Prof Dora; Don’t Get Mad, Get Even.

Ma’am,

I just got back from watching District 9 in my local cinema. To be honest with you, I probably would never have bothered with the film if I didn’t hear that you and some other government officials had already seen it. After seeing it, you then decided that the best action to take was to ask cinemas to stop screening the film in Nigeria. 

Ma’am, with all due respect, I think you are serving in a rather unserious government. You graduated top of your Pharmacy class in 1978 from the University of Nigeria Nsukka. You were also awarded a prize for your work when you completed your PhD from the same university. 

No one will deny that you are among Nigeria’s finest pharmacists…which is exactly why this government, in it’s glorious wisdom, decided that the best way for Nigeria to benefit from your talents was by making you Minister for Propaganda.

Talking about District 9, let’s look at some numbers.

The movie cost $30m (N4.6bn) to produce. So far, according to the definitive box office mojo, it has grossed $126m (N19bn) worldwide in the 6 weeks it has been released. It is currently being shown in over 3,000 theaters in the USA.

It was also produced by one Peter Jackson. You might know him as the chap behind the Lord of The Rings trilogy. If you remember, the Lord of The Rings trilogy grossed just under $3bn worldwide and cost $285m to make. Peter Jackson is a big boy and the makers of District 9 did well to get him involved in their project.

The special effects for the film were done by a company called Image Engine. They also did the effects for Incredible Hulk, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and The Day The Earth Stood Still..among other films.

The point I am trying to make with all of the above is a simple one; talk is cheap.

Ma’am, I do not think any Nigerian will watch District 9 and not be offended by the unwarranted and unnecessary slur directed at Nigeria and Nigerians. Even if you do not like President Obasanjo and cannot stand the Nigerian government, you will find the portrayal of Nigerians in this movie offensive.

It added nothing to the movie’s plot and I could not help but conclude that it was brought about by some kind of beef for Nigeria and Nigerians on the part of the scriptwriters. I may be wrong.

As a result of your government’s unseriousness, Nigeria does not really have the capacity or wherewithal to hit people where it hurts when they slur us in this way. So far District 9 has made $96m [N15bn] in profits and based on projections, it’s very possible the movie will gross $200m worldwide. 

Assuming it costs N1,000 to watch the film in Nigeria, we will need something like 15million Nigerians [the entire population of Lagos state] to go and watch it just to achieve the current profit figure of $96m. 

To be honest with you, aside from the portrayal of Nigerians, it was a very good movie so it’s understandable it would make money. It’s also the reason it’s dangerous for Nigeria because in as much as the ‘Nigerians’ in the film only featured for a few minutes in total, a lot of people will remember us deranged alien flesh eaters if watching District 9 was their first introduction to Nigeria and Nigerians.

I dont mean to be rude, but right now, I doubt if the producers of the film really care about how you feel. The underlying motive of their movie is/was to make money and right now they are coining it in, without the help of Nigerians.

This is why the idea of banning the film is an altogether laughable one. Actually, I think you should subsidise the cost of the movie and get as many Nigerians as possible to go and watch it. I am not quite sure why you don’t trust Nigerians enough for them to make up their mind about the film.

You might even have unwittingly created a black market for the pirated copy of the movie to flourish. Your censorship has probably piqued the curiosity of movie loving Nigerians.

Ma’am, the only language these corporations understand is the language of money. If you cant hit their bottom-line, you shouldn’t bother with blowing hot air at them.

As a Nigerian, I would dearly love for my country to send them a loud and clear message that the portrayal of Nigerians in District 9 would not be tolerated. However, what you have done so far is no more than navel gazing.

Are there no South African businesses making bucketloads of money from Nigeria? What do you think would happen if Nigerians decide to boycott MTN for a single day or even just a couple of hours in protest?

Recently when the Scottish government released Abdelbaset Al-Megrahi, a group of outraged Americans quickly set up a website encouraging Americans to boycott all things Scottish from whiskey to drugs used to treat syphilis among other diseases. You can bet your last polymer naira note that if this campaign starts to hit the bottom line of Scottish companies doing business with the USA, some sort of ‘compromise’ will be reached.

Last time I checked, you were the Minister for Information, surely your remit must include putting information in the hands of ordinary Nigerians and asking them to make a decision about it? Why don’t you set up a website with a list of various South African companies and products in Nigeria and encourage Nigerians to boycott such products after you have given them a chance to see the movie? Let’s see how you get on with that.

