Sweet and Sour

June 12, 2009

Farewell to a great man

By Donu Kogbara
MY family enjoyed a longstanding friendship with the late William Pikibonengima Daniel-Kalio, OFR, who will be buried tomorrow in Okrika, his home town.

Daniel-Kalio was not just one of the most distinguished citizens that the Niger Delta has ever produced. He also happened to be a NATIONAL treasure.

He was a pioneering indigenous bureaucrat of distinction who started to make an indelible mark on public life during colonial rule and famed patriot whose dedication to excellence and the common good won him admirers all over this country.

He became the first African District Officer of Lagos in l951 and was both Head of Service and Secretary to Rivers State Government between l967 and 1971.
Daniel-Kalio’s refinement, intellect and outstanding professional legacy made him an ideal role model.

He continues to inspire his successors and it goes without saying that he will be sorely missed by those of us who were privileged to know him.

Daboh  disappoints

A few days ago, while flicking through another national daily(the Sun), I chanced upon an interview with Dr Godwin Daboh Adzuana, the well-known PDP chieftain and I was very unhappy about the highly contentious statements he allegedly made.

According to the journalist who penned the story, Daboh said – when he visited the newspaper’s office and addressed its editorial/management team – that even though the Constitution gives Vice Presidents the right to take over from Presidents who may die, resign or be removed from office, the North will not permit Dr Goodluck Jonathan to replace his boss, Yar’Adua, if the worst comes to the worst.

Daboh’s exact words, as published were: “Such a thing can never happen and I don’t want to even think of it…It is not a constitutional matter; it is fairness…

“…In  l999, we agreed that there would be a rotation of North-South…That is not negotiable…

The North cannot allow Jonathan to complete the term of Yar’Adua.…there will be an interim government within which somebody from the North will be elected to complete Yar’Adua’s term…

We are not giving one day of this administration to the South. We will only allow Jonathan to be there till a replacement is found…”.

If Daboh did indeed say utter these offensive remarks – and I assume that my colleagues at the Sun are not libelling him – I’d like to know what his problem is.

The man is an elder and Middle Belt (Benue) Christian. So why is he adopting an illegal, hardline stance in a media outlet at a time when the Niger Delta is so frighteningly volatile? Is he trying to start a civil war?!

Is he oblivious to the possibility that he will further inflame the passions of the already angry “boys” in the creeks?

Many of Dr Jonathan’s South-South brethren have long suspected that the North cannot stomach the idea of a Bayelsan completing Yar’Adua’s term…and will sneakily change the rules if they can get away with doing so.

But NONE of the Northerners I know – including Muslims from core Northern zones – talk like Daboh in public.

Whenever I ask Northerners in my social circle how they will react if – God Forbid – Yar’Adua goes for whatever reason, they either give me diplomatically evasive responses or assure me that they will vigorously defend the Constitution – and Jonathan’s right of succession. And I do honestly believe that some Northerners will behave honourably if they are ever faced with such a difficult dilemma.

The bottom line is that there are objective and detribalized individuals in every corner of this country. And they hold the key to Nigeria’s future.

Nigeria will never become a truly unified or progressive nation until those who have no blindly subjective ethnic agenda outnumber those who do.

While recently discussing the quarrel that is raging between Dora Akinyuli, the Minister of Information/Communications and Ernest Ndukwe, the head of the National Communications Commission, I told an Igbo girlfriend of mine that I found it very sad that two Igbo VIPs should choose to fight rather than collaborate.

My girlfriend shook her head wearily and replied thus: “Most of my fellow Igbos are making this same point that you have made.

But I don’t see why Akunyuli and Ndukwe should get on just because they both happen to be from Anambra!

Surely, there are more important issues at stake than their geographical origins?…Issues such as whether they share the same vision or principles”.

And she certainly has a point. It would be nice if everyone was the best of pals. But it doesn’t always make sense to support someone purely because they come from your own backyard…or to reject someone just because they don’t.