July 14, 2018

On a day like this, the search for what to do usually leads one to remember the past and to tell a story on text.

Today’s story is about another story which Prof. Raifu Salawu told in a lecture he gave us those days when we were brainstorming on the way out of the disaster that our phone system was. It was one of the efforts that lead us to mount advocacy that LIBERALISATION of the telecommunications industry was our panacea out of that quagmire. After about five years of persistent and decisive advocacy, we were able to push the military to, reluctantly, establish the Nigerian Communications Commission as the Regulator for an open and liberal industry. And as we basked in the euphoria of the new found liberal atmosphere in the sector, Abacha’s version of the military maneuvered itself to power, promptly dissolved the Commission’s young Board, and sent an unbeliever to NITEL to deal us the fatal blow we could not recover from until change of government in six years later in 1999.

But that is not the story.

The story, as told by Prof Salawu, was about two middle aged ladies who ran into themselves on a busy street of Lagos for the first time after separating from school several years earlier. A big ‘two-fighting’ type of Yoruba greetings kicked in a conversation:

“Waoh! Aisha this is your face?”
“Na so o Clara, you are looking so good. Tell me who is the lucky guy at last? Him de take care of you o”
“My sister we de manage now. Sebi you know my husband now. Chuks now, the one weh deh engineering”
“Ehn ehn! So na this Lagos you guys deh live?”
“Yes nah, we deh Calabash Estate ”
“Which one be that I beg give me your address,”
“I just wanted to say that too, give me yours too”

Both went scripting and Aisha scribbled her complete contact address which also included 674534 at the end
“Wait a minute o. Which one be this 674534?” asked a stupefied Clara
“That’s our phone number now”
“Phone Number keh? That means you get telephone in the house?”
“Yes nah, the only thing is that the thing no deh work well…”
“You see what I mean” continued Clara. “If you get telephone in your house, that means your husband must be a b-i-g man.”

The story captured our essence and existence and it gave us the laugh, (and anger), we needed at the time to work even harder at opening up the telecommunications sector.

Those who are younger than 30 years are not likely to catch the joke and it was one story we told regularly in those days, but somehow it also serves to remind us, and the young ones, of where we were coming from.

I can tell another story but will reserve that for next year when, I intent to do things differently.

Thank you for staying connected to my blog (or wall) for yet another year. Next year it will be another day, God willing.

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