As much as there does not appear to be any link between the South African companies doing business in Nigeria and this movie, I know of no other effective way to hit back than directly affecting the bottom-line of these companies.

You need to send a clear message out that it’s not acceptable to make money from Nigeria, while big budget movies from your home country slag the same Nigeria off. As the late MKO Abiola was fond of saying, that is the equivalent of urinating in the very well from which you are going to fetch your drinking water.

Please lift the ban on this movie as soon as possible. Our filmmakers in Nigeria might even learn a thing or three from watching a movie with a plot that actually makes sense and engages the viewers intellect!

Nobody is going to die from watching this movie. On the contrary, arguably the biggest selling and most popular film in Nigeria in 2008 was Jenifa. In the second installment of that sorry excuse of a movie, in one scene a ‘Doctor’ asserted to a patient that gonorrhea causes AIDS. Imagine an illiterate man in the village watching and hearing that. He then contracts gonorrhea and believing that it causes AIDS, a disease he knows has no cure, he decides not to seek treatment. You might think the scenario I just painted is far fetched, but you must never underestimate the power of ignorance.

I don’t remember hearing you take Olasco Films Ltd [the producers of Jenifa] to task over their spreading of dangerous misinformation about what is a deadly disease.

The way you have handled this matter as well as the Sony PS3 advert has left much to be desired. I am distinctly unimpressed as a concerned Nigerian. And you come across as being rather bored in this thankless role you have been assigned.

I’d go as far as saying you should resign from this unserious government of ours who recently nominated a polygamist [with 2 wives living in America] as our Ambassador to the USA, blissfully unaware that this was against American law.

I challenge you to hit the South Africans for 6 on this one. All the tools are available to you.

Prof Dora, this is one for you to explore.

FF

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The Ogudu Landlord & Other Short Stories

1) Flying with Arik was a pleasurable experience I must say. On the way to Lagos, I didnt get up once from my seat throughout the flight…a first for me. Being a 6 footer with rather long and unwieldy legs, I found the leg room very nice indeed. For those of us who have long legs but have not yet ‘arrived’ to the point where we can afford Business Class, flying Arik is a handy alternative. Just curious, does anyone know who owns the airline?

2) Pretty young thing sat next to me on the flight to Lagos. I thought it’d be rude not to strike up a conversation. Turned out she was relocating to Nigeria to get married in a couple of weeks. She’s a lawyer and had already secured a job back home in some law firm. Conversation went nowhere fast, so I quickly travelled to 1967 via Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s glorious evocation of Biafra and the Nigerian civil war; Half of a Yellow Sun. Never even asked her name.

Conversely on the flight back to London, the chap who sat next to me was coming to London for the first time….to start an undergraduate degree with Middlesex University. Mercifully, he had his x-ray film with him so he sailed through customs without the unnecesary delay. This time I asked his name.

Omare he said it was. 

As one goes, another one comes.

3) Speaking of Ms Adichie, if you havent read the book I mentioned above, I think you should. What I found interesting is that the mutual suspicion between the various ethnic tribes in Nigeria is as old as time itself. I found myself drawing parallels [albeit tedious ones] between Major Kaduna Nzeogwu’s coup and Sanusi Lamido Sanusi’s current crusade. Nigerians are always suspicious of change brought about someone not of their tribe. 

It’s perhaps a hangover of Lord Lugard’s amalgamation that we distrust each other so much but it’s a shameful waste of the strengths of the various ethnic tribes in Nigeria. 

Ask the average Yoruba man to describe an Igbo man and he’d tell you the Igbo man is cunny and full of tricks. But it’s exceedingly erroneous to stereotype the Igbos in this way. Ms Adichie has really opened my eyes to so much of Igbo culture I knew nothing about.

There’s much to like and so much that Nigeria can do with right now such as the undoubted enterprise of the average Igbo man [they can succeed in business where others have tried and failed several times] and their innate republicanness.

It’s no wonder the Nigerian project continues to underachieve in perpetuity. Mutual suspicion was a bad habit in Nigeria that has now graduated into a custom…Agwa öjö gbaa afööghöla omenala

To Ms Adichie I say, Dalu Nwanne.

4) I counted something like 30 police checkpoints on the journey from Lagos to Ondo….a journey of 3 to 3.5hours. At one point there were 3 checkpoints inside 1 mile. We ‘only’ got stopped 4 times…each time being asked to produce proof of ownership, Insurance, fire extinguisher and c-caution. 

