MISINTERPRETATION OF FAMILY PLANNING IN NORTHERN NIGERIA
By Haruna Mohammed
Haruna Mohammed in this special report captures how negative cultural norms and religious misinterpretations affect family planning in Bauchi State, Northern Nigeria.
Hamza Abdu Katangan Warji, hails from Warji LGA of Bauchi state. He is a father to 40 children; married to three wives and only owns a donkey which he uses to fetch firewood to feed his family, i.e. three wives, his aged mother and the 40 children. He owns a farmland which he inherited from his ancestors and farms during the rainy season.
Abdu has only four rooms; one for each of the three wives and the fourth for his mother. Young male children and unmarried female sleep with their mothers, while the matured male ones squat with friends and neighbours outside his house.
With his donkey and support from his matured children, Abdu strives to provide two square meals for the household, which they eat at night and rewarm the remaining food in the morning for breakfast. In the afternoon, everyone, including the kids is left to hunt for their lunch, sometimes at the mercy of neighbors who drop portions out of pity for the younger children.
Some of his children who attend primary schools are left with no uniforms and books, and they only attend free government primary schools.
Among his 40 children, only Isah Hamza the 13th son holds a Diploma in Shariah and Civil Law from AD Rufai College of Legal and Islamic Studies, Misau.
Despite the glaring poverty that characterises the household, Abdu is hoping to marry a fourth wife and produce as many children as the wife could bear. His reason for marrying many wives and producing more children is simple, God feeds and provides for every child.
Neither does he believe in child birth spacing nor birth limiting to enable him have moderate household that he can feed and educate.
To him, the whole concept of family planning is a western idea that tries to upset decades of cultural heritage where husbands take pride in the number of wives and children they have.
Although they live approximately150 kms apart, Abdu from Warji and Muhammadu Yusuf from Lafiyari village in Bauchi LGA share many things in common.
The duos maintain polygamous households with many children amidst dwindle purse to address their needs.
They believe that birth limiting for economic or social reason is a direct affront to their understanding of Islamic religion.
Albeit Muhammadu Yusuf has 23 children and do subscribe to the idea of birth spacing, he does not believe in limiting the number of children one should have and his reasons are simple; “you aren’t the one to feed the children, it’s God that does that.”
“I told you earlier that those with moderate households do borrow money from people with larger households and more children; which implies that the many wives and children is not a factor to one’s economic status,” he argued.
Abdu and Muhammadu’s views explain the long held cultural believes and religious misinterpretations surrounding the concept of family planning in northern Nigeria.
It perhaps explains why the concept is still facing resistance amongst some Nigerians who believe that it is a western agenda to depopulate the country.
……HOW THE LIKES OF ABDUL TRANSFER BURDEN TO OTHERS
The costs of Abdu’s decision to have more children than he could cater for does not only lie on him, many innocent people also bear the brunt of his indiscretion of having many children and lean economic power to address their basic needs. For instance, Aminu Adamu is Abdu’s neighbor who is a victim of the resolve of many people like Abdu; “with their reckless behavior, they put a very serious burden on people like us. For instance, I’m a civil servant with a certain salary that may not necessarily solve my basic needs and my immediate family, yet, these kinds of people, being relative or neighbours will be demanding things that you can’t afford to do.”
Aminu said on many occasions, “They ask for money to buy food, drugs when they’re sick and sometimes clothes to put on.
“In some instances they can request you to pay their children’s school fees and if you refuse, they see you as wicked man that doesn’t help his people, that makes you an enemy automatically,” he grudgingly lamented.
Kabiru Suleiman from Boto in Tafawa Balewa LGA also lamented how his refusal to sponsor the children of his elder brother affected their relationship despite being siblings.
“He said I have to sponsor two of his children to write WAEC since they could not pass the aptitude test conducted by the state government that would have enabled them benefit from government scholarship.
“My salary is only N36, 000 a month, I have a wife and two kids who are equally in need, where will I get the money to sponsor two people to write WAEC.
“I told him I don’t have money, he picked offence and that’s how our issues with him started,” he said.
