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You do me, I do you…

Have you ever really sat down to think about what this seemingly innocuous phrase means? You do me, I do You. It happens in everyday life; between colleagues in the offices, between staff and oga in the ministries, between two market women selling tomatoes or crayfish in adjacent sheds, between husbands and wives, between boyfriends and girlfriends, between men and women, between presidential aspirants from the same political parties, between big men trying to out do each other, between lecturers and students, between you and your village people…it happens every day.
Of course some folks have given it another extra-contextual metaphoric interpretation, which invokes certain existential carnal sensibilities, but it will be safer, for the purpose of this piece to settle within the confines of its literal translation
You can even relate it to the vintage onomatopoeic classical statement by none other than Baba himself, OBJ; that incomparable sage of legendary anecdotal malapropism. The statement: ‘I just dey laff kekekeke’ defies all grammatical innuendoes and when placed within the context in which it was uttered, it leaves you absolutely breathless at its sheer demagoguery and the reductionist import of its derogatory brilliance. It is just like that other exceptional one ‘I dey kampe’ Simply unbeatable.
So back to our topic. Take for instance in politics. Some people see themselves as king-makers. They arrogate so much powers to themselves. They can do and undo when they are in power. They hire and fire at will without the slightest qualm over what thier actions will cause to the families of those at the receiving end. They bring everybody to their knees because they control the instrument of authority. They are the the beginning and end of every discussion and they build a cult of sycophancy and followership around themselves.
But lo and behold, they suddenly find themselves either out of power or seeking for power and suddenly they have to go back to those people they had treated so badly when they were godfathers and king-makers. The equation changes dramatically and you who was once the dispenser of favours find yourself begging to be accepted. But to your chagrin, new people have taken over the place where you once held sway and some of them were amongst those you treated badly in the past. And they now feel that it is time for them to get their own pound of flesh. You do me I do you. See?
The PDP primaries has thrown up so many you do me i do you’s all over the federation. A former president suddenly finds himself in a situation where he is in conflict with his own political son, who is trying to use the daughter of the man he took his place as President to replace his own Senator daughter. You do me I do You.
In another case, a grand old political godfather has crossed swords with his own blood son, because he wants to do with his daughter, what he did with the son, but the son will not support his sister. This was the same thin that Papa Oloye did with others when he foisted his son over them, now he is facing trouble right inside his own house for it. You do me, I do you.
But the most interesting must be that of a senatorial aspirant who won the primaries but suddenly finds that what was done to some others in the past may be coming back to haunt the present as certain forces who had been allies in the days of undoing people have now shown that in politics, there are no permanent friends or enemies, only permanent interests.
In fact, what makes our senator aspirant’s case very interesting is that the people are solidly behind the aspirant, but the political structure which had been so ruthless in past is not ready or willing to change its ways. What the leaders of that structure are saying in clear terms is: You were part of us when we did certain things in the past so you should not complain now that it is happening to you. That is politics. You do me, I do you.
Anyways, all that is for the politicians and it is certain that they will soon sort themselves out. The people have already spoken and that is that. You do me, I do you, Man no go vex. Life goes on. Period.


Zephaniah Orchardson Campbells (ZOC) Diai Profile of a Legend (One Year Remembrance)

Pa Zephaniah Orchardson Campbells Diai (ZOC) was born on July 27, 1918 to Mr and Mrs Juwe Diai of Atuma Quarters in Idumuje Ugboko (Odi Ani Ancestral genealogy) of Aniocha North, Delta state, Nigeria.His parents, Mr and Mrs Juwe Diai were pioneer Anglican Christians in Idumuje Ugboko, hence they christened their son Zephaniah, after the biblical 7th century BC Hebrew prophet who brought the word of the Lord to the people of Israel in time of King Josiah of Judah.

At birth he was christianed Zephaniah Oseloka Chukwukadibia, (ZOC), but it was a testimony of the extra-ordinary mystique which surrounded the enigmatic  ZOC that he seamlessly transformed in later life into the legendary ZOC Diai.

Zephaniah was the last child and second boy in a family of five children born to Mr and Mrs Juwe Diai. He grew up in Idumuje Ugboko and it was in those early years that the legend of ZOC began to consolidate.

He carved a niche for himself as an independent minded, free spirited child who even in those early years, displayed a healthy propensity and admirable appetite for activism.He was a handsome, brilliant and an extremely athletic young boy who also displayed a phenomenal  prowess in foootball which astonished not only his peers and village kinsmen but indeed the early missionaries, who had come to Idumuje Ugboko to establish the early church in the entire Anioma region.

