Monday, November 27, 2006

It Is A Rat Race Time

Scientists have long understood the value of rats in conducting their experiments. Rats:

1. Don't have a union.
2. Don't complain about hours of work.
3. Swallow whatever they're given without complaint.
4. Work for cheese! That's right. Chesse!

Anyway, the list could go on and on, but today isn't about the value of rats to the scientific community, however misleading the opening paragraph might have been. In a way, though, it is about the value of a certain kind of rat to a certain kind of scientist. (For the purpose of this thesis, we shall hereinafter refer to the rats as Maradona, Turaki, or Fine-Boy etc., and the scientist will simply be called "Baba".)

Now, anyone who has ever spent time watching the Discovery Channel will see how rats are put in a maze with cheese at the centre, and then have to find their way to the cheese in the shortest possible time. And, while it may be fun to watch, it also serves a valuable educational purpose in that it shows that the rats can actually learn the maze, and the one that proves the smartest is usually upgraded to the testing of potentially dangerous medicines for the betterment of mankind. We can't have an army of smart rats running loose you know.

Anyway, Maradona collected a "form" a couple of weeks back, and in keeping with his time-honored tradition of keeping everyone guessing, has refused to state exactly what office he would be contesting. This has led to numerous column inches in the papers speculating that he'll be going for the Presidency, we might all be surprised, and he'll declare for dog-catcher.

Turaki has continued his valiant fight to clear his name/triumph over his enemies/humiliate Baba (take your pick) and duly declared for the Presidency. The logo of the party he would be contesting under was, however, conspicuous by its absence. Some people had suggested he would be declaring for the Aksion Congress *koff* *koff* *wheeze* Sorry, dust from all the broom waving. I duly pointed out to them that Turaki, while not a very subtle fellow, was hardly a foolhardy one. Declaring for a party other than People Deceive People would see him impeached and a guest of Uncle Nuhu in record time. He didn't disappoint me. The first Independent Candidate, anyone? Anyone? Bah, you guys are no fun.

Fine-Boy-No-Pimples, or Fine Boy for short, also threw his hat into the ring after much Julius Caesaring around the issue. Despite his "overwhelming" support, however, all his pretty boy looks can earn him is a spot as some other guy's mate. Not that kind of mate. Sheesh. Get your minds out of the gutter.

The Doctor of Thuganomics has been flexing his muscles, but after claiming from every rooftop he could forcibly commandeer that Baba was the only one for us, his campaign seems rather hollow to me. Even though he has gone to the trouble of putting up billboards on virtually every junction in Abuja.

Obong has...Obong is... Obong will.... No need.

Anyway, which brings us to the Ringmaster of this particular circus, the General-who-never-fires-blank, Commander of all Garrisons, and all round tough guy, Baba. What more could I say about this guy? Every time you think he's pulled the ultimate stunt, he tops himself. The way he's handled this particular sequence of events must have even Maradona (no slouch himself) fairly swooning in admiration. The Voters' Registration machines aren't nearly enough to go round, we have soldiers in every state capital waiting for the other shoe to drop, every Governor walks around terrified of his own shadow, and we are all waiting to see whose head rolls off the block next. In the midst of all this, Baba continues clearing his throat (could someone please suggest he see an ENT Specialist?) and assuring us everything dey kamkpe.

Anyway, the rats have been released into the maze, some more handicapped than others, and we're all watching to see which one gets to the cheese first, if he'll get to enjoy it, and more importantly, whether Baba will even let the race begin.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

On The Verge Of History?

With ol Jorge's boys being kicked out of the Capitol by a fed-up American Electorate (far too late in my humble opinion), it was understandable and indeed expected that a huge sense of reilief and euphoria swept the globe. A major part of the revolution in Washington is that Congress is set to get its first-ever female Speaker. Naturally, this development has provoked joyful choruses from oppressed womenfolk the world over, who see it as a stepping stone for a first female President of the United States.

Even with this in mind though, I was sorely underprepared for the the back page of This Day on Saturday, November 11, 2006 which contained an article titled "On The Verge of History". Not only did the piece claim that women were better at delivering results, setting goals, etc. than men, it went further to claim women were better leaders than men, period.

I'm no chauvinist (which would normally mean I am) and I'm truly all for womens' rights, but before the bra-burning brigade dismisses all men have done with a wave of the hand, let me chip in my two cents for my maligned species. Yes, men have been responsible for many major disasters, and have led humanity to the brink of extinction on more than one occassion. However, many of the worst have had women vociferously cheering them on.

Sani Abacha had Maryam on standing ovation duty, Eva Perron (forget Madonna's version) gleefully bragged about her collection of thousands of pairs of shoes while the poor in her country starved, Eva Braun was there to massage Adolf Hitler's temples whenever the pressures of trying to enslave the world threatened to overwhelm him, and Marie Antoinette was immortalised, then beheaded (or was it the other way round?) for her statement that if the poor couldn't afford bread, then they should eat cake! The list could go on forever.

Conversely, I suppose Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Jesus Christ must have been women in drag, such were their leadership skills.

The funny thing is this - whenever women begin spouting their demands for equality and so on, they tend to draw the line when it comes to paying for dinner and the movie. They'll insist to the death that those are "men's jobs".

