Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The Necessary End....

Funny thing; death.

It is certain and yet, as unpredictable as the female of the species. Actually, I will withdraw the latter half of that sentence, as I am not in a hurry to prove the former half. Seriously though, why does death always have to come knocking? What is the big thirst that it quenches, when it literally quenches us one by one? Why can’t it just bugger off and leave us alive? And can someone tell me what is the deal with sparing the bad and the ugly, whilst the beautiful and good get chopped in their prime? Why does the Grim Reaper leave us the likes of Mugabe, whilst the likes of Thomas Sankara are cruelly taken from us? Why take Michael, Luther, Barry, Aliyah and leave us Lil Kim and Lil Wayne?! Ooops...went too far with that last part, right?

Seriously though, I wonder where you stand. Are you of the Mark Anthony (or is it Shakespeare) school of a necessary end? Necessary end indeed! What is so necessary about it? How necessary is it that loved ones get mowed down with terminal disease and medical complications or as it is in some cases, just get mowed down full stop? How necessary is it that young children, women and men have to spend what began as a full life, in loneliness and misery. I don’t know about you, but if I had a way to avoid it, I would. Be honest, people. You work hard all your life and just when you want to start reaping your harvest, what happens?

Personally, I am a student of the Nigerian School of Life, which states quite clearly that all death is the devil’s handiwork! Whether the deceased is newborn, young, middle aged or wrinkled, Satan is responsible! It is not misplaced in Nigeria that when an old man dies, his old widow is ridiculed as the guilty witch. Nigerians are so anti-death, that the evangelicals amongst us spend countless hours every day screaming ‘I will not die! No weapon fashioned against me shall prosper!’

Call it positive thinking, but when you consider some of the real dangers Nigerians have to outmanoeuvre on a daily basis; I think the chants might actually be working. In Nigeria there is no such thing as an unexplained death. Died suddenly? Unexpectedly slept in the Lord and the piece de resistance; passed away peacefully?

Please pull the other one!

And for those who still believe death is a necessary end, can we have a show of hands please, anyone who will like to pass away peacefully right now?

Saturday, 27 June 2009

It Comes to us All!

Calpurnia:

"When beggars die there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes."

Julius Caesar (II, ii, 30-31)


In the wake of the MJ tragedy that has shaken the world to its foundations, a good friend and supporter of this blog, sent me the above quote. He asked if I could incorporate it into one of my entries to temper the dark mood of the last few days. So, here is my feeble effort to that end.

Trust me, death is a confusing and debilitating phenomenon. It will test you to your limits and give you the impression that it is indeed; like a thief in the night, but of course, the truth is slightly different....death is all around us and in the end, it is only when it snatches from us that we convince ourselves that it is light or sticky fingered. As someone who lost a sister less than 7 months ago(she was only 33!), I am more than aware of the anguish and confusion that accompanies the flower-bringing, but perhaps this latest universal loss is my opportunity to connect with the resulting captive audience and review certain realities about life:

1. Some people will cry more when a celebrity dies, than they will for their own blood!

2. Just like we are all born, one day, we will all die.

3. Once in a while, God sends us individuals that help us to appreciate his Majesty, Grace and Mystery.

4. Everyone is a star, but those that burn brightest, eventually expire quickest - hence the saying; the good die young! I know Mandela and Mother Theresa bucked the trend, but there it is ;-)

5. Death and Life are twins! Unidentical, but twins the same....

6. If we really connect with our maker, we will not query, when death comes calling.

7. A life of 20 years, could actually be more beneficial and purposeful, than that of 70.

8. We never know where the next MJ, Bob Marley or Elvis is coming from, so we learn to encourage spotted talent everywhere we see it.

9. That talent in question could be your child, friend, spouse, sibling or neighbour.

10. As one door closes, another one opens. The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh.....

End of!

Monday, 22 June 2009

The Eastern Promise....

I have to admit last week turned out to be very interesting, especially on the back of the blog entry relating to the Igbos and the Nigerian Presidency. As I was keeping up with the fallout on Facebook, I was also having telephone conversations and the amount of people who don't want you to know what they are really thinking is scary! Word of no lie, a long-time Igbo friend, went as far as to say; 'my friend no one will admit to this, but we don't see ourselves as part of Nigeria! People will never tell you that we see the country as expirable(?) and pretty soon too!'

Now, that blew my mind, but that was probably down to my being Yoruba and shamefully, not knowing as much as I ought to have known about the Igbo history. Theirs is an irrepressible and dynamic culture, that some say reflects their ancestry which can be traced back to the Jews!!! Well, I am not that hot in history, but I do acknowledge the ability of the Igbo to do exactly what the Jew has done all through history - leave home and prosper in some distant land. Their ability to adapt and tough it out is legendary, and their history is littered with moments of severe loss, both human and otherwise, in those foreign environments.

Right, I am not certain that my friend's words were 100% accurate, but I am aware that the scar of the Civil War is permanent on the Igbo psyche (You don't get it? Read Half of a Yellow Sun - Ngozi brought it home!), much like the Holocaust is on the Jews. Although, I cannot on the basis of his comments, which he claims is 99% representative of Igbos (I found that hard to believe, as Igbos definitely don't have a herd mentality, but then neither do the Jews except on the Holocaust!) decide that the future of Nigeria is in the balance, but I can bear witness that my friend's parting words which did leave me cold;

"Look Castro, no Igbo man will thank you for bringing up this issue. If one of us goes forward to contest for the Presidency, we will never vote for him en masse. We prefer to vote for the Hausa or Yorubas. Na dem get the country, we just dey tag along until the thing finish!'


Personally, I want to believe he's in the Minority......or is there a little of him in every Nigerian?

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Of gods and men...

On the back of my blog entry yesterday and several hours of telephone conversation, it seems the issue of power in Nigeria remains as clouded as ever. What clearly stood out in the feedback, was the variance in the individuals considered to be the nation's most powerful people and why. I was always(naively) of the opinion that certain obvious individuals would make the top ten, but imagine my surprise when someone mentioned Rtd General Wushishi in her top three! Before you start laughing, please consider that the contributor of that brainbender, is someone who enjoys that rarified air, reserved for those whose families have been richly involved in all things Nigeria post 1960.

It did take me a few minutes to close my mouth, but I regained composure enough to ask how IBB was not on her list. Now, that I found astonishing! Perhaps, I do not know much about this country that I keep rabbitting on about. My flab was to be further gasted when an 'uncle' of mine insisted Henry Okah, the imprisoned leader of MEND, was in his top ten! His inclusion of Okah (who just happens to be my old school mate from FGCL) convinced me that it was quite possible that people had begun to confuse Power and Influence. A point that I put to my uncle.....his reply was lightning quick; 'There is no difference. They are identical twins!'

For the record, this is my top five:

1. Sultan of Sokoto
2. IBB
3. OBJ
4. James Ibori (surprised?)
5. Umaru Yar'adua

I guess when it is all said and done, it's all done to opinion. I will be glad to see your list.....

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

The Fela Prophecy.......

I have often been a participant in discussions focused on the topic of whether Nigeria is governable.

These forums like most things Nigerian, rarely end with concensus, as most contributors are themselves cycnical about the concept of 'One Nigeria' and all things that point to a robust nation. Rather, it seems to be an entrenched belief in the mind of most that we are unsuccessfully forging an uneasy union of regions, which are ostensibly nations in their own right. Let's for just a minute take this to be the case, are we then saying federations are inexecutable and as such a myth? Or are we just saying the Nigerian federation is the myth?

Yes, it is self-evident that the subject matter is sensitive, but is there any credence to it? For it is accepted that most things worth fighting for, often demand a high degree of risk and inevitably, sacrifice. The risk to ask the unaskable and the sacrifice of possibly being slaughtered (hopefully, just by print and verbal exchanges) in the process.

Is it true that the very foundation of the Nigeria we know and love today, is suspect and based on cycnism? Did the British really advise the Northern leaders to enlist their subjects heavily in the armed forces to counteract the evident academic and natural resource superiority that existed in the South or is this just a figment of the imagination of conspiracy theorists? Is it also the case that the stiff upper-lip cabal led by Lord Lugard, recognised the natural ability of the Northerner to rule and decided it would be beneficial to the continuum of HM's Empire economic royalties, if their 'natural' allies kept political power north of the River Niger and Benue? Were they really forewarned of the possibility of Southern secession and advised to do all within their means to quash it? Did these things really happen? Is it a mammoth myth that Sir Ahmadu Bello, the then Sardauna of Sokoto and great, great-grandson of the revered, Usman Dan Fodio, visibly snubbed all Sandhurst recruits of Southern Nigerian origin, to the benefit of their Northern counterparts, on a state visit to the celebrated millitary school? Or is this another great white lie?

