Now Thank We all Our Friends...

04 May 2013

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Polscope with
Eddy Odivwri,, 08053069356

About a dozen days before my mother’s funeral, I was working on some stories in the office and suddenly found one from my state, talking about the killing of two soldiers in Kokori, a neighbouring community to my Orogun clan in Delta State. I knew that such an unguarded act could spell doom to our funeral plans, as we often go through Kokori (Erorike) to get to my village. The story said the soldiers were attacked unprovoked. Days later, I gathered that a certain Kelvin, in the mould and operational pattern of late notorious Lawrence Anini (in defunct Bendel State) had arisen and was really terrorising the entire senatorial district, nay the whole state. The story is told of how he would kill, kidnap, rob, just anybody, and had indeed become a menace so much that his name was now used to frighten and quieten crying children.  The fear of Kelvin only lengthened our prayer points.

It was the beginning of the rainy season, a reason we were keen on getting done with the funeral within the earliest possible time. And so, aside the fear of inclement weather disrupting the funeral ceremonies, I was patently concerned about security issues for our many expected guests. The menace of kidnapping, had although abated, we were particularly prayerful about it, especially knowing that our own father had been killed by his abductors some four years ago.

Two weeks after the ceremonies, we have continued to heave sighs of relief, not only because many of our friends came, but more because everybody who came have returned home in one piece. There was no evil report whatsoever, wheresoever.
And that is why I think, we must express profound gratitude, first to God, for granting us favour on all sides while we bid mum a final farewell.

While it is difficult to list out all the assistance we received in terms of prayers, goodwill, and physical participation to achieve the success we had, I must not fail to acknowledge the special effort by my friend, the famous Pastor Sarah Omakwu of Family Worship Centre, Abuja , and her sister, Auntie Reg who were among the first set of guests to arrive long before the Service of Songs commenced. It was Pastor Sarah’s first time in Delta State, as itinerant as she is.

The sign that everything shall go well actually showed right from the day of the Service of Songs. The crowd was something else, surpassing our (even generous) expectations. What’s more, it seemed everybody was a trained chorister. The hymns, most of which my mum so loved, were all so heartily sung. It lifted my spirit and prepared me for the rest of the ceremonies.
The presence of many of my “Big Bros(es)” ranging from Mr Emmanuel Aguariavwodo, former Managing Director of Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC); through my friend, Dr Festus Okubor, Chief of Staff to the Governor of Delta State, Dr Emmanuel Uduaghan; to Mr Mideno Bayagbon, Editor of Vanguard Newspapers, and my ‘younger brother’, Oma Djebah, Senior Adviser on Foreign Relations to the Delta State Governor, etc., only helped to raise the tempo of the ceremonies by a few notches.

If we were excited on the opening day, we were doubly so on the next day as my village, once more, witnessed an unprecedented crowd of visitors. As envisaged, the poor little church, St Paul’s Anglican Church, Emonu Orogun, was bursting in its seams. The adjoining children auditorium, fitted with projector slide could hardly take the surging crowd.

The presence of dignitaries likeObarisi Ovie Omo-Agege, Professor Patrick Muoboghare (Education commissioner in Delta State, who represented Gov Uduaghan), Olorogun Olori Magege, Chiefs A.J Otah, Lucky Arhere, John Araka, Simeon Ohwofa, Professor Ben Oghojafor, Prince Emma Egoh, Chris Omoru, Mike Owhoko of Addax Petroleum, etc., further put enormous pressure on the church. Yet it stretched further to a near breaking point, when the Governor of Rivers State and Chairman Nigeria Governors’ Forum (NGF), Rt Hon Rotimi Chibuike  Amaechi, landed with his show-stopper helicopter. My dear friend and brother, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe was in company of the governor. With all the paraphernalia of such executives, the convivial ambience of the community simply changed.

Yet, the joy of the congregation of St Andrew’s Anglican Church, Ozuaka-Orogun, knew no bounds, when suddenly, my senator, Senator Pius Akpos Ewherido, with a large entourage fit only for a royal emperor, stormed the poor church, where we   were having the Outing Service for my mum. Life and direct, the senator connected with the people eyeball-to-eyeball, and pledged to help ‘tush-up’ the church.

In all, we cannot be grateful enough to all those who in one way or the other, like the deployment of JTF men by the Secretary to Delta State government, the several logistics and more assistance from the Delta State government, etc; helped us have a wonderful and successful final farewell to my dear mum.  And the only song that comes to my mouth is the Hymn:  “Now Thank We All our God”. God Bless you all.

