Tuesday, September 27, 2016

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Linda Ikeji: and the Burden of "New Media"

I woke up some days ago, to the muted whispers in the Nigerian cyberspace, that our own answer to the Huffington Post, Linda Ikeji, was in a pickle.

Many prayed, as we are wont to do, that the Lord would deliver her from all her enemies.

The source was said to be one Mr Aydee, who was also known as Mr Dan 'Iyan, also known as Mr Effremov. (Take your pick). 

The allegations were that she had used the intellectual property of others, without permission. What people of intellectual pursuits refer to as plagiarism.

Linda Ikeji is our answer to Ariana Hufffinton, and Oprah Winfrey! She is the reason many bother to read anything longer than two lines online. She has a cult following, that many would find hard to fathom, since nothing serious is ever discussed on her platform. 

Linda Ikeji's Blog is the go to place for all things salacious,and licentious. Her ability to gauge what gossip would sell is uncanny, and the volume of traffic, and advertising revenue, brought her wealth aplenty.

Did Linda Ikeji use materials produced by others, without their permission? Yes! She pretty much admitted it! She felt the need to publish quickly, outweighed what was required by the law: written permission to publish what was generated by others.

To justify her actions, she also accused the instigator of her blog's demise of doing the same. 

Linda Ikeji, is a victim of a wide systemic malady that ails our land: the belief that the rules that the rest of the world play by, do not apply to us.

Some of her ardent supporters claimed that it was envy, as a result of her posting a photograph of her brand new  twenty four million naira Range Rover. This, however, is a simplistic, myopic, and uninformed view of what is a very serious, ethical, and legal, issue.

The advent of the internet, and the concomitant offshoots like self-publishing, blogging, and social media, has resulted in many people playing roles they ordinarily would not be allowed to play in the real world. 

Many people have died from following dodgy medical advice, and remedies offered online. In addition, some strange people believe that once something has been published on the internet, it must be true!
The sad reality, is that in the real world, Linda Ikeji was playing the role of an information gatekeeper, people we normally refer to as journalists!

Some of us sat down in press law class to learn about libel, slander, plagiarism , and all the other land mines that litter the journalism terrain! 

Others, through working in a proper newsroom, were tutored in these same time honoured codes.

Linda Ikeji has just detonated one! She is not the victim of a witch hunt, but a violator of a time honoured code: the ethics that govern information use, and dissemination.

In the academia, the whiff of an allegation of plagiarism , not even the proof, is sometimes all that is required to ruin a person's reputation, amongst his peers!

I have no doubt that Linda will definitely "bounce back"! Hopefully, she would have picked up a very vital lesson: that, because a material is juicy, and is on the internet, "unguarded",  does not mean that it does not belong to anyone, or that it belongs to all of us to use as we please.

Someone made an effort to generate that material! He, or she, made a phone call, took a cab, or flew to conduct an interview, or take a photograph. To use  another's material, without permission, is theft! 

And, as she has found out to her hurt,  there are sanctions for theft, even in cyberspace.

Nigeria is a part of the world, we may be behind physical geographical boundaries, but the rest of the world, do not view those boundaries as a license for us to kick the rules in the teeth.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This Nasty Patch.

I have stepped up my cardiovascular workouts. I now walk seven kilometers a day! 

I am enjoying it, but somehow, something tells me that this love affair will not last.

And this is the problem! 

When I walk, I see! And when I see, I think! When I think, I get angry! And we all know that anger releases negative enzymes.

I am always amazed, when I see how dangerously our people drive. 

This morning, I witnessed an accident.

The poor little girl that was knocked down, as far as I am concerned, was guiltless. She was knocked down while crossing the road, in front of her school, and between two zebra crossings! 

The zebra crossings were less that forty meters from each other, and a lady in an SUV, crushed her.

In more civilised climes nobody needs to be told to slow down in built up areas, especially around a school, and between zebra crossings!

The female driver was screaming, "Help me! Help me! She wanted the people around to help lift the girl, so that she could take her to the hospital. 

How much trauma can a tiny body withstand, before it gives up?

A better understanding of the road, a little care, the right road culture could have prevented the accident.

