Abba Abubakar with wife, Mariana
Abi Kuku with wife, Funke
One trend which is now gradually become a fad among leading entertainers and even politicians who are or were once in leadership position in this country is how they are squandering in foreign countries, wealth which they acquired in Nigeria in the name of celebrating their marital union or that of their children or even birthdays.
It has now become an unpatriotic show of how deep their pocket is hence, hence one can now hear young me announce to their friends intermittently that they are travelling to an exotic locations in any part of Europe, America or Middle East to celebrate their birthday consummate their marriage.
From the beautiful Caymans Island to the city of London, Paris in France and Dubai, United Arab Emirate (UAE), these countries occupy prominent place in the minds of top politicians, socialites and entertainers, as long as the search for a place to spend their money, which, often time, they acquired through questionable manners.
Years back, it would have been a forgivable sin to hear “about to wed” young people pick from a long list of foreign countries where they wish to get married or spend their honeymoon due to Nigeria’s inept tourism industry, but with the emergence of world class holiday resorts such as the popular Obudu Mountain Resort in Cross River State, Micom Golf Resort, Ada, Osun State, HBC Resort, Jos, Ikogosi in Ekiti State, Yankari Games Reserve among others, all boasting state of the art facilities, it has become sheer unpatriotic act for those who made their money in Nigeria, either genuinely or otherwise to still prefer to travel abroad for their weddings and birthdays.
Among top personalities who despite their knowledge of exotic places where they can go within the country for the celebration but instead chose to enrich the economy of other countries in the name of hosting their weddings and birthdays outside the Nigeria just to show how wealthy they are include such respected people like Babatunde Fowler, Oscar Ibru, Stephanie Okereke, 2face Idibia and more recently Abubakar Abba Atiku, son of erstwhile Vice President of Nigeria, whose father was not only a former vice president but made his stupendous wealth in Nigeria as a customs officer, businessman and politician. Needless to say that several other celebrities including Mavin Record’s artiste, Tiwa Savage, will still celebrate her nuptial in Dubia.
It is not surprising that Savage and her manager turned husband, Tunji Balogun, who had an elaborate traditional marriage on Saturday, November 23, 2013, at The Ark Event Centre, Lekki, Lagos, have planned their white wedding for Dubai and on Saturday, April 26.
The season two of their wedding will naturally be another show of affluence as a small battalion consisting of entertainers, socialites and politicians are expected to storm the oil rich Dubai as a sign of unnecessary and wasteful spending solidarity for the couple. And in a bid to outdo 2face and Annie Idibia’s wedding which was partly sponsored by the Akwa Ibom State government with taxpayers’ money, Balogun will no doubt be in the mood to splash the money made by his singer wife from endorsement and performance fees in Nigeria in Dubai, thus boosting the economy of that country at the expense of that of Nigeria.
The plan already released for the Tiwa Savage and Tunji Balogun nuptial needs no one to confirm the amount of money that has been invested into it as the event will hold at the Jasmine Yatch Pier 7 building, behind Marina Mall, Dubai, while the reception will follow at Armani Hotel, Downtown Dubai, in the iconic Burj Khalifa.
In the case of Fowler, so stupendous was the wedding he organised for his daughter, Funke, and her beau, Abi Kuku, that the celebration took place in two continents, Africa and Europe. The show of wealth at the twin party was such that it almost cost the man his job as Chairman of Lagos State Board of Internal Revenue, but for the timely intervention of his godfathers. Where on earth did a civil servant, in charge of revenue collection, made the money he spent in organizing wedding for his daughter in a foreign land?
Then, while the couple’s traditional marriage took place in Nigeria, the white wedding held in Dubai, with the honeymoon holding in London, needless to say that with all the show of affluence the said nuptial is rumoured to be experiencing serious strain.
Another such wedding which had wealth on display was the nuptial of Oscar Ibru’s daughter, Makashe, to Kayode Awogboro, and which held on Saturday, 18 August 2012. That the wedding took place in Lagos and Paris, France, is not enough to describe the wasteful display of wealth in the name of a lavish marriage nor the fact that it had some big names in attendance, but the fact that the father of the bride flew guests in a chartered flight to the venue of the church wedding at Eglise Sainte-Clotide and subsequently the reception at the swanky Pavillion d’Armenonville Magenta.
More recently, on Saturday, April 5, Abubakar Abba Atiku, son of erstwhile vice president of Nigeria, Atiku Abubakar, got married to his lover, Mariana, in Conrad Hotel, Dubai. Abba’s wedding attracted an elitist sect of people, as only the high and mighty, people who have contributed immensely to the degradation of the country, men and women who who pilot or have piloted the affairs of this country and are currently fighting for the bragging rights of leading the country in come 2015 were guests at the wedding, lavishing the wealth Abubakar made mostly in Nigeria forgetting that if that wealth had been spent for the same purpose in Nigeria, not only would jobs have been created at least for that day, but the hotels which would be used for this party would have made profit and in turn taxes would be paid to the government which would be used for the development of this same country.
One is forced to ask why the so called members of the opposition party who criticised President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan day in day out and would probably hold nocturnal meetings on the next set of insults to hurl his way could not borrow a leaf from how he humbly celebrated the wedding of his adopted daughter, Faith Sakwe to Godswill Edwards in his Otuoke country home in Bayelsa State. If nothing, President Jonathan succeeded in teaching a lesson on self sustenance to the people of Nigeria.
Described as the most insulted President in the history of the nation a lot of people would still remember how opposition parties and sycophants almost crucified him for excusing himself from an African Union (AU), summit to celebrate the birthday of his wife in a foreign land.
Reacting to a vox pop on the issue, Paschal Chikero said, “they make us understand that they have inferiority complex. They claim to be Nigerians, make money from Nigeria but are not proud to celebrate and spend the money in Nigeria. Their action shows how ashamed they are to be Nigerians.”
According to Barrister Bukunola Mendes “despite the fact that celebrities earn their money in the country it is still their hard earned funds and as such they have the right to spend it anywhere and anyhow. However, for politicians, it is nonsense because most of the people who celebrate weddings abroad did not work for their money and as such, it is natural for them to want to spend it wastefully. ”
Osaremen Ehi-James in his own reaction said “To me, it is a very bad idea and it should totally be condemned by Nigerians and the government. Why would some people take our money out to improve other country’s economy all in the name of showing affluence? Recently, I bumped into a before and after picture of Dubai and I was marveled. Dubai was once a desert but today, they are thinking of an air-conditioned-cloud stadium. It shows the difference between our government and theirs. You can imagine a health minister going abroad for the treatment of malaria. I am not totally against anyone going out of the country to have their honeymoon or whatever, but at this stage, it is a bit wrong to do it. Let us build our home to attract others, then we can start going there to spend lavishly on events.”
For Samuel Oladele, “It has been established in Nigeria that so many of our governors, ministers, vice president and president are guilty of this elaborate wedding with tax payer’s money and general resources. It is a wrong thing to do by all standards.”
There is no gain saying that the foreign wedding trend is alarming, however, the question begging for answer is how long will the so called leaders of this country continue to slumber forgetting that if the people of Dubia, London, Paris and every other city they so cherish had not developed their countries there would be no venue for flashy show offs in the name of celebrating weddings.
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