Suleiman’s brother who has two wives, 16 children and still counting, is a local butcher whose capital does not exceed N3,000.
“I have told him that he should at least allow his wives to rest so that they would be able to take care of the children they have instead of adding more, but he vehemently rejected the suggestion and insisted that it’s God that would take care of everyone,” Suleiman added.
Efforts to get Suleiman’s brother Aliyu for an interview could not yield result despite visiting his house three times on different occasions.
He was said to have left for farm each time this reporter visited the house. His wives did not agreed to grant an interview because, according to them, they were not permitted by Aliyu to speak to the press.
…..THE COSTS OF WRONG DECISIONS ON THE EDUCATION AND HEALTH OF CHILDREN
Abdu’s 40 children and his inability to educate them perhaps explain the consequences of having many children than one can afford to shoulder.
“The health and education of your children is a right. When you failed to give them sound education and address their health needs including nutritious food that would enhance their wellbeing, you have trampled upon their rights and that will continue to haunt them throughout their lives,” said Samuel Sule a lecturer at the Federal Polytechnic Bauchi.
Aminu Adamu, Abdu’s neigbour explained how difficult it was for people with such responsibilities to feed their family, “the kids usually feed themselves in the afternoon through begging and sometimes doing some menial unskilled jobs. “Again, they usually stagnate their education after secondary school for the male, while female obtain primary, junior secondary or Islamic school as the case maybe.
“They almost always ask for money to buy drugs for their sick children, wife, relatives etc. They ask money to buy ram and kolanut when their wives put to bed; they ask for dowry when they want to marry first, second, third or even fourth wives,” he explained.
Aminu said education and food was not the only problem faced by Abdu’s children, “sometimes they resort to staying with neighbours or relatives, like Adda’luHamza, Abdu is one of his children in our house,” citing inadequate rooms to accommodate all the children.
…..HOW SKEWED UNDERSTANDING OF RELIGION AND CULTURE IMPACTS FAMILY PLANNING IN BAUCHI
The story of Abdu and Muhammadu has reiterated how distorted understanding of religion and culture influenced people’s decision on whether to space their children or not. There are many people scattered across nook and crannies of Bauchi State and beyond who strongly believe that accepting the idea to space children or limit the number of children based on one’s economic status is a direct confrontation with religious injunctions and cultural dictates where men procreate as much as they remain sexually active.
For people like Muhammdu, having many children is fulfilling a prophecy bequeathed to him by his dad, who was also said to have inherited the practice.
“Look, my dad had more than 30 children and most of them were males who contributed in making him rich because he cultivates huge portions of land when he was alive.
“He was very proud and respected in the community because of the magnitude of household he controls, and that was the prayer he offered to his children—to have as many children as they can bear—that to us is not a problem, because every child has their individual destiny in life,” he insisted.
Aisha Hamza Abdu, the first wife of Abdu has no problem with many children despite their inability to provide shelter and cater for the children, her reason is that, “if one is destined to have many children, so be it, after all our holy prophet Peace be Upon Him said ‘give birth and multiply in number so that I will be proud of you in the day of judgment,” she maintained.
But Aminu Adamu said such kinds of views are induced by ignorance, adding “they could give rise to a bleak, gloomy future.”
“We are battling with what I call cultural misunderstanding of religion. Most of our religious leaders are conservative who have not really integrated their religious knowledge with secular, western style of education.
“Some religious leaders frown at issues of family planning, child spacing and girl child education,” arguing that they have no justification based on available evidence from Islamic jurisprudence.
He said if such views were not confronted with commensurate behavioural change, “there will always be poverty in the community. There’ll be generational transfer of poverty in the lineage and by extension in the society.
……EXPERTS OPTIMISTIC, SAY TRENDS CHANGING
Regional coordinator of Planned Parenthood Federation of Nigeria, (PPFN), Yusuf Wabi, said innovative approaches such as the use of traditional and religious leaders to preach the gospel of child birth spacing is turning around the misnomers that have clouded the concept for years.
