Wednesday, 22 May 2013
If Ogaga Was To Come Again By Emeka Odikpo
It is really not normal to write on a man you know so little about, but who has been of great dramatic influence to your life in away even he himself can definitely not even appreciate. The man in question has been a regurlar columnist in Sahara Reporters, and anytime I read his write up, I remind myself of my duty to write this piece. I have been meaning to write this article for the last 20 years really, but procastination as they say is the devils clever ploy to ensure that you never get the job done. The genesis of this belated article happened sometime in 1990. I was a young impressionable Lawyer, just fresh from University and Law School. I bought a copy of the Guardian Newspaper and behold at the op-ed section in the center spread was an article by the then indeafatigable Ogaga Ifowodo. The title of the article was “If Jesus was to come again”.
Mark you, I gradauated from University of Benin before Mr. Ogaga Ifowodo and I was also called to the bar before him. But even then his reputaion was larger than life. Even when I was out of University of Benin, I regurlarly read about a fire spitting radical named Ogaga Ifowodo. The article in question authored by Ogaga was not particularly long but it had a profound effect on me and my life. The op-ed referred to a slave ship named “Jesus”. The ship was said to be a ship that made several rounds fetching slaves from West Africa and landing them in America, all bound in chains and gnashing their teeth. Ogaga then asked a rhethorical question on what was the likely scenario at Apapa port if this same slave ship were to land at Apapa port with an avowed mission of taking slaves to America. His conclusion was that there will be a stampede at the port, with millions of Nigerians out doing each other in a bid to be taken as slaves to America.
This article had a dramatic effect on me. I actually kept the Newspaper in my room and read it several times over. The agenda for me was clear, I must make landing in the white man’s country. I lost interest in my job and worked assidiously towards relocating to Europe. In January of 1992, I finally succeded and made landing in London. The entire dream was turned to muck in less tha 2 days. The sight of my fellow educated country men and Ghanaians standing at lonely chilly bus stops at 4 O’clock in the morning enroute to office cleaning jobs sent chilly tingles down my spine. The fact that I left an honourable job in a Law Firm in Lagos to live this shocking life made me miserable. I did try a bit to liberate myself from this fate, but reality was that even to remain in the country, I will have to commit a felony in the form of arranging a fake marriage. But even that eventuality held no hope of a better life for most of my colleagues that had gone through that part. Their lot and mine remained that of hewers of wood in a foreign land where the system is designed to frustrate foreigners out of the country.
In my private moments, I blamed Ogaga and my stupid self for my miserable lot. I then realised that maybe Nigeria was not as bad as our writers paint it. Maybe my lot in Nigeria has nothing to do with whether a government is good or bad. Maybe I should have concentrated on my own life instead of imbibing every tale of how terrible the government was, and how great other countries were. I spent one year and nine months living a lie in London. By the time Shonekan was in government, I have had enough, I parcelled myself back to Nigeria with much more wisdom and less exuberance.
The only satisfaction I had on my return, was when I discovered that Ogaga Ifowodo was now in United States. His life in US probably did not take the same dramatic or miserable lot that most of our country men has to live with abroad. But in built in every life lived by an enigmatic fellow outside his country is the frustration of potentials unrealised. A promise truncated. The white man will never appreciate an Ogaga the way our people will. Money or lack of it is not an issue here. Ogaga Ifowodo would never have lacked in Nigeria, no matter what. Even if he had set up a legal practice in down town Warri, his sheer force of character would have uplifted him to great heights. He would have been a community leader in any part of Nigeria he chose to live in. Even in Lagos he would have excelled, after all he is Ogaga Ifowodo, no less.
The moral in this short article is left for the young and adventurous to decipher. Maybe if Ogaga had remained in Nigeria, there would have been no James Ibori for him to criticise, as he could have routed him in an election. Maybe himself and his gang of fire spitting radicals would have had a fair chance of affecting Nigeria. In the final analysis, we will never know what he could have done. But one thing is for sure, if Ogaga was to come again to this world, I beleive he will do things differently. He would have stayed back in Nigeria and fought it out.
LAGOS BASED LEGAL PRACTITIONER