by Tola Adenle

I know that the barrel thrown Nigerians’ way through the politics of Nigeria, Inc. is, to a great extent, filled with thieves, drug peddlers, fraudsters, near illiterates and nitwits.  I am also aware that the very corrupt system has raised sycophancy to near art form.  The recent first anniversary of state governors has enabled citizens to learn of the “achievements” of their governors and local government chairmen on the pages of newspapers.   Thankfully, the president’s request some years ago that government officials can send greetings to him on birthdays, etcetera at their own costs has spared us the agony of ‘all hail our divine baba’ filling newspapers daily in the run-up to the so-called Democracy Day.

Not so at state levels where public money is no longer just stolen by “elected” officials but a lot is also expended on publicizing projects that have supposedly been completed.  If a governor performs well, I am sure there is no need to take out advertisements that serve to assault the sensibility of citizens who get twice raped.  Nigerians did not read of Murtala’s achievements on the pages of newspapers; neither did the Southwest learn of Awo’s monumental contributions on the pages of Irohin Yoruba. Both men earned their immortality through concrete evidences.  When Buhari/Idiagbon brought a measure of sanity and orderliness to Nigeria’s public life, everything was there for the public to see and in spite of its high-handedness, that regime will always be remembered for the good in spite of the bad.  If water runs when taps are turned on, roads are paved, law-enforcement agencies are on roads and highways to actually enforce the law and not to shake citizens down, I am sure Nigerians would recognize good governance.  From the whitewash going on all over the country, one would think these governors and their acolytes feel that Nigerians combine their patience with more than a dose of stupidity.

We complain how much government has eroded the institution of traditional rulers often overlooking what the traditional rulers themselves have done and are doing daily to bring an end to what they are fast turning into an anachronism.  I was surprised when I saw the picture of Alaafin at the top of a two-page newspaper advertisement extolling the virtues and the “achievements” of Alhaji Ladoja.  I thought may be the Oba signed on behalf of his fellow traditional rulers which would only be in line with what these once highly-reverred men have turned their positions to but I did not see evidence of such.  In that embarrassing advertisement, the Alaafin took on the role of worse than a public relations officer for the Oyo governor.  He listed various projects that the governor had executed in his one year in office and described him in superlative terms.

Visits of solidarity to Aso Rock may have become infamous during Abacha’s regime but trooping to Abuja with ulterior motives continues, thank you very much. Traditional rulers, many with those funny and bizarre caps they design for themselves now also troop to see governors but the ultimate trooping is still to Aso Rock.  Ekiti traditional rulers posed proudly with their governor at the Rock recently, a man who has done worse than p— on their so-called crowns.  The purpose of the visit was supposedly to “pledge support for the president’s reforms.”  These men are as out of touch as the administration they hail but knowing what times Nigeria is in, it will not come as a surprise if some goodies are tied by their governor to this visit.   May I suggest that these traditional rulers get together and discuss ways of putting an end to the conjuring of high-sounding but meaningless chieftaincy titles that are turning them into the high priests of sycophancy although it also has to do with  delusion of grandeur.

The reign of the “largest party in Africa” has been an unprecedented bounty for the newspaper industry.  Here is a party that is seen by most Nigerians as the most corrupt in the history of party politics in Africa and may be the world, I dare say. There is always something to let the public know because these people are always fighting about sharing:  political rascality in Anambra; expulsion of members in one state or another and sending congratulatory messages to those who hold the purse strings.

I am surprised, that these men and women of Nigeria, Inc. have excluded the public relations industries from the gravy train.  The quality of the bricks being hauled at each other on pages of newspapers would, at least, have been better.  “Chief Dan Ulasi’s Hallucination” screamed a PDP Anambra press statement in May. A p.r. copy writer could have framed that more delicately: “Chief Ulasi, it’s no, no, no!”  The ad copy claimed that the Ulasi guy wanted N450 million and Ngige, in an out of-PDP character way, “reprimanded” Ulasi “and asked that he return such money collected” from chairmanship and councillorship candidates.  Wow!