She is a bad example of the bad traffic culture we have all cultivated! 

People obtain driver's licenses, without attending driving schools, or sitting for tests!Their route to driving, is usually a few tips, and pointers, from some illiterate driver, or relative.

In this era of biometric documents, I am aware that in Delta state, people are able to acquire driver's licences, without being physically present.

They obtain genuine documents, without passing through a genuine vetting process! The result is a disconnect between the expectations of the authorities, and the performance of the licensed. They become like James Bond, licensed to kill!

One day, I stopped a fellow who did not not want to slow down at a zebra crossing! I screamed, "Can you not see that this is a zebra crossing? His response was swift, "Are you a zebra?

A while back, some drivers, who had been driving for many years were asked what the long lines, and the broken lines, that we see on our roads mean. 

They responded that the long lines were made when government had enough money to spend on paint! The broken lines, according to them, were as a result of lack of funds, and government's bid to conserve paint.

Many would be surprised to find out, that a Namibian, with his country's driver's license, is permitted to drive in the United Kingdom, for as long as he wants. 

This is because the country has a very strict, and exacting, process. The best a Nigerian can do, is to drive with his Oluwole international driver's license for one year! After this, he must take all the tests.

We are very proud of the moniker, Giant of Africa, but the sad reality, if the truth be told, is that we are just dwarfs in our driving standards.

David Umogbai: My Father, My Hero

This is a tribute I wrote 
when my father died some
 months ago. I never got to 
publish it, because I was
 not satisfied with it then. 
 Now, I am.

It is Father's Day today, and I am lying in bed. Exactly at this same time, a week ago, I was lying down on the same bed, asleep. I had just returned from a road trip to Kaduna. My wife came to wake me.

My phones were on vibrate mode, so all calls were not reaching me.  My father, I was told, had just had a stroke, in church.

I stood up, confused. I did not have any prior preparation, or checklist to rely on.  It was like someone had informed me of the event in a dream. Somehow, I hoped I would wake up from it.

And like one in a dream, I declared that I was going to Lagos. A few minutes into my preparation, I got a call from Lagos that he had started showing signs of recovery! I was told I did not need to come to Lagos again!

Unknown to them, my spirit, and soul, were already in Lagos, all that was left in Abuja, was my body , and it was resolute in joining them in Lagos.

At the airport, I got another call again, he was now well enough, that he actually stood up to go eat a meal: they admonished me not to bother.

I called my brother in law, TJ, and urged him to go to my father's house, and ensure that he was taken to the hospital.

At five thirty, my flight landed, and Jonathan, my younger brother was already waiting at the airport.

I was not sure what was waiting for me at the hospital. The journey seemed to go on for ever, while in actual fact, with all the Lagos traffic, we had spent only one hour.

And then I saw him.  He was lying on a gurney. Surrounding him, were some members of my family. His children, grandchildren, and in-laws that his eighty two years on earth had blessed him with. The Accident, and Emergency unit of the Federal Medical centre Ebute Metta, were no strangers to extensive entourages, it is the African way.

The man on the gurney looked like my father, they said he was my father, but, from what my eyes could see, this was not the same effervescent, full of life man that I knew as my father. He had physically withered in a short while. His eyes were sunken, his skin was callow, and he could not talk. And to worsen it, he was in obvious pain!

I had seen him two weeks before that day.He had called me, to inform me that his septic tank had collapsed, and that some cracks had appeared on the walls of his house.

I had, to his surprise, flown to Lagos, just to see the problem for myself, so that I can brief the engineer who was to oversee the work. He had asked me then if I had other business in Lagos, but I informed him that he was my reason for being in Lagos. That day, he looked at me and said, " I must be very important to you! Wow, I am loved"

Two weeks after, the man I loved, was literally fading before my eyes.

It took the hospital close to five hours, to finally take him to be ward, and begin resuscitation. And we had to hew the hospital staff like wood, to get them to do their job. 

I was helpless because I was not resident in Lagos. I was a stranger here. Each time I asked my siblings if there was no alternative place we could go, they informed me that most private facilities, would still call on the doctors at the Federal Medical Centre, as consultants. Secondly, there was the issue of the fragility of the young man, he was looking all of his eighty two years. He looked like one ancient, fragile, ready-to-scatter treasure map, that some long gone explorer had left lying in some dusty cave.

