For Special Advisers Only

In the face of the bold call to reason recently delivered to members of the Federal Executive Council by Dr Dora Akinyuli, Nigeria’s Minister for Information, the Pen Pushers Talking Front, PPTF, recalls the admonition of its worldwide President, King Nengi Josef Ilagha, at a critical point in the life of the Bayelsa State government when Goodluck Ebele Jonathan was acting governor, about what it means to stand by the truth at all times.

For Special Advisers Only 

Upper Room, Vineyard Press, Glory Land 

THERE ARE THOSE to whom I mean nothing. There are those who take me for granted. It is well and good. There are those who mean little to me, too, if they mean anything at all. And so, we cancel out nicely. It is a clear case of 1-1 goalless draw, as my old friend would put it. We cross out nicely, and go our separate ways. Nobody scored at full time. It is 1-1 goalless draw. Ask Ebiowei Sokare, pastor at large, stuck in the singular grove of sin, and pretending not to know that, once upon a time, he was a personal friend of Jesus Christ.

Abei, teki pa ma o?

Hello, John, howdy?

By and by, I mean something to myself. If I mean nothing to myself, gentlemen, I am so glad that I mean so much to my Father in Heaven who thought me worthwhile to be created, prodigal though I may be. It matters not if I am a black sheep, so long as I gain admission through the heavenly portals of grace. How fanciful, therefore, for anyone to think that I mean nothing to myself, just when God sends the world after me, all because He finds me fit enough to be the new errand boy, red head aflame above these humble shoulders, face full of sunshine, full of clouds, full of the frown of Armageddon.

I take myself seriously, gentlemen. I take seriously those who take me seriously. Which is why I am grateful to Dr Goodluck Ebele Jonathan who, one blessed day, whispered in Alamieyeseigha’s ear that Nengi Josef Ilagha should be appointed Special Adviser, Research & Documentation to the Bayelsa State Governor, and so indeed it came to pass, all in the course of an abiding tenure as Speech Writer. This story is familiar to the people of Bayelsa, but not to Obama. That is why I bother to repeat it at all. Obama is reading this script, gentlemen.

At any rate, to be a special adviser is not quite like being a minister. I would rather be a minister. Being a special adviser does not mean you are entitled to a large, spacious office, a retinue of staff, all spick and span, prim in their professional conduct. It is a dream we all take for granted. There would be a fleet of cars, outrider possibly zapping ahead, rear guard bringing up the last buzz of a sober siren of sounds.

But the fact of the matter is that, to be a special adviser is not to sleep in a football field of a bed, rolling like a ball in the cold from post to post, feeling cozy under the duvet at yahoo dot com. To be a special adviser does not entail eating of the best food summoned from the groceries of London and New York and Paris. It does not mean you must tour round the world, visit one insect or another caught in the worldwideweb, and diplomatically do well to release them from the snare of the fouler.

To be a special adviser is serious business, gentlemen. It takes the grace of God to get there, the way Goodluck Jonathan climbed up a providential ladder provided by my Father in Heaven, to become the first southerner in the 48-year history of The Chosen Nation, to become Vice President of the Federal Republic of Restoration, even when he did not print a single poster proclaiming his candidacy. That is what happens to humble people. Quote Rabbi. Where Goodluck Jonathan is today is a humble station fit for a humble gentleman. He is not the President. He can’t do much. Even so, let us give it to the man. He is our first political leader to soar that high. God has since taken the glory.

Gentlemen, it is written down in my history book that one of the greatest achievements of the Yar’Adua presidency is to have accepted a friend from the deep south, a fisherman rolled into a zoologist, both adding up to a politician beloved of God, a man of history, a man of destiny, an instrument of change for a better tomorrow. All of these things will be Goodluck’s due, if only he would remember to come home more often, if only he would extend a helping hand to those choking back home.

Dear Dr Goodluck Jonathan, thank you for the winning suggestion. The Ministry for Niger Delta Affairs is a great idea. And ideas, as you know, move the world. I am a man of ideas. I have this very humble idea that I should promptly be appointed Minister For Peace, Reconciliation & Freedom in the Niger Delta. I believe I can shore up the hope that is so lacking amongst our people. I believe I can reason with every militant blessed with God’s breath for free.

