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Godson's Common Sense

Titlelucious Development:
An Igbo Phenomenon

N. Ndubueze Godson, III

Just men with good ambition do not hunker down from matters that affect civilization. No! They instead maintain a firm grip on the eternal light to bring sanity back into the polity. I hope the jaundiced folks with shallow understanding of my mystical ways of writing realize without equivocating had a President of Igbo extraction been responsible for all the years of screw-ups in that country of theirs, this essayist would be on his/her tail too. Igbo or not, just ask someone who knows me. I guess you could call me equal opportunity truth dispenser. I do not discriminate when it comes to telling it like it should. Therefore the people who misattribute my writings should appreciate what tweaks me, which is not hard to figure if you follow. Again, here are questions I posed in my last essay, “Alhaji, Alhaja what is that?” What is it about titles that drive Nigerians to stupidity? What makes a somewhat exposed and learned ‘gentleman’ to pile junk upon junk to his prefix?


These days I hardly attend any social functions organized by Nigerians due

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to the importation of unnecessary and excessive noise into what ordinary should be fun. For instance, they utilize hours barking out names and bogus titles of inconsequential and obscure folks to my dissatisfaction. The empty show offs to impress the audience I’m guessing is part of the reason people lost focus on more important things to go after countless titles. It is pure insanity to utilize valued time on introduction particularly for people who arrive hours late after the function is declared open.
Of all the cities I have had the privilege of living in; Nigerians in Houston, Texas, are the worst offenders second only to motherland. During a visit to Toronto, Canada, for the Biafran Day celebration, I was excitedly impressed with their combined sense of high living and low-key approach to life especially at social functions. Although these guys drive posh cars with expensive stylish high-rise living, their humility and candor left me with a memorable impression. On the other hand, their U.S. (Houston) counterparts spew an irritatingly nauseating high level of noise. The matter of fact noise decibel holla[ed] out of control here, therefore, we must restore sanity if we are to leave a more decent society for posterity. Hopefully this essay would nip it in the bud. I don’t see how an illiterate titleholder could muster anything that resembles courage to gloat around someone with sound education in say, Engineering, Medicine or any other field for that matter. To even think of it gives one a migraine.


At a social occasion someone introduced me as a Chief and believe you me, from that moment agitation took over me as I wonder if the microphone will ever reach me. Lo and behold it did. My first access to that mic was used to tell the people that I am not a Chief to a deafening applause. The peoples’ positive reaction was as a result of the straight talk. They are sick and grossly tired of your overbearing trashy titles. Before some of you start yiiying - whining, let me explain that I am not against title(s) per se more so when it comes to someone who merits it. But to confer this honor on a severely compromised person then encourage him to simultaneously bear tons of it, is my one and only qualms. The amount of noise that follows this their title sef makes it such a joke. During one of my visits to that land in the eighties, the new trend of piling undeserved encomiums and titles on riff-raffs caught my attention and right then I knew it’s gonna get uglier farther down the road. That prophetic feelings I had two decades ago has come to pass with the nefarious activities of Chris Uba, a village tout who floats many of these dime a dozen titles too. He is Chief, Sir, Dr., Hon, I guess for ndi oji abali aga – night stalkers in his town. Could his conferment been by ndi ogba nje – multiple personalities sufferers, which explains why he is egregiously tormented? Here is another Ubalike creature, Emeka Ofor, who was a tractor-trailer driver before he stole Anambra bare to acquire miles and tons of title too, I heard. It was this unfiltered illiterate that set the tone for the mayhem innocent citizens of Anambra are experiencing today under a brute thug, Chris Uba with direct connivance of Obasanjo, men with hydrogen brains. They traverse the world in search of more garbage to add to their names and when it seems they are about running out of decent and appealing names, they reinvent their original names to be titlelucious. No country that I know advanced with the help of illiterates and thieves this is at the core why Nigeria ain’t going anywhere, not soon, no how.


