A Tragedy With Great Lessons
On another board I belong to, their is an ongoing discussion regarding the death of Nigeria's First Lady Mrs Stella Obasanjo. Every death is a loss and as such a tragedy, so it goes without saying that I sympathise with all who have been affected by her death. But this is one tragedy that is filled with so many lessons, innuendos and ironies. It is interesting how sometimes it takes things like this to happen to wake a society up. It would be unfortunate if we as nigerians do not seize the opportunity to address issues that have arisen because of this.
This link (http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com//index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1871 ) is to an open letter written to President Obasanjo by a prominent Nigerian activist lawyer, Gani Fawehinmi. It is his attempt to start a debate about the issues the tragedy of Mrs Obasanjo's death and the Bellview plane crash raises. Whether this is the right platform or not is quite debateable, but the issues exist none-the-less. Widely read newspaper columnist Reuben Abati's response to Fawehinmi's letter is at this link.( http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1873&Itemid=55 ). Abati attempts to question Fawehinmi's motives of writing such a letter. He also has some interesting things to say concerning theseincidents.
Please read both articles before proceeding to read a forum members comment and my response from the other board below. I thought to include these to give you a blue print of the discussion.
My people fortunately or unfortunately I am not quite done with this issue (and the other peripheral issues that have come out of it). so please indulge me cuz this is one discussion(not argument) that I am quite keen to have.We all know the background to this story so there is no need to waste your time recounting. I'd just like to respond to a couple of things that some of you said when we last had this discussion.
Tayo: you said everything a civil servant does must be made known because they are dealing with taxpayers’ money. I agree there must be transparency within the government but only to a certain degree. Everyone is entitled to their own privacy regardless of their position. As you rightly mentioned in other countries the media prints anything they like but my guy that doesn’t make it right. It is a make shift measure that is widely accepted simply because we live in a blame culture and lack the ability to look inwards. it is very easy for Mr ojo to blame the NEPA MD who drives a Benz when there is not light meanwhile Mr ojo has not bothered to pay his bills.
Adaure: You said Stella is a public figure because she "willingly" sought media attention and my question is how do you quantify someone's will to do something. For all we know Stella might have been under pressure to have done what she did or maybe she was told it’s what first ladies are meant to do. My point is these things are subject to interpretation. No one knows exactly what was going on in her mind or the mind of anyone who has been under the media spotlight.
Now please don’t get me wrong I know the media and what they do are extremely important. I personally think the media is meant to empower by providing THE PEOPLE with information. But there is an ethical judgement that needs to be made and that is what and what not to publish...some people just print everything and this to me is just feeding the beast of strife and distrust.I am not questioning their motives however I do question their methods.
As far as I am concerned it’s been a while since I read an UNBIASED Nigerian article. They are either always in favour or against but never neutral. Now having said that I don’t think there is anything wrong in reporting Stella died from cosmetic surgery. What I am saying is 1) Please facts only not fiction or speculation (we all know it is true now but then we didn’t. 2) Are her family ok with this and 3) It doesn’t matter.Cosmetic surgery is only a big deal for a couple of reasons and that is because the science has not yet been perfected and because it hasn’t CS is quite expensive. When these issues have been addressed everyone will be doing it. Or you don’t think so? Ok how does it differ from wearing make-up or attaching a weave...its all about altering your appearance is not?Ok now that I have exorcised all my demons I would like to draw your attention to the URLs I put up. Gani has written an open letter to OBJ (which I think is most inappropriate not just for sentimental (i.e someone is dead) reasons but because I think the man is a dodohead) and Reuben Abati's response. (Please view all the responses to RA's article just below).
