Friday, November 21, 2008

The Divine Obama

“The Bible says, ‘Thou shall not kill.’ Fuck that shit!”
– Staff Sergeant Sykes,

“God is the most unproductive industry in Nigeria.”
– Unknown

On November 4, 2008, history was made in America. A black man, born of a Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, was elected President of the United States. In a country where ownership of Negro slaves had sparked a civil war, and where race based discrimination sparked violent post-war clashes, and gave rise to organisations dedicated to teaching the “niggers” their place, where black leaders who dared to confront the hypocrisy of the white establishment head on were brutalized and sometimes murdered, it was nothing short of earth-shaking.

Since the elections, there have been death threats issued against Obama, and reports have come in of significant increases in traffic on white supremacist websites. For such people, the emergence of Barack Hussein Obama as President of “the country their white daddies fought and died for” is the ultimate kick in the teeth. What made his victory even more annoying is that without the massed support of white folks like themselves, apparent traitors to the cause.

Among this fringe of right wing lunatics are God-fearing folk, the Evangelical Christians, the ones who believe most ardently in miracles. Were the white portion of the electorate composed solely or mainly of these people, Obama would never have won the Democratic Party’s nomination, let alone the election proper. Which brings me to my country.

Some days after the election, before the euphoria had begun to fade, I engaged in a conversation with a certain young lady of Pentecostal inclination, who, to my mind are the Nigerian equivalent of American Evangelicals. And she told me, most vehemently, that Obama’s victory was “ordained by God” and for that reason, and that reason alone, he had won the election. She went further to say that a certain Nigerian pastor had prophesized that a black man would rule America, and the victory was proof that the pastor was perhaps God’s closest confidant. Never mind that the same pastor had once “prophesized” that Baba would not complete his second term in office.

After recovering from my initial slack-jawed amazement, I asked her if she had ever heard of Dr. Martin Luther King (a pastor himself) and his “I Have a Dream” speech in which he had looked forward to the events of November 4 some 40 years ago. She said, and I quote directly, “That one is his own.” At that point, you could have knocked me over with a quark. Never mind the stark irrationality that formed her opinions. Her views, for me, displayed one of Nigeria’s biggest problems.

America operates, and is guided, by the doctrine that every man who wishes to make something of his life is free to do so, and not only that, he is free to oppose any person who tries to take away his right to the pursuit of happiness. Within certain legal bounds, of course. A central theme of Monarchies is that the King (or Queen) has been appointed by God, and is the representative of God on Earth. Thus, disobedience to the crown is equal to disobedience to God, and shall attract severe penalties on Earth and in Heaven. The resounding rejection of this theme is what created America. And throughout history, it has been shown that where the wishes of God directly oppose the wishes of men, men have their way. The Bible says that at a point, the Israelites turned to their Prophet who was their de facto ruler, and said to him “We want a King, a man who shall rule us.” The Prophet told them God was their King, and they basically told him, “That one is his own.” They got their King.

Nigerians are always too willing to subsume their wishes and their will, and leave everything “for God.” It never crosses their minds that nations make progress by basically saying, “X and Y is what we wish to achieve, and if God is with us right now, fine. If not, He’ll come around to seeing things our way eventually.” A while ago, Baba had the balls to tell Nigerians that only God could solve our problems. This coming from a man who had every opportunity to solve the said problems his own God damned self, but chose to do nothing. If God gave you free will, are you not expected to exercise it? Are you supposed to say, every single day, that rather than exercise your God-given will, you’d rather wait for God to come and solve your problems? When Abacha died, Nigerians jubilated, and many said that God himself had come to remove our problem. I say that Abacha, exercising his free will, took Viagra and had a heart attack, which killed him. Perhaps my people will tell me that God is the CEO of Pfizer?

In 2002, Baba delayed announcing whether he would run for a second term as President on the grounds that he was awaiting direction from God. So, it must have been God, then, who thwarted his ambition for a third term in office, abi? The courageous men and women of the Senate and House of Reps and AIT either had nothing to do with it, or were God’s tools. I’m sure if they had all sat on their asses, God would have given them the words and perhaps operated the cameras. Especially seeing as Nigeria is God’s own special constituency development project.

I’m sure the young lady mentioned earlier believes that if Obama had similarly sat on his arse, or misyarned as he saw fit, or run around buck naked every day for the last two years, he would still have become President because God had ordained it and a pastor had prophesized it. That Obama is, perhaps, the most inspirational political figure of the last 50 years, had nothing to do with it. That Obama is perhaps the most gifted orator of his generation also had nothing to do with it. That Obama ran the most disciplined political campaign of the modern era also had nothing to do with it. And that Obama one day determined that he would reach for the highest office in his land irrespective of all obstacles and challenges, and Bible-thumping Evangelicals, also had nothing to do with it.

In Nigeria we are waiting for God to give us good roads, 24 hour electricity, pipe borne water, fix our educational system, provide us with good leaders, and tackle corruption. However, when the most corrupt people in our country are the biggest contributors to religious causes, ensuring that religious leaders continuously pray that God will continue to grant them increase, and when that prayer requires God to permit them to continue to steal from the people, how then is God supposed to tackle corruption?