Women already wield far too much power in the world as it is. For, while we learned to run fast, climb trees, ride bikes and so on all in a bid to use our physical prowess to impress girls, they were being taught to use subliminal imagery and psychology to control us. Which is why all the muscle in the world won't stop her from wathcing that sappy romantic movie while your football match is on. And when she demands you sit beside her and forget about the Champions League/World Cup Final, you'll mumble and mutter then plonk your ass down on the couch and beg for popcorn with an idiot grin on your face. Yet they're asking for more direct power.

And they call us "power hungry"?

Friday, November 03, 2006

A Day In The Life

7.00am: Eyes wide open. Tony and the boys sing "You're simply the best." Feel like Prince Akeem.

7.30am: Bound out of bed, and immediately regret rash decision. Back screaming blue murder. Tony and the boys immediately by my side singing "The world's greatest." Must put brave face on.

7.45am: Start shaving. Tony and the boys sing "You are so beautiful."

8.30am: Shave done, time for shower. Tony and the boys sing "You and I."

9.30am: Bloody cold water. Anyway time to see what I approved for airing on NTA last night. Will enjoy with cup of cocoa from farm. Tony and the boys sing "You're the inspiration."

9.35am: *splutter* What! Another crash? Kemaaaaaa! Kemaaaaaa! K.... (Looks down) Oh, there you are. Take that out of your mouth for a second. Why aren't you at your ministry? I removed you? When? So Borishade is in charge now? Ok. Get him for me. Tony and the boys strike up tune of "You're a heartbreaker." Silenced by royal glare.

10.00am: Prominent Nigerians dead in crash. Must remember to smear alligator pepper under eyelids. Oh for the days when onions did the trick. Tony and the boys sing "You light up my life." So difficult to stay mad at them...

10.00am: Ah, the kpomo has arrived. Time for breakfast. Tony and the boys sing "You take my breath away."

10.30: Stroll around Villa, practising speech. The words all sound rather familiar though... Tony and the boys hum "Without you."

12noon: Done with speech practice. Throat hurts. Tony and the boys sing "You are my heaven."

1.00pm: Time to read back page of This Day. Tony and the boys sing "You are the sunshine of my life."

2.30pm: Done reading. Head hurts, eyes blurry. Time for power nap. Tony and the boys sing "You give me love."

4.00pm: My, how time flies. Must rise from couch. *sniff sniff* Lunch is ready. Tony and the boys sing "You are my destiny."

4.50pm: Deliver speech. Strange stony silence from crowd. Why is the hall empty, and what the hell is that box staring at m.... Oh, I'm in the studio.

4.50pm: Tony and the boys share congratulations on brilliant speech, sing "You are my number one."

5.00pm: Time to sign some State of Emergency Declarations. I told them to arrange these things in alphabetical order. Don't they know Ebonyi comes before Anambra?! Tony and the boys sing "We can last forever."

6.55pm: Done signing declarations. Had long debate with self over Declaration for Abuja. Nasiru has done such a fine job so far... Tony and the boys sing "You can do it."

7.00pm: Time for light snack before dinner. Hear the cook is making pounded yam with egusi and plenty kpomo. Must remember to leave space. Tony and the boys sing "You are wonderful."

8.30pm: *belch* Snack was great. Time for dinner. Tony and the boys try to sing through full mouths. Cut them short with scowl.

10.00pm: Dinner was just fab. Time for bed. Oga Tony Blair is having his hair cut tomorrow morning. Can't afford to be late for the party. Tony and the boys sing "Unchained Melody." It's good to be King.

Friday, October 27, 2006

The Giant Strikes Again

In my university days, I earned the nickname waka waka for I enjoyed taking leisurely strolls around campus. Especially at night. So, whilst my more serious colleagues were either in class, or resting from the days exertions, or out working off the stress in the clubs, I strolled.

I particularly enjoyed walking around from 11pm onwards for at that time, vehicular traffic would be at a minimum, if not non-existent, and I would have the freedom of the roads. Why, would a young man spend his time walking around instead of reading his books, you wonder. Well, I had to keep the old Legediz Benz tuned up, and thanks to the walking, my odometer has crawled around to zero several times.

At Camp, not a few people thought I would keel over during the Endurance Trek. As a result, the vast numbers of slack-jawed persons watching me not only trek, but jog in some instances, was truly priceless. As a friend put it, they were witnessing the “eight wonder of the world.” At the end, I got several pats on the back from people who said they couldn’t handle the trek and they thought they were in shape.

When I moved into town, and discovered the wonders of okada, I put my Legediz Benz away, and began using it like any luxury vehicle for short trips only. It was truly delightful to travel long distances on a bike for as little as 60 bucks in some cases. I actually enjoyed taking bikes because I no send anibodi. But, as they say, good things never last. Like Al Pacino, just when I thought I was out, they've pulled me back in. For Nasiru "the Giant" El Rufai in his infinite wisdom, has banned okada in Abuja.

That in itself wouldn’t have been a bad thing, if there was a credible alternative. Nasiru promised us buses to rival those in London, but failed to deliver. He promised us taxis, but his own would tie you down and shave your head bald with a piece of broken glass if given the opportunity. His “London Cabs” often cruise the streets empty because no poor man can afford their outrageous fares. And the private taxis have seized the opportunity to jack up their fares.

