Saturday, July 31, 2010

Global Warming, And The Flood To Come.

One of the duties of government,as far as I am concerned,is to confront present imminent danger,while preparing for future potential threats.

This means that apart from solving the problems of today,it should be making plans for emerging ones.

When Marshall McLuhan, the mass communication guru,coined the phrase"global village",more than thirty years ago,I believe even he did not anticipate how interrelated,and interdependent,the world would become.

We all got a rude lesson in this during the H1N1 Swine Flu crises of some years ago,and the Bird Flu epidemic.

It is no longer news,that when the world sneezes at one end,the other end catches cold!

So when we see on cable television,wildfires in Russia, massive floods in China,and Pakistan;it would be foolhardy for us to to assume the usual posture of "thank God,it is not happening here".

But is it not?

Nigeria suffers from a chronic case of underreporting. 

Our government does not know what is going on,unless it involves the making of money, or the acquisition of new assets, for those in government.

About a month ago, some parts of Utako District,in Abuja,the Federal Capital Territory, experienced unprecedented flooding. Homes were breached by water.

The same had happened in Kubwa town,the year before.
Before then,we had massive flooding in Maiduguri,and other cities in the north, this was against all expectations.

This year's rain,has not been a welcome relief for many residents of Lekki, and Ajah, two high-brow residential areas in Lagos. They have been overwhelmed with water. Some residents woke up.and found their furniture floating in their living rooms.

All these are the effects of the much disputed,but very-much-with-us, Global warming!

Mankind,by our invasive use of the planet,has put the whole planet out of sync. We now live in a world that is at war with itself ,literally. 

This is a very contentious issue.There are numerous experts on both sides of the argument for,and against, global warming.

Between them, in no man's land,are many extremists ready to die for their beliefs!

It is trite science,that acceptance,or otherwise,of the existence of a phenomenon, does not invalidate it. 

If you live long enough,like the saying goes, you will change your views several times!

Apart from the emission of green house gases,which is one of the factors responsible for global warming, and consequently the flooding we are seeing globally, I believe that our peculiar Nigerian Factor, is preparing us for a crises we may not be able to handle. 

The flooding we are witnessing,are just the harbingers of the horde to come. People,because they have money, and land is scarce, are allowed to build in flood plains, they are a natural bullseye for the flood to come. 

Also,our new found craze for interlocking,and concreting over every thing,is not allowing sufficient water to sink into the ground.

By not planting grass, we harm the environment.

There is a general attitude,that what we do as individuals,does not have a bearing on the overall outcome.

But that is self-delusion,

The consequence is the massive run- offs we are witnessing as flooding.

If you add this to the breakdown in essential public services in many areas,drains not cleared regularly,canals not cleaned, garbage left on the streets;we are sitting on a volcano.

Our government seems to be more concerned with  reacting to the flooding, than preventing it. It is actually cheaper,in human,and material terms, to prevent a flood,than to wait for it to happen.

But then again,there are huge, lucrative, contracts to be awarded for relief materials.

We have not helped ourselves,by our indiscriminate felling of trees.

Apart from removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, trees also protect against erosion.

One might sound like a prophet of doom,but areas like Victoria Island,Lekki, Ajah, parts of Bayelsa, Cross River, and Rivers state,are in danger of not just flooding,but being reclaimed by the sea!

While individuals,on their own,can do very little to solve the global problem, the bulk of the solution, is in the hands of government. 

This is what we see happening in Benin city.

Benin City,the capital of Edo state, used to be flood prone; that was until a real government was elected, now,the problem is receiving attention.

 Houses,regrettably, are being demolished to restore the original channels used by water.In addition, the ancient Benin Moat, which many unscrupulous individuals had sand-filled in some sections to build houses,is now being cleared. 

This moat was a logical place for water to go in the past,but we ruined it.

It is going to take imagination, determination,and a lot of sacrifice,to avert the sure flood,which is to come.

These are attributes,which are rare in government.

This is one time when I would advocate prayer as a solution to a problem government ought to solve, I am, because I know we are on our own.

O God save us! 