The next morning, when I came to see him in the ward, we noticed that he had difficulty breathing. We were able to persuade the nurse, in an obsequious manner, to give him some oxygen.

The lady brought a tube, and I heard her telling my father, who was hardly conscious, that she was going to insert a tube down his nose. I asked her where the mask for the oxygen apparatus was. She told me they did not have any in the ward. This was after we had made a deposit for drugs, and other treatment, and tests.

She was kind enough to inform me, that I could buy a mask in the hospital's pharmacy downstairs. She wrote the "prescription" for me, I went to the accounts cage, made the payment, collected the mask, and ran back upstairs! One can only imagine how strange I looked, with my grey hair, motoring like an imp through the hospital corridors.

The next shocker, was the CT scan he needed to have done. The hospital did not have the facility! I was shocked. They now proceeded to compete amongst each other in recommending where we had to do the scan. Apparently, hospital staff get a cut on the referrals they make to the private facilities.

I kept wondering how this was possible, in this day, and age, at a Federal Medical Centre. If there was this level of lack here, what was the situation at state, and local government facilities?

On Monday morning, we went to the laboratory, we discovered a multitude of sick folks. It was a sleek operation run by some Indians, and their cashiers were handling bank volume-like cash.  There were too many people desperate to know what was ailing them.

We paid for the test, and were told to bring him on Wednesday! 

On Tuesday afternoon, after I could not stand the sight of the hospital anymore, I went to my brother's home to eat. And there on the chair, I dozed off.

After a while, I woke up troubled, and feeling guilty! I looked at my phone, it had been vibrating apparently. I heard my younger brother  crying, "Baba is dead! Baby is gone!

A second call came in from another junior brother"Baba is no more! Baba is no more! My father is dead! 

The poor boy was driving, when they gave him the news. So he called me, and continued driving, and crying at the same time! He must have looked a sight!

It was de ja vu! I had been roused from sleep some days before, to be informed of his stroke. Now I had been aroused again, to be told of his death!

As I made my way out of the house, there was a deep feeling of loss, and finality. I was sad, and strangely relieved, at the same time.

I remembered how I had held my father's head in the car, so that it would not bob around. I remember how, when my elder brother who lived abroad had called to speak with him in that condition, that my father who loved to crack jokes, and give a word of encouragement, could not say a coherent word on the phone. He just grunted in reply, like someone who had a ball of cotton wedged down his throat. His mind was still keen, but his body could not cope anymore.  I remembered how I had cried silently, shedding tears, as I listened to him grunt amen, to the prayers from the other side. And all the while, he kept on praying.

He was not a rich man, by way of money, but he was rich in the lofty principles that he lived by.

I believe I gave up on him, long before he died! It did not seem right to see him suffer so! I remembered when I lifted my father, by myself, from the wheelchair, on to his bed! It seemed so surreal ! This was the man that had been like God to me! I feared him more than anything growing up! And for me to now be the one lifting him like a baby, that just wrenched everything inside me out!

My father had always joked, when we were growing up then, that before he would become a burden to anyone, he would prefer to die quickly. He did not see any reason for anyone to stick around, becoming a problem to himself, and his loved ones. He hated the idea of incontinence in old age.

The funny thing was that, the nurses had informed us that morning, that we would need to buy adult diapers! So you can imagine how he would have felt, to have anyone assist him with what he deemed a very private transaction. 

And so died my father, David Umogbai. 

He suffered the stroke on Sunday afternoon, and by Tuesday afternoon of the same week, he was gone.

One would think that after his death, we would be confused! Far from the truth! We were not! His death was something he had prepared us for!

About fifteen years ago, when I visited him in Lagos, we had the rare advantage, of having my two elder brothers around. So he called us out to his beloved balcony, and declared that when the time came for him to die, we were to ensure that his body was not deposited in a mortuary. He said he hated how corpses looked, when they had frozen, and thawed.

Secondly, we were not to move his body out of the state. He was to be buried wherever death met him.

Thirdly, we were not to throw any party. The only caveat being that if we had money, and felt like cooking, we should give the food to the poor.

