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Dr. Damages Interviews Cecilia Ibru

November 7, 2010

Announcer:..And now, here is your Tonight’s Show host, Dr. Njakiri Damages.

Announcer:..And now, here is your Tonight’s Show host, Dr. Njakiri Damages.

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Dr. Damages: Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. It is a yaga-yaga day for Nigeria. But it is a great day for Pastor William Kumuyi, the General Superintendent of the Deeper Life Bible Church. The other day, the humble man of God took a new wife. The quiet event happened in London. Top members of the church, known for its zero-tolerance for makeup, were flown to London to bear witness. The Daily Sun asked a selected group of women of the church what they thought about the marriage. Twenty percent felt it was too early for their father-in-the-lord to remarry after losing his beloved wife some 18 months ago. Forty percent felt it was the right time, considering his fast graying beard. The remaining twenty percent express regret that all their flirting, fasting and flipping did not make them attractive to the pastor. (Laughter)
The story reminds me of a Lagosian who was always fighting with his wife. One day, the wife died. The man wept uncontrollable. His neighbors were baffled by his reaction. The neighbors had thought her death must be a relief of some sort for him. They tried to console the man but he kept hitting himself on the ground, rolling and twisting like an earthworm cut in half. The man’s best friend went to him and said, “Look, my man, when the funeral is over, we will go to the village and get you a better wife.” In between sobs, the man asked, “But what about tonight?”


On the political front, you must have heard that the publisher, Dele Momodu, is running for president. Mr. Momodu was confident about his chances until he saw that his toilet was not featured in the Ovation magazine’s special edition on the toilets of presidential candidates. Even Ovation magazine was saying to him, “Lookia my friend, if na joke, stop am.”

Those clamoring for a president of Igbo extraction were silenced recently when the Lagos-Ibadan press provided conclusive evidence that Olusegun Obasanjo is the son of a former Abeokuta-based Igbo police officer who later became the Obi of Onitsha. When they recovered from their shock, they exclaimed in unison, “Onitsha rie nsi.” (Onitsha chop shit.)

As expected, Obasanjo denied the rumor immediately. He said in a press release that he is a true “shun of Egba shoil.” In private though, he is telling friends that if that becomes true, he fears that he might have slept with his sister, daughter, niece and possibly his son’s wife.


Our guest tonight came into prominence during Obasanjo’s presidency. But she has nothing kinky or canal to do with Obasanjo. Some have called her the Martha Stewart of Nigeria- mainly for her knowledge of ‘inside jobs.’ Others have called her the very epitome of the saying that what a man can do, a woman can do it even better. Her story is so fascinating that we have to go all the way to Reddington Hospital, Victoria Island, where she is attending a six months course on the elements of a deeper life to bring you this interview.

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From Delta State, Nigeria, by way of the Ibru fish boat, please give a warm welcome to Lady Cecilia Ibru.
(Cecilia Ibru walks into the stage, shakes Dr. Damages’ hand and takes her seat.)
Dr Damages: How are you today?
Cecilia Ibru: I full ground remain.

Dr Damages: Welcome to the show.
Cecilia Ibru: You yab well well.
Dr Damages: Why do you say that?
Cecilia Ibru: Shoo! You no get shame o! If I’m not mistaken, I’m the first woman to appear on your show. Yama yama! And you had to wait until I’m in this stinky place to come for an interview. When I was granting interviews to world’s top journalists inside my corporate jets and in presidential suites of five star hotels, I no see your brake light. Anyway, sha, I go manage.
Dr Damages: I never thought of it. You’re right. You’re the first woman on the show. Congratulations!
Cecilia Ibru: See you! And you call yourself a progressive.
Dr Damages: It wasn’t intentional. The show simply goes for newsmakers. At the peak of her power, we sought an interview with Turai Yar’Adua but she did not grant us one. We still want to talk to her but I understand that during the day, she is busy selling gold in Lebanon. And at night, she is learning Arabic in Yemen.
Cecilia Ibru: Whatever! Just don’t insult me. You hear me so?
Dr. Damages: Ok. (looks round) This is a very nice place you have here.

Cecilia Ibru: It’s a private ward. For someone like me who is used to suites at Four Seasons, it is depressing. But I will manage it instead of sharing Ikoyi prison rooms with criminals.

Dr Damages: I must say that you look different without your makeup.

Cecilia Ibru
: Are you suggesting that I am my twin sister? Do you think she is serving time for me?

Dr. Damages: Not at all.
Cecilia Ibru
: I did not bring my jewelries here. That’s why. They are too precious to risk in a place like this.
Dr Damages: So what is really wrong with your health?

Cecilia Ibru: Stayoutofprisonitis.

Dr. Damages: What’s that?

Cecilia Ibru: It’s a kind of chronic cardiac ailment.

