Polscope with Eddy Odivwri
If Okadigbo Were Here…
I have watched the dance steps of our politicians. And the more I watch, the more I remember our dear Rt. Hon. Dr. William Malachy Chinwuba Okikadigboli (Okadigbo, for short). In three days, it would be nine full years that he marched out of the political stage on this side of the divide. But nine years after, Okadigbo remains as valid as unexpired licence. His theories, sound bites, his parliamentary template as well as his enchanting nuances remain the aperture by which politics is yet viewed in the country.
He was the seventh Nigerian to emerge as the Senate president of the Federal Republic. But he remains the one most talked about, even in death. And all of that draws from what he stood for. As the Chairman of the National Assembly, he kept the Presidency on its toes. Strong-willed as former President Olusegun Obasanjo was, he knew that he could not ride roughshod over Okadigbo. Little wonder that Obasanjo could not stand his guts, his aura and his political capacity. And in a well-rehearsed scheme, he got Okadigbo to step onto the dreaded banana peel. And he fell. Albeit unjustly. For awarding contracts based on “anticipated approval”, they drew the sword against him. But today, political buccaneers have taken over; they engage in extra-budgetary expenditure with brazen flourish, and it all looks like normal. What is worse, contracts are awarded, they are not executed, but the money flies away. If Okadigbo were here!
But the striking irony is that when in April 2000, Senator Arthur Nzeribe introduced the impeachment motion against Obasanjo, it was Okadigbo’s deft move that stopped Nzeribe on his tracks , and saved Obasanjo from the thorny politics of Nzeribe. Yet, the same Obasanjo was to plot Okadigbo’s fall, with such a sly finishing.
With him out of the way, Obasanjo had a breather and ease of arbitrariness.
Considered a parliamentary wizard, Okadigbo literally chewed parliamentary procedure with such eclectic ease, so much that he even over-stretched some of his principled beliefs. For instance, he raised a lot of dust when he insisted it is the parliament, and not the Executive , that should declare the nation’s public holidays. Many thus perceived him as “stubborn” and a “hardliner”. But he does not agree. Hear his counter: “Lies have short legs which give way to reality and truth after sometime. Against falsehood and untruth, I am a hardliner. For progress and action I am a soft-liner. ”
But the abiding footnote is that Okadigbo, in life as in death, remains a core character in the political field of Nigeria.
If Okadigbo were here, the sloppiness that beset us on all fronts in the system would have either been worked on or wacked at. Given his impatience with slow-lane attitudes, Okadigbo would have stoked the fire on the butts of some people to get them out of inertia.
It is a tribute to his fighting spirit that his widow, Margery, less than three months ago, fought her way into the senate, after one Alphonsus Igbeke had sliced off a chunk of her tenure in a most crooked and rougish manner by laying claims to a mandate from the courts, not the people. Today, Senator Margery Okadigbo sits pretty cool in the red chambers, representing the people of Anambra north senatorial district, and if nothing else, to guard the flame of the Okadigbo aura from flickering or failing.
I can imagine how exultant Chuba will be, perhaps waving his white whisk and nodding his head in approval of his wife’s parliamentary gaits.
It is remarkable that the absence of the likes of Okadigbo from the parliament, and even this planet, seems to have dulled the excitement that comes with lawmaking. Nigerians who surely miss his erudition were doubly punished when Hon Patrick Obahiagbon, the Igodomigodo of Bini Kingdom, was not re-elected to the House of Representatives last year. The latter had offered Nigerians linguistic entertainment as a side attraction to his lawmaking mandate, what with his tons of grandiloquence. Okadigbo’s political eccentric nitch also derived strongly from the electrifying ease with which he spoke the English or Igbo Language. His words and arguments were often on point. His diction was as perfect as excellent.
If Okadigbo were here, we would have long lengthened our list of quotable quotes, and updated the entries in “words on marble”. We now seem left to drab talks, that power no nerves.
Although he tried his hand in a few business ventures, Okadigbo always reclined to Politics which was his natural remit.
In capturing this more quaintly, Hank Eso in his writing about Okadigbo (whom he calls ‘Mayor’) said, “The Mayor” could have been a political soothsayer or even politically clairvoyant. He read politics and political machinations as if he was an Oracle. In every case he pitched his tent and service with the winning group. “The Mayor” had a natural flare and nose for what he fondly called “political arithmetic”-- an illustration of the mental calculations that must govern politics and its practice. He always understood the needed permutations, dwelled on political substance, but also knew the kinetic force of sound bites and frequently put them to good use. Wherever you encountered him in the classroom, in his living room, at a political forum or holding court either at pepper soup joint or a diplomatic cocktail circuit, he was always voluble, a quick think and savvy analyst of political men, events and dicey situations. He had a knack of demythologizing seemingly confounding events and personalities”, …. If Okadigbo were here.
All said, Okadigbo remains in our consciousness, as we deal with every day political issues in Nigeria. I remember him for all that he stood for, for all that he professed, for all that he aspired to see in Nigeria, for all that knew, for all that was in him. For a long time to come, some of us will hold him as the Bach of political discourse and the Mozart of Nigerian politics.
Next year, if we tarry still, I shall do my valedictory piece on this national hero to mark a decade of his departure. And it shall be “The stories the Oyi told Me”
Is the NCC Still There?