Help Your people,for we have no helper!


Thursday, July 29, 2010

A Beggar's Plea

I have been in Ibadan,again,for the past two days. 

These were not very pleasant days I must confess.

The lowest point of my trip,was not any of the other difficulties I encountered, these were things that were always within my control.

It was at Iwo /Ife road roundabout, it was something I had no control over. And it was frustrating.

I was sad. 

I saw a little girl,she could not have been more than four years old;and then again,she could have been older,but be suffering from stunted growth a la malnutrition.

She was a beggar. 

Or a beggar's assistant,or child. One could see that she was in the grip of begging. 

Her head was in the laps of another,older,beggar. 

And a third woman, was braiding her hair.

I do not know why I saw her,but I must confess, I should not deceive myself, or you:I have a four year old daughter, and she is my only child; she is one of the two lights my life revolves around, this side of heaven.

In the midst of the hurly-burly,tumultuous-cacophony that Iwo/Ife road roundabout is,a little innocent girl,was trying to live a normal life.

But her surroundings, screamed against normality.

She was a beggar.

The honking cars, the acrid exhaust fumes, the open gutters with screaming garbage, and the human casualties of of our society;the other beggars, they all screamed back


As I drove away from that spot, I retained a snapshot of her in my heart,because that is where she touched. I just could not make her go away. She was like a debt that was overdue, with no hope of payment in sight.

The last thing I did before going to bed,was to write a memo on my phone to write this piece.

Who was this little girl?

Did she have any parents? 

Did she have any dreams?

Did she have any future?

She was a beggar.

After all.

Did she eat well? 

Did she sleep well?

Did anyone even care for her?

If I had ever wished I were very rich,rich, as in own an island, have mansions on seven continents,and be on first name basis with Bill, and Warren,or even Aliko, it was then.

I would have just stopped my car, and put the girl and her minder in my car.

I would have adopted her. 

It still breaks my heart.

She was a beggar.

And I could not do anything!

What society,allows the weak,vulnerable, and innocent,to suffer like that?

Are we serious about our future,if our children who are our future, are already disadvantaged as children?

If we think the world is complicated now, we should imagine what it would be like in fifteen years time for this girl.

She would be a stranger in,and to,her own world.

She would be locked out of the stream,and flow,of life as it would be then. She would be unprepared, because when she was young,

She was a beggar!

But her future could be so different,if we could only work to the potential we already  have as a nation, and utilize the resources we currently are profligate with, in reprobate,and abominable, expenditure.

When Obasanjo was president,he accused some governors then,of being "Owambe"  (Outlandish,wild party animals) governors; Nigeria is throwing the ultimate Owambe party in October, we are spending billions of naira on a party,I wonder what Obasanjo has to say now?

But this little girl,whose life could be transformed,if this money were properly used, would probably grow up, a statistic, a statistic of the failed leadership we must all work to change.

Let us unite to work for Nigeria's unity,

She is worth saving,

This little girl is begging us to,
After all,

She is a beggar.


Saturday, July 24, 2010

Qualifications For The Presidency

We need finished products for the presidency,not some half-baked
work in progress.
I have told this story before,and it bears repeating again.

The morning after Bill Clinton's presidential election victory, he said he and Hilary were in bed,and it dawned on them what they had actually achieved:they had won the presidency.
They said the victory was so unexpected,that they felt like a dog that had chased a car,and actually caught it!

 The dog,in shock,did now not know what to do with the car.

We know that Bill Clinton went on to become one of America's most celebrated presidents,because he transformed America, for good!

The presidency of any nation,be it a banana republic,or a first world nation, like America,is a hallowed, and sacred trust.

 It is not an office you draw lots for,it is not something you allow everyone who feels like it,because he had a dream last night,to get to.

The president,by default, whether he/she, likes it or not,influences the current,and future generations.

This is why I am rilled to deep indignation,when we reduce ascension to Nigeria's presidency to pedestrian,and puerile, considerations,like ethnicity.

The Punch newspaper,this morning's edition,had a banner headline proclaiming,"2011:Ethnic minorities really around Jonathan". Is that how low the qualification for our presidency has descended? 
Are we saying that we do not care,whether the man is capable intellectually,to discharge the duties of his office?

