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On the move again, Aondokaa again, US back again

By Bisi Lawrence

“Ain’t no stoppin’ us now,We’ve gotta move…”
Women! Abike Dabiri-Erewa, Honourable Member of the House of Representatives and former (?) media personality, led the chorus and the whole house joined in.

There were women lawyers, (Detest the word ‘female’ when applied to a human being as different from an activity) women doctors, educators, engineers, bankers, journalists, surveyors, priests, hoteliers, beauticians, fashion designers and others from all branches of business and the professions – they all raised their voices in fierce determination and defiance.

Some even raised well-manicured fists to punch home their stand against anyone who could harbour the mere thought of “stopping” them. ‘Anyone’, of course, would refer to those ‘male chauvinists’, who had for ever been doing just that, but who no longer could do so because, according to the women, ‘we’ve gotta move!’ Yes, yes. But to where?

Women! The weaker sex – or ‘gender”, rather – as they have fooled men to believe for ages, are, in fact, anything but weak. And down the years, they have continued to prove that any man who believes he is stronger than a woman is indeed a fool. In what, n any case, are they really weak? Pound for pound, no man on earth is as resilient as a woman.

They may not be able to run the 400 metres – or any distance, for that matter – as fast as men, but can a man carry a pregnancy, for as long and as easily, as a woman does?

Now and again, we see examples of how and where women have taken over the control, that is the soul, of causes and situations by the subtle employment of the so-called “stronger” men’s powerful positions.

We read in the scriptures, for instance, of how Samson lay down his prodigious strength before Delilah’s perfidy; and not until he had lost his sight could he then see clearly. And up till now, women still place the burden of the sightlessness of love on the behaviour of men. The adage that says, “love is blind” should really declare that “love will make you blind”, and be clearly marked as emanating from a “Samsonite” philosophy. You may say, “WOW!”

To that… and that is precisely where we are going.

“Women On Wellness” was the theme of this year’s get-together for women, which was organized by the “Allure” arm of the Vanguard newspaper. In total control was our own formidable Remi Diagbare. The venue at the Eko Meridien was packed full and there were presentations on several interesting topics. There was one version successfully held last year too, but it seems to get better and better.

And so it would, for the mere fact that women arranged this kind of event. I mean, could you imagine a male organization making any kind of success for an occasion featuring ideas, or prescriptions, for “men on wellness”? “Men on maleness” maybe, or a macho theme like that, but “wellness”? Well, I ask you. But women would swing it, and the reasons are part of their history as the downtrodden “weaker sex” which they indeed were until they fought for, and won their rights.

There was a time they were only a little less than beasts of burden – “hewers of wood and drawers of water”’ in other words. Their place was in the home and, in the home, their place was in the kitchen. Even the bed they shared was still owned by the man, the master of the house and all therein. Campaigning for women’s rights in the United States in the 19th Century, it was common for women to freely compare their plight even with that of the slaves. Tradition held them back.

Religion tied them up. They were starved of opportunity and fed on degradation. But they gradually began to claim their rights as human beings who are truly and rightfully equal to other human beings. They have come a long way though, as recently as last week, there was a part of the world where they are still restrained from dressing any way they wanted.

But they are overcoming all that step by step, and have learnt to look after themselves. Yes, ain’t no stoppin them now”, all – or nearly all – is well with them; and there is “Allure”, exclusively “Vanguard”, to proclaim it.

A very good advice came my way in London when I ventured into the precarious business of owning a car in that megalopolis. “Above all, make sure you are no! arrested by a policewoman.”

The simple reason was that a policeman might listen to your plea of ignorance, or innocence, and let you off with a warning, but a policewoman would latch on to you like a leech once she could lay hands on you. She would sweetly, or sternly give you the full length of the arm of the law, while you retained your best manners because you simply couldn’t cut rough with a peace officer, who is a member of “the weaker sex” to boot.

Well, Nigeria’s chief economic crime buster is a woman, as I am sure you have noticed. In fact, that would have been the first thing you noticed, because she is an eyeful who must have turned a head or two when she was younger, and perhaps still does.

Someone has said that, with her looks, she has no business being a policewoman but, and you had better believe it, that is her business. Someone who is now finding that out in clear terms must be the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa. He recently incurred the ire of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, on a very sensitive issue – that of the level to which crime fighting, as it concerns certain former State Governors, has been moved in the recent past.

The removal of the former EFCC Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu. left many people in doubt as to whether his successor would be able to maintain the pace, which he had established. Controversial as the succession was, Mrs. Waziri did not shrink from the challenge.

