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 governments were 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 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 our longing to be loyal disciples of Barack Obama's message of Hope, had all gone wrong. Nigerians peddle, posture and hope for Hope. We are just not prepared to do anything to facilitate it!

We live all our lives in Hope and make decisions based on Hope, even in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

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! 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, from 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 the country's people.

To paraphrase one of my favourite Nigerian artistes; 

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 often been accused of never saying anything positive about Nigeria, I decided sometime last week, to go in search of all things good that are also Nigerian. Furthermore, I 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. 

'A Brief History of the Future' by Jacques Attali, is basically predictions for the next 50 years. So, you can imagine my delighted 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.


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.


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 clearly minuscule and not as cheery as I previously suggested, but hey, bite me! Any mention of Nigeria in a future world order, has to be comforting. There are times when things have gotten so bad, most of us have thought the country will not last the night. So every little bit of news helps.

As for Attali's book, 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:

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 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 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 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, 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 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(, 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!