Yemi Alade, My Father and ndi ji ha ugwo (their debtors)

May 2, 2021
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When I saw that story on Linda Ikeji titled “Yemi Alade vows never to lend anyone money again after someone she gave money refused to pay back”, I laughed in Swahili that Sunday morning of 11th April! I laughed because my dad had told me a story of someone that owed him the night before! We had stayed up till about 11 pm in the village talking on that Saturday night, after the Reverend Father that came visiting left about 10pm. If you know my dad, you will know that he likes gisting. And me, I like the amebo! But unlike Yemi, he didn’t make that vow at the time.

I had gone to the village to connect with the folks I targeted to pilot my yam in bag campaign. I could only show the video to two out of my targeted nine people in the village. So I was about tagging the trip a failure until God showed up! The SS Peter and Paul secondary school assistant Manager was the perfect megaphone to do the publicity of this yam campaign; hence my discussions with him that night. He happens to be a Reverend father so you can imagine the excitement. Details of that story will come in another essay.

My dad told me about Author Mbanefor (calm down, he is not the popular one you know; I had the same shock but he calmed me down as well noting it was not the big architect), who was a classmate of his at University college Zaria from 1960. He is not sure whether he was part of the very bright guys that did their course in 3 years or the backbenchers like himself who did theirs in 4 years.

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Mbanefor came to Onitsha Head Bridge to trick my dad into giving him money to fix his car. Mbanefor claimed his car got spoilt and he had pulled it into a car workshop to be fixed. He claimed the workshop charged him so much probably because of the air condition that was included in the repairs and the story was that he did not have enough money to pay for the job hence the request for cash from my dad. How Mbanefor got to know that my dad was working at the head bridge will continue to be a mystery to this day.

After listening to Mbanefor and as one who would not want his classmate to suffer, my dad got his head cracking on how to help his old acquaintance. With no cash of his own available he resorted to the government coffers! Please don’t tell anyone unless you want my dad to go to jail! I am not sure if such demeanours are statute bound. You see, I did not check whether it is statute bound to avoid the risk of spilling these beans because like I told you; I like amebo, and I like it real hot!

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My dad got the finance people in the ministry office right there to give him imprest and he gave Mbanefor the money he requested. Off course Mbanefor swore with his father’s grave that he will return the money as soon as possible. I am not sure now whether he also promised small omurunwa (interest) to come with the return. In those days one cannot mess around with government money and every kobo is accounted for, at least my dad does that. If yours didn’t do that, then it is not my problem. So as usual end of March every year, all AIEs are retired. If you don’t know what AIE means or what it means to retire one; then your dad did not work for government. Authority to ensure expenses (AIE) is a usual parlance every government picken should know naa. Anyway, it’s like open cheque to spend and your papa, the government in this case will pay later. My dad had to pay that money because Mbanefor was nowhere to be found! He had to do it because you are under obligation to retire that money or you will not get another for the next year.

As I write Mbanefor has not showed up and his debt to my dad has not been paid! This happened between 1975 and 1979 as my dad recalled. One wonders how much interest that money would have accrued now. For all I cared, Mbanefor is still owing my dad and if you know or meet him, tell him that  I am now acting as debt collector for my dad and would like us to negotiate payment. So far as it was not declared a dash; he remained a debtor. And that was the advice a lot of Linda’s followers gave Yemi Alade. They advised that next time, she should limit her giving to only what she can afford to forgo without stress instead of lending with full hope of payback. That way she will not need to be swearing Upandan! Lol

Obidike Peter is Author of Aladinma; eighties to nineties

He wrote from www.peterobidike.com and p_obidike@yahoo.com

Saturday 17th April 2021

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