Friday, September 23, 2011


Can the fortunes of a nation, be different from what the behaviour of it's people deserve? 

What exactly is a nation? 

Is it the geographical entity, or the people who constitute it?

Anyone reading the recent comments in the media, or listening to comments from people on the street, would have discovered that there are two dominant views on where Nigeria should go! 

One is that this country should be divided along ethnic, and religious, lines: into different countries! 

Another, is that Nigeria must stay together, no matter what it takes, without changing!

The centripetal, and centrifugal, forces are equally matched! 

For the most part, those calling for the balkanisation of Nigeria are mostly from the Southern part of the country! 

They complain that the North is the reason why this nation has not developed!

They vociferously contend that the hold of Islam on the North, has led to Northern backwardness in formal Western education! 

This, in turn, has led to the nation's backwardness! 

They claim, to rub salt in a very unfair wound; the uneducated North, has managed to rule the educated South for so long!

And the put they blame at the doorstep of Lord Luggard, the man who amalgamated Nigeria in 1914!

One of my very respected friends calls it a relationship in which the poor, uneducated Northern husband, needs to find a way to an amicable divorce with his rich, educated Southern wife!

The North, on the other hand, recognizes a good deal, and is unwilling to change the status quo, and I would not blame them!

In between these two gladiators, is a no man's land peopled by those who cannot clearly define, or articulate, what they want! 

They know they do not like the nation the way it is, but do not have a clear answer to the problem! 

One of the solutions they have proposed, is a sovereign national conference! They want it as a platform for solving the nation's "obvious fundamental flaws"!

For those who seek the disintegration of this nation, the Sovereign National Conference, would be a perfect way of putting this nation down peacefully! 

For those opposing  the conference, it is a Pandora's box, a bad game-changer!

The problem with Nigeria did not just start with Lord Luggard creating a new nation from disparate ethnic nationalities: it continued with the founding fathers of the nation! 

They were more of ethnic champions, on the national stage!

They did not see themselves first as Nigerians! They saw themselves first as Hausa, Yoruba, Ibo, Efik, Urobo, before they grudgingly accepted their Nigerianess!

This parochialism, or ethnicism, has led to the killing of any national fervor that probably greeted the creation of the new nation called Nigeria!

The civil war,corruption, injustice, military rule, and subjugation of certain tribes like the Igbos in the civil service, and military hierarchy, has attenuated an already tenuous nationalism!

Moreover, the institution of policies like the federal character principle, has not gone down well with ethnic groups who feel they are getting the short end of the stick!

I saw a mock-up map of what entities would emerge from the break-up of this nation! 

The armchair "cartographers" divided the nation into five different nations,Arewa Republic, Oduduwa Republic,Niger Middle Belt,United Niger Delta, and Biafra Republic!

For them, that is the panacea for the ills plaguing this nation!

Arewa republic is supposed to cater for the needs of the Islamic/Hausa speaking North! 

The Oduduwa Republic for the Yorubas! 

Niger Middle Belt for the people who occupy the no man's land of Nigeria's politics, the United Niger Delta for the oil producing states, and Biafra Republic for the Igbos!

Right now, Nigeria looks like a group of skydivers in free fall! 

To compound matters, each individual is selfish, and is not working for the overall good, of the group! It is in the middle of this insincere free-fall, that they want to discuss the way forward! 

They are shouting at each other, and the wind is at the same moment, obliviating their every word!

If they had been sincere with each other, perhaps they would blindly trust  each other!

But the lack of trust, is an obstacle! Eventually, they will need to go their separate ways, or endure a crunching crash to the ground! 

Trust is a very rare commodity in Nigeria today! Every action is viewed through multiple prisms of ethnic, and religious, consideration! 

When, finally, a "consensus" ( read confusion) is reached, the project has already failed! This is because commonsense is sacrificed on the altar of political expediency, and ethnic, /religious considerations!

I must confess that I used to place the blame at the feet of government for the inability of this nation to work!

That is just a part of the truth! The whole truth, is that Nigeria is not working as a nation; not because it cannot work, but because her people are not allowing the nation to work!

When I was growing up, we were told repeatedly, that order was the first law in heaven! 

And it is true! 

What I never deduced from the statement then, was that order actually created heaven!

In the same manner, one can contend that hell, is a product of chaos!

What, do you think is our national ethos? 

What is the gyroscope that informs, guides, directs, and plots our course as a nation?

It is chaos!

Everything that currently plagues this nation, can be accurately placed at the feet of chaos!

