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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Michael Irene: Obahiagbon and his Political Grammar of Comedy

By on August 6, 2013

After the absurd political drama acted by Rotimi Amaechi, Rivers State governor and Goodluck Jonathan, the President of Nigeria presented itself to Nigerians in the middle of 2013, the citizens were inundated with news about the saga. They debated, cried and scolded these leaders in clear terms. However, Chief of State to the Edo State Governor, Honourable Patrick Obahiagbon, saw this as an avenue to engage Nigerians in his political grammar of comedy. In his arguments, broadcasted on Channels Television some weeks ago, he used words like Krinkum KraKrum (my emphasis), kakitomoboplutocracy, just to mention those two, to define the unfolding drama.
Obahiagbon gained prominence some time in 2009 in a debate at the house of assembly, when he spat these words: “It would be sardonic, lugubrious, and it would be a state of dismal-abysmal if parliament does not rise this morning to fix culpability where culpability is.” This sudden fame got into our honourable which made him display more grammatical acrobatics. In a NTA interview some years ago, when the interviewer asked, ‘so in essence, what challenge are you giving to your other colleagues? Obahiagbon replied: ‘Sactas Simplicitas. They must avoid regular big stouting. suyaing and peppersouping. Those are not the real issues. They must be prepared to immerse themselves in societal dialectics.’
Obahiagbon is a lawyer by profession and a staunch supporter of the poor masses. For every time he appears on any platform he talks fervently about how to help the “hoi polloi” and most importantly, pleads with the government or individuals in political positions “to achieve good results.” In addition, he is a lover of words. Obahiagbon takes his time to learn new words from Latin to English, blends languages to coin fresh words and is unapologetic when he uses them. Afterall, “ his intention is not to obfuscate the listener.”
This gift has earned him a lot of fans. Some of his fans claim he fills them with laughter, others say they learn new words and some simply see him as a clown. Whether you see him as a clown or take him seriously, Obahiagbon is here to stay. The question, therefore, is: Do we continue to laugh when he speaks? Or ask him to speak in a way the ordinary Nigerian can understand?
Sometimes, he goes on and on vibrating in the rivers of his words and at the top of his voice. Whenever he speaks, people rush to listen, laugh and nothing else. Nothing. His words have no impact (one of the reasons why he lost the Edo state primary elections?). If communication is ‘a symbolic process whereby reality is produced, maintained, repaired, and transformed’ he has simply distorted our reality with his grandiloquence.
One may define Obahiagbon with Alexander Pope’s words as follows: “They are bookful blockheads, ignorantly read. There have always been literate ignoramuses who have read too widely and not well.” An individual’s ability to use “big” words while speaking does not make you literate or wise. Effective communication is attained when the receiver of the information can digest and understand the speaker/writer without trouble.
In a country where over half of the citizens are illiterate, where education is almost dead and people rarely read, it is surprising, therefore, to see/hear an individual choose to speak like this.
On the other side of these grammatical gyrations, the advantages crouch there. First, in the midst of sad events that dot our milieu, we can all laugh when a politician opens his mouth. To attend a Nigerian comedy show could be expensive and for laughter we can now turn to our honourable which would save us some cost. Thank you.
However, Obahiagbon knows his people and his people know him. How many percent think he is a clown? And how many people think he should desist from communicating in such a way? How many people feel the grammar in the man makes the man? A vote perhaps? Or should we over look his excesses and appreciate the fact that we can laugh away our problems?
By Michael Irene,

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