I read this piece by Seyi Mafolabomi and it captures my thoughts about the ongoing debate on our servitude mentality and inhumane reaction especially post the Paris terrorist attacks.
Dele was a publicist’s worst nightmare, he had a bad image. Most people who knew him simply regarded him as a proud young man benefiting from the largesse left behind by his illustrious father. And they weren’t particularly wrong. He was truly and indeed a spoilt, lazy, and proud personality. My headache was how to successfully re-brand him. I needed to create a new image. I had to create a new personality. Fortunately, he had friends in high places. His late dad’s friends and associates were ready to stand by him, not really for him but for his dad. Again, it reminded me the role of a father can never be over-emphasised. Leaving a good legacy for our children is a must but there is also the need to teach them how to build legacies on their own.
Dele was practically bad at most things, he didn’t have much business or entrepreneurial skills and though he was in charge of his dad’s many business empires on paper, he only shows up at the office out of necessity, he does nothing save to sign documents and sit at board meetings where his contribution is worth only the seat on which his buttocks rested.
Privately, I told myself I can never vote such a man, I mean he knows nothing yet he wants to speak on behalf of the oppressed and downtrodden. But my job was to create a brand capable of winning elections and that I did. We hired a professional photographer and our first point of call was the popular Lagos BRT. It was hell trying to make Dele agree to work with the concept, but as always, Modupe came to my rescue.
“It makes no sense, why will I board a BRT?
“Because the people need to see you as one of them; that you understand what they are going through and you have solutions. People don’t easily warm to someone who intimidates them. It’s why the poor man finds it difficult sustaining a conversation with a rich man. He is intimidated by the man’s wealth. But a rich man with enough effort can come down to the level of the poor man and relate well”
“I don’t care dude. My campaign team say I don’t have to do it”
“That’s because they are rich idiots like you” I said irritated. He gave me a look that said I can destroy you in a second but I wasn’t about to back down.
“Are you out of your mind? Turning to Modupe, he said “really who is this guy? I am not doing that shit and that’s it”
Modupe who had been quietly observing us as we quibbled back and forth stood up and firmly said “Yes you are going to do it okay? You have to listen to him”
She then turned to me and said “Etuhu, can you please excuse us for a few seconds?
“Sure” I said as I walked out of the room. I opened the door and shut it after me but rather than move away, I stayed by the door and listened to the conversation. I needed to have an idea what was been discussed.
“What is all that crap Dupe, I don’t need you embarrassing me in front of some wimp” I cringed at the language. What a complete joke.
“What is wrong with you? I heard Modupe reply. “The reason we brought him was because the idiots you gathered as a campaign team have made absolutely no success in the last three months. You are a spoilt brat and we needed someone who can rub it in your face and teach you humility. Etuhu is that guy”
“Oh really? Why don’t you date him then?
“Come on, don’t be a baby. You cannot continue acting like a ten year old. What has dating him got to do with this? She said and I detected frustration in her voice.
“I am repeating it again, I am not doing that shit” I heard his footstep approaching the door, he was going to walk out on her, I made moves to run but Modupe’s reply stopped me. I heard her say “If you walk out of that door, its over between us” It made the same effect on Dele as the footsteps stopped abruptly.
“What is that supposed to mean? Dele said in an emotional laden voice. He was still close to the door. I knew I needed to be careful, so I walked away from the door. I wished I could hear the next part of the conversation, wisdom however demanded that I left.
When I was recalled, Dele was sitting on the sofa like a subdued lion and I couldn’t help but wonder how the conversation ended. I really needed to understand the type of relationship between them.
“Thanks for your patience Etuhu; we will do the BRT strategy so just give us the concept”
“That’s great” so I gave them a brief of the plan. “I have hired a few of my social media friends who would retweet it live. we will use the hash tag #DeleIsOneOfUs and . He would dress in casual jeans and polo. He would interact with the people on the BRT and ask them what they think should be the focus of his agenda if he is elected. Basically, what we are trying to show is that Dele is humble and down to earth”
Whatever Modupe told Dele worked like magic. He was calmer and unusually gentle as I taught him for two days what he needed to do for Project BRT. He was a good learner and grabbed issues at once. I rarely had to repeat myself. I was so impressed with his conduct.
The campaign worked. Dele interacted with a pregnant woman. He sat beside her and asked how comfortable it was for her to board the Bus, he spoke to a school boy and gave him a box of chocolate. He laughed and made jokes with others on the bus. At a point there were too many people coming into the Bus making it all hot and smelly but his altitude was on point. He didn’t give away his frustration even though I knew he must have been at a point.
Our photographer did a good job with the images produced; they really projected what I had in mind.
Before we alighted from the bus, we made sure everyone on board was at N3,000 richer. That was the idea of the Campaign team and it also made sense. Money dictates a whole in our political arena.
For two hours we had twitter on lock down. #DeleIsOneOfUs trended for days. we got people talking and that is the first step in re-branding: change the conversation.
It was a great strategy and I was happy at the result.
However, crisis soon dialled the social media team and the entire Dele4Rep Campaign Organisation, totally knocking us off our perch….
These times are indeed perilous. It’s coliseum all over again. The battle of “those ones” against “these ones”. We are on the brink of a major historical landslide, no seer could have foreseen. As nationals go against their nation, with no respect for any filial consideration or connection; as elite division and disorientation are shaping up in their ethnic, cultural and regional particularities; as the questions we refused to answer at the laying of the first block of post-colonial Nigeria continues to haunt us; with the edifice established by the inconsiderate political elites caving in; we are urgently to contend with an emerging reality. Of fathers fighting sons, of cousins tearing the tendons of one another, roiling in this apocalyptic slugfest, it’s a clash of all alters, things are already apart – the falcon has grown deaf to the falconer. However, there is hardly anything new about it. The possibilities of the current realities had been made crystal clear when the outstandingly brainy Awolowo described Nigeria as a mere geographical expression. To the thoughtful, that was not a mere rhetoric, it spoke of things – A bunch of things to come.