But these are hardly the only problems. Bikemen knew every single street, crescent, close and road in Abuja. If you were looking for a street in Garki for instance, all you had to do was enter Garki and ask a bike to show you the way. Not so with cab drivers. They don’t know jack shit, and they’re as likely to take you to Suleija as drop you in Wuse. A bike would take you from Apo to Wuse for 80 – 100 naira, but with a drop, it would cost you anywhere from 250 – 350 buckaroos and if you enter "Green Cab" na you know o! And when your father hasn’t spent the last 20 odd years of his life with his arms and legs in the public till, your pocket definitely feels the squeeze. Another angle many commentators have failed to look at is the impact of this ban on Baba’s Poverty Alleviation Scheme. Many of these men were encouraged, and in some cases, railroaded into taking loans of upwards of 50 grand to purchase bikes and employ themselves. For many, this was the sole means of supporting their families. Now the Giant has taken away their jobs, their means of repaying these loans, and their means of supporting their families.

I’ll grant that some of them could be real menaces, but is a ban the only way to solve the problem? What ever happened to re-education programmes, safety training, and so on? They could have created a Motorcycle Bureau, taxed each okada 50 naira a day for operating in town, and used that money to monitor and inspect them. There were hundreds, if not thousands, of bikes in town. This could have raised, hypothetically, 100 grand a day, and that’s thinking small. It could have been made mandatory for okada riders to wear safety helmets, reflective vests and so on. But, we have a lazy government, one that would rather bury its head in the sand than solve the problems of the people. Besides, who elected el Rufai anyway. Yep, the man never had to stand before people and ask for votes, and the National Assembly members who’re supposed to be watching him are all in his pocket.

The other day, a radio presenter said the ban was a good thing because it would make us all fit, and raise life expectancy in Abuja to 90 years. Had he been close by at that time, it would have taken an entire Mopol Battalion to get me off him.

If anything, the stress has increased, and the frustration on the faces of the people has deepened. Traffic jams have become a daily sight on Abuja roads, and people now have to trek long distances in the hot sun just to get to a bus.

Public transportation is not a service governments provide with a view to making a profit. Rather it is considered part and parcel of the social contract between the government and the people, as a social amenity.

And, since Nasiru is hell bent on copying everything from London, why doesn’t he bring the Tube over next? Oh wait, that would actually cost money and ease people’s lives. Silly me.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Gods, Generals and Garrison Commanders

Watching recent events in Ekiti State, one cannot help but wonder if the principal actors are flesh and blood mortals like the rest of us. For, with each passing day, they act with more flamboyance and arrogance than any of the characters that graced the court of Zeus at Mount Olympus.

Governor Fayose had his bases covered initailly- his good friend was the CJ, he had friends ready to be empanelled to "investigate" him, and the allegations would be rubbished. True to form, the first panel, returned a verdict of not guilty with a speed that would make Superman slink off in shame muttering, "Speeding bullet Okereke-Onyiuke's ass." (And believe me, my friends, that is some ass!)

But before the Governor could return to his office in truimph, an enraged Speaker had tossed the CJ out on his ear and installed a new one, who set up a new panel to hear the allegations. This time, the panel returned a verdict of guilty on all charges with such alacrity that it erased the record set scant days earlier. Fayose and his deputy were declared impeached, and the Speaker sworn in as Acting Governor. If there was some way to harness whatever energy they're using in the Ekiti State House of Assembly, Nigeria could yet win the Space Race. (Minister of Science and Technology, are you listening?)

With the tables turned on him, Fayose pulled a Houdini. Some claimed he was in Ghana, others said he was in London. Of these claims, the latter was the most easily discounted for as our elders say, "When the lizard in front falls into a pit, those behind take caution." And, given the wide berth our governors have been giving London since the travails of Alams, it would appear we all have the same elders.

Anyway, some said Fayose would soon reveal himself to the "shame" of his enemies. And soon, he did. The man issued a statement that he was still the governor, and was on vacation (in hiding), and his deputy would take over until his return. She soon marched on Government House, and entered her office, and had photos taken to show that she still "dey kamkpe".

Well, seeing as matters had gotten out of hand, Baba decided to step in with his cure for all manner of civil unrest - a declaration of a State of Emergency in Ekiti state, since in the words of PDP Chairman Ahmadu Alli, Ado-Ekiti is a "garrison t..." Sorry, that's Ibadan. Ah what the hell, they're both in the South-West, abi? Anyway, the troops have moved in to restore calm, and preserve law and order, and so on and so forth. Fayose is still nowhere to be found, and with the EFCC reportedly actively looking for his hide, I would suggest he stays wherever he is.

At this point I would like to make a suggestion for Baba. Perhaps Baba should create a special "State of Emergency" Battalion or Division within the Army. Baba could ensure that the Commander is rotated out while the men remain the same or vice versa. This way, when next Baba declares a state of emergency anywhere in Nigeria, we all could rest assured that the men in charge have the requisite experience in governing bloody civilians, and altercations will be kept to the bare minimum. This is especially important since Baba made short work of all officers with "political experience" he met within the Armed Forces when he took charge in 1999.

Like I said, it's just a suggestion.

Friday, October 20, 2006

National Unity

Almost every nation on earth at one time or another will go through an internal crisis which threatens its very corporate existence. The Americans (who shall serve as my prime example) had their Civil War, the French had their Revolution, various African nations have gone through civil wars, and even the English went through a phase where the King was as likely to be beheaded as crowned.