As the days unfold by and by, Sir, you will really get to know why. Actually, you have no choice in the matter. I just have to be a Minister in my country of rebirth. That is why I thought I should take time off to shed a little light on this matter of being a special adviser. To be a special adviser, in short, is to work with your conscience, to be in the habit of daily prayer, that God may guide you to give the right advice at the right time, articulated at the right occasion, cast in the right language.

Nigeria, as you know, is unarguably the most corrupt nation upon the face of the earth today.

Ask Maduabebe Seiton.

Ask Okublacki Okorotie.

Ask Obasanjo Okikiola Ota, alias OOO.

These pieces of Adam have spoken at length about corruption in high places, and yet they will do nothing to wipe the act off our shameful record of governance. It is only natural, therefore, that Messiah should come to cleanse the Augean stable, so to speak, crush the knuckle head of the serpent, and tidy up the temple some more for God’s use.

I did my modest best in times past, trying hard not to be corrupted by very corrupt politicians and godfathers always on the look out for the offal of money. It is a mark of the freedom I feel that I don’t have to go around with a battalion of policemen, guarding me everywhere I go, guns at the ready. I did my modest best. My wife is my witness, and so are the landmark speeches from my papal pen properly documented For The Eyes Of Obama.

So you see, gentlemen, to be a special adviser is to forsake a good deal of your time, and plug into the dreams and wishes of the man, woman and child out on the naked street. To be a special adviser is to be a man about town, taking stock of the aggregate opinion of one and all, and bringing this opinion before the gubernatorial scrutiny of your boss. It is not just about picking up your salary, your allowances and your estacodes, as the case may be. It is not about seeing your face on the next almanac. It is not easy to be a special adviser, gentlemen. It means you have been entrusted with a responsibility to act, on behalf of the wider society, to provide dependable capsules to relieve persistent everyday headaches as they pertain to your office.

And so, as the Timipre Sylva government appoints three more special advisers into the cabinet, I find myself duty bound to share a word or two as to what it means to be a special adviser to a governor. To be a special adviser is to work with your conscience, and to do its bidding. It is not to share money, this matter of being a special adviser. Conscience, said Othman Dan Fodio is an open wound. Only the truth can heal it. And who says he’s wrong?

Conscience is an open door, gentlemen. Quote Messiah. All you have to do is pick up courage, walk through that door, and tell your story in the simplest words that come to your mind, at the point of contact between pen and paper. Accordingly, gentlemen, as you take office today as Special Advisers to the Governor of Bayelsa State, I enjoin you to walk firm-footed through the open door of conscience, down the corridors of power, to divulge the naked truth and nothing but the truth.

Tell the governor he went wrong when he goes wrong. Thou shall not pamper thy boss. Be frank with him. Speak up. That is why you have a tongue in your mouth, just like him. Tell him at point blank range that this is where he erred. Tell the truth that he might take correction. This is a sacred duty you owe the land and people of Bayelsa State. We cannot continue to be cowed into submission when our ideas are saleable. We cannot pretend that we do not have children who are watching us closely, waiting to take up our corrupt ways. We must change tack promptly.

As a veteran Special Adviser with a record of excellence, I enjoin you to put you suggestions on paper. Let the records speak for you, even when you are no longer there. I assure you that to advise a governor is one thing. To convince him as to the quality of your opinion and the tenability of your advice is quite another matter altogether. Hard luck to you if you do not have a listening governor.

If you do not like being put at arm’s length, if you hate being turned back from the door leading to HE’s office, to say nothing of being repeatedly turned down, then do the only thing gentlemanly. If your views are rejected, or you find yourself too honourable to serve in that government, I suggest you tender your resignation, the way Famous Daunimigha attempted to do recently.  Or, better still, the way Mister Timipre Sylva resigned from the government of Alamieyeseigha as Special Adviser, Political Affairs.

Best of all, don’t resign. On a second thought, why resign? This is your state, gentlemen. Stay put, and make things work. Stick in there, until a big hole of reason is bored through the stubborn ears of government. If this word of advice means something to one of you, I shall be satisfied.

Congratulations, gentlemen, and have a jolly great New Year.

From Pope Pen, with love.

“Pope Pen”