As a famous columnist once put it with caustic relish, “no matter the prefix to delimit its historical actuality, it is obvious that there is not much difference between colonialism in Nigeria and what has come after it. In reality, “post” is often a marker of barely disguised continuity rather than sharply delineated discontinuity. As an English wit quipped, “there is no point in settling the order of precedence between a flea and a louse. They are both bloodsucking vermin”.
After the departure of the British imperialists, 50 years on, there is arguably nothing we have to show for the independence. However, there is hardly anything divinely preordained about this misadventure. The fact is Nation building (or rather, state building) had never been a tea party for a task. It is not a job for the fainthearted. The challenges are meant to be enormous. You must paddle your own canoe; you must answer to your father’s name. Look at the efforts made at building the United States, the odyssey of wars – both physical and philosophical, culminating to self-identity. Until the debris of misconception of self is cleared, every effort made is going to be for everybody but you.
Post-colonial habitats are especially more bogged at the abyss of confusion to clear a lot of debris of identity crisis after freedom. There is nothing more challenging. For a multi-ethnic entrapment like ours, Independence could be murder in the cathedral, if care is not taken. In order to cure this identity crisis, emerging nations at various times have got to rely on a person or group of persons to lead them out of this psychosocial maelstrom. Every Israel must have a Moses and an Aaron to lead her to the Promised Land. There were the Thomas Jeffersons and George Washingtons for the U.S, Lee Kuan Yew was on hand for Singapore. Even Charles de Gaulle, in the fifth republic France did a yeoman’s job in deconstructing the edifice of identity crisis of the French. These they did by formulating powerful, enduring philosophies, which still stand at the basis of their values and mores.
Knowing that the danger of clustering people of dissimilar cultures and worldview together without a binding philosophy will be nothing but writing a love letter to anomie; the founding fathers of U.S.A had to draw up the Articles of confederation 1777, to complement documents like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of 1776. They meant business. The nation must first understand herself, before other things. The tragedy that has befallen Nigeria or to a larger extent, Africa was that there were no people as those to lead them to their El Dorado. There is nothing more tragic than when all you have to reel out as leaders are Samuel Doe, Idi Amin, Joseph Kabilla and the likes. In the particular case of Nigeria, instead of sitting down to create a binding philosophy to build on, the founding fathers fanned the embers of political cum ethnic tyranny. We have not recovered since then. After all, Nigeria was not conceived as a nation but as a colonial plantation for the expropriation of indigenous natural resources. It is easy for a colonial plantation to become a banana republic.
Infrastructure must however precede superstructure. You cannot have Nigeria without Nigerians. This was Awo’s concern. The current siege of ethnic chauvinistic hubbubs has added to the many tales to tell since our independence. It is not going to stop anytime soon. The power of disunity cannot be beaten into place by a cudgel of force. National question will always come back to ask you about her. Consensus must be reached. It is the first question to answer. Ethnic consciousness must give way to National spirit, but only when nationals are ready to give nationhood a chance. How this will happen after the event of 1914 – A marriage of inconvenience, someone christened it, is what we do not know. The misfortune more so, is that we are trying to build a nation, hundred years after she was fastened together, and fifty five years after she gained her freedom . We are indeed setting forth at dawn. However, it does not mean that National questions are answered in their finality, it will continue to be asked but it cannot be avoided. If there is any migraine to be had, it is the fact that we are yet to emerge with a generation that will drive us towards state building. We are all being genuine sons of our fathers; holding the toga of ethnicity with unflinching tenacity. Nobody wants to be a bastard.
America is not the one we see, it is the one that led to the one we see. “We the people of the United States of America” is not a mere aphorism, it is a result of a genuine and sober reflection over a philosophy, out of which came a flurry of objectives, a decision to formulate policies, not an unnecessary mouthing of mere soulless words. “A nation without philosophers is without tools to assess its original ideas and institutions. Thus, they are forced to choose between these two options; (a) be a copycat, take policies from abroad or (b) be a guinea pig and apply unassessed or poorly assessed policies”, a certain Imre Chan once quipped.
A nation must necessarily pass through a moment of catharsis, of collective and consensual introspection, of the analysis of their reality, a search for answers to their fundamental national questions. You cannot run away from these. You cannot chase away your shadows, No dibia will conjure terrestrial wonders for such sake. Though the question will always be “where are these architects”? We are so deepened in ethno-religious squalor that we cannot understand anything else. So we look elsewhere for succour. Nothing can be heart-renting than seeing Nigeria warm up to her hitherto imperialists and western nations for solution upon meeting with a problem. They brought us together after all. They must laugh at us. They really have us at the jugular. Interestingly, A nation cannot afford not to dominate her space, nothing to the contrary could be more suicidal, a gory self-immolation. The domination must be in all cadres; intellectually, philosophically, ideologically, idealistically, in fact, spiritually. She must build an agenda of goal setting, myth setting, in order to forge her realities. It is a herculean task, not in any way meant for Hercules but for mere mortals. It is after the building of philosophy that knowledge arises. Knowledge does not need to conform with western ideas or ideals, Lee Kuan Yew made this inescapably clear. It is about how you solve your problems, balancing all competing needs in your society. Knowledge matters and human capital is the driving force behind all societal advances.