 Are we now saying that where he comes from,and not even his state of mind,is the  overriding consideration?

We do unbelievably bizarre things like this,and wonder why we do not get the respect that we crave from the international community?

Despite our sacrifices,in peace keeping missions,and other areas, we are still strangers to international respect!

Did we not learn anything, when we allowed Obasanjo to become president?

He was compensation for the Yoruba nation,over the annulment of June Twelve Election? 

See where he left us?

In the middle of nowhere!

Did we not suffer together under Yar'Adua,when he did not know how to even dissolve his cabinet? 

See what he left us?

Chaos! Left and right!

The sad truth is that,when we reduce to the nethermost ridiculous minimum, the criteria for occupying such a highly exalted,exacting and demanding office,as the presidency:we also,invariably reduce the quality of individuals who would eventually get there!

And we can only blame ourselves!

The odds favour the average men of straw, who only want to come and enrich themselves,and not Nigeria.
They outnumber the brilliant ones ,a million to one!

I believe, that the criteria for our presidency, must be the most exacting, humanly possible. 

The fellow who gets to occupy that seat would be responsible for over one hundred and fifty million Nigerians,and the generations to come.

I have no quarrel with Goodluck Jonathan as a person, my concern is with the presidency of Nigeria. That is an institution,that is sacred,and not a place to go and learn.

Electing a president, in my own opinion, is like literally going for a head transplant operation,(that is if such an operation were possible). 

You would want to ensure that the new head you are getting,would improve your total person. 

If you could speak six languages before,why settle for a head that can only speak pidgin English?

If you could see with two eyes,without  glasses before,why settle for one that is blind?

So you see,why I am always shouting, like a lactating goat whose kids have been taken:it is because I have only one country,and I can only have one president every four years!

It is not every time, a president would die mid-term! 

If the wrong person is elected,we suffer for four long years.and even after he has left office,like Obasanjo has done,we could still be suffering years after, all because one wrong choice was made.

There is no successful nation on earth,that chooses her leader,based on his ethnic group.

I can categorically say that,places where ethnic considerations, determine who aspires to high office never develop.They remain rooted in the stone age of the caveman. 

So,Nigerians, Patriots,Progressives,and Lovers of our land, 
let us not make a wrong choice again.

The effects are usually long lasting, and unpleasant.  

My name is Julius Umogbai, I support the Kakatawaga Progressives.

Join the Stand Up Nigeria Movement on Facebook.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Imperative of Internal Democracy in Political Parties.

We need every set of eyes available to watch them.No pair of eyes is useless in this venture.Let us watch them,to ensure our collective future.



Those are some of the reactions I know I will get to a subject of this nature. Why would I want to waste my time ,discussing internal democracy in political parties? Who would want to read it.?

We all need to. Our future happiness,and the end of our current sadness,depends on it.

Political parties, are the foundation of any democracy. 

This does not however apply in single party systems, as it obtains in China, North Korea,and some other authoritarian dispensations around the world.

They usually present the electorate, with multiple choices,in electing their representative governments.

Democracy,in my own bushman's  elementary definition, is government through free choice,or free will.
Once there is no freedom to choose a representative, whatever the outcome cannot be said to be democratic.

Because parties are the bedrock in a democratic system, one would expect them to pass the simple test of being democratic themselves.

They say in law that he who must approach equity,must come with clean hands. 

Bushman's translation,you cannot say you want to wear something clean,and your hands are soiled with palm oil!

How have our political parties fared in the quest to be internally democratic? On the basis of name alone, almost every party has passed with distinction.

We have the People's Democratic Party,Democratic People's Party,Democratic Alternative,National Democratic Party,and the list goes on and on.

If you marry a husband/wife,on the basis of a photograph alone, as our parents once did,you could be getting into a life threatening situation. What if he/she bed wets? What if he/she is a wife/husband batterer?  What if your potential spouse, is a spouse from hell?

Many of our parties sing the song,but they do not dance the dance!

