 16, at least in Ireland as much as I know. So I believe parents should know this and pay closer attention to their needs, especially around this age. His mum also said she was advised by his father not to get physical with him thereby unwittingly corroborating the boy’s assertion that his mum sometimes gets physical with him. Once again listen closely and you will hear when she said he wanted to file an application for UCD. That is University College Dublin. What kind of parent stalls her child’s university application? Come on something has got to give at a point. I wrote about this recently on how a father should raise his son. Nobody will support a child acting like this but it’s a culmination of previous events as the boy tweeted later. The boy is old enough to work and drive. He also probably has peers doing these things already but he cycles and at home, he is still being treated like a baby I showed this vid to my kids yesterday and we had a chat about it. My son swore he’ll never do this but who knows? However, what I do know is that my kids will start driving and working once they are 16. That gives them more responsibility and lifts a lot of burden off our shoulders. Africans actually over-parent a lot. We have children in their 20s and 30s still living under our roofs..haba! Ireland is one of the best western countries to raise a child because of their religious heritage and strong family affiliation. The boy’s mum should adapt to avoid a cultural clash. This is not to say that you shouldn’t be firm with your kids but over here in the western world they really grow fast. So let your children grow, let them transition to adults because if you are in Rome the least you can do is to act like the Romans.    

Blog, FEATURES, Reverie

Fare Thee Well My Rainmaker.

Having outlived many silly rumours of his death, iconic reggae musician Majekodunmi Fasheke popularly known as Majek Fashek has passed on to the great beyond as announced by his manager via a short video posted on Instagram this morning. As a teenager, I usually spent time with an older cousin who loved reggae music. That was when I fell in love with Majek’s unique style because my cousin seemed to have the “prisoner of conscience” album on auto-repeat. Those were the days of Maxell cassettes and because you usually get better quality sound from recorded tapes than the ones sold in the stores I quickly went to my local music studio and got my own copy. By late 1988 when I was a first-year student in Uniport, I was also playing Majek on auto-repeat. For some reason, the tracks “genesis” and “police brutality” particularly resonated with me but it is impossible to even mention Majek without “send down the rain” which became a national anthem and ultimately his most popular song. You heard it during lecture breaks at the tuck shop. It filled the space in the hostels and at our favourite Stopover bar, you were often greeted by it as you walked in. Majek had become the most popular music star in Africa. Likened to the legendary Bob Marley you couldn’t go through a day without coming across Majek. He was on the screens, the radio, your music set and on billboards. Sometime in 1989, I attended one of his concerts with my cousin. Having heard about the miraculous manner in which the sky opened up for a heavy downpour when he performed in Port Harcourt stadium, we couldn’t miss the opportunity to see him live at Crystal Park hotel Aba. It was a bright sunny day as I vividly recollect. The venue was beautifully set and filled to the brim. As the rainmaker strutted across the stage doing his thing the crowd bayed for the popular anthem. But as if it was planned he saved the best for the last. Lo, and behold as the show was drawing to an end the clouds started turning grey and when the familiar opening bass rang out the audience erupted with the chorus. As he strummed his guitar the heavens’ gate gave way for a torrent of heavy rain that would eventually drench us to the pants. Majek was magic. His songs were boisterous, bawdy, heartrending and homely. In one tune, like “police brutality” he could be subtly savage and in the next like “without you” he is sweet and sonorously sexy. He brought home to Nigeria and Africa a hybridized version of the somatic ska music first used by many Caribbean performers as a voice against oppression. And Majek did exhort good people to stand against oppression and take control of a world spiralling endlessly in iniquity when he sang: Let the righteous take over the earth Let the righteous take over this wicked world Let all workers of iniquity be chased out of creation Oh Lord, yoh righteousness Oh Jah Jah, your true righteousness. The world will miss a hugely talented artiste who revolutionalised reggae music with an infusion of rock, roots and afrobeat. A prophetic poet who chased draught away at the stroke of a chord. A man who sent down the rain. Fare the well Majek, my one and only rainmaker.