I guess the new elevation of otherwise village miscreants who killed and got away with stolen loot caused our intelligentsia to welcome this errancy. The use of title became all comers’ game. One of my regrets is that some individuals who struggled through law schools with a “Doctor of Jurisprudence” discharge out of naivety use “Dr.” as prefix. The satisfaction of completing law school if you ask me should have been the ultimate high for anyone who went through the rigors not salutation. Our lettered folks took the noise already in progress to a new crescendo by joining illiterates to flash unnecessary appellations. If you are still confused don’t worry I will make another go at my explanations. Let’s say, a Jurisprudence diploma does not confer the privileges and rights to use the “Dr.” abbreviation, it’s that simple. The formal abbreviations for a holder of Doctor of Jurisprudence diploma are the letters “JD” which is used for name supplementation if that person desires. But the blatant use of “Dr.” by some of these fellas dangerously overstretched it to a ridiculous level. To compound the silliness associated with miles and tons of titles, a friend once said to me, he couldn’t wait to hop into Law School so that he too would be addressed as ‘Doctor.’ Of course I landed on his ass like a payload. So, why do they do it? Don’t ask me, ask them but let me attempt a crack. The guilty ones due to their nagging sense of worthlessness may also be suffering from the same ailments that afflict their northern neighbors whom you call Alhajis/Visitors. As of today, most of these law doctors are either starving or on the run because of unethical practices. Prior to leaving the shores of Nigeria more than two decades ago, my mother made it clear to me that she does not want me to be a lawyer. Reason? She believes a good number are ethically challenged, that’s Mama for you. Lol. My father didn’t want me to be an accountant, his reason? They are overworked and underpaid. Well, those aside, back on course. There is something about ethics and lawyering that do not add up and in retrospect I could not have been an attorney. I don’t see myself representing someone responsible for the murder of innocent person, or an embezzler of public funds. I just can’t! So based on this, Mama, was right although exemplary jurists abound that are guided by the law and driven by good conscience.


Only in the Nigerian community would you also see a graduate in pharmacology with a Pharm.D. diploma without any sign of distress insist to be addressed as “Dr.” It is indeed a sad development for the definition and integrity of this diploma that is by no means a terminal degree to take an abrupt turn because Nigerians are involved. We must bind together to restore its honesty. The existence of a doctorate program in Pharmacology, Ph.D., which is boldly imprinted in their curriculums, should have alerted them to this blunder. How difficult is it to figure the sequence of degrees in this field starting with, B.S., M.S./Pharm.D. then Ph.D.? I am aware that some schools award a M.S. degree in Pharmacy whereas others in its place award a Pharm.D. so, tell your friends who abuse this degree to stop now. Pharm.D. and JD degrees are not the pinnacle of educational endeavor therefore those in the bad taste of using them are urged to quit already. With some element of certainty I can say that title abusers are responsible for people who now needlessly append their profession to their names, example, Surveyor so and so. What the hell is that? Madness! How about Physical Educationist so and so or Geographer so and so? The ultimate insult is when some of these low self-esteemed individuals are approached with the clear abuse; they wantonly allude to jealousy as your motivator. In some cases they even forget they are dealing with someone in the same field who choose to maintain sanity over sheer madness. I have seen this happen, folks. A friend once told me how some kookooed lady jumped to defend this indefensibility by saying, “eh, eh I think people are jealous.” Of what, Chrrrrrrrrrrrist! Personally speaking, I did be glad to recognize the amount of genuine effort one put to acquire his/her diploma without necessarily going out on a limb to appease that person with some flawed gesture. The tremendous respect and adulation I have for Admiral John Poindexter, who has a terminal degree in nuclear physics is simply due to his simplified style and brilliance. Maintaining the tempo, all Nigerians who use their education to honestly benefit the society they unfortunately found themselves in, Nigeria, that is are equally recognized. These are people we should respect and admire not the Chris Ubas, Emeka Ofors, Aremu Obasanjos, Ibrahim Babangidas so, so. If you take a hard look at all the people in their government today, you will note that either they are thieves, certificate forgers, murderers or crude illiterates. Something is wrong with a society where great numbers of graduates serve village touts in order to secure meal tickets. Some wrong with that system, definitely, not translating, people!