A careful examination of the biggest party in the land,the People's Democratic Party, would show us why the "democratic" in the name,is not enough!

Aside from the unwritten,but widely accepted notion that godfathers rule different turfs of the party,like dons in the mafia; the party has a law in her constitution that is queer,and I must say, clearly against the laws of fair play,and equity.

Her governors, are allowed to bring their political appointees as delegates to any congress of the party in the state.

What this means is that, if the governor wants to win any congress, particularly in the state ,all he need to do is appoint an overwhelming number of people as political appointees, like Governor Isa Yuguda did in Bauchi.Yuguda appointed about nine hundred special assistants!

It does not matter if these individuals do not have real jobs in government.

 I saw a state,the other day, where they had a special adviser to the governor on IT,I am sure his job is to show the governor how to use his laptop,and when to use it.

So if governor "A" is running for reelection, and only accredited delegates can vote, he is at a great advantage with his retinue of political appointees who are sure to vote him in.

The contest is skewed in his favour.

Another antidemocratic tendency of our parties, is the the roles played by godfathers,and national executive bodies of these parties.

On one hand, you have godfathers rejecting the popular will of the people to plant his own stooge, and  as we saw copiously with the PDP, before the last elections;there were cases where candidates elected by state congresses,were replaced with the vanquished candidates in Abuja because they were well connected. 

In such cases, the victims only found out after their names had been substituted.

So when a party, like the People's Democratic Party, which has shown such manifest,and "impunitious", disregard for internal democracy,runs in an election, it does not play by the rules of democracy. They are mutually exclusive of each other.

The Yoruba people have a proverb, that ,it is the situation of the home you look at,before naming a child: therefore, if we name the People's Democratic Party,an undemocratic party, we would be fair in our assessment,and judgement.

One then begins to wonder,can a party which has a glowing track record of undermining democracy, a factor which has helped it cling to power by every means foul,  deliver democracy to Nigeria? 

Can they be trusted to play fair? 

Can we go to sleep,and leave the PDP to steer the ship of democracy?

Can we afford another four years of chaos?

Can we tolerate another four years of dashed hopes, and shattered dreams?

If we cannot,then we must all,here ,and now, determine that we would not leave the job to them alone. Neither can we put too much faith in the other political parties, a lot of them are offshoots of the PDP. Many of them were formed by  disgruntled, and disenfranchised,ex-PDP members. They already know how to cheat!

This is the time for all who love Nigeria to put their differences aside, and unite under one common banner; the banner of freedom of choice, the banner of elections in an atmosphere free of stress,or any other inducement ,or inhibition.

The banner of true, manifest,and latent,unalloyed,and unmitigated democracy. 

If you love Nigeria,


If you love Nigeria,

Join us,

as we build a truly democratic Nigeria.

I am Julius Umogbai, and I support the Kakatawaga Progressives!


Monday, July 19, 2010

Are Our Best Years Behind Us?

When a fish, for one reason,or the other,jumps out of water,it does not die immediately.

But it might as well be.

For all intents,and purposes, the fish is dead,unless it can get back into water quickly.

Until that happens, one could argue that, it's best years,months,or days,could be said to be behind it.

However, some species of cat fish,and lung fish, have the ability to live for prodigious periods outside water. Some can "walk" on land through special adaptations! 

Most  are not so lucky, out of water,means out of life,sometimes in a matter of minutes

When I look at the Nigerian conundrum, the whole nation seems like a fish out of water. She is gasping for air,desperately.

Sadly, the people responsible for her care,the current political leadership, in error, see this as a sign of robust health! 
They have misread the obvious, slap-you-in-the face, cannot-be-missed-unless-you-are-dead, signs of a system in need of life support. 

Critical,and urgent life support!

When I first came to Abuja almost twenty years ago, I had the pleasure of living with the Davies family.I believe they are from Ede.

Sheye and Tutu Davies, adopted me as one of their own children,and I was literally installed as the first born child.

Uncle Sheye,often told me stories about Nigeria, after dinner,in the glare of flickering candlelight.

They seemed more like fables then,and in the light of our reality now,they could have happened on planet Mars. 