I am happy to report that we didnt pay a single naira in bribes to any policeman. Interestingly there was an Audi Q7 in front of us for some of the journey and each time the car got to a checkpoint, the driver would stretch out his hand and hand a N100 note to the policemen and he would be waved on. One can only imagine he had a dead body inside the car he didnt want the policemen to see.

Tip: If you are doing this journey anytime soon, it might be a good idea to use a minivan or minibus or any car where the trunk is visible from the outside. I imagine if we had taken a conventional sedan, we would have spent another 30mins on the road accounting for the time it takes to get down from the car and open the boot. 

The Shagamu-Benin expressway is a funny one I tell you. If there’s traffic or a delay on your side of the road, you simply cross to the other side, turn on your headlights and face the oncoming traffic. 

Reminded me of what my father told me when I started learning how to drive; ‘Son, when you get on the road, always remember that every other driver out there is a mad man’.

5) My friend was telling me the story of how policemen recently killed a friend of a friend somewhere in Lekki recently. On the fateful night the chap was driving home and when he got to a police checkpoint, he decided to make the policemen’s day by giving them N10,000. The policemen couldnt believe their luck and in their uncontrollable joy, they began shooting in the air…sort of like a 21 gun salute to their benefactor.

As it happened, one of the bullets hit the guy in his car. He then told the policemen that he was bleeding as they had shot him. They initially didnt believe him until they saw the blood. They were nice enough to take him to hospital where he died a couple of days later.

Interestingly, 2 days after my friend told me this story, I was riding in a cab and the completely random cab driver told me the EXACT same story. He said the guy had been one of his regular customers and he was generous like that.

Yes, Nigerian policemen are still doing what they do so well…shoot innocent unarmed people.

6) Young couple moved into a flat in a block of flats in 2007 somewhere in Ogudu, Lagos. The rent then was N450k per annum and they of course paid 2 years in advance plus agents and lawyers fees which pushed everything over N1m.

A few months before their tenancy expired this year, the landlord, displaying a keen understanding of how Nigerians do not have a threshold for punishment, wrote to the tenants informing that he was increasing the rent to N1.2million per frigging annum!

The tenants were shocked at this crazy increase so they got together and started having a series of meetings to present a unified front to the landlord regarding how much they were willing to pay. While the meetings were going on, one of the tenants broke ranks and went to offer the landlord N900k per annum. 

He of course accepted it and promptly told the tenants that he wasnt going to collect one naira less than N900k from any one of them.

They have since paid up.

7) I counted 3 seperate advertorials in the newspapers by Lanre Aladekomo, Renaissance Professionals and TRLP Law all posing questions for the CBN governor to answer.

Of all 3, I was most impressed with the Renaissance Professionals advertorial…very professional and straight to the point. I think it’s in Sanusi’s interests to answer some of the questions. There are plenty of unanswered questions relating to his actions so far.

On the other hand, the TRLP Law advertorial was totally hilarious. It was headlined ‘Questions Sanusi Cannot Answer!!!’. I wonder how they know he cant answer the questions even before he has seen them. Anyway I found question number 11 rather amusing. They are asking the CBN governor to tell them when exactly the N420bn that was injected into the 5 banks was ‘printed’. They are also demanding to know if it was ‘printed’ before or after the special inspection.

In case anyone from TRLP Law is reading, when a Central Bank says it’s going to ‘print’ money to inject into illiquid banks, it does not mean that it’s going to turn on the printing press and start printing wads and wads of naira notes. The ‘printing’ is done simply by crediting the account of the banks with the CBN…..at the click of a mouse if you like. Perhaps a better word to use would be ‘create’ instead of ‘printing’ money.

8) The whole banking saga is now starting to trickle down into the real economy proper. Several of my friends told me it’s now almost impossible to get a car loan from any bank. Stanbic IBTC seems to be the only bank where some action is going on at the moment.

One of the problems with Nigeria is that whenever there is a change in personnel in charge of policy making, everything changes along with such a person. So with Sanusi becoming the CBN governor now, there’s bound to be a new set of ‘bigz’ boys in the banking sector to replace the fallen comrades.

Keep an eye on Atedo Peterside in the days to come.

9) ‘An honest politician is one who, when he has been bought, stays bought‘ – ‘Boss’ Simon Cameron circa 1850.

If the above statement is true, then Chief Michael Aondoakaa, Attorney General and Minister of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is as honest as the day is long. 

I am keen to know just how long President Yar’Adua will keep the man in his position with practically the entire country calling for his head. 