Dr Damages: Many convicts will like the plea deal you got from Justice Dan Abutu.

Cecilia Ibru: I’m not a convict. I’m a deaconess. I was the first lady of Nigerian banks. And as a matter of fact, you must not forget that I hold the title, OFR- Order of the Federal Republic.

Dr. Damages:
There will be prison riots all over Nigeria if other convicts find out how you live here.

Cecilia Ibru: If you tell them anything, I’ll move to another hospital.
Dr Damages: You don’t have to worry about that. Your secrets are safe with my camera. You know, there are a lot I do not know about you.

Cecilia Ibru: A lot? Like what?

Dr. Damages: For instance, I did not know you were a billionaire.
Cecilia Ibru: (Laughs) Wahala! I get am before no be property.
Dr. Damages: So what really happened?
Cecilia Ibru: I was made a scapegoat. And I believe it is because my husband is gravely ill. If Michael Ibru na the same man I married, who born EFCC? Nobody is hounding Okey Nwosu, Bartholomew Ebong, Sebastin Adigwe, Francis Atuche, Ike Oraekwotu and others. It’s only Urhobo woman, Cecilia Ibru, that they are after.
Dr. Damages: Before your guilty plea, I had thought you were just an innocent deer caught in some high beam lights of a fast moving car.

Cecilia Ibru: I will not be bragging if I tell you that I kicked the butts of the old boys of banking and finance. I kicked them really good. That was why they came after me. Those bloody skunks!
Dr Damages: So was it worth it?
Cecilia Ibru: I shined when I did. Not many people can say that in their life time.
Dr. Damages: Yes. You were once called a genius. What did you actually do?
Cecilia Ibru: I learned all the contemporary buzzwords. I used them at the right time. And I transformed a small bank into a mega bank. Such magic do not happen everyday in any industry.
Dr. Damages: So you created value from nothing? What percentage is magic, what percentage is odu and what percentage is ojoro?
Cecilia Ibru: Sharrup!

Dr. Damages. Excuse me?

Cecilia Ibru: I created financial instruments, if you know what I mean.
Dr Damages: And you used it to screw your customers?
Cecilia Ibru: Don’t insult me. Consider this your second warning. Remember this is not your studio. This is my stage.

Dr. Damages: Sorry ma.

Cecilia Ibru: I figured that what is good for me is good for the country. My goal was to take Nigeria’s capital market from a local champion to the pinnacle of the world. Unfortunately, my good intentions were misunderstood.
Dr Damages: Looking at your list of forfeited properties, one question nobody seems to have an answer for is how much wealth is too much?
Cecilia Ibru: You won’t understand this until you’re wealthy. Wealth first defines the self. Then it becomes the self. Then the entanglement between wealth and the self becomes a problem. That is when wealth becomes the soul of the ego. At that point, you have to keep living it up, jumping from one pastime to another, crawling from one craving to another, pursuing power and perusing playgrounds of the rich. It is intoxicating.
Dr Damages: So in layman’s language, your greed got the better part of you?
Cecilia Ibru: Mister man, there is no vaccination against greed. It is a plague.
Dr. Damages: Where does that leave the hardworking bank customers who trusted bankers like you with their earnings?
Cecilia Ibru: Money is so important in our lives that only a stupid fellow leaves it in the hands of the bankers.
Dr. Damages: Do you consider yourself blessed?
Cecilia Ibru: “The lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want.”
Dr. Damages: Are you insecure?
Cecilia Ibru: Don’t be silly! What do you mean by that?
Dr Damages: It has been said that those who flaunt their wealth are insecure?
Cecilia Ibru: You’re a stupid man. What does a poor church rat like you know about the lives of the rich?
Dr Damages: You were once a secretary to Mr. Ibru.
Cecilia Ibru: So?
Dr. Damages: And you later married him.
Cecilia Ibru: Yes. What are you getting at? That I had no skills? That I used bottom power? Say it. Be a man. Say it for that is all that you men think when you see a successful woman. Yeah. She must have used long leg. She must have slept her way to the top. If they do not stick, you say she must be a witch.

Dr. Damages: No. Not at all. That’s not what I am getting at.
Cecilia Ibru: (interrupts) So you know, it takes a lot of skills to go from being the secretary to the MD to become the wife of the MD. It takes even more skills that you men do not have to become the MD of your husband’s cooperation.