For Nigeria, the period from 1967 - 1970 will forever remain our darkest hour, for that was when "brother turned on brother" and we experienced our (only, I hope) Civil War.

For the Americans, their Civil War was about the southern farmer demanding his "right" to have his very own niggers picking his cotton while he lazed in the shade on his porch. Fortunately for black men everywhere, the south lost.

However, in the aftermath of the war, the issues leading up to it were faced squarely and strongly tackled. It was ensured that never again would any part of the country declare it "had no inheritance in the house of Jesse", and never again would American soldiers lose their lives in such vast numbers on their own soil. The south was fully reintegrated into the country, and all sins were forgiven. Today, the "vanquished" south can lay claim to both having produced more United States Presidents and being the deciding factor in American Presidential Elections than the "victorious" north.

Now, before certain persons try to transplant that last sentence, let me make one thing abundantly clear: At no time (and I stand to be corrected) in the history of American politics has the main issue revolved around whether a man born in Oregon can be allowed to contest an election in Florida when his parents are from Nebraska. Or the state of Vermont demanding its "turn" to produce the next President.

Nigeria's Civil War actually began shortly before Independence, on the day when Nnamdi Azikiwe stood for, and won, a seat in Lagos. Obafemi Awolowo was so incensed by this "victory of a stranger over a son of the soil" that he hounded Zik out of Lagos. Thus chastened, and awoken to the harsh realities of his country, Zik returned to the then Eastern Region with the statement, "There can be no One Nigeria." Not that he was calling for secession at the time.

Well, with Awo telling the Igbos to contest elections only on their home patch, the Hausas soon decided to give the Igbos the boot as well. For, if the Yoruba man declared the Igboman to have no political mandate in "Yorubaland", then why should the Igboman have an economic mandate in "Hausaland". Thus began the pogroms. Having been told by their brothers that they would not be allowed to enter their father's parlor, the Igbos decided to move to a new compound.

When the war erupted in 1967, the Federal Government was quick to deploy the slogan "One Nigeria" as its rallying cry. The Biafrans were bombed, blockaded, and starved into submission. With the war over in 1970, the PR Department went into overdrive. "No victor, no vanquished" was another choice slogan deployed by the government. The government initiated schemes to foster national unity such as the NYSC and the concept of Unity Schools.

36 years on, these schemes are yet to make any impact. The NYSC has been severely undermined (some say it should be scrapped altogether and replaced with one year of compulsory military service) with people refusing to accept postings to far north states, and vice versa, while the Unity Schools have been systematically looted and underfunded by the Government. And, true to form, rather than tackle the problem of corruption among the administrators of the schools, the Government is taking the cheapest and, most cowardly, way out with talk of "privatizing" them. This is, of course, in the keeping with the spirit of the IMF Poison Pills our rulers are bent on having us swallow.

Nigerians basically don't trust each other, and the stereotypes listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. As Peter Pan said in his book "The Complete Nigerian", it would not be unusual to hear Nigerians referring to each other as being from different countries. Which is actually true for the Bini, Oyo, Kanem-Bornu, and other Empires that existed here prior to the arrival of the British were as distinct from one another as England is from France. We were cobbled together as a nation by our colonial masters, and for good or ill, a nation we must remain. I do not subscribe to the "let's-all-go-our-separate-ways" slogan that some have touted. And I have no desire to take part in another Civil War. We do have problems, but we must solve them as a nation. As separate entities, our once weaker neighbors, and indeed the rest of the world, will be able to pick us off at will.

Whenever I think back to what happened in Lagos between Zik and Awo, I'm tempted to weep, for that was truly a golden opportunity to build a united, strong nation, and it was thrown away without a backward glance, or even a forward look. For, without that one colossal error in judgment, I could today run for office in Kano State without being told to "go home", while my brother could run for office in Imo State without being called a stranger. Then we could do like the Bush brothers, and he'd help me rig the election in his state so I could become President.

Is it too late for us? Not yet, but if we don't act fast, it might soon be.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Religious Intolerance

My good friend, Chxta, has spoken at length on this particular subject, and he has been vilified, castigated, chewed out, spat on, and promised an eternity in hellfire for his views. I’ve known Chxta since we were yea high tots. He is not controversial by nature, but he does always speak his mind. Regardless of whose ox is gored, whose chicken is run over, or whose cow was given to Mai Suya.

I was not baptized at an early age. In fact, it took full adulthood for me to become a “practicing Christian”. I did not begin attending church until my second year in the University. And I wasn’t Baptized or Confirmed until Law School. (Ja, I’m Catholic.) My old man had this weird policy: in matters of religion we were to be totally free to make up our own minds. As such, he told us we wouldn’t be forced to go to church if we didn’t want to, and we wouldn’t be forced to stay home if we did. My mother, herself a staunch Catholic, accepted this decision. As a result, while most other kids had to spend their Sundays going through interminable church services and utterly boring Sunday school replete with floggings for failing to recite the Ten Commandments properly, I spent my Sundays doing pretty much whatever the hell I wanted. Some are already shaking their heads at this terrible way of bringing up a child in the “path he should follow.” The thing is though, I wasn’t just given any old weed-threatened path to follow. The man gave me a 10-lane expressway complete with functioning street lights.

