December, Oh December!

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OMG! The month of December is approaching very fast. Before you know it, December will be here with us. Normally, December is the month of celebrations. It is the month to count one’s blessings and give glory to the Almighty. December is the month when the whole world goes on leave and celebrates Christmas. Usually, the quarrelling and bickering of the world are put on hold. Beautiful carols everywhere! Messages of goodwill and exchange of gifts!

How are the traumatizlsed people of Nigeria going to celebrate this December? Will unknown gunmen go on leave? Will Boko Haram declare a time out? Will the kidnappers surprise everyone with the realisation that December is a very wrong month to kidnap? With the roaring inflation, will we be able to buy some rice and eat some chicken in peace?

December has always been a special month for me. Oh, did I tell you that my birthday is celebrated on December 22, Madam’s is on December 24 and that my family’s December celebrations begin on December 4 when Stephanie, my youngest daughter, was born? By now, you may be a little more familiar with Stephanie, my daughter who recently gave me the precious gift of a bouncing grandson.

Sadly, this will be the first December in many years that I will not be able to call my dear friend, Prof. Egerton Uvieghara and wish him Merry Christmas. I will not be able to call the great Guitar Boy and Joromi King, Prof. Sir Victor Uwaifo and share a joke with him. Can you imagine that these two big professor friends of mine who gave me unbelievable kindness and moral support and both of whose surnames start with a big ‘U’, conspired and flew away on the same very day, August 28, 2021?

Wow! this December, I will not be able to call my great friend, Udegbunam, the honourable Eweson, seven persons in one, and exchange views with him about the things going on in the country. He, a Soludo man, would have given me the inside story of the Soludo magic. Sadly, he was not around to see Charles Chukwuma Soludo make nonsense of all the crazy predictions, dodge the bullets, survive the bush war and be declared Governor-elect of Udegbunam’s beloved Anambra State. My friend decided to fly away without witnessing the crescendo of the duel.

There is one December I will not forget in a long time. It was on December 7, 2017, that some of my colleagues on the COSON Board whom I had hitherto regarded as my buddies and close friends decided to foist a rebellion on me. The guys whom I used to joke and laugh with suddenly were not laughing. Without warning and with what appeared to me to be blood shot eyes, they announced that they wanted me out as Chairman of COSON with immediate effect! If we were in the military, I probably would have been shot dead. It was a coup!

Even though I did not agree with their timing nor their method, I took my laptop and left COSON House which had just been commissioned and which I had worked so hard to build. I did not complain to anyone. I did not quarrel with anyone. I did not insult anyone. Next day, I addressed the staff of COSON on speaker phone and asked them to go about their duties with confidence and pride and even work harder for the organidation than they had done with me as Chairman.

Two days later, I wrote in Saturday Breakfast a piece I titled “What is in a title?”. In the piece, I wrote, “I have spent enough time in leadership to understand the nature of man. The day we gathered the creme of Nigeria to commission the magnificent COSON House in Ikeja which we built without borrowing one Naira from anyone, I very well knew what would happen after. With what I have seen, I am determined that COSON will not be a repeat of the PMAN story. It will take a lot of patience and wisdom but I trust the good Lord to give us the patience and wisdom to make COSON a continuing Nigerian success story”.

For as long as I live, I will never forget December 19, 2017 when COSON members after 12 days of my absence ushered me back into COSON House with thunderous ovation and overwhelming kindness. Of course, I cried. I cried in public because not many people live to witness what I experienced: such profound recognition and appreciation of the sacrifice one has made and the work one has done.

When the COSON General Assembly took the decision which they expressly have the right to take, under the COSON Articles, to annul the decisions of the board, I believed that the handful of members of our board who organised themselves to remove me without due process, would act like true democrats and sportsmen, appreciate that whether the members were right or wrong, they acted within their powers. No! They declared war and have since done everything they can to destroy me and destroy the organisation they claim to love.

In a few weeks, it will be the fourth anniversary of the coup. Four years after, the COSON board remains united working closely with our management. Our membership across every state of Nigeria continues to grow. COSON House continues to sparkle. While there have been many trying times, there have also been great moments of triumph for which one must thank the Almighty.

As we approach another December, I send felicitations to my friends and those who have not been so friendly. I particularly thank the thousands of members of the COSON family and my brothers and sisters on the Board who have shown the determination to make tomorrow better than yesterday. I thank our hard-working management and staff and pray that each of us will have a December that will be remembered with joy in our hearts. Warmest wishes to all of you who join me every week to partake in Saturday Breakfast.

See you next week.

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