Nduka’s Spectacular Party (But Not a Political Party)

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GUEST COLUMNIST: J.K. Randle

The media coverage of Prince Nduka Obaigbena’s 60th Birthday party has been a blitz. The millennials would have tagged it a super blast.

Strangely, not much has been said about the “political party” which ran simultaneously with the Thanksgiving Service at the Cathedral Church, Marina Lagos on 13th July 2019 followed by the sumptuous lunch at the Sky Lounge of Eko Hotel and Suites Victoria Island. Then on Monday 14th July, 2019 the celebrations climaxed with dinner in the ample ambiance of the Grand Ballroom of the Eko Hotel and Suites which had been transformed into a magical all green garden either in compliance with the dictates of climate change or a creative hint that suggested: Welcome To The Garden of Eden.

At each event the politicians (Former Heads of State, Governors and Ministers) were pre-eminent, overwhelming and dominant – almost as an echo of General Ibrahim Babangida’s perplexing theory about the “Balance of Forces”. This time, the politicians clearly out – “PUNCHED” the publishers/journalists and insisted that they were indeed “THE GUARDIAN” of our “NATION’S” conscience and the custodian of our “DAILY TRUST” in the abundant blessings of the Almighty together with the assurance that we are entitled to our place in the shade away from “THE DAILY SUN” with the Angels in “THE VANGUARD” heralding us in the “THE TRIBUNE” and “CHANNELS” – “THISDAY” and every day!! In the meantime, our complaints that “LEADERSHIP” is the main problem in our country are all over the media. Of course, the heavyweight businessmen (the moguls and tycoons) as well as
Royalty were in abundance. As for the ladies, the style section of THISDAY on Sunday has gone global with the special edition. They were like butterflies fluttering all over the Ballroom while glamour was in fierce competition with self-promotion by actresses, models and wannabes.

Anyway, as confirmation that the politicians meant “BUSINESS DAY” they insisted that it would be an evening of IDEAS, FOOD AND MUSIC.” Perfect. We all had a fabulous time. The only hitch (if any) was that at my table was Chief Olisa Agbakoba S.A.N the veteran combatant and unrepentant survivor (as a NADECO Chieftain and Comrade-in-arms of late Chief Gani Fawehinmi; late Bashorun M.K.O. Abiola; Late Chief Alfred Rewane etc) of life-threatening confrontations with the military especially the much-dreaded dictator, General Sani Abacha. The scars of battle and the burden of hope that were once magical (and all engrossing) but now laid forlorn were self-evident. The message was clear – we are trapped while our nation is in petulant and seething rage over banditry, terrorism, kidnapping, ritual murders, rampaging herdsmen and corruption fuelled with impunity.

The dream of redemption has been subverted by the nightmare of hopelessness and helplessness. The invitation card meant for law and order has gone astray – perhaps it was delivered to the wrong address.

The bankers have turned up with their five-star “generals” but they are unarmed. They are no match for the “real McCoy” – serving or retired Army Generals, Navy Admirals, Air Force Marshals or indeed the Inspector General of Police. One of the bankers, Chief Lawrence Omokhodion appears to have broken ranks. He is ensconced at my table with a “Not Guilty” sign written all over him. He was the Chief Executive Officer of “THISWEEK” magazine founded by Nduka Obaigbena in 1987. It was a candle with a brief life but nevertheless midwifed (via IVF!!) THISDAY newspapers which has survived for almost twenty-five years – a phenomenal achievement.

Anyway, the journalists cannot come to terms with being off-duty. Instead, they want me to confirm that I have been practising as a Chartered Accountant for fifty years and that I have been a weekly newspaper columnist for five decades as well as being the author of twenty books. Oscar Wilde was right:

“Self-advertisement is the worst form of recommendation.”
I decline to speak about myself. Instead, I direct them to what is streaming on my phone:

(i) “Saturday Sun” newspaper 
Front page headline: HORRIFIC!! 
“How herdsmen raped, strangled and shot dead 6-months- pregnant woman in Plateau.”
Security forces must fish out perpetrators – husband.

(ii) Front page headline: “Sunday Sun” newspaper: 
“OLUSEGUN OBASANJO: THE STATESMAN MESSENGER AND HIS ACERBIC MESSAGE”

(iii) Front page headline: “THISDAY” newspaper: 
“Nigerian politics is a corrupt prostituted type of politics where excellence doesn’t count; where lies take the upper stage; where people are anxious to serve not because they want to serve the nation but to enrich themselves.”
– Professor Tam David-West.

(iv) Front page headline: “Business Day” newspaper:
“Nigeria in trouble; faces unsure future.
• Obasanjo; Anyaoku; Danjuma; Soyinka; others see danger.
• BMO [Buhari Media organisation] warns groups; urges caution.”

(v) Front page headline: “The Sun” newspaper:

“AT 81, I STILL PARTY, DRINK, DANCE but …………….
– Chief Robert Clarke S.A.N.