His father Juwe (who was later christened David) was accredited to be the first Catechist in Idumuje Ugboko and indeed the entire Anioma region  and as a result of his good works in evangelism, the white missionaries decided to reward him by undertaking to train one of his children to higher school. The obvious choice was of course the young Zephaniah and thus he was to follow the white missionary to Onitsha where he then attended the famous and prestigious Denis Memorial Crammer School (DENGRAM).

It was at DENGRAM that the legend of ZOC was fully cemented. Zephaniah became one of the great academicals footballer of generation and as a defender (or back man as they were known in those days) his no-nonsense, hard-tackling  solid defensive style laced with  intelligent skills earned him the nick name ‘Maginot Line’, a name derived from the near impregnable wall of defensive fortifications put up by the French resistence against the invading forces of Hitler before the second world war.

He later returned to Idumuje Ugboko were his fame not only grew in leaps and bounds  as a great footballer but  indeed established the reputation of the Diai family with his elder brother Gilbert,  as one of the leading intellectual lights of the Idumuje Ugboko.

A few years later, the young Zephaniah decided to venture into the Nigerian Diaspora and this took him to the Northen region were he had many exciting adventures as a young missionary. He traversed the area from Kaduna to Kafanchan, to Zaria and the hills and plains of Ugwu Hausa helping to spread Christianity in the region. He also  became an active youth politician when he joined the Zikist Youth movement and even rose to become the Secretary General of the body before it metamorphosed into the NCNC.

Zephaniah returned to the East and the garden city of  Port Harcourt  after his sojourn in the North in the early years when SHELL had just began its exploration activities in Nigeria and his brilliance and exposure was soon recognized by the management of the Multinational company who immediately contracted him as one of the pioneer Seismic Photographers whose job was to record for posterity, the exploration activities of SHELL in the Niger Delta as they laid pipes and drilled underground tunnels through the length and breadth of the riverine communities.

He was then sent by SHELL to the prestigious Oxford University for a crash programme in Photography and later to the famous Cambridge University for a refresher course in the same discipline all of which enabled him to efficiently and effectively discharge his very tasking responsibilities as he produced award winning photographs of the early exploration activities of SHELL in the Niger Delta.

Sadly however the bright promise and future which SHELL represented was rudely terminated when the Nigeria/Biafra civil war broke out in 1967. ZOC was greatly inspired by the brilliance and oratory of Colonel Chukwuemeka Odimegwu Ojukwu and as a true patriot quickly volunteered for service and was subsequently drafted into the Biafran Army.

By virtue of his bravery and brilliance as a military strategist he became the adjutant to Lt. Col Achuzia (popularly referred to as ‘Air Raid’) and those who served with him during the short lived civil war have only tales of his heroism, gallantry, discipline, his sterling leadership qualities and his courageous and humane disposition which helped to save the lives of so many young soldiers from the Anioma region during the war. Some of the exploits of ZOC during the war have been recorded in such authoritative war novels on the Nigerian Civil like General Olusegun Obasanjo’s ‘My Command’ and Major General Alexander Madiebo’s “The Nigerian Revolution and the Biafran War“.

After the war, ZOC returned to the quiet, sedentary peaceful life of a senior citizen. His participation on the Biafran side during the civil war ensured that he would no longer be welcomed in SHELL so he decided to concentrate more on assisting and communing with his immediate and extended family. He relocated to Benin City in the old Bendel state where he became a successful business man.

He was also at the forefront for the agitation of Anioma state and it has been claimed in several knowledgeable quarters that the pioneer meetings which set down the blue print and strategies for the renewd agitation of Anioma state in the late 1970’s and early 80’s, were held in his residence at No. 31 Oghoro Road, Benin City. Zephaniah  did not also forget his kinsmen of Idumuje Ugboko for it was also at his residence that the Idumuje Ugboko Development Union  (IUDU) gained greater prominence in the then Bendel state and he was to become the President of the IUDU in Benin for a period.

ZOC later moved over to Ikare in Ondo state, where he teamed up with the former military admistrator of the state, retired General Aduloju to manage his farm for a while, before returning once again to Lagos to be with his elder sister, the late Madam Dorothy Arinze.  He then traveled to the United States of America on an extended vacation to see his daughter Matilda and his grand children and came back home in the late 1980’s when he finally retired to his country home in Idumuje Ugboko to spend the rest of his days on earth.

