Naija Notes: A Year After The Explosions

by Toni Kan Onwordi

Everytime I read a piece on JFK, there is almost always a reference to where the author was at the particular moment when he heard the news of JFK’s assassination.

For Americans and by extension, the rest of the world who live in Planet CNN, the only other event that comes close is the 9/11 strike on the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Everyone, I suppose remembers where he or she was when Osama Bin Laden made himself a household name and Al Quaida stepped majestically into the lexicon of infamy.

For us in Nigeria, in Lagos to be precise, we all remember where we were and what we were doing when the world came to a momentary end on January 27th 2002.

It was a Sunday. Back from church, I had gorged myself on a tasty meal prepared by my fiancée, now wife. Filled up, I dozed off. I remember being woken up to go the bedroom. The first thing I recall was the door to my room slamming shut.

Exchanging surprised looks we headed for the room like two actors in a horror flick. We opened the door and felt a gust of wind rattle one of the windows. When we looked at the window, we saw a huge ball of fire mushroom into the sky.

My mind went to TV footages of Hiroshima. Mushroom clouds have always meant trouble.

We reached for our phones just as a million other Lagosians were doing. It didn’t work. The traffic was clogging up the systems. We turned the radio on. One of the stations was taking calls from panicky Lagosians who were making u-turns on 3rd Mainland Bridge. No one knew what was amiss.

Standing on the balcony we noticed that the members of our street were standing out doors and screaming that the earth was shaking.

“Earthquake!” Some one cried and our landlord screamed: “If this house fall, I go kill myself!”

His lament was drowned by shouts of: “Na Coup! Na Coup!”

Our landlord didn’t kill himself, but the next day after the earth had stopped shaking and mushroom clouds had dispersed over a thousand Lagosians were dead and missing and homeless.

Its already one year since that black Sunday and once again, the papers are replete with adverts remembering the dead and those who lost dear ones are recalling their grief anew.

Yesterday, my kid brother home from school came to my house turned out in black. He wanted to borrow a car. When I asked where he was going, he said they were going to LTV for a memorial service.

After he drove off, I knelt down and offered a prayer for the dead and for this country. May our sun never set so early ever again.


Mid last week a judge told Alex Ekwueme that he was tardy. The presiding judge told Ekwueme who is praying the court to stop OBJ from parading himself as the PDP candidate that a man who felt sure of himself would have gone to court earlier instead of waiting for 15 days to file suit.

Ekwueme is not perturbed. The septuagenarian is now fighting to destroy the house he built. He is canvassing a Kenyan Style coalition of political parties to confront the PDP come April.

Time will tell.


ASUU is expected to call off their two-week-old strike following the FG’s decision to accept their condition. With the new development members of ASUU will be smiling to the banks.

My kid brothers home on forced holiday have been screaming blue murder. “Haba, this strike is taking too long.” “Let the FG listen to dem joo.”

When I got tired of their griping I told them to shut up. In my own time, when ASUU goes on strike you pack your stuff and head home. Once you get home you start looking for a vac job because ASUU strikes didn’t last less than 3 months back then.

Because first, the FG would arrest the head honchos of ASUU, charge them to court, release them and threaten them before remembering that there was something called negotiations.

How times have changed.


Caught in a crazy rain on Thursday last week, I had to park and seek refuge in a fast food joint. Snacks and soft drinks in front of me, Kris Okotie came on air to make things better.

As usual he came armed with a full arsenal of jawbreakers. He told his interviewer that God has called him to rule Nigeria, that INEC changed the rules governing the primaries just to favour him, that so many parties were wooing him to be their presidential flag bearer and that it was time for a generational change.

I am not a skeptic, but I don’t like it when people invoke God’s name just like that, pastor or not.

April is around the corner and Okotie is supposed to accept a party by Wednesday. Keep you posted.

And as the elections approach, I want to make a plea: no matter where you are or who you vote for, pray for and make sure there is peace.

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