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Between Nabo Graham-Douglas and Stanley Macebuh


Sir: I love Ken Saro-Wiwa and wish he were alive today. He wrote essays and books with the hands of an angel and spoke with the tongue of an angel. I envy him. Unlike my generation, people who taught him in school knew the subject matter and history of what they educated him in. Most of us don’t know the history of the subject matter we were coached in. No wonder we flounder because our teachers (some) didn’t know the history of the subject matter they tutored us in. He chronicled – in an essay, an experience in a state executive council meeting as a commissioner of education in Rivers State. Lieutenant Commander Alfred Diete-Spiff, (now HRM, Amanyanabo of Twon- Brass in Bayeslsa State) was governor and presided over the meeting. The governor in that meeting spoke out-of-turn.

Not unlike military officers though, many confuse position for authority and power and assume that the privilege to be heard means the right to be taken seriously. The attorney general of the state, Nabo Graham-Douglas stood up and demanded an apology from the governor on behalf of all the commissioners. There was forced silence. Before you could say Simon Abah’s the governor apologised. It takes a big man to make a governor apologise in Nigeria. Bigger still, for any governor to apologise. Most governors are Pharaohs. Nabo Graham-Douglas was a big man.

I walked into Stanley Macebuh’s office. He was then the head of the Presidential Research Unit popularly called White House, very near Aso Rock Villa. He was President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Special Assistant. He was small in height, immaculately dressed and smoked a cigar which he had to put off when we were ushered in. We were there on an errand. Some people he knew, officially and, supervised were making things difficult for the person who sent us and needed his intercession. Soft spoken. He was in the class of people who revved their brains before they talked unlike a bunch of lummoxes who love to flip their lids, and flap their lips.


He gave us a piercing look which was unsettling and asked us to give him two weeks to resolve the matter. He did resolve the matter. That man was a great man, urbane and civilised. Not long after that meeting, on national network news a bulletin was put out about his disengagement from the Obasanjo administration, albeit unceremoniously. Macebuh was on holiday when this happened. From Chinese whispers, we gathered that this happened because Macebuh refused to suffer fools gladly with OBJ, unlike many people and called his (OBJ) bluff from-time-to-time when OBJ acted out-of-turn.

Nigeria needs people such as Macebuh and Graham-Douglas as commissioners, ministers and special assistants because their types don’t grovel. There would be positive changes in the polity with such great men with history. Country would benefit further, if they are fortunate to work with well-groomed, urbane, mission-oriented governors/presidents. Need I say more?

Simon Abah wrote from Port Harcourt.

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