By Frank Tietie
With a big bag full of books yet broke, busted, homeless, without any relatives in the city of Abuja and armed with the pain of failure and, a heart full of promises gathered from the Holy Bible with many years of running around with Christian packs from days at the University of Benin, that’s how I began my life in Abuja.
A few rescue angels come to mind at this point of writing. The likes of the legendary Andrew Korna, Ogah Columba, Godswill Mrakpor, Festus Omoregie, Emmanuel Egurefa and many others whose casual interventions in my sojourn testify to the truth that no man ever makes it on his own.
Get Started! is the title of my coming book 📚 which will be launched when I turn 50 (not this year). It is a book for young people, especially my 5-year-old son who might not have a guide like me at a time in his life when I would have died.
From a big-time minus and a confused failure that was written off, I dusted myself from the ashes of social and philosophical contradictions and became a person of significance simply driven by the pain of suffering.
One of my favourite lines as I understood it, is from a faded Nigerian music by the dreadlocked Sample Ekwue:
…. _The time when I never come, dey say I be crase_
_Now when I don come, dem dey see me, dey shame…_
I had thought I shouldn’t blow my trumpet yet because deep inside of me I really haven’t begun to manifest. Then I thought if I left this dimension at the halftime of my life, how does the Almighty God get glory for what He’s already done for me?
According to Imagine Dragons, “My life, my love, my drive, it came from Pain!”. So it was Philip Orbih who first put me on TV- LegalScope on AIT. It was followed by Patrick Abulu who often flashed me in his crispy news reports on AIT News Hour. Then the big guys- Felix ‘Mamode Akugha and Vin-Martin Ilo who made me their regular feature on the O & M Sunday and Late Shows. So there I was on TV, always screaming myself out with heavy sweating, using news analysis and the instruments of law to criticize and bemoan the Nigerian condition.
My breakthrough in radio came with the powerful endorsements of the Magnificent Gbenga Onayiga of the Radio Nigeria fame together with my regular features by the Superstar GM on Radio, the Venerable Sam Akpan, now Inspiration FM, Uyo. I will continue to embarrass them with my gratitude.
Little did I know I was catching public attention with my media appearances. A woman once saw me at a bank and looked on me so pitiably. She walked close to me and said with a relishing smile, “….each time I saw you on TV, I wish I could break the screen to hand you a handkerchief. Thank you for speaking our minds”.
Others saw me in restaurants and hailed me. And when I started visiting expensive restaurants because my tastes were changing, I began to meet military Generals and other big men who always commended my views on TV. One of them gave me briefs and connections. I changed cars, acquired fancies, moved on up, increased my giving and now I am buying lands.
That’s not to say it was all good. I was soon to realise in times of ease that I was not the good moral guy that I was. Marital problems, irreconcilable matters of faith and failures to keep commitments have become major challenges to me.
Nevertheless, I have reached the conclusion that one can achieve fame, name and significant success in any calling without money.
When I started CASER, I had no money. In fact, to date, CASER is yet to receive any major grant. Just a trickle of support here and there. Without any fanfare, I just started it and it didn’t take up to 5 years before it became a nationally and internationally recognised Nigerian NGO that went to the United Nations Human Rights Council to represent Nigeria twice.
When I began television advocacy, I was always poor and broke yet I responded to every media invitation whether radio, newspaper or television. There were days I appeared on 5 media channels yet I wasn’t ever paid any money for appearances. Today, I earn millions of Naira from my TV appearances.
Recently, a big and powerful presidential aspirant of reckoning approached me to be one of his media spokesmen with promises of very good pay. I turned it down for many reasons including learning to keep commitments, especially to my media contracts.
If I have become anything in life and if any of my social enterprises have succeeded, they weren’t because of money 💸. Rather I noticed financial support started coming my way when I had become significant. People like Toyin Dawodu in the USA and many more started funding my advocacies when I had attained some earlier significance without money.
It is once again my birthday 🎈 and it used to always be a boogie woogie time with people born in the 60s and 70s who heard the music of the 80s that shaped much of my earlier worldview.
The celebration of my birthday this year will be marked with the launch of another two social start-ups – LawTimes (Online Newspaper) and C-PAC-Citizens Political Action Committee ( just as the name suggests).
As usual with my past social enterprises, I just get them started, keep at them until they reach significance. No rivalries or bellyaching with anyone. They just get there with time because I simply got them started.
And let me take this time to appreciate Steve Felix-Uduh (Rude Buoy!) He and his lovely mother always told me in those low moments never to forget who I was meant to be. Their reaffirmations of my calling was of such immense help in the lonely days of Mararaba-Nyanya.
And now, Victorson Agbenson, the FRCN ‘Ray Mysterio’, a man with whom I share many things in common, including courage and sharp disagreements has agreed with one of his media diva Onyinye to get friends to host for me, a Birthday Dinner 🥗 at Transcorp Hilton, Abuja on the 17th of March (My Birthday 🎈) And they said, “…Whoaa!!, Hilton? It is expensive!”. And I said, JUST GET STARTED!
Be sure to get your Dinner Tickets to support me. A ticket costs N30k and admits a couple- I mean a man and a woman! You gerrit?
And if you have any problems affording the tickets? You know what to do. JUST GET STARTED by calling me!
Human Rights Lawyer, Media Personality and Executive Director Citizens Advocacy for Social & Economic Rights (CASER)