One story he told me was about his time at the university,he was among the first crop of National Youth Service Corps participants.

He told me lies!

He said in those days at the university, a washerwoman used to come every Saturday to clean their room, wash ,and iron ,their clothes! 

Lies! Lies!! Lies!!!

He said for fifty kobo,you could eat whatever you wanted in the cafetaria. 

Lies! Lies!! Lies!!!

And that if you did not have money,you could still drink tea for free!

Can you imagine the lies again!

And in addition to this, they were two to a room!

More lies again!

Sheye Davies,is a very brilliant man!

Anyone who has met him,would see that time has been spent,and effort too, to make him a man of robust intelligence!
He is a testament to the quality of education he enjoyed.

Fast forward to the year 2010,the year of our Jubilee.

Jubilee is actually a celebration of freedom from debt,and oppression;what do we see today in our universities?

Rooms originally designed with careful considerations for two undergraduates, now imprison twenty people,or more! 

Some rent bed spaces,others rent the space under the bed,and so many others rent bag spaces! No wonder we are producing people with big certificates,but little education.

Our children are going through the motions of learning, in the most dire of circumstances. 

Our education is on life support!

We have never,in modern times,spent the UNESCO  recommended thirty percent of our national budget on education. 

As I write, there is no Nigerian university in the top one thousand universities of the world! Meanwhile five South African Universities are there!

Have you listened to the average university graduate speak the English language recently? 

It is an exercise in linguistic mayhem! On the average , expect one sentence of twenty words,to be littered with seven errors!

Are our best years behind us?

I have a friend who works as a records personnel in one of the hospitals in Abuja.

Sometimes, I see things.

I remember getting to her hospital at nine am one morning,and finding women in various stages of pregnancy sitting. Waiting. 

Waiting to see the doctor,sometimes, there are up to sixty women, and some of them seem to be on their last leg. They look like lettuce left to dry in the tropical sun.

Some of them,got to the hospital,as early as six am! They usually see the doctor in their order of arrival. If for any reason, an emergency engages the overworked doctor, these women may not leave the hospital till noon! 

Nigeria's infant,and maternal mortality rate, is legendary.

Pregnant women are safer in Somalia,than in Nigeria. If "city" women spend so much time waiting to see the doctor, what do you think is the lot of rural women? 

In those days, maternal and infant mortality existed, but not on this scale.It was not as a result of the failure of the system to care, but there were mitigating factors then.

Today, when we are supposedly richer, and more knowledgeable, we still have not solved the problem;instead,it has grown worse.

I remember a time when agriculture was the mainstay of this nation, the groundnut pyramids, and the cocoa, and oil palm plantations.

I still see some of the warehouses built to store these produce for export.
They are now silent, and fallen into disuse. A testament to a succession of failed leadership.

We no longer have an agricultural industry.

What we have are a few farms,struggling against  the smothering,and atrophying  effect of  leadership without vision.

When Malaysia wanted to establish her oil palm industry,it looked to Nigeria for seedlings. I read a few months ago, that Malaysia had just acquired land on the coast in Ghana to build storage tanks for palm oil.

They intend to supply Nigeria quickly whenever we have our seasonal scarcity of palm oil. 

In one generation, the tide has turned against us.We no longer export agricultural produce, we now import rice,beans,poultry,and other sundry produce.  

Are our best years behind us?

At one point,not too long ago, we had companies assembling volkswagen, and peugeot, cars in Nigeria.
Today, the last surviving company,peugeot automobile of Nigeria, is now importing second hand cars!

It's excuse, the cost of producing new cars, puts it at a huge disadvantage with the imported second hand cars. I suspect they may eventually relocate to Ghana, where Dunlop,and a host of others,have relocated to.

Our industrial estates, are now generator display estates. You can tell you are there even if your eyes are closed.

All you have to do is listen, for the generators.

Generators are meant to be an alternative power source, any industrialist who works on this premise would soon discover the error of his ways. 

Anyone intending to engage in any reasonable manufacturing enterprise, must provide his own water,power,electricity,security,road; in a nutshell, he must duplicate services expected from government,which do not exist!

