The world never stands still for anyone everywhere across the world. Whenever it stands still, it is always for someone, somewhere at a particular time. The expression has no universalist intent. To that extent, it was absolutely a case of the world standing very still for Dr (Mrs) Regina Ada Adulugba on September 26th, 2023. It was a double celebration for her – 60th birthday as well as the day of her exit from the Federal Civil Service of Nigeria.
In the end, it is debatable who benefits more from the event: Mrs Adulugba or the Federal Government of Nigeria. It is surely not common knowledge that life in the FCT and certainly other parts of the country would be impossible were the veterinary doctors in the service of that establishment to fail to do their work of keeping animals safe for consumption. Secondly, it is certain that not many know how seriously they take their work, going by the details that came out at the event. As Mr Enenche, the MC said, it was an event by the people who ensure that the meat we eat in the FCT is safe and it is not easy to appreciate the import of their work unless one goes and buy meat that gives him stomach trouble. The event therefore corrected the impression that only corruption is what goes on in federal departments.
All said and done, the ceremony proves the postmodern claim that everyone has a story to tell and the hallmark of democracy is when everyone can tell his or her or their own story because no one can tell anyone else’s story. Through this event, we got to hear the FCT Veterinary Health people telling their own story without them setting out to do so. It is just as Mrs Adulugba’s story was also told, again without her setting out to. Speaker after speaker extolled her hard work, numerous initiatives and caregiving, no less than two breaking into cry of joy, overwhelmed by emotion while others broke into one moving song of ecclesiastical echo or the other, all of them evocative of when Mrs Adulugba and/or her husband intervened in their lives. In most cases, it was squatting in the house of the couple until they could find their feet in the bustling, largely impersonal bureaucratic wonderland called Abuja. But one woman added a different touch to it when she said I don’t know National Hospital. She meant that the idea of her going to the National Hospital for attention to a particular medical challenge was too far-fetched until Adulugba intervened to make it possible.
Today’s ceremony was not one for Dr Mrs Adulugba alone but also well attended by fellow directors, security chiefs, diplomats, labour leaders, community elders, relations and well-wishers from here and there. But the retiring Federal Director was the star of the day. She enacted stardom when she rose to speak. Mrs Adulugba said, ok, you people said I was a performer. Fine but here we are. She re-assembled her team when she was the Director and said, these were the people who did it. And she proceeded to furnish her audience with an account of the professional heroism of each of about the eleven or so the men and women in question, including the one of them she said she never quarrelled with throughout the eight years that they worked together. Nigerian would most likely be a better place if leaders at all levels could be so generous in recognising the contributions of subordinates.
There were two very interesting presences in the hall. One is Barrister David Adulugba who sat innocently throughout the occasion. Someone said instructively that behind every successful woman, there is also a wonderful man. Of course, there was Aisha, aka ‘Aisha Fine, Fine Girl’, the first daughter of the family and her own physical transformation from a very frail youngster to a structurally balanced woman, all before our own eyes. God must, indeed, be great!
The second presence and which is why the FG should refund whatever Dr Mrs Adulugba spent on the event is the lesson of the degree of entanglement Nigeria is dealing with. Entanglement is a stronger and more complicated concept than integration. In entanglement, we are dealing with interconnectedness from which the parties in the relationship cannot just withdrawal at will or be able to do so neatly as opposed to integration from which a party can withdrawal easily. Dr Mrs Adulugba is an Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria trained Veterinary doctor but also a pastor of the Christian faith. But, as a Veterinary doctor, a large chunk of the people she related with were cattle rearers. At today’s event, that constituency had a solid presence. They were there from the beginning to the end, standing up when one of the Christian protocols was invoked. Their leaders also spoke and spoke very fondly of the celebrant. All these brought to mind Bongos Ikwue’s number that Nigeria has come to stay and there is nothing more to say than for Mustapha and Christopher to understand each other. As unifiers are very rare in our circumstance today, Dr. Mrs Adulugba invites us to reckon with her as more than a retiring civil servant. Although she is unlikely to accept politics, she is already a leader in being a unifying figure.