We are so enamored with it, that we would not have life any other way!

All you need to do, to confirm this, is to look at the visible, and latent, symptoms!

How we drive, how we conduct ourselves when resources, or opportunities, are scarce, and even in our daily activities!

A few years ago,I was returning from a late dinner in Cotonou, the capital of Benin Republic, and I observed a strange phenomenon! 

Strange from the Nigerian perspective! 

I observed a group of seven commercial motorcyclists, waiting at a traffic light, for the red light to change! 

There were no vehicles coming in the other lanes, and there were no police men to arrest them, yet they chose to obey the law!

I was amazed! 

How many times have I seen people, in broad daylight,in full view of traffic officials, ignoring the traffic light with impunity!

Even uniformed personnel, and government officials, do it with glee! They see it as one of the rewards, or perks, of office!

How many times have I seen impatient drivers, not willing to simply join the line of cars on the road, but preferring to go off-road, and drive on the shoulder of the road! 

Sometimes, in Abuja, they even drive on the sidewalk, scattering pedestrians who right of way there!

My friend, Zik Zulu Okafor, told me a story some years ago! He was returning from a film set somewhere in Accra, Ghana, at about midnight! 

As they approached a very big roundabout, where they were to make a three hundred and sixty degree turn, one of the Nigerian actors, who also knew the way, told the driver to just make a left turn, and drive inside the roundabout, to save time!

 The Ghanaian driver turned, and looked at him, and said " No, I will not, this is not Lagos! 

Zik said he was so embarrassed, that he just kept quiet the rest of the trip! 

The rebuke was lost on the Nigerian actor, as he argued that the driver was not sharp!

In Nigeria, when you break the law, you are seen to be sharp, or smart! 

It is elegant to break the law!

What we do not like about our nation, what offends us, is just a manifestation of the general disorder, from the presidential villa in Aso rock, to the prison in Kirikiri:disorder is the order of the day!

We are a wantonly lawless nation! We have become so conditioned to lawlessness, that it is now the norm! To be law abiding, is to be an aberration! It is termed dullness, and slowness!

In our bid to address this problem, we have clutched at the straw of amalgamation, as the cause of our self-inflicted problems!

Is Nigeria the only nation on earth, with a multi-ethnic, and multi-religious population? 

No, we are not! 

India, a fellow commonwealth nation, has a higher diversity, but it is making it work for the nation!

We have central governments that are ethnic champions, hence every ethnic group fights for the presidency, since that is the only way they can guarantee their fair share of the national cake!

We fail to work for each other, and expect the nation as a whole to work: it is an exercise in deep self-delusion!

When I look at the proposed nations from the balkanisation of Nigeria, I laugh, because the very reasons for which we want to break this nation, are all localized!

In Benue state, the dominant ethnic group, the Tivs, have always been governors! The Idomas, who do not have the size, but have the same desire, have been shut out! 

That is why the Senate President, Senator David Mark, has been pushing for the creation of Apa state for the Idomas! I am aware, however, that even among the Idomas, we also have Igede people, who are a sub-set, in addition to other minor ethnic groups that would be captured in the new state!

In Kogi state, the Igala people, have used their numerical advantage to ensure that the governor of the state is always an Igala man! 

That has also prompted the call for Okun state!

And as you have already guessed, there will be more than one ethnic group making up that state!

The  warped logic that claims that the North is Islamic, while the South is christian, is false! 

There are some parts of the Northern Nigeria, like Zuru, in Kebbi state, that embraced Christianity, before many parts of the South!

 Northern Nigeria is neither religiously monolithic, nor ethnically homogeneous! 

I have gone to every state in the North,  and there are strong populations of Christians in Kaduna, Adamawa, Taraba, Borno, Kebbi,and even Kano: and not all of them are Hausa, or Fulani! 

In fact, some people in the North feel insulted, when they are referred to as Hausa! 

So when people say let us split, so that the North can implement Sharia, it is the height of myopia!

The South too, is the same! 

I suspect that there are more Moslems in Ogun, or Oyo state, than in some Northern states! 

But we refuse to face the stark reality, dividing Nigeria will be separating petroleum jelly from butter!

The only way we can address the glaring injustice, and inequity in our land, is to enthrone the rule of law, equity, justice, reward for effort, and order in our nation!

If people are law-abiding, they will not corner the commonwealth, for themselves alone! 

If we allow equity, people will be able to reap the fruit of their labour, without being told that they cannot be promoted because of federal character, or some other insane nonsense!

Our nation is sick! Very very sick! 

