By Donu Kogbara
There are different types of friends. Some are boisterous social animals with whom you just gist and eat and drink and laugh.
Others are intensely cerebral or religious and don’t have time for frivolity in any shape or form, so you only call them when you are in a quiet and reflective mood and want to have deep and meaningful discussions about important issues like ethics and current affairs.
Then there are multifaceted kinda peeps with whom you can go the whole nine yards and be simultaneously merry AND intellectual.
My lawyer buddy Olu Aluko, fits into the last category. He’s a whole heap of fun AND a whole heap of serious. And he has written a book titled: Stream Of Consciousness On Biafra and Nigeria.
It’s available on Amazon.com and definitely worth a read.
It opens in 1960s Ibadan, with an inquisitive young Olu eavesdropping, late one night en route to the bathroom, while his parents anxiously talk about a frightening incident that occurred the day before.
His father Sam, an academic from the part of Yorubaland that is now Ekiti State, refers to “Akintola and his murderous gang”.
The parents are discussing the fact that their family has just escaped assassination because the leader of the death squad that was sent to kill them happened to be an Ishan and took pity on them when he discovered that Mrs Joyce Aluko was from his home town (Ekpoma).
Thanks to this fortunate coincidence, they were able to choose between fleeing to Ghana and fleeing to Nsukka, where Aluko senior had been offered jobs. Ever the patriot, he chose to stay in Nigeria.
Thus, it was that Olu and his five siblings – who had already lived in London as well as Ibadan – wound up upping sticks yet again, embarking on another adventure and settling down in Igboland, where Olu made lots of friends at the multi-national and multi-ethnic primary school on the university campus.
I won’t spoil the story for you by revealing further details. Suffice it to say that Olu makes the following observation early on: “I still cannot relate what I experienced about the Igbos as a child and what I’m seeing and hearing today. War is a very terrible thing.
“My father became an economics professor in 1967 at Nsukka; so the war unfolded before my very eyes and I decided to write the book as a reminder to various agitators that we should know that there is a possibility of a violent break-up and should realise the consequences, while thinking through our stances properly.
“My late father was fully involved in the peace process before the war and was close to both Ojukwu and Gowon for a while.”
Olu describes himself as “a very alert child”.
Age has not dimmed him and he is also a very alert 63-year-old adult.
I’m glad that he decided to share his interesting observa-tions and trenchant views with us; and, by the way, he has been a member of APC and PDP. But he now stands alone, having decided that both parties have ruined Nigeria and cannot solve our many problems.
He insists that he has no contemporary heroes because none of the people who are big names nowadays impress him.
But he does look up to famous historical figures like Aminu Kano, Obafemi Awolowo, Odumegwu Ojukwu and Murtala Mohammed. It is sad that he cannot think of any living VIP to hail at the moment.
Diezani Alison-Madueke was ex-President Jonathan’s Minister of Petroleum. She was the first-ever female to hold such a powerful position in Nigeria, Africa and the world; and she attracted tons of positive and negative attention when she occupied that lofty office.
Some absolutely adored and admired her because they said she was gracious, beautiful, classy, smart and stainless.
Others hated her guts because they said she was imperious, rude, corrupt, incompetent and had too much influence over her boss.
I, meanwhile, was disappointed in her.
Diezani was my childhood friend. Our parents were chums. Our fathers both worked for Shell in the 1950s when there weren’t that many senior Nigerian employees. Our mothers were both refined ladies who enjoyed genteel leisure activities like gardening. And I was fond of Diezani, who was my age and charming, and her siblings.
I was genuinely happy for her when she became a Minister; but as time went by, I felt that she wasn’t fulfilling her potential, morally, professionally or philanthropically, and that she should be carrying on less regally and managing oil revenues more transparently…and be doing more for our impoverished Niger Delta brethren.
Bluntly put, I was extremely upset with Diezani; and she knew it.
OK, so when Jonathan lost the presidential election in 2015, Diezani went on the run and has lived abroad ever since. And she hasn’t reached out to me, so I don’t have a clue what she is thinking. I am therefore speaking completely independently.
We keep hearing scandalous tales about her alleged thieving. The other day, the EFCC Chairman, while addressing a National Assembly session, joined Northern legislators in suppressing sniggers about her alleged accumulation of jewellery worth N14 billion. They were struggling to keep straight faces. It was like Diezani is uniquely and laughably dubious; and I was incensed.
I do NOT approve of theft of public resources. Indeed, my own personal finances are fragile precisely because I am not dodgy by nature! Trust me, I would have been MUCH richer than I am if dishonesty, sychophancy or sexual immorality had been my things.
But it is REALLY annoying to hear guys who are not known for saintliness dissing Diezani, who at least comes from an oil-producing state. I wonder how much jewellery the women in THEIR lives have!