I despair for my country.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

NEPA In Space

Ok, so this isn't really funny, but I stand by the words of the great sage, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, which I shall paraphrase as follows: Why I dey laff? Man no fit cry.

On other worlds, and in alternate realities (by which I mean in other countries on Earth) satellites possess solar panels for main power, batteries for back-up power, and a little fuel for course corrections and such. The solar panels are of durable construction, having been refined over decades of research, and while they may eventually fail, their life span is measured in years, not months.

In Nigeria, accelerating in its quest to be unlike any other country on the planet, solar panels only last about 18 months. Which is why no one should be surprised that our brand new communications satellite, NIGCOMSAT-1, which cost us around N40 billion, has lost power, and been shut down to prevent it from crashing into other satellites from the aforementioned worlds and sparking an inter-planetary conflict.

It would be unimaginable in any other country that a piece of equipment which is still virtually brand new, and which was purchased at huge cost to the taxpayers could fail so soon, and nobody is brought to book. At the time of the launch of the satellite, most Nigerians didn't want the damned thing. And after its launch, many questioned the wisdom of purchasing a satellite possessing such antiquated technology that clouds could disrupt its operation.

As for the company NIGCOMSAT, it immediately engaged in a pissing contest with the NCC over who could determine the operation of the satellite, with the NCC arguing that it had supreme oversight when it came to the issuance of frequencies to customers, and NIGCOMSAT saying it could sell its frequencies to whomever it damn well pleased. That the satellite has been shut down puts an end to that quarrel.

One of the most disturbing aspects of the whole business, however, is not that a new satellite has failed already (which leads one to ask if the bloody thing was, in fact, new) but the fact that websites reporting on the matter can't seem to agree on what it cost Nigeria. Of those I've seen so far, the BBC and VOA say it cost $340 millon, Yahoo says it cost $311 million, and Space Mart said it cost $257 million. And we all know what that means, no?

As for Baba, who made sure to name the so-called "Space Center" in Abuja after himself, he should know that he has now achieved the impossible. He has managed to export NEPA into Space, and he should be applauded.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Race Relations In Nigeria

The world has just witnessed America handing it's mandate to a black man for the first time in its history. This election has made history in several ways, shattered many records, and gone a long way to restoring America's image abroad.

In the aftermath of the election, I have to ask myself several questions about racism in its many forms, especially as it relates to Africans and Nigerians in particular.

I read a book by Wilbur Smith where he described attitudes of Africans towards each other as racism. Looking at his explanation for his views, I found myself forced to agree with him.

Racism does not merely involve skin color, though that is its most common and easily identifiable form. It is also the form easiest to galvanise protest against. However, when people use racial sentiments to avoid sanctions for their violations of the law, by making statements such as "It's cos I'm black, innit?" that does tend to make skin color racism (in a way) more and more acceptable.

However, if we look back at our own histories, our ancestors never had any problems conquering and enslaving each other because of the color of their skin, which was predominantly black. There was no such thing as "African brotherhood" because they were too busy trying to create larger and larger empires.

The coming of the Europeans with their colonial governments provided a brief distraction from the vicious business of conquest, and gave the blacks a "common" enemy. The whites called them savages, and worse, and enacted their own conquests, using their juju of highly advanced weapons. Realising that they actually needed some of these "savages" in order to rule, they encouraged us to learn to read and write, and they utilised our men as soldiers in their wars. These men came back having seen that the whites actually weren't as superior as first thought, and the seeds of the independence movement were sown.

Well, we eventually got our independence, which allowed us to refocus on the most important issue of the day - conquering each other yet again. This time, using more sophisticated methods than full blown warfare.

You see, it is easy to characterise discrimination in Nigeria as tribalism, or whatever fancy name you want to give it. The simple fact of the matter is that it is Racism. Peter Pan, in his book The Complete Nigerian, tells us that Nigerians refer to those from different tribes as being from different "countries" and he's right.

America, a predominantly white nation, yesterday embraced a man of African (not even African-American) paternity, and declared him to be their President, by a crushing majority. In Africa, Obama would have been told to go to his father's country if he wanted to be President. And we are all black, aren't we?

In Nigeria, it remains impossible for an Igbo man to seek election outside the south-eastern part of Nigeria. A Bini man would do well to confine his political ambitions to Edo state. So far, only the Yourba and Hausa races have been permitted to rule this country, and talk of Hausa President Yar'Auda's ill health prompts shivers amongst the Hausa elite at the thought of Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, a man from a minority race, becoming President in his stead.

Is it because the majority races in Nigeria do not refer to the minorities as coons, porch monkeys, jungle bunnies, jigaboos, or niggers that we are inclined to say there is no racism? Is it because we have yet to catalogue any category of expressions as racial slurs that we are inclined to say there is no racism? Is it because the discrimination occurs between people of the same color that we are inclined to say there is no racsim?

In America, you can come from Poland, Russia, China, Japan, Nigeria, Uganda, England, France, Germany, or where ever, and even if you are not American, your children born in America and holding American passports will not be denied their rights to seek office, or better their station in life on your account. Because, like Barack Obama pointed out repeatedly, there is only the United States of America.

