By Donu Kogbara
SO many Nigerian and foreign institutions dish out awards, at the end of every year, to individuals and organisations that have, in their opinions, excelled in various ways. And I’ve decided, rather impudently, to jump on this bandwagon and offer a few Donu Achievement Awards, DAA, to the following persons/groups:
DAA FOR EXCELLING ON
Dr Emmanuel Ibe Kachikwu, the Minister of State for Petroleum.
He is immensely intelligent anyway. There have been heavy hints that he is not super-clean, ethically, but I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. Kachikwu and I are from the same geopolitical zone and I was happy when he got this petroleum job – even though I didn’t know him personally – because he had a distinguished professional track record and I felt that he would do our Niger Delta region proud.
Professional track record
However, I was treated very shoddily when I humbly approached his office in October, hoping that he’d participate in a publication about the economy that I was packaging with some foreign colleagues. And I was so disappointed not because he wasn’t interested, but because he failed to convey his lack of interest respectfully.
I expected someone who studied at Harvard University and once worked for a blue-chip international oil company (ExxonMobil) to be a gentlemanly Class Act and familiar with global business etiquette norms. Sadly, Kachikwu’s conduct didn’t match my high expectations.
DAA FOR EXCELLING ON THE LOVEABLE ZERO MATERIALISM FRONT:
Ibrahim, who owns a small shop on my street in Abuja.
I recently rented a property in Abuja and sent Blessing, the girl who helps me in this new residence, to buy a carton of bottled water from Ibrahim, a Northern guy who doubles up as both security guard to my neighbour and the sole shopkeeper in the immediate vicinity. When Blessing told Ibrahim what she wanted, he looked at her as if she was daft and asked: “If I sell only you a whole carton, what will I sell my other customers when they come to buy one or two bottles?”
I found Ibrahim’s attitude touching and strangely uplifting as well as absolutely hilarious. Most other Naija shopkeepers would have enthusiastically sold Blessing the carton. Some would even have thrown in an extra service by offering to deliver future cartons to my house on a regular basis. I’ve shared this story with friends who totally disagree with me and think Ibrahim a simpleton. But I regard his uncomplicated and unmaterialistic worldview as a breath of fresh air in a country that is full of tough, sharp-elbowed hustlers who are constantly on the lookout for money-making gigs and self-advancement opportunities.
I do admire dynamic entrepreneurs who are not willing to linger in the same slow lane forever. But Ibrahim’s stubborn refusal to join the rat race is somehow admirable, as is his firm belief that he is doing OK, has enough cash and doesn’t need to maximise his profits.
DAA FOR EXCELLING ON THE OVER-EMPLOYMENT FRONT:
Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, President of the Senate and Director-General of the Atiku Presidential Campaign Council. Saraki is premier league intellectually. But he wouldn’t, in a premier league nation, have been allowed to combine two premier league roles!
DAA FOR EXCELLING ON THE HYPOCRISY FRONT:
Festus Keyamo, SAN, official spokesman, Buhari Campaign Organisation. I genuinely like Festus Keyamo. But we all make mistakes; and Keyamo has just issued a statement that is annoying and laughable. He said that Alhaji Atiku Abubakar has been so corrupt for so long that: “If the system were to be working before President Muhammadu Buhari took over in 2015, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar would be in jail by now, instead of contesting for the Presidency.”
I will leave it up to Atiku’s official spokespeople to formally answer Keyamo. But I must say that it is amazing how hypocritically sanctimonious APC stalwarts can be when they are talking about their political rivals in the PDP and other opposition parties. Anyone would think that there are no jail-deserving crooks in APC and that every senior APC member is an icon of moral rectitude!!!
Fortunately, most voters are not that stupid and know better. Truth be told, though I personally prefer Atiku to Buhari (because I think that if he’s given a chance to run the show called Nigeria, he will revitalise the economy and make us feel more self-confident and more optimistic about the future), neither of our two main parties is intrinsically superior. Both contain great, terrible and average folks.
DAA FOR EXCELLING ON THE INVISIBLE COMPASSION FRONT:
Chief Nyesom Wike, Governor of my state, Rivers.
I was first introduced to Nyesom Wike in 2008 when he was our then Governor Rotimi Amaechi’s Chief of Staff. And we got off to a good start. He was amiable and amusing and clever; and I really warmed to him. I also took a shine to his classy wife, Suzette.
But fast forward to 2015, by which time Amaechi and Wike were at loggerheads and backing different presidential candidates (Buhari and Goodluck Jonathan). And I decided to side with Amaechi/Buhari, largely because Amaechi was my bosom buddy in those days. Nevertheless, Wike continued to treat me nicely. He invited me to participate in the festivities he masterminded when Rivers State was celebrating the 50th anniversary of its creation.
Wike also gave me work to do and paid me far more than he had to. He made me feel useful and professionally valued at a time when I was recovering from a traumatic kidnapping experience, suffering from bouts of dark depression and struggling to cope financially.
Wike has never advertised the support he gave me. When I told three of his close friends what he did for me, they were pleasantly surprised. He is not a saint or smooth talker. And lots of people are angry with him at the moment. But I know him as a man who can be quietly kind-hearted; and I thought I should end 2018 by thanking him publicly.
Let me also end 2018 by wishing Vanguard readers a fantastic 2019.