Today, I stand to salute a great man, whose greatness is bellowed by his utter humility. A priest, a teacher, a moulder of character. An Irish man, a priest of the other of St. Patrick’s Society – Very Rev. Fr. J. D. O’Connell, SPS, MFR.
After serving as a priest of Minna Diocese for 55yrs and school Principal for 50, Fr’s time in Nigeria is slowly coming to an end. It was therefore only apt that one of the many occasions in his honor be held today.
One day, I will write about this man. About his time at Government Secondary School Minna which is more correctly called Fr’s school – there is no higher honor than to be called Fr’s boy. A badge many wear with pride. His boys are legion; former governors, commissioners, lawmakers and even the legendary Cyril Stober. If you were a young boy in Minna and you were not in GSS, you were of all men, to be most pitied. And I perhaps may hold the distinction of being the only girl Fr wanted to offer admission to after it became an all-boys school – I mean, he had a complete plan of how I would sew the trademark gray trousers.
Remembering his stories of carrying wooden desks and chairs across River Kaduna to the hinter areas of Wushishi bring tears to my eyes.
Remembering his stories of disabling one headlight of his car so that the truant boys he was after, in the bush would not realize it was he, imagining it was a motorbike until he was upon them, bring laughter to my lips.
If you saw a school boy walking home in gray trousers but without a school shirt or with one leg of shoe, just know Fr was punishing him. Go home and explain to your parents why you went to school with shirt and came back without.
One day, I will write about this man, quietly dignified in the suffering that Parkisons brought him in this latter part of his stay. Determined to be completely self-reliant and hesitant to ask for help if he thought it was going to be a burden. Wanting to cause the least amount of disruption possible. One day, I will write about him, and it will break my heart.
Everyone in Niger feel an intense need to show this man how much he really means to us: from road walks to traditional titles. Today the Niger state government announced the re-naming of GSS Minna to Fr. J. D O’Connell Secondary School. That they may truly be Fr’s boys.
Fr O’Connell, much like the rest of us, doesn’t want to go. And when I say ‘Fr, don’t go’, he laughs. Because we both know that he is loyal to his vows, even to the last; Poverty. Abstinence. Obedience. Always Obedience.
It is the same laugh we get when he’s being stubborn about something. The same laugh we get when we say ‘Fr, you’re not sitting properly. Stand up and sit properly’. And he laughs, and stands up and attempts to fit his Parkinson-afflicted body properly into the chair. Or when we ask ‘Fr, have you been exercising?’ Always that laugh. Jennifer and I are not in Minna at the moment so on Monday he called us to ask us our email addresses. On Tuesday, we both received mails with almost 30 pictures form the varioua activities going on now. Because Fr. O’Connell.
One day, I will write about this man. But today, let me say, here is a man who completely embodied his society’s motto: Caritas Christi Urget Nos; The love of Christ compels us.
Today, let me say ‘Here is a man, truly like Christ’. Here is a Man of God.
I’m afraid to tag all the Fr’s Boys on my Facebook friend list because this post will become a market! (That’s how we refer to GSS when we talk – Fr how was market today?) But I will. And if you are tagged and you believe Fr had any impact on your life, share on your wall and tag your friends! Heck, share this post on your blogs and everywhere else.
Did I tell you that I now do reviews for that lovely website, http://wawabookreview.com? I do, and they are great guys there. Somehow, Belle got to be reviewing after getting the contract from the editor, the deeply intellectual Biyi Olusolape. I decided to join the train and it has been fun. My first book of review was The Road to Mogador. I named the review there ‘Of Transitions, Agendas and Bad Balls.’ You can go take a look.