First things must always come first. As simply illogical as it always is, we have a penchant for putting the cart before the horse. It is a strange culture of ours to continue to dig our grave. We do not stop, we only dig deeper.
There cannot be an attempt at nation building, without building the “national spirit”. Freidrich Von Savigny called it; Not just constitution. Constitutions will never build a nation. Without a philosophy preceding the making of a constitution, all words therein are almost soulless, just playthings for lawyers and political analysts to juggle around with. Philosophies of a nation must be reflected in a constitution. Constitution will not constitute a nation, a nation constitutes constitution. Before this will ever happen, the nation must heal, the nation must agree. Simply put, the state of the Union depends on the union of the State…
THE MISGUIDED OPINION ABOUT THE OGONI PEOPLE
[Part 1 is available here]
The euphoria that heralded the final day of camp melted when I picked my posting letter – I had been posted to Gokana LGA; one of the local government area that houses the Ogoni people. Just two days earlier, a friend who was currently serving there prayed, that I should not be posted there. Apparently, the heavens heard the exact opposite.
A Local Government-sponsored bus was sent to convey new Corps members from the NYSC Camp to their Place of Assignment, and my friend came with the bus. We had a brief chat where she advised me to go home and ruminate over it, before accepting the offer. I mulled over this for three weeks and settled to remain in my LGA – a decision that ensure that my integrity remained intact.
As I prepared to resume in Gokana, my father’s friend, who accommodated me for those three weeks gave me his words “You know I worked with Shell for 30 years. I visited Bodo, Mogho and a couple of other places in Ogoni. The Ogoni people are wicked – very wicked set of people. Be careful and stay away from their girls. May God see you through”
I arrived at Mogho, Gokana on Dec 13. After the necessary documentation at the Community Secondary School, Mogho, I returned home to resume after the Christmas and New Year celebrations. The Ogoni people are a highly marginalized and impoverished breed. Many of the children who walk around the streets in oversized T-shirt remind me of pictures from war-torn Sierra Leone as captured by the lens of the international media. Children, between the ages of 5-8, playing football stark naked under the rain was not an unusual sight. In Mogho, Bomu and a couple of other communities, the Corpers’ lodges were the major source of pipe-borne water for those communities. Just a handful others had boreholes in their houses.
It is palpable to imagine that an oil-rich community which should be in the class of Aberdeen could be mistaken for war-torn Sierra Leone. Despite the fact that substantial production of oil and gas has been halted for over a decade, by the recalcitrant Ogoni people who ordered Shell out of their lands due to the oil spillage and environmental degradation with little compensation, the people still suffer the damaging impact. I made a trip to some of their rivers and you would see oil floating on their river – the same one where they harvest fishes from. However, Shell alone cannot be blamed, as pipeline vandalisation further exacerbates the problem.
At night, the villagers usually locally refine crude oil, emitting thick black smoke into the atmosphere. Once, this was done in the afternoon, and even the sun couldn’t penetrate the thick smoke.
While interacting with members of the communities, I learnt that Shell crude oil pipelines still run through the communities, hence Shell is still responsible to the community as part of her Corporate Social Responsibility. The oil giant is responsible for the WAEC fees of hundreds of students in the schools. Shell also doles out huge sums of money to the Chiefs for development of the communities.
Many claim, more often than not, that this money is shared by the elites and never used for its purpose.
During my visit, I witnessed Communal unrest in Kpor and Bodo communities. In Kpor, the youths alleged that Shell has disbursed a huge sum of money to the community Chief for development. They opined that, knowing how selfish their Chief is, and rather than have him embezzle the money; the money should be shared equally among all families in the community. However, the Chief publicly denied that the disbursement of the money as alleged by the youths.
Amid protests to demand for recognition and compensation for the pollution of their environment, they have been painted as barbaric – this is far from the truth.
I taught Mathematics to the SS2 Class of 2014/15 Session, with arms A and B. The student population is at 150, though you hardly see 70 students in school, except during the 3rd term promotional examination – One in which everyone gets promoted to the next class regardless of their performance. In no time, I built a good relationship with the students. Seeing the poor quality of education they received in previous classes, I offered free evening classes on Mondays and Wednesdays to fast-track the learning process, focusing on what their teachers failed to teach in previous classes – to lay a good foundation, without which my efforts during the usual classes will result in futility. It was unfortunate that many of them knew zilch in Mathematics. I remember when I taught one group Pythagoras Theorem under five minutes and almost the whole class unanimously said “Is that all? That simple?”
Computer classes followed on Friday, as I introduced them to the Computer (Laptop) and the basic Microsoft packages. An average of thirty people turned up daily for the tutorial classes throughout the holiday period. A colleague and I, also renovated a block of classrooms and with funds from our donors, set up a Reference library as they had none.
Invites to lunch with their families, gifts – coconuts, yams and fruits, started pouring in. Spending time with them during holiday, I got a peek into their lives. They took me on fishing trips and excursions round their community and adjoining ones. They told me tales of their past, the oppression from the community chiefs amongst others. They even told me how they would send me my share of their N600,000 – a compensation Shell had just paid every indigene of another community, Bodo, for environmental degradation, when theirs arrived.
The icing on the cake came a night to my departure. The new yams had just been harvested. Seven of them, all boys, came around for the usual chit-chat. Next thing they said “Sir, let us prepare you our local soup”. After over two hours of work, “kpon sa-ep”, a local soup made from water leaves and garnished with fish and oysters was ready; pepper soup was simmering in another pot, and two very large bowls of pounded yam was ready for consumption. I invited other Corps members, a little over 12 turned up and we consumed the first round to our fill. The chefs and I went for the second round and washed it down with a bottle of wine. It was the happiest mood I had seen them in – in like forever.
