March 6, 2010

Why I speak Big, Big Grammar – Hon. Obahiagbon

Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon

By Luka Binniyat
Patrick Obahiagbon, who represents Oredo Federal Constituency of Edo state  shot  to limelight the moment he arrived  the House of Representatives in 2007  with his uncanny knack for jaw-breaking words.

For reasons  he explained exclusively below to Saturday Vanguard in his first ever interview on his manner of speech, the 1983 product of  St John Bosco Grammar School, Obiaja, Edo State swore that he has since cut short on the big, big vocabulary he uses.

In this chat, the 1987  Law graduate of University of Benin, who also holds two Master degrees,  appealed to his audience for understanding,  explaining that, “the intention is not to deliberately  befuddle or obfuscate them” insisting that, “ I do not set out to deposit my audience in a portmanteau of indecipherability” Excerpts.

Why I speak the way I do

Sincerely speaking, I want to tender an unreserved apologia to my colleagues and all those who feel that my language is obscurantist. The truth is that I do not set out deliberately to mystify my audience, to deposit my audience in a portmanteau of indecipherability or in portmanteau of conundrum. No, no, no, no! Far from it.

The cosmic force would not allow me to do that. But, you see if you ask homo sapients who have interfaced with me for close to twenty years now, they would tell you that I no longer speak high sounding language. I have reduced it radically.

If you have the opportunity to listen to my speeches or debates ten, fifteen years ago, then it would have been a different kettle of fish all together. So, I am convinced that I’ve tried, I am trying and I will continue to try to ensure that my language, or my idiolect is as limpid and as diaphanous  as possible.

But, let me say that I am an omnivorous reader and I put my nose on the grinding stone to read for more than 7 hours a day when most innocent men are sleeping, and night marauders are doing their business. I am on my table, in my Library for 7 hours.  And that has been on for over twenty years. And like I always tell people, the dictionary for me is not a reference point; the dictionary is a vade mecum, a constant companion.

I spend on the average not less than an hour a day referencing the dictionary for the past twenty to twenty-five years. So don’t be maniacally bewildered  if I speak most times, from what I draw while reading. But, really, the intention is not to deliberately  befuddle or obfuscate my presentations on the floor.

My Political experience
I was a student Union activist all my years in the University of Benin. Little wonder, as soon as I left the University and finished my Youth Service, I dabbled into the aqua of political arena. If  I remember vividly, I contested my first election into Oredu Local Government Area (LGA) as a Councillor only one year after my Youth Service.

So I have been in State and National politics effectively from 1999. But it has not been a bed of roses, giving the miasma, given that convoluted phantasmagoria, given the prependalism  and all the intrigues in Nigerian politics.

I contested several elections and lost several elections.  Some not because I lost, but   because of course, we are in Nigeria, and the X factor in Nigerian politics is still very important.

But, I knew right back from when I started, that I had a date with history, with destiny. At every time I lost an election, I would decide to be more recusant rather than being recumbent. I decided to be more quixotic rather than being laisser-faire- to challenge my destiny the more rather than relapsing into a cocoon of levity, or into a cocoon of political narcissisms. And I thank the great galaxy of the universe,  after  several attempts at political office in 1999, my bread was buttered.

The cosmic afforded me the lacuna to give a vivacious and vibrant representation to my constituency.

And since then, it has been one political victory to the other as ordained by God.

That was why mandate to remain the amiable representatives of Oredo Federal constituency was challenged very, very viscerally, at the election tribunal, I had no fear that at  end of the day it was going to be victory for me. this is because I am a robot in the hand of God.

I believe that the hand of God and the cosmic imprimaturs are in my political odyssey. If it  were  by my grace or by my powers, by my capacity, I Probably would not have been qualified in the first place to become a councillor in my local govern.