(vi) Front page headline: “The Sun” newspaper: 
“OIL BARON KASE LAWAL’S LITANY OF WOES”

(vii) Front page headline: “Daily Trust” newspaper 
“I AM READY TO LAY DOWN MY LIFE FOR NIGERIA” 
- former Governor of Anambra State, Peter Obi

(viii) Roy T. Bennet 
“Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.”

(ix) J.K. Rowling (not J.K. Randle): 
“Indifference and neglect often do much more damage than outright dislike.”
Regardless, the journalists insist on reminding me of some of my articles which were published in “ThisDay” newspapers:

(i) 1994 
Chief Anthony Ani, Minister of Finance. 
“Our Nation borrowed 1 billion dollars (foreign loan) but the money never reached Nigeria. It was shared by eight people and I have their names”

(ii) Cow Meat (and K-leg!!) 
Nigeria’s 22 million cows are actually owned by only about 1,000 (one thousand) people. The herdsmen are not the real owners. Each cow eats ten times what each human being feeds on daily.

So we are actually feeding 220 million plus our 180 million human population. That makes 400 million daily. It is unsustainable.

(iii) The Black Forest 
Sambisa Forest which is the Black Forest of Boko Haram insurgents is vast in size – it stretches across the equivalent of five countries. In that forest, giant cockroaches and insurgents survive for two days after their heads have been cut off. They survive for two weeks without water; and a month without food.

(iv) Extract from “GOD DOES NOT LIVE IN LOS ANGELES ANYMORE…” (by Bashorun J.K. Randle) 1985

“Nigeria is having the same trouble. Thankfully, no one has accused Major-General Muhammadu Buhari’s government of fraud. Indeed, T. Hawkins while commenting on the Nigerian budget observed that its economic inexperience notwithstanding, the military government is making a better job of managing the economy than its civilian predecessors – although the policy profile is not that different. It is management and policy implementation that have improved, with the military being more decisive, more courageous and altogether more determined.

Bankers and businessmen agree that impressive progress was made in imposing fiscal and monetary discipline on an economy which previously had defied all such efforts. Great strides were made, too, towards correcting the twin imbalances that have so seriously threatened the economy since the 1980’s. Internally, the budget deficit was halved to N3.3 billion ($4.1 billion) – which is still far too large given the external constraints on the economy – while a semblance of order in the chaotic finances of the state governments was achieved by slashing their estimated deficit from more than N6 billion ($7.4 billion) in 1983 to N2 billion in 1984. Externally, the current account deficit which averaged more than N4 billion annually in the 1981/1983 period, was almost totally eliminated in 1984 when Nigeria broke even on current account. When capital transactions are included, Nigeria’s deficit at N102 million was the lowest since 1980. Most important of all, the rate at which trade arrears accumulated – N4.2 billion in 1982/83 – slowed dramatically with arrears rising a further N500 million during 1984. Monetary discipline was reflected in the very modest 4 per cent growth in the money supply, down from more than 12 per cent the previous year. Needless to say, the slamming of the fiscal and monetary brakes in this way has had very painful consequences. Many thousands of people – in government service and in the private sector, especially manufacturing – have lost their jobs. Reduced government spending meant smaller payrolls.”

All the same, it was a terrific party by a great media mogul. Happy birthday Nduka.
While we are still in the party mood, the next item on the programme is the Annual Thanksgiving and Remembrance Service for late Chief J.K. Randle which will hold on Sunday, 28th July, 2019 at 11 a.m. at Christ Church, Christ Church Street, Chelsea, London SW3 4AS.

It will be followed by a reception at Phene Arms, 9, Phene Street, Chelsea, London SW3 5NY.

Chief J.K. Randle was born on 28th July 1909 and died at the age of 47 in 1956. If he was alive, he would have been celebrating his 110th birthday. Like many of his generation, he was passionate about Nigeria.
As in previous years, the Vicar, Dr. Brian Leathard will offer special prayers for peace in Nigeria while threats of insurgency, insecurity, violence and breakdown of law and order are all over the media, especially the international press.

As in previous years, prayers will also be offered for the safe return of the remaining Chibok girls who were kidnapped in Chibok on 14th April 2014 as well as the rescue of the brave Leah Sharibu.

In addition, the Randle family will once again appeal to the Government for the return of their property – “Love Garden” (now known as MUSON Centre); and Dr. J.K. Randle Swimming Pool as well as Chief J.K. Randle Memorial Hall (which is vested in the Trustees).

American President Donald Trump is eager to come. Instead we shall settle for Boris Johnson the new Prime Minister of Britain and Mr. Sadiq Khan, the Mayor of London.

At the stroke of midnight, we shall unveil the joint proclamation by British
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Mayor of London Mr. Sadiq Khan at the
Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, London W2 2EU:

“Free speech is alive and kicking every Sunday at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park on the corner of Park Lane and Cumberland Gate.”

Thereafter, we shall commence the Vigil of Redemption.