ON TOP D MATTER: Weeks 11 – 15 of the National Confab

It is nothing less than God that has me coming back to this topic of the National Confab. Like many of you readers and Nigerians, I am fast tiring of first, remembering that there are a group of people jaw-jawing it out in Abuja in a bid to produce some solutions to the issues that bother us and secondly, knowing that yet again we are hoping on the power of talk which from past experience is all we know how to do. The recent happenings especially with Boko Haram only served to get me fed up even faster until I came upon this interview published earlier this month.

The interviewee is Prof. Obiora Ike, “a solid intellectual” in the words of my brother-in-law. You can get the full transcript of the interview here but I will share tidbits of it below which recapitulate the events of week 11 – where we left off on ON TOP D MATTER – to week 15 of the National Confab. These tidbits, I hope, will also give you the forbearance to hold on just a little bit more. Maybe something good just might still come of this…

Prof. Obiora Ike, former Vicar General of the Catholic Diocese of Enugu, is the Deputy Leader of the Southeast delegation to the National Conference. He speaks ON TOP D MATTER as follows:

Prof Obiora Ike

ON CENSUS?

There were questions that concerned economic justice; that we have to do a population (census) that has to be realistic in Nigeria, and not where we fathomed any numbers, etc.

Census is being debated and there is going to be a new census in Nigeria in which all the items that were neglected in the previous censuses will become items.

ON INDIGENOUS AND RESIDENCY RIGHTS?

It is not your indigeneship but your residencyship makes you have rights, privileges and duties wherever you are. For instance, if I am born in Lagos, though I live in Kano and I pay tax in Kano, I am a citizen of Kano after five to seven years, and I can aspire to the highest political office in that state. (sic)

So, residency right becomes a very serious matter and the committee has brought it to the plenary and it will now be looked into. It gives you the opportunity to migrate to any part of the country to live.

ON NOMADS AND FULANI HERDSMEN?

(This issue) was very contentious because the law and even people, who come from the South, were very vocal and clear: that any nomad should stay in his nomadic environment.

There was even someone who said we are in the 21st Century and we eat meat produced in other countries and you don’t see cows moving around the streets of New York. But those from the North said even if they must accept ranches, the state and local governments should pay for the ranches and people from the South said no.

Well, we ended without consensus and the next day, a motion was brought and asked we should give a five-year period for the nomads to customize to see that the cows don’t move around again.

ON A UNICAMERAL LEGISLATURE?

A problem identified by people is the take-home package of those in elective positions. It is a crime in a country like Nigeria, where very many people live on less than three dollars a day and very few earn more. But if the system makes it possible, it must be changed and the system that can make that possible is a uni-cameral legislature.

We are going to have a unicameral system whereby the Senate and the House of Representatives will be one House. We will no longer have a president picking his vice during the campaign, but a situation where he will go to House and pick who will be his vice. We will no longer have you appoint commissioners or ministers from anywhere, but the appointment will be done from serving legislators in government.

These are already at the level of the plenary and this will be voted soon at the conference. It has nothing to do with the present National Assembly because over 70 per cent of them are going next year.

These ideals have been well-thought out; there has been comparative study on them; experts have addressed the various committees on these and the people knew quite clearly that what kept Nigeria behind for many years is the number of bureaucracies and every bureaucracy is corrupted.

ON LAND USE ACT AND SPONSORSHIP FOR PILGRIMAGE?

The report of the Land Committee to the plenary is that the Land Use Act should be expunged. First of all, you don’t need it in the Constitution; it can be a decree and we feel it is disenfranchising the custodians of the land. It has provided opportunity for corruption and caused under-development.

It is like the funding of pilgrimage; we think it is not right for government to pay money for people to attend pilgrimage because nobody funds the traditional worshippers and religions. It is a very unfair practice.

ON TAXES FOR RELIGIOUS INSTITUTIONS?

The fact is no committee recommended taxation for the Church or any religious group. The only committee that may have recommended that may be the Committee on Religion, but I am in the committee and we did not even discuss it.

Religious institutions are voluntary, non-governmental institutions and non-profit-making institutions that add value to the life of a people. So, where do they make money to pay a tax?

After the submission of the report on religious committee was brought to the general assembly, there was an opinion by one member, out of 492, whether religious institutions should not pay tax if they engaged in revenue-generating ventures. It was just a question or proposal that religious institutions should pay tax if they own jets, if they ran hotels, if they ran bakeries, if they ran universities and other such things that make money.

Nonetheless, the confab did not take this item as an acceptable topic. I do have a personal opinion, of course, and that is that religious institutions are sacrosanct by virtue of what happens in different countries. But if religious institutions go into business – and they must register such business as business – then they must pay taxes on those businesses, which are income earnings as business.

ON THE CREATION OF STATES?

The Southeast went to the conference with an expectation that there must be one extra state created for the Southeast;

The Committee on Restructuring of Power in Nigeria approved one more state for the Southeast. It will now come to the general conference for confirmation. If the general conference approves, it will now be left with the President to implement it.

ON ZONING AND THE DEVOLUTION OF POWER?