In Nigeria, it is either you have or have not, no middle ground exists anymore you better ask somebody, if you have been on self-imposed exile for a while. The so-called haves are the present day robbers whose assaults on public treasures helped their having in the first place. With the stolen or embezzled money in tow they set out to acquire more disgraceful titles from every nook and cranny of that country. Tell me, what the hell is an Igboman doing with a northern title and vice versa? What is so alluring for a Yorubaman to travel down north or east for more titles and the other way around? Some of these phony traditional rulers travel as far as States to dump some of these overloads on people who are afflicted with severe inferiority complexes. How on God’s earth could someone simultaneously bear multiple titles like; Honorable, Senator, Governor, His Excellency, Dr., Nze, Engineer, Sir, Knight(?), Professor, Oba, Olu, Alhaji/Visitor, Chief, General, to infinite? Tell me this is not pure insanity. In order to increase the number of titles they have, some simultaneously pin both Sir and Knight; listen to this nonsense, “Sir Knight.” What is that? Isn’t the conferment of Knighthood the reason they’re called “Sir?” The height of this irresponsible behavior is seen when those who perhaps attended a few seminars include such workshops as part of their educational achievements. Getting way overboard is how I see it, you? Just tell me which of the rogues or murderers in Nigeria that does not have multi-titles and I’ll quit. How can people of dishonor be so honorably dressed? Even those that address them in such manner are not helping society with their passive support to this junk. We should henceforth end the reckless use of these prefixes to address bandits, people. Let’s cap it! I was taught in school that the repetition of an idea like title is tautology. Methinks you should watch who you address with this Doctor thing because you might one of these days offend a native doctor when you miss the “N” prefix. Maybe some still care about it while others may find it embarrassing hence they opt to silence it. You just can’t be too sure these days, pal. With everyone wanting to appear larger than life nowadays, having the “N” before Doctor for the native ones might take away the importance of their imaginary elevation.


The politicians who instead of addressing the dangerous and pervasive economic

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divide that erased what used to be the middle-class endlessly chase after these titles with money they stole. Their duties to maintain responsible governance that would advance that country while alleviating the sufferings of the masses were relegated to the background in pursuit of the elusive recognitions their ignorant performances failed to bring. Here are more befitting titles for their consideration,
JJC, after all when it comes to politics, they just came. Their hopeless Senate President Adolphus Nwagbara forget the “Wabara” crap, is a good example, he too is a Chief. Another insult! Title number two, JJD, they just dropped from nowhere to insult our sense of living with their halitosis utterances. Another cool title for the thieves would be, RIP, can’t wait to apply this one on them. Just in case these titles are not enough, here are more; VCR, APC, TNT, TDB, CNN, Mango, Udara, Late, so forth. Rather than draw inspirations from men and women whose outlook in life made a loud difference in the lives of common people, these guys shamelessly and aimlessly roam about with filthy titles jotted on their cards unconcerned that the originator of this seventies nonsense, Oliver de Coque, is someone with limited or no formal education, another hydro-brain. You thought these one-quarter educated subjects would realize their folly and take a hint. But no! I don’t know how many times they ought to be cautioned that one’s ability to secure a formal education (Islamic for majority north) does in no way inculcate wisdom or needed knowledge. Education is personal. For aggrandizement, particularly in Nigeria due to the elusive bacon, which the successful completion does not guarantee thanks to the Chris Ubas who would actually struggle with an answer if asked what ten percent of nothing is yet they are the ‘elites’ in that twisted society? In college, one of my Geology professors, Dr. Charles Tatum, reminded us to acquire a C.S. (Common Sense) degree also as we pursue our B.B.A., B.S., M.S., JD, Pharm.D. and Ph.D. degrees et cetera. So, fellas let’s cut the noise right about now. This gotta be somewhere in the Holy Book, try Matt. 23:12. “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.”


Nigerians wrongly believe that the use of trashy titles bring honor upon them, not so. The only way to earn my respect and trust is through your behavior. Character not title, for me, is the most efficacious way to earn respect. The question becomes whether you would still trust and respect a Reverend or Doctor that raped and murdered a 9-year-old girl? See, respect is synonymous with character not title. The actions of these otherwise village rejects who seek the respect of their peers by paying for recognition is as backward and self degrading as it is laughable. It does nothing as far as I am concerned to draw respectability. Title or status does not determine how men with impeccable integrity are viewed. Ninety-nine percent of those who bear these multiple appellations in that back trotting society are unquestionably unfit. I don’t care how many titles a bandit is able to grab, to me he remains a cheap crook without conscience. This is how you too should see that person. A single title or simply Mr., (Mallam for our northern neighbors), is way classier than the piles of dirt they hang onto. It is therefore, in our collective interest to discourage the shameful use of tonnage of titles by our people. What is next, follow the new invention by a Yoruba man who now adds “Late” to his name, like Late Akinlola Awobami, simply because he felt kids cheapened the titles he was used to? To further insult us as if we don’t know better, someone around Owerri who only had the barest elementary education seriously insisted on being called Professor to boost his ego. His other titles ran out of fashion I guess. Ogba nje Professor is what he is. How about a youngster from my area who fortunately amassed wealth and followed then did what his predecessors did by acquiring one of these funny names that was supposed to reflect his societal status, ochiagha – warlord. Sadly, his well ran dry before the name could gain traction. The moment it became apparent that bad weather is about to take over, all his minions scampered away like butterflies so also did the accolades sail out the window like wind. A nice guy I might add. But today, he is another statistics on been there, done that. What is the matter with people who refuse to see history’s dirty writings, what is it that impedes their ability to smell the gunpowder before jumping to early pursuit of recognitions?