Nigeria is quite a funny place and to be honest I am quite terrified of what will happen to that Country. Not because of the obvious problems we have: HEALTH, EDUCATION, NEPA, SECURITY, BAD ROADS, BAD ECONOMY blah blah blah...these things can be fixed...but because of something more fundamental which I am afraid will not be easy to fix if fixable at all...Nigerians don’t love Nigeria. Infact WE probably hate it more than anybody else (Please just take a moment to think about this)Gani made quite a few comments but the most interesting to me is he said that despite all the countries OBJ has visited not one government sent anyone notable to attend Stella's burial. Although he intended this as an insult to OBJ for wasting his and our time/money by travelling I feel he was insulting Nigeria. What happened was not a reflection on a man but on a Nation because it shows how we are regarded. I won’t say what I really feel about GF out of small respect. But it is only in Nigeria that an individual (and not a very bright one at that) will gain recognition for saying exactly the opposite to what the status quo says and nothing more…not a single constructive statement.. I know every society needs people like these to make noise and sometimes rattle cages...but it is essential we realise that is all they are good for and not to actually give them any clout.
I don't think i am sold on Abati's response. I think Gani's letter has stronger points that support the reason for the manner of his letter. Gani makes a valid point when he points out that no high profile officials were sent to the funeral. If Laura Bush or Mrs. Blair dropped dead right now, tell me that half the government of Nigeria won't be there. Heck if they just caught influenza you would probably see a special envoy coming to deliver a basket of posies to them. It is indeed sad and i am unsure who to fault for that; should I say that those states were callous for having no regards for their counterparts loss, that it's naive of us to expect such for our late first lady or that OBJ was misguided in his priorities when he made some of those unneccessary trips. The news REALLY is not that Mrs Obasanjo died, it is HOW she died, and again this is argueable depending on what side of the ethical ruler you stand on. Think about the Monica Lewmisky and Clinton case as an example, it's not about the President had an affair, (all of them including JFK purportedly did) but the fact that he did it in the White House, with one of his staff. That story at the time was only 'ALLEGED' but it was widely reported and the media sought to uncover and seek the truth. So I disagree that the information about her having gone to Spain for a plastic surgery and subsequently died is irrelevant. In fact, based on libel laws in the US anything can legally be reported if you have witness account, (which was validated), attribute to at least two reliable sources, in this case there seemed to be several, including intellectual deduction based on the obvious fact that the clinic was a cosmetic clinic and you can even get around all that BS by using words like 'allegedly', 'purportedly' and so on. Worst of all, and in my own opinion, it is highly embarrassing, and sad to say that it is humorous to say that a whole First Lady died from plastic surgery. Think about it, how does that sound. Really? To top it off, it shows her priorities at 60 were highly misguided. Whatever her insecurities had been plastic surgery should not have been a solution. There was a time when African women were once proud of their ability to age gracefully and carry their body, whatever it was with pride, but in these days of 'Modupe Ozolua' perpertrated body image (like the ones in the magazines haven't doen enough damage), the solution is now to nip-and-tuck, EVEN men are doing. Alams (Gov of BAYELSA) wanted to get rid of his abdominal adiposity didn't he? Meanwhile, his people suffer. Same with the first lady... private decision or not, they are all supposed to be held accountable because sometimes some of these private decisions, just like the choices to have affairs, get divorced etc DO inadvertanly or otherwise reflect upon society, either in negative or positive ways. I don't even need to talk about government officials seeking healthcare abroad, whether with their own money or government money, while their constituents are dying on theater tables...something as simple as malaria continues to be a problem in the 21st century, common medicines are luxury treatments and managing aids is non-existent. Let's not even talk about basic amenities like water, roads and primary education. How many people can even spell or say 'liposuction'. THAT is really the arguement that this tragic incident raises and it should not be overlooked because it happened to be part of someones diatribe (Abati's article sort of skates around this in favor of sentiments). At somepoint we have to discard sentiments and talk about issues. That is my soap box for now
This is an open forum so please feel free to agree or disagree with any one of our comments (all 4), join the debate, chastize or correct where neccesary. Every opinion is important so exercise your right to free speech so let's talk. YOU'RE ON.....