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Funmi Iyanda
Lagos, Nigeria
Funmi Iyanda is a multi award-winning producer and broadcast journalist. She is the CEO of Ignite Media and Executive Director of Creation Television
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Tuesday, February 06, 2007

...then Kpakol

Pic: Prof. Magnus Kpakol, Nat. Coordinator NAPEP

Quick change of clothes and it is time to do the second show. He walks in, hair carefully groomed in some wavy, high maintenance manner; suit cut in the pristine fit of a high-end international designer and l welcome him onto the set. His American accent is so pronounced l was shocked when he told me he was an Ogoni (pronounced ogonai by him) man. Prof (as his media team insists l call him) is the national coordinator for National Poverty Eradication Program (NAPEP)
A genial enough man who might have got an easier deal had he not come right after the first two stories l had done. After listening to Pa Amodu and Idowu and going through what l had that morning to do my work as well as seeing those kids on the Okada, no one was going to come and sell me propaganda. Now l know that the good Prof. of economics has little choice, ours is not a system where you tell the truth and keep your job especially when you have such tastes in body maintenance. I also know that NAPEP cannot solve the poverty problem on its own but to come and boldly say that power has improved, the economy has grown and over 50% of Nigerians live above the poverty line is asking for trouble. Suffice to say it was not an easy time on the show for him, even the usually over censored NTA producers were angry. In speech he actually said something like when we had hurricane Katrina…” we? He claims that poverty reveals itself and when prodded says that means that because democracy allows us freedom of expression we can see more people complain about poverty as against the military era excuse me? More nuggets of wisdom like if you get only three hours of electricity we have to teach our people to manage it instead of complaining so says the man with standby generators.

I have no problem with Kpakol as a person but he represents the disconnect between the rulers and the ruled in Nigeria because if l were to assimilate that he knowingly said those things when aware of the actual situation on ground, l go craze. As my darling friend Temi said, when Marie Antoinette pre revolution France said let them eat cake to the complaint that the people were hungry, she truly did not know that cake was not an option for her people.

Its 6am now, my nanny and housekeeper conspired and left last week to earn Oyinbo (expatriate) salaries (l paid them well above the national wage scale and feed, clothe and housed them but l cant compete with American dollars). l have spent the weekend recovering from malaria and a tooth infection, my overworked doctor friend best friend insists l need a couple more days of rest but l know otherwise. I must get up to bathe and get my daughter ready for school, drop her off, go to the studio to record the show, come back to finish my business plan, see the bank manager, the dentist and an executive coming in from Johannesburg from whom l seek sponsorship so l can keep telling these stories. Fortunately l have my younger sister, my brilliant mentee, my small dedicated production team to help so l am smiling as l get up from my computer to face another dawn in the city of God.

Uncut excepts from the interviews here


BabaAlaye said...

Funmi, You need Koboko for some of those guests of yours.

A Professor with an Obesere hair style talking about an improved economy? hehehe. I guess i can see the funny side of that.

funmi said...

lol babaalaye.

oo said...

Yah, I guess Oga Prof. is quite the "expert" on "poverty." Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh hysterically or cry at some of these things, Funmi. Obviously PHCN no dey take light for prof house, water dey run, mosquito no dey bite am, fuel scarcity never touch am...that's why he still thinks he's in America. Ah, Naija! Thanks for continuing to stoke the fire in our bellies Funmi, the fight against these injustices must continue.

Jadesola said...

Funmi this is touching! Its great that you have such commitment to the less privileged & it was great seeing you ladies tackle the Prof. I dont know how people can be so disconnected from reality & it would be a shame if he was just lying.

@ babaalaye - its great to see u commenting on this issue - I am not one of those that go on your blog to abuse you just because you are OBJ's son.

All i can say is that I dont see the funny side in this. We prayed & fought for your Dad to be released when Abacha unjustly threw him in jail and what have we got in return?

Fuel scarcity is rampant, beggars cant get a few thousand to fund their education,power supply is poor & yet this man appointed by the President is saying how good things are in this country. This is not funny! Its a shame!

Anonymous said...

I think he is just a stranded nigga in nigeria,after he was used and dumped he couldnt go back to america.abi what kinda news does he give his colleagues that he was demoted from special assistant to an okada manager,oh sorry keke maruwa manager.poor him,its not too late sha