In the end, what does it take to rule an anomaly like Nigeria? Is it a country that is eternally remote-controlled from outside our shores or is it an entity that can only be directed by ultra-powerful indigenes? If the latter is the case, could this be the reason why the likes of Obasanjo, managed to make some headroad in terms of reversing some of Nigeria's destructive brain drain and recruiting the likes of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to join the crew navigating the creaky vessel, whilst our current President is struggling to even implement a re-branding campaign?

Politically, did OBJ's time as a millitary Head of State give him access to the true corridors of power an as such an advantage over UYD, who just happens to come from one of the most inluential political families in the North (actually, Nigeria as a whole)? Where does the real power lie? Is IBB the most powerful man in Nigeria, or is it still the Sultan of Sokoto (although, Abacha's treatment of Dasuki must have shaved some clout)? If indeed OBJ and IBB are two of the most powerul men in Nigeria, how come they couldn't solve the power crisis or is the continuation of such crisis, at the very heart of 'holding on to power' in our dear country? Don't look so surprised, I am sure you must have heard this mooted before!!! Will God's command to 'let there be light,' illuminate, expose and ultimately stiffle the real captains of our leadership?

Well, it is an idutiable fact that all things done in darkness, will eventually be revealed in the light and even though we remain uninformed, unaware and basically kept 'in the dark,' someone somewhere, knows the truth and to paraphrase Fela;

'One day go be one day......'

Monday, 15 June 2009

Morning Rage....

I have to confess to starting the day in a viciously bad mood! A Monday should be a day for fresh beginnings and new hopes. A day to look forward to the rest of the week and a time to cast away any blues from the week before. So, you can imagine my fury, when I was awaken (having only gone to bed at six, writing another chapter of my new novel) by a royal prick from Mumbai or somewhere similarly far-flung, asking if I wanted home improvements and worse still, didn't have the bloody decency to pronounce my name properly?!

"Hello, you have won a conservatory! Can I speak to Mr Ohyakakanamani Ahyeeedia," he asked with the brazen effrontery of someone who actually paid my phone bill!

My reply was in line with my frazzled mental state.

"No such person here and please do not bother to call back, we are emigrating," I screamed as I dropped the phone.

What a tosser! How did I get to win something when I didn't even enter a competition? Does this fool realise I grew up on the streets of Lagos, when 'boys were boys' and 'men were men'? Where nothing goes for nothing and we always stay far from being timid? Why doesn't he take his conservatory and stick it where the sun don't shine! Okay, that is probably excessive, but I am sure you get my drift and understand the ire running through my veins right now! The only other time I have felt this outraged, was when a so-called friend was trying his best to convince me that I was better off renting one of his Lagos flats, than staying in a nearby hotel.

"The cost is just too much bro! Here all you need to worry about aside from the reasonable rent is diesel," he said with such relish.

I could not believe the size of his balls.

"Really, na diesel you just call like dat? In the hotel, I no dey worry about nada and until I get my own place, I think I will stick to that thank you very much!"

His reply was as expected, harsh, to say the least.

"Well, it's your funeral. You know you are a millionaire and like all big boys you must live in luxury. Abi, no be so?"

I wasn't having that.

"My friend, I no be millionaire, but even if I was, I won't still rent this sorry excuse for accommodation! The finishing is terrible, the fittings are hideous and I will have to be terribly desperate to live here, but saying that, maybe that's what you are looking for. Desperate people!"

Suffice to say, we don't talk much these days. The thought of it all still pisses me off!

Arrrgghhhhh, my fervent hope is that my day gets better.....

Thursday, 11 June 2009

The Power of the Inevitable....

The Former Minister of the Nigerian Federal Capital Territory, Nasir El-rufai, in his recent speech titled “Nigeria: Political Dynamics and Prospects for Reform,” given at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C, gave the usual lengthy stone-throwing at the Yar'Adua government and expressed his doubts, at any prospect of the current regime implementing any tangible progress.

In truth it was a good speech and to be fair, it included some suggestions for change, rather than the customary negative appraisals which inform us of the problems, but seem to be bereft of any information related to solutions. Of course, in speeches like El-Rufai's, there will be the odd nonsense thrown in for good measure and he did not disappoint, as he ended the speech with comments concerning recent plans for President Obama to visit Ghana and not Nigeria. Apparently, like most political observers, he believed the President has done this because of the quality of governance in Ghana, which is clearly lacking in Nigeria.

Well, I doubt if you will find a bigger Obama fan in the blogging world than myself (I spent 8 months pretending to be the great man - www.obamadrama.blogspot.com), but I hope he truly did not snub Nigeria due to the governance issue, as his recent choice of destinations does not seem to be in line with his purported 'preference' for the Gold Coast. Yes, Nigeria is suffering from ill-governance and endemic corruption, but I do not believe the regimes in Saudi Arabia and Egypt (yes, I know the Middle East crisis dictated his itinerary!), hold any 'paragon of governance' status when compared to the Nigerian nation.

Unspeakable things are being done by both countries' governmments to maintain the fragile stability they display to the world and if Obama has truly decided not to visit Nigeria due to her dodgy government, then I am afraid he is obviously applying the most sophisticated form of double standards! Saying that, we do not have proof that this is the case, but we are ready with our reactions if it is ever confirmed.

We know Nigeria is an incredibly challenged country, with a seemimgly self-destructive character, but I am certain a man of Obama's intelligence is aware that his appearance in the country, rather than the opposite, is the propellant needed by the masses to demand change and for the goverment to initiate a turn in it's direction. Forget vsits from the Dai Lama and the Pope, this is the world's most powerful man, who just happens to look and walk like us and most importanly, one who achieved what most thought was impossible (no different from the current Nigerian mindset). In the end, we are talking of the world's most populous BLACK country! It is not a maybe for him, it is just a matter of when.

Mr President, we are expecting you.......don't let us down.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

The Tale of the Clever B***h









Orobator being led away after sentencing


Hands up anyone who believes Samantha Orobator is not an innocent drug mule, who has been caught up in a cruel web spun by heartless drug fiends. I am guessing there are a lot of you out there and if not, I can declare that I happen to belong to the cycnical camp. I am not inclined to pity, understand or empathise with any drug-smuggling affiliated individual. It's just not the done thing!

Unsurprisingly, she has now been imprisoned for life and must be thanking her lucky stars that her 'pregnant' stunt has allowed her avoid the usual death sentence! Orobator should have received the death penalty, but Laos Penal Law states it is forbidden to uphold the death sentence on a woman who is pregnant, so the court had no choice, but to give the lesser sentence.

Why am I returning to this issue? well, when the initial news broke about her plight, a trailer load of people were convinced she was an innocent drug mule, who just happened to travel to Laos (that wonderful tourist destination!) and found herself victim of the worst type of stitch-up. Yeah right! I was cynical then and my mind hasn't changed, as I believe Samantha is nothing more than a conniving, greedy and despicable character who is desperate for quick riches, but cries wolf, when she got caught!

How else could you describe her brilliant plan to get pregnant? It doesn't read like the work of someone lacking in intelligence, does it? It has now been confirmed by Orobator and the Lao authorities that she conspired with another prisoner, Mr John Watson, to secretly obtain his sperm (via a syringe), which she used to impregnate herself. When officials took her for a pregnancy test on April 4 this year she was found to be 17 weeks pregnant. Watson, a lifer, has been described as overjoyed about the pregancy, and his mum in the UK, has expressed the family's delight! I guess they feel their son, whose life seemed to be wasted, has now not only sired a child, he has also saved a life - literally!

Ahhh......the wonderful world of the get rich quick!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

The Dogs of War

Visitors to my blog will confirm my incessant critique (the unfavourable kind) of the Nigerian government and for that matter, any government that has not shown it's desire to improve and alleviate the burden their people find themselves under.

I have spent hours arguing and engaging in verbal and written slugs, all trying to catch the ear of those in the know, to see if we can find a solution to the mangled image of my beloved country, but slowly it has started to occur to me that perhaps there is a need to change tact, for what we all want is progress and if a tactic is shown to be flaccid and ineffective, new ammunition might be the way forward.

