Wednesday 14 May 2008

Nigeria: Paying the dead and billing the living

We mourn the Pa

Ijebuman a fellow blogger highlighted in his blog today two issues that caught my eye before I went to work this morning.

A well-respected (read, I don’t even know the man from bingo) Yoruba leader died recently and anyone who had two feet trundled to his residence like they all do, to belabour the grieving survivors with condolences.

In fact, it is customary to find that the survivors are pre-occupied with the entertainment of dignitaries than having time to recollect their thoughts, their memories and their affections of their dearly departed.

Pa Abraham Adesanya who has through his works and deeds acquired a rarer title that ranks in precedence above the proletariat chief or even the now common Otunba that everyone seems to have, is to be revered and buried in incredulity.

Sir Who and Dame What

Before, I get to that point, I have also noticed that certain Nigerians are exhibiting titles of Sir and Dame – the last time those were legally acquired in Nigeria was before 1963 when Nigeria was not yet a republic.

It makes me wonder who is now conferring knighthoods (Sir Mike Mbama Okiro) and damehoods (Dame Patience Jonathan) on Nigerians and how long we have to wait before someone ends up with a peerage. I would suppose these are Catholic orders of chivalry and I doubt they are to be presented as personal titles.

Ijebus do big burials

Pa Adesanya is an Ijebuman and whilst the Ijebus are quite thrifty and enterprising, it is common knowledge that you cannot borrow anything from an Ijebuman for business, education or investment but you will earn the best lines of credit to conduct a burial.

With that in mind, it is probably not surprising that his burial would cost a whopping N150 million ($1.3 million, £670,000 – Ijebuman’s estimation) - that could buy immortality.

Now, anyone has a right to spend as much as they want to ensure they have properly put a man 6-feet under and done that securely; what is irksome is this is really taxpayer’s money, 6 state governments in the South-West of Nigeria are contributing $216,000 each for his burial; the electorate probably have no say in deciding if this is ethical, legal, legitimate and right.

The few in orgy

As the selectively invited cavort in an orgy of festivities celebrating the life of this great man that would last 5 days from Monday the 19th of May till Friday the 23rd of May when he would be committed, one could almost say the cacophony of the troupes of well-heeled professional mourners might just end up being a ceremony that would wake the dead and end the party.

The man who suffered such poor health for the last 4 years of his life probably might have found better use before his death for that large sum of money and probably he would have offered himself for cryogenic storage till some medical breakthrough had been developed to restore both his health and youth.

But we cannot afford to celebrate the living when the ceremonies of the dead attract more fanfare, pomp and pageantry.

Frankly, I do not understand my people at all, but as far as they are concerned, they have their priorities right, you have to bury the dead well and no expense should be spared.

Adedibu lives

Ijebuman goes on to wonder how much would be set aside for Lamidi Adedibu who I wrote about last year, a man beyond the law and a complete menace to societal calm but perversely revered.

He took ill recently and the governor of Oyo State paid his medical bills up to the tune of N5 million, and on the matter of one of the senators of the state not putting forward any finances towards his hospital bill; he boasted that the three senators representing Oyo State were all from his room, such is the influence of the man.

Then a group of supposedly enlightened people meeting in a suburb, north of London, as Adedibu Beneficiaries in the UK – It really does beggar belief – claim because of his recovery, God still wants to use Adedibu, I am speechless.

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