What an eventful year. For some, successes; for others better forgotten memories – that’s the way things are. Life usually gives us back exactly what we give it. They call it the mathematical law of existence. Religionists may prefer to call it one of the unwritten laws of God, simply put, give, and ye shall receive (…in equal measure?) No matter how the year is viewed, 2011 was a challenging year for many Nigerians. Some of us have come through it smelling like pink roses, while others stink like the carcass the cat brought in last night – you never quite get rid of the pong. So to round up what may go down as a most defining year in our nation’s history, permit me to amuse you with my 2011 Random Awards! The good, the badt, and the, well…awful!
The Future of Radio: Best Radio Personality Award – Kaylah, Cool 96.9, Lagos.
When I first heard this buoyant voice on radio, I thought to myself, “now there’s another Paula!” I don’t know how many people still remember Paula Kanu, the former presenter from the early Rhythm 937 days? Paula was one of the best music show hosts I had heard, or worked with, ever – she had voice, style and savvy, to boot. Ms. Paula’s been lost to America for years now, but just listening to the lively, “I’m in control” banter of Kaylah, afternoons on Cool FM, Lagos actually gets my gooey side going. She’s good, Kaylah; do give her a listen!
The Future of Radio: Next Best Thing Award – Westsyde, Radio Continental, Lagos.
This young man with the unconventional names came into my life a few years ago – I had met him tagging alongside Bunmi Davies, the versatile television/drama/comedy show producer. Kid just walks up to me and says:”I want to be on radio!” Barely two years plus later, young man has come into his own, fully! Has anyone heard ‘Don Diggy’s Corner’ on 102.3? That’s he. Watch out for Adesege Adeniji. No mistake, his first name really is AdeSEGE! Weird? Wired, more likely. #hesaidhewasloco!
The ‘No Lele’ Award: Biggest Musical Break – Wizkid
No prizes for guesses. Now here’s a young man who truly must’ve enjoyed his year. Nobody had a better year than Ayo Balogun…sorry, Wizkid, you didn’t know his real name? Ever since his debut album, ‘Superstar’ dropped, he’s been riding a massive wave, single after single, he’s captivated the Naija youth scene with every “ye ye ye” and everyone’s yearning to find out how he can top it. One thing’s for certain, though- we’ll be getting quite a few invites for baby christenings next year! Badt guy!
The Goodnight (Wake Up Only When Fully Ready!) Award – HiTV. Close contender – NN24
What happened to HiTV? Mismanagement? Misplaced priorities? Lack of Content development? Nemesis? Hmm…we’ll never really know, will we? Whatever, HiTV have portrayed a bad picture of the Nigerian entrepreneur that gives everyone else a nasty name. The chaps at HiTV simply didn’t do the right things. If HiTV does get back on air – and we hope they do, we expect that they would have learned from mistakes. Rule Number One – Content is king! Oh! By the way, NN24 came close second. Kindergarten TV just don’t work! Up the ante; imagine what would’ve happened if there was no HiTV!
The Conscience of a Nation Award – Chinua Achebe
I would give anything to be in Chinua Achebe’s shoes right now. Turn down two national awards? Crazy, man! I don’t even have a single industry award to my name! But Achebe’s words were sublime: ”The reasons for rejecting the offer when it was first made have not been addressed let alone solved. It is inappropriate to offer it again to me”. One could hear the gong from across the Atlantic. Somehow Abuja played deaf, if not dumb. Says Reuben Abati: ”The President continues to hold Prof. Achebe in very high esteem in spite of his regrettable decision which may have been borne out of misinformation as to the true state of affairs in Nigeria and hopes that he will find time to visit home soon and see the progress being made by the Jonathan Administration for himself.” No further comment.
The Thumbs Down Award – NFF
A sad year for Nigerian sport in general. Knocked out of all competitions, who would we root for at the Cup of Nations? Where are all our heroes? Olympic silver medalist, Sunday Bada died recently with little aplomb. Our national football stories are told in past tense. Athletics, Table Tennis, Boxing are all dead. Sport in Nigeria is in a state of prolonged inertia. Who to blame? Stand up NFF, AFN, Ministers of Sport, past and present. Siasia was bad? I can only wish Stephen Keshi well. Is he really going to call up Yakubu? We should all have listened to President Jonathan earlier. Ban football, he said. For once the man was right.
The Dame Patience Comedian of the Year Award.
We named the award after the grand dame for obvious reasons – very few people could make us laugh, especially during the trying periods of the year that many of us have had. She had some brilliant one-liners…from talking about ‘umblerra’s’ and ‘fellow windows’ to lively comments about ‘shidren’, nationalities, continents and the eradication of AIDS by 2015! It was difficult finding one stand up comedian who rose above the milieu, I mean searching for any two Nigerian comedians who do not sound alike or who don’t share the same jokes is liking looking for the difference between Aki and Pawpaw (Oh, one recently got married!) And the grandmaster of them all, Alibaba preferred to spread his best lines on his Twitter DP, so instead of giving anyone the award, we just named it after La Grande Dame. Make sense?
The Janus (the More You Look, the Less You See) Award - Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola
This next award was a difficult one. I mean, how could you turn 360 degrees from where you are coming from? How does one make a volte-face so easily? How does a ‘Man of the People’ become so easily vilified? First it was the Lekki-Epe toll gate brouhaha, then the LASU fees palaver. Nothing wrong with asking for tolls, but has anyone ever given a thought to how the residents would cope on a daily basis? And the monumental increase in fees at LASU? There was no inkling of this during the electioneering campaign period, neither do I recall any debates of such at the State House of Assembly? Is it the hand of Esau? Or the true face of Janus? All we can say is, Fashola, beware!
The Hope 2012 Award – President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan
For the Presidency, 2011 has been a hugely challenging year, performance wise – from the threat of Boko Haram to the Delta State governorship crisis, the Achebe snub, and the Fuel subsidy debate, no one would wish to be in President Jonathan’s shoes, I’m sure! Well, the subsidy issue seems done and dusted? One can only wish Mr. President a better year ahead! God save Nigeria.
Person(s)of the Year Award
As hard as I tried, I could find no living Nigerian worthy of this award. The Dangote’s had already been ‘rewarded’ with the nation’s second highest national award, and didn’t need the overkill. The other billionaires were already burping the remnants of subsidy flatulence. The sportsmen and women were all MIA. The artistes and musicians were too busy promoting their latest singles and albums. Nollywood was too busy in-fighting, or fighting for ministerial appointments and cabinet position in their various states. The Soyinka’s seemed too tired to talk. The Falana’s had too many juicy cases in court. The human rights organisations were too busy chasing international funding. General Buhari seemed to have gone on hiatus. Nobody. Then I remembered the many lost innocents who had died under the hail of bullets from unknown policemen, Boko Haram bombings, armed robberies, deranged husbands and mad boyfriends, accidents, domestic explosions, etc. and the many youth corps members on active service to their nation that lost their lives after the elections, and since. These are my persons of the year. Do reserve a special prayer for their souls.