RE: When Onyeka Sang the Blues...

My above-titled piece elicit reactions from readers including Onyeka herself. Her reaction, along with a few others, are reproduced below. Enjoy!

My dear Muhammad Al-Ghazali,
I read your piece with the above title, on the back page Daily Trust Newspaper of Feb. 23 2016 and felt even sadder for our country Nigeria than at the moment when the near violent events that surrounded my disengagement from the National Center for Women Development took place on Feb. 16.

Those events, the abuse, taunting, the banging on my car, the seizure of my car keys and personal effects, were even worse than I reported. Yet I was prepared to just walk away from them, but I was not allowed to.  In fact, my statements were made in answer to questions posed a day later, by a journalist from the Guardian Newspaper, Mariam Humbe. She was one of the journalists invited to witness my "humiliation". She witnessed some of the events I referred to in my answer.

How I wish that you had spared some of your outrage for the fact that a citizen of our country, Nigeria, could be treated in the manner I was. Sadly, you said nothing about the mob that had been gathered to "disgrace" me, nothing about the abuses and name calling, nothing about my not being allowed to leave in my official car and nothing, even,  about the threats to my life.

Sir, I have nothing against my disengagement. If the truth be told, I was relieved, grateful and hopeful for the future. I had been given the opportunity to serve and by the grace of God, I had done my best, under abnormal circumstances and daunting challenges. Mr President had the right to ask for our disengagement. He exercised that authority and we complied. Why then was I not allowed to disengage quietly and in peace? Why would I be accused of threatening to sue Mr President and of refusing to hand-over? These are the questions you should ask. I suspect though that you had made up your mind and would not want to be bothered with the truth. That troubles me.

I am indeed proudly Igbo and proudly Nigerian. We should all be proud to be who we are and never be made to apologize for where God has placed us, in His infinite wisdom and mercy. My brother, we should all love one another and ourselves, irrespective of ethnicity and religion. We should accept each other as equals and partners in this project called Nigeria. It is a terrible thing, what happened to me. It should not be allowed to happen again and the perpetuators should not be allowed to get away with it. It sends the wrong signals and creates an atmosphere that is demeaning for all.

I want you to know that I am not a hater and not a tribalist. I was not raised that way and I have never lived that life. My children bear Yoruba and Moslem names. I would die to protect their right or anybody else's, to be whom God has made them to be. By the same token, I would not accept the denigration of my humanity because I am Onyigbo.

I love you with the love of God. Be blessed.

Ada Mazi Onyeka Onwenu (MFR Former DG NCWD)

Dear Al-Ghazali,
Your article made an interesting reading. Have you not watched Onyeka's "Squandering of the Riches", a documentary film anchored by her, aired mainly by NTA, in the 80s or 90s? If you did, her rantings would not have suprised you.

Bello Aminu <

Dear Al-Ghazali

I wasn't at all surprised at Onyeka Onwenu's reaction to her removal. Perhaps you didn't know, because you were away studying in the US then, that she came into limelight in the early 1980's, not on account of her music, but on account of a documentary called 'The Squandering of Riches' which was a biased exposť of corruption in the Shagari Government. Please dig up information on that documentary and you'll see what I mean.

Munzali Jibril



I was really intrigued by the articles written by you two gentlemen - Abu Najakku and Muhammadu Al-Ghazali on the issue of today Daily Trust,  23rd February. 2016 hitting the nail on the head as if you were side by side writing at the same time and comparing notes.

My big problem with the Nigerian elite is that we like to fight dirty. When we fight we do not ever fight according to the rules. We first of all pack a lot of sand and blow it into the eye of the opponent so that we can use this tactical means to defeat them. We like playing the ethnic and religious card to kingdom come. We enjoy it, we relish it and we have raised it up as a banner and shield. It is a regret being an elite in Nigeria.

Ms Onwenu had no inkling of how the Civil Service works. Working in NTA is not the same as working in the Service. She became a lord into herself. She turned NCWD into a personal fortress. As a Public or Civil Servant you are a servant of the people. Ms Onwenu did not believe in that - before you could see her, you had to write to book an appointment, and when her royal majesty feels that you are relevant then she will see you even if what you want to see her for had been overtaken by events. Even Ministers of the Federal Republic have visiting days - she does not. This rule applies to both workers and visitors to our own NCWD. This is a place women could walk into before to cry on the shoulders of the DG and get their problems solved. WRAPA grew from her before it became what it is today. The barricade she erected isolated her and made her lose touch with reality and the fact that she and her cohorts had easy access to the first lady - made her to so feel like a goddesses.

Playing the ethnic card is laughable. How many lgbo women who wanted to see her did she see? The problem with educated and privileged Nigerians be they men or women is that they easily forget that easy come, easy go. It is a shame.

Prof. Kate Obiamaka Nwufo, mni




Hello AL-Ghazali. I just want to thank you for your back page article
on Onyeka's "press release". I felt really bad when I read it. She self- deprecated.
I flirted with the idea of writing a rejoinder, but eventually decided she was not worth
the effort.
Thank you for responding on behalf of all of us.

Aisha Mustafa (









Thank you for your piece on the reaction of Onyeka Onwenu to her sack from the post of Director-General of the National Centre for Women Development. I didn't get to see and read the press release, so I cannot make direct comment, but given her antecedents she is capable of such outburst. Her appointment to the job owed more to Mrs Patience Jonathan's need to draw to her circle people who ordinarily wouldn't give her time of day were she not First Lady than any competence on Onyeka's part. I personally never saw her music as anything great - perhaps being wedded to greats of pop music. Rather than her One Love single what one remembers was her TV documentary in 1983/1984, titled The Squandering of Riches showing the lifestyle of Nafiu Isiyaka Rabiu as a metaphor of how Northern elites live off the back of government which they controlled. It was inflammatory, igniting hatred for the Northerners, sign-posting them as "leeches" enjoying the riches of the South - before the new designation of South-South. Her reaction now is therefore to be expected. The thing to do is to take them down whenever, using facts.  

Thank you. 

M T Usman 

It appears Ghazali did not watch "Nigeria a nation squandered" by Onyeka. The fact that she did not produce part 2 of that documentary when Jonathan was in power speaks volumes. In fact she participated in that government says it all.