That is their greatest strength, and until Nigerians realise that there is only the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and that this ragged patch of Earth is our home, and begin to resist the same old politics of division, we will NEVER see any Obamas.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008

To Chxta's Unborn Son

My son, I cannot argue with the pearls of wisdom your father set out for you in his letter. Do not be alarmed at my choice of address, for you shall be as much Chxta's son as you shall be mine, and in all probability, you shall grow up calling me "Uncle" though we are not related by blood.

As someone who has known your father these many years, there are certain things I shall tell you here which he expects me to:

First of all, if you are anything like your father, the two of you are likely to have some serious clashes as you grow older. Do not take these to mean that your father is an old "Moustache Pete" or unwise in the ways of your generation. Our elders always said that what the old man sees while sitting, the young man shall not see even if he climbs the tallest tree. Rest assured that even though you shall be inclined to dismiss this as an attempt by the old to hang on to power, you shall eventually see the truth in those words, as we did.

Should you be inclined to follow in your father's professional footsteps, be sure to choose for yourself friends in fields as diverse from yours as possible, and make sure that at least one of your closest friends is a lawyer. Granted, you shall hear all sorts of jokes about lawyers, in fact, I'll probably tell you most of them, but believe me when I tell you, they are as important as your own right arm.

Never breach the trust of your friends over money or women. The first runs through your fingers like water, and the second runs through your money like... well, your ears are as yet too young to hear that particular similie. But never fear, for one day, when you're old enough, I'll tell it to you. That is, of course, if you haven't already learned it by then, or made up your own.

My home shall be as open to you as yours, and my office shall be likewise. Feel free to come to me with your problems, but know that if you do something deserving of an ass whopping, I will not keep it from your father. Of course, I shall plead on your behalf as to the extent of the ass whopping you'll get, but your father shall be free to disregard my sentencing recommendation if he wants to.

You can feel free to come to me with questions about things which your father may feel you're too young to know. Especially about sex.

The earlier you develop a capacity for cynical thought and ice-cold self-analysis, the better. In all things, keep an open mind, but always view the actions of those around you through the prism of self-interest. Of a truth, you shall occasionally encounter individuals with genuinely altruistic motives, and such persons are rare and your relationships with them should be carefully nurtured. When you come across those with purely selfish motives, play along until you can use their motives to serve your interests.

With friends you classify as "true" you must be open and honest. Say what you really feel about their choices and actions, and hold nothing back even if you fear you will hurt them or permanently damage your friendship. It may take years, but they will realise your worth. I can't imagine the amount of trouble I would have gotten into if I didn't have your father around to pour cold water on some of my more hare-brained ideas. And I have done the same for him, let me tell you. Your true friends shall be there for you when all else fails, and you must be as willing to make sacrifices for them as they are for you. In such ways are lifelong friendships established.

One area I openly disagree with your father is football. The game does have a very strong spirit, and if you allow it, it will possess you to the extent that you feel physically ill when your team underperforms, or simply plays like crap. But, much like being in love, you cannot be half in and half out of football. And I have a clue that although your father wishes you to be spared the demons of football, he shall be the one to introduce you to them, and smile while you shake hands. However, there are few better analogies for life than following a football team through the years. Some years are good, others are bad, some are downright terrible, but a true supporter sticks to his team no matter what because he understands that no one has the divine right to be on top all the time.

Between us, myself and your father may be able to do a reasonable job of bringing you up to be a principled gentleman, and as the English say, the most important thing you can learn about being a gentleman is when to stop being one.

And whatever you do, don't support Juventus. That way lies something else I shall have to explain to you at a later date.

I love you, as your father does. Be good, my son.

Your Uncle Oria.

Friday, October 17, 2008

What An Obama Victory Means For Africa, Really

"It's over. Cover the field. Get some bulldozers in here and turn this place into a parking lot!"

- Randy Quaid

Major League II

The above statement may or may not accurately describe the mood in the John McCain Campaign after today’s debate (the first one I have actually been able to stay up for). However, even if it is not accurate, it can’t be far off. Naturally, McCain’s campaign organisation will come out and claim victory. In a way, it was a McCain victory. He performed far better than in his previous two debate appearances, and even managed to look at Obama once in a while. But, I don’t think it was enough to swing the election his way. The way things stand now, come November 4, we may actually witness the election of America’s first black President, barring some unforeseen calamity.

Obama’s campaign to this point has been a reflection of the man himself. It has been calm, unruffled, and steady, qualities he showed again in the final debate. Watching on CNN, which had a split view of both candidates, you could virtually see some of McCain’s attacks bouncing off Obama’s smile. During some McCain attacks, he chuckled, and then refused to respond to them, instead choosing to focus on passing his message across. I think that infuriated McCain, who was desperate to provoke a negative reaction from Obama.