As the years passed after this declaration, people kept telling him it was a difficult thing he was asking. Others said he was wasting his time, that dead men do not have a say in how they were buried.

So he upped the stakes: he passed a fatwa! He declared that any vehicle conveying his corpse to the village would be involved in an accident claiming the life of whatever stubborn child was taking him home.

So we were not confused. And I was determined to ensure that he got his wish. We sent for a casket within two hours of his death, and within five hours, he was embalmed. (He did not say we could not embalm him)
Two days after, we buried him in his house in Lagos. And in obedience to his wishes, we cooked, and went to all the corners in his neighbourhood, and gave all those who had loved him, and were his larger family.

My father, David Umogbai, is my hero. He taught me that it was normal, for me not to flow with the crowd. He showed me that there was always a solution to a problem, if one looked at it long enough. He believed that if you could not find a solution, accommodating the problem, was also a solution. 

He believed that people should behave well. He always illustrated his point by saying that if circus animals could be trained to do tricks, people should be even better trained to behave well!

He told me when I was young, that the God who made the right hand, was the same one who made the left! So giving him something with my left hand was not an insult, but was just practical!

Above all, he loved God passionately! He felt he had lost out not knowing God as a young man, so he tried to make up for this, by preaching in the market place, and on street corners.

I believe I am the way I am, because of the values he instilled in me! All the good you see in me, are his successes, while the bad, is me refusing to adhere to other lessons.

I will always, always,always miss you Baba, because you are without a doubt, irreplaceable! You will always be my hero Baba!
If I have to come to this life again, I will beg to still be your son! 
Thank you Sir!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Why Nigeria May Not Be Great, At Least For Now.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein

If there is one thing all Nigerians want, it is for us to have a great nation! What we are not in agreement on however, is how to achieve this objective.Many of us also seem to believe, that our individual actions, or lack of it, cannot in any way hurt our attainment of this lofty objective.

So we go to Church on Sunday, and on our way back home, we drive on the sidewalk, or throw some refuse on the road. On Monday, we go to our civil service jobs, and demand a bribe, before we can do what we are actually employed to do.All this time, we are confessing positively, that it is well with Nigeria, and even adding a prayer, or two to hasten the manifestation.

As if that is not enough, we decide that we will only work till twelve noon on Fridays, because once we go to the Mosque, there is no need to come back to the job whose official closing time is four p.m. Allah inana!We conveniently rob man, to pay God! Part of the bribes collected go towards tithes ,offerings and zakkat. 

The sad truth is that, greatness is not a destination that a nation arrives at! It is actually a journey that her citizens make everyday, in every place, and at all times. 

It is a journey in rectitude, and wholesome conduct. Each time we confess that Nigeria will be great, but fail to do the right thing individually, we are like the man who is a guest at Eko Hotels Lagos, situated less that five kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean, but who insists on casting his hook in the hotel's swimming pool, because he wants to fish!
If it were possible, by any stretch of the imagination, for such a hapless fellow to catch anything in that pool, it is bound to be as a result of fraud, and cannot be sustained!

Each time we seek a great Nigeria, while not investing our own time, sweat, and effort, in doing the right thing, we are investing in fraud.

For a nation to be great, her people must be willing to work at it. It is not the duty of the leaders alone,but a collective one. Right now, we do not seem to possess that belief in being the change agent. We keep exculpating ourselves when we misbehave, believing that the single paper we threw out of the car, the crazy driving, the collecting of kickbacks, and all the abhorrent traits we have gladly embraced, will not in any way, halt our march to greatness.

Greatness is not a destination, it is a lifestyle, we either live it, or it leaves us!

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Cuckoo, as a metaphor of the Nigerian Situation

A cuckoo chick, and it's surrogate mother! Notice the size, and plumage difference!
There is a very interesting, and fascinating bird, it is called a cuckoo! 

The bird is famous for one thing; the fact that it never, at any given time, brings up it's young! 

Rather, through one of the most crafty, and ingenious, acts of deception, it uses other birds to raise it's young!

It usually begins with a female cuckoo laying a single egg, in the nest of another bird, of a different specie! 

