By OLUSEGUN ADENIYI
The 2011/2012 season of the English premiership ended last Sunday and I wait to read the account of our own dear ‘Prophet’ Mike Awoyinfa on that crazy day that had everything: Excitement, suspense, drama, tears of joy, tears of sorrow, regrets and much more. It was a day the Blues of Manchester eclipsed the Blues of London in what promises to be the beginning of an interesting financial shoot-out between a certain Russian oligarch and an Arab Sheikh. And for Manchester United, it was fun watching Sir Alex Ferguson chewing bubble gum at twice the speed of light!
I am sure all ‘Red Devils’ will forever remember that recent match against Everton when they were cruising with four goals to two with less than 10 minutes of regulation time to play and Patrick Evra headed against the post. It could have been 5-2, game over! But it was not to be. And then the incredible happened with Everton scoring two quick goals to force a 4-4 draw at the Theatre of Dreams. That became another turning point of an already unpredictable season. And who could have written such script for the final day except the gods?
With 90 minutes over on Sunday, Fulham boss, Martin Jol said he was told by his Spurs counterpart, Harry Redknapp that Manchester United had won the title. By the time he entered the dressing room a few seconds later, the story had changed. Just like it happened in the movies, the punch-line came at the very end: And it was written for Diego Maradona’s son-in-law, Sergio Kun Aguero. Too many things to remember on a day football bad boy, Joey Barton, went mad again and West Brom put ‘Father Christmas’ Martin Fulop in their goalpost, gifting Arsenal three vital goals. But at the end, the log table didn’t lie because every team got its just reward and Manchester City were indeed worthy champions.
I must nonetheless commiserate with all Manchester United supporters. To Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola, Dr. Mike Adenuga (Jnr), Alhaji Sani Lulu, Dr Amos Adamu, Chief Tony Nnacheta and my brother, Jibola Adebutu, I extend my sympathy. And to the millions of Gunners, it is delightful that Arsenal finally overhauled Tottenham Hotspur to pick the third and last automatic Champions League slot. The North London wannabes also huffed and puffed all season but at the end, the Gunners eventually managed to put them in their proper place.
There are many lessons to learn from the just-ended English football season but two will suffice for now: Don’t ever count your chicken before they are hatched. That is to Manchester United and their fans. It is never over until it is really over: That is from Manchester City. But to carry our charity (I can hear some people say madness) back home, we must begin to ask the right questions concerning our football. So much has been written about Rashidi Yekini since his unfortunate death two weeks ago and that is because we watched him play and scored incredible number of goals with IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan and the Super Eagles. That was at a time we all trooped to the stadium to watch good football in this same country of ours. May the good old days return!
Shortly before Waziri Adio left for Harvard University where he had won the Nieman Foundation Fellows Programme for Journalists for the year 2001/2002, THISDAY Board of Editors hosted him to a luncheon in what used to be the penthouse office of our Chairman, Mr Nduka Obaigbena, at our Apapa headquarters before it was destroyed by fire. That afternoon, we were joined by then Delta State Governor, Chief James Ibori and one other former governor I will not name. As we ate and bantered, this other governor said: “Ah, Waziri, you are going to my former school.
I also attended Harvard.”â€¨â€¨But Ibori would not let the remark pass. “Which Harvard? Abeg, we are not talking about your kind of Harvard here!” It turned out that the governor had actually attended one of those two-week executive programmes with which Harvard University makes money, and that was what qualified him to be ‘Harvard-trained’! The tragedy really is that in Nigeria today, most public officials and their private sector counterparts don’t feel they are complete until they add that meaningless appellation to their name. That was evident last week at the House of Representatives public hearing on Capital Market which became an issue of “my Harvard is bigger than yours” between two otherwise accomplished women. â€¨â€¨
Now, Waziri did a Masters in Journalism at Columbia University before that fellowship aside spending another year much later at Harvard Kennedy School for a Masters in Public Administration and a fellowship in Public Policy and Management yet the day he claims to be a Harvard-trained journalist, some of us will remind him that he is Unilag-trained! And it is that knowledge acquired at Akoka that he is bringing to bear as he launches today in Abuja a general interest and lifestyle magazine/city guide focusing on the Federal Capital Territory.
Metropole is conceived in the mode of ‘Time-Out’, ‘Vogue’ and ‘New Yorker’ combined and the preview edition is brilliant. â€¨â€¨“This marks an indirect return to a profession that captured my imagination as a ten-year old, that gave me some recognition and fulfilment as a young adult, and that, despite spirited but futile denials, has continued to occupy a special place in my heart,” Waziri wrote in his invitation letter to some friends. I have no doubt that Waziri (who by the way remains on THISDAY editorial board) will add value to Abuja with his classy magazine. But don’t expect the publication on the streets as it is for a select audience. If you get a copy, you must be very important indeed!
