By Muyiwa Adetiba
When the Arsenal manager, Mr Arsene Wenger was asked of his passion for football, he was quoted as saying: ‘Some people live for football. Some people live off football.’ This is a quote I can very well identify with because it aptly described many of us in our various fields of endeavour. It certainly describes me. I have lived off writing and for writing virtually all my life. Even in the years when I lived off writing, I still lived for it. The adrenalin flows each time I read a good article, a good prose, a good turn of phrase, or simply a lucid, well presented line of argument. The pleasure is doubled if it is from a staff or someone I know or have worked with. Most writers are performers on stage; strutting their stuff. Can you imagine an actor without an audience? A football match without a spectator? That’s the emptiness most of us would feel if nobody read our articles. Even the most virulent criticism means it has been read. It is one of the reasons I have tried to personally reply every comment that comes directly to the email dedicated to this column. As a mark of appreciation, I have reserved today, being the last column of the year, to a sample of those comments.
My principal in Chambers made silk at age 59 after 8 attempts. He was eminently qualified in all the eight attempts, but could not get “silk” because he had no pedigree in the profession. He watched with frustration as his juniors were made silk. The Panel that interviewed him on the year he got it consisted of a Judge, a Chief Judge and a SAN. One of them minced no words in telling him that he was their senior. They simply asked him to take a bow and go. Even then, some ground watering had earlier taken place. In the United Kingdom where this piece of pomp was borrowed, you do not Apply to be Silk or Judge. You are invited after recommendations had been made by Judges of High Courts (not the Appellate Courts). The reason is that core advocacy takes place in the High Courts. Quite unlike the appellate courts where matters are done on written briefs. But here in Nigeria you apply to be made silk. You are also to get endorsements from Supreme Court Justices. This system encourages all the negatives of bribery, nepotism, and corruption. What concerns a practitioner with knowing the judges? The process should be in such a way that the lawyers will never know they are being screened. You will shudder at the price tags of these endorsements. As a practitioner, I am simply persuaded to think that the whole SAN issue has lost its appeal. You need to hear some SAN’s speak; or conduct themselves in and out of the courtroom, and you lose the appetite to be a SAN. The process of getting silk has become so politicized that the rank is now emptied of its real content.
Alex. I Nonso
RE-”THE MARGINALISATION DEBATE”
This noise has suddenly shot up because Jonathan lost power. Take a look at the total landscape of the five Igbo states. It is equivalent to two Southwest states. So there isn’t much space for them to do much in ventures where land is of essence. How many non-indigenes have investments in Igbo lands the way they have outside their region? It’s because they are less accommodating—a thing you highlighted in your article. I knew their elders were going to step in because it isn’t what they need now. There is always strength in number and there is no society that is totally egalitarian. That is what they would suddenly realise should they succeed in opting out of Nigeria. Happy New Year. Col. Oyelese.
“You are free to have your jaundiced opinion on the issue but don’t expect to be taken seriously by those who can see beyond facades. Your article clearly illustrates your worldview of the Igbo as “they” against your own ethnic group. How you cannot see marginalization in the fact that of the three major ethnic groups in Nigeria, only the Igbo have not produced a President since the end of the civil war, beats my imagination. A solution to the marginalization, real or imagined, of the Igbo in Nigeria is a deliberate policy of ensuring that the successor to Muhammadu Buhari as President of Nigeria would be a Nigerian citizen of Igbo origin.” This was what was done to assuage the pain of the Yoruba following the death of M. K. O Abiola when the then two major political parties in Nigeria decided to nominate only Yoruba presidential candidates. Do you have any reason to oppose this solution if it will give the Igbo a true sense of belonging to a country they have worked very hard to build since the civil war?
- K. Eboh. Owerri, Imo State
“Re- PLEASE TALK TO US”
Many thanks for making public what we’ve all been saying at private discuss over the past few months. We need our President to interact more with the public. It’s the only way to keep the hope of change that we all yearned for and indeed voted for. It is Nigerians that voted him in as President and not the foreign press. It’s better late than never. Let the President have a radio address monthly at this very critical period of our national life. He owes us that. No more no less. Ladi Taiwo
“Re- GIVING BACK”
Your write-up has given me and my wife the fillip we need to march on with our self-imposed responsibility of touching lives in our own little ways. I am forwarding to your respected person stories and pictures of what my wife and I have been doing in a village back in Delta in enhancing child education for some time. The Delta State government has always appreciated us in writing and those appreciations are driving us. Meantime, I shall be sending to you a copy of former President Clinton’s great book: GIVING. It is what I use to show my appreciation to great minds like you that extol the importance of Giving. And indeed, as General Danjuma (retd.) put it, ‘No one is too poor or too rich to give.’
“Re-COLLAPSE OF THE CHURCH”
The state of today’s church is deplorable and shameful. Let me quickly share this scenario here: Eight years ago, in the course of doing an investigative piece on the claims being made by a pastor of a popular church in Ikotun, I discovered that the revered (?) founder of the church was faking miracles. I also discovered other shameful, unholy acts which are not worth publishing here. A week later, I published my findings in a weekly tabloid. To my surprise and rude shock, the pastor of the church, rather than issue a rejoinder, surreptitiously sent hired assassins to my apartment on a Sunday morning. They came to whisk me to an unknown destination; but for the intervention of an elderly lawyer/ co-tenant who insisted on seeing their warrant of arrest before they could be allowed to take me away. I identified one of the men as a worker in the pastor’s church.
Sometime this year, a pastor affiliated to a popular Pentecostal church, pleaded with me to rent a space in my family’s estate to his church. We agreed on the sum which I deliberately slashed owing to the fact that I envisaged that the purpose was not for a commercial activity. I was shocked when the pastor told me that the church members would need to apply for a loan from the parent church’s Micro-finance Bank. Within days of sending their application to the headquarters, the loan was approved. Borrowing your expression, “May God have mercy on us all.” Prophet Ade Osijo
“Re- THEIR YEARS OF INNOCENCE”
Your narration has triggered a similar memory of my early years at Okebode-Ilesha where I was born and did my primary education though I am from Delta State. What the government has done in the name of religion or politics in Osun State school system is a big embarrassment to those of us who grew up in that beautiful state with its wonderful people. Engr. Steve from Warri.
- Last week’s column should have been titled: ‘Christmas in my world’ and not ‘Christmas in the world.’ The error is regretted.