Usually, the target bird would have eggs of her own, in the nest!

The cuckoo's egg, because of the evolutionary wiring developed over countless eons, usually hatches first!

This act, dooms the original eggs, for which the nest was constructed! 

As soon as the cuckoo nestling emerges from the egg, it instinctively seeks out every unhatched egg in the nest, and systematically pushes it out of the nest!

When the "mother" bird, who we shall from this moment call the surrogate, returns: it would consider the loss of the eggs as not being a total disaster, since it still has one chick to raise! 

Also, it would be too late in the season for it to mate again, and lay a fresh clutch of eggs!

Thus begins the second part of this journey in deception!

The surrogate toils night, and day, to raise it's single chick! 

At a particular point in the process, the chick even becomes bigger, and radically different in plumage, from the surrogate: yet she gets fed, by the surrogate!

What is actually happening, is a process called imprinting! 

The surrogate registered the product that emerged from "it's egg" as her offspring: and as long as that "offspring" asks for food, something inside the surrogate, it's maternal instincts, compels it to feed the now grown cuckoo chick, which is now twice the surrogate's size! 

It is a case of listening to one's heart, instead of the head!

Do you see the parallels between the cuckoo, and the Nigerian situation?

In our case, the cuckoo represents the government! 

The people are the surrogate, who believe, that they have a stake in the government! 

They pay their taxes, the country makes a lot of money from oil, but it only nourishes, an illegitimate leadership!

Illegitimate in the sense that they have no interest in fulfilling the aspirations of the people!

How did we end up with a cuckoo? 

When we voted, our votes were trashed, and and the elections rigged! 

Our legitimate choice, our preferred candidates, were replaced by ghosts selected by a  cabal of a few selfish men!

Like the surrogate, we staunchly, illogically, and mindlessly, defend a government that evidently does not have our interest at heart!

They buy new cars for themselves, but refuse to give us a working mass transit! 

They live in mansions, and make it impossible for us to own affordable houses!

They go abroad for medical treatment, while giving us hospitals that have no drugs, equipment, or personnel!

So I ask a very stupid question, when are we going to open our eyes to see the truth, and acknowledge it as so, instead of just mindlessly defending a government that only takes away from us!

Wake up Nigeria, wake up!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Solution To Nigeria's Problems!

For the past six months, I have been looking at Nigeria, and asking the question, of myself that is, what single action/solution/move etc, would take us out of our current overwhelming darkness, into the light of civilization!

In the past, when I asked this question, I arrived at corruption, as the ogre that we needed to slay!

I now find myself, with superior information, and the additional wisdom that comes with the passage of time, looking at a different prospect all together!

If we say it is corruption: why does corruption thrive? It does because of a pervasive culture of lawlessness!

One other pet bogeyman we love to blame, is ethnicity, and nepotism! That too, is an issue, but we do not see it in other countries!

So what is our biggest problem, and how can we solve it?

It is the police! 

It is so simple, I do not know why we have never considered it!

What makes the United States of America, a lawful place?

Why do hardened, dyed-in-the wool serial, chronic, law-breaking Nigerians, model citizens in the United Kingdom?

The answer to the two questions above, is simple! 

The Police in these two countries, cannot be influenced!

If Barack Obama, the American president, for some inexplicable reason, decides to drive himself, and goes over the speed limit, an American policeman, would gladly issue him a ticket for over speeding!

If he tries to influence the man, by declaring that he is the president, another offence would be added to the first, trying to influence an officer of the law! These would be sufficient grounds to commence impeachment proceedings!

In Nigeria, the reverse is the case! When a local government chairman wants to drive against oncoming traffic, his police detail, actually lead the way!

In like manner, when someone in government wants to show an opponent, who is not so privileged, he sends policemen to rough him up!  

If you break the law in Nigeria, and find yourself in police trouble, you are sure that the solution to your problem, has a price!

If you offer the investigating police officer five hundred naira, and are turned down, you can increase it to five thousand naira!

If he rejects that one too, you go to his superior officer, and offer fifteen thousand naira! If the inspector refuses your offer of fifteen thousand naira, you go to the divisional police office, with a bribe of fifty thousand naira!