“looking at the realities on ground, different kinds of innovations and methods including meeting the women one on one, going through the religious and traditional institutions who preach the gospel of the family planning, and what we call the new concept of male involvement will play a greater role in addressing some of the issues affecting family planning in the state,” Wabi said.
He added that interventions that focus on behaviour change and incorporating greater role on the concept of male involvement will help in mitigating some of the barriers affecting the acceptability of child birth spacing especially in local communities.
Bauchi State coordinator, Usman Mohammed Inuwa Breakthough Action Nigeria BA-N, Usman Mohammed Inuwa, whose organisation focuses on behavioural change in the aspect of family planning expressed optimism that despite the difficulties involved in changing established beliefs, norms and cultures, obnoxious trends are not beyond reversal.
“Before we came, actually it was like a taboo to hear a religious leader coming out publicly to speak about family planning. “Now, our religious leaders are actually very much involved and you know they are speaking publicly on family planning without generating issues, even during religious gatherings like Tafsir during Ramadan you hear our religious leaders talking about family planning, encouraging people to go for child spacing”, he said.
Inuwa said the erroneous impressions attached to child birth spacing using religion and culture as justification is gradually fading out, “because religious scholars have established that child spacing has been in Islam, and they support those arguments with quotes from the Holy Qur’an,” he maintained.
(Culled from Leadership Newspaper)
How Aviation Sector Grew Under Hadi Sirika in 8 Years
The Nigerian aviation sector is tipped by Embraer in a 2020 report to experience the biggest growth in Africa in the next decade and more. The report estimated that Nigeria’s aviation sector has a prospect for an over $7.2 billion (over N3.3trn) annual Grosso Domestic Product Growth (GDP).
“With the implementation of open skies, according to a study on SAATM by Embraer (2020), in 2038, using traffic forecasts and economic impact estimates from ICAO, Nigeria’s aviation industry would contribute some $1.3 billion to GDP. That number would rise to $7.2 billion when factoring in the induced and indirect catalytic effects of tourism. Aviation could generate 800,000 jobs of which 60,000 would be directly associated with airline operations” the report indicated.
Also, a recent aviation sector study for Nigeria by International Air Transportation Association (IATA) in June 2020, showcases the significant contribution of air transportation to the National economy, by providing 241,000 jobs (direct and indirect) and a contribution of $1.7 billion to the National economy.
The FG projects that with the successful implementation of the roadmap projects, the overall goal is to grow the Aviation sector’s contribution from the current 0.6% to 5% (approximately $14.166 billion).
Thus, ahead of these reports, since 2015, the federal government of Nigeria deliberately began concrete implementation of open skies or The Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) and Nigeria’s Aviation Roadmap. These policies were actively piloted by the immediate past Minister of Aviation, Sen. Hadi Sirika, and abled by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The Aviation Roadmap is chiefly to build tangible and intangible aviation infrastructure to unlock the over N3 trillion aviation annual economy and reposition even for greater growth.
The key components of the aviation roadmap according to the policy document include: Establishment of a National Carrier, Development of Agro-Allied /Cargo Terminals § Establishment of Maintenance, Repairs, and Overhaul (MRO) Centre, Establishment of an Aviation Leasing Company (ALC), Development of Aerotropolis (Airport Cities), Establishment of an Aviation & Aerospace University, and Concession of five International Airports (Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Kano, and Port Harcourt.
Others include; the upgrade of NCAT into an ICAO Regional Training Centre of Excellence, the Designation of Four International Airports as Special Economic Zones, the Introduction of Policies on Remotely Piloted Aircraft, Adherence to Employment Policies on the Enforcement of Expatriate Quota, and the upgrade of AIB to a Multimodal Accident Investigation Agency – Nigerian Safety Investigation Bureau (NSIB).
After about eight years of sustained implementation of the roadmap and implementation of other enablers in the aviation sector, the aviation sector witnessed unpreceded growth in spite of the Nigerian economy experiencing a recession twice within the period.