Last May, the National Communications Commission (NCC) announced the imposition of N1.17 billion fine on the various Telecoms companies in the country. The reason was blandly given as poor service. Many subscribers had hailed the action but demanded that the proceed of the fine be given to them (subscribers) since they are the sufferers of the poor services. But the NCC did not balk. It collected the fine and left the subscribers to gnash their teeth. If the essence of the fine was to encourage improved service delivery by the telecoms operators, it failed woefully. But if it was to swell the bank account of the NCC, it succeeded very well.
In the last one week, everybody seems to have suddenly acquired a new buzz word: network. Even my mother in the village now knows how to blame “netiwork” for cut calls, undelivered messages, delay in connection, inability to connect and all such vexatious vices that have become the signature malaise in the provision of telecoms services in the country. You hardly can sustain a 3-minute telephone conversation without glitches. None of the networks is exempted.
From phone calls, to sms service through to Black Berry services, as well as browsing, the malaise is sickening. There are BB messages that have been hanging undelivered since previous Friday. Text messages report delivered, but recipients never see them, yet we are faithfully charged for undelivered messages, as if we are dealing with NIPOST and missing letters. What is worse, even the monies in our phones are stolen by the networks. Last Good Friday, I woke to see my freshly-loaded phone empty. I was alarmed. My wife’s phone suffered same fate. We were yelling, until they sent a text to my wife’s phone admitting “system error” in wiping off people’s credit. They promised to remit whatever that was “stolen”. My wife was luckier, as hours later, they restituted the “stolen worth”. Till date, I got neither a confession nor a restitution. And I gave up after three fruitless visits to an MTN service centre to complain. Is this the quality of service MTN renders in South Africa? Or are we being punished for the hugest market we have offered them?
My colleague, Yemi Ajayi, has literally ran from pillar to post by changing BB networks in search of better and reliable service, only to realize that they are all the same “ten and ten pence”. And it cannot be that they are not making money; after all, one of the networks is presently running a doubted campaign of aeroplane bonanza for recharging with just N200! And the parvenu hope is sending the gullible into a crashing top-up frenzy . Why can’t they upgrade their equipment and facilities, seeing the huge patronage they enjoy? And if they fail to do so, why hasn’t the NCC flogged them into line? Or what else do they exist for, if not to regulate their practices? Or are they merely waiting for the passage of two more quarters for them to impose and collect more fines?
This same NCC collected a needless N6.1 billion to undertake a dubious subscribers’ registration exercise that ended September 28 last year. Till today, there is nothing to show for it. The subscribers’ base of NCC and that of the various networks remain as disparate as Jews and Gentiles. Nothing synchronized!
Many times, I wonder if the NCC is ever there for the people. I can’t see them, even with my binoculars!
Jonathan and the Politics of N5,000 Note
This is truly a continuation of the Yar’Adua government in both form and content
How do you mean?
In terms of policy inconsistency. It s a hallmark of back-and-fro movement
I don’t think so. The Jonathan administration has been fairly consistent in his policy patterns.
So what do you say about the reversal of his approval on the introduction of the N5000 bank note?
Oh, that one, I guess Mr President’s new position should be commended and not lampooned?
Because it means he is listening to the voice of the people. You know that almost every critical segment of the society has expressed reservation on the needfulness of the currency restructuring. And so if he defers to public opinion, he should be hailed for being a listening president.
Indeed! Did he not speak with such conviction about the necessity of the N5000 Bill? Did he not tell the NBA that it will not cause inflation? Did his economic team not speak so glibly about the plan and even declared that the President’s approval for it is final? Did you not hear them vaunting? Why does Mr President allow Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi to always bamboozle him, just as Mallam El Rufai did President Obasanjo?
So what are you implying from all of these references?
I am not implying anything. It is just to say that the old bottle of palm oil, does not surrender all its content unless it is placed on fire
You have come with your ancient proverbs. So who is the fire now and who is the old bottle of palm oil?
You can fill in the gaps
So which fire was the President placed?
… Oh now you know who is who? Anyway, you must always realise that nothing happens by chance in government. If the President reversed himself, it must have been prompted by something. And for your information, the leadership of the National Assembly had told the President to choose between introducing the controversial N5000 note and the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). The senate is billed to debate the PIB issue at resumption. And given the avalanche of criticisms from virtually every sector, the President had to sacrifice the N5000 bill, so he can have the PIB sail through. That is the politics behind the reversal
Hmmm! Mr Insider! So you are saying the President doesn’t have a mind of his own? That he is held and dictated to by the National Assembly? And what is even the guarantee that having killed the N5000 note project that the PIB will survive? Or don’t you know many of the lawmakers from the north are suspicious of the impact of the PIB on their own economy and so are hesitant to support it?
This is politics. Democracy thrives on give-and-take. As for whether the lawmakers will co-operate or not, that will be taken care of. Don’t forget that the leaders of both chambers of the National Assembly are both from the northern region of the country.
You mean David Mark is a northerner?
Yes, a peripheral one.
But are you sure the coming storm in the House of Reps won’t lead to a change of guard and then obstruct the deal?
What storm? What deal?
Didn’t you hear of rumours of impeachment in the Lower House?
But you just called it rumour. So why should I take that serious?
Behind every smoke, there is fire, remember?
Never mind some of those legislative rascals. Whenever they are broke, they try to kick up some dust so they can be settled. Don’t forget they just returned from a long vacation, they may be as broke as crushed bones.
In that chamber, when rumour starts spreading, the clouds begin to gather. We can only invite the rainmaker who must come with a bag of quid to clear the cloud.