The Southeast also came with expectations that there must be fiscal federalism within Nigeria; there must be serious devolution of power from the centre to make Nigeria a working federation; there must be clear distinction between religion and state, as religion and state could not be understood to be identical…they demanded a Nigeria that is free and fair; a Nigeria where the conference deliberations will not be put on the shelves.

Local governments do not belong to a Constitution, they belong to the management in an area and therefore should be removed from the Constitution and put into the state where they belonged and states will have the right to create as many local governments as they would wish and could fund. Of course, money comes to the centre; money also comes to the states; so, there will be no need to have a specific number of local governments in the Constitution and the committee unanimously approved this provision.

An issue was whether the federating units in Nigeria would be the states or the zones and on this one, the Western Nigeria (Southwest) came with one clear identity: that the federating units in Nigeria to be the zones. The Northern states did not want it, the South-South did not want it, and the Southeast wanted it.

But when it was time to vote, one state in the Southeast joined the rest and out of the 22 members of that committee, about six or seven voted in favour and that one was not carried. Nonetheless, that committee has recommended — and I am quite happy about it and it looks like there would be an opportunity for zones to arrange among themselves — that there would be zoning.

The zoning policy is already accepted in Nigeria but it is not constitutional but now, it will be constitutional that zones exist and this is the number of them, then they will agree to either collect their money as a zone, or do whatever thing they wanted as a zone. But that has to be done by their Houses of Assembly and then they are bringing it to the National Assembly and making it a national affair.

Right now, the zones will be operating as zones but the federating units will go to the states.

ON BOKO HARAM?

The conference has used every legitimate word in the dictionary to condemn this heinous act by criminals who answer Boko Haram. The conference has been able to limit them to non-religious group because the Muslims have said they are non-Muslims, that they are even anti-Islam because they burn mosques and churches, and they fight government as they fight soldiers. So, they are an insurgency group that is determined the fight the Nigerian federation.

I do not think that Boko Haram insurgency has escalated since the conference started but Boko Haram has been there since year 2002 and that was when a certain (Modu) Sheriff was governor in Borno State. They have also become more violent in years 2008 and 2009 when Yar’Adua was in power and they continued their engagement of the police and Nigerian military recently. But with the imposition of emergency rule in the area, there have been some restraints.

It is very clear that the group is not a war for the President or Nigerian army but a war for all Africans and, indeed, the whole world.

The Nigerian army and President Jonathan have tried; the security is infiltrated and this makes the Boko Haram fight a little bit difficult. Terrorism has not won any war anywhere and if the Nigerian people are united, I do feel it is a phase in the Nigerian history and the people should stand up to it. The international community has become part of it and I don’t think anybody can win a war against the whole world.

 

AFTER THE CONFAB?

A bill is in the National Assembly to appropriate the discussion and resolutions of the conference into the Nigerian Constitution. The President of Nigeria does not need the Senate or House of Representatives to appropriate some of the resolutions that may emanate from the conference because they may be policy directives and government decisions at that level.

The people of Nigeria are waiting to be asked in a referendum to make a choice on what the National Conference will bring up and the conference, by way of its moral weight, has become a voice for the people of Nigeria, whether there is law or not.

But definitely, the conference is not a talk show and the people there are not wasting their time. We are looking at how to develop the country and move it forward.

compatriot

Just maybe…

Mention me @ojukwu_martin on twitter

 

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Goodnight, Ijeoma

“EXPLOSION rocked Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), on Wednesday, when a car loaded with bomb device exploded at a popular shopping mall close to Barnex Junction, Wuse Central District, leaving 21 people dead.”

That was how the news reported Wednesday’s bomb blast. 21. /tuwenti whan/…ashirin da daya…iri abuo na otu…okan le ogun…21. Very easy…try it. Twenty-one dead. See?

And the ones before them…ninety-seven, 60, two hundred and thirty-four…or thirty-seven. All numbers. Just numbers.

 

Only they aren’t. They are 21 men, 21 women, 21 babies, 60 children, 234 girls…all human. Just human.

Human enough to eat, and drink, and sleep, and cry; like you. Human enough to feel their hearts thud heavily, one last time before it all turns to smoke; like you would have. Human enough to hiss very sadly and feel sorry for those that had gone before; like me. And human enough to circle their hands over their heads, snap their fingers and say “It is not my portion in Jesus name”; like us. Human enough for all of that, but now, mere numbers. All numbers. Just numbers.

 

Ijeoma is just one. Just one, one sister, one daughter, one friend, one Ijeoma. To us, one matters. One is all. One is everything. All one. Just one.

The sorrow you will read in the following lines flow raw from the heart of my pal, blackINK whose pen did the writing. Its sorrow is exactly equivalent to the sorrow felt for every one loss to the manic rampage of Boko Haram; its sorrow swells for every one person lost, every one PEOPLE. People, not numbers.