Hadi Sirika Receiving the OBC Certificate from the former ICRC DG Engr. Chidi Izuwa
Giving a scorecard of the aviation sector recently, Hadi Sirika said “We have successfully debunked the claim that aviation doubles every 15 years. Currently in Nigeria, the number of airports including those currently being developed has doubled, the passenger number has doubled, other entrepreneurship including catering and ground handling has blossomed, the number of airlines and jobs has multiplied” he said adding that even the 2020 global pandemic could push back Nigeria’s aviation industry growth.
A cursory look at the roadmap deliverables showed that Nigeria Air, the most talked a bit item on the roadmap is about 90 percent completed. The due process on the project by the regulator Infrastructure Concession and Regulatory Commission (ICRC) has returned a clean bill of health, the outline business case approved, the core investor and other investors unveiled, the full business case is being developed for FEC to approve and the Air Operator Certificate (AOC) has passed the second stage of procurement at the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA).
“Nigeria Air has the strategic direction, with a solid business plan for the next ten years and a start-up budget of 250 million US dollars. The Nigerian Government only invests 5% into this start-up funding (12.5 million US dollars), in line with its 5% share in Nigeria Air. By the transparent and structured PPP process the Government has ensured a clear ownership structure, including the leading African airline, with a secured start-up budget which gives Nigeria Air a solid financial foundation” said Prof. Tilmann Gabriel, a researcher on African Aviation.
The benefit to be derived from the establishment of the national Carrier are; reduction of capital flight from Nigeria; gain of the optimal benefit of BASA and SAATM; development of an Aviation hub; contribution to the GDP; facilitate hospitality and tourism; facilitate growth and development of the Nigerian Agricultural Sector; and create jobs around the Agro-Cargo Terminals.
Designation of five International Airports (Lagos, Abuja, Enugu Kano & Port Harcourt) as Special Economic Zones. Mr. President approved the designation of the Four International Airports as Special Economic Zones on 17th May 2021. The next step is the commencement of Implementation processes with NEPZA is ongoing. The Benefits of Special Economic Zones are i. more efficient and business-friendly trade environment with less bureaucratic red tape because of the associated fiscal incentives and packages; ii. attract world-class international and local Airlines/Companies into the Nigeria Aviation Industry; iii. attract investment incentives which include; Investment Policies and Protection, General Tax Based Incentives, Sector Specific Incentives, Tariff Based Incentives, and Export Incentives; iv. attract Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and generate employment opportunities and human capital development, thus stimulating the overall improvement of the Nigerian Aviation Industry; v. improve the overall ease of doing business in Nigeria and more.
Airports to be Concession are as follows: – Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos: a. Old International Terminal – Terminal and Ramp b. New International Terminal – Terminal, Ramp, Car Park c. Cargo Terminal – Ramp – Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA), Abuja, Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Port Harcourt and Mallam Aminu Kano International Airport (MAKIA), Kano a. Old International and Domestic Terminal – Terminal, Ramp, Car Park b. New International Terminal – Terminal, Ramp c. Cargo Ramp. (To be developed). The current position is that Negotiation with preferred bidders on-going. Draft Full Business Case (FBC) finalized and the FG is targeting a completion period – 2nd quarter, 2023.
Establishment of An Aviation Leasing Company (ALC) An Aviation Leasing Company which would be private sector-driven will be established to address the challenges of limited access to capital and high cost of funds. The ALC will provide leasing opportunities for Nigerian and African airlines in order to boost fleet size, and alleviate the problem of aircraft leasing and high insurance premium charges. The current status is that a Full Business Case (FBC) has been completed and a certificate of compliance issued by the ICRC. And awaiting FEC approval. Project to commence operation by the 2nd Quarter, 2023 based on the projection.
Establishment of a Maintenance, Repair & Overhaul (MRO) Centre. The establishment of a private sector-driven Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Centre is critical for the diversification and repositioning of the Aviation Industry as it provides aircraft repairs, overhaul, and maintenance services. Experts say currently this facility does not exist in the whole of West and Central Africa. MRO is therefore a necessary requirement to facilitate the development of the aviation industry.
The proposed facility will have the capacity to serve both Narrow and Wide Body aircraft maintenance requirements and will be located in Abuja. The Full Business Case (FBC) has been completed and a certificate of compliance was issued by the ICRC, which was subsequently approved by FEC.