Now, I was given two books to review for December and yes, don’t envy me. It was Elnathan John’s Born on a Tuesday and A. Igoni Barrett’s Blackass. I have known ElJo since the early Abuja days and he has remained one writer that leaves me smiling, always – whether he’s criticising, lashing his satire or just writing. Only problem with my affection for him came in the person of Abubakar Adam Ibrahim, another talented writer who has come to be a friend and troublemaker who I respect and honour. Abubakar and ElJo write alike such that sometimes when I read one, I feel like I have read the other. Their lives also seem to be going in the same circles. Any surprise that they have been to a lot of workshops together? Okay, you didn’t know that one, abi? How come they were first shortlisted
for the Caine Prize in the same year? And read the Caine collection, A Memory This Size and tell me where one’s story starts and the other ends. Any surprise now that Born on a Tuesday and Season of Crimson Blossoms came out at the same time? Wait for the next one. Cassava Republic is also publishing the UK version of Abubakar’s books. Ah! But let me not talk much about their similarities; a scholarly paper will be better than this my plenty grammar abi? Na you know. Sha, the thing is, when I read Abubakar first – and I get to do that usually, him being closer and all, then I get to read something similar in ElJo’s hands, I feel like I have read the tale before, so it feels one kain. That’s the feeling I got with ‘Bayan Layi’, the Caine 2013 shortlisted tale. My friend, Pever X, wouldn’t let me be because of the tale. He was head over heels for that tale. I like it, but I had read a similar one in Abubakar’s book. There are times when I am lucky to read Elnathan John first and wow! If you have read him, you know… but…
Now, Bayan Layi has been turned into a book and I have been forced to review it! Chai! What do I do?
I started reading the book with some fear… There was no need for the fear! It is as if, finding its spirit into a book, Bayan Layi transformed into something else. I enjoyed it this time around. By the time I got to Chapter Two of the book, the stress of the road overcame me. I was on the sixth leg of my journey. I had gone for the ANA convention in Kaduna, then gone to Nasarawa, then Abuja, Lagos and to Abeokuta for the Ake festival with Belle. We were on our way to Benin from Ibadan. There was road stress, work stress, and they played with my emotions too. 😉 I decided not to let the book waste. Haba, such a fine book. Oh! I should mention that at the festival El Jo and Abubakar were given 200k for their books alongside three other fine Northern female writers.
At some point, I decided to pick Blackass after an encounter with Igoni, the author at Ake. The guy is cool sha. I didn’t like his other book, Love is Power or Something Like It (a collection of short stories) which most people especially Belle think is all that. So, I was wondering what lay behind the covers of this new one. When the book sold out thrice at Ake, I had to go like ‘Wow! Okay o!’
Long story short, I read the book and I can say it is one of the quickest books I have read. The 300 or so pages melted away as my thumb pushed one page over the other in sharp succession. I laughed and laughed and laughed.
Summary of the story is this: a dude, Furo Wariboko wakes up on the day of his interview to discover that he is now a white man. He has some adventures and gets to meet Igoni (the author o!) and a lovely lady who takes him in and discovers his black bumbum. A lot of adventures happen and we see Naija proper. Igoni takes us on a tour of Lagos through the eyes of a white man who has a Nigerian soul. We see the way Nigerians behave towards their fellow blackies and to the whites. A lot of people have this set view that we all behave in one way towards the fair skinned guys but going through this book gives you an idea of how it really goes. Igoni also takes us to Abuja and gives us a tour. In several instances, we are introduced to certain aspects of our culture gaining grounds that we might not readily read or know about: transgender, the use of whites to our whims, the feeling of helplessness that lies within a lot of people who we think great and the like.
I will be reviewing the book shortly and yes, I will share the link. With this tale, I think Igoni has found a space in my heart. I will try to read past those few ten pages of that Love is Power book again. Whatever feeling I get from there, I know that the guy is truly gifted. If you get the book, please read it. It is one I will recommend over and over again. How many books can take your mind away from your boo? Okay, don’t answer that. Even your boo geti boo! Hee hee hee.
Have a lovely week ahead and in all you do, make every second count.