 

Goodnight Ijeoma

The sun’s gone again
Call it shame or fear
The point’s still the same
Night has yet again come to stay

The wind has left with its warmth
The night’s cold and the stars are alone…

The owl’s wet to the skin
It’s raining heavily tonight
There’s a sadness in earth and sky
There’s a shiver in the owl’s cry…

No message was left
And her goodbye was not heard
If she cried, I hope not for long

We would meet again soon
When the skies would know no night

Tho’ you left so soon
I know you are only asleep
Your dreams we shall all live on
One day we shall all meet again
To yet again part no more

Yesterday if we had known, you would have slept all day

1604831_342599729225935_7781689158447071527_n

To Ijeoma and all the victims of the Barnex bomb blast

By blackINK

 

Shamelessly and undeservedly, I share in your sorrow, brother. And like you, I insist that she is not just a number. Goodnight, Ijeoma.

 

I am @0jukwu_martin on twitter

 

EKITI 2014 AND THE RE-DEFINITION OF A GOOD MAN

fayosefayemi

The Ekiti 2014 gubernatorial elections which held on Saturday, June 21 returned Ayo Fayose as victor over incumbent governor, Kayode Fayemi. The results of that election reminded of five lessons which I had hitherto forgotten:

1)       Ekiti 2014 and the re-definition of a good man

By Vincent Nzemeke (@vincentnzemeke on twitter)

“The result of the gubernatorial election held in Ekiti state this weekend evoked memories of a stage play I watched at the Muson Centre, Lagos sometimes in the 2011.

Although it was an adaptation of Chinua Achebe’s famous book ‘A man of the people’, the play which also had the same title was tweaked to fit into the reality of modern day Nigeria.

Debuting just weeks before the 2011 general election, it was a political satire that portrayed our lives as a people. It was set to depict the complexity of elections in Nigeria and how the perception of the people can affect the outcome of an election.

In the play, Tobi an American returnee was vying for a senatorial seat with Chief Omobolaji Bello, a stark illiterate who had accumulated so much wealth from his position as the one and only chairman of the biggest motor park in the community.

During the campaign, Tobi marketed lofty ideas and visions for the community to the people. He waxed lyrical about how he had spent his time and personal resources to develop the community and went about with a list of what he had done and the many things he hoped to achieve if given a chance to represent the community at the Senate.

Chief on the other hand, had a carnival-like campaign that touched every nook and cranny of the community. He had itinerant dancers who made a show everywhere his train stopped. He spent a better part of the campaign period throwing jibes at Tobi and telling the people not to allow him corrupt them with his foreign ways. And of course, he had a deep pocket from which he doled out money relentlessly to the people.

To cut the long story short as we say in this part of the world, when it was time to vote, the people settled for Chief Bello. They rejected the lofty ideas and vision of young Tobi and settled for the chief who had over the years connived with politicians to under-develop the community.

At the end of the performance, the leader of the advocacy group that organized the play asked us (the audience) why the people chose Chief Bello. There were many opinions because everyone had an explanation for what we had just seen. But at the end, we all agreed that there would never be an acceptable definition of “the man of the people”, especially as it relates to politics in Nigeria.

As the results trickled in from Ekiti on Saturday, that million dollar question resonated in my mind. It was obvious from the early results that Fayose, the PDP candidate had a commanding lead.  I was curious to know why the people of Ekiti where it is said that almost every family has a professor would send a cerebral governor like Kayode Fayemi of APC packing and replace him with a man who was impeached some years back.

If the people of Ekiti could turn their backs on a governor whose performance in the last four years has been adjudged to be well above average even by his political rival, who then is qualified to be called a man of the people?

Is it the man with an eye on posterity who devotes himself to building infrastructures and delivering other dividends of democracy that can be bequeathed to the next generation or the one who simply gives the people what they need to survive today?

Since the election ended, I have read tomes of commentaries in newspapers and social media platforms that are at best ridiculous. The Fayose lackeys will tell you that their man won because PDP is better than APC but I don’t buy that.

I have always described both parties as two sides of a bad coin because they are different only in names and symbol. The broom is as corrupt as the umbrella.

The election in my estimation was a protest against Fayemi who even in the halcyon days of his administration had been accused of running an elitist government. I once had a chat with a civil servant from the state who told me point blank that the man was way too sophisticated for the ordinary man in Ekiti.

According to him, Fayemi junkets from one part of the country to the other delivering lectures about how the future of Ekiti would be better while the people lack the basic things they need to live through today.

Fayose, methinks won this election because he is a good man in the Nigerian sense. You see in this clime, no one cares a hoot about tomorrow; we live for now and simply leave the future to take care of itself.

Fayemi concentrated on what posterity would say about him, Fayose bothered only about what those living now think about him. That is why it is so easy for him to connect with the lowest of the low in Ekiti and get them to vote for him.

I am also of the view that Fayemi devoted too much effort to social media rather than getting to the grassroots. As one of the tweets circulated on Saturday puts it: “the peasants and ordinary folks in Ekiti who voted for Fayose have no Twitter and Facebook accounts. The governor should have known that the bulk of those singing his praise on the social media don’t even have time to vote. Fayose did not brag on Facebook, he did not gather followers on Twitter, he went to the people and that was what mattered at the end of the day.

All said and done, Ekiti 2014, has given me a perfect definition of a good man in today’s Nigeria. I believe this new definition will also be useful to those of us aspiring to venture into politics sooner or later.

A good man is he who does not give a hoot about what posterity would write or say about him, he simply lives for now. A good man is not he who talks about leaving a legacy for generations yet unborn; he is the one who shares food, money and other essentials needed by the masses to live through today.