If the DPO refuses to play ball, then you may need to take five hundred thousand naira, to the commissioner for police!

Should the commissioner refuse your offer, you are bound to find someone, between him, and the inspector general of police!

In so doing, one is able to kick the law in the teeth, and get his way!

Murderers, kidnappers, hired killers, election riggers, and all manner of deviants, rule Nigeria, through conniving with the police!

So what is different about the two countries mentioned above, as having a police force, that is a deterrent?

In these two countries, the police actually do their jobs! They solve crimes, and cannot be easily swayed, by the offer of money! 

I am not saying that we do not have a few individuals among them, who regularly collect money, to undermine the law: they are there, but in the minority!

In our own case, we have a culture that undermines the rule of law!

So how can we transform our police force, from one that is corrupted, and for sale, to a truly efficient watchdog?

While the answers may be simple to proffer, the execution would be very costly in human, and monetary terms!

We have a saying among the Yoruba ethnic group of my people, that obe to dun, owo lo pa! (That it cost a lot to cook a very rich, and delicious soup!)

We would need to reorient the force, and this is an almost impossible task! Note, I said 'almost impossible', not impossible!

Too many unqualified people, people either disqualified by reason of being morally wanting, since they are former criminals, and those who do not have the educational qualification, currently wear the police uniform!

These ones would need to go!

Secondly, we would need to increase the salary of the least paid police man/woman, to such a level, that they would not want to jeopardize it, with a fifty naira bribe!

In addition, they should be guaranteed, accommodation for life, on retirement! 

These would be in addition to improving their working condition with equipment that enhance efficiency!

How many times have you seen a police man, wearing the wrong shoes? How many times have you seen them hobbling along in a rickety vehicle, with broken headlamps, and windshield, trying to chase a criminal who has stolen a Mercedes Benz AMG, or a BMW X6?

If the president truly wants to transform Nigeria, let him transform the police!

When the police is transformed, and incorruptible, people would think twice before rigging! A transformed police would make bribe taking, a high-risk venture!

We have the resources, many times over, to make this a reality, what we lack, is the political will! 

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Patience Jonathan: A Resurrection Of Lies!

One problem I have, when I comment on goings on in Nigeria, is that I regularly suffer from emotional lows each time something new befalls her!

I have had a succession of that lately!

I have been away from blogging for some months now! 

The latest, was the revelation on national television, by Patience Jonathan, the president's wife, that she died for one week in Germany, last year!

For seven days, four days more than Jesus Christ, and three days more than Lazarus, she claimed she was "dead"!

It is important to note, that when she disappeared last year, unannounced, the media handlers of the president, and all that belong to him, claimed then, sometimes with virulent, and vehement vituperations, that nothing was wrong with her! 

They declared then, that her exertions at the Africa First Ladies' Summit, necessitated her need for rest abroad!

It is therefore sad, and unbecoming of the exalted office of the presidency, would be caught in a lie! The same woman who was hale, and resting last year, according to Dr Reuben Abati, and co, was actually having brunch with death, at a German hospital!

There is a saying, that trust, like the soul, once lost, can never be regained!
The issue here is quite simple! 

Did the presidents people, and by extension the president, lie to the nation then?
If they did, was it justified? 

In addition, if they lied then, how are we sure at this moment, that they are not telling us lies  about things happening right now?

I have said it in over and over again, that the presidency is a sacred trust, it is more than an individual, and bigger than the holder of the office! 

It should not be run like some petty trading concern, where the owner can just jam his way through every transaction!

Integrity, should be the guiding principle for that office, all the time

Imagine what the outcome, and fallouts, would be, if President Obama's spokespeople were to lie about an issue concerning his wife?

The following would happen surely, the people who lied, would resign, and the president would come clean!

Unfortunately, that happens under normal climes! 

I believe we do not have the luxury of normalcy here! 

So the president, his mouthpieces, have egg on their faces, but they think it is a new type of cosmetic!


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

The Harvest: the Coming of Age of a Lawless Society!

I have never been one to seek popularity, and I am now at an age, when I really do not have much use for it!

When a man is lazy and indolent, like Unoka, the father of Okonkwo, the central character of Professor Chinua Achebe's, Things Fall Apart, we are often told that if that man wants to know the source of his failure in life, he should look in the mirror!