Dr. Damages: I bet.
Cecilia Ibru: Don’t patronize me.
Dr. Damages: Of course not.
Cecilia Ibru: All my life, I have known that those who control the money of any nation control the nation. So I worked hard to be one of them.
Dr. Damages: And does it matter how they get that control?
Cecilia Ibru: The end justifies the means. Ukpe dete, ke ru'emu r'ukpe. (When the time of the year arrives, you do what is due.)
Dr. Damages: Even if you become a crook in the process?
Cecilia Ibru: I am not a crook. I am a deaconess. A member of the Order of the Federal Republic.
Dr Damages: I did not say that you were a crook. A judge…
Cecilia Ibru: (interrupts) In any case, the history of philanthropy is about crooks who gave back. Think Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller, J. P. Morgan, Milton S. Hershey, Harvey Firestone and Cornelius Vanderbilt. I was about to start giving back when…
Dr Damages: (interrupts) I find your logic absurd.
Cecilia Ibru: Please don’t interrupt me again or I will throw you out of here. What does a suffer head like you know? The only way to have more money is to make others to have less.
Dr. Damages: You have the scarcity mindset.
Cecilia Ibru: Listen well well. Stop talking jargon. I created many jargons in my career. The jargon changes but the smell is still the same.
Dr. Damages: Looking at you, can you fault anyone who says that the best way to rob a bank is to work for one.
Cecilia Ibru: Yeye man. I did not rob my bank. I utilized the same opportunities that we offer our customers.

Dr. Damages: How are your siblings taking your fall?

Cecilia Ibru: They are too many. After I helped many of my Urhobo people get prime places in banking, they abandoned me. Dey don chop wipe mouth.
Dr. Damages: Have your friends been reaching out to you since you got here?
Cecilia Ibru: My friends are smarter than that. They are the people Kenny Rogers sang about. They know when to fold up. They know when to run. They never count their money while sitting at the table. They know there will be time enough to count them, when the deal is done.
Dr. Damages: Does money feel better when you steal it?
Cecilia Ibru: Sontin dey do you. But let me make it clear again- I did not steal any money. Shomo? Got it?
Dr. Damages: Yes. But what were you? A bank baron?
Cecilia Ibru: I was an award winning banker.
Dr. Damages: Do you see any irony that you owned those scores of houses but will now spend six months pretending to be sick in a hospital just to avoid a six by six dirty prison room?
Cecilia Ibru: Our lord Jesus Christ owned the whole world but had to be born in a manger.
Dr Damages: What will be your legacy?
Cecilia Ibru: That I shattered the glass ceiling for women in banking. Before me, young girls only wear skimpy skirts in search of big accounts. Now those girls are free to own several big accounts worth millions of dollars themselves.
Dr. Damages: What do you want to be your epitaph?
Cecilia Ibru: In spite of what you’ve heard, I’m not going anywhere, anytime soon.
Dr Damages: Were you fabulously rich or excessively rich?
Cecilia Ibru: I was beyond rich. I was wealthy. Not that I expect a wretched fellow like you to know the difference.
Dr Damages: Other than happiness, was there anything left for you to buy?
Cecilia Ibru: Leisure.
Dr. Damages: You now have it, I suppose?
Cecilia Ibru: God punish you. Na so you dey enjoy your leisure time? I’m surrounded by sick people in a house that begins with an emergency room and ends with a mortuary. Is that your idea of leisure? Do you like the stinking smell of drugs and disinfectants in here? If you do, I don’t.
Dr. Damages: What will be the first thing you will do when you get out of here?
Cecilia Ibru: Build a church inside the premises of the Guardian newspaper. I will then change the Guardian motto to ‘conscience nurtured by hymns.’
Dr. Damages: What have you learned since you got here?

Cecilia Ibru: That it is still a man’s world out there. For the vagina, it is still a monologue.
Dr. Damages: Clint W. Murchison said that, “Money is like manure. If you spread it around, it does a lot of good, but if you pile it up in one place, it stinks like hell.” Did you regret not…

Cecilia Ibru: (interrupts) Bullshit!
Dr Damages: No?
Cecilia Ibru: There is a way you will pile manure and it will generate energy. That was what I failed to do. I allowed air to get into my pile.

(A nurse walks in and hands Cecilia Ibru a pill.)

Nurse: Your 4pm pill, ma.

Cecilia Ibru: What is it?

Nurse: The same pill you’ve been getting since you came here.

Cecilia Ibru: You half educated moron. I asked you a simple question- what-is-it?

Nurse: Placebo pill

Cecilia Ibru: What’s that?

Nurse: Inert pill.

Cecilia Ibru: If I sound you ah!

Nurse: It’s sham pill.

Cecilia Ibru: (Throws her hands in the air) Whatever!

(Nurse walks out. Cecilia Ibru puts the pill in her mouth and swallows with a glass of white wine.)
Dr. Damages: So what will change in your life when you come out?
Cecilia Ibru: I will leave the fisherman and follow the fisher of men, ojare!.

Dr. Damages: Thank you for talking to us.

Cecilia Ibru: Thank you.

Dr. Damages: There you have it, the indomitable Lady Cecilia Ibru. Until next time, goodnight and God bless.

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