While my father didn’t put much stock in religious education (he never went to church, and still doesn’t go unless physically dragged on account of some special occasion or other) he did imbue all of us with a strong sense of right and wrong, and an annoyingly solid foundation of principles. He wasn’t overly strict with us, but if we screwed up, we sure as hell knew it. I learned it was wrong to steal, lie, and cheat, to respect my elders, and honor my father and mother, etc. without being told that these were orders from God. Rather, I learnt that some actions were wrong because they weren’t the right way to live. These principles are so strong, they stay with me to this day. The result – I can’t get a girl drunk and take advantage of her, and I couldn’t find it in myself to jump on the 419 bandwagon. I could have been a millionaire by now. Damn him.

Of course, we had CRK (Christian Religious Knowledge) in school, and I made an A in the subject in my WAEC. Did this mean I was a good Christian, subconsciously? Hell no. It just meant I was a rather smart student. But the fact that I could make an A in the subject while living an actively “pagan” lifestyle minus booze, weed, and women (they would come later) merely shows that I didn’t have to go to church to be able to answer questions about the Bible, and give correct quotations from it.

To wit, Christians and Muslims are God’s children. My proof – when Sarah found that she still couldn’t conceive, she told Abraham to take her servant and knock her up. Imagine that fellas – your wife telling you that not only is it okay for you to sleep with the housegirl, but that you’re permitted, nay ordered, to knock her up into the bargain. Wow. Abraham (strong man that he was) duly did knock up the housegirl, and she bore him a son named Ishmael. The housegirl then began carrying shoulder for her madam because she’d given oga a male child when madam couldn’t. Silly girl. She grossly underestimated the power of incumbency. In double quick time, she’d been kicked out along with her son, and sent into the desert. When they were on the point of death, God sent his angel to her, and he opened up a well for herself and her son to drink. Also fulfilling God’s promise to Abraham that he would father many nations for Ishmael’s descendants can be found in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman etc. Ishmael's descendants also constitute the vast majority of the Muslim population in the world today. And, since the world generally accepts the first-born theory, Ishmael’s descendants hold the rightful claim to being Children of God.

Which brings me to all the “Muslims-are-going-to-hell-and-so-are-you” people Chxta has had to contend with.

Consider this scenario: As a missionary you are sent to a remote village, where no one has previously carried a Bible into. On arriving there, you’re told a certain man just died. While he was alive, this man was a paragon of virtue. He never stole, told a lie, cheated his business associates, took another man’s wife or land, was generous to a fault, would give you the shirt off his back if you happened to need it more than he did, and generally observed what you call the Ten Commandments. Would you tell the villagers that because this man had never heard of God, he was destined for hell? I put this question to a certain “Born-Again Christian” (BAC) and she said yes- the man was on his way to hell. I beg to differ. If God truly sees all things, and knows all things, then a man who lived his life in accordance with the Ten Commandments even though he’d never heard of them, would certainly not be on his way to eternal suffering for being a good and principled man. If he’s not allowed into Christian Heaven, at least he’ll be sent to Valhalla. And that is on the assumption that there is segregation in Heaven, which I seriously doubt. This BAC held on to her views, and began machine-gunning Bible quotations at me to back up her claims. However, when I lobbed a few quotations from the same Bible in her direction, she fired the BAC standard response at me – “even the Devil knows the Scriptures.”

It is my firm belief that no matter what religion you practice be it, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Sun Worshipper, or whatever, it is the ultimate height of arrogance and indeed ignorance to insist that whomsoever doesn’t kow tow to the same faith as you do is bound for damnation. Nobody knows where he or she will end up. Granted, it would appear on the surface that Muslims are much more prone to violent reactions to any denigration of their religion, but for those willing to cast their minds back through history, the Crusades were about Christians trying to force others to their religion. Colonialism, a crass rape of other people’s natural resources and subjugation of their freedom, was carried out under the banner of “taking God to the Godless.” As one writer famously remarked, “They took our land and our freedom and gave us Bibles.” No doubt the early sermons were all about turning the other cheek. Galileo was excommunicated by the Church for daring to insist that the world was round and orbited around the sun. I think most people have heard about the Spanish Inquisition. And, if that trip through history is too far for some people to take, cast your minds back to Waco, Texas, and the Christian fanatic who caused hundreds of his followers to end their lives via mass suicide. Timothy McVeigh, who carried out the Oklahoma City bombing, was a Christian. The white men who shipped our millions of our people off to work their cotton fields in the “New World” were good Christian men. The men who fire-bombed black churches in the southern United States were Christians. The men who hung black men from trees were Christians. They waved their Bibles freely to show that their actions were sanctioned by God. Adolph Hitler was a Christian. George W. Bush, a man who has plunged the world into previously unimaginable chaos is a Christian.

Hell, had “The Da Vinci Code” been written some centuries ago, Herr Braun would have since confessed to giving Eve the apple, convincing David to go out to his roof to see something interesting, and wielding the spear at Christ’s crucifixion, amongst others. Then he would have been barbecued. (There are some who insist that he be given that very treatment even today!)

Clearly, Muslims do not hold the monopoly on extremism. Yes, many are touchy about their religion, but who isn’t? And the fact that some of them resort to violence and back it up with quotes from the Qu’ran doesn’t mean they’re all that way. I’ve met Muslims who quote from the same Qu’ran to show that Islam is a religion of peace and brotherhood.