Blog, Reverie

Anecdote: Been Around The World

  Dateline: 1990 The song was the rave of the moment. It was topping all the charts. Back then we used to hang out every evening at the popular Boundary joint a.k.a Bino in Eziama Aba Ngwa where we enjoy chilled palm wine and exotic ugba. Do you remember those days when you rode into joints blasting music in high volume with bass and treble on the max to flaunt the powerful sound of your car stereo? Yes! That’s what I’m talking about. On this day I was feeling lucky when I drove in. I revved the engine one final time, flung open the door and started dancing as Stansfield jammed at the loudest volume. As I made to join my homies on the table one of those Aba traders approached me. You know those guy men traders that love having a good time and grooving with undergrads..yep. He said “nwanne biatu m’ajuo gi” I obliged. And he asked, “nna biko okwa onye America guru egwu a?” I nodded. And he screamed “yes! yes!!”, looking back towards his friends he said “inunanu ya, okwam gwara unu na owu onye America” He looked at me thankfully as if I just informed him that he won a lottery and said ‘imela nnam, ndi America ri bad na uri nwanne” He gave me a robust handshake and continued singing..”ayayayaa” as he walked back to his friends. A hilarious moment which will be relived whenever I hear this jam. I wish I can take back the hands of time but then I am grateful for plenty of such evergreen memories that always lift the spirit. And by the way I just discovered that Lisa Stansfield is a Brit!?? Have a great weekend and enjoy Lisa Stansfield with me #TGIF

Blog, Reverie

The murder of priests should not be politicised.

  A few days ago I had asked why the protesting Reverend Fathers in Enugu failed to do the same when some Catholic faithfuls were massacred in Ozubulu. The post expectedly drew the ire of many hypocrites including some cowards who hitherto dare not address me directly. But of course, we all know I don’t suffer fools gladly neither do I take prisoners. So I told them to shove their silly opinions up where there is no sunshine. Last week Reverend Fr. Offu was murdered in Awgu. The outrage was hysterical given that just 5 months ago another Catholic priest was brutally murdered in the same Enugu state. Our Reverend fathers have had enough and quite rightly mounted a public protest calling on the authorities to protect them. No sensible person will query the propriety of that protest. However, they made a mistake or should I say a deliberate mistake in blaming the ‘murderous Fulani herdsmen’ for a crime still under investigation. The Communications Director Catholic Diocese of Enugu Rev Fr. Achi told reporters that Fr. Offu was stopped by the murderous herdsmen while returning to his parish after visiting another priest. He specifically said: “They dragged him to the bush but one of the assailants said kill him that the church would not do anything if they kidnapped him” Don’t ask me if he was there. These are men of God blessed with extraordinary abilities. Now let me rejig your memory. Last March when Fr. Ugwu was abducted and his decomposing body later found in a bush. There was also this type of outrage and the heinous act blamed on ‘Fulani herdsmen’ even before the police commenced investigations. Who else would kidnap and murder a clergyman in cold blood if not the usual suspects? As it were, the security operatives swung into action and by April the Enugu state police command announced that they had apprehended two leaders of a four-man kidnapping gang. They had used the late priest’s ATM card to make withdrawals from his account. Their names: Sunday Chibuko 32 and Benjamin Osogwu 28. Igbo herdsmen perhaps. Well, the police have once again made some arrests on the latest case and the word out there is that the late Fr. Offu’s account was cleared 25 minutes after his death. Do you see a pattern? A bank insider said that “there was a need for the security operatives to look inward and ascertain who actually made the ATM withdrawals….” There is a pattern here. Have you wondered why it is mostly Catholic priests? Apparently, these are inside jobs to loot the church treasury because unlike their Anglican colleagues Catholic Reverend Fathers are in complete control of the usually healthy parish coffers. Its a piece of cake for dumb criminals. Kill and clean out the account while the people scream help you to distract the police by screaming ‘fulani herdsmen’. You then have adequate time to get far away. The killers of Fr. Ugwu nabbed in April were arrested in Abuja where they had relocated with their families. You see when we say things as they are we are labelled all sorts by people too cowardly to speak their minds. The person who ‘nicodemusly’ sent me this news is a chronic ‘Islamisation propagandist’ who knows the truth but will rather dance to the gallery of ‘Fulanisation’ on social media for fear of being labelled anti-Igbo or an efulefu. Nobody is defending the govt’s struggle with the rising insecurity neither am I saying there are no criminal herdsmen. However as an Igbo man conscious of the evil Igbo domination propaganda that ultimately ended in a bloody civil war I ALWAYS feel obliged to speak on the dangers of the current ‘Fulanisation’ fallacy and hate-mongering. I have always wondered the usefulness of such silly talk. How will it dethrone Buhari or curb the rising insecurity? We need to be careful with the sentiments we propagate. Let us join hands in holding the government accountable while insisting on improved security. And the least we can do in this regard is to put the correct facts out there because not only do the unverified stories pit Nigerians against each other they also make solving the crime more difficult for our security agencies. All lives matter and the killing of priests should not be relegated to infantile political propaganda.