In 2005, ZOC was struck down by an unexpected stroke, and though he was still active in mind, body  and senses, the ailment kept him indoors  and coupled with his aging years, wore him down until he said goodbye to life at the ripe old age of 92 years. He was the last of his parents children and he was fittingly too the last to depart the world when his time came and the good Lord called him to join the saints on October 28, 2010.

All through his life, ZOC Diai was a man who loved life and lived it to the fullest. He was flamboyant in speech, manner and dressing. He was articulate and a great orator. He was debonair and had a camaraderie that was at once sophisticated and psychedelic. His generosity was legendary and he loved to give to his fellow men. His love for his friends, family and companions was unparalleled. He was a true father to all his children, a loving uncle to his relatives, a friend indeed to his peers and a man with a very large heart who made sure that all who came to him were given rest and comfort.

He was a handsome man in young and old age; tall, with sparkling eyes and a big laugh which made everything all right. He was full of humour and enjoyed life completely. His philosophy in life was ‘live and let live’ and he lived a simple, cultured, intellectually ordered lifestyle. He was a de-tribalized man who saw everyone as his brother and sister. He never discriminated against anybody.

Zephaniah was  also a great poet and often recited Grey’s ‘Elegy in a Country Churchyard’, John Milton’s ‘Paradise lost and Paradise Regained’ and other classics from such great literary figures like Shakespeare, W.B Yeats and  John Keats, effortlessly. Above all, he was a devout christian brought up in the proper Anglican tradition. He was a chorister per excellence and one of his best songs was the Anglican hymn, ‘Peace, be Still’.

Today Zephaniah Orchardson Campbells (ZOC) Diai has gone to join his Lord and Maker. He is at Peace now in the bossom of the Lord. He was survived by his wife Uche, His Children, Matilda, Nkiru, David and Ngozi and numerous grand children, Nieces, Nephews, Cousins and in-laws.

Rest in Peace. Pa Z.O.C.

