• Saturday, April 20, 2024
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BusinessDay

This intimidation must stop, give us our own platforms

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This weekend, as we gather at our popular square table, indulgees are having a good ribbing at my expense. It’s my fault, really; me and my big gob! Sometimes I get tempted to over-assume a few things, especially in my position as the Chief Indulgee at this gathering. For instance, I am in the habit of going over the top in my assumption that indulgees will never do a rib-cracker should they hear some of the stories about my personal encounters with famous and or public people when these folks get to meet me one on one. You know what they say about these things, never mind the pictures that you see or the picture that is painted of someone until you have run into them face to face!

Now, when you hear that – I mean, “face to face” – some of you who have genuinely followed English and Scottish football right from the late ’70s and ’80s (and maybe before then) will remember the Face2Face Pool Company (for, in truth, the English and Scottish leagues were more popular in those decades amongst gamblers in Nigeria than among people who loved the game and the clubs! There were a few genuine ones like myself, who as a young school boy got registered as a member of Liverpool Fan Club around 1983/84 by my friend Janet’s dad, who was a school head teacher in Formby, Merseyside, and a season ticket’s holder of the famous club that made winning the league and European championships look like child’s play). All you latecomers to this current money-propelled euphoria of The Premiership can eat your hearts out for all we care! We started following the English League when men played the game and when winning was done on the basis of playing real, gritty football, not buying the game by buying the men! Money really spoilt this game, but that’s understandable, given that we live in a world of commoditisation of everything, including the human soul! After all, you can see what they are doing in Abuja, including sitting down and trying to negotiate immunity for themselves! The only immunity they deserve, in my view, is the one that can allow legislators freedom to express themselves on any issue on the floor of National Assembly without fear of prosecution when they come out of the place. In other words, every one of them should be free to say what they wish to say on the floor and have licence, including accusations against anybody based on information that they might have become privy to!

And so, when people say, “see Paris and die” (meaning it’s a city you have to see before you die), we are beginning to say “see Abuja and weep”! I trust that for genuine indulgees your patience is still intact. My supposition that your patience is still intact stems from knowing that you know how we do it here at the square table.

However, without meaning to risk my luck with your patience, let me return to the original direction of our collective thought. Yeah, on my typical off-day you might be disappointed if you have become fixated by what the lady downstairs of this page talked me into doing at a studio sometime ago somewhere in Magodo, on the outskirts of Lagos. It was Funke who wanted us to change the old photographs we had on this page and dragged me to a studio one hot Sunday afternoon. I have told her that should I be seen face to face and someone feels disappointed from accumulated expectations, then I won’t be singing Prince’s “Blame it on the rain”, but would rather console myself with 9ce’s “Oun to ba wun eni body lo’le fenu won so” (literally, “Whatever anybody likes let them say”).

Now, all this has come about because as I continue to discover the high calibre and top level groups and people that read this weekly outcome of indulgees’ gathering, even though one very, very senior banker told me to my face, “I enjoy reading your column, but I am not an indulgee o”, my attempt to get indulgees to hear what I am hearing, they are turning on me and asking me, “Who do you think you are?” Upon hearing that, I suddenly found myself literally racing back to the time when I used to be glued to my television in the UK watching the local BBC programme of that same title (Who do you think you are?) in which they tried to really dig into the background of some famous people – including tracing the genealogy, of which some led to Africa, in a few cases! But since I know who I am right now (at least until someone researches and comes up with something otherwise), I thought I should just crack my ribs on this one.

Here’s the story that set indulgees off into a prolonged rib-cracker! I told them that the other day, at a meeting with Governor Fashola (who also reads this column, by the way), Ben Akabueze, Fashola’s commissioner for budget and planning, who may not know it that I have known him for more than 15 years from my time as a finance reporter with Vanguard Newspapers, when he was at the then NAL Merchant Bank, stopped me and said to me: “And there I was thinking you must be one very tall man every time I look at your picture in your column!” “Wow! He reads the column too!” I had thought to myself. Thinking that this would bring some pride to indulgees, I decided to tell them, but they burst out laughing at me! One indulgee actually said to me: “Come to think of it, Chief, I hadn’t looked at things from that angle all this while, but I am beginning to think that you need to find a solution quickly before you meet Ben Akabueze again.”

It is a piece of advice I am taking very seriously. And it is not that I am as disadvantaged as a few bad belle indulgees would like the rest of the world to believe. But my experience is that there are quite a handful of disadvantaged men out there who could use this brainwave thinking that has gripped me on account of this rib-cracking embarrassment that fellow indulgees have subjected me to. In the world of fashion, especially shoemaking, women tend to get away with a few things. And it doesn’t matter the situation – whether they have the height or not, they will get those 12” stilettos, heavy platform shoes, which to me has become clear that it is not just fashion but an object of intimidation! Don’t ask me who they are trying to intimidate – surely not this chief indulgee, never mind the rumour that it was a subject of disagreement between Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise during their marriage; but seeing that short or tall, they still struggle to get into platforms and stilettos, then it’s not out of place to say that there’s an agenda here.

Now, here’s my point. Whoever said platforms should only be for women? Why do fashion aficionados discriminate against men and society takes it without a fight? Who says only women have the prerogative to intimidate certain groups of men by suddenly appearing before them with 6” and 12” platform and stiletto shoes and force them into discomforting positions! Is it any wonder that when such things happen such men just dip their hands into their pockets (wallets) to make up for opportunity cost lost? I tell you folks, cut the crap, tell shoemakers that there’s a market for men’s platforms and stilettos!

 

PHILLIP ISAKPA