RIGHT OF REPLY
Okorocha: A Man of His People
By Eziokwubu Ndu
Dear Segun, please don’t be surprised, if Governor Rochas Okorocha has still not read your piece of May 3, 2012 titled “Okorocha the Magician” and he might never read it. If his aides persist, he will take a very cursory look at it and tell them “eh, what is wrong with what the man (meaning you) wrote?” They will shrug or stare at him and proceed to the next matter. I am close enough to this governor/government to know this. He believes that paying too much attention to the media and columnists could be a distraction.
Segun, do you know that if you had written any such article against the immediate past governor of Imo State, Mr. Ikedi Ohakim, your publisher would have been phoned one million times with allegations about how you collected money from the fabled political opponents and detractors to undermine the governor? They will call Eni-B, they will call everybody that is somebody in THISDAY; they will call your pastor and your wife to warn you, then they will unleash all manner of paid advertisements, articles and publications to refute and scandalize you; you will finally be declared an enemy of Imo State. Threatening text messages will deluge your phone while sundry hate mails will flood your email box.
I have been a close watcher of the Okorocha Administration in Imo state and I will be the first to say that truly his, is “government so unusual”. I have also called him a magician to his face, yes he is my friend. I quickly add that as excited as I am about the incredible developmental leaps and unbelievable infrastructural transformation Okorocha is undertaking in Imo, there is a compelling need to go by the books, but Okorocha is one of the most innovative minds I have encountered, he constantly thinks outside the box. I have spoken to his close aides that we must rein him in and ensure processes no matter the good intentions the governor has.
May be I should take us back in time to probably capture why an ordinarily maverick Okorocha is now driven to compulsive haste and unbridled multifaceted projects development. The truth is he met a legacy of billboards, lies and propaganda; he inherited a disillusioned populace, suspicious of government and hungry for projects on the ground not on billboards, radio, television and newspapers. The people wanted to see a government in action and these demands rhymed excellently with a passionately populist politician like Okorocha.
What Okorocha is doing in Imo and what his actions have engendered is a complete paradox in Nigerian Political Leadership. Now take this: In almost all the states of the Federation and even outside Nigeria, the people are always complaining that they do not know or cannot see what their governments are doing with all their money. But in today’s Imo State, friends and foes are wondering how the government will be able to pay for all the projects and programmes they are witnessing. If this is not a paradigm shift; please show me one.
In today’s Imo State, the people wake up and see a newly constructed school within 48 hours, yes forty eight hours! Okorocha uses prefabricated concrete slabs moves into a site and in less than 48 hours you are seeing a 48 room school building. It is almost unbelievable if it wasn’t palpable. The man has no time for rhetoric, I do not particularly like his apparent disinclination to engage or even relate with the media because this is turning some of the Owerri-based journalists who are more used to previous government’s “lubrication” to report hostile and negative things about the state, for example exaggerating the security situation in the state. I desire a more media sensitive Okorocha administration even as it is a big relief from the immediate past government which had more journalists on its pay roll than many major media houses.
I want to fully endorse what you wrote when you said: “But Okorocha is not without redemption as he is also a passionate man. I guess that is why he wants to achieve results quickly. But he must also realize that this is a democracy where planning, transparency and processes are also important for him to leave any lasting legacy. He cannot continue to run his administration by whims as is the case right now”. You also wrote: “There is no doubt that Governor Okorocha came to office with a popular mandate and I believe he is in haste to make a difference in his state. But to do so, he must understand that running a government requires having in place, proper structures which will enable him to promote transparency and accountability”.
Okorocha prophesies prosperity to Imo people. As an Imo Son, I am truly happy that our governor is working, I am truly happy that we can go home without fear of molestation by agents of government. As an Imo Son, it is refreshing to see the joy on the faces of Imo people when you accompany Rochas to inspect his projects; it is amazing. Okorocha has something like a magic wand as he has been able to produce solid dividends from state assets that had been cash cows to “government pikins” who stole all the funds in the past. For example, Okorocha leased the Imo Palm Plantation (Ada Palm) which hitherto had not brought any money to the state purse for 10 years and earned almost N5 Billion as revenue to the state.
Okorocha is unorthodox, he hates red tape, he decries the rigour of protocols but I agree that this is government and we who are around him must continue to try to ensure he realizes this fact. In his hunger and thirst to do good and make a mark he sees our efforts as capable of slowing him down; he is work in progress and we too. The Imo people staged a revolution on 6thof May 2011 when they voted out a desperate, hated government, you needed to have seen the jubilation and ecstasy in Imo State and amongst Imo/Igbo people worldwide. For them, it was an end to lying and propaganda and they desired as their prize a government that will care and provide all that they had lacked; they craved development, they put all these expectations on Okorocha’s head. He is only trying to justify, satisfy and manifest the people’s prayers.
Ndu wrote in from Owerri
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