When I finally decide to begin my political career, I hope to be a good man.”

 

As written by Vincent Nzemeke, a friend, brother, former and future colleague who blogs at vincentnzemeke.blogspot.com

2)       When I finally decide to begin my own political career, I hope to be a good man too; a good man who has a twitter account.

 

3)       An incumbent cannot lose a re-election bid in Nigeria unless (a) he slapped a priest in Owerri; or (b) he is not a good man. P.S: Goodluck Ebele Jonathan will do well to know this in view of 2015.

 

4)       Our leaders are not forced to be who they are not by their positions of authority or by political parties or by ‘pressure’; they elect to be the IGODO masquerades they turn out to be.

 

5)       “Leadership itself is merely the opportunity to serve & power is a God-given resource with which we are meant to change lives for d better” – Kayode Fayemi.

 

GOD BLESS NIGERIA!

UNFORGIVEN – III

…contined from Unforgiven II

unforgiven

Charles Umoh had a touch of arrogance, perhaps the fact that he was wealthy added to it. Those two aphrodisiacs were enough to attract any woman to him.

Standing on her doorstep, Ethel couldn’t avoid looking at him; really looking at him. He was greying at the temples in a way that made him very attractive.

“Won’t you ask me in?” he spoke in a low drawl.

His voice jerked Ethel from her semi-trance. She turned to Maria.

“What is this, Maria? How do you know this man?”

“She doesn’t. She just led me here. Because I asked,” he replied. “Thank you, Maria. You may go now.”

Without hesitating, the petite woman turned on her heels.

“Still used to getting your way, Mister Umoh?” she folded her hands across her chest.

“Still defensive around me, Ethel?” he indicated her posture, “Listen, we can do this here and cause a scene or you can let me in and we’ll talk like old friends.”

Only, we aren’t old friends. She thought, we aren’t even friends.

She moved aside and let him in, against her better judgment.

“Nice place you’ve got here, only it’s a bit small. Don’t you think?” he was walking around, like he owned the place.

“What do you want, Charles?” she asked.

“I miss the old apartment. It had memories, you know.”

She stiffened. He was toying with her. The old apartment had been his; he’d only leased it to her for their dalliances. That much had been clear when the relationship ended.

“What are you doing here, Charles?” she wasn’t going to let him get to her.

Her blood was pounding. With rage and hatred for this man. And something else. Excitement – a teeny bit of the old excitement raced through her veins.

It was the Charles effect. It didn’t matter that he was twenty years older than her or that they hadn’t seen each other for three years; he still had that effect on her.

You’re not this person anymore, Ethel. You have Jesus now. You have no right to feel this way about this man.

“I missed you. I’ve missed you all these years, Thelia,”

She winced. That was the name he’d called her before. When they were…together. It was the name she’d told him on their first date.

“You must be crazy. You think you can waltz in here after three years without a word and tell me you what? Missed me? You really must think the world revolves around you, Charles.”

He took a step forward, closing the little space between them. She didn’t look at him, didn’t want to look into those eyes, because then she was afraid her body might betray her. His eyes had always mesmerized her. His gaze had a hypnotic effect on her.

Be strong Thelia. No. Don’t call me that. My name is Ethel. Be strong Ethel.

“I’ve never been the same without you, Thelia. I should never have left,” he continued.

“Yet you did. And that’s the best decision you ever made,” she turned away from him, getting her strength back. “You should leave now, Charles. I’m not that person anymore.”

“What’s different?”

“I found Jesus. I’m saved.”

He laughed; a deep rumbling sound.

“Get out, Charles. I don’t know why you came but it’s time you left. I have work tomorrow.”

“You can’t keep up this good girl act for long, Thelia,” he was coming toward her again, “Remember what you told me once? I am like a drug in your system that you can’t get rid of. What we had was special, Thelia; people don’t recover easily from that.”

She remembered saying those words, when she’d begun falling in love with him without realizing it. It shamed her to think of it now. God, give me strength here. She prayed silently.

“Look at me Thelia. Look at me and tell me you don’t long for me as I long for you? That you don’t feel anything for me,” he was standing very close to her now, and although she was backing him, she could feel the heat that rose in her body as he came close.

“How’s your wife, Charles? And your two daughters?” her words broke the tension and he moved away from her.

“Low blow, Ethel,” he growled.

“Get out before I call Pastor Tim and tell him he’s beloved brother is hitting on his ex-mistress.”

“Tell me how you ended up in church, Ethel. You of all people do not deserve forgiveness.”

Without thinking, her palm connected with his cheek in a movement that surprised even her.

“You! Do. Not. Deserve. Forgiveness,” she said, anger rising in her eyes, “now, get out!”

He looked at her, “this isn’t over. I always get what I want.”

With that he marched out of the house and Ethel crumpled into the chair behind her.

Doesn’t knowing Jesus kill all evil feelings?

How could she still be attracted to this man who’d left her broken when she needed him most?

Love isn’t part of the equation, her Mum usually said while she cleaned up to meet another ‘client’.

What about my daddy? Did you love him? Ten year old Ethel had asked then.