I came to this juncture, as a result of long days spent asking myself some pertinent questions. For instance, can I really be sure that the likes of Obasanjo, would really not want the advancement of Nigeria? Is it truly possible that he would not want constant electricity and drinking water? Does he really enjoy the tragic state of our roads, which by the way, have claimed many outstanding lives? I only ask because, if I was President, it will be my fervent wish that I be remembered as the man who brought all these good things to Nigeria. I find it difficult to comprehend why a man who has ruled that dynamic country or 12 years would like to be known as despicable administrator, when he can do good and be showered with the praise reserved for the likes of Fashola in Lagos state. It is a riddle to me.....or is it?

I think Nigerians both at home and in the diaspora, should now begin to prop themselves into a mindset that those who actually direct the affairs of our nation might actually be unseen and unheard. Yes, I know I am spouting old news, but one has to reaffirm these facts, to fully understand the challenges we face. Ask yourself, if a man could direct a repayment of our Paris Club (a crippling debt that enslaved us), why would it be difficult for him to solve our infrastructure issues? What or who is it that makes the government's task so impossible? Are there shadowy characters who see any progress as an impediment to their own selfish progress or are we just farting in the wind and trying to find a non-existent enemy?

As a once signed-up, but now releuctant member of the diaspora, I wonder if those of us who live abroad, are actually missing a trick and thus unaware of our influence in the direction of Nigeria. In the end, the amount of money we pump into the society more than puts us in a prime positon to sway a change, by engaging with those who wear the crown. Our cerebral bank is being spent venting on our government, whilst we invest our future to various Western societies...how long can this go on for?

I only ask because, I just want progress. The likes of the ultra-respected Sahara Reporters expose all the shenannigans going on in the corridors of power, but is true change happening? Are we just teling Nigerians what they already know, i.e. there is unbridled corruption in high places? Maybe it is time to tell them what to do to bring comfort to everyone. Is it time to engage the juggernaut and work with the powers to be? If I have to dine with the Devil to bring a just society to a vibrant nation like Nigeria, then so be it! What do you think? Is it time to use our talents to fight the good war and stop all the rabid, ineffective barking? Or have i just committed the constant sin of too much talking, when quiet action is needed?

I am open to suggestions.....

Friday, 5 June 2009

The Future is Brown....



James Purnell looking at Gordon Brown and wondering whether he knows what he's doing

As a committed student of politics, I always love the intrigues that characterise the corridors of power and the treachery that emerges when the situation becomes tough. Of course it's a shame that the transparency needed to enjoy the theatre is missing in my own nation, but all through the political history of major nations, individuals of outstanding candour and heart have shoved their way into the hearts of their respective electorate, cementing their place in history in the process.

Irrespective of your politics, one has to doff their hats to dogged politicians like Margaret Thatcher (stubborness), Churchill (inspiring), Bill Clinton (outrageous charisma)and Obama (well, genius...perhaps). It takes an incredible amount of chutzpah, to battle your way through what has been described as an impossible task and then in the process succeed to convince millions of people that your way is the way to go. It is a God-given talent and as we can see quite clearly with the current Gordon Brown crisis in the UK, it is also a trait that is very limited in circulation.

Whilst we fawn over the oratory and screen-idol looks of Obama, we are left with nothing but sheer discomfort when we observe Mr. Brown. A man of incredible intelligence, but cursed with the facial expression of your neighbourhood mortician, poor Gordon is like the neglected grumpy big bear stuck in a private zoo with little cute furry animals, who attract the majority of visitors. He is constantly irritated by what he must view as cerebral cretins who kiss his arse to his face and do otherwise, once he turns his back!

In the end, I happen to believe Mr. Brown has the tenacity to deal with the ongoing furore and will therefore weather the storm. The parliamentary Labour party cannot afford a leadership election (they are terribly expensive!) and there isn't anyone except Alan Johnson perhaps, who has the nerve or the gravitas to emerge as a formidable force to repel the oncoming Tory army. And so, even as minister after minister resigns (and there will be more...trust me!)and their leader is festooned and beleaguered, I just somehow have this feeling that it will not be enough to get the man out of Number 10.

I still believe the future is Brown.....

Thursday, 4 June 2009

The God Business (Part 5)



As torrents of economic drought and anorexia lash the pockets and stomachs of the average man from New York to Siberia, many have said the situation was signed, sealed and delivered by the greedy fat cats and 'get rich quick' brigade. I recall a conversation with some rather agitated acquaintances last week, where someone actually called the current situation; a battle between evil and good. A scenario that has now arisen (according to the same person) due to the nonchalant nature of those who represent the so-called 'good'.

Apparently, lawyers and bankers were wrongly seen as the 'new' priests and holy men, and 'making a buck' attained the same gravitas as having a decent and upstanding character. The speaker went on to condemn the ubiquitous 'rich lists' developed by the likes of Forbes and The Times, which have now, accordingly to him, become the commandments that Mankind has decided to live and die by(?!!) It was a poignant night which meant the conversation never recovered from the gloomy, downward trend introduced by Mr Good vs Evil, although his passion for the topic was infectious to say the least. I only began to appreciate the remarkable slant of the gathering, when those involved set off a full-fledged navigation of the complete morals and ethics landscape, before ending in that dreaded one-way conundrum; doubting the existence of God!

Don't open your mouth so wide. The amount of people who are beginning to join the atheist army is alarming and yes, there are fully registered Nigerian conscripts within. The theory is simple......how can there be a God, who will stand aside and watch so many desperately suffering and disadvantaged? If he really exists, is he really in control? If he is in control, what exactly is being controlled? The Good or the Evil? Blah, blah, blah....

Well, as you can imagine, it wasn't exactly a mild chat and I contributed my two pence, by stating quite clearly and loudly that I felt our current dilenma was endemic of the 'end times,' which is clearly predicted in the only holy book where I can lay claim to some affliation......you never know, there might have been an angel passing by!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

The Coffin in the Sky


A crew member monitors instruments, in this photo released on June 2, by the French Defense Ministry, during a search mission over the Atlantic.

In the wake of the Air France tragedy, it seems inevitable for the issue of air safety to resurface in some quarters. As an incredibly bad flier (anyone with Nigerian blood should join me, especially in the light of our air travel record), I have always believed that any vessel that can carry hundreds of people and tonnes of luggage and still take off and stay in the air, sometimes for fifteen hours is definitely prone to catastrophic possibilities.

I have actually addressed the issue in one of my previous blogs and received a full length reply from a seasoned pilot who assured me that it was by far the safest mode of travel. His argument, like those of most people who love flying, was that when one considered the amount of people who fly every year and then looked at the percentage of casualties, it was a very low indeed. Well, my reply to him and those who share his views is this; what is the percentage of survival on a crashed aircraft?! This recent tragedy has claimed a 100% and that number has been replicated through the years, with high survival in crashed flights being in the extreme minortiy.

In the end, with all the science and gizmos, air travel is still an unknown sphere for the human mind. I know we have all the so-called experts with their well prepared statements; 'this aircraft is the safest in it's class and we have never had any electrical problems on this plane, blah, blah, blah.' All of it is little relief for the bereaved and hot air to the us bystanders and potential customers.

The truth is the science of planes is not as exact as we are led to believe and whether we accept it or not, it is still a business and irrespective of any tragedies, the money-making has to continue. How else could it be possible, that we are now being told that we may never know the true cause of the Air France flight 447crash? So, no bodies for the relatives, no explanation of the relating circumstances and no effect on the constant stream of people needing to take another plane......hmmmm. What was the greatest trick the Devil played on mankind again?

Air Travel? Could it be the greatest trick man ever played on man?

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

The God Business (Part 4)



I have just emerged from what I can only describe as an extremely sensitive argument, relating to the potency of good and evil or at least that is what I conceived it to be about, until one of the verbal pugilists dropped the killer hook and asked the most impossible question; 'If God exists, is he aware of the evil pervading the world at the moment and if he is, can we then say this God is in really in control or have things overtaken him?

It was a roadblocker then and it's still a roadblocker now! I am still conjuring up my arguments and will return to the topic soonest, but in the meantime, it is a poser I am putting out there. My advise is that in reply, we refrain from scare-mongering and predictions of doom being visited on anyone who might have views different from ours.

