… Is The North I Know Better Than The South You Are From?
In all my years living in the North I have learnt one thing; their religion and love for fellow Northerner is unparalleled.
The year was 2004, a year after NYSC, we were to be employed at the NNPC as fresh graduates.
Along with my fellow Senior Applicants of Nigeria, I was of the right age, with the right qualifications, et al to be among the thousands to get employment. So, we applied as directed and waited for publication of our names.
In between, my friend, Ahmed (not real name) came to my house to inform me, “Segun, they have started shortlisting names o!”
“Great”, I exclaimed.
“Do you know anyone who can put in a word for you, a governor, a senator, HoR member, politician or 1st class chief, anybody powerful to help you get short listed?”
My heart sunk!
“I thought it’ll be based on merit. Why do I need all that connection for a job I’m qualified for?”
The explanation was long but interesting…
Ahmed’s father had approached a senior staff at NNPC who asked him to go to an Emir’s palace and include his son’s name on a ‘special list’ for those without some other connection to get enlisted.
He tried to squeeze me in but then my name is Olusegun Onibiyo; though geographically classed as a Northerner being from Kogi, I still couldn’t fit in UNLESS “you’ll change your name and state of origin”.
Of course, I refused.
I approached an uncle who introduced me to a serving senator then. But I had to leave Kaduna for Abuja to see him. I ended up spending 2 weeks, visiting the NASS on a daily basis to see him.
His PA though knew who I was by my family name will give me one excuse after the other.
Eventually, I ran into an old secondary school mate Salisu. He was serving as PA to one senator who’s his maternal uncle.
“Segun, to see these people, you just go and intentionally bump into them. If possible, create a scene and get attention”.
Like the blind man at the gate when Jesus passed, I gate crashed into the senator and his entourage on their way out of the NASS building.
“Who are you?” He bellowed.
I introduced myself, pushing the note into his palms.
He looked at me, looked at the note. Wanted to pass it on to his PA who had always given me excuses when I screamed, “sir, my life depends on that note. Please at least read it!”
One of the men close to him, I guess a senior member of his family echoed my words, “at least read”.
He read and looked at me. “Are you sure you’re Okun and this is your family name?”
I drew out my certificates, my state of origin certificate to show him…
“Look, if you’re qualified, I don’t know why they won’t give you a job.”
Me, “help me sir!”
“Hand your papers to my PA. I’ll see what I can do”.
“Thank you sir. I appreciate this. Oluwa a gbo tiyin. Okan yin a bale…”
He brushed past me with his entourage following behind.
He never did anything.
But my friend Ahmed, who knew my capabilities got enlisted without breaking sweat.
He had people who have the passion and love for their own.
Years after, when I walk into any office and see how Northerners occupy everywhere, I don’t envy them. I rather applaud their love for each other.
Each time the opportunity presents itself, they bring in their own to occupy; qualified or not. Known or unknown. Good or bad. They just fill the space.
We Southerners create problems for each other instead of assisting. Some even become a stumbling block. They won’t help you and won’t let anyone help you.
A friend was told years back when a man serving in the office he had applied and almost got the job to “go get more qualifications”. And that shut the door in his face.
I had a class mate during my undergraduate days who can’t speak any word of English. But Pidgin? You’ll strain your ears to hear what he’s saying.
He was a tailor and had 3 credits in WAEC- Hausa, IRK and Agriculture (which he said he didn’t write himself but copied from a friend). But he was the best student in his local government. So was enrolled into school.
He finished National Diploma with an Ordinary PASS. Then went on to become councillor, chairman and even went to the NASS in Abuja.
Imagine he was from the South. He’ll never have made it past his tailoring table.
So when I read Southerners complain that Northerners occupy everywhere, I ask, “how many of your own brothers and sisters have you ever assisted to get to the top?
The North benefit so much from helping each other get to the top. We in the South drag ourselves down instead.
You forget quickly; the help you render today is like planting to reap later. Yes, some may forget your good deeds yet someone will not forget your name and bless your children.
In conclusion, I met a man who told the story of how he dreamt he died and went to heaven.
At the gate, he was told it was not yet time but in case he needs to take a peep before going back, he must be able to ask God a question God can’t answer.
Before him were two men. The first asked God, “God, who created the devil?”
God laughed and said, “me. He was the most beautiful creature I ever made but he failed so I cast him out”.
He stood aside.
The second man asked God, “God, who gave the name NIGERIA to Nigeria?”
God laughed louder and replied, “Lugard’s girl friend. They were a people living in different countries but she brought them together by that name”.
He too stood aside.
The man stepped up and whispered in God’s ears. God looked up and down and said, “angel, let him take a peep at heaven for 45 minutes”.
The two other men and the angel stood surprised asked, “what question qualified him to peep into heaven that you couldn’t answer?!”
God responded, “when will black people, especially the South unite?”
Truth in finality, the South is her own problem. Why do we find it difficult to stand for one another? Are we cursed?
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I’m done, I’m gone, I’m ghost!