The other day I read on a Nigerian’s blog that Arabs were “murdering sand niggers.” That fellow has my undiluted pity for his is a mind so shallow an ant wouldn’t drown in it.

We live in a complex, complicated, dangerous, and, sometimes, downright crazy world. We will always have our differences, quarrels will always flare up, but if we can’t or won’t learn to live and work together, perhaps whatever God we individually pray to is already shaking His head in regret.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Confusion Break Bone

Fela (the inimitable) once sang about 'double wahala for dedi bodi'.

We've certainly had our fair share of elected (selected, imposed...take your pick) rulers behaving like first class twats in this country, but I think that never in history have we been cursed with such a bunch of greedy, clueless, dunces in our political class. As a lawyer, it is doubly painful that our judges are everyday showing they have as much spine as an amoeba colony.

The current comedy playing itself out in Ekiti State bears witness to this. When the State House of Assembly asked the Chief Judge of Ekiti State to set up a panel to investigate the allegations against the state governor, Ayo Fayose and his deputy, they couldn't have had any idea that the panel would be made up exclusively of the beleaguered governor's friends, contract beneficiaries and family members. Talk about a jury of lions trying a lion for the murder of an antelope. The Panel swiftly cleared the governor of any wrongdoing and the State House of Assembly went apeshit.

They suspended the CJ and installed a new one who immediately set up a new panel to hear the same allegations. I'm not going to bother quoting from the Constitution as my colleagues who will besiege the national dailies with articles on the same matter will no doubt do. I will say, in layman's English, that the SHA had no authority to do what it did. Granted, the sumbitch had allowed the governor get off scot-free, but there are proper channels to take in handling such recalcitrant fellows.

Now, the governor says he's been cleared, the suspended CJ says he's still in power, the Chief Justice of Nigeria has condemned the suspension, lawyers are spitting fire left right and center, and the poor continue to suffer. To my mind, Ayo Fayose is no better than an illiterate, two-bit tout who was lucky enough to kiss the right asses during the 4/19 elections of 2003. He is living proof of the adage 'You can take the man out of the motor park, but you can't take the tout out of the man' or something along those lines.

Should the new panel indict the governor (which it will) then we are set for a very long night.

For a state which boasts the highest number of professors per family in the entire country, they're sure behaving like a bunch of morons.

dedi bodi get accident. double wahala for dedi bodi.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Rumble In Aso Rock

Like most of my countrymen, I have watched with increasing alarm the downright spiteful attitude our Vice-President, Atiku Abubakar has taken towards our beloved, internationally respected, highly decorated war hero and President, the man we fondly call Baba, Olusegun Obasanjo. Atiku has shown utter disrespect to the man who brought him into government. When the issue of constitutional amendment came up, Atiku not only went against his principal, he resorted to threats against those who sought to exercise their right to freedom of speech and to vote according to their conscience. When he tried to hold a potentially violent demonstration and the Police duly broke it up, he repaired to the premises of one of his co-conspirators against the people where he told blatant lies about Baba. He said Baba did not want to leave, and in fact, had hatched his plans several months in advance. All that meant was that Baba is a visionary, for he saw that his people would demand that he carry on. At the Public Hearings on Constitutional Amendment, we, the people, duly and resoundingly asked for Baba to carry on as our leader for as long as he saw fit. One stupid man waving a piece of paper he called an injunction could not stand in our way. We wanted Baba, and made our wishes clear. When Atiku saw that his bid to stop Baba at that point had failed, he resorted to all manner of lies and untruths. He claimed he had been harassed by agents of Baba. He pointed to changes in his personal staff as an example of the said harassment. Please, Mr. Vice President, Baba only acted out of concern for your safety. Then Atiku somehow managed to convince the AIT (a previously respectable news network) to assist him in his plans to subvert the will of the people. It was so bad that AIT refused many appeals from the National Assembly to take their cameras out of the chambers to allow the Honourable members conduct their business in peace.

Now, with Baba having exposed Atiku for the greedy, morally bankrupt and corrupt individual that he truly is, one would have expected a man with a shred of honor left in his black heart to simply admit his guilt and resign his high office…

I can’t go any further. My ribs are aching badly. I think I need an x-ray.

The mud wrestling match between Baba and Turaki so far has been of truly epic proportions, so much so that I've been waiting to see Vince McMahon pop his head round a curtain and say, 'That's a wrap, good job guys.' Woody Allen couldn’t have scripted a better comedy than this, and Charlie Chaplin (rest his dear soul) couldn’t have performed in a better one. I can hardly wait to see the Dailies each morning. Baba has opened up a barrel of toxic worms, and he forgot to wear his bio-hazard suit. Because, if this is his best shot, then it is a colossal embarrassment from a so-called tough guy. A two-day old baby could hit harder than this. Now, before anyone out there calls me an Atiku man or some similar bull, let me make myself perfectly clear: I am nothing of the sort. I simply call it like I see it and, personally, I believe Atiku is most definitely NOT clean. But, if this is how Baba planned on taking him down, he's got another think coming.