Why do you think I have you? Mum had snapped in response. Love is a mirage and men don’t deserve it. Even though Ethel hadn’t understood Mum’s words then; she knew that somehow, men were the enemy. So Mummy said.

You’re not that person anymoreYou’ve let go of the hate and bitterness.

So why don’t I feel better? Why can’t I be immune to Charles?

Her eyes fell on her bible that lay on the table and she reached for it.

Cast all your cares on me.

As she opened the Bible and began to read, she felt that strange peace draping itself over her.

Be of good cheer; I have overcome.

An insane idea dropped into her head as she read and Ethel reached for her phone and dialed a number.

“Hi Amaka,”

“Eth, what’s up?”

“I’m ready to talk.”

“Oh. Now?”

“No. I’ll see you tomorrow at the office. Kiss Sharon for me.”

As she hung up, she realized what she’d done. Was she indeed ready?

 

…to be continued next week. Happy Sunday!

 

By Mimi Adebayo

 

UNFORGIVEN II

Continued from Unforgiven I

unforgiven

She heard the voices around her as she began to regain consciousness. She recognized Pastor Tim and his wife Mrs Adeleke’s voice. And then the other voice. Charles’.

She didn’t want to open her eyes; she wished she could stay like that forever. She thought she’d left her past behind her… why had it come back to haunt her when she was just picking up the pieces of her life back?

“Maybe she wasn’t feeling too well,” Mrs Adeleke was saying.

“She attended service today and…anyway, let’s give her some space. I’ve prayed for her, she’ll be okay,” Pastor Tim’s voice sounded soothing.

“How long has she been in your church?” It was Charles.

She didn’t want any conversation going on about her, especially not with Charles involved. Her eyes sprang open immediately.

“She’s awake. Ethel, how do you feel now?” Mrs Adeleke leaned over her, touching her head.

“Fine. I’m okay. I guess I was just tired ma,” she sat up on the couch, her eyes avoiding Charles.

Oya come, let me put you in a cab so you can go home and rest,” Mrs Adeleke helped her to her feet.

Ethel wasn’t sure how to feel about leaving Charles alone with her Pastor. Only God knew what he would say.

“Are you sure you’re better now?” his voice filtered into her ears.

She thought she could detect a tinge of concern in it. Concern indeedCharles doesn’t care about anyone except himself. Remember that Ethel.

“Maybe someone should take her home. She might not be coherent enough in a cab,” he continued, “Tim, what do you think? I know you people have had a stressful day so you need to go home and rest. Let me take her home instead. I have my car here.”

What?? “No!” her single shout rent the air. She straightened herself, pulling away from the support of Pastor’s wife. “I’m okay. I’ll be fine in a cab sir, ma.”

She’d successfully avoided looking at Charles. Hang on Ethel. Only a few more seconds and you’d be out of here.

“Okay dear. Let’s get you a cab,” this time Mrs Adeleke led her firmly out.

She didn’t breathe easy until she was seated in the cab and on her way home. And then the tears came. The pent up emotions she’d kept for three years. The tears she’d failed to release when Charles had left her without a word.

She momentarily forgot that the cab didn’t contain just her because she let out sobs that racked her body uncontrollably.

Why now? Why this coincidence? Pastor’s brother? Charles! God!

“Madam wetin happen?” the cab man peered at her through the mirror.

She was after all; a pretty lady. It wasn’t all the time fine girls cried in his taxi. Although she hardly qualified as a girl. Woman, more likely.

She didn’t reply. Instead all he heard were sniffles and it was as though he hadn’t spoken.

Three years it’d taken her, to get what she called a semblance of her life back and now he was here to destroy it. Just like he did; all those years ago.

Not like it was entirely his fault. A voice reminded her. You weren’t exactly blameless.

Where are you at times like this Jesus? Why don’t you just strike some people dead so they don’t have to ruin other people’s lives? She wondered.

And yet she knew He wouldn’t do that. No, God was far too kind to strike Charles dead.

And what about me?

The taxi rolled to a stop and it wasn’t until the driver honked three times that she realized she was home.

She fumbled in her bag for her wallet, tears and catarrh dripping from everywhere possible on her face. She didn’t bother to wipe them off as she rummaged her bag.

“How much is it?” she asked.

“No worry. Dat other madam don pay,” he replied, watching her curiously.

Ah. Pastor’s wife. Such a kind soul. Everyone was kind in Harvest of Hope church. Perhaps that’s why she found solace there; hoping that a little of the kindness would rub off on her and make her kind too. She sure needed to do some kind acts to atone for her past.

She stumbled out of the cab, clutching her bag in one hand and her high heels in the other.

Walk bare feet. Who cares? After all, Jesus washed his disciples’ feet.

What does that have to do with anything? Jesus isn’t going to wash my feet no matter how filthy they are.

The conversation in her head made little sense to Ethel as she walked up to her doorstep; yet she welcomed it. She’d taken refuge in those imaginary conversations when she was younger; when Mum was busy with another client. They kept her company, sometimes the voices were witty and sometimes they were cruel. To her and to others.

But they were all she had when there was no one to talk to.

She unlocked the door to her one room apartment and stepped in. Home; sweet home. More like home, sour home. This used to be the other place she liked being, apart from church. But right now, it felt like the last place she wanted to be.