Development of Aerotropolis (Airport Cities). The FG anticipates that the development of Nigeria’s major commercial airports and surrounding communities into efficient, profitable, and self-sustaining commercial hubs through increased private sector participation and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) will create jobs and grow the local industry. The project will be structured as a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement where the private partner will be required to design, develop, finance, and maintain the Aerotropolis during the agreed period.
The Aerotropolis will contain the full complement of commercial facilities that support airlines and aviation-linked businesses. Other components of the project include the development of hospitality and tourism-oriented real estate assets; and ancillary support infrastructure. Currently, the land has been acquired, and the process for the selection of a preferred partner has commenced.
Development of Cargo/Agro-Allied Airport Terminals ..2 To take advantage of the high-value agricultural products potential of Nigeria, the need arose to develop dedicated Cargo/Agro-Allied Terminals and ancillary infrastructure in each of the six (6) geographical zones of the country to facilitate the movement of fresh produce by air. The terminals will be established via a Design, Build, Operate, and Maintain model of Public Private Partnership (PPP). The proposed terminals will have facilities such as a dry Cargo Terminal Warehouse; a Perishable Cargo Terminal with Cool Chain Storage; climate chambers for storage and handling of temperature-sensitive products including Pharmaceuticals and Bonded Warehouses. The procurement phase is ongoing and the selection of the preferred partner is ongoing with a target of the second quarter of 2023 as a completion target.
The establishment of Aerospace University. The school is tipped to arrest of the dearth of high-level management cadre in the Aviation Industry. it will also promote Aviation Research and Development. Already the concept note has been presented to NUC for their consideration. African Aviation & Aerospace University (AAAU) courses to commence 2nd Quarter 2022.
Commenting on the aviation roadmap Prof. Tilmann Gabriel said “The Buhari Government had promised a new aviation industry which the future of Nigeria can rely on. It took hard work by the many involved, driven by a Minister of Aviation never tired of pushing this Buhari strategy in the last seven years.”
Also commenting Prof. Mansur Bako Matazu, the Director-General, of the Nigerian Mereological Agency (NiMet) said one of the components of the roadmap is the creation of an Aviation and Aerospace University which is already happening.
He also said the roadmap is providing incentives for professionals to stay. “This will curtail the mass exodus of professionals for our great industry with all the huge potentials” he stated.
He also said the roadmap has yielded partnerships with other countries and these have helped to improve the industry.
According to the DG with the roadmap implementation, most of the agencies now have their specialized training centers including NiMet.
“We now operate two accredited schools where we offer Diplomas in Meteorology and Climate Change. We will soon upscale to HND other short-term courses.:
Prof. Matzo also said “The roadmap has encouraged entrepreneurship and innovation. These components could impact reduction in brain drain and most of these have been captured by the roadmap implemented by the Federal Ministry of Aviation: he stated adding that all aviation stakeholders were a part of the development of the document.
THE END OF A DARK HISTORY OF FAILED EFFORTS TO ESTABLISH A NATIONAL CARRIER FROM 2001 –2022: WHY NIGERIA AND NIGERIANS SHOULD CELEBRATE SENATOR HARDI SIRIKA
By Daniel Young, PhD
THE STORY OF NIGERIA AIRWAYS- PART 1.
Asking the country to go back to 100% ownership of the national carrier is tantamount to repeating the very problems that created the failure of Nigeria Airways Ltd. Nigeria Airways, became a national carrier when it rebranded from West African Corporation Nigeria in 1971. Before this time, the government of Nigeria owned a majority share of the airline 51% and foreign investors owned 49% which is the exact model of what the now Nigeria Air represents; the only difference now being, that the 51%, that originally belonged to Nigerian government, is now being shared between the government: 5%, and local investors 46% while, the rest of the 49% has been earmarked for foreign investors.
When I read some posts by those who have kept insisting that we should own the airline 100% as Nigerians, I am reminded of the saying that, “those who would not learn from history are bound to repeat the same mistakes” Government ownership of the airline, which became the new model after 1971 acquisition of the airline 100% marked the beginning of the downward spiral that eventually led to the death of the organization in 2003 began.