While the Ogoni people could be volatile towards themselves, as witnessed during the elections and other mild cult clashes, they are very accommodating towards strangers. Strangers can defy their traditions, and go scot-free. It is said that strangers bring good tidings; hence, they hold their strangers in high esteem.
Parting with my students was amidst tears. A day after I bid the community farewell, a woman who benefitted from my free tutorial brought me tubers of yam that she just harvested – The new Corpers made merry of them. A student who learnt I was still in Port Harcourt brought me tubers of yam, all the way from the village. He bought me a T-shirt too – I was stunned beyond words. Did I mention I got a set of glass wares too?
Since I left their community till today, a day hardly passes without a call or chat from the lovely Ogoni people. Discard the misguided opinion about the Ogoni people, they are a cheerful and warm people. They have been, are, and will continually have a place in my heart.
The events of the previous day were baffling but it was indeed very true. I once read a story ‘Lagos….. And my polythene bag’. It was very popular on Twitter at the time. The story centred on a young unemployed man who came into Lagos with only a polythene bag, he squatted with a friend in Lagos, walked the entire length of the city scouting for a job. He found none. With nothing to do, he took solace in social media, Facebook and Twitter and within a short time, he had gathered a strong followership. He was soon contacted by a Governorship aspirant to head his social media team, after a massive social media blast and rigorous campaigns, victory was achieved. He became a big boy and got hooked up with one of the most beautiful girls in the city. The story gave me hope until the writer twisted it. The guy was actually dreaming while on the long journey to Lagos. He discovered he just arrived in Lagos with his polythene bag still as his only possession.
That story was annoying but the reality jolted me, how many come into Lagos everyday with big dreams of becoming rich but end up becoming wretched, returning to their villages worse than when they left. Infact, many don’t ever return to their village because of the shame that accompanies it. My story is different though, I had always been in Lagos and I have parents who can continue to feed and clothe me if I allow them to but I had chosen not to let that happen. They were irritated when I left home without having a steady source of income. They felt I should stay at home until I found a well-paying job but I didn’t want any of that; to be pampered by my parents when people of my age are busy influencing the world, no.
So I got a fat cheque from Modupe and later that very evening she called that she was sending a driver to pick me up to meet her dad. I went with the Driver. The house was gigantic. I was kept gaping around like someone from Olorunda village. Once in a while, you get to see real wealth and you know you don’t know anything about it. Merely living in this kind of environment, even as a servant, would change one’s worldview. I am sure the servants consume what some rich men can never dream of eating.
Anyway, I met her dad. He was such a simple man; you would think that someone that wealthy would be sophisticated. He wasn’t. There is a sickness that seems to plague most of the rich men in Nigeria, an abundance of wealth causes them to lose their ‘humanity’, and they metamorphose into Zeus; while every other person becomes grasshoppers in their eyes. Chief Alabi remained human and humane. I met him watching a replay of an Arsenal match.
“Good evening sir”
“Etuhu, Mr Twitter” he said laughing.
“Interesting, your daughter told me you follow me on Twitter. That’s amazing sir. Really amazing”
“You know, I intentionally didn’t use my name because I want to be on a low key on the platform since my companies have verified accounts and are doing well”
“You think otherwise?
“Yes Sir, many of the World’s top business moguls and influencers have verified accounts and they manage it personally. Even the Pope is on Twitter”
“Yeah that’s true. Daily Mail reports that his tweets are retweeted 17,000 times. I followed the 2014 Twiplomacy report. Obama came second with 14,000 retweets. Ok I will open a new account. You will help manage it though. I won’t always have time for it. So you’ve got yourself a new job”
“Thank you sir, but I doubt if that’s the main though”
“It’s definitely not. Modupe’s boyfriend is running for a seat in the House of Representatives and I want you to create and manage a personality boosting account for him on all social networks” he said.
So I got engaged to promote a guy of my own age. The dude was a spoilt brat. His dad and Modupe’s were friends. Grew up, went to school and began a business partnership together. He lost his dad while he was studying at the University of Pennsylvania. I deduced that the relationship between Deji Obadele and Modupe was arranged. Of course, Chief didn’t say it that way but erm, I wasn’t born yesterday. I saw them together that evening and my intuition told me something was wrong but that was none of my business. We sat down and discussed strategy and formations and I asked him to mail me details of his life.
“Why don’t I just say to you now and you develop it” He said like the brat he was.
“I don’t like this guy”. Maybe I should walk away from the deal; after all, politics has never been my thing. However, life is not always about what we like. So I insisted that we work on my terms.
“We’ll send it to you” Modupe offered.
“Ok, thanks Ma’am. I will look at it and then work begins tomorrow. What should be priority please? I mean I am working for you, for Chief and for Deji”
“Deji takes precedence” Chief said.
“Alright, I will have to close my other engagements and dedicate my time to the Alabi’s social media business” that made everyone laugh. Modupe has such charming laughter.
That night, Chief wrote me another jaw-dropping cheque. My fortunes just got bigger. As I entered the car to be driven back to my apartment, I heard Chief asking Modupe why her one of her drivers was taking me home. “He doesn’t have a car” she whispered to him.
“Etuhu” he called.
“Someone will bring you a new car tomorrow ok?
