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Food for thought

By Donu Kogbara
An anonymous sage made the following comments in a letter he wrote to the British Guardian newspaper. He was talking about the behavioural, psychological and ideological transformation he had undergone between youth and middle age.

“My politics are no longer revolutionary and the size of the positive difference that I feel I can make in the world is constricting….[but] I will never sneer at people who want to change the world for the better. They are, after all, the only people who end up doing so.”

In a country in which a First Lady can get away with openly deriding citizens who dare to yearn for change – and with fearlessly urging her supporters to hurl stones at change-seekers – the above writer’s wise words are worth dwelling on.

Dame Patience Jonathan’s visceral allergy to reforms comes as no surprise. It’s kind and normal for plutocrats to prefer status quos that serve them generously.

I recently watched an American TV debate in which the Nigerian elite was described as “predatory”. How very apt! I couldn’t have put it better myself.

Farewell to a lady of substance

My dear friend, Dr Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, a brilliant Public Policy expert and retired Permanent Secretary, has just lost her beloved mother.

Here, in the heartbroken family’s own words, is a tribute to an extraordinary daughter of the Niger Delta.

Mrs Christiana Virginia Ayibamieirigha Koripamo, MON, was a pioneer of her time. Born a twin on the 26th of December 1910 to Fetepigi Amaran and Timiebi Kemmer, Chris, as she was fondly called in childhood, always marched to her own drumbeat.

While attending school at St. Monica’s Girls School, Ogbunike, in today’s Anambra State, she informed her family that she had no desire to be a teacher as they wished for her. She, instead, wanted to be a nurse. Her family was not thrilled by this because the common belief then was that female nurses did not bear children. To compound matters, at the age of 18, she had refused to marry an older suitor who her mother had arranged for her to marry.

Koripamo
Koripamo

Seeing her determination to further her education and train as a nurse, her uncle, Rev. M. E. Lele, encouraged her to enrol for nursing and midwifery training in Iyi-Enu Anglican Mission Hospital. She spent two years there and qualified as a nurse/midwife. Her outstanding performance at Iyi-Enu earned her first place in the register of the National Midwives Board. After her training at Iyi-Enu, she was posted by the Mission to her birthplace, Kaiama, to establish a maternity home. During her time in Kaiama, she was the midwife at the delivery of Major Isaac Boro and Captain George Amangala,  two revolutionaries who were killed in the Nigerian Civil War.

In 1937, Chris married her long time friend, R. J. E. Koripamo. At age 26 she was considered a barren old maid, but Chris and her husband surprised everyone and had six children, four daughters and two sons. They both recognised the importance of good quality education and further confounded people by sending all their children, including the girls, to the best Mission schools at the time. They were mocked for “wasting their money” on educating girls. Two of those girls are PhD holders today – Dr. Timiebi Koripamo-Agary, OON, a retired Permanent Secretary in the Federal Civil Service, and Dr(Mrs) Patience Akiga, a retired Director in the Federal Civil Service.

Being the wife of a teacher/school administrator/politician/business man, Chris had to hold down the home front alone on many occasions and set up a new home on every transfer. This meant that she could not always practice as a midwife, but she always had a business (baking or sewing) that helped to support the home. As a mother and wife she was nurturing, supportive and loyal.

In 1972, when most people are entering their retirement years, Chris, with the support of her husband, set up a maternity home in Port Harcourt. She ran the maternity for 25 years until she was forced by her children to give up the tasking work of midwifery. In 25 years she had served women from all strata of society, caring for them during their pregnancies, helping to bring their children into the world, and sharing life lessons. She was a big advocate for the girl-child, encouraging parents to give their daughters the same opportunities as they give their sons, discouraging female genital mutilation, etc. 

She spent the later part of her life quietly enjoying her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and many friends and relatives in her home in Port Harcourt. She was the family historian and relished every moment she had to share stories about the family with the next generation.  

On Sunday, 15th February 2015, she passed away peacefully in her home. She will be missed by all those whose lives she touched.

Abba Moro – closure of sorts

For months, I have complained about Abba Moro, the Minister of Interior who was rewarded with an undeserved national honour – rather than sacked – after he’d presided over a botched recruitment exercise that led to many deaths.

Abba Moro
Abba Moro

Jonathan has still not dispensed with the offending Minister. But he has at least – finally, several months too late and on the eve of an election he’s desperate to win! – compensated the victims’ bereaved families.

Last week, at a brief ceremony in the Presidential Villa, he presented 33 letters of employment into the Nigerian Immigration Service to members of the 15 families who lost sons and daughters during the Service’s recruitment exercise.

According to Reuben Abati, Jonathan’s spokesman: “In his remarks at the occasion, the President said that he was deeply saddened by the death of their relatives in circumstances that were completely avoidable and unwarranted.

President Jonathan said that the Federal Government was fully committed to ensuring high standards for recruitment processes into the public service, and the provision of safety measures to avoid the recurrence of the March 15, 2014 incident which claimed many lives.

“Today is a sad day for all of us. First, let me convey our deepest condolences to the families who lost very young people during the recruitment exercise into the Nigeria Immigration Service.

“It is quite regrettable and we promise that such a thing will never happen again,” President Jonathan said. Cheques for an undisclosed amount were also given to each of the bereaved families at the occasion.

“The cheque is not for compensation. You cannot replace somebody with any amount of money,” the President said.

Hmm. Too little too late, if you ask me!

But the families are said to be grateful, so let me not ungraciously harp on about my curmudgeonly belief that the whole thing is a cynical PR stunt.

 

 


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