2nd Annual Awards for [non]Excellence

February 21, 2012


by Tola Adenle

I instituted these awards in April last year to be in the social mainstream, partially. While none of my awardees has taken up huge billboards like former Governor Fayose did with his “you are truly the best” awarded by a tabloid, people jostle for mine without knowing it.

I was surprised when I first noticed the expression “Mother of the Nation” after the death of the late First Lady, Chief Stella Obasanjo. Now, it seems references to the President are incomplete without “Father of Modern Nigeria”. Fayose also described himself as “Father of Modern Ekiti”! Now, unless we are turning the English Language on its head, the governor of a state is NOT necessarily “father …” of that state NOR is the head of state necessarily “father …” of the nation. A President’s wife, definitely, cannot be described as “mother …” of the nation. With no disrespect to President Obasanjo, I do not believe he can be described as father of modern Nigeria, pardon me.

I am sure the self-styled “Obasanjo Boys” must be behind the attempt to ram this down Nigerians’ collective throat but the award for this category will have to go to Osun’s Senator Ogunwale on behalf of his fellow travellers. From one of those bombastic press interviews the guy gives often: Obasanjo is the messiah of the black race … I don’t know how to be a sycophant … We have an oracle of Egbaland at the Villa. He will tell us what to do … If you want to be something in Yoruba politics in 2007 and you don’t consult the oracle at the villa, you are joking.

Citation: Well, High Chief Ogunwale. You’ve shown that you DO KNOW how to be a sycophant par excellence. Wear this award on your well-fed person but remember, 99 percent of your constituents do not agree with a single sad word credited to you.

Still at Osun is the Lady of the state villa, Princess Oyinlola. I do not know if she has sorted out the mix-up I wrote much earlier on about her claim that a building she erected for her NGO is her personal property. Her claim that the property is the result of her own “sweat”, I wrote, cannot be correct since her husband donated 50 million naira Osun’s money; other donors gave to her NGO because of the position of her husband. Here is your citation, dear princess:

Your Royal Highness, you implicitly promised to use monies collected at the launch to better the lives of Osun indigenes but have reneged. This award of non-excellence is to be worn with all those society lady clothes as a reminder that you’ve taken what belongs to Osun indigenes, and that a day will come when such would have to be taken – if not given – back.

Retd. Col. Ahmadu Ali qualifies for many awards, including making PDP worse than before his chairmanship – no small feat – but I am awarding him only one: for wanting to endow a tertiary institution, using public funds; here’s your citation: Oga Officer, I understand you are a UI-alumnus – Recte Sapere Fons – but that does not really matter now as that is in a distant past. Your name featured prominently in the piggy bank scandal to the tune of 5 million naira that you “donated” to Benue University(?) Wear this award of non-excellence with your ‘Ali Must Go’ leis.

Another politician who deserves an award, no matter how strapped for cash I may be in getting the plaques and garlands done is Ogun’s (?) Senator Ogunbanjo . Writing under “Third Term words etched in our collective memory” in June, I included Ogunbanjo’s particularly sad contribution to that national discourse. “O.O. Ogunbanjo was quoted in the Tribune edition of May 14, days before darkness fell on the evil agenda: For me personally, the making or the review of a Nigerian Constitution is the raison detre [d’etre] of my entrance into politics …some have adduced reasons such as It is being amended for … one person … I beg to submit they are right and that they are wrong. [Take a deep breath in, out!] …no matter what is said by All the Academicians, The Armchair Professors, The Beer Parlour Experts, The Doomsday Prophesier …s”

Here is Ogunbanjo’s citation: “Honorable Chief, you played the sycophancy card well but it seemed not to have worked because your party cast you out during the recent contentious primaries. Could be because your“raison d’etre” has ceased. Wear this award of non-excellence always as a reminder of your “mainstream” activities.