When I heard of an EFCC report of the Veep, I expected to see all the sordid details of his deals at the BPE revealed. I expected to read how he managed to sell Nigeria's crown jewels to himself and a few greedy friends. I expected the full details of the scam that was the 8th All Africa Games. I expected to read about crude oil lifting, fuel importing, millions of dollars gone missing, etc. Instead, what do I and millions of other Nigerians get? A limp, soggy, and quite frankly, pathetic noodle of an EFCC report that was probably dictated by Baba to Nuhu Ribadu in council.

A six year old reciting by rote couldn’t convict Atiku of anything based on this particular EFCC report. If Baba and Nuhu Ribadu are saying that all they have to hang their case on is a single disbursement of 125 million dollars from the PTDF, and they expect Atiku to be barred from contesting the 2007 polls on that ground, and have in fact tried to see to it that he is through what I can only call a Cockroach Panel made up of Baba’s loyal supporters, then they should please make public the name and phone number(s) of their igbo supplier.

Atiku must have laughed his head off when he read their report, and he has since swatted away the allegations with contemptuous ease. He has gone further to turn up the heat on Baba and his friends by raising, once again, the issue of the EFCC report on the 53 Billion Naira fraud at the NPA under Bode George.

It is public knowledge that Baba sat firmly on the report (not once but twice) to protect his good friend and party colleague. For the same man to come out and say the investigation of Atiku stems from his “zero tolerance” policy for corruption simply beggars belief. Sounds like the very picture of Zero Tolerance.

Monday, September 11, 2006

The Robin Hood Complex

Virtually every adult is familiar with the old tale of Robin Hood and his band of merry men. He has been celebrated by Hollywood, with such greats as Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner, Cary Elwes and, more recently, Asari Dokubo, taking on the role of the man in green tights.

For those who are unaware, I'll give a brief synopsis of the story. Robin Hood was born Robin of Locksley, to a rich landowner in medieval England. Against his father's wishes, he ran off to war, and fought in one of the crusades where he was captured by the Turks, and spent some years in prison. On his escape, he returned to England to find his father had been murdered by the Sheriff of Nottingham, who was plotting with the King's brother to overthrow him. Robin wouldn't stand for treason, and turned to a life of crime. He began stealing from the rich friends of Nottingham, and distributing their ill-gotten wealth among the poor, oppressed masses. You could say he was the first English Communist. Of course, the authorities didn't find his actions amusing, and duly put a price on his head and tried mightily to capture him, but always failed. Ultimately, he triumphed over his enemies, and blah blah blah. Or he was betrayed by a woman and killed. The end of the story is rather murky.

Which brings me to Naija, and the spate of kidnappings of white men in the Niger Delta. The kidnappers claim to be acting out of righteous indignation over the blatant neglect of their communities by the government, and the rape of their land by the multinational oil companies. Since they can't get their hands on the perpetrators in Abuja, they resort to kidnapping expatriate oil workers, and making demands that the oil companies should leave their land and so on and so forth. Some people step in, negotiations are carried out, money changes hands, and the hostages are released.

Now, since the criminal act was carried out for the greater good- namely Justice for the people of the Niger Delta, we would have expected news crews to be invited to videotape the kidnappers returning to their villages as heroes and sharing the ransom money equally to each and every home. Or purchasing medicines and sharing them. Or paying a firm to carry out a clean-up of the environment.

We are still waiting.

Rather, what has occured is that more and more "militant groups" are springing up daily. Each trotting out the same hackneyed slogans. Then they go out, grab a white man, and wait for their share of the booty. For, make no mistake, this has turned into no more than a lucrative criminal venture. Had these people been acting out of truly altruistic motives, we'd have heard about it by now.

Asari Dokubo, who styled himself a freedom fighter, was no more than a political thug who assisted in the greatest rape of the people's mandate ever witnessed in this country, and was well paid for his efforts. None of those proceeds went anywhere outside his immediate family circle. He became a "freedom fighter" when the governor refused to take his side in a turf war. It was at that moment, we are expected to believe that his conscience awoke from its coma and began directing his affairs. Suddenly, his middle name became Mujaheed, and he and his army of thugs and layabouts quickly adopted some nice sounding slogans. When the Federal Government offered to pay him 250,000 Naira for every gun he surrendered, he rapidly turned in some 85 AK47s. By my admittedly horrible mathematics, that computes to about 21 million naira and some change. Not a kobo went to his community. When the government invited him to wine and dine in Abuja, he went gleefully, perhaps expecting to wash down his new friendship with Baba with some oil contracts. (He was already engaged in illegal bunkering by the way.) Baba wined him, dined him, then asked him to return. On his return, he was swiftly arrested. He now cries foul. Tell me, did Che Guevara ever agree to wine and dine with the government? Of course not. Any true freedom fighter knows in his gut that the government is only out to destroy him. A criminal kingpin, on the other hand, only sees the next big score.

DSP Alamieyeseigha (aka Alams), erstwhile governor of Baylesa State, famous for his immortal statement "What is 100,000 pounds to a whole governor?" (that's pounds sterling, not biafran pounds), went on a jamboree to Europe. While he was governor, his only exercise was the systematic looting of the public till, so much so that he had a million pounds (sterling) in cash in his house in London. Upon his arrest, he claimed he was being victimised for fighting for the rights of his people. For fighting for more derivation. What had he done with the vast sums already at his disposal? I once had cause to visit Yenagoa, the Bayelsa state capital, while Alams was guvnor. I found only one tarred road, which stopped immediately after government house. The billions of naira accruing to his state every month had done no more than pad his foreign accounts. Yet, after being arrested and charged with corruption, he's suddenly a "victim".