In a time when most people are shouting for change and clamouring for much, we seem to forget that it is the same chant that we have continued to rant. From Facebook to Twitter, we have continued to swim in the deception of our forgetfulness. We discover that each succeeding administration ends up beatifying those before them, making saints of former legendary tyrants and corrupt officials. Don’t you remember how we celebrated when Obasanjo came to power or when Abacha died? Do we not remember how a whole horde of us moved to the polls with gusto to stamp our fingers for Jonathan in 2011? Another group of us did the stamping for Buhari in 2011 and now, more of us have joined this group. There is a general distrust and dissatisfaction with the current regime with a lot of people swearing that things have never been this bad. With so much corruption abounding and suffering lingering, we are myopic and go to vote Buhari not because we believe in him per se but because he is the option against Jonathan. Thus, it has become our mantra to vote that which we think is not good. But think again, isn’t it surprising that Jonathan has done far more in two months than he did in six years? That deserves commendation but it should teach us a lesson, everything that has been happening so far…
Our politicians are about the same with the problem only changing names like PHCN (Problem Has Changed Name, remember?). The people in APC today aren’t they the ones we saw in PDP yesterday? If we are recycling the same people, how do we expect to see change? Trust me, I don’t mean to pessimist but we might keep seeing the same evils. I was actively involved in some opposition politics leading up to the 2011 elections and I know what I am talking about.
It only means one thing people: our problem is systematic and we must find a way to take care of it. Here then is where the Corporate Corruption Act (CCA) comes in. You can also call it the Corruption Whistle Act or the short form, Bribecode. Briefly, it is an act to make companies pay for corruption. Any company that wants Nigeria to suffer for the million(s) it makes to bring sweat on our brows will face liquidation and where there are high officials involved, they will face punishment. Cool?
Why a Corporate Corruption Act?
Most of our problems are caused by organisations taking bribes, giving bribes, taking contracts and not executing, legal systems that are wrong and the like. If anything goes wrong, only one scape goat is sacrificed and life goes on. This time, they all pay and trust me, the NNPCs, Shell, and other big companies run away with billions and paying a pittance of a compensation would have their sins catching up with them. Imagine that in this time, someone or a company steals up to ten billion then is told to pay two billion back… Why wouldn’t we all aspire to be thieves? But don’t get your hopes high there, the CCA would take care of that and any intending person who has hope to do so.
How do you come in? Simple. There’s this site called http://bribecode.org. Get there, sign up and be updated on how you can play your part. I have been a part of the Act sharing it, and playing in its thoughts since forever… Join great writers, lawyers, advocates and proven people of integrity including Chuma Nwokolo, Okey Ndibe, Agatha Aduro, Iquo Eke, Unoma Azuah, Michael Okwori amongst others and yes, join me too, so that we can lend our voice to play our part. There’s much more to this so please, go to the site, lend your voice, sign up, go through the Frequently Asked Questions, find out about the Act (the Bribecode) and let’s make Nigeria as beautiful as we can.
Things can only get better. And they will, if we act on this Act. Arise o compatriots, Nigeria’s call… Please, obey.
Today, I’m calling out a business that has offered me less than satisfactory services.
In December last year, I needed to buy a new phone and I decided to do it online. I had already had a bad experience with Jumia online and all my friends’ reaction had been ‘why would you shop on Jumia when there is Konga?’ Even Daddy knew that Konga Online was the place to shop. So I placed my order for 2 phones on Konga on the 29th of December. I got a mail confirming the order and informing me that it would take 7 days to deliver, but the 7 days might be extended by 3 days because of high seasonal demand. 4 days later, I got another mail with a tracking Number to help me track my order. The phones got to Abuja on the 7th of January which was the 9th day after the order was placed. I wanted to travel that weekend and I wanted to take the phones with me.
So, I made a call to Konga’s customer care and basically told them to try and deliver the next day or if that wasn’t going to be possible, I could go and pick it up myself. They told me that I couldn’t pick it up myself and assured me that it would be
delivered before the weekend. 7th was a Wednesday. I didn’t see my order till I traveled on the 10th which was Saturday, despite repeated calls and assurances that it would be delivered. On the 10th, I called the customer care and complained and the lady apologized, I got a mail saying they were sorry for the delay and I will be contacted by the delivery personnel within 24-48hrs to inform me that they were coming to deliver so we could work out the details of delivery. After 48hrs, on the 12th, I sent them a mail, saying that I was tempted to cancel the order, since Konga has no concept of time. They replied with profuse apologies again, asking for another 24-48hrs. Then on the 14th, without any prior calls, I was told in a mail that they had called at my place and met my absence and they were going to try again the following day. They included a number for the Abuja office that I could call and schedule delivery. I called the number and after registering my annoyance at an attempted delivery without prior notification, we made a plan for it to be delivered the following day. Towards the end of the workday the next day, I called them because I hadn’t heard back. the lady in the office confirmed that the dispatchers had gone for delivery twice that day and on both occasions, failed to take my shipment out. The shipment had now spent 8 days in Abuja without being delivered. It was about to take longer to be delivered within Abuja than it took to get from Lagos to Abuja. The next day again, I didn’t hear from them till 4pm when I called and told them that I was coming to their office to get my items regardless of what they said or what their ‘policy’ was. Obviously, their policy wasn’t working. I went there, gave them a piece of my mind and collected the items. It had taken 18 days to get to me.