Looking forward to the wordslinging!

Monday, 1 June 2009

Same country......different Flag!










After an unannounced and eventful one-month sabbatical, I have decided to return to my creaking laptop and freshen up my backlog of commentary on the state of the 'Enigma' that is Nigeria. My time away has been spent publicising my novel; 'A Candle in the Sun', travelling to Lagos and starting the draft of my second novel. Prior to the time off, I had been engaged in several verbal clashes regarding my blog entries. A few of my peers took exception to what they saw as excessive vitriol directed at our government and wondered why I hadn't cut them any slack.....so I decided to chill out with my keyboard. Alas though, things ain't really changed, so it's the return of the Hack ;-)

To be frank, it has been a refreshing, enlightening and damn right enjoyable break for most of the time. There have been lows (Liverpool throwing away the Prem), highs (Barcelona outclassing Man U!)and the odd average day (MPs getting exposed at last). As for my time in Nigeria, well, it continued to confirm some of the fears I have harboured regarding her direction, although, the greenshoots of progress - though hard to see - can be observed slowly coming through. Of course, it was difficult to ignore the decibels generated from the 'US destabilising Nigeria' palaver, saying that, it must be said that the average man on the streets, would probably welcome any kind of foreign takeover, as it could never be worse than what most are going through on a day to day basis.

I am not really sure about the efficacy of the source of the 'destabilising' rumour, but it is worth asking whether it will be such a bad idea if Nigeria was destablised (for the better)? Aside from the loss of national pride and being the victims of some international ribbing, what else could we lose? I guess the situation is quite clear-cut; if those given the manadate(?) to rule Nigeria continuously fail and those of us who are their subjects, refuse to do anything about it, then, is it not viable to let a proven state like the US take over? For one, it will be a million miles more transparent and symbiotic, when compared to the ridiculous situation we have found ourselves with the Chinese! We speak the same language to a large extent, we share a federal system of governance and our legal and democratic structures are not dissimilar. Definitely less takeaways for sure!

Okay, on the downside, we will become a rather big 52nd state (actually, isn't that position already taken by the UK?), but hey, who cares as long as we have a strong armed forces that can protect the nation and kick the hell out of the Niger Delta millitants. Now, couple that with uninterrupted electricity, constant water suppy and a booming economy?

In the end, isn't that what we all really want?

Friday, 1 May 2009

A Word is enough for the Unwise.

Those who have come across my blog, can confirm my love of quotes. I revel and swim in the delightful waters of a great quote. Something that has occured to a great mind and they have in turn, been generous to share it. As I view the world around me and cast a critical eye on events in some of the world's most challeneged regions, namely Africa and Nigeria in particular, I did some research and came up with these pearls aimed solely at those who navigate our political vehicle:

It's impossible to be loyal to your family, your friends, your country, and your principles, all at the same time. ~Mignon McLaughlin, The Neurotic's Notebook, 1960


If everyone were clothed with integrity, if every heart were just, frank, kindly, the other virtues would be well-nigh useless, since their chief purpose is to make us bear with patience the injustice of our fellows. ~Jean Baptiste Molière, Le Misanthrope


If honor be your clothing, the suit will last a lifetime; but if clothing be your honor, it will soon be worn threadbare. ~William Arnot


Conscience warns us before it reproaches us. ~Comtesse Diane (Marie Josephine de Suin de Beausacq), Maximes de la vie, 1908


If a man is not rising upwards to be an angel, depend upon it, he is sinking downwards to be a devil. ~Samuel Taylor Coleridge


Every wrong seems possible today, and is accepted. I don't accept it. ~Pablo Casals


Are you not ashamed of heaping up the greatest amount of money and honour and reputation, and caring so little about wisdom and truth and the greatest improvement of the soul? ~Socrates


Every human being has... an attendant spirit.... If it does not always tell us what to do, it always cautions us what not to do. ~Lydia M. Child


To speak ill of others is a dishonest way of praising ourselves. ~Will Durant


Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself. ~William Faulkner


There is no man so good that if he placed all his actions and thought under the scrutiny of the laws, he would not deserve hanging ten times in his life. ~Michel de Montaigne, Essays, 1595



Nuff said.....

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Hope don't live here anymore..

I have just come off the phone, after having what I can only describe as a sad, sad conversation with a long-lost friend of mine. She is embedded (how else can you describe it?) in the Ekiti State election 'war' that is currently soiling the name and political fabric of Nigeria. She came across as crestfallen, soul-crushed and utterly befuddled, with the ongoing crisis and searched unsuccessfully for answers to age-old questions. I guess what really affected her, was the complete lack of humanity that seemed to have overtaken events around her and the loss of lives, resources and promise that cruelly accompanied.

'Do you know that I am watching a protest of half-naked women at the moment,' she asked with each syllable drenched in pain.

Being of Yoruba descent, I instantly understood the symbolism therein and sighed in desperation. It seemed our government was not prepared to do the right thing until it was literally shamed into doing so. How an election which was so clearly seen as a potential theatre of violence, could be allowed to degenerate into that exact thing, is simply beyond belief! The only option one seems left with, is to assume that those who are charged with keeping the peace, must be the same ones at the centre of the ongoing chaos. Truly unbelievable!

As I attempted to regurgitate century-old excuses for our decadent situation, I realised that unlike Barack Obama, all Nigerians ever did was peddle, sell and hope for Hope! We live all our lives in Hope and make decisions based on Hope, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contary. We know we have never had the luxury of ethical governance or transparent leadership, but we hope that ONE DAY, it will all come to pass......well, guess what happens when there is no action behind the hope?

It is called Hopelessness!

Wednesday, 29 April 2009

A serious case of Myopia!

"You can easily judge the character of a man by how he treats those who can do nothing for him." James D. Miles


Wow.....so we still have Nigerian public officials with a human face? We still possess people whom when given a hefty responsibility, actually understand what that weight signifies and are prepared in the face of corruption and ugly threats, to pursue the truth and damn the consequences? Sorry that I keep going on, but I just believed such individuals were virtually non-existent in our troubled polity. Sure, I know a lot of people who swear to having a bank of ethics, to which they will unfailingly withdraw once faced with any degree of responsibility, but it is also my experience that once given such office, their bank seems to go bankrupt faster than Northern Rock!

So, Mrs Ayoka Olusola Adebayo, the Resident Electoral Commissioner of Ekiti State, truly resigned her post due to what she saw as an almighty debacle of an election? Can I say wow again? Of course, in true Nigerian style, a few hours after her resignation, the Independent (please pull the other one!) National Electoral Commission (INEC) chairman, Maurice Iwu , the Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro and the Minister of Information, Dora Akinyuli, or shall I say the three musketeers, addressed a press conference in Abuja at which they declared the honourable woman, wanted. They even went further and questioned her ability to cope under the pressure! Don't you just love Nigeria?

In the face of a watershed moment that has inspired Nigerians and non-Nigerians in their millions, our government's response is to threaten persecution and employ derision! It would be funny if it wasn't true, but unfortunately, it is really happening and I guess it makes sense when you consider that this is the same government, that recently came up with the decision to withdraw police orderlies from judges.

The juggernaut tragicomedy that is Nigeria moves on precariously with no regard for decency and upholding the rule of law. Surely, we cannot continue down this path without the juggernaut seriously damaging the lives of millions of decent Nigerians (yes, the majority are decent!) and impairing the set of values we all stand for! My earnest hope is that those in power reflect on how they are perceived and admit the pain being unleashed on its people; to paraphrase one of my favourite Nigerian artiste; Abi, you need glasses?

Monday, 27 April 2009

The Rocky selfish road to Greatness.

I am a Natural Born Cynic! I view most things with suspicion and I am aware that it keeps my world a lot more shruken than it should be. For instance, on the one hand, I realise that in order for Nigeria to grow and become a force to be reckoned with, she needs to open up her economy for foreign investment and instill a feeling of stability on ground to attract the right interest.

Unfortunately, on the other hand, I cannot see how we can open up our markets without becoming satellites for countries like the United States, China and Russia. History will show that the countries most successful with rampant economic growth (Singapore and Malaysia, to name just two)in the last three decades or so, are those that have a strong sense of self and an even stronger cultural base, cast iron enough to withold the inevitable 'watering down' exercise which always accompanies 'progress'.