Are our best years behind us?

A cliche we often hear concerning elections, is that the June Twelve election,was our freest,and fairest  election. 

Seventeen years on,three general elections later, we do not have any credible election capable of knocking the June Twelve from it's much vaunted pedestal of credibility.

Today, credible election verdicts,are only possible through the intervention of the courts. We have all succumbed to the notion,that free elections, cannot happen in Nigeria. 

So how did we achieve June Twelve?  

Are our best years behind us?

One could go on,an on,and on.The litany of lost opportunities signpost our one step forward,two steps backward existence.

Are our best years behind us?

Nigeria has been flipping,and flapping for the past fifty years, those charged to care for her, her caretakers, have,sadly, truth be told,been undertakers.

They have consistently misread the signs. They have been clueless.

One of them, General Ibrahim Babangida,when he was head of state, once declared that he did not know what was keeping Nigeria's economy up.

Such has been the caliber of those minding us.

So when I ask the question, are our best years behind us?

The answer is up in the air.

We are a resilient brood!

And that is the reason why we have survived despite the numerous attempts to scuttle our collective hopes.

When your best years are behind you,you are on your way to extinction.

We should not be celebrating our fifty years of nationhood. 

There nothing to celebrate!
Instead there is so much to mourn!

They have not been glorious years.

They have been fifty years of watching the world pass us by!

Fifty years of failed dreams, and broken promises!

Fifty years of watching smaller nations,like Ghana, catch up to us, and leave us behind.

When Ghana discovered oil some years ago, a Ghanaian said his nation was going to show Nigeria how to use oil wealth properly.

It was a well deserved indictment.

Deep down in my heart, I hope it does not happen;but in my head, I know it is certain.

We have lost so much ground,I wonder if we can regain our place.

Fifty years of failed leadership,has brought us here.

What will the next fifty bring?

As we hope in the face of the odds against us,

Let us hope, that our children do not look back at our shameful suffering in the midst of plenty now, and envy us!

Then,it would have been better,if we had never existed!

Are our best years behind us?


Friday, July 16, 2010

Did You Hear The Inspector General Of Police?

The erudite Inspector General of Police,Ogbonnaya Onovo,has moved his office to the East to address, dead centre,the kidnapping of the journalists.

The Nigerian Television Authority, NTA reported on the meeting he had with top brass of the police in the East.

I hope some of you saw the news clip. I hope, I heard what was reported correctly:he was reported to have threatened to dismantle police road blocks because  people had lost confidence in the police. In addition, he said he was keeping in abeyance (my word), the promotion of officers who were in the states where kidnapping had not abated.

To a casual listener, these sound like laudable steps,meant to provoke action. A careful examination, would reveal the flaws in the thinking behind his move.

Is the erudite IG saying, indirectly, that checkpoints, are a reward for policemen when they are efficient.Or is it that he has received an epiphany, and has seen,what all of us have been seeing for the past, twenty plus years: that checkpoints, as they have them in the East,one for every three hundred metres,
are evil.

Has the IG, in a fit of anger, let slip ,what all of us have always suspected, that checkpoints, are toll gates for policemen to augment their income.

The incalculable harm done to poor,defenseless Nigerians by these toll gates, are incalculable. I travel all the time, and I have never seen a checkpoint that did not collect money from a commercial driver.Never!

So if the IG wants to dismantle checkpoints, he should go ahead, some of us would even give God thanks in church. I am yet to find out how cars stolen in Lagos,end up in Maiduguri! I used to ask myself, did these cars fly,or were they smuggled in briefcases or something?

If the IG wants to know, checkpoints are not useful to us, the police need them more.

The second interesting talking point, is the threat to withhold promotions! I thought the Police Service Commission, and other statutory organs,and procedures empowered,were responsible for promotions? Arbitrariness in matters of promotion,was what gave birth to the Nuhu Ribadu debacle! Some said he was due,others said he was not.Who were we to believe? 

Mr IG if a man is due to be promoted, please do not hold up his promotion because he is not helping you look good, or because your job is in jeopardy.