The cure is not a denial of the sickness, but a bold confrontation of the cause! 

We cannot pray a solution to our problem, we cannot divide our way to a just nation, neither will violence achieve it!

We must strive to ensure that our laws are just, and enforced! 

If we were all to do what we ought to be doing, without someone running after us, we would suddenly discover that we actually have a great nation!

As we approach our fifty first anniversary as a nation, we must begin to ask our governments at all levels, to commit to what is right : to commit to equity, justice, fairness, and the rule of law!

To do otherwise, would be an invitation to chaos! And we all know, that order is the first law in heaven! 

If we desire to live in a nation that is heaven on earth, then we must realize, that order, is foundation of heaven!


Monday, September 19, 2011


I have spent the better part of this afternoon, looking for a Power Holding Company of Nigeria, PHCN, office to buy units for my electricity meter! 

It started like a joke, and towards the end, it became a matter of serious desperation! I was aware that I had less than ten units left, and that was hardly enough to see me through the night! At my fourth attempt, I found a cash office on Adetokunbo Ademola Avenue in Abuja! They had "network"

In the previous places I had gone to, I was told there was "no network"! So, like the children of Israel, I kept searching promised land of "'network"! 

At the cash center on Adetokunbo Ademola, I saw a queue that reminded me of the last general elections in Nigeria!

Then I saw them, I saw four generators outside the office! The building has a single tenant, the PHCN! You can imagine my shock! I was still pointing this out to the rest of my co-travellers on the queue, when I walked into the foyer: another shocker awaited me there! 

They had two inverters there as well! 

I just stood there, speechless! 

For me, it was the equivalent of discovering that your medical doctor patronizes a traditional healer! 

If PHCN,needs four generators, and two inverters, to operate, then we are all in deep trouble!

They have passed a vote of no confidence in themselves, and we have to be mindful of this! 

This is after a recent hike in electricity tariffs in June! It is as if, the more we pay, the less we enjoy!

If we want investors to come in, and invest in our economy, we need to fix the power situation first!This is because like the biblical injunction about seeking the kingdom of God, power is first: when you seek it, and it's fullness, all other things will be added to our economy!



I have just watched a very grainy, but tragic, video of five young Nigerians raping a girl somewhere in Abia state university!

The girl, from her expression, seems to be in shock, and is just doing everything she can, to navigate through the nightmare! 

One can hear her saying clearly to the perverts, "Have I not tried? She is obviously in fear, and in a life-threatening situation!

Is this the next chapter in the chronicles of our nation's moral demise? 

We started our journey to moral oblivion with hired killings! Then we went on to ritual killings,kidnapping, militancy, and now the bus has pulled in to the gang rape terminal!

The sad thing I have come to observe about our long-suffering country, is that once an evil trend is introduced, it is never stamped out! 

It seems to take it's place in the hall of infamy, and become a part of our daily lives!

What could cause five supposed, human beings, who have obviously premeditated this rape, to do such a thing? 

There is no way anyone will convince me, that the victim deserves the treatment!

They brought condoms, and did not cover their faces! 

It points to one thing, they were not afraid, and they knew exactly what they were doing!

Some sick fellows would say the girl deserved what she got, but it only points to their own depravity! 

The bone of contention, leading to this criminal act, cannot be more than the girl refusing the overtures of one of the men, or that she behaves as if she is too superior! 

When the men are caught, we would find that it is one of the reasons they would give! 

I am waiting to see the outcome of this horror show. 

Will the Nigeria police behave true to type, and claim that they are working hard to bring the culprits to book, and then allow the case to die like others? 

Or are we, for a change, going to see justice done!

There is a great need to rewrite our laws where rape is concerned! 

The onus should not be on the victim to prove rape, the law should protect them! 

In addition, I would appeal to all those who have seen the video, or hear some chatter about the incident, to help the police arrest these monsters! 

My greatest fear from this incident, is that it would not start a new, and deadly trend in depravity! 

I have come to discover, that our people are good, at staring bad things, better at copying them, and best at refusing to unlearn them!

This girl's life has been violently altered for life! The physical scars might heal, but the emotional, and psychological ones would be more difficult! 

What would be her relationship with men, going forward? 

Would she be able to ever entrust her body to a man again?

Will she be able to find someone to marry her, after the shame of her ordeal?
That is why this abominable crime must not go unpunished,


Tuesday, September 6, 2011


I have been thinking about Nigeria a lot in the last one year! I have wrapped my mind around the troublesome post, our problems have become, and it does not seem to have a weak spot! 