Looking at the ocean as I was being driven home, I could not believe my luck. Politics brought me so much in 24 hours. Who would have believed that? Shopping for work materials is the first agenda tomorrow. _________________
My shopping list: generator, air-conditioner, printer, an IPhone, scanner, original beats by Dre, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 2014 edition, Microsoft surface pro 3, Samsung K zoom camera, three new suits, ten H&C shirts (my favourite designer), fridge, yes fridge, I will be sitting by the laptop all day, come on, a chilled drink every hour is not a bad idea. And off course plenty foodies. I was finally able to richly tip Mama Ada. It had always been on my mind, but my pocket didn’t help. I gave her N50,000. She danced like one who just received a million dollars. I told her to vote for Deji. Having just received N50,000, she had no choice. She didn’t even know who Deji, I told her his posters will soon be everywhere. Work had started after all. I could do some offline influencing.
I tweeted “get your PVC, vote Deji Obadele”
Immediately I saw
@Etuhu who be Deji?
@Etuhu, when you start to dey tweet political stuffs?
Na lie!!! @Etuhu wants us to vote a certain Deji. Who be?
Indeed work had started, I smiled as I settled down to reply them one after the other, with evergreen song Öta mi deyin leyin mi by Ebenezer Obey music ringing loud in my ears.
In that instant, my mind attempted to conjure up why her dad will require the services of a blogger, from my research her dad was one of the top businessmen in the country. He has chains of businesses within and outside the Nigeria. His advertising agents probably rake in millions of naira annually for their services, so why would he require the services of a bloody blogger with some followers on Facebook and Twitter unless of course he is……
“Yes and he asked specifically for you”
“That’s impossible, does he even know me?
She smiled. So beautiful! My brain registered again. “You underrate yourself my dear, you really do. Daddy is on Twitter and because you tweet for corporate organisations, he knows you. One lesson, in life you don’t know who is watching you”
I was stunned but still didn’t believe her; it was difficult for my mind to picture a multi-millionaire following my work on social media. I would have known haba! It’s not true. A big man following you and you won’t know? His account would definitely be verified and I always check out the profile of verified users who follow me. I have influential business men following me and retweeting me though none of them even come close to Chief Alabi and that’s because I did one work or the other for them for some ‘chicken change’. Most of them refused to even pay believing that retweeting me should be sufficient for my effort. What a bunch of losers.
If Chief Alabi was following me, I would have known. But again he might be using an unverified pseudo handle; I know a lot of men of high standing in the society who are on twitter. They stalk timelines in search of things with which they could freeze or fry other users. Once I had helped uncover a tyrannical University Vice-Chancellor who uses his students’ tweet as grounds for instigating disciplinary actions against his students. The students kept wondering who the ‘Judas’ among them was, until we found out it was a handle used by the VC. He would often join the hashtag #VCmustgo and send out tweets receiving thousands of retweets from the tired and frustrated students. Such is the nature of things on Twitosphere.
“What are you thinking about” she must have been studying me as I quietly reflected.
“Does he have a pseudo account?
“Something like that”
“What’s the handle?
“Come on, you know I cannot tell you except you agree to work with him”
“Who is he spying on?
“Oh Etuhu, you aren’t new to this are you? He has used it to conduct some one or two opinion polls. Twitter has become like a market place for young Nigerians. It has different type of people with different idiosyncrasies and differing opinions”
“Why are you speaking English Lady? I tried to lighten things up; it was a failed attempt as I noticed I was beginning to crawl under her skin. I was unnecessarily getting too familiar. “I should stop questioning you; what does he really need me for?
“You will have to hear it from the horse’s mouth so if you are interested I can set up a meet. What do you say?
“That’s fine with me?
“Great. I will get back to you” she said. “Denis” she called out to a waiter. It was obvious she was a frequent customer from the way he rushed down to our table.
“Please attend to my friend here, bill is on me” turning to me she said “Order whatever you want ok, I have to leave now if you don’t mind”
“Its fine, we will see later”
“Meanwhile I expect to see some work this evening”
“Definitely, watch my handle tonight. You will be wowed”
And she walks beautifully too, my brain registered as I kept my eyes on her, watching her walk away.
“Etuhu, the twitter Lord” someone’s voice brought me back to reality. I noticed it was Denis the waiter. The look on my face must have told him I was lost. “Haba, half the people behind those phone and Ipad buttons have seen one or two pictures of the famous Etuhu now. Don’t look so surprised” he added.
“Denis, this Bros no dey always remember say Twitter na big thing for Nigeria now. People treat you like some celebrity even if you no get ‘shingbai’ for pocket”
“Na true sha, I was expecting you to come with a ride when Madam told me she was meeting with you. As I con see you dey waka dey sweat, my mind tell me say this guy na hustler. But I am sure the story is about to change”
“Why you talk so?
“You met Miss Modupe Alabi, that’s enough”
“Anyways, I enjoy and respect the mind behind @Etuhu and it’s great to finally meet you. Remember the time you did a survey of the best restaurants on the Island and a certain @BabaDee disagreed?
“Yeah I cannot forget that convo, it was one of the best I had last year. BabaDee is Baba Denis?
We laughed and went over the incident again. I was running a media blast for a newly renovated hotel, restaurant and bar at the time. Not many people had as much details and experiential knowledge on hoteling and hospitality business in Lagos as @BabaDee so I engaged him. He gave a ranking totally different from mine placing my client close to the bottom of the rung. I had to earn my fee so I strongly disagreed with him and we went on and on for days. No victor no vanquished.
“No wonder you just dey spill facts anyhow, na correct restaurant you dey work”
“Now you know” he replied laughing.
Can I ask you something?
“Is my Madam recruiting you?