Can two people from the same family win awards? Why not? To Osun I must return to drape one around the neck of Prince Retd. Brigadier Oyinlola. Here is your citation, Excellency: Your Royal Highness, Nigeria is a land of fakes in spite of NAFDAC but when you claimed to be an Awoist, many believed you. During the campaigns, you also claimed to have gone to study law after your misrule of Lagos to help your people although I was naturally skeptical. Your name is inscribed on all Osun schools built during your reign. Awo built zillions of institutions, but never had his name on a single one. Painters will get contracts to paint over them, someday. Wear this award of non-excellence on your well-fed figure for wanting to make a name without making the sacrifice.

I can’t believe I’m already running out of space! The next award is for a politician I referred to as anonymous in the ‘Third Term’ essay. Here is his citation: PDP Chieftain, you gave this doomsday prophesy interview to Tribune in February that “even if the price of oil were to reach a thousand US dollars per barrel … Only waste, misappropriations … mass poverty would continue … except the excellent reforms and crusades of … President Olusegun Obasanjo which are like fresh air in a much-polluted atmosphere are successfully completed.[!]” Well, wear this award of non-excellence with others in your collection.

How could awards of non-excellence be handed out and one not given to a man that would be described in Chairman Mao-era China as a “running dog”? There are others that this description would fit to a T like the irreverent Mr. Fani-Kayode but “he is truly the best”. Here is his citation:

Your Excellency, there are many things that qualify you for an award but I will mention only the latest. You shut down a whole airport that serves thousands of people – to incapacitate AC, the party trying to sweep your cash and carry party out. I took somebody to Ikeja airport on Monday, December 4 and the chaos there was unpardonable. When President Obasanjo’s era is reviewed in future, mentions of you will definitely not be positive. Wear this award as a mere token of what you really deserve from the Nigerian public.

Officer Bode George, Lagos Boy who passed through Ondo State House, Teflon PDP chieftain because nothing sticks on you, as the Americans would say – here is your citation:

During your watch at the NPA, billions took a long walk. Millions and millions also purportedly went your way from Governor Fayose. Reports and a review showing culpability were issued but omnipotent Ribadu can do nothing. In Yorubaland that you’ve proudly claimed to have taken “mainstream”, there are assassinations – of course I am NOT saying you had hands in them – but your closeness to a president remains intact. Well, I do not know if the garland as manufactured is big enough to fit your neck but you can hang it up next to your plaque as reminders of social and financial havoc wrought under your watch.

Citation for Nnamdi (a.k.a. Andy) Uba: Your side of the story of the money-laundering scandal claims you were not indicted, blah, blah but those familiar with the US system know that plea-bargains, out-of-court settlements are not pretty. Why did you transport so much cash? As a government employee, what’s the rule about operating foreign accounts? What was the consideration for the $46,000 “gift” of farm equipment to the President’s Ota Farms? The stench of the scandal is overwhelming but it has not stopped you from running for governor. This award goes to you for doing what the President preaches against and doing damage control the Nigerian way. Hang it in the family house where the Uba brothers can all gaze at it.

Citation for Attorney-General Ojo: You deserve many, including your tendency to look the other way when laws are being broken by the Executive arm: the President, etcetera but this award is for believing that those who opposed your ill-deserved appointment to a UN judicial seat – are unpatriotic. Clothed in the SAN robe that very few have actually deserved, your eminence in the legal profession has not, however shone through. Putting yourself in a position that a low-level officer in the US State Department saw you because you traveled to DC without being invited is not only a disgrace to Nigeria but a very unpatriotic act. Wear this award with that SAN silk that came your way.

And, finally, to PDP: I do not know who to give but I think Col. Ali of the “indomitable spirit”, according to Presidential Candidate Gusau, will do. Citation: More Nigerians live in abject poverty; there are more expensive vehicles – private and government – since you “won” elections than during the reign of the goggled one, just as the country has made more money from oil than during several eras combined in Nigerian history. Corruption is worse than ever. Ominously, Nigerians are told, it’s you or no party else! PeopleDePray that they are allowed to vote and that their votes count because you are on your way out. This huge plaque of non-excellence belongs on a conspicuous wall at your Wadata Plaza Headquarters, a high temple of jinx, the cathedral of itinerant bag politics, no matter what the President preaches.

TOLA ADENLE Word Count: 1661 December 7, ‘06



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