Nigeria is like a badly built house under construction! The government, whom we could liken to the contractor working on the building, is on one side: on the other side are the owners of the house, the populace who actually own the building under construction! And their children are the civil society groups!

The owners of the house have resigned themselves to the bad deal they are getting from the contractor! 

Their children however, who are graduates of the best universities of the world, will not stand this injustice!

They see the contractor living large from the mobilization fee, but refusing to release the money needed to buy the good quality building materials required for finishing the house!

To make matters worse, the workmen are owed back salaries! 

So you can imagine how noisy it is when the three groups have a site meeting!

The children do not understand the inexplicable docility of their parents: however, the contractors feel that the children are just ungrateful, and need to give them more time to finish the project! 

A project premised on a bad foundation!

Civil society does not understand why, with all the resources available to government, the Nigerian project has become like the never ending story of the Tales from Arabian Nights fame! Incoherent, slapdash, and under achieving!

Over the years, as Nigeria has increased her revenue intake from oil, our people seem to have become poorer! It is an anachronism that is difficult to understand!

Civil society will never solve this country's problems, if it keeps doing the same thing: attacking government! 

It has not worked! a new way of thinking is required! Telling government what the problems are, is counter productive! Government does not see the problems, because it is a major part of the problem! 

Our leaders believe they are elected to do the people a favour, and not to serve them! 

Our people on the other hand, do not expect any good, anymore from those they have elected!

I believe that for our problems to be solved, civil society groups need to talk less to government, and engage with the people! 

We need to bridge the gap in development! We need to show the people how, with very little money, they can build community health centres that would save women, and children in childbirth! 

We need to task ourselves, and sink boreholes in communities that have been abandoned because they have no one in government! 

We need to teach the people how to make money in a sustainable manner, and keep it!

It is when we have shown that we care, that we are in it with them: that they will trust, and listen to us!

When the people see that we are willing to put our money "where our mouths are", they would begin to ask, more forcefully, what their leaders are doing with all the money at their disposal!

We cannot nag, or badger, the government to change: politicians are like  juvenile delinquents: words run off their backs like water off a duck's back! 

But when the owners of the house decide to register their grievances, the contractors have no choice, but to listen!

And so will come the change we all desire!


Saturday, September 3, 2011


In Yoruba mythology, in the pantheon of spirit beings, both benevolent and malevolent, Esu occupies a special place! He is the devil, the dissembler, the sower of confusion, Mephistopheles personified! A story is told about Esu walking down the main road that goes through a town! He is wearing a very special cap:the right side is red, while the left side is white! It is only by looking at him from the front that one would understand this! 

So he walks through the town, and shortly after, the people begin to fight! The reason: the people who were on Esu's left, told those on his right that he wore a white cap, however, the people on the right vociferously contend that he wore a red cap! And so they fight! And the devil goes along his way merrily, aware of the confusion he has left behind!

Nigeria is beginning to feel like that hapless, unfortunate town in the wake of Esu's visit! We seem to be jumping from one confusion to another! It is so consistent now, that it has become one week, one trouble!

Goodluck Jonathan's presidency has been plagued by a long line of controversial troubles, some self-afflicted, others inherited!

Some have contended, that these troubles are designed by people in his government to throw us off balance, so that as we consider the latest false step, we would not remember that we should be demanding for service from this government!

That would be truly wicked, and insidious!

With each violent social upheaval, the country shudders like an old submarine under a barrage of depth charges! I begin to wonder, how long can this violent dislocation continue, before we spring a fatal leak at crushing depths!

Some would argue that leaks have already appeared in places like Maiduguri, and Jos, that our attempts to fix the Niger Delta leak has caused more harm than good, that we are already ankle deep in water!

Our president, like a captain under pressure, perhaps seeking to project a picture of confidence, and equanimity: carries on fiddling, smiling, and ever so often, threatens to bring to book the mischief makers!

He has been huffing, and puffing, and we are still waiting for him to bite! We may need to get American dentists to examine the state of his teeth, whether they are "biteworthy"!

And that has been my only quarrel with Jonathan, his desire to please everyone: for Nigeria to improve, our president would need to step on toes! He should stop announcing that he knows those fomenting trouble, without "bringing them to book", his now famous refrain at each calamity!

President Jonathan, you are the president of Nigeria, above you there is no other, and if you are waiting for someone to offer you leadership, or show you how to lead, then you truly are in the wrong office!

Nigeria is a rich country with poor people, an oil producer that imports refined products, has arable land, yet import food! 

