25 November 2007

Title(s) – a must have

Lagos is intriguing, period. Actually, Nigeria is. A 'must-have' is a title. For many people, a title is non-negotiable. If you commit the mortal sin of addressing such people without their title or rather the full array of their titles, you will be fed with the history of when your parents met.

I have come to appreciate the reason why a title is important to many people. In many quarters, you will certainly not be given the time of day if you don’t have a title or have something to prove you are somebody. So people do everything within their means to acquire one. No longer contented with the old and tired 'Chief'; new and improved titles have sprung up including ‘Asiwaju’, ‘Yeye’ and ‘Erelu’.

‘Otunba’ is now standard issue for Governorship aspirants or Governors in the South-West. In the South-East and South-South, it is ‘Sir’ or ‘Dame’ - issued by the Catholic Church. Alhaji has always been prevalent in the North. Some Governors acquire honorary doctorate titles from their State Universities.

Church Deacons, Pastors everyone identifies themselves with a title even in non-professional situations. Not to be outdone, many professionals in Nigeria have adopted titles like 'Tpl' (Town Planners), Builder, Arc, Barrister, Surveyor, Engr., Pharmacist etc.

Some serving State Governors who had been Senators in the past still use the ‘Senator’ prefix to address themselves. The Secretary to the Federal Government of Nigeria precedes his name with the ‘Ambassador’ title (inside Nigeria).

I once asked a Surgeon in England why he was addressed as ‘Mr’. He explained that in the distant past, doctors never performed surgical operations. Apparently, barbers did. So they were not addressed as doctors. That tradition has been maintained over the years so much so that a doctor reverts to ‘Mr’ when he becomes a Surgeon. I will be surprised if there are many Surgeons who keep to this tradition in Nigeria.

Having and flaunting a title is part of our culture - as Nigerian as the oil under our ground. It has however gone beyond the ridiculous becoming not only a way of differentiating themselves from the masses but also a means of proving they are somebody.

You will find below a list of the 36 State Governors in Nigeria and their respective titles.

Abia - Chief Theodore Orji
Adamawa - Vice Admiral Murtala Nyako
Akwa Ibom - Barrister (Chief) Godswill Akpabio
Anambra - Mr Peter Obi
Bauchi - Alhaji Isa Yuguda
Bayelsa - Chief (Hon) Timipre Sylva
Benue - Rt Hon. Gabriel Suswam
Borno - Senator (Dr) Ali Modu Sheriff
Cross River - Senator Liyel Imoke
Delta - Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan
Ebonyi - Chief Martin Elechi
Edo - Senator (Prof) Oserheimen Osumbor
Ekiti - Engr. Olusegun Oni
Enugu - Mr Sullivan Chime
Gombe - Alhaji Mohammed Goje
Imo - Chief Ikedi Godson Ohakim
Jigawa - Alhaji Sule Lamido
Kaduna - Arc. Mohammed Namadi Sambo
Kano - Malam Ibrahim Shekarau
Katsina - Alhaji Ibrahim Shema
Kebbi - Alhaji Usman Saidu Nasamu
Kogi - Alahji Ibrahim Idris
Kwara - Dr. Bukola Saraki
Lagos - Mr Babatunde Fashola (SAN)
Nassarawa - Alhaji Aliyu Doma
Niger - Dr. Muazu Aliyu
Ogun - Otunba Gbenga Daniel
Ondo - Dr. Olusegun Agagu
Osun - Prince Olagunsoye Oyinlola
Oyo - Otunba Christopher Alao-Akala
Plateau - Air Commodore Jonah Jang
Rivers - Rt Hon ROtimi Amaechi
Sokoto - Alhaji Aliyu Wamakko
Taraba - Pharmacist Danbaba Suntari
Yobe - Senator Mamman Ali
Zamfara - Alhaji Mahmud Aliyu Shinkafi

Just this week, I read in ‘Foxes in the Vineyard’, a fantastic book written by Sean Akinrele, this story about a ‘title’ incident and I have reproduced same here with permission:

"Certain guests were to be recognised and invited to the ‘high’ table at a wedding reception. The Master of Ceremony announced the name of the first man thus: “We recognise the presence of eminent lawyer and industrialist John Oyo ‘Esq.’” He announced the second person also a lawyer, in the same manner. He then announced the third person thus: “We recognise the presence of Chief (Dr.) Sam Osun, a prominent businessman and industrialist. There was no response.

He announced the name again and still there was no response. He was however, informed that the man was around. So he appealed that if he was around, he should rise for recognition and proceed to the high table. Whereupon a visibly angry man rose up, strode to the front and snatched the microphone, publicly demanding to know why he was not properly recognised like his two friends. According to him the three of them had been members of the old school choir and therefore he was also entitled to the suffix ‘ex choir.’" PostCardfromLagos