Monday, February 25, 2008


Olusegun Obasanjo, Alao Akala, Lucky Igbinedion and James Ibori. These “great” men have a lot in common. Apart from sharing a penchant for making private use of public funds, they are members of the same religious denomination. They are Baptists.
President Olusegun Obasanjo attends Owu Baptist Church, Abeokuta, Governor Alao Akala attends Molete Baptist Church, Ibadan, Governor James Ibori is a member of First Baptist Church, Warri while Governor Lucky Igbinedion is a member of Central Baptist Church, Benin
How did the Baptists come to town?
The work of the Baptist Mission in Nigeria started with the arrival of a Missionary named Thomas Jefferson Bowen in Badagry on August 5, 1980. T.J Bowen was sent to Africa under the auspices of the Southern Baptist Convention of the United States of America.
Bowen University, which is situated in Osun state, was named after this Pioneer Missionary..
The Baptist Church unlike other Orthodox denominations believes strongly in the concept of democracy and autonomy of the local church. This has to do with its American origins. The Pastor is regarded as the shepherd of the flock. However, the Baptist ideology of democracy gives the sheep the right to determine their shepherd. If the sheep do not like the shepherd’s face, they simply vote him out and get another one. This is very much unlike the structures in other denominations like The Anglican Communion, The Catholic Church and The Methodist church. The aforementioned churches operate a centralized structure in which Priests/ Preachers are posted by a central body to various churches. After a while, such a priest could be transferred to another church in a totally different domain. In the event that a priest is not liked for any reason, a report is made to the central body and his transfer is effected. Baptists do not need to go through this long process. There is a monthly meeting of registered Church members in which two-thirds of the members present simply have to vote out the Pastor. He is shown his way out of the door and he finds himself in the Spiritual Job Market. Baptists cherish their democratic way of doing things. Everything has to be voted on. Simple majority determines a lot of things in the church.

Obasanjo’s association with the Baptist Church started from his Secondary school days. He attended the Baptist Boys High School Abeokuta.
In his local church , Obasanjo played the game of democracy to its fullest. He had in times past , helped in unseating Pastors that preached messages he did not like to hear. Baptists were not surprised by Obasanjo’s actions as Nigeria’s President. The obstinacy and blind ambition, which characterized his tenure, had been evident in his contributions to his local church. The principles of democracy which he practiced in his local church were brought to fore on the national scene.
Governor Lucky Igbinedion
The Igbinedions are Baptists by tradition. The scion of the Igbinedion Clan – Chief Gabriel Igbinedion (The Esama of Benin Kingdom) is a prominent Baptist in Edo land.
However, he adds a sprinkling of traditional religion to his faith. He is said to mix the worship of local deities with his Baptist faith. An incident, which happened a couple of years back at one of his birthdays, comes to mind. Chief Gabriel Igbinedion arrived the Baptist Church in his full regalia to celebrate his birthday. Lady Cherry, his wife accompanied him. Esama thought it was going to be a traditional birthday service before they moved home for the celebrations. This was however not to be. The young Pastor in the church had no respect for the person of the Esama. He chose to preach on Idolatry and its Disastrous consequences. Esama hurriedly departed before the end of the message. He found a nearby church to hold his Birthday service.
Governor Alao Akala is from Ogbomosho in Oyo State. Indigenes of this town are usually Baptists. He is a member of Molete Baptist Church in Ibadan. This Church has had the (mis)fortune of producing 2 Deputy Governors in Oyo State.
The first was Chief Iyiola Oladokun , the second is the incumbent governor- Chief Alao Akala. The church occupies an enormous expanse of land around the Molete area of Ibadan. An interesting fact to note is that some of the church land was ceded to it by the Baale of Molete – Chief Lamidi Adedibu. I really don’t know how much Akala has been listening to his Pastor. If I were the Pastor of his church, I would give him this message - MENE MENE TEKEL UPHARSIN.
As for James Onanafe Ibori- the enfant terrible of Niger-Delta Politics, his association with the Baptist Church started from his secondary school days. He attended a Baptist High School in Oghara. Till today, we do not know if he is the same person as James Ibori, a security man who was jailed for stealing roofing sheets during the military era.
Baptists take delight in memorizing the bible and reciting it by heart. Apparently, these spiritual drills have not made significant impact on Obasanjo, Akala, Lucky and Ibori
I am not insinuating that criminals abound in the Baptist Church. Even though it has its bad eggs, it has been able to produce great men such as Late Chief Sunday Awoniyi, Late Coach Yemi Tella, Late Chief Asalu, Senators Olorunnimbe Mamora, Tokunbo Afikuyomi and Jonathan Zwingina, Journalists such as Simon Kolawole of Thisday, Pentecostal Pastors such as Bishop Wale Oke, Pastor Tunde Bakare, Businessmen such as Gamaliel Onosode, Otega Emerhor, Remi Olowude and Bloggers such as Omo Alagbede and Tayo Odukoya

