[Picture: Ifeanyi Ubah]
How could a real writer pretend to reply to another person’s article, but waste 1,500 words with none employed in reply to the very subject at hand?
Well, Mr. Nkemjika Ibekwe, an imprecise if not totally amorphous and fluid personality achieved that dubious feat in an article entitled “Ifeanyi Ubah and Vainglorious Celebration”. Had he not referred to me by name and had he not mentioned my article, “Ifeanyi Ubah, The Man and The Essence”, published in the September 3, 2015 issue of the Vanguard newspaper, I would never have bothered with writing a reply because, in his rambling rigmarole, he did not refer to a single thing I discussed. Actually, I would have been happy if he jostled with me over my logic, conclusion or central thesis.
So, what did he do? Read his opening sentence please: “In what were clearly bland and vainglorious ripostes, …Tony Eluemunor in “Ifeanyi Ubah: The man, the myth and the essence” (Vanguard, September 3, 2015 P. 37)” bla blah bla. My computer supplied “insipid, weak, tasteless, wishy-washy, flavourless” as synonyms for bland. My twin-volume Reader’s Digest Illustrated Encyclopedic Dictionary defines bland as “lacking a distinctive character; mediocre”.
And what about vainglorious? The computer supplied “conceited, proud, narcissistic, arrogant, pig-headed, self-important”, as synonyms. My trusted RD dictionary put it in proper perspective: “Showing excessive vanity; boastful, characterized by or proceeding from vainglory”. Then it defined vainglory as “Boastful and unwarranted pride in one’s accomplishments or qualities. Actually its Latin root is “vanus gloria or empty pride”.
I went to great lengths to define the key words which kicked off the article because I could not see anything in Nkemjika Ibekwe’s article that touched on, no matter how remotely, the reasons that could have led any sane mind to call my article “bland” or “vainglorious”. First, I did not write about myself. Second, he could not have been referring to Chief Ifeanyi Ubah because the businessman, also, did not write the article in question.
Yet, it was when I got to another key word in that same introduction that I knew Nkemjika Ibekwe was misusing words. That key word “riposte” refers to a “reply, retort, answer, reply, return” as in a quick retaliatory action or retort, and this is made clearer by its Italian root word of “riposta”, meaning “answer”.
I gave up at that juncture, convinced that I had been misled into taking Nkemjika Ibekwe serious by the claim at the article’s end that “Ibekwe, is a researcher with Global Media”. Every journalism scholar knows that Global Media journal assess global media concentration, consumer culture, commercialization of news, new media technologies, media regulation, etc. But in vain did I search for their Abuja office where I had taken it for granted that Nkemjika Ibekwe was a Researcher as he claimed. I even phoned him over this matter and he agreed to host me on October 1, 2015 in his office. Again, in vain did I wait for his promised phone call.
Actually, the Nkemjika persona has remained amorphous over the years. Some articles have been signed as Nkemjika, Nkem Jika or Nkemjika Ibekwe. As he refused to meet me, I scoured the internet and the first thing that popped up was about an alleged fraud: “Police detain Nkemjika Ibekwe, who was Media Consultant to Dr. Ifeanyi Ubah” in the last Anambra state governorship election, according to Nigerian Pilot newspaper. Why? The Pilot said for alleged pilfering and playing double agent for other candidates in the November 16 guber elections, as confirmed by Mr. Emmanuel Ibeleme in a release saying he was sacked Saturday, November 2, 2013.
Could the Pilot have been reporting about the same Nkemjika Ibekwe? A second internet item was a robust defence of Ifeanyi Ubah written by Nkemjika Ibekwe before the 2013 Anambra elections. I stopped right there!!! So the article was an attempt to get back at Ubah over the police arrest.
I wrote in my article that was supposed to be under discussion that Ifeanyi Ubah, had through his Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) raised the bar for future election support groups and that after the election, he not only moved on but patriotically and single-handedly, ended the oil-marketers petrol-lifting strike that had threatened to hobble the economy and mar President Buhari’s May 29, 2015 inauguration. Ubah intervened on Sunday May 24. The strike ended 8pm the next day.
My conclusion:” Ubah alone, could keep Nigeria rolling. And he did it. And without asking for any concessions too. And if other tanker owners refused to join him, he had over 600 tankers to dispatch to service across the country. He acted. He served. That is Ubah the man – deep into his very heart, soul and spirit”. Ibekwe never contradicted me.
Nkem Ibekwe signed the 1, 500-word twaddle. Did he attempt to edit off the “jika” part of his name to hide the police arrest and detention fact? Well, he reminded me of Chinua Achebe’s “Onitsha Gift of the Niger” essay: that only in Onitsha would inadequate learning not deter a man from writing a book to educate his betters … and make a little profit as well. Achebe was writing about Onitsha market literature (the same mercantilist attitude later gave Nigeria Nollywood). Well, it is now nationwide; as a man lacking knowledge of basic English words would be engaged as a political campaign media director owing to dubious posturing.
Mr. Eluemunor is an Abuja-based journalist.