The Chinese thrived largely because of the territorial nature of their language and their ability to keep to their kind, hence the ridiculous practice of bringing everything, including their drinking water, whenever they get into 'economic partnerships' with the likes of Nigeria, Sudan and Niger. This is in direct contrast to Nigerians, who have a more embracing spirit and would interact, sometimes to the detriment of their values.

Maybe, it's time to do less embracing and understanding......maybe it's time to start being proud of who we are and what our nation represents - A force that should be reckoned with!

Friday, 24 April 2009

When Age is not just a Number...

Sitting at home on my favourite sofa, with my laptop lazing away due to a very long period of inaction, it began to occur to me that life is nothing but a culmination of the seconds, minutes and hours we live, and how those units are spent determines whether we are regarded as a success or failure. I have spent the last 30 minutes jogging thoughts in my head, but essentially I have produced nothing and as the world goes on by and the TV drones on in the background, I realise I am 42 years old and seriously wondering; how many more of these wasted units that I can afford?

This type of self-examination happens from time to time, but today's has occured due to a political discussion from the night before, in which I was asked by an acquaintance; 'You seem to be impatient with progress in Nigeria, but if we are being clinical, the country is only 7 years older than you. Can you honestly say that year for year, you have achieved as much as she has?'

It was an unexpected poser and the sheer weight of the surprise, seems to have galvanised me into writing today's blog entry and it has got me wondering whether commentators are ever fair when lampooning a government, especially when that country is relatively young? Let's consider the USA and Nigeria; one got its independence in 1776 and the other in 1960, so, is it balanced to draw comparisons between both in terms of progress, advancement or governance? Do we expect too much from young countries or is Age, truly just a number? Actually, let us take this to the next level and ask; is the United States 5 times more advanced than Nigeria? I guess I know the answer to that.....

But looking through history, one can still find evidence in history books of a time in Britain (despite it's maturity as nation), when the King thought nothing of spending the wealth of the nation, just as if it was part of his private coffers! America's long history of independence, does not exclude it from dark episodes, like the Mccarthy years, during which people were persecuted just because they had different beliefs. Also, I doubt anyone watching the desperate scenes during Hurricane Katrina, could swear they never, not even for a second, thought of the so-called Third World!

Please do not mistake moi for an apologist of mismanagement and poor governance, all I ask is that from time to time, to be measured in our observations. After all, irrespective of what most might think, an attack on our country is really an attack on ourselves!

Happy sniping....

Thursday, 23 April 2009

The Unsettling Truth.

For those of us whose soujourn in the diaspora has been long and eventful, it is often commonplace for relatives and friends who remained in Africa, to ask the inevitable question; 'what has he achieved since he has been there?' It is a natural question and one that emanates from being part of a culture that earmarks an indivdual against a brutal 'success chart' that has items like 'built a house, has money in the bank, member of a renowed social club and connected to political power,' as de rigueur.

Often, these items keeps the average diaspora guy in a non-stop whirlwind of clocking inhuman hours at the workplace and in some cases a hellbent desire to be wealthy, by any means neccesary. In the ensuing chaos, those who have not managed to secure their immigration status, spend copious amount of money and time to attain the holy grail of settlement and in the process, watch from afar as those with citizenship or settlement status, 'fritter away' their oppoprtunities! Of course, this is how it appears when you are the one seeking to be regularised, although it is clear that slackers exist on both sides of the immigration fence.

Inevitably, the unregularised like the everyone else begin to raise families and in essence children, who then become a viable vehicle to reach the promised land. This then puts in motion an urgent need, to sort things out before the reverse occurs. Now, hold that thought and view below the horrible plight of a Filipino couple, who illegally entered Japan in the 90's and settled (not officially)enough to have a daughter and begin to earn a decent living. The problem though, was that the Japanese Immigration Service was still investigating their viability for entry and invariably decided they did not qualify to settle, setting a deportation date in the process. With all legal avenues expired, the couple were faced with an unbelievable choice; take the whole family back to the Phillipines or exit Japan and leave their daughter behind. View link to understand the anguish involved:

:

So, having seen the above, can you ever doubt the scenario occuring in likes of UK and the US? And if it does, how many of your friends, relatives and neighbours do you think will be affected? Answers on a post card please.....

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Every Little Helps....

As someone who has been accused of never saying anything positive about Nigeria, I decided sometime last week, to go in search of all things good that are Nigerian and furthermore, decided to publicise those things as far as my blog would take them! So, there I was at my favourite bookstore (my main source of information), browsing through every thing that caught my fancy, when all of a sudden I came across a very interesting book. It made good reading (well, browsing in my case!) and I decided I would share it with everyone, just in case like me, some were in the dark. Here goes....

'A Brief History of the Future' by Jacques Attali, which basically predicts what would occur over the next 50 years! Imagine my surprise when it has some good news about Naija! I will do my best to summarise the relevant core of the provocative and courageous book:

Fall of the US empire

Apparently, this would take place before the end of the ninth form of capitalism, estimated to take place around 2035. It would be followed by a polycentric world, with nine dominating nations on all continents: the USA, Brazil, Mexico, China, India, Russia, the European Union, Egypt and Nigeria. Some of them, notably China, India and Nigeria, as well as other countries artificially created after colonisation, could undertake an explosion process similar to that of USSR in 1991, with as many as 100 new countries emerging. Japan, Indonesia, Korea, Australia, Canada and South Africa would also play important roles as major regional powers.
A process of "nomadisation" would stem from technological factors, like the Internet; from demographic factors, like aging of developed populations which would entail massive immigration from Southern countries to pay retirements; and from development of megapoles. Increase of world population would entail a doubling of global farming production.


Hyperempire

The "nomadisation" process would make nation-States irrelevant, transforming the world into a chaotic market called "hyperempire". The entire planet would work according to an ultra-liberal economy and a form of democracy with "revisited" standards.

The ruling class, called "hypernomads", would ground its power on a middle class of 4 billion "virtual nomads" comprising technicians, scientists, managers, engineers, etc. The "virtual nomads" would live a sedentary life, but work in networks for companies without a central location. 3.5 billion "infranomads" would subsist in misery.

"Infranomads" are expected to revolt violently against their condition, stemming a resurgence of national entities and cristalising conflicts around traditional borders of ethnicities, religions, etc. Technologicial improvements in weaponry would put Humanity at risk of destroying intself in this conflict.


Hyperdemocracy

Opportunities of more constructive developments are detailed under the term "Hyperdemocracy", based on solidarity networks, participative democracy, "responsible companies", NGOs, micro-credits and collective intelligence.

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Attali's words filled me with dread; "Now pointed at Japan, North Korea's missiles will one day target the United States and China. The missiles of Pakistan fallen into the hands of fundamentalists will threaten first India, then Europe. Those of Hezbollah — in other words, Iran — that now target Israel will one day be pointed at Cairo, Riyadh, Algiers, Tunis, Casablanca, Istanbul, then at Rome, Madrid, London and Paris. Should the battle lines harden and the country be threatened with annihilation, China's missiles could one day target Japan and the United States."

Okay, maybe the Nigerian bits were a miniscule part of the book, but like I mentioned earlier, any positive mention of our dear country will be magnified by moi! To read more, you will need to get a copy at all good bookstores!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

A Different Spin.....




Politicians would always tell you that to have a brilliant spin doctor is not an option in politics, it is incredibly manadatory! You have one and your odds of being formidable in the fight against your rivals, is nearly doubled and you don't, you are basically Toast!

In my renewed quest to see everything Nigeria positively, I went in search of articles, stories, press cuttings and anything legible, just to be able to share something upbeat and stirring about Naija. So, you can imagine my joy, when I came across an article on CNN's website, which to my mind, spoke of Lagos (I know Lagos is not the whole of Nigeria, but still...), in such vibrant and descriptive language.

If Governor Fashola recruited Alastair Campbell or Karl Rove, neither could have done a better job. For those interested in the said write-up, please visit link below:


http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TRAVEL/04/20/lagos.visit/index.htmlttp:


Eko o ni baje o! Nigeria sef no go spoil lai lai!

Friday, 17 April 2009

When Words are all you have....

So, it seems that Umaru Yar'adua might be turning a new leaf, in the governance of Nigeria. I am not not sure if you are aware, but apparently, he had a few choice words for the Nigerian Power Minister, Mr Lanre Babalola, in a highly charged Aso Rock meeting.