Maybe the morgue would have been better. No trouble there.

She wanted to cry some more, to make herself feel better but she realised she was closing up again. The self-protective wall was coming up again; making it impossible for her to shed more tears.

Slowly, she walked to the bathroom and peeled off her clothes. A shower was the next thing on her mind. It would make her feel better, cleaner.

But it won’t make her forget the fact that Charles was back. In town. At least not in her life. He would never get that part of her again. So why was she afraid? He was over and done with. Her past was past…she was born again now.

So why don’t I feel like it? Why don’t I feel new? Why don’t I feel forgiven?

The pattering of the water drops on her body did nothing to answer those questions. She showered in silence, no humming and no voices.

It didn’t take long for her to fall asleep on the couch in the living room. It was when she woke up five hours later that she realized how exhausted she was.

The doorbell began ringing the exact moment she woke. She glanced at the clock; 7:06pm. Who could that be? A neighbour?

“Who is it?” she asked.

“Maria!”

Just as she thoughtHer neighbour.

“Okay. I’m coming.”

“So what do you want…” the words died on her lips as she opened the door. It was Maria all right; but right behind her, stood Charles.

 

…to be continued next week

 

By Mimi Adebayo

 

MY WRITING PROCESS BLOG TOUR

I was first taken on a blog tour by Walter ‘Shakespearean’ Ude, a great pal and splendid writer. We became acquainted first as tweeps on twitter (where he lives @Walt_Shakes) and then as Lagosians; it has been a great experience getting to know him and through him, other amazing writers. When you can, enjoy his work at www.mymindsnaps.com.

Now this is my tour and on it, I have to answer four questions on behalf of my pen then nominate three other great bloggers I know. These three would equally answer the same questions on their blogs, and in turn nominate three other writers each. And on it goes…guiding you through the blogs and works of some of the world’s best ‘writerly’ personas.

Here goes mine:

 

WHAT AM I WORKING ON?

The much I am working on is a few series running concurrently on my blog. One is the “This Thing Called…” series which is a personal indulgence of mine. It’s a private hobby to tear apart, strip by strip, hitherto ‘everyday’ concepts so that they are better appreciated. On my TTC series, I take random topics and place them under my blogoscope…I’ve done that with Beauty, Honor, Weddings and Success was my latest specimen. There’s also the ‘ON TOP D MATTER’ series which is, yet, primarily a weekly and/or fortnightly review of events at the ongoing National Conference in Abuja, Nigeria. When the conference ends, it will grow into something else…I hope.

Still in the coffers is a baby that has not properly taken shape. The much I can say about this project is that: One, it will be anchored by a Doctor whose acquaintance I was privileged to make 5 years ago; two, this brilliant doctor is NOT a medical doctor; and three, it will show you in HD, the colors, textures and stories that real life likes to dress up in. I’d say ‘Watch Out’ and play one badt soundtrack from ‘Igodo’ but I am watching out myself so…

Most recently, I acquired the shared online publishing rights for a new series by Miracle Adebayo titled ‘Unforgiven’ – the first episode has already been published here on WAW. Mimi is an amazing writer who is known in Naijastories circles as the Queen of the FPSM – Fictional Prose Series Movement 😉 I will not tell you if that is true or not but you WANT to watch out for Mimi and her dainty royal pen.

Between and around these, there is an anthology of poems I am slowly, vaaaiiiirryyy sloooowly putting together; a few short stories waiting to gel before I release them; political analyses; news reports; etc.

 

HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?

I’m not sure how to answer this question so I’ll just blab on about my writing; hopefully, you’ll find your answer in there:

My earliest memory of any writing was essays in secondary school. For an essay topic as simple as ‘How I Spent My Vacation’, I’d craft dialogues, tell stories and even drizzle on some poetry. My classmates – God bless their valiant souls – bore the brunt of most of it but I still didn’t take writing seriously. Not until my ‘lil’ big sister mentioned offhandedly how she thought I was a wonderful writer and needed to invest more time working on the skill. So I did.

In my sojourn so far, I have refused to look at any genre of writing as untouchable; I try to write everything with just as much passion as I write anything. As a student journalist, I reported news events and interviews, I wrote and still do investigative pieces, opinions and feature stories. I write poetry, fiction, non-fiction, essays, etc. The one broad genre I am yet to dabble into is drama and by extension, screenwriting. I hear it’s kajaad oh but we shall see huh?

 

WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?

Hian!

I’m not sure oh. Maybe because I can. Or because I know how to. The reasons I write are maybe as numerous as the things I write. I wrote a poem once in my university lecture hall on a particularly bad day because I needed an outlet. I wrote a very long story once on the strength of the pain of a broken heart. I wrote an opinion piece once out of anger, another time because the situation was just so hilarious that I had to share.

We all are blessed with talents and one of mine is the skill of the pen. I don’t want to be like that poor sharp guy in the bible who was thrown into hell because he buried the one talent he was given and returned it unscathed to the master upon the latter’s return. So I write.

 

HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?

