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    My World

    The way we were

    *Some of the brides

    May Day found me at the 70th birthday celebration of an older friend, Gabby Osakwe with a few of his close friends and associates. It was a simple, yet classy affair. The few empty seats at the Civic Centre in Victoria Island where the event was held, were proof that it was not an all comers affair as cards were checked against a master list at least twice. The guests which cut across different professions had at least one thing in common. They had all come a long way together. Many of them had known the celebrant and each other for over 50 years! This provided an intimacy and a cosy atmosphere that made conversations easy as many flitted from one table to the other exchanging pleasantries.

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    Giving back…

    I spent a very delightful evening with a certain gentleman in a village somewhere in the middle belt last week. It was an evening that stretched far into the night. With choice liquor, soft jazz music and the enveloping peace and quietness of an agrarian village night to keep us company, we discussed what many Nigerians gather together to discuss these days—the state of the nation, our profligate and reckless leaders, the fuel situation, the general level of impunity, and the increasing poverty level in the country.

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    The enemies within

    A manufacturing company did the unusual when it sent emails to its staff to tell them that the enemy of the company had been captured. Those who were interested in its identity should proceed to the conference room. Those who went found a life sized coffin. Inside it was a big mirror. The message was not lost on the staff. They were, as they looked at themselves in the mirror, individually, and collectively, the enemies of the company.

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    Counterfeit naira

    The May Day pay demand

    This scene is very familiar to those in the publishing business. You are owing the newsprint suppliers. They are threatening to stop further supplies unless you offset some of the outstanding credit. Those who are supplying ink and chemicals are also grumbling. The vehicles going all the way to Calabar in the East and the ones going all the way to Kano in the North need urgent repairs if not downright replacement. But there is no money. In fact, you are owing three, four months in salary arrears.

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    President Buhari

    The many faces of impunity

    A group of sparsely dressed men openly display guns and dangerous weapons as they roam the streets. They are not apprehended. They enter other people’s properties and cow the owner to near submission with their weapons and their arrogance. They arrogate to themselves the right to feed their cattle without recognising the rights of others to own farms and earn a living.

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    File Photo: Cross section of  House of Representatives members at the National Assembly in Abuja Photo : Gbemiga Olamikan

    The people’s representatives

    I am not enamoured of the National Assembly in general and the Senate in particular. I think they are a bunch of greedy, over fed and over pampered individuals. In moments of exuberance and vain glory, they call themselves the people’s representatives. Maybe they are right in a way because they somewhat represent the basest of the instincts of the Nigerian people.

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    Money as a coward

    The Vanguard Newspapers held its annual Personality of the Year awards last Friday at the Eko Hotel. It was a big, glitzy affair. Maybe it had more of the ‘big’ than of the ‘glitz’ because at a point, you had a feeling that the hall was too small for the guests streaming in.

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    President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the opening of a 2-day National Economic Council Retreat at the Statehouse Conference Centre on 21st March 2016.

    Please talk to us

    I missed my interview with President Sadat of Egypt by a whisker in 1978. About two days before the appointed time, his handlers got in touch to say the interview could no longer hold because a crew from the BBC had just turned up for the same purpose. My plea that mine should be rescheduled was explained away by their fear of over exposure.

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    Dr. Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, GMD, NNPC

    Should Kachikwu be made to resign?

    A petrol station is not the place to spend Easter. But that was what happened to millions of Nigerians last week. For many, the entire Easter weekend was devoted to the search of the elusive liquid gold. So it was at Christmas. So it was at New Year. It is beginning to look like the leadership is determined to deny the rest of us the simple pleasures of the festive seasons having taken most other pleasures and conveniences from us. In the midst of all this, the man whose duty it is to ensure we have sufficient fuel for our needs said most undiplomatically that he was not a magician and that our woes would continue a while longer. We had adequate fuel most of last year and the year before. Were his predecessors practicing sorcery or magic?

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    My Easter Thoughts

    Easter, a very important day in the Christian calendar, means different things to different people depending on age, religion and location. For the young, it is a time of revelry. First, it marks a break from the monotony and drudgery of school. It is also a time to connect with friends irrespective of their religious persuasions. For the average child, it is a time to have a new set of church clothes and participate in at least a couple of the many activities around Easter. For the deeply religious, Easter is a time to re-affirm their faith in loving God who died for the sins of the world and rose to intercede for His beloved.

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    Strikes without end

    The Ogun State chapter of the medical association went on a warning strike during the week. In doing so, it followed the footsteps of its Osun State cousin which has been at logger heads with its state for over a year now and has been on strike for about half as long. At a point, the entire Western zone threatened to join in solidarity to enforce a class interest irrespective—or in anticipation of the expected repercussions. Much of the Fashola years as Governor of Lagos State was bedevilled with doctors’ strikes over one thing or the other. As we speak, one or two state chapters of the association in the South-Eastern Zone are either downing tools or have downed tools. The South-South too has had its own share. In fact, it seems to me that there is no time during the year that at least one chapter of the medical association is not on strike. Although this issue pre-dates the democratic era, it seems to be getting worse by the year. I’d like the leadership of the national body to correct me if I am wrong, but I have not read of a medical body anywhere in the world that downs tools as often as Nigerian doctors do.

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    What defines you?

    I spent two hours with Dr Christopher Kolade, the elder statesman at his home last week. So rich is my experience, so varied is my take-away after such a meeting that I always wish there could be more of such meetings but Dr Kolade is still a very busy man even at his age. It was our first meeting of the year, and there seemed to be more to discuss than time allowed. But two areas that are inescapable in our discussions no matter how tight the time, are his passion for God, and his passion for Nigeria.

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    Mama Ngozi and Ebele the antelope hunter

    You’ve got to love the social media, especially if you are no longer in your ‘active’ years and the phenomenon has grown on you as opposed to the other way round. The amount of creative work out there is simply amazing. A Nigerian friend who lives in the US said to me: “Nigerians are either very creative or very idle”. To which I added “or both”. According to him, most of the stuff he gets are from his Nigerian contacts. We seem to be able to reduce every situation we find ourselves in to words and graphics and in a language that is simple but profound; hilarious but serious. I received one of such messages last week that I wish to share because it describes the situation we find ourselves in very aptly. Here goes….

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    Games men play

    I have had a hilarious time in the days before and after the Valentine day enjoying the powers of the social media at their creative best. I saw many versions of the President’s famous: ‘I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody’ from both the male and the female points of view as different forms of unfaithfulness and callousness were displayed. I saw the many creative ways male lovers used in dodging their financial obligations.

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