Blog, Reverie

On Melaye

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt I don’t know about you but for me, the above quote succinctly describes Dino Melaye. Whether he is dancing, fainting, jumping out of a moving police vehicle or climbing imaginary trees, the Kogi senator is just as charismatic as he is enigmatic. He maybe boisterously garrulous but he definitely understands the game of politics and is playing it to his strength. He always gives the masses a spectacle, something to talk about while he maintains a close relationship with his constituents and an even closer alliance with his colleagues across the political divide and believe it or not that is why he has been winning most of his political battles against heavy odds. Frankly, I don’t give a hoot about the upcoming Kogi Guber elections but I have a hunch that in a free and fair contest he will give the incumbent Governor Yahaya Bello a good run for his money. In any case whether or not he wins or even contests, one thing is certain, Dino will be in the nation’s political space for a very long time.

Blog, Reverie

Extra ‘pounds’ from London motorway.

  You could feel the excitement as the kids tried out their new clothes repeatedly. My younger brother and his family will be visiting on Sunday so we were busier than usual all through the preceding week culminating in wifey working a half day on Friday so that we can attend a pre-confirmation event organised by the kids’ school and also do the grocery shopping for her to devote Saturday to cooking assorted dishes. The entire house was cleaned up and I set up the 4×4 gazebo in the patio for outdoor activities. We bought a new coffee table. The trendy low type and I carefully placed it at the centre of the living room with a simple glass flower vase on top of it creating an ambience which was amplified by the gentle aroma from the white and purple daisies I bought for Mothers’ day the previous week. The forecast looked good. There will be a few showers as usual but mostly sunny so I planned a jaunt to the historic port town of Kinsale where I had booked a boat cruise and dinner in a Chinese restaurant we visited last spring. The buzz was palpable and we were ready! That was till the next morning. I was to go and receive my brother at the airport, lead them to the hotel before joining my family at the church. So naturally I woke up with a bounce and picked up my phone to call him on WhatsApp. Rude shock! “Nna we missed our flight oh, accident delay on the motorway” “Could it be April fool?”, I wondered. But then my brother’s birthday just passed and it was on April fools day! “So what will happen?”, I asked faintly hoping for a laughter emoji in return. I was disappointed, a fuming red emoji dropped with the reply instead. They had arrived at the Stansted airport five minutes after departure. I had flown Ryanair enough to know that the airline has only one daily flight to Cork and using another airline would be outrageously expensive. I wouldn’t contemplate that myself. And even if they could be rescheduled for the next day, it would be fruitless going back all the way to East London, return the next morning and still risk missing the confirmation scheduled for 10 am on the same day. Moreover, they planned to fly back to London on Tuesday. I could relate to all I was reading and being a frequent traveller I found myself on a guilt trip for not informing him to leave for the airport by 3 am. Oh yes, it is not uncommon to see passengers hurdled on the floor overnight at Stansted just to ensure that they catch their flights. My wife and the kids almost missed their flight kids flying through Stansted airport last year and in January 2011 my family missed a flight back to Cork as we were held up on the M25 for over 3 hours. We have since learnt not to leave London in the mornings if we had a choice. The first flights often depart on schedule leaving no room for lateness. These days I’m always at least 2/3 hours early at the airport. My mum goes 5 hours before the scheduled departure time. If you ask her she ‘ll tell you that airports are not only beautiful but always busy. There are many people and activities to pass the time with and it is true. But having lived in London for the better part of the last 2 decades my brother had become more Brit than Nigerian. They are always punctual. That explains why I didn’t feel the need to sound a note of warning. When he informed me that the next available flight was on Tuesday I knew there and then that the trip was practically over. There was little anyone can do but plan for another visit. I ‘ve missed too many flights in my lifetime to get overly worried about such disappointments. The only thing he could do now was to cut his losses. Cancel the hotel and car rental bookings and see if there ‘ll be any refund. While still lying on the bed I could hear my wife moving around in the kitchen downstairs. I didn’t know how to tell her let alone the kids. But I had to so that she ‘ll stop the cooking. The refrigerator was already filled to the back and the clanking of pans meant the cooker will be busy. She was aghast at the news, almost speechless. The only thing that managed to escape her lips in disbelief were OMG! I calmed her down. “These things happen”, I said, “I’m just worried about the kids” My brother’s 5-year-old son was already crying at the airport I had learnt. He was the only one old enough to know they weren’t going to see their cousins as planned. Poor boy! My kids were all grown, I will have all teenagers in the next seven months so their disappointment will be harder to contain. Well, you guessed right. They all cried but we managed to console them with the promise that the visit has been rescheduled for summer. It wouldn’t be too long after all, and there will be plenty to eat all week. The confirmation was gracious and my twins looked angelic in their attire. We had lunch in our newly discovered Italian restaurant called Nostra. And oh before I forget. My daughter took Diana for her confirmation, a befitting name for a princess while her brother chose Mark. Lovely names I must say, and that will be making it four names each which may be too long for the boxes provided in JAMB forms. But they won’t be writing JAMB anytime soon, so it will be wiser to focus on the more immediate problem. No thanks to the London motorway I gained an extra pound or two in the past week in a bid to ensure that the dishes were not