Finally, a question I am comfortable with!!!:)

Doing laundry manually is an absolute anti-hobby of mine. That said, the only reason I still wash with my hands – not counting the old news that I don’t have a washing machine yet – is that I get a lot of writing ideas while washing. I also get them while bathing, while walking, in a group or private discussion. I lose some of them after the moment has passed (I really should buy a pocket notebook) but a few linger on, sometimes for months, until I sit down and put down.

For poetry, analysis and other pieces that are neither exclusive fiction nor non-fiction, slowly I collect the materials I need and over time, it comes together. For stories however, many times I know how a story will end even before I know how it will start. As a result, the writing process is this near-burdensome frenzy to get-it-done-already! Sometimes I know how to start but not how to go anywhere else; so I just start and sit there. A lot of my characters are drawn from real people I know and the story in my head births them; hardly has it ever been the other way round.

Lastly when I am doing a story right, I know. There is this thing that I cannot explain which I feel when I am writing a story just as it was ‘told me’; the thing manifests as a shiver when I pen down a sweeeet twist in a plot, as a smile when it’s funny and as sweaty eyes when the scene is particularly emotional. It tells me when to go ahead and publish a piece or leave it in the cooler for a while. This is the best I have ever done at explaining the thing so…there.

 

And now, the three amazing writers I know.

Chioma Nkemdilim (b.k.a ThatIgboGirl)

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Chioma is simply That Igbo Girl!

She is also a serial blogger, an avid reader, a music lover, a Korean drama buff and a chocoholic, in no particular order :D. At different points in her life, she wanted to be a doctor, then a private investigator, then an archaeologist, then later decided that being a forensic scientist was much better.

But in all these, one thing stayed unchanging – her love for writing. Chioma does not now have any of those lofty careers she wanted as a child; she’s happy just being a serious writer (most of the time) and a tree hugger. She wants you to know that she equally does a little web designing here and there so don’t hang in front of that screen biting your nails for too long…reach her! You can read her stuff at thatigbogirl.wordpress.com and follow her on twitter @thatigbogirl.

Tip: If perhaps you are struggling with reconciling the name with the light skin or ‘stranger’ childhood dreams above, don’t ask if she’s Nigerian. Because if you do, your fate will be much like mine; she’ll shoot you – literally – a hazardous look and say “duh! Before nko?”

 

Stephen Eke (b.k.a Uncle Stephen)

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Uncle Stephen finally agreed to accept the title of ‘writer’ after being conferred with it severally by his village people. He is inspired to write his thoroughly humorous stories by his enduring conviction that the same village people are after him.

He lives in Lagos because it is (hopefully) far beyond the reach of – yes, you guessed it – the same village people. Regardless, he loves to travel and when he is not writing, is out on the seas making a living.

Uncle Stephen has never won an award but his fans repress this global slander by telling him he is the best humor writer in Nigeria. If you doubt it, check out his humorous stories on his blog www.homeofhumor.com; but first insure your ribs because you will need a doctor to repair them afterwards. If you do not laugh yourself to tatters over his stories, your own village people are even stronger than his! He also grants you permission to stalk him on Twitter @itsunclestephen.

 

Chiedozié Dike

dozie IMG-20140608-02953

He is a son, a brother, a friend, a writer, a singer, a blogger, and a lawyer. Writing is his first love, but then there’s a polygamous situation with music, theatre and dance. Chiedozié likes to travel and meet new people, but also enjoys his quiet moments curled up with a book or listening to music. Puzzles, board and computer games are equally his thing — Candy Crush and Flappy Bird currently rank tops among his favorites.

He describes his niche as the mystery/suspense/psychological-thriller genre, and his writing style as subtle and understated. He likes to keep his social media image neat and elaborate so if you were to ask for his contact details, he would reply as follows:

Twitter: @dk_stan

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/DiCblog

LinkedIn: Chiedozié Dike

Blogsite: www.dkstan28390@wordpress.com

E-mail: dkstan_28390@yahoo.com

In 2011, Chiedozié graduated magna cum laude from Law and – wait for this – he speaks Igbo, Yoruba, English, and French.

Intimidated much? 😉

 

Mention me on twitter @ojukwu_martin

THIS THING CALLED…SUCCESS (1)

 

Because the muse hit in 2D, I’ve split this TTC post into two. This first leg is inspired by a sister’s post on her online forum where the issue was of successful women and why unhappy romantic relationships seem to be the price they pay for said success. A lot of people like to make this a ‘Just African men’ thing but for the purposes of objectivity, we’ll leave it open here.

For starters, ‘successful’ in this context refers to that woman who is clearly flying high. She’s at the top of her career, controlling power, fame and recognition, money and even men. And she is married to a man who by his bank account and social status, is not exactly Lazarus of the biblical Rich man parable but is neither Dr. Dre, post-Beats sale. They may not even be married yet; maybe the John is dating her, or wants to. Why is her success a turn-off?

Chimamanda Adichie in reference to her global success once said, “the type of man who will be intimidated by me is exactly the type of man I have no interest in”. And I can hear the sisters whooping in the house. But wait. Take a chill pill – yep, I can be hippy too – and let’s really think on this.

Why do men run away from successful women?

 angry couple02

Scenario A:

Peter earns more than Mary who he is in a serious relationship with. Mary decides to change the dining table but Peter says, “No, baby, I can’t afford it. Plus do we really need a new table just to eat?”

