Saturday, 7 July 2018

In God's Hands - Of Forgeries and Blackmail

The loud pop from my friend's overzealous opening of his bottle of Guinness, brought a much needed silence to the frenzied argument.

"Guys, we came here to watch football and not discuss political nonsense," he screamed.

We, the three who were guilty as charged, gave each other sarcastic looks, as we struggled to hold our laughter. To be fair, we were breaking one of the cardinal laws of sports. We are here to argue about goals, tackles, the referee, VAR and why Victor Moses outfell Neymar by a ratio of 3 to 1.

The one thing we definitely were not here for, was to bicker about; the Nigerian finance minister and her allegedly forged NYSC exemption certificate. After the game, sure, we can don our political colours, but not whilst watching England's young lions trying to make history.

Consequently, all three of us bowed our heads in false contrition and mournful silence. That was until Leicester's own, Harry Maguire saved the atmosphere, by sending a bullet of a header into the corner of the Swedish goal.

With the over-celebrations concluded and a slight lull in the game, we, the guilty three sensed an opening. We took it and I nominated myself as ringleader.

"My thing is this; there was an extensive delay in appointing these ministers in the first place and the presidency's explanation at the time, justified it all by claiming detailed checks were being conducted to ensure the process was above board. So, how can this happen," I asked, downing my glass of wine and shaking my head for effect.

Our Guinness friend, eyes fixed on the game, kept a dignified hush, whilst we re-ignited the war of words. Matthew, my fellow wine swigger, wagged his finger as he made his point.

"The fundamental issue here, is your lack of understanding of Nigeria. I know you travel to Lagos four or five times a year, but that does not mean you can decode that society. I have lived there for thirty-five years and seen so many wonders. Many of the same legislators who Premium Times claim are holding this woman "hostage," are themselves in place due to false certification. Process? What process? Should we talk about Magu? My brothers, leave that thing abeg!"

Not fully furnished with the details of the Magu affair, I decided to tread softly.

"So, are you saying the due process doesn't exist? I doubt the presidency will tender a name to the Legislature for approval, knowing that person had an aberration on their record."

Somehow, I had managed to further irritate Matthew.

"Stop mentioning due process! You are making me crazy with all this your Oyibo nonsense. In Nigeria? Due process? Do you realise it is possible those supposedly charged with doing the checks for the government, were probably partying and enjoying the illicit proceeds of their Aso Rock connections, instead of carrying out their duties?"

I am not quite sure what instigated his decision to join the fray, but my Guinness friend had clearly heard enough.

"You guys are jokers! Forget the presidency and the checks. Forget the senate and their possible blackmail of the Finance minister. Forget all that garbage and ask yourselves one question."

"Really? What question," I asked.

"Okay, I will tell you. You all know I have no horse in the race, abi? I am neither sympathetic to the minister nor her detractors. But has it occurred to you that Kemi Adeosun may have applied genuinely for this NYSC certificate of exemption, and the person in charge of the process may have circumvented NYSC rules for financial profit and issued her with a fake certificate?"

"Go on," replied Jolomi, the final member of the trio.

"Do you know it's possible that she is now on the phone to the uncle, auntie or whatever contact who oiled the wheels of influence at the time, demanding to know how this could have happened? Do you know that the one person who did a good job here and discovered the alleged spurious nature of the certificate, may have only done so only after financial favour?"

All three of us hummed a chorus of agreement, as Mr Guinness continued.

"My brothers, in these end day times, the people in charge of  public office in Nigeria, be they  APC, PDP, AGPA or XYZ, are not trustworthy. Even the people who are not in power cannot be trusted. Patriots are few and are shunned, rather than honoured. My advice is to leave the politicians to deal with their mess. Most of them would have known of this scandal since 2015, but kept it secret for potential political gain. Don't give yourself high-blood pressure because of a House of Cards."

A sober silence descended on the room.

Thankfully, England were 2-0 up, so the mood was not completely bleak.

By the way, that still with me now as I type this and the last of my friends left about 3 hours ago.