There is no point rehearsing the history of the rise and fall of Nigeria airways, but one thing is clear, from the time the first cracks of failure began to show, many investors, consultant- necromancers, fake airlines and port-folio experts of different sizes and shapes and shades have shown up before successive administrations with magical solutions and ideas to resuscitate the dying airline or now dead airline.
Some have been legitimate, others, vagrant and criminally intentioned. The sum being that, over twenty intervening years between these attempts at solving the same perennial problem of establishing national airline have come and gone; with no enduring solution until Senator Hardi Sirika came on the scene.
With no prejudice, I was, at a time very skeptical about Sirika’ programs and did not waste time to condemn what I thought at the time to be incongruous with established protocols for founding an airline. I utilized every available opportunity to condemn and criticize his programs as some as still wont to doing.
May I submit, that you can call Sen. Hardi Sirika by any name you may wish, but there is no denying the fact that, he is a very deliberate man who learns quickly, and is ready to take corrections where necessary. It is this conscious approach to learning against the barrage of criticism from all quarters that has led him to this point where we could almost declare with confidence: Nigerian, behold, Nigeria Air!
ENTER 2001. KEMA CHIKWE’s AIR NIGERIA
In 2001, armed with IFC and BPE approvals Dr. Kema Achikwe was confident she would be able float a national carrier with Atiku primed to take over Nigeria Airways as an investor. The new airline was dubbed: Air Nigeria.
Unlike Sirika’ model marked by wide consultations across all stakeholder groups, the floatation process that followed Kema Achikwe’ idea was shrouded in mystery. The core investor that provided a special purpose vehicle for this fraudulent transaction was “WING AEROSPACE” incorporated in the UK with One British pound as paid –up equity. Behind this scam were two Asians who claimed relationship with Singapore airline as Technical partners; which was later found to be false by a team of investigators from AON.
These men came into Nigeria with no funds to invest; did not have the technical expertise for the role they intended to play but yet, were offered 40% equity in Air Nigeria. The following represent some of the numbing facts of that transaction which are now facts of history:
• Air Wing Aerospace was appointed partners 2 months before it was incorporated in the Uk. A clear case of backward integration.
• They had no track record or financial resources as investors.
• Air Wing Aerospace was handed over six Nigeria Airways prime properties by the Minister as collateral to raise start-up funds from Nigerian banks.
To be continued…
Peter Obi and the Passion That Drives Him
“Tai, the mind retains whatever you want it to, and rejects whatever you don’t care about,” – HE Peter Obi.
By Tai Emeka Obasi
The master was teaching me the ingredients of passion. It was sometime in 2018. He was the guest speaker at a Dinner-time Conference organised by the Association of All Federal Government/Unity Schools in Nigeria. I can’t recall the theme appropriately but it was basically about the importance of Education in the development of mankind.
That was the first day I witnessed him bring in the Human Development Index, HDI to illustrate the importance of Education and of course, compared many nations’ HDI to Nigeria’s in the major departments of determination – Education, Income Per Capita and Life Expectancy.
Of course, our country was, and still is, languishing so pathetically down the ladder than her evident human potentials deserved. Another very demoralising pointer to very bad leadership.
We arrived Port Harcourt late. The event was slated to take off by 10.00 pm. We barely made it. He arrived via Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu early enough but he had some burials to attend in Anambra State before we headed to Port Harcourt by road.
The hall was already filled to capacity when he entered. About twenty minutes later he took the stage. I knew what he was capable of but even I was truly amazed at the way he reeled out figures upon figures of comparisons which involved digits of less than whole numbers of over 15 nations from memory.
So, on the way from the event hall to the hotel, I was forced to ask him, “how do you retain all these figures from memory, Sir?”
I had to ask because I was with him from around 10 a.m he arrived via Enugu until he delivered that mind-blowing speech and I never saw him looking at any typed paper all the way. If he prepared any notes, he must have done that earlier and left the notes behind before arrival. Geniuses come in different spheres.