We are as incongruous as a fish swimming in the sands of the desert!

Very soon, we shall be marking one hundred days of the Jonathan presidency, (which actually is not true, he inherited the remainder of the Yar'Adua presidency): we would not be able to point to one tiny achievement, and say "Jonathan did this! Instead, all we can point to is one week, one trouble! Haba!


Thursday, September 1, 2011


I doubt if any other nation on earth, has the dubious honour of starting, never finishing, and never benefiting from projects like Nigeria!

We have the Ajaokuta Iron and Steel Complex! A project meant to fast track us into the industrial age! Apart from not having a flat sheets component, the project after many billions, has not lived up to our "underexpectation"!

The national identity card programme: after making many civil servants millionaires, the people are still waiting for a viable national identity card!

Should we talk about our refineries that employ thousands, and somehow are never able to consistently refine without a fire breaking out in the distillation, or is it "fractionating" unit? The fire always happens in the vital component, always after a turnaround maintenance! It must be that all those in government are gullible fools, or they are complicit in this criminal act!

Need we examine our failed, epileptic, power situation? Despite being a monopoly, the power holding company has done exactly as it's name implies, held power, without releasing it for the people to enjoy!

Billions of dollars have been spent on these projects, and similar ones too, but very little return has accrued to the people! There are two projects in contention for the next "black" not white elephant, project award!

One is our proposed misadventure in nuclear energy, and the space programme!

I have already made up my mind that the day the foundation stone for a nuclear reactor is laid in Nigeria, I shall go on exile permanently! Chernobyl would be a wisp compared to the cataclysm Nigerian carelessness could unleash!

The purported space programme, is a joke taken too far! Every year Nigeria now spends twenty million dollars on a project whose benefits could be surpassed by an investment of five hundred thousand dollars in Google Earth!

We "built"  the first satellite, it failed, now we have ordered another two to be built after many excuses and if-it-had-being from those charged with the project!

By engaging in a space programme, Nigeria seeks to clothe herself in the robes of a developed, or emerging nation!

This is a nation where more than ninety million people live on less than a dollar a day! A nation where thousands of women, and children die from preventable diseases, and complications every month!

Need I talk about our sinfully abysmal failure rate in the GCE examinations? An ongoing, and tragic, disaster that saw only two percent of those who sat for the examination passing!

Should I add our deranged roads that have craters that are like humongous Venus fly traps, waiting to swallow whole, unsuspecting vehicles!

Space exploration, is a luxury, having a space programme is an indication that that nation has completed, and surmounted, her terrestrial challenges!

Water source, Adamawa. Nigeria

A "classroom". Adamawa, Nigeria

Water source, Adamawa. Nigeria

Children at a well, Adamawa, Nigeria

Children in a school in Adamawa, Nigeria

Children fetching water in Adamawa Nigeria

A "classroom" in a "school" in Bauchi, Nigeria

Men fetching water in Katsina, Nigeria

Woman getting drinking water in Adamawa, Nigeria

Village water supply, Adamawa, Nigeria

Nigeria, has not even become fully aware of these challenges, not to talk of solving them!

A space programme is the scientific equivalent of building your house from the roof down, if you are still grappling with polio, malaria, hunger, poverty, and all the other malaise we have made our call sign! It is illogical, and quixotic!

In my opinion, it is just another conduit for some fat cats to milk this already hemorrhaging country of a few more billions! We have been told that our own satellite would help us spot fire from space, spot, and warn of flooding, and other agricultural disasters!

Of what benefit is it, if we spot a fire somewhere in the bush, and we do not have well equipped fire fighting facilities? How would warning the people of Ibadan, that officials have opened a dam, and that a massive flood was coming, if we do not have a well funded, and properly articulated, disaster management programme? 

So yo see, we are putting the roof, before the foundation, as usual! 

On the lighter side, I wonder if any sane person would ever volunteer for a manned space flight! I can just imagine the fellow now, after his spacecraft has been struck by a meteorite, he radios over to mission control in Abuja "Mission control, this is mugu man in space over! We have been struck by an asteriod, and we are loosing pressure, and oxygen! Is any one there? Over"

Poor fellow! Unknown to him, mission control headquaters has suffered a power outage, their diesel powered generating sets are not working because no one could get diesel to purchase as a result of the strike action by petroleum tanker drivers!

When Nigeria solves the problems we currently have on ground, within reach, we can then begin to think about joining the exclusive club of space explorers!

The United States of America, has just wound down the space shuttle programme because of cost: that should be a lesson to an underperforming economy like ours!