Oh, let me tell you about Nigeria. A country where you would find two so-called educated people with perhaps stretches of title driving in opposite directions from one another then end up holding up the traffic due to disagreement over who goes first. A simple maneuver by one of these drivers could easily avert the unnecessary delay that comes with the stubborn “na me and you today attitude. So, while they wait to see who is gonna yield the right-of-way first, they fail to realize that time is said to be money. A minute or so at most lets reason prevail instead they allow the daily road rage to get the best of them. Their failure to exercise good driving judgment cause them to hold the traffic for a good length of time for everyone else until onye ara – a madman who still has enough senses nonetheless intervenes to adjudicate for the two ‘learned’ folks caught in their own mess. The madman would thus go with hands stretched, he motions to whomever he chooses to go first and so the traffic moves again. Remember, prior to the emergence of this madman so-called, none of our superlative drivers listened to one another, albeit they took orders from a crazy. Well, madmen will always betray as seen here. After passing few vehicles and with his newfound status as “Chief Traffic Warden,” he resorts to some silly and weird stuff as expected from a madman. His satisfaction as the man in charge soon takes a different twist with the abandonment of his duty post to do what crazy people do most of the day, DANCE. Yes, this madman soon abandons the traffic control and start dancing in the middle of the road, which in turn brings all things back to square one. That’s Nigeria for you where titleholders and educated people refuse to treat one another with courtesy.


“You assist an evil system most effectively by obeying its orders and decrees. An evil system never deserves such allegiance. Allegiance to it means partaking of the evil.  A good person will resist an evil system with his or her whole soul.” - Mahatma Gandhi. This quote culled from Franklyne Ogbunwezeh’s article.


It should be said that the Yoruba introduced this inglorious fad with

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kabesi façade, but it is the Igbo who careened it out of control and this is where my sadness begins and ends. What then do we do about this? I call upon all decent people to come together to abridge the aiding and abetting of this primitive fad. The elevation of people who lack the basics in human decency above their understanding, they usually go bananas. As such, away with the noise already! Never again should you address these noxious people that impede our peace with multi handles, if we are to slow or stop this nonsense. A simple Messrs/Mr. should do and if offense is taken by any, the noisemaker must be told to shove it up his rear. By encouraging the primitive habits of these semi-illiterates who wear silly titles like divine honor, you inadvertently abet their bad habit. It is therefore encumbered upon us to stop through education their backwardness by teaching the Ubas, Ofors etc, the joy of good etiquette. If not us, who? The days of their blatant abuse and the desecration of titles, names and what have you are over. The simplest solution to this menace might well be to follow the approach I deploy when I run into these guys. I call the youngies by their real and original names, like, Bola if that’s his real name. Or is he Hammed? Then that’s what he hears. If you run into Okeke, what’s the noise for, call him Okeke damn it or simply ignore his ass. In consonance to this, I thus beg you to please have this essay in mind especially for those traveling to Africa to see loved ones we sorely miss during this noisy season. Remind the bearers of miles and tons of empty appellations that they are meaningless. That if they don’t feel the embarrassment, we do. For the Igbo said, “he whose relation’s offbeat dance embarrasses, scratches his eyelids in shame,” some like that. While the lowly and clueless garner and pay for more sorry cheap junks, they run away from the most senior title of all times, Messrs, Mr., Maazi. In the absence of further discussion, I yield my remaining time to these words of knowledge by Trini Lopez, the legendry musical mogul of the yore. "It is nice to be important but more important to be nice."







N. Ndubueze Godson, III
Chicago, IL

Titlelucious Development: An Igbo Phenomenon


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