10) I dont see the point in praising politicians when they do the job that is expected of them. Leadership is not forced on anyone in a democracy…it is actively sought by those who hold such positions. 

But I think Lagos state has been handed a large slice of luck with Governor Fashola. Certainly no one had a clue who he was or what his pedigree was before he was elected into office on the recommendation of his predecessor, but he does seem to have turned out alright.

If nothing, the man clearly has a vision for Lagos state he is working towards. It will be interesting to see what happens if/when an alternative airport is built in the new Lekki trade zone. Maybe those who run Murtala Mohammed airport would sit up then.

11) Nigerians love to carry heavy load when travelling. It’s almost a fetish even. While standing around the conveyor belt in Lagos waiting for my bags to come out [I had 2 bags of 16kg and 19kg each] you should have seen the size of the boxes that were coming out of the plane. Without exaggerating, I estimated that at least 60% of all the bags were over the 30kg limit meaning the owners had paid an added fee to carry them.

On the way back to London it was even worse. Because I was foolish enough to be travelling light with effectively only one bag, I ended up ‘helping’ a lady carry one of her bags to London….me being a nice chap and all :-).

People were furiously moving all sorts of stuff from one bag to the other…shifting the kilograms from here to there. 

There were boxes upon boxes of indomie, fair and white cream, golden morn, garri, beans etc. One chap even had bottles of Guinness stout in his bag! All these items are available all over London but our people prefer to test the limit of the people enforcing the baggage allowance for the airlines.

While this was happening, I overheard a chap discussing with another bloke why Nigerians always travel in this way. After a 2 minute explanation, he ended by saying ‘it is our colonial heritage’.

I have no idea what this meant but it made all the sense in the world!

12) Lagos Girls!!!… I am unable to repeat some of the stories I heard during my short trip but no matter what you think you’ve heard, some of these tales will leave your jaw on the floor.

In fairness it does take 2 to tango and the guys certainly dont help matters. But it does seem our women have turned a corner these days. That one is a ticking social time bomb on it’s own.

13) So you just bought  a car and you are anxious not to have it scratched or dented anywhere. How do you achieve this while driving in Lagos?

Very simple; park the car at home AND cover it up. It’s important to cover it up because even while it’s parked, harm can still come to it. 

My friend testified to how he parked his car outside a school for a few minutes or so and before he returned to it, one of his side mirrors had been nicked. He must have walked out while the thief was doing it because only the driver’s side was stolen.

14) Went out to some artistes hangout somewhere off Awolowo road in Ikoyi. 2 plates of rice, 2 bottles of water, a bottle of coke and a plate of snails later, we were confronted with a N9k bill.

All in a day’s job in Lagos.

My Very Own Gani Fawehinmi

The story began one fine Sunday morning in 2002 in the heart of Ijebu-Igbo, Ogun State. Till this day I cant help but think if I had bothered to go to church that morning, the story I am about to tell you would have been much different. 

Time and chance happens to every man I suppose.

I was doing some washing on the said morning when I saw two boys walk in through the pedestrian gate of the house where I lived. I knew who they were…..Femi Century and Saheed. Femi Century in particular was nearly a legend in Ago-Iwoye at the time. Among the notorious cult boys who terrorised any and everyone on campus in those days, he was without a doubt primus inter pares.

As an example of his notoriety, he once went into an exam hall to sit an exam. Upon entering, he sought out the most intelligent guy in the class and chased away everyone who had taken positions around him as a means of guaranteeing a pass for themselves in the exam they were about to write.

The guy of course knew what this meant….he was to open his exam booklet as much as possible during the exam to ensure Mr Century was able to copy everything he wrote copiously. You cannot begin to imagine how terrified the boy must have been. 

In any case the exam began and the boy began to write with Century sitting directly behind him. He began to write furiously…..exams in Nigerian universities are always a race against time. Whenever he got to the end of a page and was about to turn the page leaf, he would lean back and ask Century if he had finished copying what he wrote. Century would reply immediately with a ‘Yes’. After turning about 5 pages with Century answering ‘Yes’ each time, he began to wonder how he could have been writing that fast as to have copied everything he wrote.

So he turned round and was shocked to find that Mr Century hadnt written a single line in his blank exam sheet. He meekly enquired what the problem was from Century who then responded with the immortal words ‘Mi o fe disturb e ni..mo fe ko ko tie tan…ntori iwo na lo yi ma ba mi ko temi’.

Mr Century could not be bothered to even copy an open book….he was waiting for the poor boy to finish his own upon when he would hand him his own script to write for him!

