The serialisation of Jibunoh’s Hunger for Power: The Power of the Siren
Jibunoh’s Hunger for Power: The Power of the Siren
This might not be true in all instances, but I can certainly recall an incident from so long ago that taught me a lesson regarding the importance of observing due protocol.
I met the amazingly intriguing Oxford and Sandhurst-edu-cated Odimegwu Ojukwu in Ivory Coast while he was still on exile, and we developed a warm relationship.
When he returned to Nigeria, I sent him an invitation to an event at DIDI Museum and he was quite gracious in sending me a message accepting the invitation.
On that fateful day, I was informed that Ojukwu was driving into the compound and I had expected him to park, get out of his car and walk in to join us at the event.
But to my sur-prise, some moments later, someone came to notify me that he was still in the car with his wife, as I was yet to arrive to formally receive them.
I immediately rushed out to apologise and welcome them, all the while feeling really bad about the situation.
Bear in mind that Ojukwu had been the Head of State of Biafra and although he was no longer in that office, he still carried the authority and demanded the same level of respect.
This was quite the lesson in observing due protocol.
Recalling my experience with Ojukwu triggered a more re-cent but related memory that got me pondering about the power of the siren.
During one of the Sallah celebrations, I was in my village when a former minister friend rang me to enquire about my whereabouts.
I told him that I was simply relaxing in the village following which he then mentioned that he was sending something across to me.
At that time, I had no idea what it was but I was soon to find out a few hours later in a most interesting way.
My village is very serene with barely any sound of vehicular traffic and my house is tucked away far from the heart of town.
All of a sudden, I could hear the sound of a siren get-ting louder and louder until it was almost at my gate.
My immediate thought was that my minister friend had come himself to deliver the gift, and recalling my experience with Ojukwu, I went to the gate with the intention of receiving whoever it might be.
When I got to the gate, I saw a Hilux pick-up van with a Ram at the back. It had two other occupants; the driver and an orderly.
I was rattled and had to ask if they had been re-sponsible for the siren, to which the orderly, who laid down flat to greet me, responded with, “Oga, it is Sallah na.”
I couldn’t get over it – the use of the siren in the former minister’s vehicle when he was not in it. So was the siren meant for the Ram?
This got me wondering about the use of sirens, which nat-urally led me to ponder about the power dynamic that it appropriates, legitimises and perpetuates. The siren has al-ways had to do with power.
For those who do not know it, the siren was not invented in Nigeria or by a Nigerian even though we love the sound of it.
The siren has its origin in Greek mythology. It referred to a group of creatures who used to pose as beautiful women and then tempt hapless sailors with their lovely songs.
Be-witched by the sonorous songs, the sailors would usually crash their ships into the rocks and drown, or be eaten by the creatures.
Does this sound familiar?
Think of flashing lights as beguiling beauty, think of the blaring sirens sowing confusion in the minds of drivers, and then think of drivers crashing into each other as they try to make way for the loud sirens in their wake, and you can see clearly where it all came from.
So, these people ensconced in close proximity to power, symbolized, in this instance, by the possession of a car fit-ted with blaring sirens, couldn’t imagine not causing a ruck-us even if it was just the driver and orderly in the car on a personal mission for their boss.
I felt bad and was tempted to tell my friend – who I was go-ing to call anyway to express my thanks for the gift – about the incident, but I decided against it as I didn’t want to ruin the young men’s day.
The experience however got me seriously thinking about the level at which we abuse power in this country, especially since I have written quite a lot about power all through this book.