Many times, we fail to discern that our thoughts inform our actions, and our actions lead to our habits, and our habits are actually the bedrock on upon which our character is founded!

In the life of nations, the collective, progressive, and consistent, individual actions of the citizens, actually give birth to the national ethos, and value system of that nation!

Our nation, Nigeria, is no different from any other nation on earth! As true as that statement might sound, it is actually false, when closely examined! Every nation is like an individual, it is unique, and is the product of the actions of her citizens!

In less than two weeks, Nigeria has witnessed the extrajudicial, and criminally motivated killing, of young undergraduates!

In one incident in Adamawa state, the innocence of the over twenty students killed, was not in doubt! In the second, there is a measure of controversy in determining the innocence, or guilt, of four undergraduates, who were beaten, and set ablaze, by a mob in Aluu, a community bordering the University of Port Harcourt! What is however not in doubt in this second case, is the wrongful death caused by people taking the law into their own hands!

There is no decent person who has heard the account of their death, who would support the action!

How did we arrive at this sad, insidious, and chaotic state of affairs?

A careful look at our immediate history in the last thirty five years, would suffice! 

The first culprit in this disaster, is the government! There is a culture of impunity in government! People in government believe they, and their actions, are above the law! This dubious belief, was institutionalized  in the dark era of military rule in Nigeria!

One famous incident from that era, was the sacking of Kalakuta Republic, the home of Fela Anikulapo Kuti, the famous Afrobeat musician! For those who do not know, or remember, in that incident, the government sent armed, not police men, or court bailiffs, to destroy a man's home! In the process, they killed his mother, apart from destroying his home, and injuring his family members!

They were not executing a court order, judgement, or relief! It was just a case of someone in government deciding to execute the law, the way he deemed fit!

Another regular example of government impunity, is how various governments across the nation, demolish people's homes, and business premises, without a proper, and valid, court order!

The executive arm of government, seems to believe that it has a right to be a judge, and plaintiff, in it's own case!

Need I talk about how public funds are spent on personal matters, by politicians, and civil servants!

The citizens have been very good students! They have seen that might is right, and the doctrine of striking first, and talking later, is always a safer, and better option! That is why we see some people carrying horsewhips in their cars! They regularly bring this out to flog 'erring' road users! Others enter into contracts, and refuse to honour them! Many buy goods, or ask for services, and refuse to pay! People employ staff, refuse to pay them, and subsequently sack them for insubordination, because the demanded their unpaid wages!

In different spheres of life we see illegality at play! The landlord who removes his tenant's roof, after breaking down his door, and throwing out his property, all in a bid to evict him!

We have a nation that glamourizes people who were successful, in their criminal endeavours! We refer to them as being sharp, or smart! We do not call them thieves, instead we give them national awards, titles, and government appointments!

People who fail to obey traffic lights, and even drive against traffic in a one way street, do not see themselves in this category of lawless people! They view their actions as just benign, and innocent, mistakes!

I beg to disagree, I believe that each time we break a law, or contribute to the breaking of one, or encourage another to do so, we are actually contributing, to the building of the stage, where another set of innocent lives would be lost!

Lawlessness, is nothing less than what it is, a crime, an abuse of the nation, and a kick in the teeth for the constitution of the land!

You might not have beaten a boy in Aluu, neither did you shoot a student in Adamawa, but if you open your eyes, and knowingly break a law, to gain an unfair, and illegal, advantage, you are contributing to a culture of illegality!

The people of Aluu community did not kill those boys alone, all of us, who promote,and believe in any form of illegality, were remote contributors as well!

Let us all take a long look at the mirror. for therein lies the guilty!


Friday, September 14, 2012

Five thousand naira denomination and accidents!

Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is looking for trouble! Or how do we describe this his new misadventure called the five thousand naira note?

I can see all the problems the man intends to cause already! He has declared that the note is for high-volume cash users only ( I thought we were now transiting into a cashless economy?) And that the circulation would be limited!

The rich, and powerful, those who do not want us to know their business, love the note! 

Can you imagine what would happen when next the presidency wants to bribe the national assembly members? 