On My Wedding Day…

I got married on the 26th of June, 2010 and i can tell you that it was not a day too soon.
I will not bother you with the numerous family meetings that had been called on my behalf to address the matter of what my folks and kinsmen referred to as my ‘stubborn decision’ to remain single. Or the fact that my Mother had become very unhappy and i had a running battle with my Father over the matter. Need i tell you that my sisters had actually suggested some match-making games which i had quickly dismissed to the utter embarrassment of the blind dates?
I will not even disturb you with the number of times my friends had had to leave me out of some important outings because i did not have a wife and let me not even bother you with the embarrassing moments when i have been stopped on the road by well-wishers who felt it was their God-given duty to advise me on the joys and benefits of marriage and why i must, as a matter of urgent national importance (according to them), get married immediately because even they were beginning to get embarrassed on my behalf.
I could not even attend my village meeting every second Sunday of the month because of it and some people had even used the word ‘too selective’ about women to describe my unmarried state. That was how bad the matter had become.
For those of you who do not know me, i will spare you my date of birth so you do not trouble yourselves with my age, but suffice it to say that some of my mates who married ‘early’ now have grown up kids who sit down with them and discuss man-to-man, (if you know what i mean). Some others had quietly married without any announcements or fanfare and had ‘surprisingly’ presented their wives to the rest of us in some function or the other and suddenly had everyone looking in my direction once again with re-newd disdain.
And some even have two or three wives…In fact it got so bad that many people thought ‘my village people’ (am sure you know the ones am talking about) had finally got me on this matter of marriage.
However, what I can tell you about me is that I am made of sterner stuff than most people think, but as the years flew by, this marriage matter was becoming something that had so far tasked all my calculations. I even started going to that church on the mountain after i had gone to the one on the rock and tried to be a Redeemed Winner, all in the hope that i will finally get those i suspected to be behind my single-hood to ‘die by fire’. All the dry fasting and deliverance did not get me a wife at that time but what i can safely say now is that they must have gone a long way to ‘clear the road’ for my wife to come through when she finally did on June 26, 2010.
With the benefit of hindsight, i can tell you now that perhaps i had been the reason for my being single for all this while. Most people who had known me for a very long time will tell you that i had a very peculiar set of references for the woman i wanted to marry and i made sure i told every body about them so no one would be in doubt about what i wanted. I will tell you just two of them; She must be LEFT-HANDED and SHE MUST BE AN INDIGENE OF MY STATE. No wonder people said i was selective. But the real problem was that i had never lived in my state since it was created so it was going to be a helluva task to find a left-handed Deltan in Ibadan or Lagos or Port-Harcourt or Yenagoa or even Bradford or Los-Angeles or in transit somewhere between cities or countries. I had to come back home to Delta and that was exactly what i did.
I met my lovely wife again in Delta in February, proposed to her in March, went to see her folks in April, finished the marriage counselling in May and married her in June. Just like that. There really was no time to waste because she had everything i had always wanted in a woman and for the first time in my life, i had finally met my true match.
And because everything happened in such a whizz, i almost didn’t get ready on time for my wedding. In fact i came late.
And because all my friends were married I was in a fix to find a ‘Best Man’. I am a great stickler for tradition and old school things,  so I searched far and wide  and finally got Cyril, from Port Harcourt to do it for me. Now Cyril is a brilliant young Poet and one of the very few amongst my  protegees who’s still single and he was just preparing to go to Youth service when I snared him.
The ceremony had been fixed for 10am but was moved one hour ahead because of the monthly sanitation exercise. I woke up quite early that Saturday morning and went to pay for some drinks, but i forgot it was sanitation day so most shops had not opened. We were lucky when word floated out that the sanitation exercise had been cancelled because of a political programme in Ogwashi-Uku. By the time i finished with the drinks it was past 9am and that was when i remembered that i needed a haircut. My barber’s shop was unusually crowded when i got there and all the customers were in a hurry just like me so my pleadings fell on deaf ears. I of-course blamed ‘my village people’ (am sure you know them by now) and left without cutting my hair but when i got home, the taps had stopped running because we had not had light for two days and had not pumped water. I had to start the generator to pump some water and by the time i finished taking my bath, it was 10.45am (fifteen minutes to go). My house was at Okpanam Road while the Church; All Saints Cathedral  was at Cable point; almost two extreme opposites. I quickly jumped into my trouser and shirt, rummaged through some stuff for my cuff-links and dug out my new shoes from a small pile of old shoes were i had tucked them away because i didn’t know i was going to wear it for  my wedding the day i bought it. I had bought my suit the day before, just a few hours before the traditional marriage so i had not tried it to be sure it fitted perfectly.
The NUJ Delta state council, had been kind enough to give the union bus for the occasion and as i dressed up in the car, i noticed that the suit pockets had not been opened and the waist-coat was still in the box it came with. My men, Taiye, Cyril  and James were with me as i dressed up and while James brought out the waist-coat and helped me to hook the bow-tie around my neck, i suddenly noticed that i was not wearing stockings. We had to stop at Ogbe-ogonogo market to buy a pair, but we did not see a comb for my semi-unkempt hair and as  i wore my stockings i saw that my shoes were dusty and their was no time to look for (aboki) the shoe shiner.
Not to worry, we trudged on and at Federal College junction my man Felix was waiting for us with the ‘About-to-Wed’ car. I jumped into the car from the NUJ bus, dished some last minute instructions to Taiye and James about the Reception and completed my dressing in the car. I heaved a sigh of relief when Felix magically produced a hair brush from the pigeon hole of the car and it was already 11.30am when we drove into the church compound.
The sizeable crowd, already buzzing with impatience and expectation, erupted in some cheer when i appeared looking quite handsome and somewhat different in my new suit. If only they knew what i had been through in the last two hours…
Another piece of goodluck awaited me as my friend and colleague, Stella (who also performed gallantly as the MC under short notice) had a can of liquid polish in her car. I quickly ducked inside and gave my shoe a much needed shine and was just about done when Reverend Ekwemuka sent for me to appear at the Vestry.
‘Where is your wife”? he boomed.
Well, to cut a long story short, she too came late and during the marriage ceremony proper we discovered that some hymns in the programme had either been wrongly typed or omitted completely by the typist, afer we had corrected them. But the show must go on and on it did and by the time we had signed the marriage register and stepped back in for the sermon and later the group photographs, it was as if we had planned it all from the beginning.
There was of-course one small matter that i must tell you about the Reception otherwise the story will not be complete. At Reception, we forgot to buy a wine opener and glasses for the toast so the guests toasted with the bottles of wine and cans of drinks before the opener and the tumblers came, but there was enough food and drinks to go round and as the saying goes, all is well that ends well.
Now me and my missus are going to live happily ever after just as couples from such fairy tale weddings like ours usually do and we even have a good laugh about it from time to time because it is our story and will be a part of our history and family tradition for ever.
And so finally,  the one advice i must give you reading this is this: No matter what happens, God is in control always and if you believe it then you will always get what you want in the end because like the wise man said those many years ago, God’s time is the Best.