Birthdays are always special, one way or the other. For Professor Ameh Dennis Akoh of the Department of Theatre Arts, Federal University, Ndufu-Alike Ikwo (FUNAI), Ebonyi State, it was said to have started with those who heralded it some days earlier with advance BD wishes.

According to Akoh, his wife called him early in the morning, and then he received many other calls thereafter. He had no intention of having an elaborate celebration because Honourable Jerry Alagbaoso (Member, Representing Orlu/Osu/Orlu East Federal Constituency, Imo State), was expected to visit FUNAI for a command performance of two of his plays: The First Lady and Honourable Chairman by the new department

Akoh went in the company of the Head of Department, Theatre Arts, Dr. Nnenna Nwosu and the Dean of Humanities to receive Hon. Alagbaoso and his team, at the office of the Vice Chancellor, Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba, only for him to bump into the Executive Secretary, National Institute for Cultural Orientation (NICO), Associate Professor Barclays Foubiri Ayakoroma.

The NICO ES had quickly extended his best wishes to Professor Ameh Dennis Akoh, and the birthday took centre stage, as all the Principal Officers of the University present, including Hon. Alagbaoso, started wishing him HBD.

The birthday air ventilated the Main Auditorium of the University, venue of the performance, with a larger audience, as the vibrant VC, Professor Chinedum Nwajiuba, led the audience to sing the popular “Happy Birthday to You” song in Igbo language before the command performance.

Then followed the production of the two plays: The First Lady and Honourable Chairman, by Jerry Alagbaoso, which both portray the appalling high level of political rascality and imbecility by key political players at the local government level.

The First Lady tells the story of a local government chairman and his wife, who did everything possible, including using his traditional ruler, to win an election and placate his political opponents not to go to the tribunal to fight against his questionable electoral victory, only for the couple to become inaccessible to the people, including the respected traditional monarch;.

To the chairman and his wife, they had paid off the people, during the electioneering campaigns, as they had given each person money to buy their support and their votes; but the protests and incessant petitions from the people against their misdeeds reached a crescendo and the governor suddenly dissolved the council.

Honourable Chairman, on the other hand, is about an illiterate local government chairman, who uses his well-educated, American-trained cousin to buy honorary doctorate degree, “in any discipline of his choice”, from a syndicate, to enhance his status in the society, like most other local government chairmen had done before him.

He is embarrassed at the occasion by an American-trained professor, but his is more like a voice in the wilderness, as the people even jeer him and the chairman orders his security details to push him out of the venue of the conferment of the PhD.

The night of entertainment was very remarkable because it marked the premiere performance of the new department of theatre arts; it showcased the artistic potentials in the pioneer first year theatre arts students; it presented two plays by one, who wrote from the point of view of a social critic but is now in partisan politics; and it projected the new Vice-Chancellor, who is amiable, simple, dynamic, and visionary; this is just as he has a soft spot for the theatre, as a discipline, which will be an impetus for the new Department of Theatre Arts.

(c) Nico news