So Mary lets it go. A few months later she gets hired by a multinational; her new pay package is higher than Peter could ever dream to earn even with two promotions. Three months into the job, she’s on a business trip in Mainz and sees this fancy oak-wood table which literally calls her name as she passes by. She purchases it with a few dainty chairs to boot; she has the whole set shipped home. The day it arrives, she does all the moving and redecorating herself; she is going to surprise her husband when he returns from work with ‘our shiny new dining room’.

Peter comes in, having had a harried time at the office – he really should burn some black candles on top of his boss’ picture. He has just reached for a cold bottle of water in the refrigerator when he sees the table, the chairs too – WHOA! He looks around him quickly – no one – and takes a second look. It’s one very VAAIIIRRYYY ugly table but it’s new – he touches it – EX-PEN-SIVE too. He turns around and Mary is standing there beaming at him…”SURPRIIIIISE!” She runs up against him, hugs him, pecks him, she’s gushing, “Babe, you like it? Come take a closer look…”

Peter sets her away from him very roughly, eyes reduced to irate slits of black. He flings the bottle of water against the wall and positively, literally, incandescently BLOWS UP!

“Did you not hear when I said I do not want a new table? What is wrong with you, woman?” – then – “SO BECAUSE YOU NOW HAVE SOME CHICKEN FEE TO SPEND, YOU THINK YOU CAN RIDE ALL OVER ME?”

THE END.

Okay PAUSE! Now, rewind. Not at the refrigerator, keep going. Go all the way to the beginning. Unhuh…wait! Too much, go forward a bit…there! Good, stop. PLAY!

 

Scenario B:

Peter earns more than Mary who he is in a serious relationship with. Mary decides to change the dining table but Peter says, “No, baby, I can’t afford it. Plus do we really need a new table just to eat?”

So Mary lets it go. A few months later she gets hired by a multinational; her new pay package is higher than Peter could ever dream to earn even with two promotions. Three months into the job, she’s on a business trip in Mainz and sees this fancy oak-wood table which literally calls her name as she passes by. She purchases it with a few dainty chairs to boot; she has the whole set shipped home. The day it arrives, she does all the moving and redecorating herself; she is going to surprise her husband when he returns from work with ‘our shiny new dining room’.

Peter comes in, having had a harried time at the office – he really should burn some black candles on top of his boss’ picture. He has just reached for a cold bottle of water in the refrigerator when he sees the table, the chairs too – WHOA! He looks around him quickly – no one – and takes a second look. It’s one very VAAIIIRRYYY ugly table but it’s new – he touches it – EX-PEN-SIVE too. He turns around and Mary is standing there beaming at him…”SURPRIIIIISE!” She runs up against him, hugs him, pecks him, she’s gushing, “Babe, you like it? Come take a closer look…”

Peter lets her drag him. He listens with a smile and nods obligingly in between sips of his water while Mary tells him all the special things about the table. She tells him it’s vintage ‘gold’, Pharaoh’s – yes, the very pharaoh of the Red Sea story – elephants were born under it and the legs are hollow so one can store spoons and plates. Peter is exhausted but he oohs and aahs while she hops all over the place, happy as a tot in a candy store. He waits for the perfect break in her gushing, for that lull in her commentary where she takes a breath then he butts in.

“It’s beautiful, darling”, Peter says. She beams. She knows, she says. Then he adds – quickly, “let me just take a bath and we can launch it, huh?” She beams again. Great.

He pecks her and zooms up the stairs, already tugging on his tie. Mehnnn, he thinks, that table is U.G.L.Y. He can’t believe how excited one person could get over one squat ugly table and a set of even uglier chairs. The image flashes in his mind, of her hopping one-legged, gushing excitedly over the absolutely hideous table, and he chuckles inadvertently. Kai!

THE END. No, really the end now.

So my take is that it’s all about attitude. And perception. Have man and woman risen to a level of maturity where material success doesn’t adversely change who they fundamentally are? Is the man able to realize that his partner is the same – faults and points, vices and virtues – whether she earns more or not. Is the woman able to be that – the same – even when her man’s pay is doorman’s tip compared to hers?

Your perception is the fine line. If she always hated cooking, then it is in character that she hire a cook or buy take-out on one too many nights, especially if her pay can afford it. You bore it bravely when she earned peanuts but you can’t stomach it now because she earns six figures? Now you only eat freshly cooked soup, nothing over 24hours-old!

If he always was loud and never stuck a finger past the kitchen doorpost, then it is within character that even when you’re overwhelmed by kitchen chores, he’ll be outside with ears plugged shut, mowing the same lawn he had mowed only the day before. When he paid all the bills, you thought it was ‘cute’ how he evaded any kitchen duties; but because you’re now a CEO, he’s being ‘childish, insensitive and domineering’. And it’s nerve-grating to you that men cannot stand a working class woman!

And there, successful ladies and gentlemen, is where the fabric starts to rip.angry couple

So what’s your take? What’s your opinion of This Thing Called Success, in the context of successful women and their less successful male partners? Click below in comments right now and Share!

 Mention me on twitter @ojukwu_martin