“It depends on what you mean o”
“Abegi, we both understand, look I want to join your team. I need a break from serving tables and all. She pays us well o, so no be that……”
“Wait a minute” I cut in. “She owns this place?
He looked around and nodded “But people don’t know”
“Why you con tell me?
“You be correct person now”
“Oga no dey trust people anyhow like that o. Na Lagos you dey no be your bush village” I replied with another round of laughter. “But seriously you said something about my team, what team?
“It’s a social media team, political media blast and all”
“What? I don’t do political shit now. How many times have you read tweets on politics emanating from my handle?
“Oga forget that thing o. Think about it. You can make your money from here. You have sweated enough for these corporate organisations. You no even get car, I have a car and planning on getting my wife one at the end of the month simply from serving the Alabi family and especially Madam. You are not doing anything illegal now. Oh come off it” he spoke like we had known each other forever. I took a long at him; somehow I felt I could trust him, I felt I could trust a complete stranger. Life can be funny though.
“So is Chief Alabi running for Governor or something? I asked.
to be continued….
You must have been hearing the stories from your first day in the University of how terrible and hectic the Nigerian Law School can be. You would have heard stories of woes and poor results, of people having to resit the exams over and over again but its reality, you are now a student of NLS and you are wondering how to survive. First, you need to relax. NLS is not as bad as you have heard. This piece is intended to help you understand how to go about your non-academic life at NLS and other miscellaneous things.
A few clarifications: I don’t claim to know anything and I didn’t graduate with a first class. I wasn’t exactly the very serious ‘bookie’ kind of person but I made it out of law school and my experience may help you. In life, we learn from the experiences of others but one will have to create their experience and learn from it, so you will need to understand your uniqueness and carve out your experience at NLS. These are not academic tips though I will say a few things about the courses.
Let’s take the issues in numbered paragraphs:
- Understand your campus
There are six campuses of the NLS; Abuja, Kano, Yola, Lagos, Enugu and Bayelsa. I was posted to Bayelsa and what an experience it was. Apart from the Lagos campus, most of the other campuses are not in the center of town, they are majorly in small villages or outskirts of the city. Bayelsa for instance is on the outskirt of Yenagoa, though not too far from town. Yola campus shares boundaries with American University of Nigeria, Enugu campus is at Agbani, Kano at Bagauda while Abuja is in Bwari, a long distance from the Abuja city center.
Basically, you need to understand what is available on your campus and what you need to source from outside campus. If you are in Kano, please ensure that you buy winter cloths because the cold may deceive you to think that you are in Europe. If you are in Bayelsa for instance, prepare your umbrella and rain suits because it rains without warning and when it’s hot, it’s very hot. As an aside, Enugu has the Adam and Eve Hostel. What in goodness is that? Garden of Eden? Lol.
Generally, you don’t have to worry about power supply, NLS ensures that you have light till 12 midnight at the least and the generator comes on again at 6 or 7am depending on your campus. With regards to food, as you may well be aware, you cannot cook on campus so prepare adequate food provisions as alternative to eating out. Again, depending on your campus and the size of your belly, an average meal goes for N250 per plate. Do your budget and schedule your “food money”. If you don’t trust your ability to keep your food allowance without blowing it, you can buy food ticket for the entire month such that you go to your preferred restaurant and have your meals without having to think about daily payment. I adopted that system with Iya Oyo in Bayelsa campus and it helped. The disadvantage of this will be that you may get bored of eating from the same restaurant every day but it saves the danger of blowing your food allowance and getting stranded. I can assure you don’t want to be hungry at NLS.
Another thing to consider is water and laundry. Again, depending on your campus, you may need to buy water every day. Some campuses don’t have water issues but some do. Your white shirts are very important, it’s essential that you keep them truly white, which is why they must be washed with clean water. In Bayelsa, we sometimes had yellow and ‘óyel’ laced water so that you couldn’t always wash your white shirts with the water. Dry cleaning is not too expensive depending on your economic capabilities but if you cannot afford it, get your clean water and do it yourself.
2. Making friends
Forget all the stories you have heard, make attempts at forging new friendships. Attract to yourself guys who love you for you, and are better than you. Certain friendships from the law school will last throughout your lifetime and some are lifetime partners.
3. Falling in Love, Sex and weeding
Okay, you are an adult; you can choose to fall in love in Law school. If you truly fall in love with someone worth your love, and there is response from the other party, by all means go ahead and give the relationship a chance. I know you came to campus to pass the bar, but life doesn’t go on hold simply because you are in law school. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you go out of your way to seek for love but if love finds you, off course by all means…
On the other hand, you can also choose to have indiscriminate sex. It’s a choice but I would advise you not to do that – just my opinion. Some guys were expelled for having sex on Abuja campus so if you must have sex, make sure you get out of campus. Don’t do it within the four walls of the campus. Also, during my time at NLS Bayelsa, some guys were suspended because they were caught weeding on campus so watch it.
4. Piety and Religion
Regardless of what you believe in, you will definitely need God in NLS. So make it a habit to enjoy church services and jumat prayers as the case may be. I was active in Bayelsa as an executive member in CLASFON and Chapel. Those were great times of genuine service to God and it didn’t in anyway affect my academic purpose and pursuit.
5. Attendance and Law School Dinners
You should know by now that attendance at classes is very compulsory. If you don’t make 75% attendance mark, you won’t be allowed to sit for the bar finals. This is not a joke o; you have to take this seriously, make sure you sign in, in the morning and sign out after class. Please don’t skip classes unnecessarily except it’s totally inevitable. On Dinner, please do your best not to miss the dinners and dress in accordance with NLS requirements to avoid being asked to return to the hostel to change.
