Akintunde Oyebode: “What’s in a name?” ( YNaija Frontpage)

These men, who should be listening to the sonorous voices of mosquitoes in prison, sat pretty among the crème of the society.

Last Sunday, as my wife and me prepared for church, I checked my wallet to see if I had enough money to meet the usual offertory requirements. As I counted my paltry stack of notes, my wife jocularly called me “Khashoggi.” That was her cheeky way of reminding me to contribute more of our meager earnings to the Lord’s vineyard. Ordinarily, I would have replied with a joke, but for an inexplicable reason, that name awakened the anthropologist in me. I decided to ask about thirty people, mostly born in the 80’s and 90’s, if they knew the origin of the slang, Khashoggi. They must have thought it was dumb question to ask, and all said it meant someone with a lot of money, or as one put it, “someone with a lot of cash and swagger.”

I doubt if Adnan Khashoggi knows how famous he is in Nigeria. The infamous Saudi arms dealer and businessman will surely be more intrigued to know very few Nigerians know him, or can pick him out in a photo album, yet his name is instantly recognizable. One of our colloquial descriptions for a successful and wealthy person is the surname of a man known for gun running, money laundering and bribery. At the peak of his wealth, Adnan Khashoggi was one of the richest men in the world, worth over $4 billion. A lot of that wealth was linked to various deals like the Iran-Contra arms for hostages deal, Lockheed bribery scandal and money laundering at the behest of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos. Here we remember his yacht, Nabila, used for the James Bond movie Never Say Never Again. It is convenient to forget the yacht was later sold to Donald Trump, as a broke Khashoggi moved from one prison to another.

Like Khashoggi, Francis Arthur Nzeribe was a notorious arms dealer.  He was known for his willingness to replicate real life version of the computer game, Call of Duty, in several African countries. In Nigeria, he is best remembered for the bloodless coup against democracy in 1993. The story of how Bassey Ikpeme wrote her judgment at midnight in Clement Akpamgbo’s chambers has been repeated over several hectolitres of beer, so it is befuddling how Arthur Nzeribe can still walk the streets of Oguta without a false moustache. To rub salt into our collective wounds, he was “elected” into the National Assembly as a Senator, representing Orlu constituency, and served two terms. Thankfully, Osita Izunaso spared us more agony, and defeated the self-acclaimed democrat in 2007.

Let’s move forward to a few weeks ago where I heard two former governors in the South West hailed as messiahs by the popular Yoruba musician, Yinka Ayefele. I doubt if Mahatma Ghandi or Lee Kuan Yew were ever praised with such eloquence. These men, who should be listening to the sonorous voices of mosquitoes in prison, sat pretty among the crème of the society. My biggest concern was an incumbent governor who witnessed, with a smirk, how his fraudulent predecessors were “ostracized” by society. No doubt, he is a wiser man after that experience; he won’t dare steal a penny from the public purse.

It is similar to how our Universities dish out honorary degrees, and traditional rulers fall over themselves to give chieftaincy titles, all to individuals who should be behind bars. We abhor corruption on the pages of the newspapers, yet we honour and accommodate corrupt family members and associates. Our monuments and streets are named after criminals, yet we want generations unborn to wipe the slate clean.

If you need proof the joke is firmly on us, look no further than the location of the EFCC’s Lagos office. For those who are yet to be invited, it is somewhere in Ikoyi on a street named after Festus Okotie-Eboh. But then again, what’s in a name?


Comments (35)

  1. This is shameful! What cannot be changed? Really? People like you are part of what is wrong with Nigeria.

  2. This was really, really well written. The author manages to convey knowledge and in-depth research without boring the readers. Brilliant.

  3. Are you new to Nigeria why are you wasting your time and effort on what cannot be changed..Please don't give yourself HBP. Continue with your life ,it is well

  4. Your first sentence made me smile; it has such truth in it.

    Festus Okotie- Eboh, and Authur Nzeribe: as my people say 'ndi oshi' (thieves).. No need to say more.

    Fancy haveing all that money, and then rotting in jail. Poor Khasoggi. Or not.

    There really isn't any need to suffer fools gladly.

    Well done, Akintunde. Your writing makes for satifying reading..

  5. Brilliant piece!!…

    Indeed, in our Society, the trumpets are blown when a thief refuses to bribe another thief; thus probes are born in a bid to pay some other elected thieves to discuss the theft of the official thieves, and alas, we still honour them with street names and National monuments…

    Weeping will not change anything, but first, indeed, we weep for our nation destroyed daily by perpetrators we see, and occasionally honour with what’s left of a land they bleed!!


  6. Kashoggi………Cash Hugger!

    "These men, who should be listening to the sonorous voices of mosquitoes in prison, sat pretty among the crème of the society."

    Me thinks these men are right where they should be, our society just like in a blast furnace allows the slag/scum to float to the top.

