Naija Notes: His Master’s Voice

by Toni Kan Onwordi

When I was young, there used to be this advert in DRUM magazine, which my mum loved to buy and read. It was of a dog sitting with its ears primed to hear the sound from a speaker.

The copy read: His Master’s Voice (HMV) or something to that effect.

What intrigued my young mind was the fact that the supposed master was nowhere in sight. Thinking back now, I suppose that the dog did not have to see the master. What was important was that the dog could hear and interpret the master’s voice and instructions.

I just heard a little story that brought back that ad to mind and left some questions whirling in the pool of my mind.

Well, someone just offered me a beautiful insight into OBJ’s style of governance. The man said Nigeria is a difficult country and that to govern a country as multifaceted as Nigeria one needs to act like a Mumu.

Wondering where it was all heading, I nodded and fixed him an intense gaze. Encouraged he continued: “That is why OBJ acts like a Mumu. By acting like a Mumu, he lets all these Hausa people think he doesn’t know what he is doing. But when they have finished making noise, he will just do what he wants to do.”

Nice logic, but what beats me is that OBJ has always done what those who put him in power want him to do. And for those who don’t understand what this is all about, you may wish to ask why OBJ is always holding closed door meetings with IBB, one of the architects of Nigeria’s decay.

What are they discussing?


And for those who think I hate IBB, this one’s for you. I don’t. I actually admire the man, if admiration is the word.

Like a specimen pinned to the wall in a biology lab, I find IBB interesting and if I had a chance to pick one prominent figure whom I’d love to spend a whole day with, it would be a tough fight between IBB, Mandela and Salman Rushdie.

And if there were one prominent figure I would love to write his biography, IBB would be my clear choice. Why the fixation on IBB, you may ask? Well, it’s simple. IBB interests me the way an exotic specimen interests a scientist, the way a skull interests a paleontologist, the way the prey interests the hunter.

I want to know why IBB, so short and so little read could find it in him to run rings like Maradona around 80m Nigerians for eight long years. I want to discover what sorcery he used to get Soyinka, Tai Solarin and the rest to agree to work with him. I want to know what dark magic he uses to control those IBB boys who have remained fiercely loyal to him over the years. I want to know why a man who has been accused of virtually every crime under the sun can still wield such political clout in a country as big and varied as Nigeria. I want to peer into the depth of the mind of this evil genius to discover what fiendish creatures lie within.

Call this admiration if you will.


Okay, we have a new Miss World. And her name is Azira Akin. No. She is not Nigerian. This Akin is from Turkey and is the daughter of Turkish émigrés, who have made their home in the Netherlands. Azira in her acceptance speech minutes after Agbani Darego crowned her said she hopes ” to represent the women of the world in good way.”

Back here, the ripples are sending muck up to the surface. Allianz and Silverbird are embroiled in a controversy over who said what and who did what. Meanwhile, Angela Onyeador got a London court to freeze the accounts of the Miss World organizers over an alleged breach of contract.

Julian Morley must shudder when she hears Nigeria.


Okotie for president. Well, its no longer a mere wish, its unraveling. His mug can be seen adorning the back pages of newsmagazines like The News. Okotie who is running under the umbrella of the NDP is offering himself as The FRESH CHOICE for president.

Okotie may however not be the only “funny” contestant for the top spot, especially with the registration of 22 new parties by INEC. With Gani and the like joining the fray things are sure to get more exciting.

Keep you posted.


On Sunday, I was tickled when I heard a child say to his playmate: I will fatwa you o!

I was not so tickled however when a friend of mine who works with a soft sell magazine came by to see me and showed me a copy of a near-fatwa issued by a “concerned muslim”.

My friend’s crime: he works in a media house that publishes novellas and the concerned muslim was piqued by what he referred to in his letter as: “a statement you made in one of your … titled … The statement ‘bearded terrorist’ against Osama bin Laden is very sensitive to us. We are not very current with your magazine but we incidentally come(sic) across this one, as such, we are going to be current from now on. We are therefore warning you to be very careful with your write ups, what happen(sic) to Thisday newspaper in Kaduna can also happen to you. We have different strategies to engineer it on you.. Hope you will be warned.”

God help us all!


Cheers to Gov. Ahmed Mohammed Makarfi of Kaduna State. For sticking to his guns and sticking out his neck with out fear and saying it as it is.

Please post your comments below

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Sabella Ogbobode Abidde March 1, 2005 - 5:02 am

Your piece was witty and interesting. The part that touched on Babaginda reminded me of Etounga-Manguelle’s contribution to the anthology CULTURE MATTERS, in which he said, “In Africa…the entire social body accepts, as a natural fact, the servitude imposed by the strongman of the moment…This is both true and false. If African peoples were not underdeveloped (that is to say, passive, resigned, and cowardly), why would they accept underdeveloped leaders.” Malevolent, he was.

sani mohammed lawan February 12, 2005 - 10:10 pm

could u please ask Toni Kan 2 please write me? I am a big fan of his. kan things get better?

Akintan Ademola February 12, 2000 - 1:15 pm

Niegria of today is becoming more and more scarier for those of us abroad and people at home are complaining we don’t wnt to come home. I desire to come home with all my hearth but safety is an issue if no one is going to Fatua me.


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