Instead of the regular burlap sacks (Ghana must go) hitherto used, the delivery might just be forty bundles in a regular gift bag, with the inscription, "A complementary copy of the book, Do My Bidding" inscribed boldly on it!

The rest of us would see "books" being given to members who do not read, and we would not be wiser!

Imagine what Farouk Lawan would have done, if he had been paid (not bribed) with the five thousand naira denomination? Everything would have fitted in his babanriga, and he would not have needed his cap to carry more!

This note is a game changer! The world has been shrinking everything in the last twenty years, and so bribery needs to fall in line! It is uncool to begin to lug huge bags of currency, when everything could be "nanonized"!

This same denomination, would have been a big relief to the civil servant working with the National Pension Commission, who was caught with two billion naira at home! With this note, he probably would have needed just a small safe to keep everything in, as opposed to the rooms where the money was discovered!

In this life, problems come both for the rich, and the poor, and they are usually of different strokes!

You are probably thinking that common folks like us, will never see that money, but that is where you are wrong!

A story would suffice here! I was told,( I was not present at the occasions) that a particular governor from the South West of Nigeria, when he was still in office, had a ritual: anytime one of his girlfriends was visiting, her taxi fare was always five hundred thousand naira! If one of her friends was also on the girl's entourage, she would receive two hundred and fifty thousand naira!

They say this governor, who happens to be fond of bleaching his skin, and wearing a chain around his ankle,( I was not there, and these are just rumours, and allegations by some "alligators") did this every time!

Now imagine if that governor had been in office at this auspicious time of the imminent arrival of the messianic five thousand naira note, is there anyone who could prevent the fellow from slipping one bundle of the good stuff, to the object of his amorous affections?

The consequence would be that Sidika, to pretend that is her name, gets home, and subsequently decides to oppress the neighbours, by throwing her newly acquired fiancial muscle around!

If she buys a recharge card of five hundred naira from Chukwudi, with the wonderful note, Chukwudi suddenly finds himself in the elite class of those whom the gods have favored! 

But, there is a twist to the tale! In the afternoon, the young man decides to branch that wonderful amala joint behind Adamasingba stadium,Ibadan; and consumes amala fifty naira, and saki (offal) twenty naira! 

On finishing his meal, Chukwudi produces his newly acquired gold card, the five thousand naira note: the problem is that all the woman's sales for the day, is less that two thousand naira! You can imagine the tumultuous turmoil this would cause! The woman would probably beat him up, accusing him of premeditated fraud!

If, on the other hand, Chukwudi did not eat that day, but decided to go to Dugbe to see his Uncle, trouble would still dog him! Were he to hand his five thousand naira note to the conductor, for a twenty naira fare, you can see that the equation would not truly balance, and another round of trouble would ensue!

Conversely, if the conductor were to collect the note, and a strong wind were to snatch it out of his hand before one could shout "Mapo", we are more likely to witness a scene in which God receives two visitors in one day: the conductor, and Chukwudi, all on account of a piece of paper no larger than three by seven inches!

I have not even bothered to tell you about Husaini, the security man, who, on collecting his monthly salary of ten thousand naira, just two notes, decided to visit the market for some needed supplies for his small business on the side! 

Unbeknownst to him, as he fiddled with his pocket, trying to bring out his phone to answer a call, his two magic notes surreptitiously slipped out! Allah hu akbar! That day, they had to beg him to come down from the high tension power lines he had climbed to commit suicide!

Must I tell you of Chief Nonso, who while enjoying the music of Morroco Maduka at a party, did not know that the wad of notes he thought was just five thousand naira, was actually half a million! 

His eyes were closed, and the music was touching all the right spots! 

As he threw the bundle in the air, as is the fashion of spraying in the Eastern part on Nigeria, he wondered why people were screaming, and scrambling, for ordinary change: poverty, was his conclusion! 

It was when he opened his eyes, and saw half a million naira blowing in the wind, that he realized his error: he joined them in the scramble! Alas, he was only able to wrest a note, albeit from a little girl!

As you can see, the five thousand naira note is an accident waiting to happen, the problem is, it will be difficult to predict when, or prevent it!

I rise!