The numerous militants in the Niger Delta today have displayed guts, and daring. They're young, cocky, unemployed, and naturally, restless. They've seen a lucrative opportunity and are scrambling to get involved before the gravy train stops rolling.

But, modern-day Robin Hoods, they most certainly are not.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Back Again

Hi folks. It's been quite a while hasn't it. I know y'all have missed my dry wit and vastly superior intellect. (I'm allowed to psyche myself, right?) I'm currently a corper-shun (whatever the hell that means) which has severly limited my free time, and consequently, limited my online time, and consequently, my ability to frequently update my blog. Consequently... Remind you of anyone? I'll give you a hint - he was never seen in public without his customised Ray Bans.

Anyway, since I've been gone, third term has come and gone. IBB has declared he'll be running for president come 2007. He apparently wants a chance to put his past wrongs right and reclaim his lost place in the hearts and minds of all Nigerians. He's really sorry for all the things he did (insert healthy guffaw here), and would really like us all to know that he's now a changed man (insert preferred cliche here).

Also, the political scene has truly heated up with the assasinations of Funsho Williams in Lagos, and Daramola in Ekiti. That these latest crimes will probably never be solved have received the incredibly short odds from William Hill (a reputable online betting firm) of 1/1. IGP Sunny Ehindero (a misnamed fellow if I ever saw one) trotted out the flogged to death slogans of "no stone left unturned" and "no effort will be spared" etc. If these guys worked in a quarry, they'd put Fred Flintstone out of work in an hour.

In the wake of these killings, no fewer than 307 aspiring politicians have applied for Police protection (insert incredulous laugh here). It is obvious to a blind man on the street that if Bola Ige, a serving Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, could be murdered while being guarded by a full detachment of Mobile Policemen, then the last place anyone should seek protection (especially a politician)is from the Police.

Mayhap an ethnic militia of some sort would be a more credible alternative...

P.S. Congrats to my man Chx. They tried, but they just couldn't hold you down. Remember to pack ya sweater sha o. I hear say that side dey cold well well. Unless you get hot water-bottle... :D

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

When the issue of tenure elongation first reared its ugly head, not a few die-hard optimists were of the view that Baba would not succumb to any of that rubbish. Some said it was simply a strategy designed to keep those hoping he would be a lame duck president on their toes. Still more said that the mere fact that Baba could come out openly and say he was under pressure was his way of asking Nigerians to get those monkeys off his back.

During the NPRC, there was a mighty uproar over the smuggling in of a "draft" constitution containing a single five-year term for Governors and the President. The man responsible for this particular shenanigan was none other than that venerable AGIP (Any-Government-In-Power) Chairman, Professor Jerry Gana. Now here's a creature with longevity. He has served in every government since before I was born. And whether his oga wore khaki or agbada, he has given each one his all. It's a wonder the man still has anything left in his tank. The members of the NPRC refused to consider the document and threw it out.

If anyone thought that was the end of the matter, they were grossly mistaken. Not long afterwards, with the NPRC report gathering dust somewhere in Aso Rock (as documents of this nature are bound to do), the National Assembly embarked on a Constitution Review exercise. Normal, right? Wrong. First of all, the "public" hearings were scheduled for only six out of 36 states, in the name of "geo-political zones". Then the hearings were moved to cities which were most definitely not major e.g. Osogbo for the South-West Zone instead of Lagos.

After the orchestrated hearings, which disobeyed a court order stopping them by the way, Senator Mantu declared that in the light of the "great clamor" by Nigerians, the committee would be including a recommendation for the President to serve 3 terms of four years.

To be continued...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Long Time No See

It's been a while, folks. No vex. I dey for Now Ya Sufferin Continues.

Since I've been gone, a lot has happened in our great country Nigeria. It is now officially unsafe for a white man to walk the streets in Warri, they did some nonsense head-count called Census, and they approved an amendment to the constitution to allow Uncle Sege and his cronies another four years in power.

Although it has not yet been passed by the National Assembly, they've said all it takes is to open the NNPC and flood the place with dollars. Knowing the bunch of greedy old men we have in that place, I won't be very surprised if that's exactly what happens.

Of course, there are those who have fought against the third-term nonsense. I feel it is a massive insult to tell a nation of more than 140 million that there is only one man fit to rule them. At least, Baba and his boys are yet to start running commercials on NTA with his face on a key a la Abacha, but don't think that they can resist that gimmick for very long. Afterall, it worked for the dark-goggled one, even though an Indian apple cut short his planned enjoyment of the office.

Sege was recently seen on a visit to the White House wringing his wrists and turning from side to side like a naughty pupil summoned to the Headmaster's office. Someone explained that the White House was very cold that day, and we all know that Baba is much advanced in years and can't take sudden changes in temperature that well anymore. He was merely trying to keep warm as best he could, and that it had nothing to do with George W.'s glacial reception to the idea of tenure extension for Baba.

After that meeting, Baba told reporters that a third term was "not on the cards.... For now."

We are now waiting for a third term to be "on the cards". Perhaps then, Baba will tell us whether he's running or not.

Any bets on him not running?

About Me

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I love my country, enjoy a cold beer once in a while, rabidly support Arsenal FC, but I don't get Diet Coke...