Back to that fine Sunday morning; as soon as I saw Femi Century walk into my house I knew there was trouble. Saheed immediately brought out a gun and they asked me to lead them to my room. 

If you never went to a Nigerian university, bear with me…these things were commonplace. 

I was asked to lie down on the floor and the gun pressed down on the back of my neck. They began to ransack my room and as I lived alone at the time, it didnt take them too long to find all the money I had in the room. They also helped themselves to a wristwatch I had on the table and a pair of shoes lying on the floor.

They made the obligatory threats about returning to kill me if I ever mentioned the incident to anyone. And then bizarrely proceeded to humiliate me by spraying insecticide all over me. Just before they left, I begged them to at least give me N20 so I could get into town as where I lived was quite far from the towncentre. Nice chaps they were, they obliged.

For too many people in my university in those days, cultism was all too real and an everyday occurence. I had just gotten my first real taste albeit in my penultimate semester of what was, to put it euphimistically, a hell hole.

After narrating the incident to my friends, I decided to report the matter to the police to at least prevent it from becoming a regular occurence. After filing the report, I was given 2 armed policemen to escort me to where I had seen Saheed earlier that day. We got there and before he could run away, the policemen nabbed him, put him in handcuffs and marched him off to Ijebu-Igbo police station.

By the next day, his mother turned up at the police station and was told the story of what her son had done. By the way, Mr Century was nowhere to be found by this time as Saheed’s arrest happened a couple of weeks after the robbery itself happened. Saheed’s mother was amazed…she apparently had no idea her son was a gun toting cultist going about robbing people.

She managed to come up with the money that had been stolen from me plus compensation for the wristwatch which was now nowhere to be found. I also insisted on her signing an undertaking that if anything was to happen to me in the form of a reprisal, she would be held personally responsible..she happily obliged…anything to get her son out of detention.

Saheed was released after spending 2 nights in the cell and he and his mother went their merry way. The police however advised me to lodge the case with the DSA [department of student affairs] as it was standard practice to inform the university authorities of any police case involving a student of the university. I drafted a report of the entire incident and submitted it at the DSA’s office and was told I would be contacted shortly.

This didnt happen for months. But eventually I was called to give an oral narration of what had happened. A couple of months later, Saheed was summoned to appear before the disciplinary committee and next thing I know Saheed’s mother is back, kneeling on the floor in the middle of campus..pleading with me to have mercy on her son. I was of course embarassed by all this as I had practically forgotten about the case at this time.

After much begging and pleading, I offered to accompany him to the committee sitting to explain to them that as far as I was concerned, the case had been closed and I had been compensated for my loss financially…..if for no other reason than to put Saheed’s mum out of her misery. She had visibly aged during the episode as I could see.

Committee sitting day came and I went inside with Saheed and explained to them about how the original police case had panned out and why I was no longer interested in pursuing a case against him solely because of how much suffering his mother had gone through on account of her wayward son. One of the lecturers asked me if I had been beaten and came close to me ostensibly to look for signs that I had been ‘tortured’ into coming to give evidence on Saheed’s behalf. He also flatly put it to me that he thought I was a cultist myself. I laughed it off and told him in no uncertain terms that I had never been a cultist and had no intention of becoming one in my penultimate semester in university. 

I was dismissed and Saheed was kept behind for more questioning. A couple of days later, I ran into him on campus and asked if everything went ok. He said Yes, but the committee had insisted they would only clear him if he produced Femi Century or gave information that would help them arrest him. I wished him all the best and moved on.

Exams came and went and we resumed for our final semester. A few weeks into the semester and a friend asked if I had seen the latest list of students who had been rusticated for cult activities and various forms of exam malpractice. I immediately wondered why she was asking if I had seen the list….it certainly wasnt a list I would be interested in seeing on a normal day. After hesitating for a bit she then told me she had seen the list and my name was on it….sandwiched between Femi Century’s and Saheed’s names. I laughed and asked her to try a funnier joke.

Less than an hour later, another chap knocked on my room door and this time he was clutching the list he had torn off the notice board where it had been pasted. And there it was….my name alongside those of cultists with names like Jagungo. Yes, the university authorities did not know the real names of some of these boys so they put their nicknames on the official expulsion list. Again, bear with me, this was normal in the university I went to and I suspect many other Nigerian universities.

I’d love to tell you how I took it like a man and gathered my thoughts on how I was going to clear myself from this mess I had landed in. But I locked my doors that evening and cried like a baby. I couldnt believe how it had all come to this….whatever had I done to deserve such ignominy?