Now the Republican Party has to say to Americans, “Well, fair is fair. And if we lose the White House (as is looking increasingly likely) then y’all have to give us the legislature. You see, we can’t have Democrats in the White House, Senate, and Congress, it would be a monopoly!” Naturally, this line of argument completely ignores the fact that for the first six years of Dubya’s reign, he had a braying, overwhelmingly Republican legislature backing him up completely. Which allowed him to launch his country into a war which has cost the American economy $10 billion a month for the past three years. You do the math.

All the post-debate polls showed an overwhelming victory for Obama in the debate. Frankly, I thought that McCain started far better. He was sharp, his attacks were pointed and precise, and he had Obama on the back foot for about 20 minutes. He even scored points on the economy, which is supposed to be Obama’s forte. Obama looked and sounded flat, and slightly lethargic. I even commented to my brother that he seemed to have sprouted a few more grey hairs. Then came the turning point – when the moderator asked them about personal attacks, and attack ads. This is where, for me, McCain lost the opportunity to “whip Obama’s you know what” in the debate, which he was actually winning up to that point.

He allowed Obama lead him into the bear trap of his own words, and the chants at Sarah Palin’s rallies, and all he could do was whine about how Obama did not “discredit” the statements of Congressman John Lewis, comparing the atmosphere at a Sarah Palin rally with that of the Civil Rights Era. When Obama pointed out, in his infuriatingly calm manner, that the said Congressman was not speaking on behalf of the Obama Campaign, and further, the said Congressman had since issued a statement in which he admitted to having over-reacted, McCain said Obama still didn’t denounce the Congressman.

Then it was on to Bill Ayers who, as Obama pointed out, is a Professor in a University in Chicago, and that the Education Board McCain kept referring to actually contained Republicans. McCain kept trying to bring it up, and Obama kept deflecting it. And then Obama landed his own killer punch, pointing out that when people chanted “kill him” at Palin’s rallies, McCain never came out to denounce those people. McCain, determined to not only dig his own grave, but to build his own casket, and bury himself as well, responded that he could never denounce the “patriotic” Americans who attend his rallies!

For me, that finished McCain’s debate. On all issues which followed, Obama hammered him. He even got McCain to admit on live national television, that he planned to tax peoples’ health care benefits! That was a major coup, and no matter how the likes of Tucker Bounds try to dress that up, it was a huge blow for McCain’s healthcare plan. I predict some fancy footwork from McCain’s campaign over the next few days on that one.

Overall, I think McCain actually did well. Far better than I expected him to, in fact. Though, to tell you the truth, if all he had done was manage to stay in his seat without running around shouting “Mayday!” “Mayday!” and “Damn you Viet Cong, you’ll get nothing out of me!” he would still have exceeded my expectations. The bottom line is, McCain needed a game-changing performance, but he failed to produce one.

Now, here’s my cynical mind speaking to all you out there who think that Obama becoming President of Yankee will immediately make the US Embassy issue free visas to Africans to go and join their brother in celebrating his victory with the Owambe bash to end all Owambe bashes, think again. For one thing, Barack Obama is an American. By certain quirk of genetics, he inherited his father’s dark skin, though, truth be told, his mother’s genes must have been pretty strong, otherwise he’d have the traditional Kenyan skin of black coffee and not his milk chocolate complexion. My point is, he was raised by his American mother and her American parents after his African father had fucked off back to Africa. Sure, he visited Kenya once, to “connect” with his roots, but that’s just about it.

American's first, and most times, only interest, is and has always been, America. Sure, the election of Obama as President will be a shot of pure heroin to the America's international image, but that’s where it will end. The IMF and World Bank will still tell the self-centered African rulers to deregulate, and remove “subsidies”, while imposing economic “reforms” on the countries that are calculated to cause more problems while providing no solutions.

Indeed, with Obama as President, since he is such a likeable, well-spoken fellow, America might even be allowed to get away with more than it is currently allowed, which is just about anything it wants. One of Obama’s greatest weapons is his earnest demeanor, so imagine that demeanor being turned to the project of projecting America’s military might. Hell, he wouldn’t even have to threaten you with sanctions. All he’d have to do is smile at you and tell you how he understands your fears, and your cynicism, and how he’s here to change all that, and before you know it, you’ll be yelling at your wife to spray her best perfume and get in the bedroom to wait for him.

So far, America’s image has been that of the white man, oppressing Africans and others around the world. Heck, when the IMF and World Bank want to send officers into African countries, they send their totally indoctrinated blacks, who then recruit Africans, indoctrinate them, and send them off to do their master’s bidding. Imagine what would happen with a black American President, who is also of pure African descent. I imagine he would be besieged by offers to visit Africa, during which our rulers will throw our countries’ legs wide open for America to come and pillage and plunder. Heck, when an African ruler wants to prove stubborn, I’ll bet all Obama would have to do would be pick up a phone and begin the conversation with, “Help a brother out...”

So, with Obama as President, everything would change, and everything would stay the same. At least Kenya should be able to leverage having contributed some DNA to the first black American President into producing the Chairman of the AU for the duration of Obama’s reign.

