This is a long one today and like I promised I was going to publish Dele Momodu's Memo in Thisday newspaper and the response he got from a fellow Nigerian. I have decided to change the name of my friend who replied Mr Momodu for personal reasons best known to me. This is very much interesting. Hang On and enjoy the ride.
To Hell with ProtocolPendulum By Dele Momodu,
02.01.2008I love Nigerians. Our ways are just too unique. We have the greatest praise singers on earth. Not since the time of the griots of the ancient Mali Empire have we seen the likes of sycophants we find in our dear country. How can one ever forget the abobaku of the old Oyo Empire who was fed at the expense of the state to accompany the king on his journey to heaven, and had to be buried alive with the king. The last abobaku in recent history actually chickened out of his responsibility and became the subject of many plays including Wole Soyinkas masterpiece, Death and the Kings Horseman.The modern day abobaku are the protocol officers we find around our men and women of power today. They are unbelievably efficient, and I saw them in action last week Saturday, at the funeral rites for Pa Lawrence Ebele Jonathan, the father of Nigeria s Vice President, Dr Goodluck Jonathan, in Otuoke village, Ogbia Local Government Area of Bayelsa State. The lucky father had chosen the best time and the right place to die. Or what better time to die than when one of your many children had miraculously become the Vice President of Africas biggest nation? And what better place to die than inside the presidential villa in Abuja ? From the minute Pa Ebele died, he had become a celebrity corpse, though we never heard of him before then. His funeral was guaranteed to attract the high and mighty and the movers and shakers of our society, who would never have dreamt of ever driving to that dusty village, nor risked being held hostage in that volatile region. As a publisher of celebrity events, I was determined to witness this rare event first hand, and flew in from Accra where our footballers were already fumbling, and failed to encourage us to stay back to watch what should have been a dazzling game. So off to Port Harcourt I went, and promptly checked into my hotel. In the evening, I made contact with the Governor of Rivers State and he was graceful to have invited me over to his house that late evening. It was our first meeting since God catapulted him to that special position, and was very delighted to see that power has not changed our simple friend.In the course of our chat, Governor Rotimi Amaechi had asked how I was planning to get to the Vice Presidents village in the morning and I told him Ill be going by road, and he told me he could get me on one of the helicopters already lined up for some of the celebrity guests. I was very delighted and left for my hotel. The journey was very scary because of the fear of hostage takers but there were so many soldiers on the road to safeguard lives and properties.I woke up early and drove with my Port Harcourt Bureau Chief, David Iyofor, to the government lodge, where I discovered there were several governors and government functionaries, including Professor Isa Yuguda of Bauchi State , and Bayo Alao Akala of Oyo State on ground. They were joined by Princess Adenrele Adeniran Ogunsanya who represented Governor Babatunde Fashola of Lagos State , and was warmly received by Rotimi Amaechi. We had our breakfast with the Governor and left for the Air Force Base. I was impressed to see that Rotimi Amaechi did not terrorize his city with too much security and protocol. He simply entered his jeep and drove off with a few security aides and other VIPs, and his reasonable convoy readily meandered through the traffic without kicking the citizens around.At the Air Force Base, Wale Babalakin, the lawyer and businessman, soon landed with his propeller jet. Not long after, Nigeria s senate president, David Mark also landed on a presidential jet. He was accompanied by his best friend, Brigadier-General Tunde Ogbeha, as well as former Governor Saminu Turaki, now a senator, Dr Andy Uba, and Dr Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello and a few others. The senate president left immediately on the helicopter with Ogbeha and Uba but there was no space for Iyabo who was later rescued by Amaechi and put on our own helicopter. The Governor showed himself as a perfect host and gentleman despite the way he was victimized by the Obasanjo government.When we landed in the village, we all had to trek to the main venue of the ceremonies and we noticed the over-militarization of the whole village which reminded us instantly that we were standing in one of the most dangerous zones on earth. Believe me, there were soldiers and anti-riot police everywhere, fully armed to the teeth, as the cliché goes. Some were even dressed like Ninja, in the action-packed movies, with the full faces covered. Even Lagbaja would have bowed at the great effort that went into the masked soldiers. The guns and daggers were mercilessly intimidating. The security guys did not leave anything to chance. There were soldiers on many boats patrolling the waters, and I learnt the Navy played a crucial role, just as there was cover from the skyFor me the climax was when the security aides and protocol officers of the governors decided to test their boxing dexterity on one another by exchanging fearsome blows and tearing at each others throat, all in the name of trying to secure front row seats for their powerful bosses, and it was practically impossible to have every governor sit in front. The overzealous agents did not even respect the fact that the Cross River governor, Liyel Imoke was already seated as well as the First Lady of Lagos State, Mrs Abimbola Fashola, who could have been hit in the fisticuff. Also near-by was the Vice President whose presence alone ought to have driven the fear of God into these irritants.They almost marred the events and many of the guests had to leave the vicinity for the fear of accidental discharge. By and large, the event went well as more and more guests poured in from everywhere to pay homage to one of the current godfathers of Nigerian politics. As we drove out of the village and went back to Port Harcourt by road, it became very evident why the Niger Delta is not likely to witness any enduring peace in the near future. The Niger Delta is a wasteland, the habitat of the most bitter and inconsolable human beings who live amidst so much wealth but have nothing to show for it.The roads are ugly. The houses look as dry as stockfish. Most of the people appeared drained of quality life. I doubt if all the palliatives being offered by government can assuage the deep-rooted bitterness of the people of the region. It is very hard to imagine the terrible conditions they live in. It is virtually impossible not to be a militant under such outlandish