I read many of these ads as entertainment because if you cannot find anything funny in the insanity that Nigeria is these days, you may not be helping your mental well-being.  I recommend them highly in place of NTA network news which, believe it or not, I haven’t watched since Shagari’s second term.  Please do not laugh because I gave the same prescription to a very hard-working young man who told me he would wake up at nights and think of Nigeria.  I told him to start with a week and gradually increase it till he was completely weaned of watching.  Reading the “achievements” of governments, federal and states, is easier on the heart than learning of it from tv.  He told me a week later how difficult it was at first until he finally asked himself what exactly he gained from listening to press releases.  I warned him that those who stole and still steal Nigeria dry lose no sleep.

How about sycophancy from universities?  Probably as bad as in other spheres of Nigerian life. All governors, including those serving their first terms are already doctors.  The occasion of Fayose’s “Honourary Doctorate Degree in Public Administration” by Ado Ekiti University as well as the first anniversary of this divine messenger in Ekiti Department of Nigeria, Inc. was the reason for a “Double Congratulations by one Ropo Adesanya.  To a great extent, the value of the honorary degrees being awarded by Nigerian universities these days is as low (or high) as the academic degrees the universities grant.  There is nothing wrong with the award of honorary degrees to deserving citizens but like all things Nigerian, these once-coveted and well-respected honors have turned to dust.

On a lighter note, I hope universities are not creating what could become a big societal problem in future.  Believe me, the first time I went to my village with the man I married, an aunt heard ‘Dr. Adenle’ and she promptly had more than an ailment that needed attention but I told her he was not THAT kind of doctor.  When politics becomes a thing of a distant past to the hundreds now getting hoods, some of them may fall back into their old ways and decide to set up clinics!

Of all the congratulatory messages I have come across in the recent past concerning one-year anniversary and two-a-penny honorary doctorates to governors, the one from Ekiti State PDP chairman takes the cake in sheer sycophancy.  Let’s not worry about the grammar or logic first.  Titled “We are proud of you” and ending with “Double Congratulations”, the full page color ad by the “great PDP in Ekiti …” claims that the governor is:

“A man priviledged to receive a clear vision of his divine mission/ Assisted by an unfeigned commitment/To achieving his goals/Ably supported by uncommon intelligence/Plus unusual brilliance/Propelled rightly by a prodigious/Energy along chosen lines and/Inwardly driven by an unbending/Passion for excellence/Couldn’t be anything other than/The outstanding success which/Your Excellency has been as the/Executive Governor of Ekiti State/Within the last 366 days.”

When I saw Chief Ropo Adesanya’s attempted verse for his master, I was sure the first letters of each line formed an acronym, English or Nigerian, like those attempts at poetry that young kids wrote in my days, but I found none.  I read it again slowly, thinking my feelings made me see it as mere gibberish but the re-read yielded nothing.  Dissecting the ad, I wondered if this Ekiti chief really was sincere in describing Fayose as having “unusual brilliance.” I do not know the meaning of “uncommon intelligence” or “a man priviledged to receive a clear vision of his divine mission”?  Like millions though, I know that I’m becoming sick and tired of rulers with “divine missions”.

The Comet on Sunday, June 2004.



Nigerian newspapers and online news sources
  • 234 Next News site
  • Bella Naija Magazine
  • Business Day Newspaper
  • Daily Champion Newspaper
  • Daily Independent Newspaper
  • Daily Trust Newspaper
  • Elendu Reports News site
  • Emotan Blog
  • Huhu online News site
  • jhova blog Blog
  • Leadership News site
  • Linda Ikeji Blog
  • National Daily Newspaper
  • Nigeria Plus News site
  • Nigeria Village Square News site
  • Nigerian Observer News site
  • Osun Defender News site
  • PM News Newspaper
  • Punch Newspaper
  • Sahara Reporters News site
  • Sun Newspaper
  • The Guardian Newspaper
  • This Day Newspaper
  • Tribune Newspaper
  • Vanguard Newspaper

    Emotan 77
    Former publisher of the women's bi-monthly, Emotan (1977-1984) and op-ed ... now publishes her writing here

    Bridging Loans. Get a decision today
    We have access to unlimited funding, assuring competitive levels of capital per deal.

    Abuja food delivery, call +234 803 369 4078, +234 809 833 944
    Afang, edikan ikon, egusi, oha, okro, white soup, jollof rice, yam porriage, moin-moin, white rice & stew ...

    Home interiors inspired by Heritage African fabrics
    Handmade cushions, bedding, apparel and more

    Hand crafted cards by Christiangraffiti
    Inspirational notecards and greetings that touch the spirit and pierce the soul