That being said, I hope he wins so idiots like the one above get to eat crow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

America's Financial Crisis: Lessons For Nigeria

In an era in which the world is described as a "global village" the recent financial crisis in America has sent shockwaves throughout the world's economies. Much like a butterfly flapping its wings, the Wall Street hurricane which has succeeded in bringing down some of the world's most venerable financial institutions has caused similar storms elsewhere, with governments scrambling to ensure that their own markets are not caught pants down.

When the root causes of the problems on Wall Street are finally analysed, it will be clear that one factor above all precipitaed the crisis - greed. Enron's collapse was brought about by the fact that its executives were greedy, and using their lobbyists, they were able to remove what little government control there was over their actions, allowing them to rack up huge losses disguised as profits, while stuffing their pockets with money belonging to their numerous shareholders. The collapse of Enron was swiftly followed by that of Arthur Andersen, their principal accountant. The warning signs were there, but they were ignored.

A while ago, Sky News ran a story about how people, finding themselves mortgaged to the hilt, simply began transferring their mortgages to their credit cards, and walking away. The credit card and mortgage companies were left to sort out the mess.

Fast forward a few years, and the same scenario is being played out in the financial sector. Years of reckless borrowing to people who clearly could never repay loans has finally come back to bite the banks in the arse. Once upon a time, you couldn't get a credit card without the companies, in the words of Don Corleone, poking their noses up your very asshole to make sure you would be able to repay them, but suddenly, you could get a credit card on the internet. Laws that were enacted after the Wall Street crash of 1929 were repealed, and the wisdom of the 90s was get government off our backs, and leave everything to market forces. The free ride could not last, and it didn't.

Now, these same people are chewing their very fingers waiting for the U.S. government to come and bail them out. The champions of the free market economy are pushing hard for measures that seem right out of Karl Marx's playbook. The inherent hypocrisy is enough to make you laugh till you cry. The same companies who now want to go on what is essentially welfare, are the ones who lobbied for decades for the government to get out of the market. The same ones who built up that "free market" dogma that the IMF and World Bank have shoved down the throats of countries for years have suddenly discovered that they actually have a strong strain of Socialist DNA.

Not so long ago, South Korea found itself caught in the Asian financial crisis. The IMF came in with a rescue package, but there was a catch - the banks and other institutions that had been caught in the storm must not be bailed out by the government, but should be allowed to fail. Thousands of jobs were lost, pensions wiped out, but them's the breaks. The South Koreans must be viewing the talk of a $700 billion bailout package for Wall Street with bile in their teeth.

For our rulers in Nigeria, who seem hell bent on swallowing everything the IMF and World Bank tell us with little or no regard for the real world consequences of bad policy decisions, the rush by America to abandon the dogma of the "free market" should serve as a clear warning. If the very founders of the market economy are now in an almost unseemly hurry to queue up for their chance at the government tit, what right do they have to still tell us to "deregulate"? Afterall, right now they are all blaming deregulation for their troubles. If they had stronger government control, all this shit wouldn't be coming down now. The fact that the U.S government has virtually nationalised America's largest insurance company must not be lost on observers.

Someone once tried to convince me to purchase shares of a certain bank during a public offer. I asked him who determined the prices of the shares. "The market," was his slightly pompous reply. "And who is the market?," I asked. "We are," was his sheepish response. The consequences of allowing the market to run itself with little or no governmental oversight are being clearly seen on Wall Street, and don't let anybody tell you different. Indeed, the recent turmoil in the Nigerian stock market is also more proof of what happens when the market is left to run wild, as shareholders have seen the values of their investments crumble before their eyes. In fact, the bank whose shares I was being urged to buy have dipped dramatically below the price at which the public was made to buy them. In Nigeria, the stock exchange is "bearish" today and "bullish" tomorrow. Hell, one stock market magazine called it the "bearish bull" which is a load of bull.

Surely, were we to strictly follow the rules of "market forces" and apply the principles of the free market economy to Wall Street, all ailing companies would be allowed to fall, and corporate vultures would feast in joy. That they have not is more proof that some animals are indeed more equal than others.

I urge our rulers to take note of this undeniable fact - national interest trumps all other considerations. Even in America.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Who's Listening?

As Yawn'Adua prepares to obey a non-binding, fully reversible decision of the ICJ and hand over 300, 000 of his fellow countrymen to Cameroon in what will surely go down in Nigerian history as the most spineless decision ever taken by a President, one has to ponder what, exactly, are his motivations?

The military has said handing over Bakassi would place Nigeria at a serious strategic disadavantage, pointing out that our navy would need Cameroonian permission to enter Calabar, which is an economic hub. Moreover, the military high command has said Baba never consulted it on the strategic importance of Bakassi to Nigeria's territorial integrity. One would have expected the President to slam the brakes on the planned transfer in the light of such information. Yawn'Adua ignored his military advisers.

Legal luminaries have advised the President to appeal the ruling to the Security Council. Nigeria has played a massive role in ensuring peace in much of Africa, and has shouldered huge financial burdens for keeping UN Peacekeepers stationed in some hotspots. We could parlay this into sympathy for our cause, as nobody else can do what we do in Africa. Yawn'Adua ignored them too.