Not promoting them could be counterproductive. An already demotivated,and disncentivized corps of long suffering men,would suffer loss of seniority ,and income. Please promote them sir, they may take it out on us, the unarmed, helpless public.

As I sign off, let us offer a prayer for the release of our journalists now in captivity. May God deliver them safely, and may He give their families the strength to bear up under the trauma.

And as they are released,

May our IG still dismantle the road blocks, and promote his officers and men, whose promotions are due.

I do love this great country of ours, so much,

it hurts to see her like this.


Thursday, July 15, 2010

Economic Growth Without Development.

Not too long ago, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, said Nigeria's economy was projected to grow by six percent! 

I was angry! I was angry because I felt he had lost touch with reality. China's economy is projected by the IMF to grow by 6.2 percent this year. Are we saying that our economy is as healthy,and productive, as the Chinese economy?

China has the unenviable reputation of being the world's greatest polluter. A coal powered power plant opens every two days in China. Our leaders cannot even begin to fathom the scale of development going on in China. It would be like asking a tortise to cross the Sahara,or a blind man to direct traffic!

As China's economy grows, the effect can be seen in the number of people exiting poverty.The man on the street can feel it. I am not saying there are no poor people in China, their lot is improving by the day.

China has also been called the factory of the world because a large percentage of the world's industrial production, takes place in China.

So when the controversial Central Bank of Nigeria's governor says our economy would grow by six  percent, I wonder what he means?

Is he saying that Nigeria's earnings from crude export would increase by six percent? Or is he saying that our manufacturing sector, would improve in efficiency by six percent? Or could it be that we are selling more goods,and services to the rest of the world by six percent?

I am certain that he is not saying that the living standard of Nigerians would increase by six percent!

The man on the street would definitely argue that the economy was not growing.His condition has not changed, his lot has not improved. 
And that there is no hope of improvement.

What is economic growth? What is development.? Economic growth, in lay man's terms, is the aggregate increase in the value of goods, and services produced by an economy. 

Development on the other hand, is the total positive progress in economic well-being made by individuals in an economy.

This is usually as a result of good government policies,and interventions which resulted from economic growth.

Development, ought to follow economic growth, as day follows night.

In our own case, even when our economy is booming,Nigerians are like the children of Israel,building cities for Pharaoh in Egypt.They can see the prosperity around them, but they are shut out from it, and left with only aches,pains,and regrets!

I have always believed, that government statistics in this country, are unreliable,untenable,and tainted! 

The civil servants who compile them are always under pressure to compile what is favourable to their bosses, or department, agency, or ministry. 

So the figures are always positive.

They are only negative,when the government sees that we need to drop below a particular benchmark of poverty,to qualify for some world bank grant!

Where did Mallam Sanusi get his six percent  economic growth from? 

Did he speak to my brother in law, Latunji Aworetan, who spends six thousand naira every week on buying fuel for his generator? 

Did he go to the tailoring section of Area One Shopping Centre in Abuja, where I saw ten tailors one day, sitting at their sewing machines, each one connected to his own generator?

Has he calculated the loss to the economy from factories relocating to Ghana? It is so bad now that last year even some members of the national assembly went to Ghana for a retreat!

Has the Central Bank Governor, calculated how much man hours we loose daily from traffic jams as a result of bad roads? Has he calculated the cost of the routine,normal,much-to-be-expected power failure?

Has he considered the adverse effect the importation of second hand cars, and other products we ought to be producing, but are not, is having on the economy. Or were the forty thousand individuals needlessly sacked from banks, meant to grow the economy?

Has he considered the cost of exporting crude oil from Nigeria, and the importation of refined petroleum products at a higher cost to the economy, due to asinine government policies?

How would that help the economy to grow?

The problem is that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, is a bean counter,he does not live in the real world. He presides over figures that are strange to reality, he oversees a huge organization of very comfortable well paid bean counters. 

These people do not even know that a sixty five centilitre bottle of kerosene costs more than a litre of petrol in Nigeria today.