I really don’t think I am the best person to advise you in this regards. Anyway, there are five courses in the law school; civil litigation, criminal litigation, property law, Corporate law and Law in Practice (formerly called Ethics).Usually, two lecturers teach each course. Classes resume at 9am and closes at 2pm at the earliest with 30 minutes break, depending on your campus. Classes in Lagos and Bayelsa often don’t end till 4pm, sometimes even stretching till 5pm.
Be careful of the materials you use as some of them are greatly misleading. If you are not sure of the right position of the law, discuss with your friends and if still unsure, ask your lecturers. Most of them are easily approachable. Understand what works for you; don’t just simply run to the library to pass off as a serious student unless this system works for you.
Please note that Law in Practice looks simple but many have fallen by its sword so take it seriously. Corporate law is a continuation of your company law so it may be a little abstract and sometimes the lecturers may confuse you. Just ensure that you distill the conflicting information properly so you know what is right. Civil Litigation is bulky so you need to pay close attention to it; else you will find yourself lagging behind and having so much ground to cover.
In all, Law school is a mini NYSC before NYSC; you will meet people from all over Nigeria. Make maximum use of it. Have fun, rest well, eat well and read. Please read. I wish you God’s best.
Tosin is an Associate at Banwo & Ighodalo, one of Nigeria’s foremost law firms.
Twenty minutes later I was done with the final draft of my proposal. I dragged myself into my bathroom; I live in a ‘self-contained’ apartment with an adjoining bath and a kitchenette. The apartment is a hell-hole, a tiny window serves as the only source of ventilation and even that is further inhibited by a massive fence separating my compound from the next. My window is a few inches away from the fence making ventilation extremely difficult. I turned on the tap; as usual it was not running. Disgusted, I rushed outside and drew a bucket of water from the Well within the compound. The harmattan was strong; I would have been too lazy to take a cold bath but not today.
Some minutes later, I came out of my compound dressed in my nicest shirt.
“Oga Etuhu” I heard someone shout, of course I knew the voice only that I was not in the mood so I ignored it. Increasing my pace, I expected her to get the message and let me be. She didn’t “Oga Etuhu! Oga Etuhu!!
“Haa, Mama Ada, good afternoon. How business, abeg we go talk later, I get appointment and I don late”
“shey you no wan answer me before ni, I con dey shout dey shout” she sputtered. How anybody with such low income could ever think of having six children has never stopped to amaze me. I asked her once why and how she has so many kids, she replied that children are from God so provisions for their sustenance will be made by the Almighty. Her Husband was a cobbler while she sold some local munchies. Roasted plantain and yam, roasted corn or fried beans cake depending on the season. There must be some level of restriction on child bearing or perhaps we should adopt the Chinese policy though extreme, there are too many Madam Ada in the country. I thought.
“No vex Mama Ada Ada’ I patronised her, she smiled, she couldn’t be older than my immediate elder sister yet she already had six and still counting. I couldn’t determine if the bulge in her tummy was another baby or excessive imbalanced diet.
“Na one question I wan ask you o, the question dey important gan. Who you think make I vote for for this election wey dey come?
I had to stop myself from hissing. “Which kain life be this now, of all things na election this woman dey delay for” I thought in pidgin, it was clear she really wanted my opinion on the matter. I looked at my wristwatch and my disgust heightened but I pushed it back. Politics had never been my thing but this woman was waiting for an answer.
“Mama Ada, look at your children and ask yourself which one of them go make their future bright” I gave a non-committal answer in bad pidgin.
She looked at me like an idiot “Oga Etuhu I no know na, na you go school” she said obviously frustrated
“Ok, make I quickly go see the person wey I wan see first and we go talk for evening” I didn’t wait for an answer, I simply dashed off.
“No forget o, abeg I wan vote for the right person. I don collect my peefeecee ehn. Even sef na one full day I spend dey wait for am before dem finally give me, no forget o” she screamed.
“I no go forget” I screamed back
By the time I got to the Bus stop, my wristwatch told me the conversation with Mama Ada had set me thirty minutes behind schedule; I quietly prayed for light traffic. There was no available BRT, though it was the better option I couldn’t wait for another ten minutes so I took one of the yellow buses. The bus conductor grabbed a sachet of Chelsea dry gin from a road side seller, gulped it, then banged the bus to indicate to the Driver he could proceed.
“CMS one person, CMS” he shouted as the bus took off. “abeg I no wan competition for N1,000 o, make una give me your N200 change”
“Omo na 1k I get for here o, you no talk say you no get change before we enter na” one heavily perfumed girl beside me replied. Whatever cologne she was wearing would have been nice save that it was too much, I was choking. I looked at the closest window to me and it was wide open.
“Shey your brain no tell you say make you hold change ni” the conductor reacted.
The girl immediately went berserk. “Na God go punish you, punish your papa. Punish your mama, punish all your family. Stupid man” she shouted boxing the air as she did.
“I go slap you o, ma lo ro pe mogbadun o, mi o gbadun at all” he returned.
“Come slap me, na Kirikiri you go sleep this night, if na your Mama born you, con try am”
“I know una type, hustler” he hissed.
“Yes I be hustler and I get boys wey go put you for jail”
“Na lie, why you dey enter bus? You be poor hustler. Cheap olosho” He won’t back down.
People tried to calm her, she refused. The verbal word would continue for half of the journey. Then at a point, she said “I don’t blame you, I blame the government. Idiots like you should have been deported from Lagos like your brothers who got deported about a year ago”. This was the first time she said a complete statement in English and I was impressed. I must have assumed she wasn’t educated.