“Tai, the mind retains whatever you want it to and doesn’t bother with whatever you’re not interested in. It has a lot to do with passion,” he responded. He went on to express more.
When we entered the hotel, a football match was going on. It was one of the matches of the Russia 2018 World Cup finals being replayed. The date was June 30, same day both Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo were sent packing from Russia by Kylian Mbappe’s France and Luis Suarez’s Uruguay respectively.The master took one look at the screen and asked me, “what happened at the World Cup today?”
“Both Messi and Ronaldo were knocked out today,” I responded.
“What? Oh, no. The World Cup is over then,” he returned as we entered the lift.
Yes, he barely has time to sit down and watch but he loves football. He has great respect for both Messi and Ronaldo. When pushed to compare the duo he prefers one over the other and has his specific reasons. If you listen to why he does you’ll be convinced but that is a matter for another day.
Today, we’re discussing passion. That night, early morning really, because we arrived late, it dawned on me that he was spot-on as always. The word is passion. He knew that I would always follow World Cup matches via the Internet, wherever I was, however tight the functions. He knew if there was any person to ask anything about football that he had me handy.
Yes, I started listening to radio football commentaries before I was 10, as a child growing up in the village. I can recall many of Ernest Okonkwo’s commentaries and not be too far from the original. I can recall scores and even scorers of some matches of then great Rangers International of Enugu, Nigerian national teams and also of Arsenal’s football club of England.
I can recall stories, plots and even dialogues of many of the James Hadley Chase’s novels I read over 30 years ago. I can recall same about most, if not all, of Frederick Forsyth’s great works, particularly The Devil’s Alternative.
I can recall many dialogues of good movies particularly as delivered by Al Pacino. When it comes to Scarface and Devil’s Advocate, I can recall almost all.
Now, it’s all about what I want my brain to retain. That’s why such passion diverted me after being trained five years as an engineer into writing. But this is not about me.
This is about the master. While I search the internet for Arsenal results and scorers, he searches for new population of China, India, etc and compares it to Nigeria’s. While I search to know other results to compare Arsenal’s standing on the League table, he searches for LNG potentials of Nigeria compared to those of Egypt, Russia and how best to maximise the enormous potentials for the future of Nigerian youths.
While I search Amazon.com to check how many copies of the latest Frederick Forsyth novel sold in the past week, he searches for the projected prices of crude oil in the next decade and the cumulative impact in Nigeria’s and world economy. He searches for the current GDP of Apple Company and the importance of the new order called Knowledge Economy. And how his dear country should depend less on fading oil, direct her very talented youths towards Science, Technology, Mathematics and Science, STEM education that will be the catalyst of employment and lifting millions out of poverty.
If I search today for the names of writers of the movies nominated for this year’s Oscar, be assured he will be searching the internet for possible companies that can effectively provide expertise and the financial institutions that can provide appropriate loans at best interest rates to move Nigeria’s electric power generation from the pathetic 4000 mega watts to 20,000 mega watts within four years of his presidency if Nigerians give him the mandate.
If I search for the bestselling thriller on Amazon.com, he’ll most likely be searching to know exactly how Bangladesh assisted SMEs to be able to lift millions out of poverty and then be thinking of how to apply Nigeria’s peculiarities to lift at least 50 million people out of poverty in four years.
If riches become horses, Nobel Prize will be the ultimate reward.
I certainly will be overreaching my bounds to dream of a Nobel Prize for Literature when Prof Chinua Achebe didn’t get one. But thinking of a Nobel Prize for the master for Good and Effective Leadership will not be an overstatement. He lives and dreams of how to improve mankind. And take this from me, if HE Peter Gregory Obi becomes the president of Nigeria and has the opportunity of delivering what is presently in his brain for the country, a Nobel Prize will be his parting gift.
Don’t think I am just writing for the pleasure of my readers. I’m just telling you about the man I know and the passion that drives him. He doesn’t do anything having awards in mind but his best will always attract top awards because his bests are always excellent. And more – HE GIVES HIS BEST IN WHATEVER HE CHOOSES TO DO.
Just get your PVC.
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