The usually placid Presido was said to be in a feisty mood, when he unleashed:

"Whatever you need to succeed, I will give you. If anyone stands in your way and you want him or her out, just tell me and I will clear such a person for you. But I want results. I can hardly sleep again because of the power situation. I made a pledge to Nigerians that by the end of this year, they will enjoy stable electricity and it is a pledge I intend to keep. My name and credibility are at stake on this issue."

Apparently, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, ever the diplomat, interjected by stating the credibility of everybody in the administration was at stake, but Shehu's younger brother, went full throttle!

"No, it is my credibility that is at stake. How many ministers of power have we had and who remembers them? If things fail tomorrow, Lanre is a young man, he will simply dust his CV again and begin to look for another job but Nigerians will remember the promise I made."

He then went on say how he couldn't sleep because of the power issue, although, it might have been prudent for someone to remind our dear leader, that millions of Nigerians couldn't get any shuteye as well, principally because of mosquitoes and heat, two horrible sleepkillers that love darkness. But I guess that would have been a bridge too far....after all, no one wants to lose his or her job!

Still, I know we are a cynical lot, but maybe the tide might be turning. You be the judge.....is there LIGHT at the end of the tunnel?

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Give us our S**t back!!!

"... when the struggle seems to be drifting definitely towards a world social democracy, there may still be very great delays and disappointments before it becomes an efficient and beneficent world system. Countless people ... will hate the new world order ... and will die protesting against it. When we attempt to evaluate its promise, we have to bear in mind the distress of a generation or so of malcontents, many of them quite gallant and graceful-looking people."

- H. G. Wells, in his book entitled The New World Order (1939)


God, I beg for your forgiveness, but I have an aversion for the Swiss!

It's basically something which began very early in my life, once I had begun the read the history of the world and how certain financial orders and structures were created to ensure some countries remain permanently at the foot of the rich nation's tables. Their activities during the era of the Nazis is well documented and their immoral motto of 'neutrality' is probably one of the most heinous in the history of man!

Why are they always in the centre of scandals involving embezzled or ill-gotten wealth? Why would banks like Barclays and virtually all Swiss banks, take money into their coffers, when it is obvious that it has not been properly earned? How would the world have reacted, if Nigeria was actively providing financial refuge for reprehensible and despicable leaders? Mull that over......

Ask yourself one question; if it was virtually impossible for certain countries, principally Switzerland, to create a culture of acting as a repository for the world's ill-gotten gains, how many corrupt leaders would get away with criminal siphoning? It's one thing to say 'Oh, we have no opinion on the activities of the Nazis and corrupt African leaders,' but once you then begin to create safe havens for the proceeds of those activities, you inevitably become culpable. It is a complete nonsense and it has been going on for so long to the detriment of billions of poor people around the world. If we can chase and freeze accounts of terrorists who launder money to fund their nefarious campaigns, why is it so difficult to do same when the money is coming from African leaders who have no evidence to back up earning this money?!

The whole world and its mother (including myself in this blog!), rain condemnations on the Nigerian polity and government, but once in a while, it might be worth considering the role external forces play in the continued denigration of our ailing nation. Let's go back in history.....it is quite clear to those in the know, that countries like Nigeria and Congo, which are blessed abundantly in natural resources were - not to put a spin on it - carved out by the European colonial masters to fail! You can never have stability when you have such diverse cultural and spiritual variance. When most Africans look at the West, they see so-called 'civillised' societies where things work, but they often forget that the political and cultural homogenity that exists in the UK and the US, to name just two, goes a long way in ensuring stability and a conforming populace.

The average guy in the North of the UK, aside from certain quirks, has a similar life to the guy down south! The type of food is the same, the time of eating that food is no different, the language is the same, hence the guy in the South can travel to every point in this land of 55 million people, knowing fully well everyone will understand him! The religion is virtually the same, despite the exertions of Muslims, Bhuddists and Atheists! How are they not going to be able to function? Now, consider the fact that despite all these similarities, there are still regional divides in the UK and then flip that round and ask how Nigeria is meant to succeed when it is burdened by vast language, cultural, religious and spiritual differences?

I have to say that right now, I am even more convinced that the British definitely lumped the various groups together, knowing fully well it would take centuries to resolve our differences! The only saving grace, was the rebellious nature of the initial leaders we had, who refused to bow and scrape at the colonials' table - something which has unfortunately been lost now. I will always repeat one thing; Nigerians need to realise we are the forebearers of the Black race. We need to shift up a level and stop bending over for these foreigners to have their nasty way with us! The more we sell out, the more we will be seen as weak and pushovers. I have lived in the UK for twenty years and I can assure you that they will never take some of the crap we take from them in Nigeria!

We need to grow a collective backbone and realise a self-evident truth.......no amount of trying to please foreigners will help.......they are designed to look down at us! Nigeria gets the '419' label around the world, but yet, the Western countries that are swimming in the cesspit of earning interest off our money, are hosted and dined by the good and great.

The double standards are shocking, but it would help if we stopped plundering our people's funds in the first place, you bloody barawos!

Thursday, 9 April 2009

A Leak too Far.....

Surely you must have heard by now about the sorry plight of the UK Police chief, who was more or less forced to resign over after an embarrassing security leak, which resulted in a major anti-terror operation being hastily carried out in broad daylight in NorthWest England yesterday. For the Nigerians amongst us, it must be tempting to ask what would have transcended if this had happened at Aso Rock.

In a crazy twenty four hours that has embarassed the Brown government, Bob Quick, Britain's most senior counterterrorism officer, mistakenly exposed high level security papers (see photo above) to the waiting Press, as he visited the Prime Minister at Number 1o on Wednesday morning. Only one of the hungry paparazzi with their space-age telephonic scopes, captured the moment and the rest as they say, is History! Steve Back, the eagle-eyed photographer who took the damning image was also the same guy who photographed Housing minister Caroline Flint, last May, walking along Downing Street, holding briefing papers which laid bare fears of a 10 per cent fall in the housing market.

Of course, there was political gain to be captured and the London mayor and chairman of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Boris Johnson, scraped the proverbial plate and trumped the government to the announcement, something which has left a bitter taste in the Home Secretary, Jacqui Smith's mouth.

To be frank, I am only writing about this story mainly to draw parallels for those who wonder why Nigeria has such a long way to go, in the quest for transparency and accountability. There is no mystery really.......let's cut to the chase, if this was in Naija, the photographer would still be in the process of bargaining with the guilty civil servant! In the end, the case (discreetly of course!) would get to the Presidency and the trucculent journalist would be tortured until he gave up the images. Alternatively, the waiting Aso Rock paparazzi wouldn't even have the necessary 21st century cameras, to create the damage in the first case! Nigeria we hail thee! Yet, our President wonders why we are not in the G20.

There is no magic panacea for the type of progress Nigeria requires, we just have to be blessed with officials, who in the face of scandal, fall on their swords. Of course there are so-called 'first world' civil servants, who hold on to power until someone pries open their cold, shameless hands, but they are a new breed who grew up with no sense of duty and have been lucky enough to have an Oxbridge education.......evidently, their days are numbered too. Besides, Nigerian officialdom, in the face of perpetual ineptitude and worldwide condemnation, should aim for a higher bar. Someone should remind our leaders, that one in every five black people on earth, is Nigerian! Ready or not, we have to accept that we are naturally appointed frontbearers and our attitude should reflect accordingly.

That's that then. I got it off my chest! Oh, by the way, if you are interested, Steve Back now runs a company called PoliticalPictures.co.uk, which specialises in taking photographs of politicians. Maybe you should take a tour....

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Inheriting Our Heroes

“Regard your soldiers as your children, and they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look on them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.”
Sun Tzu (Chinese General and Author of the 'The Art of War')


I have always had problems with the concept of heroes. Let me rephrase that; I have reservations about the way society creates heroes. Also, I am eternally wary and as a matter of course, distrusting of people who partake in verbal diarrhoea, in pursuit of building up the so-called great and good. There is a certain Nigerian journalist that has perfected this art, but his main error was in picking a very average man to idolise, a rich one, but one of very average character indeed. Anyway, I should return to the topic at hand and ask; what is it that makes a hero?