With a heartfelt and deep-seated sigh, I join my country's government in leaving Nigeria in God's hands.

Monday, 18 June 2018

Falling in Line with the Man.

"I am sticking it to the man," yelled my smartly dressed colleague.

She had managed to successfully negotiate a business deal, without having to pay huge fees to the posh law firm, which had warned her of the impending danger of doing such intensive and delicate negotiations by herself.

It had all seemed like a delicious victory for a few days, until she found out that the firm in question, was also one of the biggest shareholders in the 'how to negotiate successfully' software she had utilised, in a bid for what now appears to be false independence.

How many of us convince ourselves we have taken a chunk out a conglomerate's ego, only to realise the reason they are called that, is because they have far-reaching tentacles?

(image owned by Nifty Lane)

It appears the best policy is to accept there is no way to outsmart the Man. The Man has been doing this for so many years, he knows you more than you know yourself. He has researched, invested and sacrified just so he can cater to the full strata in society

You don't believe me? Okay, let's consider the following:
  • the guys that own Selfridges, coincidentally, also own Primark. 
  • the company that control the Lamborghini brand, also count Seat as one of their possessions.
  • Unilever will supply lashings of Ben and Jerry's and Walls ice cream, then give you Slimfast to wash it down.
  • NestlĂ© will give you tons of chocolate to satisfy your cravings and unleash your diabetic demon, but then in one fell swoop, provide you with the wondrously named water; Pure Life. Apparently, it's water that is so good, it's "ideal for family days out".
  • Literally every facet of our lives from; sports to music, food to drinks, and leisure to entertainment, is controlled by less than 10 companies!
So, don't believe the hype. The stick you are using to poke the Man, was more than likely manufactured by him and he is definitely not stupid enough to make it an effective weapon.

Morale of the Tale: 

Just be Happy in the knowledge, that the Man will always be the Man, and it's probably more resourceful to reside with him in peace.

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

My Thoughts...

(courtesy of Zweisystem)

In our quieter moments, we all hopefully reflect on our experiences. The things we did well and those we didn't. And naturally, we re-strategise and attempt to do better. In my moments, I often try to produce advice, guidance and strategy to myself and to anyone who is interested.

I call them #PyschoanalyticBites and these are some of my thoughts from moments in 2018:

1. Sometimes, the enemy is the first to show up, to bear witness that the evil assignment has been completed.

2. Just make sure whilst you are trying save other people's souls, you hold on to yours.

3. Be watchful about the things you believe make you strong. The things you give undivided loyalty, credence over others and consider unassailable.

Because, naturally, given enough time, a strength will become a weakness.

4. Appearance is credence.

Maybe next time you have those reflective moments, you could share your bites too. Until next life to the full.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Open Letter To Theresa May

Dear Theresa,
I hope this letter meets you well and you are in good health.
My plan is to keep this brief just because I know you have a million items on your desk. My intention is to pass on some advice re: Syria.
To facilitate this approach, I will communicate by bullet points.
As a background, I must inform you I have form for this sort of thing, having written a similar piece to David Cameron.
In any event, please ignore that epistle for now and let me spell out my counsel to you:
  1. 1. Chemical weapon attacks have happened several times in Syria. Evidence has shown the Assad government has not been responsible for all those attacks.
  2. 2. Britain is on his way out of the European Union. We need to start being more strategic in our actions. Just because the EU supported our accusation of Russia on the Salisbury attack, doesn’t mean we owe them support on Syria.
  3. 3. Macron will need to show us his evidence that “they were used by the Assad regime.” We can no longer risk the security of our country just on the basis of innuendo.
  4. 4. Every single military action we have taken in the Middle East has come home to roost in the form of refugees and domestic attacks.
  5. 5. With the expiration of Tony Blair’s influence at governmental levels, the EU hawks have now pitched their tent with Macron. We don’t have to follow him blindly. Remember, we did that in Libya, only to find out France went into that crisis with a completely selfish and hidden agenda.
  6. 6. You are a PM who was not voted into office by the people, so it’s imperative that you listen to the electorate before you enter into any commitment of our armed forces. Your legacy will suffer if you ignore public opinion.
  7. 7. Your government is already suffering the backlash of jumping to conclusions re: Russia’s involvement in Salisbury. Time to tread softly.
  8. 8. Don’t rush to a decision based on the current noise. Think about what your point of view will be 10 years from now and then come to a conclusion.
  9. 9. As you can see with Tony Blair before you, no one remembers the other members of the cabinet after the event. The consequences of the whatever commitments you make, will be an albatross around your neck until the grave.
  10. 10. Leave Syria to Syrians.
There you are PM. Thanks for your time. Wishing you the best.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Alcohol, Emotion and Good Intentions