Blog, Reverie

Buhari in Aba: The crux of the matter

‘‘As a government, we issued a presidential mandate to the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing and the Rural Electrification Agency to energise the market. In June 2018, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission granted an electricity generation licence as well as a distribution licence for the market. This will enable the generation and distribution of 9.5 Megawatts of electricity within the market. The project is moving smoothly and I have been assured the market will be fully electrified soon. We are working closely with the State Government, Local Government, Traditional Rulers, Market Associations and the community on this project to ensure this goal is actualised by the end of the year,’’ ~ President Muhammadu Buhari  President Buhari made the above statement while reassuring his good friend Eze Ikonne of his resolve to fulfil his 2015 campaign promise to Abia people during the royal father’s visit to the seat of power on September 2018. I grew up in Aba. I can tell you for certain that Enyimba is a great city populated by fearless men and women. You don’t need to delve too far into history to read about some of our exploits including the momentous Aba women riot of 1929. The people of Enyimba city make no pretences. They take life and business seriously and thus over time have come to symbolise both the Igbo entrepreneurial prowess and their cohesive spirit in resistance during times of oppression. Aba has one of the largest markets in West Africa. As a teenager growing in the city I was conversant with many other markets in the South East region. If I wanted a pair of Giorgio Brutini shoes I will go to Onitsha Main Market but if I needed a good made in Nigeria leather sandals then Ariaria was the perfect place to get that. So again I can tell you for free that in terms of trading Ariaria could match other markets in the country but none could rival it when it comes to production. And production is largely dependent on energy supply. So it wasn’t surprising that Aba suffered during the locust years when our infrastructure was left to rot away. The once bubbling manufacturing sector became torpid just like many other production hubs across the land. Years of neglect left a town which once boasted of major industries and multinationals like PZ, Lever Brothers, UAC and UTC on its knees. Aba became a shadow of its old self. Enyimba could no longer march on. Rather it became notorious for crime. Kidnappings happened by the hour and many relocated, leaving the economy of the city in tatters. President Buhari is in Aba as I write. The visit is part of his campaign trail for another election but he also commissioned that Independent Powe Plant in Ariaria. Eze Ikonne will be on hand to receive him. The royal father will be over the moon. Its a promise fulfiled. I can imagine his smirky look at the sight of those who labelled him a traitor when he conferred the title of ‘Ogbuagu’ on candidate Buhari back in 2015. I’m sure many of them will struggle to get a handshake today. Ikonne has laughed last. But that is by the way. Many of Eze Ikonne’s subjects would begin to understand why their King had been romancing this ‘Igbo hating leader’ as they had been taught to believe. They will realise that Buhari is a man who values loyalty. A man who keeps his own end of the bargain. We saw them troop out en masse to welcome him. They were excited. Elated at the prospect of an improved power supply, increased productivity and prosperity. IPOB had attempted to put their usual spanner in the works with a proclamation of ‘sit at home’. But that didn’t stop them. Shouts of ‘Sai Buhari’ rented the air. Many on social media held their breath. In Aba, they wondered? Aba of all places. Agents of the lousy opposition and enemies of progress also sought to diminish the feat by proffering various claims. Some said it was a state