Monday, February 11, 2008


I’m really sorry I’ve not been able to update for a while. A lot of things have been happening at the same time. For those of you that read through the comments on my last post, you would have noticed that one of the Media Personalities that I mentioned in the write up replied to the post. This was none other than FAJ (Femi Akintunde Johnson).
I came in this morning to see that someone had sent in a reply to him. Well, that’s the power of the Internet. I never expected FAJ would get to see my article.
I can state that I have not met FAJ before. I have only heard of his great exploits. Regardless of what others might say, FAJ is a living legend and quite a number of people still know that. Only a few journalists get mentioned on KWAM 1 tapes. FAJ is one of them. I hope he gets the honor he deserves when a Media Hall of Fame is put into place It means a lot to hear that FAJ likes my writing style. Well, I am not a writer and I am not aspiring to be one. I am just a dedicated newspaper reader and a media lover.
I consider myself to be what Nigerian politicians call an “arm-chair critic”.
It wasn’t my plan to write another story about Nigerian airports/airlines. Funny things keep happening to me. A fellow blogger once remarked that I write with a rage. Maybe I do. I think I am just a normal person seeking a normal life in a normal country. I just seek normalcy. That’s not too much to ask of my country.
I had to travel to PortHarcourt sometime last week for some work. I was booked on Virgin Nigeria to fly to Port Harcourt International Airport. The flight was to leave at 7:40 a.m I got to the airport much earlier and checked into the departure lounge of the MMIA. It is instructive to note that FAAN has been having running battles with Virgin Nigeria and Arik Air over their refusal to move to the New Domestic Airport. Much of the departure lounge has been cut into by the Airport Authorities. Agents of FAAN had reduced Virgin Nigeria’s departure lounge to rubble in an attempt to show VN that they meant business.
I took my seat and I waited for the flight call. At about 7:15 pm, Virgin staff announced a delay on their flight to Port Harcourt International Airport due to abnormal weather conditions. A few minutes later, there was a boarding call for a Virgin Nigeria flight to NAF Base in Port Harcourt. NAF Base is used by smaller aircraft (usually 30 seater), while PH International Airport caters to large aircraft. At that point in time, I started wondering what was going on. How could Virgin have rough weather at PH International airport and still be able to fly into NAF Base, which is also in Port Harcourt? The Virgin staff tried to stand logic on its head by telling us that the smaller aircraft can handle lower visibility, while large aircraft are usually affected by turbulence. I sat quietly and my mind kept spinning. I had quality education from Primary school till I graduated from Nigeria’s Premier University. How could someone tell me that a 30 seater aircraft could handle turbulence better than a Boeing 727? The icing on the cake came much later. At about 8:00 am, Arik Air announced a boarding call for a flight to PH International Airport. Virgin Nigeria staff knew their game was up.
Looking around, I discovered that some people had surrounded the Virgin announcer’s desk. Apparently, Virgin Nigeria had not been able to fly to Port Harcourt from the previous evening. They had told the travelers that PH had low visibility. They later changed their story to that of Navigational facilities being poor at PH International Airport. Virgin had been carried over their “Weather tales” from the previous day till the day I was to travel. From nowhere, a Virgin Manager appeared and announced that the Weather had improved considerably but they had problems getting Aviation fuel. He said we could get a refund and exercise other Options to get to Port Harcourt. Some passengers totally lost their cool and were going to start manhandling the manager. I actually heard one of them tell the Virgin Manager that he was going to “catch fire” if he opened up his mouth to utter another lie. Shortly after, a senior manager arrived to tell us that they had problems getting aviation fuel but they were waiting for an aircraft to arrive from Abuja to convey us to PH.
I remember looking into the eyes of the young lady at the Virgin desk. She couldn’t sustain her gaze, as her eyeballs kept darting up and down making her look guilty. I felt pity for her. She was a decent individual who seemed caught in the indecent practices of a corporate entity. She didn’t seem cut out for the falsehood that emanated from her mouth.

I sat back on the metal benches and fell into depression. I started wondering – Why couldn’t Virgin Nigeria simply tell us that there was no aviation fuel? Why did they have to keep lying about the weather? Are Nigerians so daft and uneducated that you expect them to believe fables? Is the concept of Corporate Ethics and behavior totally alien to Multinationals working in this country. Is it possible for the Virgin brand to be associated with deceit in Europe or the Americas? Why? Why?
Why did they keep selling tickets when they knew they couldn’t fly? Why are there no consumer rights in Nigeria?
It is standard practice at the domestic airport for local airlines to announce disruptions due to weather and refuse to sell tickets for such flight. How could I convince anyone that Bellview, Chachangi, Capital and Associated airlines are more honest than Virgin Nigeria could ever be?
I suspect strongly that this is one of the major reasons why Virgin Nigeria has refused to leave the International Airport for the New Domestic one. Their game of deceit and falsehood would be impossible to sustain if they move in with their peers. How would you tell tall stories when Aero Contractors and Bellview are right beside you?
Do these people have any Integrity? Someone beside me at the airport said – “In Nigeria Integrity is not about following the rules and doing the right things. Integrity is about being able to afford a good life for your family and being able to build a house for your father-in-law”

At about 12 noon, our flight took off. It was almost 5 hours behind schedule for me. For others, it was 20 hours behind schedule.
On my return trip to Lagos, I recounted the story to the person that sat next to me. He told me of a startling discovery which he made on his Virgin Nigeria flight to PortHarcourt -As he sat down, he discovered a piece of cloth on his seat. Lo and behold, it was female underwear.