  7. Waoh, I don't even know what to say. God Bless you Sir.

  8. Wow! Just wow! It's only well-woven articles like this that can educate our short-attention span generation; laden with good humour but delivering a motherlode of riveting information.

    On a lighter note, I used to spell the name Khashoggi as "Cashoogie" until now. I now know the reputation behind the name.

    Thanks Akin. Bless you.

  9. Brilliant. What you have said, but which you did not say, is that the task before us goes beyond governmental or political reform but societal shift in mindset, a prerequisite to progress.

    May words like these go beyond provoking thought to provoking action by the shapers of thought among us.

  10. This is a thought provoking write-up. It means we idolise corruption in Nigeria. Little wonder that FCT Minister renamed Maitama District after Mr President's name.

  11. Absolutely well written. Thank you Akin. A "good name is better than Gold and Riches". One hopes the younger generation will learn from this and will start to build a better society by living to create a great name with positive impacts.

  12. Now this is what I call a brilliant article!!!

  13. Tres magnifique- I hd to do a lot o' studyin after ths article, t wuz such an eye-opener.fantastic read!!!!!!!!

  14. Best article I've seen here….absolutely brilliant. Reminds me of that picture of David Oyedepo recently receiving an award from another great 'Son of Igbomina'….Tafa Balogun


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  16. Amazing Write Up, synchronizing different instances to emphasize on that particular peculiar cheer for criminals was brilliant. Seems in Nigeria the Dillingers get all the accolades, quite sad.

  17. Very well researched and written! Very thought provoking! We need. Value re-orientation amongst the youth in this country! And social networking sites are as good as any! Cos no one reads newspapers anymore!

  18. Thanks Akin for reminding us once again that a good name is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay better than unexplainable riches. While the latter can earn you few admirers and a nod or two (in respect), the former lends itself to even additional generations.

  19. On point, we just seem to find a way to keep this men in circulation yet we expect a paradigm shift. Arthur Nzeribe is a special one, his antic in Ghana remains in the book of history forever.

    Brilliant piece from Akintunde

  20. Bottom line is that we idolise corruption. We might as well not name our streets/roads/monuments, because there will not be a consensus as to whom a 'national' hero is; the people responsible for deciding these are not in a position to understand the concept. And they are our people: parents, uncles, friends and even siblings in positions of power and authority.

    So let us start with ourselves: who is that government official/self-acclaimed government loyalist (some with complimentary cards even) that we hold clandestine meetings with so he can provide us with 'links'? He may be Maina's brother o! Many of us unwittingly dine (or would like to dine) with the devil, knowing no spoon is long enough.

    In a few years, it may no longer be Khashoggi, but we will always find a name that typifies what many of us believe is the Nigerian way: wealth accumulation through avarice. Unless we say NO and act NO.

  21. It is articles like this that has stopped me from starting that blog! But I will…soon I will. WD!

  22. This is a totally badass article…LOL!

    My concern for these new Ynaija frontpagers is that they will build a following and if their normal lives get in the way of their delivery, they will be surprised at how people 'take offence' at not being served.

    But this is a really good thing.

    Over at ThisDay Mr Kolawole aint what he used to be and of course Mr Abati is writing press releases these days.

    Brilliant article once again.

    Festus Okotie-Eboh…kai.

  23. Well written, researched and said! The new wave of thought provoking articles from Nigeria (if read!) may well be the re-education the youth need to stimulate their minds to cause them to do differently what has been done for several decades and accepted as right! Pls dont stop now!!!

  24. Yes, Jayla couldn't have said it better, there truly aren't enough exclamation marks for this article. Brilliant!

  25. I didn't even know who Khashoggi was before this morning. Neither was I aware of the swashbuckling pirate in Nzeribe.

    I do know on the propensity to get close to people with wealth but that really is just a human thing. What isn't "simply human" is the fact that the political class are at the top of the social ladder in Nigeria. Nzeribe seems to have used the Senate to give some credibility (a semblance of it at least) to his wealth. Until, the politics devolves away from a way to get a quick zillion bucks.

    Okotie-Eboh gave some varnish to his name by being killed with Murtala Muhammed in the '66 coup.

    1. Okotie-Eboh was killed in the January 66 coup but he was a minister under Tafawa Balewa. Murtala was killed in 1976.

  26. My heart and hands are burdened with such heaviness. I witnessed same with concious restraint not to flip out on callers and guest in the studio, as they sang the praises of Com. Abba Moro over the 'discovery' of about 1 thousand something illegal roads in Nigeria! As if it was him who went and discovered the roads. Mscheew

    Nice piece!

  27. Brilliance. well written and so in time for all the trash we have going on now.


  28. My heart bleeds for Naija

  29. !!!

    "These men, who should be listening to the sonorous voices of mosquitoes in prison, sat pretty among the crème of the society". That got me!

  30. There aren't enough exclamation marks for this article.

  31. *holds head in hands*

  32. Ha! Brilliant!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I heard about Okotie-Eboh…renowned kleptocrat! Kai! *tears*

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