The National Assembly has protested the planned handover, telling the President that as the Green Tree Agreement signed between Baba and Paul Biya was never presented to it for ratification, the treaty is not binding on Nigeria and cannot have force. By international law, where a treaty must go through an internal process (ratification) before becoming valid, it remains invalid until it has gone through the required process. Yawn'Adua is either unaware of this rule (which is extremely unlikely) or has chosen to ignore it.

A Federal High Court has ruled that the handover must be suspended pending the determination of a suit filed before it by the indegenes of Bakassi. Yawn'Adua has, well, yawned at the Court, and in so doing, has also yawned at his "rule of law" jingle.

Bakassi is credited with holding hundreds of millions of barrels of crude oil, and billions of cubic metres of natural gas, making it a hugely important piece of Nigerian real estate. Yawn'Adua has ignored this fact as well.

And then, there are the people of Bakassi. They have said over and over again that they are Nigerians and not Cameroonians. They have told the government to ask the UN to conduct a plebiscite in the region, as the right of a people to self determination has long been acknowldeged as a fundamental right by the UN. Any plebiscite would surely result in the territory being declared Nigerian. They hold Nigerian passports, and vote in Nigerian elections. Yawn'Adua has ignored them too. And why not, when he knows that their votes don't count?

And this last, is perhaps the most criminal. As long as our rulers choose to ignore the legitimate aspirations of the people, and as long as the ordinary Nigerian continues to be treated as a faceless and voiceless entity, there can NEVER be any progress, and there can be no hope, and there can be no future for this country.

And as long as our rulers continue to put themselves and their selfish personal interests first, as long as they continue to close their eyes to the fact that it is in their best interests to see that there is equity and justice in the country, and as long as they continue to block their ears to the cries of pain and suffering emanating from the streets, there can be NO future for them.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Last Laugh

In the dying embers of Baba’s tenure-elongation scheme, he decided to do something to Nigerians for which he would never be forgotten.

It is well known that Baba does not forgive any slight, real or perceived, and the collective refusal of Nigerians to allow him turn himself into a life President was a major slap on his person. Afterall, was he not our (self-proclaimed) Messiah? Hadn’t he led us single-handed out of the dark era of military dictatorship? So, for us to disregard all that and proceed to tell him to leave when his 8 years were up proved we Nigerians were indeed a most ungrateful bunch of people. And our “elected” representatives were no better. Ken Nnamani, who he made Senate President over the objections of his colleagues turned round to stab him in the back by refusing to banish the television cameras of AIT from the Senate Chambers during the 3rd Term Debates. This act, allowing the debates to be broadcast live to all Nigerians, forced some of his most vociferous private supporters to become public detractors for fear of their family and property. And then, there were the utter bastards who took his bribes of cash, bought their official quarters at rates which make “knock-down” look like “mark-up” and then stood up and denounced his tenure elongation plan. Of course, they knew his hands were tied – he couldn’t ruddy well come out and accuse them of corruption and hand them over to the EFCC, he’d have to arrest himself too! Perish the thought. And then of course, there were the ordinary Nigerians, the ingrates who popped beer and jubilated at his failure. They were deserving of his most special ire. After all he had done for them, they couldn’t even allow him rule them for life. Surely the furies were watching his travails and would support him in his next course of action.

So, Baba declared that winning the 2007 Elections was a do-or-die affair. He then proceeded to orchestrate the most shambolic elections in the history of elections in the history of the world. International observers even said they were worse than when he gave himself a second term in office, and previously, Nigerians had considered those elections to be the height of farce. Baba showed us how completely wrong we were. As the utterly unacceptable results poured out of INEC, it seemed that surely there would be some unrest across the country.

However, Nigerians seemed wise to the fact that unrest would be a great excuse for Baba to declare a national state of emergency and use that as an excuse to remain in power. So we all kept quiet and allowed him do what he wanted.
However, his best parting shot was the man he chose to replace him in power. Having scoured the length and breadth of the country searching for a suitable replacement, he chose Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. And what a replacement he has been.

On taking office, he vowed to provide Nigerians with real leadership, and promised us a government that would respect the rule of law. He was even reported to have told off the leadership of the PDP when they argued against his planned government of national unity. For a few weeks, it looked like Nigerians would ultimately thank Baba for something afterall.
But we were wrong again. Baba had chosen his man well, a good-intentioned fellow who also happened to lack the cojones to see through any planned reforms to the system.

Little by little Yar’Adua succumbed to the pressures mounted on him from without to preserve the status quo. The Teachers’ Strike which he allowed to occur, and run for 5 weeks without check was straight out of Baba’s playbook. And when he intervened in the impeachment of the Adamawa State governor, it was clear that he had finally turned his government over to the dark side.
His foot-dragging on implementing the budget 8 months into the year can only be described as callous. He has also earned himself several unflattering nicknames such as “President Go-Slow”, “Yawn’Adua”, and “Umoru” which is the name Baba gave him while calling him during the “campaign” to ascertain whether he was alive or dead.