In fact, she seems to have welcomed it to the admiration of those who work with her, and the public at large. Her appointment was approximated, in some quarters, to be in line with the apparent disinclination of the Ministry of justice to bring the powerful former governors to book, as Nuhu Ribadu had been determined to do before he was given the boot. But his successor was really not on that page.

Imagine then how embarrassed the EFCC Chairman would have fell when the Attorney-General would have us, and the entire world, believe that some of those ex-governors who are on the “wanted list” of Scotland Yard had been instigated and given a clean bill of health. Mrs. Waziri, who is responsible for the outcome of such investigations, did not actually hit the roof – being a member of the “weaker sex”, but was not amused. She elegantly demurred through a statement by one of her officers – this time.

The indications are that, next time, it might very well be “fire for fire”.
Mr. Aondokaa had gone further to declare that the British Metropolitan Police was, as matter of fact, being suborned by none other than the former EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu, to hound the ex-governors. That position quickly earned him a deserved scolding from the erudite former presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress, Professor Pat Utomi, who cautioned him about embarrassing the entire nation with such remarks.

The “set-to” which grew up quickly between Aondokaa and Ribadu contributed in no small measure to the latter’s problems while in office. His successor has now evinced the same professional attitude, which must be to the chagrin of the Attorney-General. Are we then all set for another succession to the saddle of the EFCC? All the same” it is clear that, as a policewoman, the incumbent has all the advantages of “the weaker sex” on her side.

I have had this feeling all along that Barack Obama’s fairy tale election into the White House was simply getting on too well for a black man. There was this queasy feeling that the future was not as clear as it could be, and that America was not as open as it might be, if a white man, or woman, had been there. I was afraid that something lay in wait to take off from a stumble along the way, a slip that could be enlarged beyond a falter into a fall.

America is white, and so the majority of those who put him there are white. It is a situation that he would have to address with wisdom, and from which he must squeeze out every rashness abutting on arrogance. But there has never been an orator in history that was not arrogant. Humility, on the other hand, may sometimes be mistaken for weakness and thus invite reckless opposition. A supreme balancing act seemed called for.

America, 1 was sure, would ultimately demand a certain measure of modesty, which Obama may not be able to deliver in the flush of his election victory, and also the epoch-making occasion of being the first black US president. His endless recount of how poor he was would sooner or later become tedious, in which case, the people would be feeling that they’ve heard all that before, but what else has he got to show them.

The content of modesty and humility would pall after a while. And then would follow a disillusionment, a cynicism, topped by a backlash.

The signals, 1 felt, were there during the episode in which he had the occasion of saying that some police officers behaved “stupidly” in the way the treated a case involving a black man who happened to be his friend. It was an utterance innocent enough, but you would have thought he had committed treason from the manner in which it was bloated out of proportion.

Racism was brought to the fore of such a simple matter, but race could never be far away from what a black US President says, or does. The issue was settled over a beer at the White House, but the “hawks” were wailing for a big morsel, and the debate on health care has offered a priceless one. The reaction against Obama has been overwhelming and generally unreasonably so.

The proposals have been deliberately distorted and the resentment reduced to a personal level. “OBAMA SUCKS”, read one of the placards displayed boldly at one of the anti-government demonstrations.

It was left for a former President of the United States, Jimmy Carter, to boldly confront the situation and tell Americans the truth to their faces. The reaction to the Healthcare bill is mostly based on racial prejudice against their own President because of his colour, he pronounced. Obama now faces the inevitable “baptism of fire”.

The “white backlash” is here. The Empire strikes back.

Kevine Ejiofor is my friend. He belongs to what was once a close-knit group of broadcasters with whom 1 grew up. 1 brought them together actually, from the East, West, North and South. You may know one or two of them, famous people all of them, because they were sports commentators -the “third herd” this nation had ever known.

Listen to the names: Funsho Adeolu, Ernest Okonkwo, Sebastian Offurum, and Yinka Craig who have all left for the great beyond. Then we also had Kola Olota, Dele Adetiba and Kevin Ejiofor who are still, through the mercy of God, alive today.

They were all my friends, but Kevin and 1 had a special relationship for he bears the same name with my son. I grew rather fond of him, not just because of that, but mostly also because of his quiet but assertive attitude to issues.

He approached them from a fresh angle always, because he seemed to have retained the child-like wonder of a philosopher to life. It was therefore possible to hold intimate conversations with him and arrive at a clean conclusion unsullied by opinions frayed through the abuse of other minds. Kevin is still special to me.

Time out.


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