The Greeks in their old mythological ways, told us that a hero would be gallant, of noble background and possess copious amounts of courage. I only ask the question concerning the hero, because of the recent flak directed at the returning troops from Iraq by a small minority, when they decided to parade the streets of certain UK cities to celebrate their 'successful' campaign in the pursuit of Iraqi 'liberty and democracy'. It appeared the small minority had not read the scrpit produced by the big majority, who were intensely upset that anyone would not join them in celebrating their heores. The thing that makes my mind boggle of course, is the heroic status that countries attach to these soldiers and the unquestioned reverence that the majority of people demand that the rest of us accord these fighting machines. Afterall, they have fought for our security and they have ensured that we sleep without fear of attack from a crazed enemy.

But does this make them heroes? Let's face it, most foot personnel in armies come from lowly backgrounds and are in the armed forces because they have gauged their possibilities in life, and deemed it the only viable place to secure three square meals and a roof over their heads. You can correct me if you feel I have overstepped the mark again ( I often get carried away like that), but as you do that, please bear in mind that I do have one or two friends in the British and American armed forces and I can guarantee you I am not that far off the mark. Most soldiers join at a ridiculously young age and their desire is to belong and feel they are part of something special - a need that develops from an often purposeless life. Actually, the more empty your life is, the easier the army recruiter's job is supposed to be. Although, there is always the odd one. I will never forget the young black man from Chicago (I think it was Chicago anyway) in Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 911, who upon being shown pictures of a supposedly ghettorised part of Iraq as a reason to join the army, came back with a great retort; 'there are parts of my neighbourhood that look exactly like that!' It was priceless and very telling.

So, do these kids from the economically depressed part of town, deserve any glowing accolades once they have completed their tours or is the need to give them some gravitas, driven by governments fully aware that a 'Purple Heart, Victoria Cross or even a mere State funeral, would only further the desire to join the world's top milltaries. Just think about it, if those who lead the world cannot create some type of status for our soldiers, who would ever want to risk their lives in the first place? That heroic badge firmly reserved for these men and women has been made so symbolically powerful, coupled with generous help from the media, so much so that the overwhelming evidence of abject veteran care is not sufficient to stop the wave of new recruits. Saying all that, could my cynicism be blinding an obvious reality and could it just be that I am missing an undeniable fact.

You see, my definition of a hero is; someone who has in the face of plenty, denied themselves to assist others and in the process risked their lives and possibly that of their nearest and dearest. In line with those words, I have only ever managed to place four individuals in that category; Mohammed Ali, my late father (nepotism is alive!), Gani Fawehinmi and Nelson Mandela. But something did occur to me recently. The soldiers we send to war are doing a job which is clearly not in line with the wages and shelter we provide for them, furthermore, the risk to life is palpable and although they are not superior to everyday-life heroes like Nurses, Doctors and Firemen, they are still worthy of our praise and adolation.

Everytime I question their 'Superman' status, I almost feel like I am in the presence of a defiant millitary type, kissing his teeth as he recounts the immortal words of the Jack Nicholson character in a 'Few Good Men':

'.......I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very freedom I provide, then question the manner in which I provide it. I prefer you said thank you, and went on your way, Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a weapon, and stand to post. Either way, I don't give a damn what you think you are entitled to! '

Nuff said......by the way, do Nigerian soldiers qualify for hero status too?

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

What we Lack...

"Desire is the starting point of all achievement, not a hope, not a wish, but a keen pulsating desire which transcends everything.” Napoleon Hill - American author (1883-1970)

A few days ago, specifically April Fool's day, I wrote about the then ongoing G20 summit and its impact on the lives of Londoners and how I had wished Nigeria was involved in some way, shape or form. My underlying theory being that with its vast resources, Nigeria should have been able to reach or surpass the group's entry criteria. Hardly had the virtual ink dried on that blog entry and voila, our dear President, UYD, also reacted with some degree of disappointment at the non-invitation.

The usually placid leader of the world's most populous black nation, found some unusual vigour and declared; “I must say that today is a sad day for me. And I think it should be for all Nigerians, when 20 leaders in the leading countries in the world are meeting and Nigeria is not there. This is something we need to reflect upon. We have the population; we have the potentials; we have the ability and capacity, and we have the will.” Of course, in line with expected behaviour, he retreated and asked the 'august' audience; "is it the will that we lack?"

I hate to repeat what already exists on this blog and for that reason will not regurgitate prose referring to the leadership vacumn and purposelessness that seems to be the trademark of Nigerian governance. Rather, I will concentrate on the President's poignant question. So, to begin, let us throw in a poser; does UYD have the will he refers to when it comes to leading Nigeria to it's rightful place? More pointedly, has our 'sleeping giant' ever had any leader with the will to do the right thing? Saying all that, can we digress for a moment and forget the factors that drive our leaders.

What drives the average Nigerian? What excites us? What do we view as our purpose in life? Do we really have a leadership problem, or is pedestrianism a national trait? In other words, do we have the desire or will to actually uplift our fatherland or are we addicted with the upliftment of our personal economic status, even at the risk of our country sliding fatally in the process?

I happen to believe it is a bit of everything that culminates in one unrefutable fact; majority of Nigerians do not love their country and when it's all said and done, that is the bottom line! Worse still, our lackadaisical attitude towards the direction of our country is not driven by the economic woes that we suffer, instead, it is driven by a selfish need to serve Self before Nation, an affliction that has pervaded our society pre and post independence. It may not be popular to state this, but I am willing to damn the consequences and paraphrase Al Pacino's Scarface character; there is nothing you guys can do to me that hasn't already happened to me!

The lip service of our so-called leaders, is a trait inherited through a lifetime of saying what one believes people want to hear. Oiling our way through life and pretending that once we attain power, we will somehow morph into a virtuous person of purpose, and miraculously light the way for 150 million people. I believe most will agree, that we have seen a procession of people of different backgrounds take the power reins in Nigeria, and one thing definitely rings true; everyone is out for themselves! It even gets a bit sad, when one considers the fact that the more ordinary the background, the more bestial our top people tend to be. We do not have an elitist problem in Nigeria, what we have is too many simpletons who want to attain elitism. The Dikkos of the world come to mind....

So, where do we go from here? Well, I am still a strong believer in the true essence of Nigeria. I love the original gregariousness, aptitude, spirit, industry and spiritualism that embeds in her heart. I am certain that like the proverbial dog, Nigeria will have its day......Ghana did. Let's just hope that when that day arrives and we qualify for the G whatever it is by then, the forum do not 'lack the will' to do the right thing!

Friday, 3 April 2009

As Time passes by.....

“When a love comes to an end, weaklings cry, efficient ones instantly find another love, and the wise already have one in reserve.” - Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

In a rare departure from my usual topics of Nigeria and the African continent, I find myself enjoying the Obama show that came to town and kept Londoners enthralled for 48 hours. Barack has had European leaders eating out of his charmed hands and Michelle even got a hug from the Queen! S**t like that is not even supposed to happen, apparently. All the historians are furiously searching their worn out records, for the last time her Majesty touched anyone, not to talk less of an American!!!

In any case, the Obamas have truly played their part and eased Gordon Brown's woes in the process. The grumpy Bear at Number 10, must have been hoping frantically for a break in the horror show currently consuming him and his government. The thing is though, when one looks a bit deeper, it is quite clear that the cure has been temporary indeed and even though the American charmers did the best they could, ultimately even with the recent ground-shattering elections, America has lost too much moral authority in today's world. Any American charm offensive is made effective by the Obamas, but be honest, the things we like about the first couple are basically their unAmerican traits! Intelligence, Charm, depth and gravitas, will top the list. The world seems tired of all things American (well, except the Obamas), or am I just speaking for myself?

Don't get me wrong, I love America. It’s easily the greatest country on earth!

I love its music, its actors, its sense of show business, the razzmatazz, the money making, the big cars, the big egos, the self-belief, the home of the good, bad and the ugly, the land of the Kennedys, Ali, Martin Luther King, Larry Bird, Michael Jordan, Jack Nicklaus, Tyson, Jesse Owens, J Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy, The Klu Klux clan, the NRA. The CIA, FBI, the Grammys, Oscars, Hip-Hop, Biggie Baby and the land of Oprah. The land of the free, America has it all.

But in the quest to remain the most powerful country on earth, America has had its fair share of involvement in upheavals; the Vietnam War stands out like a sore thumb. The ‘honour’ of being the only country, to have dropped a weapon of mass destruction on another, is imprinted in history and with the Iraq war; we had America, once again, on the road to nowhere.