Imagine this…

GSM Service : Can it Be Worse?
am surprised that the platoons of human rights activists we have in Nigeria bother only about politics and governance. None of them seems interested in the grinding agony Nigerians go through in obtaining the service of the GSM and other internet service providers in the country. In my own modest way, I have travelled to several countries. In none of them have I experienced the dismal and shameful service delivery as we see in Nigeria everyday. It is so bad and pervasive that even my late mother knew the trouble called “netiwork”, as our calls were so often disrupted or cut midway.  Yet, we have in place a government entity called Servicom, which was launched with so much fanfare some years ago. What does Servicom now do in the face of these failings? For almost a week, my editor, Ijeoma Nwogwugwu could not use any of her phones in some parts of her office. We have been serial victims in times past.

The recorded voices from the various networks tell you all kind of things:  lies and outright nonsense, ranging from saying a number you have always called as being non-existent or incorrect. Your caller could be hearing you while you don’t. Interconnectivity has been an unaddressed problem. Yet they are faithfully efficient in deducting their charges. It is not only the GSM providers. Internet providers are as guilty. They give us all kinds of crap. That is why at the banks, airports, Customs, you hear:  “our link is down”, “the server is down”. And people will be held up helplessly for hours. Nobody gives any explanation.

Not even the regulatory body, the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC). Yet it does not affect their charges. My colleague, Yemi Ajayi practically bought all the internet modems, as each one faithfully fails to connect. Yet, as my people will say, it is the same ten-and-ten pence. You connect with tears.  And we all seem to have taken it as part of the odious “Nigerian factor”. What nonsense! Where are the activists? I keep wondering why the NCC seems helpless or is there something we do not know?


Workers and the National Cross
I didn’t see you at the Big Field last Wednesday when workers celebrated their day.
Of course, I had better things to do. Why should I go and waste my time hearing ancient platitudes from the fat cats of the system?
You and your caustic tongue! Don’t you know that such fora are always good to drum home the demands of the poor workers?

You can drum home or drum abroad… I don’t care. All I know is that for 100 years, the NLC has been making about the same set of demands from governments, and the fortunes of the workers have remained largely paltry and piteous. So if it takes more than 100 years to effect change, why do I have to bother? How many more years do I have to live?
You don’t get it. Do you realize that some states are not able to pay their workers the N18,000 minimum wage? You don’t think it is an issue?

That is the point! Why are such states not able to pay? Is it that they do not have enough money or they feel that the workers do not deserve as much pay? Do you realize how rougish these politicians are? Have you realised that the figures of fraud these days are in billions and trillions? Yet they say workers can’t get more? Why do we have to continually engage in a dialogue with the deaf? Why? Eh, my brother, why?

But the truth is that workers are not exactly as poor as they seem to appear
Yes! Do you know that these civil servants are the richest guys in town? Do you know most of those big houses in Maitama and Asokoro districts of Abuja are owned by civil servants? Do you know that half of Lekki peninsular and Banana Island of Lagos are owned by civil servants, who masquerade as poor civil servants?

But you know that the real workers are part of the masses. Those exceptional fat cats are exceptions to the rule. The real workers for whom the May Day rallies are held are yet struggling in room-and-parlour  apartments  in places like Nyanya in Abuja or Ijora Badiya in Lagos. Those are the real workers whom government must spare a thought for.
Well, even the Bible says the poor will always be with us.

Ultra rubbish! This is provocative and insensitive. In fact, I will tell Oga at the top to ask his people to ban that your car from plying Nigerian roads. Ask the Motor Licensing Office (MLO) to discredit your particulars, declare them as fake, etc.  And trust him, you will soon be grounded and you will now start trekking with the masses whom you have so badly despised.
Do you or your Oga at the top have the right to ban my car from plying the roads? What right do you have and what have I done to deserve that? Is it because I told you the truth that the poor will always be with us? Anyway, I dare you to try it and we shall meet in the courts.

Look, let us not quarrel. I thought our common desire is how to attend to the welfare of the worker; how their welfare will improve.  How their stories will change for the better, how they too can send their children to good schools like those Banana Island children.

All I am telling you is that appearance is not reality. You have to   discern deeply. And understand the physiognomy of man to know that man is not always as he or she appears. And that you cannot use the lifestyle of the poor to adjudge that of everybody.

I don’t care what philosophy you are quoting. All that is important to me is that the Nigerian workers are suffering. That they deserve better treatment and welfare package. That they are the bearers of the National cross. And should be rewarded accordingly. That is all we ask, it is not too much to ask by bonafide nationals.
Hmmmm… well, I hope the gospel of fairness and equity will be established in our hearts so we can have even distribution of the national resources to all, be they workers or not.

Do not complicate our ideological pinnings. The sun must first shine on those standing before it shines on those kneeling. We are here concerned about those who are workers. They should reap the benefits of their labour. QED!

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