Anyway, the next day I ran into one of the lecturers who had been on the panel when I went there with Saheed and asked him why I had been expelled. He said the panel decided after I left that for me to have come to ask for the case to be dropped against him, they concluded that I too, must have been a cult boy.

I tried to explain to him that kind of reasoning made no sense at all especially as I had stressed to the panel that I only did it on account of his mother doing my head in with her begging. He told me to get lost and walked away.

A couple of weeks later, ASUU went on strike for 6 months and my case went into limbo.

There I was in my final semester of University…after all the pain and suffering of a 4 year education, that was frankly a waste of time…not sure if I was a student or not. Words cannot describe how I felt in those dark days.

The strike came and went and I began my campaign of explaining my case to every lecturer all over again, writing letters I wasnt sure were being delivered and generally finding it impossible to concentrate on anything related to academics. I was alone in Nigeria at the time so this made it even worse.

After weeks of this uncertainty and not making any headway, I decided to do what I had been reluctant to do initially….call Gani. I hadnt informed him initially as I thought it was a bit of a joke and would be resolved in a matter of weeks and I would be reinstated. 

And so I went to see him and narrated the whole story to him and explained that I hadnt told him earlier because I appreciated how busy he was and I didnt want to disturb with what was a small matter as far as I was concerned. He let rip at me for being rather naive and not letting him know from day one. 

He called in Mr Sikiru Akinrele who was one of the senior lawyers in the chambers at the time and told him to listen to my story and begin drafting a letter to the school authorities. SK took the details of the story and started drafting the letter.

A few days later I went back to the chambers to get the final copy of the letter to take back to the school with me. I was amazed when I got there and saw that 17 copies of the letter had been drafted and addressed to practically everyone on the school’s governing council starting from the Vice Chancellor. I read through the 3 page letter where SK had briefly described the events and then stated my innocence on the matter. It ended with a not so subtle warning that there would be trouble if I wasnt reinstated with immediate effect….a few choice statutes were thrown in for good measure.

It was signed ‘Chief Gani Fawehinmi, SAN’.

I began to gather the A4 size envelopes to put in a bag when Gani told me to put them down immediately. He had arranged for one of the chamber’s despatch riders to hand deliver the letters to the university. He told me to go home and not worry about anything…..blessing me with a wad of naira notes for good measure.

48 hours later, back in Ago-iwoye, I got a message summoning me to appear before another panel relating to my expulsion from the university. The next day I went before a group of white haired, hardcore professors.

The first thing one of them said was ‘Did you have to involve Gani Fawehinmi in an ‘internal’ matter? Why did you have to go that far?’

I explained to them that I had been trying to resolve the matter for 7 months to no avail and as I was running out of time, I couldnt afford to take any more chances. They had my case file in front of them and they even had the letters I had written to them in the months before protesting my innocence and painstakingly restating the facts of the case.

15 minutes later, I walked out of the room as a reinstated student complete with an apology from the panel for whatever discomfiture they might have caused me. I was amazed. In 72 hours, what I had been struggling to accomplish for 7 months had been resolved.

I went back to Gani to report how the events panned out. He merely smiled as I narrated everything. At the end of my story, he asked if I wanted them to put an apology in a national newspaper as well. I told him that since the original expulsion list had not been published in the newspapers yet, I was happy to waive that option. Besides I only wanted to complete my exams and never see the school again.

After it was all over and I reflected on the events, it had not been lost on me that the name I had benefitted from had been made inside various prisons and myriad court rooms and had also been put at my disposal for free. I was also in awe that in a country like Nigeria, a private citizen’s name could carry so much weight and influence.

In a country where your ‘connections’ to those in government are the name of the game and who you know is the difference between a meal ticket and a great injustice being done to you, Gani had taught me that, government is not the only way to make a name for one’s self in Nigeria. He had never been a government official neither was he a military man…and yet his name commanded so much respect from ordinary citizens.

I cannot remember the number of times I have been asked ‘are you the son of the people’s lawyer?’ and even when I answer ‘No’, the person asking the question still does me a random kindness or favour. 

Whatever the Fawehinmi name has come to represent in Nigeria today, it certainly had nothing to do with me. I contributed nothing towards it….it was all his work.

But by George, I cannot tell you how proud I am to bear the name. It’s why I refuse to mourn him. It will be a disservice to the man himself. His was a life to be celebrated. Nothing else will do.