Have you ever had one of those moments when you genuinely meant well and it goes all awry?

You are with a mixed group of friends and strangers, when social etiquette is not necessarily mandatory, but displaying it shows a considerate and emotional intelligent being resides in your body.

I have been in several of those situations and though most have gone well, I have, naturally, had a few bloopers!

Let me share:

June 2016 - Serena Williams had reached another grand slam final and as any true fanatic, I had no interest in her opponent's identity. Conveniently, I had found myself using a pre-booked day off to the maximum, with a group of fellow red wine lovers in a favourite haunt in the Midlands.

Suffice to say, Serena lost and my pre-game boasting, came home to roost. Whilst I was being picked apart by the baying crowd, I sought solace in my phone to see how the Mighty One could let me down so badly. A few googles later, I found the winner's name was something Muguruza!

Like a flash, I found something to hold on to....or so I thought. 

"The winner is African anyway, so I still won in a  way, " I slurred.

It was an unguarded moment that though drenched in alcohol, exposed a lot of my hidden thoughts and depth of my ignorance.

(courtesy of the Evening Standard)

I have since managed to pull up my pants since that cringeing experience and thankfully, my friends still hang out with me.

I have just issued a mental note to self:

The French Open in is another four months and please don't act like you don't who Garbine Muguruza is. If the Serena episode didn't help, her defeat of sister Venus in the 2017 Wimbledon competition, forged her name, background and non-Africaness in your Medulla Oblongata.

Morale of the tale:

a) Alcohol and Emotion don't mix well with Good Intentions.

b) Watch out for non-Africans with African sounding names....

Monday, 30 January 2017

The New Africa - in Black and White

"It doesn't really mean anything when you take a step back and look at the bigger picture."

The voice, distinct and clear, belonged to a Lupita Nyong'o lookalike and it cut through the rising hubbub of the venue.

Her group, smaller, but much more spirited than ours, was a smorgasbord of dandy characters.

"Never buy into the idea that one individual cannot make a difference, talk less when we are discussing about the world's most powerful individual," said the guy with the Einstein haircut.

Eavesdropping has always been one of my many social flaws, but today, I was literally on fire, with my blazing ears. The mind-numbing topic on my table left me with no choice.

Besides, the whole world is talking about the choice made by the American electorate a few months ago and very few topics have captured global attention as this particular outcome. Never has the idiom; between the devil and the deep blue sea, rang so true.

The venue was now filled to the brim. As the conversations bumped into each other and laughter and discourse filled the air, I suddenly remembered the real reason for my presence here.

"So, tell me about this guy of yours then," I said, elbowing my friend.

"Ah yes, you are going to love him. Let me just get this thing up and running," she said, as she fumbled with her tablet.

She was right. The piece of work she was sharing with me was not only engaging, it was endless in beauty.

Oh, did I mention I was in Lagos, Nigeria?

I love coming back every now and then, to explore the new energy flowing in from the new class of returning Diasporas, who have abandoned Western comforts for the raw dynamism of Africa's biggest economic hub. Their brewing optimism combined with the resident creative bravado of the locals, has produced a vibrancy unseen here for a long time.

"He goes by the alias Logor, and is a fabulous creative talent. This recent work is ample evidence. Now, the world needs to know what is happening here."