But, that was just the beginning of my problems. When I got home, I realized that one of the phones had a faulty battery and wasn’t coming on. I immediately called back, seriously pissed that I had gone through all of that stress, to be handed a defective product. The customer service agent apologized profusely for all the trouble and assured me that he was going to see to it personally. He told me that I would be contacted within 24-48hrs and told how to return it and that I couldn’t return that item without first getting the call.
I think Konga Online Customer service people are basically told in training; keep saying ‘Sorry’ till the customer gets tired, then it’s your choice to follow up on the complaint or not.
That call never came. I called back after 48hrs, got some more ‘sorrys’ and empty assurances and no call back.
On the 23rd, one week after I had first called to report that the item was bad, I made some more calls and sent them the very nasty letter below. Immediately, I got mails, apologizing, got some more calls with more apologies, then I finally got a call telling me to return the item to their office on Monday. The laid out procedure was that I would return the item, it would be confirmed that it is really defective and I would be given a replacement if it was still in stock. I actually told the guy to check if the item was in stock. He did, told me that at the time he was speaking to me, it was in stock. He conveniently forgot to tell me that it was now a bit costlier than when I bought it or that I would be expected to pay the price difference. I took the phone in on Monday. I was told that their technical guy was out of the office. I could drop the phone and he would give me a call back when he had confirmed the state of the phone.
That call never came.
Next thing, I got a mail saying that my Konga wallet had been credited with the amount. I called Konga online again. I basically asked the guy ‘what gives? You said you would replace the phone. What’s up with crediting my wallet?’ then the guy told me that they can’t replace the phone because there is a N1,500 increase on the price which I have to agree to pay before it can be replaced. I was mad. At this point, Konga should have been looking for ways to compensate me, but here they were, acting as if it was my fault they sold me a defective item. I told the guy to process the replacement. At this point, he also conveniently forgot to tell me that there would now be shipping charge that I would be expected to pay. I was livid when I got the mail confirming the replacement and found that in addition to the N1,500, I would pay N1,000 for shipping. I called the customer care and told her to cancel the replacement and pay the money into my bank account. She started begging me to consider the trouble they’ve been through. I told her to look at all the trouble I had been through, just to get that item delivered. Was it my fault that they sold a bad phone? Or were they trying to say that absorbing the extra cost for their mistake was going to break the business. I asked her to consider the cost of calling Konga every day, sometimes more than once, from 8th January to 26th January. She was wasting my airtime, giving me crappy explanations. So I told her to process the replacement and I promised her that I was going to give them crappy reviews and tell all my friends about my experience with Konga. I also promised her that that was the first and last time I would ever shop with them. So, this is me, keeping my word. People, if you buy from Konga Online, do so at your own peril.
What I want Konga and other businesses to know is this: a satisfied customer will tell 3 people. An unsatisfied customer will tell 300, or in my case, 3000. I also want them to know that it is not cool to treat their customers like dirt, like they don’t matter, because without their customers, they will soon be out of business.
So, if you’ve ever been treated badly by any business, whether banks, airlines, shops… anyone, just let me know, lets spread the word.. It is high time we started demanding better services from people who owe us that much. Maybe it will teach us to demand accountability from our leaders. Maybe I will start a ‘Businesses Behaving Badly’ column and a ‘Businesses Behaving Badly’ hashtag. It’s time to let people know that social media is not just for gossip. If your business keeps getting called out on social media, maybe you shouldn’t be in business.