Now, Nigerians are seeing a truly rare phenomenon here – a lame-duck first-term President. We get bombarded daily by "7 Point Agenda" adverts on NTA, with little or no action on ground to back it up. Government has virtually stagnated, capital projects haven't taken off even though the year is all but gone. And to make things even worse for Yawn'Adua, some have begun grumbling that at least Baba's government had purpose (however misguided) and was visibly active (however pointless). Yawn'Adua's government appears totally comatose by comparison.

Nigerians expected positive action, and so far all we've gotten are a bunch of pointless probes, where the probers are so utterly terrified of pointing fingers in the proper direction that they would rather gloss over serious issues to chase shadows. For instance, the Power Probe found that Baba waived due process and ordered companies that didn't even exist paid in full. When they spoke of inviting him to appear, all he did was send them the huffiest letter imaginable, and they turned tail and ran. Next we heard they were recommending that the "companies" refund the money, but saying nothing about the man who made it possible for them to get it in the first place.

It looks for all the world like Baba is being treated as a sacred cow. Or chicken...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Rodeo Drive?!

So, our head honchos have, once again, gotten it completely... wrong.

Yesterday, it was announced that plans have been approved to construct a N50 Billion "Abuja Boulevard" stretching from Eagle Square to the National Hospital. It was said by a smiling (I assume) FCT Minister, that this would elevate Abuja to the status of other world-class cities in the world. The Boulevard will "boost tourism" and be a "24-hour business and shopping hub" and so on and so forth, ad nauseam. It was also said that the development will allow Abuja compare favourably with Rodeo Drive. Such is the extent of our rulers' ambition. Rodeo Drive is a street in some city in California, in good ole US of A. Our rulers want our national frakking capital to compete with a street in a state in another country!

It was also announced, for all ye lucky landowners in the area, that the premiums on land will go up from N2,000 per square meter to between N50,000 and N70,000 per square meter. Naturally, those who cannot afford the new rates are welcome to surrender their Cs-of-O and be reassigned plots elsewhere. And, before anyone dared quibble or grumble about the insane hike, Alhaji Modibbo informed us that MTN and Globacom are already chomping at the bit. Then before any fingers or hands were raised, Modibbo, with a combination of glare and growl that would have Segun Arinze turn green with envy, stated that the days of people getting a "free ride" from government are over. Said he, people got the land cheap in the old days, and when government has finished investing in infrastructural development, these people now sell their land for huge profits, and this is unfair! What kind of twisted logic produces that kind of statement? So, people should not sell land anymore because the government did its frakking job and provided development?

And then, here's the kicker - Alhaji Modibbo said areas whose value will be boosted "indirectly" by the presence of the boulevard will also have their premiums increased. This is likely to have landlords jumping for joy, and tenants groaning in pain seeing as the measure for determining exactly how and to what degree this indirect boost will be applied is as yet unkown. Well, Wuse II, is likely to be one, as well as Maitama, and Garki. And, since the Boulevard is going to head across Zone 6, the rest of Wuse will be in line for a value boost. How, you ask? Quite simple. If the presence of Abuja Boulevard indirectly boosts the value of land in Zone 6, making the said Zone a "choice area" then the boosted value of land in Zone 6 should indirectly boost the value of other Zones by their proximity to the choice areas, and so on and so forth. Heck, before you know it, the premium on land in Bwari will be boosted by being indirectly enhanced by its closeness to Dutse, which was boosted by its closeness to Gwarimpa, which was boosted by its closeness to Wuse II, which was boosted by its closeness to the Boulevard!

Don't you just love the frakking logic?

Here we are, myriad crises facing our government such as the situation in the Niger Delta, and the fact that electricity has been relegated to a pipe dream, and the fact that roads are shockingly bad, and the fact that there is no security of lives and property, and the fact that our teachers have finally gotten pissed off enough to challenge the insincerity and double-faced nature of government promises, and the fact that corruption is a way of life, and a thousand and one other problems, and all they can think of is Abuja Boulevard. They should all get medals for their innovative thinking. So, here's the rub, dear readers: in the spirit of reallocation of land, it is quite likely that the hapless landowners who cannot afford the new outrageous premiums on their land, will likely be reassigned to plots in Kubwa or Bwari, or, come to think of it, Abaji. Their land will then be in all probability reallocated to varied PDP stalwarts, and then the said stalwarts will get to resell the land to those who are expected to jostle for spaces in the area at profits that will have their account officers smiling all the way to the bank.

And, naturally, in the new spirit of the rule of law, anyone who doesn't like it can go *@&!#%. Or head for the Abuja Land Use Tribunal (which is pretty much the same thing).

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rewriting History

I would have blogged about this the very day I saw the headlines, but work has kept me offline for a while.

A few days ago, people gathered for prayers to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the passing of the dark-goggled one, Gen. Sani Abacha. While alive, Abacha was recognised by the majority of Nigerians to be a violent kleptomaniac, who was only interested in hanging on to power at all costs, while filling his pockets with as much money as he could grab. It was said that once, the then CBN Governor had the temerity to notify Khalifa (as he was called) that there was no more Naira in the Treasury. Enraged, Khalifa picked up his telephone and ordered more money printed just to satisfy his cravings. I certainly cannot forget the "five fingers on the same leprous hand" which he styled as political parties during his divinely truncated "transition" programme. Or the senseless, spineless, and utterly insulting adverts that the NTA shamelessly aired proclaiming Khalifa to be the "key" to Nigeria's future. Or the even more insulting "who the cap fits" adverts aired by the same organisation. I remember that when Alex Ekwueme was being touted as a Presidential candidate, the man had to quickly come out and denounce his "promoters" and declare his loyalty to Khalifa.

