For Christ’s sakes, I know some book launches James Ibori attended. He signed cheques and the writers were happy.
James Ibori has stolen a lot of money. People have been telling me and I’m still reading about it on the internet and in the papers. There are pictures of the mansions he bought with public funds. There are cars. There are also women he bought with the money. His children, too. They were all bought with the money. I am very sure he bought a lot of friends with the money. There were no enemies until now that he has been locked up.
A certain writer I respect so much remarked on the Ibori case on his Facebook and he said: “There’s some good news for Nigerians on James Ibori.” And then he went on to say how happy he is that James Ibori has been convicted in the UK for money laundry and other things. I laughed when I read that. For a bit, I asked myself questions: what is the big deal? It happens everyday. All of a sudden, I asked myself another question: why is this good news? Will the conviction of James Ibori stop anything?
I was at the airport and picked up a copy of a certain newspaper and I saw pictures of the things he bought with the ‘stolen’ money splashed all over the pages. Sorry, I am a bit confused about ‘stolen money.’ Who did he steal this money from? Some individual who packed wads of naira notes in his house? And how did the individual get such big money into his possession?
Writers organize book launches and the first set of special guests they have in mind, are POLITICIANS. I am one of them. I won’t deny this. So, I will need to start with myself.
In 2009, I was about to present my first book, ‘The Abyssinian Boy’ to the public. My publisher wanted a quiet book reading and stuff like that. People around me felt he was crazy. How can I not use my ‘connection’ and invite all the politicians my family members know? How can I not invite the Governor of Imo State since my uncle was closest to him? How can I not invite the Senators we know?
Letters were sent out and these politicians started responding to save their faces. We banged on their doors and they opened and praised me and promised to be at the launch. On the day of the launch, some of them who couldn’t come sent people to pledge money on their behalf. I thought I had conquered the world. As I’m writing this, I haven’t been able to get hold of any of the pledges. I quit pursuing them at the beginning of 2011 when I realized I wouldn’t succeed.
That is by the way. So, there I was banking on certain people to give me money? From where? Their personal bank accounts? How? How did they make the money? Of course, they have to launch my book with money from public funds. Was I crazy to expect more? And the most painful part of it is that these writers publish to launch and cunningly take money from politicians. For Christ’s sakes, I know some book launches James Ibori attended. He signed cheques and the writers were happy.
Some of them even set out to write biographies of ‘great politicians’ because of poverty. They are scared of dying of hunger. They sit down and pen some amazing anecdotes about some messed up politician and he gathers his fellow politicians and they ‘launch’ the book pledging a lot of money, which the writer eventually takes home. After that, the same writer assumes the position of critic. He has a column in some newspaper, so he begins to condemn them, he begins to run the politicians down and he begins to tell them how imperfect and undeserving they are.
Onyeka Nwelue is the CEO/Founder of Blues & Hills Consultancy.