By Donu Kogbara
Last week, I wrote about the many Nigerian VIPs who do not manage success graciously, change for the worse the minute they cease to be ordinary citizens and start treating old friends (and blood relatives as well, in some cases) very shabbily, even when these folks who knew them before they became VIPs have helped them a lot in the past and are therefore owed considerable goodwill and courtesy.
I also complained about the gratuitous cruelty that too many Nigerian VIPs inflict on decent members of the General Public, who approach them for jobs or business.
I pointed out that the foreign dignitaries I know do not misbehave when they rise to the top and wondered why so many of their Naija counterparts are so obnoxious.
My comments really struck a chord with Vanguard readers and several of you contacted me to say that you agreed with me and tell me about the bad experiences you have had with arrogant and ungrateful Big Men and Big Women.
Let me share one particularly sad story with you:-
The Vanguard reader in question – let’s call him X – was doing quite well in Abuja about 10 years ago. He was a government contractor and had a nice flat and 2 cars.
Then, out of the blue, a former classmate – let’s call him Y – got in touch with him. Y, an engineer, had worked for a construction company in Lagos but had recently lost his job because the company was having cashflow problems. So Y had decided to try his luck in Abuja and needed somewhere to stay while he was job-hunting.
X warmly welcomed Y into his home, ensured that he had 3 good meals every day, insisted on loaning him his second car so he could move around town easily, introduced him to most of his Abuja friends so he could enjoy a vibrant social life and took him to see some of his government clients.
Eventually, Y was employed by a Junior Minister he’d met via X. Soon he was able to move out of X’s home, hand back the loaned car and stand on his own 2 feet. Five years later, Y was appointed to head a parastatal. And X threw a party for him.
Much to X’s surprise, Y suddenly became aloof and was never available when X suggested that they meet; and after repeated failed attempts to continue with a friendship that had started 3 whole decades previously at their secondary school in Ilorin, X finally got the message, quietly gave up on Y and got on with his life.
A couple of years ago, disaster struck. Despite only being 42 at the time, X had a stroke. Fortunately, the stroke didn’t kill him or permanently incapacitate him. He gradually recovered. But he ran out of money because he wasn’t able to work at all for several months and the intensive medical care he’d required had cost millions.
So, swallowing his pride, he went to Y’s luxurious official residence, to plead for modest financial assistance. When he got there, the security guards told him that their Oga was in and called their Oga from the intercom phone in the gatehouse, to ask whether they could allow X to enter the compound. The answer was “no”.
X and Y have a mutual pal who attends the same church as Y. And the mutual pal bumped into Y a few Sundays later, after service, and gently berated Y for not helping X, who had lavished so many favours on him when he was in need. And do you know what Y said to the mutual friend, without any trace of remorse or irony?
“All of the success I have achieved in this world is because of my prayers, my hard work and God’s love for me, not because of any so-called favours from anyone”!!!
OK, so there are 2 sides to every tale of woe. And justice demands that we don’t jump to negative conclusions about any individual on the basis of mere hearsay…and that we give VIPs the benefit of the doubt when there is no concrete evidence to prove that they are guilty of the misdemeanors of which they have been accused.
But, by pure coincidence, I happen to know Y, the parastatal head who treated his generous ex-benefactor so shoddily. And he has an excessively high opinion of himself…and a reputation for being nasty; and I have heard so many similar stories about Y from other people that I think it fair to describe him as a chronic sadist.
I also, coincidentally again, happen to know people who know X; and everyone from whom I have sought a character reference has told me that he’s an immensely pleasant guy who helps others whenever he can and deserves respect and support.
As luck would have it, Y was recently sacked by President Buhari and I hear that he is being investigated for corruption. And I have no idea whether he is a thief or not, but he is at least a callous, pompous ingrate; and am so incensed by his treatment of X, his kind-hearted old school chum, that I hope he winds up in jail!
Kudos to El-Rufai
It was announced, last weekend, that Kaduna State will provide government primary school pupils with free meals when the new term commences next Monday.
Shehu Usman Adamu, Kaduna’s Commissioner of Education, Science and Technology, says that the programme has been amply provided for in the state’s 2016 budget…and that the food vendors in each of the 255 wards have been organised into cooperative societies, to facilitate implementation of the programme.
The Commissioner added that: “School-based management committees comprising of parents and notable community figures, have been sensitised to support, monitor and report on the performance of the programme in each of our schools”…
….[and will] “meet their respective vendors to jointly review the procedures and modalities for effective service delivery [and] strictly monitor the programme to ensure that any bottlenecks that emerge in the initial stages are resolved.”
The programme, in addition to ensuring that even the poorest pupils gain sufficient nutrition, “is designed to boost the economy at the grassroots by involving people at the community level as vendors. It will also expand the market for our farmers, even as it brings more of our people into the formal economy,” Adamu said.
I salute the enlightened and dynamic Kaduna State Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, for coming up with an ambitious, compassionate and progressive initiative that will impact positively on thousands of lives, if everything goes according to plan.