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Solomon Omorodion Uwaifo 05-07-2011

Solomon Omorodion Uwaifo, like TM Aluko, is a trained engineer who has seized the arts in Nigeria by the jugular. An early graduate of Yaba Technical Institute, now Yaba College of Education, Uwaifo had a distinguished career in the then Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) – pace NEPA, PHCN. He has a scientific book to his credit on the subject entitled Electric Power Distribution, Planning and Development: The
Nigerian Experience. He published the book in 1984, and then completely revised and rewrote it in a 1994  edition. Another edition was reissued in 1998,and plans are afoot to do yet another edition this year. He also in 1998 published Let Them Bleed, a story of public contracts and corruption in Nigeria. On the invitation of Sam Amuka, the publisher of Vanguard newspapers, Uwaifo undertook weekly column writing on “Public Utilities Watch” that would lead to the publication of the 2005 book entitled That Nigeria May Survive, a critical look at public utilities in Nigeria, with emphasis on the failures of the electric power sector.

Let’s just say that S.O. Uwaifo writes the hardcore books on science and actualities while Omo Uwaifo writes novels and poems. He published the gripping novel, Fattening House, in 2001 and it made the three-pronged shortlist of the inaugural Nigeria Prize for Literature, sponsored by the Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) alongside the novels of Professor Akachi Ezeigbo and Bina Nengi-Ilagha.

Shell-shocked Nigerians had to endure a torrid night in Abuja when the judges of the NLNG Prize decided not to give the award to any of the shortlisted threesome. Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka who was a special guest of honour had to step in with the advice that the prize money should be shared amongst the three writers!

It gets indeed very curious that when the selfsame Omo Uwaifo published his collection of poetry, Litany, in 2009 it showed up one more time in the NLNG Prize list only for the prize not to be awarded yet again! The self-effacing Uwaifo takes it all with a stoic philosophical calmness, working hard as ever.

Born on May 7, 1932, Uwaifo is proud of his Edo heritage, waxing eloquent on the glories of the monarchy that the British colonisers upended to Nigeria ruin. Uwaifo plans to mark Nigeria 50th Independence anniversary with a blockbuster release of his up-to-date poetry, Before the Golden Jubilee. It is a no-holds-barred offering in which Omo Uwaifo writes in the foreword:In 1914, Imperial Britain abolished the north/south boundary they had themselves created. Lord Lugard and his wife gave the combined territory the name Nigeria. The etymology of this name is not known, but it almost certainly derives from nigger. In the context of nations, that is a short time ago. Forty-six years later, the colonial power succumbed to political pressures and set the people free on October 1, 1960. The amalgamated land will, therefore, have been home to the various ethnic nationalities in one independent country for fifty years come October 1, 2010. Still in the context of nations, it will be only early at dawn. However
, we stare at the abyss of catastrophic failure and cynicism if we looked at the human and material resources invested in the attempt to make a nation out of this British creation.

Before the Golden Jubilee holds out the promise to be The Book. Let just whet the appetite with a final quote from Uwaifo:Federal Nigeria is a hoax. Aso believes its rock is whiter than the White House. What refracted reality!

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