Ten minutes later, still mulling over a credible strategy and a viable offer to move negotiations forward, an impeccably dressed gentleman joined our table, shaking hands vigorously with my friend as he sat down. It turns out he is also here to see work of other emerging talents, with the sole aim of returning to London, with a few clients on his register.

"This is the new economic Wild West, but there's no one dying. All the blood is on canvasses, in images and print," he quipped.

My friend nodded in agreement; "five years ago this artist was selling his pieces for two hundred and fifty dollars tops. Today, his pieces are going for five thousand and that is one of the modest ones. It's the only thing bucking the trend!"

"Maybe Trump will buck the trend," I whispered.

Admittedly, it was a clumsy return to the original conversation, but one that allowed me attempt distraction from a subtle bidding war. My debonair rival, was outstripping me with every nod as he flicked through the chunky portfolios.

"I really hope so," he replied, with his head still buried in the goodies.

"When you can have Obama's Vice-President calling Africa a nation, maybe a change of direction wouldn't hurt. For an individual with African blood running their veins, Obama has been an abject letdown, It was a golden opportunity for Africa, one that I believe will take a while to return. A Trump presidency cannot be any worse, in my humble opinion. Remember, there has been no better friend to Africa in the White House, than George W Bush!"

It took a while for his words to sink in, but when they did, I did sympathise with his position. Here we are in a venue that could well be anywhere in the world, with superb ambiance, highly educated and sophisticated clientele. An Africa, with the fastest accelerating economies, and the Africa they never show on television.

In today's Lagos, with all its challenges, business is brisk and products of  local citadels of learning and the Ivy league, jostle for contention, whilst bouncing ideas around with jocularity. A cheerfulness etched with a steely tinge of unerring professionalism. This scene is replicated across many African cities and still, the rest of the world has not been let into the secret.

I begin to wonder whose job it is to make it happen.

Looking through Logor's monochrome pictures, it was as clear as black and white.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

5 Reasons I believe Trump will be the next POTUS.

And just like that, Donald John Trump, the one-time ‘presumptive’ buffoon in the Republican presidential line-up, is now the presumptive nominee, in what can only be matched by Leicester City FC’s capture of the English Premiership league crown. Unless some grand scheme is concocted to trip him on the home strait, Trump is already home! It is indeed a stunning outcome.
The GOP establishment - like some pompous millitary brass, which has forgotten to inspire its soldiers into a willing and friendly unit - has completely lost touch with the grassroots, and are now in essence facing a revolution, which could sweep the party away if unity is not the keyword.
That is what I call a Republican problem….it is a troublesome one, but not as big or potentially damaging as the bigger issue…the American problem. Well, what is that then, I hear you ask?
It is the problem of dealing with a Trump presidency. This is an ending even the likes of Hilary Clinton (first credible female candidate or not) and the full combined forces of some savvy Republican heavyweights, appear unable to stop.
Here are 5 reasons why the Don will soon be the King.

1. Trump is a phenomenal salesman:
Electioneering is fast becoming a form of grandstanding. Candidates offering a magical version of reality that can never be delivered and gathering more followers than Kim Kardashian in the process. This has increasingly been the case in the USA, especially in this last round of party campaigns.The person with the sweetest patter and most stirring, albeit unrealistic message, often wins. Trump was born to do both.
2. Hilary is a Clinton:
Please don’t make me explain why this is a problem.
3. Trump supporters are fired up, rebels with causes, and will come out en masse to vote:
Nothing propels a presidential candidate towards 1600 Pennsylvania faster than determined supporters who will suffer rain, sleet or snow to cast their vote. We only need look back at how Obama came to office.
4. Clinton’s Dodgy Emails:
Unless there are some very dark and dastardly items in The Donald’s private inbox, the issue of HRC’s unscrupulous email palaver will still come back to haunt and damage her campaign. This is where Trump’s lack of governmental involvement will boost, rather than knock his presidential bid. Mrs Clinton has too walked too many official dark corridors and once the light starts to shine on her activities, it will be difficult for her not to buckle.
5. Benghazi:
Nuff said!