Nigeria’s foremost constitutional lawyer and irrepressible defender of the downtrodden, never afraid to speak truth to power and always standing for what he believed even when he was standing alone. Now gone from us.

All the world’s a stage…and all the men and women merely players…they have their exits and their entrances…and one man in his time plays many parts.

If only you had stayed around till December when I was planning to show you a draft of the vision I was putting together.

Oh well…..

Dele Momodu; Please Up Your Game….Your Sh*t Is Weak!

Firstly; I cannot begin to tell you how terribly upset I am that I wasted 10 minutes of my life this morning reading the utter tripe of an article you submitted to ThisDay as your column last week.

Please break my heart and tell me you got paid for writing that steaming pile of dog poo? I stopped reading your nonsense a while ago but I somehow got sucked into reading this one.

But it’s not all your fault. I blame Mr Nduka Obaigbena who seems to be unsure whether he wants ThisDay to be a serious newspaper or a light entertainment magazine. If your column was published in The Daily Star in between the pictures of the naked page 3 girls, I wouldnt much care. But you seem to want people to take your column seriously….which is what I have a problem with.

Dude, if we want to hear an allegory about the hunter and the antelope, we would watch Tales by Moonlight. We certainly dont want to pay N150 for a newspaper for us to listen to you talk to us as if we were impressionable children listening intently to the gentlemen who just returned from a sojourn abroad regaling them with tales which stretch the truth to breaking point.

I think you should be a bit more humble…your life is NOT that interesting. You need not tell us details of how you and your wife and child slept on a single bed in London. What you might have considered squalor at the time is to die for many children all over the world today. Besides what you went through is part of what forges the character of any man. You ate chicken in Cotonou? Really? I am happy for you.

Besides the majority of Nigerians who come to live and work in the UK almost always have exceedingly humble beginnings. It’s the way the society is designed in case you hadnt noticed. The UK is not given to producing millionaires overnight unlike Nigeria. People are expected to work their way upwards on the social ladder.

We also do not care if you only ever met Madam Cecilia only once or thrice. In any case we have no way of verifying this information. However if you choose to make this information public, then I have a right to disbelieve it. So I am telling you now that I think you have met Mrs Ibru at least 15 times and that Intercontinental has advertised in Ovation in the past. What are you going to do about that?

Again, we do not care if you bought a second hand Bentley at 42. If you had friends who were jealous of you on account of that, then I suggest you upgrade the kind of friends you keep. What does it cost to drive a brand new car in the UK? If I wanted to drive a 2009 car today in the UK, I could do so by tomorrow….all I need to do is prove I can meet the monthly payments and I will drive away with the car dealer thanking me profusely. I cannot imagine any of my friends being jealous of me if I decide to buy a second hand Bentley. Stop fooling yourself, a second had car is never a sign of success in the UK.

I also notice the sly attempt to paint yourself as a martyr right up there with Dr Tai Solarin and Madam Due Process, Oby Ezekwesili. Nice try Bob Dee…pull the other one.

So now in your eyes all the bank MDs only made mistakes? Do you obtain your wisdom from the back of danfo buses in Lagos….you know the ones where they write ‘nobody is above mistake’?

You talk about Sanusi going overboard and beyond his mandate. You then spectacularly fail to tell us what the said mandate is. Dude, you are not allowed to do that. If you are going to accuse the man of acting beyond what his powers allow or even counter to the national interest as you allege, you gotta back it up with facts. And what exactly do you mean by historical dialects? I know you studied Yoruba in University but seriously, get a grip.

Mr Dele Momodu are you saying that the impeachment of Governors [in the middle of the night as you claim] were all acts of scapegoatism?? Whatever it is you are drinking, I suggest you cease and desist from drinking it forthwith. It’s clearly too strong.

For the first time in the history of Nigeria, there was a reckoning for politicians who felt they could get away with riding roughshod over the will of the people by brazenly rigging elections. Do you know that names like Palm Kernel, Michael Jackson, Iron etc were discovered on the ballot to have voted for Dr Olusegun Agagu in the 2007 elections in Ondo state? Are you saying that cheating to win an election is ok? Do you know of any serious democracy where rigging an election is ok?

 In your view only a ‘benevolent and visionary dictator and clear headed visionaries’ can rid Nigeria of corruption. Wow. Dude please make up your mind are you a democrat or thugocrat? I dare say if a dictator were to appear on the scene in Nigeria today, you would be one of the first batch of people he would go after because of your specialty in glorifying all that’s wrong with Nigeria. Please dont start feeling too cool with yourself just yet.