Nigeria's economy by some fluke, could actually grow by six percent, the tragedy is that our leaders have the abominable habit of not translating growth to development.

And that is what Nigerians want,

That is what they need,

And until they get it,


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

When it comes to security, Nigeria is two countries!

There is the enviable,artificial,calm, "eye of the hurricane" country lived in by the rich,and political office holders; and there is the one the rest of us navigate, a no-man's land, like an abandoned minefield without markers!

This morning,there was a report that the Chairman of the Lagos State Chapel of the Nigerian Union of Journalists,had been kidnapped with some colleagues in Abia state.

The sophistication of criminal elements in some parts of Nigeria today, has made trips to those areas,particularly by the wealthy, tantamount to a visit outside the Green Zone in Baghdad by an American with blond hair. 

The risks outweigh the returns.

The core, wellspring of kidnappings today,is the South East,and the South South of Nigeria. But the evil is starting to spread across the nation.

Our policemen, bereft of ideas, ill motivated,and ill trained, seem to be struggling with a slippery live-catfish in a pool of ogbono soup.

They have no clue on how to confront the problem.
While criminal elements improved,and perfected their skills, our policemen seem to be stuck in the last century!

And who suffers? 

My beloved,helpless Nigerian! 

The one who, already has a bad deal from life, has to add to this burden of poverty, the suffering of every known, and unimaginable criminal horror.

The political office holder,who is meant to be a public servant, is ensconced in absolute security; he has a retinue of all manner of security operatives at his disposal.

There is this anachronistic belief, that the public servant,or the politician,is more important than the people he/she serves.

It would be infantile on my part, to advocate that they should not have any security, my contention is that, the security,for which the poor is taxed,is not jeopardized,or sacrificed.

But that is exactly the reality today.

I could shock you with tales of robbers coming into homes, disappointed at not getting any money,they took off with the infant of the family!

Or is it the case of disgruntled robbers, burning their victims to death in their homes.Their crime?They did not have enough money to satisfy the thieves. 

Need we talk about the millions of machete cuts to the heads of our people,or the raping of innocent,helpless,defenseless people in their homes?

The list goes on, and on, and on.

The only constants are,that more money is voted every year for security, the rich are better protected,and the poor suffer more!

I have seen policemen,in my numerous journeys across Nigeria, holding nothing more than tear gas launchers at checkpoints. While the lay people may not know the difference between this and a real gun, the criminals can tell the difference.

I do not hate the average Nigerian policeman, he is a man under pressure,operating under the most demotivating conditions. He knows money has been voted for him to work better, as a result of the money voted,his quota of work is increased, but tragically, the tools never reach him.

And so he is angry.

And the poor suffer.

As usual.

But our leaders are wrong!

They are wrong to assume that once they are secure, every other person can go to hell, or live there!

As the poor currently do!

They forget that they have parents in their various vulnerable villages !They have uncles, they have brothers! 
These soft targets, have become vicarious,and some would declare with glee and gusto,legitimate targets, for criminals.

The truth is that, if all of us are not safe,none of is truly safe!

Crime is like a virus.It's presence in any part of the body,no matter how insignificant, is inimical to the overall well being of that person, on the long run.

So when they buy their bullet proof vehicles,for hundreds of millions,under the deluded illusion that they are safe;and hide behind layers upon layers of security devices,and people:their Achilles heel, is the insecurity of the poor. 

Security is like a chain,it is only as strong,as it's weakest link!

Right now,the weakest link in our security,is the  nonchalant attitude to how the poor are protected.

As our society, through massive mismanagement, and theft, of our commonwealth, degrades economically,and socially, we will find that there are people who would feel no moral inhibitions,in resorting to crime to survive.

As they execute their devious devilish desires, they too could, in a twisted way, be classified as victims of sorts: like the rest of us,they have been let down.

So as our 'leaders' ride like conquering conquistadors, with siren blaring outriders, and horsewhip totting security men;they should remember one thing:the the poor are the key to their security.

The eradication of unfair iniquitous poverty,is the first step to total security, the second,is the protection of the vulnerable poor.

As we do that as a society, and truly become one country,security-wise,