government initiative. Who granted the license? Others said its a private initiative. Who cares? So long as Ariaria people will benefit. Now, do you still believe Abia will give Buhari 13,000 votes like in 2015? You may now begin to understand why he repeatedly says that he is satisfied with the response of the real voters. They are the ones that understand that he is not the problem but rather the painful solution. They are the poor who have been and will always be among us just like Christ said in the Bible. They are the ones that wake up by 5 am. Attend the morning mass, get the family ready for the day and hop on a bus or keke to work. It is a daily grind, their grocery shopping is done at dusk and not weekly. If that family of four, five or six will feed on the day then there is no room for dulling whenever the cock crows. They couldn’t care less about a jurist with millions of dollars in his foreign accounts. All they want is the provision of basic amenities that will facilitate their daily hustle. It may also interest my people to note that on Eze Ikonne’s visit to the Villa, President Buhari had also intimated him that during his trip to China he had wooed the executives of one of the largest cotton and garment companies in the world to establish operations in Aba. This he said he was doing in conjunction with the state government. I have many Abia friends, some are aides to Governor Ikpeazu. Most are united and vocal in their opposition to the president. They just hate the man. Ask why and you are likely to get “I just don’t like him” as a response. No reason whatsoever to loathe a man who is bringing back the kind of infrastructure last seen during the days of the

Blog, Reverie

The power play of #HyenasAndJackals

At the onset of his administration, President Muhammadu Buhari undertook plenty tasks including frequent trips abroad to market Nigeria and attract foreign investments. Somewhere along the line, he took ill and a cabal allegedly took over his government. They were said to have connived with the nPDP elements to further alienate Asiwaju Ahmed Bola Tinubu who had already lost out in the NASS leadership. The feeling in Abuja then as I got to know was that Tinubu’s ambition to rule after Buhari had to be checked early in the day. That Asiwaju was the critical beacon of APC’s emergence as the ruling party is not debatable. What did he do? He retreated to do what he knows best, strategize! In the meantime, President Buhari spent weeks and even months abroad on treatment. While there the grapevine had it that some in the president’s inner circle were already positioning themselves in the succession hierarchy of a post-Buhari presidency. There were stories about how Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was being isolated. At one time he was allegedly prevented from signing the budget. However, as God will have it our dear President recovered fully and just before he got back the First Lady Aisha Buhari alerted us in a tweet about #HyenasAndJackals who will soon be chased away from the villa when the Lion King returns. President Buhari being a wise and taciturn old soldier must have keenly observed and heard many stories. There is no doubt that by now he knows those who are for him and those against him. Even though there are neither permanent friends nor enemies in politics, in power play when you crush your foes you better crush them completely! I believe that was why Buhari declared his re-election bid early so that the events of the past few weeks will expose the wolves in sheep’s clothing on time. Thereby providing the President with ample time to crush them. However, as important as that may appear, it is even more important for the president to identify the moles within for they are the ones that should be completely annihilated. That is politics for you and we should expect more drama in the coming weeks.  

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