I opened Twitter on my phone.
“Crazy day already and I wish you were in this bus to watch this free Nollywood” I tweeted. Within five minutes, nineteen followers had retweeted it. I smiled, benefit of being a twitter Overlord.
I really wanted to pay attention to the conversation but I soon lost interest.
I had thirty minutes.
By the time I located the Mackles, I was forty five minutes late. I looked round the restaurant and spotted her at a corner. It was as I expected, she was beautiful.
“Etuhu, you are late” she said but I didn’t detect any hint of accusation in her voice.
“I apologise, I was caught up in traffic” I dropped the much abused Lagos excuse.
“It’s fine ok? By the way, how did you know it was me?
“Oh. I forgot Google is your friend” we laughed.
We continued this way for a while and then got down to business. I handed my proposal to her and made my pitch on how to promote her business on the internet. She loved it and didn’t argue the figures. I could hardly believe my ears. Right there and then, she wrote me a cheque. The figures on it made me emotional.
“This is 75% of my fee?
“Yes I know. I believe you won’t dupe me or will you?”
“You can trust me”
“Etuhu, there is one last thing and I think it’s the most important. I want to hire you for something else”
“We haven’t even started one transaction, what is the other?
“My Dad needs a top blogger”
to be continued….
Tosin is a Christ follower, Lawyer, Arsenal fan
I heard the screams from my from the other side of eternity, sluggishly opened my eyes wondering whether the day will arrive when Nigerians will stop celebrating mediocrity in the power sector. With hazy eyes I checked my mobile phone which also serves as my time manager; 12.21pm. The celebration whenever power is restored irritates and irks me greatly. It makes me query the seriousness of our nationhood. We rejoice at a meagre eight hours of power supply in a 24 hour day; though I’m then reminded of another fact: the people of my fatherland are rated to be the happiest people on earth, we are simply a mirage wrapped in an enigma.
I struggled out of bed, it creaked as I did. Inherited it from my loving grandmother who insisted it must go with me the day I resolved to move out of Dad’s house. She had insisted I would always be her ‘baby’ and so long as my night is spent on it, we will never be disconnected. What nonsense, I had thought at the time but strangely it felt true. I fixed my laptop to the electronic socket and powered it on. After what seemed like forever, it came on. “You need another laptop” . I inserted a modem of one of the one of the internet service providers in the country and got into my mail box after almost fifteen minutes, querying again if simple things will ever function as they should.
Two things are important for what I do, power and the internet. Unfortunately, both are embarrassingly non-existent. I often have to run my much maligned power generating set. There is no use saying that the Tiger TG650/750W generator capable of producing just 0.65 KVA of electricity earning it the famous nickname “I better pass my neighbour” had come to my rescue on several occasions. I do pity the wails from its engines each moment I begged it to save my soul from the shackles of the power holders whose happiness seems to emanate from frustrating us with thirty intermittent minutes of power. If the power holders release their stronghold for eight straight hours, it would be great but they love to make mockery of us so they release it for thirty minutes; sometimes even ten minutes and grab it back almost immediately.
It is difficult to exonerate these powers holders but we know it is really not their fault; it is why I pity them each time people pour heavy torrents of curses on them. The curses are heavy and generational in content. People don’t care that the power holders are ordinary citizens like themselves; people with needs, wants and longings; people with family and financial struggles.
“he no go better for una family o, useless people” is the normal greeting after each episode of power holding.
But who can also blame the curse producers, they are made to pay exorbitantly for services they don’t ever enjoy and daily intimidated by the sound of their neighbour’s giant Mikano Generator. Service charge of N750 is fixed every month regardless of your usage. The privatisation of the power sector in the country though right, is yet to begin showing any impact.
I checked my inbox and saw several comments on my most recent piece and it brought a wry smile to my face. Who doesn’t want recognition especially in this age of on-line publicity where everybody is a self-acclaimed publicist? however, comments don’t necessarily translate into traffic, any blogger worth his onion will tell you that.
Scrolling down my mail box, I saw an email that made me sit up. I picked my phone immediately and dialled the phone number on the signature of the sender.
“Please let this be true” I muttered.
As I dialled the phone number, I was informed by my service providers that I had no credit.
“Una be thief? What of the #400 I loaded in the morning? I screamed, dialling the number again. This time, perhaps intimidated by my question the sweet pre-recorded voice kept quiet.
“Hello, Good afternoon. I’m Etuhu, I run Etus.com. I got your email” I made an effort at composure. I wasn’t sure it worked but at least I tried.
“Oh. Hi Etuhu. Yes I need a publicist and I believe you can do the job. Perhaps we can meet to discuss” the voice was captivating.
“A meeting will be great”
“Alright, let’s meet by 3pm at the Mackles on the Island. You know the place?
“Definitely” I lied.
“Ok, I will see you at 3pm. I expect to see your proposal”
“I’ll get it ready.”
Dropping the phone, my first impulse was to check my wallet to confirm if it had enough quid to transport me to the Island and back. I heaved a sigh of relief and swiftly opened Microsoft Word. The proposal I had was three months old, besides only my eyes read it. If a prospective client is going to look through it, it must be convincing or else … With the aid of Google, I found the nature of her business and I could see why she needed the publicity. I had the impression she was wealthy or at least had someone with deep pockets around her and it made me wonder why she chose me. “I don’t care, I must get this one. Enough of free publicity for these bollocks who don’t ever pay” ….
to be continued.
Tosin is a Christ follower, Lawyer, Arsenal fan.