You talk about Sanusi not giving the bank MDs the opportunity of redemption. Gracious me, do you want a microphone and pulpit so you can deliver your 2009 version of The Sermon on The Mount? You dont even think they are guilty, so to slyly canvass for redemption for them is downright bizarre. 

Dude, do you know that one of the best ways to fight corruption is to let people know and see that justice will be done if you are corrupt? If these MDs are guilty of the very serious crimes they have been accused of, do you have a problem with them doing the time for it? They are not poor men…they can hire the best lawyers to defend them AND they will get a chance to defend themselves in court which is very crucial. Mind you, a ‘benevolent and visionary dictator’, as you suggest, would probably just throw them in jail and leave them to rot there.

You say the government is a pathological debtor. Show me a country where the government is not a debtor. If the government stopped borrowing from the banks, how many of them do you think would survive one day? I am certain that you wouldnt know a government bond if it landed on your lap, stroked your chest hair and called you ‘Bob Dee’. But remain ignorant if you wish…just dont spread the disease in your columns anymore.

You said the western govts rolled out ‘workable packages’ compared to our theatre of the absurd when dealing with the financial crisis. I will only slightly tolerate your ignorance as you appear to be suffering from what is called a ‘fatal conceit’ ….trying to talk about something you couldnt possibly know anything about. 

But I will give you just one example; At the height of the credit crunch the UK govt forced Lloyds TSB to takeover HBOS. HBOS was dead to all intents and purposes at the time but Lloyds was doing pretty ok as it hadnt taken on the kind of risks HBOS had. Over what has now come to be known as the most expensive glass of champagne ever, the deal was struck and Lloyds Banking Group was born.

So far this year, Lloyds has had to make writedowns of £13bn as a result of that unholy marriage that was orchestrated by the government. Not only that, it was revealed that Lloyds will have to close as much as 550 branches of Halifax it inherited with all the attendant job losses. When all those people lose their jobs, they wont pay any income tax. They will also start collecting benefits increasing the cost to the government.

If that’s what you call a workable package, then please get in touch with me…there’s a bridge linking Ikorodu and Lekki I want to sell to you for a good price. 

You claim foreigners were not invited to take over the banks in America when they were teetering on the brink of collapse. Really? When Lehman Brothers went kaput, Barclays and Nomura were the vultures who were called in to split the carcass. Those banks are American I take it?

Ever the heard the name Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan before? Well he was the Abu Dhabi Prince who bailed out Barclays last October when the bank was doing everything possible to avoid taking a bailout from the UK government. He invested £7bn for an 11% stake in the bank last year and that literarily saved them from damnation. He also owns Manchester City Football Club for your information.

Dude, the world has changed. These days you take money from where you can find it. Do you have an idea of just how much the US owes China? The Hummer vehicle brand was sold to Sichuan Tengzhong by General Motors when it needed to raise cash. I could go on and on.

You throw about some Latin quotes in a bid to look smarter than you really are. You talk about the Nemo dat rule in relation to Sanusi, claiming he should not or could not have sacked the MDs. Mr Wannabe lawyer, I have news for you; Under Sections 33 and 35 of The Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act of the Nigerian consitution, Sanusi has the powers to sack bank MDs. So your nemo dis or nemo dat sh*t is weak! There is a reason why we have that law in Nigeria. It’s because bank MDs sit tighter than Gaddafi in Libya….other than sacking them, there’s almost no other way to remove them when they have been found to have done wrong.

You also quote the audi alteram partem rule which effectively says no one should be condemned WITHOUT being heard i.e due process must be followed. Except I am missing something, NONE of the bank MDs has yet been condemned….and they are currently getting a chance to be heard. So why are you wetting your pants getting overly excited? 

These bank MDs have been accused of very serious crimes of borrowing people billions of naira of shareholders money without so much as taking a kolanut as collateral. Please keep quiet and let the whole drama play out. Life goes on….they will get their day in court and plenty more facts and evidence will be revealed. And I repeat; they will have access to the very best lawyers in the country…something the majority of Nigerians can only dream of.

Mr Momodu, you do not have a right to play fast and loose with the facts because you have the priviledge of a back page column in a national daily. As a journalist and member of the 4th estate, you have a duty to inform the public of the facts and as much as possible only give an opinion after you have throughly checked the facts.

At your level, ignorance is very dangerous and expensive, moreso in a country like Nigeria with all our myriad problems.

Your sh*t is weak dude…you need to up your game big time!