I love women. This is neither a boast nor a confession: just bare fact.
You don’t arrive sandwiched between six beautiful girls and turn out otherwise.
The author, Olugu Olugu Orji
And having been stuck with one woman for nearly a quarter of a century, I now know this to be my permanent debility.
But I seek neither escape nor deliverance. On the contrary, it’s quite enjoyable being so afflicted.
Mothers are magicians; at least mine most definitely was.
Even if I were her only child, it would still have amounted to a handful but there were seven others.
How she managed to keep us all on the line still beats me.
And while she was at it, she remained a dutiful wife, exemplary daughter and excellent sister.
She was seamstress, songstress and mistress all rolled into one.
My best primary school teacher, Mr Okali Imo Onuoha never missed an opportunity to highlight what he believed to be my excellent mathematical skills.
After a while, I actually began to believe he was right; but in attempting to figure out how mother excelled in those demanding but disparate duties, the so-called skills roundly failed me.
Now you know my love for women if firmly rooted, and fertilized by indubitable experience.
Each time a woman assumes the mantle of authority, I am elated. There is a unique, positive element they nearly always bring to governance.
I recall when Grace Alele-Williams became vice-chancellor of the University of Benin.
It was for me a recrudescence of hope that maybe – just maybe comatose tertiary education wouldn’t die after all.
Who can forget the magic the mercurial Dora Akunyili brought to bear on the deadly battle against fake and substandard drugs?
I was eagerly awaiting Taraba giving us the first elected female governor in Aisha Alhassan but it was not destined to be.
I should have met Hadiza Bala Usman early 2014.
Then a friend was going to involve me in putting together a publication aimed at burnishing candidate Muhammadu Buhari’s image in readiness for the 2015 presidential polls.
Though she was promoter and metronome of the project, a male federal legislator of northern extraction who had pledged to bankroll the initiative chickened out.
I suppose he elected to invest the resources in the more tantalizing frolicking and fornicating industry.
Though that project did not fly, I assumed Hadiza was a person of conviction and focus.
That suspicion was reinforced a few months later when she initiated the now famous but controversy-ridden BringBackOurGirls campaign.
Last year, Kaduna’s Ahmad El-Rufai appointed her chief of staff, and just a few weeks ago, President Buhari made her managing director of money-spinning Nigerian Ports Authority [NPA].
I am happy for her but I am not so hopeful she’ll make a success of her new, daunting assignment.
Since her appointment, many have continued to query her qualification.
Even though her public service credentials seem scanty, in comparison to Dora Akunyili’s at the time of becoming NAFDAC DG, it does not look so bad.
If Dora made it, there is no reason Hadiza should not; ordinarily. But Nigeria is no ordinary country.
Processes that are routine in other climes acquire strange complexities here, and heroism is fast becoming the exclusive preserve of the dead.
So I do have concerns for Hadiza.
There is already widespread perception – and rightly so – that President Buhari’s appointments are skewed in favour of Muslims of northern extraction.
His sidekicks have continued to insist the appointments were made on merit. And that is the problem.
In a country where excellence is made to stand shoulder to shoulder with a quota system that legitimizes mediocrity, it is hard to define what merit truly is.
A girl from Hadiza’s Kaduna State needs only score 91/200 to secure admission into a Unity School, but her Anambra counterpart will need as high as 139.
With Yobe and Zamfara kids needing as little as 2/200 to access the same privilege, it becomes near impossible not to advance the thesis that anything of deep intellectual quality cannot emanate from that part of Nigeria.
How do you measure merit in a country that has neither uniform nor minimum standards?