existence. The issue certainly is not about how much money is pumped in that direction but the genuine will of their new leaders to work hard on improving the living conditions of their people. The prodigality of the past irresponsible leaders must be avoided. Driving from Bayelsa to Rivers State convinced any unbelieving Thomas that most of our leaders are Godless, insensitive, greedy, tasteless, shameless, extremely selfish, and acutely wicked.All the roads looked ancient, in a place where one expected to see super highways of ten lanes, modern bridges, fast trains, trendy housing estates for the ordinary people, modern boats linking the communities, beautiful schools for the kids and such goodies of life. All you see are signs of all manner of useless contracts hastily packaged and cruelly executed by soulless human vampires who have shamelessly raped the land of their birth. The roads are without drains. The whole place portrayed a typical John Conrads Heart of Darkness. This was hell on earth. Everywhere was dirty. The people must have given up and have chosen to live as squalid a life as possible. Or how does one explain the hopelessness of the situation.It is worse than I ever imagined. I still marvel at how a young man called Donald Duke got the idea for Tinapa, and how he mustered the courage to execute it. I dont care if he borrowed too much money for the project or whether he and his wife Onari helped themselves with some of the money. They have demonstrated that great things can happen here, that we can build our own Dubai , or Hong Kong, or Sun City, out of the many sprawling cities in Nigeria . Many of our brilliant youths are involved in building and developing the many futuristic cities and monuments around the world. A Nigerian designed the Stratford Station in London , which is rated one of the greatest architectural masterpieces in Europe . How come we cant replicate this feat in our dear country? Why is Lagos in total darkness, a city that should ordinarily be the New York of Africa? As your plane descends into Murtala Mohammed International Airport , you instantly see a city in total chaos. The airport itself is fast deteriorating. Two days ago, I was in transit from London to Accra and was ashamed at how many times the lights went off at the airport, and the conveyor belt failed to work. About two weeks ago our huge A3 printer disappeared without a trace till today at the same airport, and without anyone being able to tell us when and where it was last seen or handled. Our tarmacs still look extremely antiquated, and only God is watching over us.If I had any hope that Nigeria will witness a drastic improvement soon, it evaporated last week. I only pray our leaders will feel challenged by their place in history and do what is right. God bless Nigeria .Thank you
And The Reply He Got
THIS IS MY LITTLE RESPONSE TO MR> MOMODU. Publisher of the Ovation magazine
Na so e bi now. I beg my people; I have something to say to Dele Momodu, the author of this article. As a matter of fact, as I am writing this email, I don vex, I am going to tell Mr. Momodu what I think. Stay tuned folks.
Ok, I go vex later according to my friend Dele Akinseye.
On a more serious note guys, in as much as I applaud Mr. Dele Momodu for writing this article about his experience going to the V.P. later fathers funeral in wherever that place is that he mentioned, and really I give him all the accolade. But one point I like to make and I will appreciate everybody to think about this for a second.
The problem I have with Mr. Momodu is that this is the founder and publisher of the Ovation magazine published in London I believe. We all know now what Ovation platform is and the content of Mr. Momodu's magazine. I am not sure whether Mr. Dele Momodu understand how contradictory his story and opinion is on the ill and the desperate situation in the Niger delta. Mr. Momodu, if you don't understand, let me tell you the power you have to change mindset and the body politic in Nigeria.
You sir, have a magazine like Ovation that is distributed around the world, with I guess a lot of subscribers. I have never in the few times, I have seen it, I emphasize seen, because there is "NO CONTENT" for me to read other than look at pictures. I have never seen pictures of the desperate people of the Niger Delta living conditions as you describe them in your article. All your magazine shows are the glamour and how rich and wasteful Nigerians are. You sir have never or maybe I don't read your magazine enough, seen you dedicate one page to the plight of this our fellow Nigerians.
Your magazine is a total description of what is wrong with Nigeria today. These same asshole that are causing all this problems in the Niger Delta are the same idiots that you sir rode with on private helicopter. These are the same stupid motherfu..... who are causing all the miseries our people are suffering. You have the nerve to talk about Protocol officers and security. How they were pushing folks around. What nonsense. Please Mr. Momodu, please address via your magazine some more substantial issues facing the country. Like poverty, the neglect of the handicap people all over the street of Lagos, the young boys and girls that wait around parties to pick up the left-over from tables of the privileged. I mean common Dele, How can you not understand the power you have to make a change. Don't you get it men? I really don't know what to say to you as a concerned Nigeria. I don't know about our audience in this email chain, I would like to say once again, that I applaud you for at least recognizing the suffering that the Niger Delta folks are going through, but what are you going to do about it with the platform you have (OVATION) You can make tremendous different by giving the whole world a clear picture of what is going on down there. Go down there and take a few pictures and let the world see what the gluttonous Oil companies and the Nigerian government have done to these people. Give the issue a boost by dedicating maybe a page or two to the issue of the Niger delta. Go down there and take a picture of how all the pollution have kill the vegetation and the folks can’t farm any more. Take a picture of how most of the wild-life has disappeared. Give us a picture of how the pollution from the Oil companies have killed most of the water animals and the people of the Niger delta region can no longer depend on their primary livelihood fishing.
Oga Momodu, let me stop before I take my applause I gave you earlier back for recognizing and writing this article.
No vex ooo. I don't have any problem with capitalism and you trying to make a living by taking glamorous pictures of the rich and famous, Sir that is your prerogative, but lets keep it real. Put your money where your mouth is. Do something that the good people of Nigerian will forever remember you for.
I rest my case.
Mr XXY Washington DC,USA.