Like everything in life, the American era will end. Historians, depending on their politics, will either paint her a sinner or saint. The foretelling of its end should not be seen as this writer’s wishful thinking, but as a statement borne of evidence; all things expire. The British, Roman and Ottoman Empires, all massive entities at their peak, eventually crumbled – It’s the law of Nature – and as evident from our history books, very few people who lived during those times, could have imagined their impending extinction.

Those ‘blessed’ by the gift of hindsight, would tell you, that the first signs were clearly manifested in the events of 9/11. The invincibility is gone and the hyper-power myth destroyed. Like Tyson felled by Buster Douglas, the Aura has been punctured and the Ego brought down to earth. The beginning of the end should not be mourned or seen as a tragedy, for if the Romans (who gave us so much) could be swept away by the tides of time, everyone else must be fair game. It happened to the dinosaurs for God’s sake! They ruled the world once, although some will argue Rumsfeldosaurus, almost took us back in time!

So, whilst the Chinese, Russians and even the Iranians (you didn't know?) rub their hands with glee in anticipation of 'their time', the rest of us, including the writer of this piece, mourn America’s fading power and influence, a lot more unfortunately will die trying to save it, but as the hawks and neo cons experienced during the last administration, it is exhausting trying to save a terminally ill person. The disease is in its advanced stages and even when your lead doctors are the Obamas, all you can do is administer the drugs and pray.

Of course, I fervently hope that I am wrong, because Nigeria and Africa have no greater ally!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

The God Business - The Sequel

Well, well, well. For those who might have caught my 26th of May 2009 blog entry on the RCCG private plane palaver(http://kanmiiyanda.blogspot.com/2009/03/god-business.html), you will remember that I concluded that if the church saw a jet as essential to their evengelism, then so be it. I also advised their detractors to let them be and realise that religion is, whether we like it or not a private matter, even when it appear to have public ramifications.

With all that in mind, guess what the result of the investigations into the purchase have now revealed? The jet was bought by five members of the church as a business concern and wait for it........the group decided to give special courtesy to their G.O to use the aircraft in special circumstances or something to that effect. Also, unlike what most thought, the plane actually cost a third of the reported amount and guess what; only a third of that figure was paid as deposit.

So, this brings us to a difficult juncture; should we believe these findings or toss them into the dustbin of time, as a clever rebuttal by the church or should we begin to realise that maybe, as a people, Nigerians are sometimes slow to reason and quick to jump to judgement? Or maybe a juncture does not even exist.....because in the end, there are still many examples of churches carrying on, like they have no understanding of the common man and his struggles.

Whatever conclusion you come to, I still believe it might be time to hasten thought and kill the speed of our criticism.....I know we lack people to look up to, but maybe, just maybe, all of our leaders, elected or otherwise do not belong in the same flawed boat!

It's just a thought.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

As the G20 summit turns the centre of London into something resembling a war zone, and most city workers are dressing down to blend in and not become moving targets for the anarchist movement, I find myself chilling at home with no such worries. I am sipping some beautiful red wine supplied by the ever-reliable Tunde Iyowu, and selfishly engaged in the exercise of trying to answer a reoccuring question; why is Nigeria not involved?

For those who might not be aware, the G-20 (more formally, the Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors)is a group of finance ministers and central bank governors from 20 economies: 19 of the world's largest national economies, plus the European Union (EU)....Collectively, the G-20 economies comprise 85% of global gross national product, 80% of world trade (including EU intra-trade) and two-thirds of the world population. So I guess that definitely leaves out Nigeria there then....

Besides, when you go to the G20 website (yes, I know I am sad! It is research you see.), it tells us how the countries were chosen; "In a forum such as the G-20, it is particularly important for the number of countries involved to be restricted and fixed to ensure the effectiveness and continuity of its activity. There are no formal criteria for G-20 membership and the composition of the group has remained unchanged since it was established. In view of the objectives of the G-20, it was considered important that countries and regions of systemic significance for the international financial system be included. Aspects such as geographical balance and population representation also played a major part."

Call me cynical, but doesn't the above read like those reports certain people get when their boss never intends to promote them. You can just tell you are not wanted; "Lara is a brilliant worker who inspires all her colleagues with her sunny outlook. She will continue to be valuable in her current position as a rallying point for office unity." Now, let's decode; "Lara does a good job, but she is not exceptional. Although, one cannot ignore her ability to crack jokes and make everyone laugh, this is the only reason why we keep her here."

It's brilliant, isn't it? Just like the club that writes out its manifesto and calls itself inclusive, but then goes on to state how it would want members with common goals, beliefs and background! I don't think the G20 want a distraction like Nigeria, even if she qualified to join. I bet there are 'Nigeria is not here' parties at the beginning of the conferences! Okay, I went too far, but what else would I think, when we were not even invited to the G33 summit.....Ivory Coast was called instead! I did it again, didn't I?

Nigeria is worthy, but we just do not qualify to join the group. It's like university days, when people grieved because the latest ultra-exclusive club rejected their application. It's human nature I guess. Rejection and non-inclusion always gives rise to paranoia and a sense of inferiority complex....Am I not good enough? Why do they want her and not me? He doesn't even dress as good as I do...blah, blah, blah.

So, how does Nigeria join this most exclusive of clubs? Hmmmm.....I guess probity, accountability and transparency, which will in turn lead to improved and increased productivity, which will in turn enlarge the economy and give us that all important purchasing power parity That's it! All done!

And if that fails, we can start our own group with the likes of Guatemala!

Monday, 30 March 2009

How Come?

Most civilised societies are united in their hatred and revulsion of the actions of Hitler and his barbaric SS army. We even erect permanent monuments to condemn their deeds, especially the inhuman extermination of 6 million Jews or make that Jews, Poles, Russians or Gypsies – whatever version you subscribe to.

We feel so strongly that society should not have to go through those dark days again and we entrench a yearly remembrance in our national diaries to ensure we do not forget.

A good and worthy thing I say, but it does leave me wondering why another seismic and tragic period relatively goes unmarked or even noted during our global moments of deep reflection. Could it be that those whose forefathers were responsible for such acts, are proficient at remembering other people’s evil deeds, but at the same time very slow to remember theirs.

Is it possible that human beings are only remembered when they are deemed to be worthy of remembrance? Or maybe it is just too embarrassing to acknowledge. After all, what ammunition would we have to shoot down the Germans (a global pastime) if we ourselves, have to admit our complicity in the extortion and near destruction of a people?

You see sometimes, I believe I do not have the moral authority to pursue this issue, especially as everyone knows African leaders - just like in the present day - were complicit in and benefited from, the rape of their own people. How can I condemn what the Europeans did, when my own people were complicit in selling each other out? But then I have come across stories of Jew giving up Jew in Nazi Germany, so I am able to comfortably refocus on the plight of those slaves that had to withstand another example of Man’s inhumanity to man.

I will keep asking, if only to ensure that the West never forgets. Just like it has never forgotten any transgression against its own people, no matter how long ago it occurred. So, you can imagine my chagrin, when one of my English colleagues once said to me;

"Come on you guys need to get over it!"

I had no choice but to hit back;

"We would the moment you quit talking about what the Japanese did to your soldiers in that World war!"

As you can imagine, it was not my most popular moment.

Saying that, I hold on to this truth; that the recounting of an evil perpetuated in the past, no matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel, does not indicate angst or a desire for revenge, mostly it relects a desire within the human spirit to understand whence we came, so we can define where we end up and ensure those events do not reoccur.

Our need to get people to stop talking about their past, because it reminds us of our capacity to be inhuman, is just a defence mechanism that Man has perfected. For those who would claim they have gotten over it, please endeavour to learn more about the period, for there is no forgiveness until you fully comprehend what you are forgiving.

A good start will be this book; If We Must Die: Shipboard Insurrections in the Era of the Atlantic Slave Trade by Eric Robert Taylor . For my part, it has never been about us getting over anything. It has and should always be about no one getting over it.  Especially, those who are hell-bent on us forgetting.

One thing really worries me though; what has really happened to the approximately 4 million black souls tossed aboard into the Atlantic at the slightest sign of illness or revolt. Do they wander the high seas aimlessly confused or are they in the afterlife comparing notes with the asphyxiated and poisoned from Auschwitz?

I wonder if they are asking them – How come they remember you and forget us?