Can anyone forget the "million man march" or the 65 year old "youths" who earnestly asked for Abacha?

Also, Abacha was responsible for innumerable assassinations of those who dared demand the restoration of the June 12 mandate freely handed to MKO Abiola by Nigerians. Most prominent among the victims of this struggle against Abacha were Kudirat Abiola and Pa Alfred Rewane. Other pro-democracy activists of the day were forced to become the bird of Igbo legend who stated that since men had learned to shoot without missing, he had learned to fly without perching.

So, it is the memories of these people and countless unnamed others that the 3 generals attempted to rubbish with their asinine claims that Abacha was, basically, purer than the driven snow. Perhaps the most outrageous of all the claims came from none other than Maradona himself. He stated (probably with an enviable poker face) that Abacha never stole a dime! He stated Abacha was a humble man, and that the two of them were real close, right until the end.

We must then ask Maradona about the billions of dollars of loot which have been returned to Nigeria from Khalifa's various foreign accounts. Were they part of an elaborate hoax to portray Khalifa as a bad man? Were we all engaged in the exercise of giving a dog a bad name in order to hang it? I think not.

No, Maradona cannot pull the wool over my eyes. I remember the day Khalifa passed on to the great beyond. There was widespred jubilation of the kind unseen since the day we won the gold medal in football at the Atlanta Olympics. Bus drivers rejected fares, beer parlour owners rejected money, and from east to west and north to south, there was wild celebration.

I know we have a "tradition" of not speaking ill of the dead, but for heaven's sake, it doesn't mean we must become stupid. I know it is often said that Nigerians suffer from collective amnesia, and that we are either unwilling or unable to keep events in our memory, hence we allow the same rubbish to happen to us over and over again. But on this score, I dare say we might as well have been collectively lobotomised if we allow ourselves to forget the Years of the Locust that Abacha's rule represented.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Chuku Chuku

When Umoru took office in the aftermath of the PDP's brazen vote capturing, it soon became clear to both keen-eyed observers and the blind alike, that he would have little or no time for one of Baba's golden boys: CBN Governor Soludo.

Perhaps aware of the impending ill-wind about to blow through his office, Soludo hastened to inform the media and general public at large, that he would no longer be addressed by the name with which he took office - Charles, but would now be addressed by a new moniker: Chukwuma. As I said at the time, I had no idea he even had Chukwuma for a name at all. Indeed, on our Naira notes, he wrote his name in full as Charles Soludo. Granted, there was an initial there, but I always assumed it was a "B", and only the whole name change did I realise that it was, in fact, a "C".

But, to my mind, the reason for the sudden shift from Charles to Chuks was as plain as, well the corruption in Obasanjo's government. He had changed his name because to his "professorial" mind, there was no better shield to hide behind than the well documented history between the Igbos and their Hausa-Fulani brothers. As "Charles" he could be booted out of office without so much as a by-your-leave, and not too many voices would be raised in protest, even if he was of Igbo origin. However, the sudden removal of "Chukwuma" as CBN Governor would definitely trigger howls of protest from the Eastern part of Nigeria. There would be rapid claims of "marginalisation" and "tribalism" and so on. There would be full-page advertorials in national dailies bemoaning the sack of the "highest-ranking" Igbo son in the government. In short, there would be plenty wahala and katakata, and Umoru, unlike Baba, has little inclination towards either.

Never mind that the newly-minted Chuks had never identified himself with his Ohaneze "brothers" throughout Baba's tenure, what would matter would be the perception of the public that Umoru couldn't wait to toss the Igbo man out on his ear, and some would say it smacked of the pogroms which had led to the civil war. So, if Umoru wanted him out, he would have to do it in a way that left no room for any howls of protest. Cue the probes.

Currently, Chuks has at least 3 seperate on-going probes of various aspects of his tenure as the Guvnor. Some involve the Capital Market, some involve the AFC, and some involve the Banking sector, wherein Chuks has recorded his most trumpeted achievements. Now, Chuks spends his time running between the Senate, the House of Reps, and the ICPC, trying desperately to defend himself, and keep his job.

He called for the probe of unethical practices in the banking sector to be conducted in camera, claiming that "wild" statements emanating from the hearing could lead to a run on the affected banks. He stated that a bank could collapse in a day, and so, the public should not be allowed to hear just how the banks were treating their hard earned money, or they might just give in to the temptation to remove it. This suggestion is laughable in the extreme. If I discover that the bank I thought was solid was nothing of the sort, and was indeed wobbling on the verge of collapse, I have every right to pull my money out, and move it to a safer haven, my pillow, perhaps. It has long been suspected by the general public that all is not as rosy as it seems with some of the so-called "mega banks" in Nigeria, and I believe Chuks made the plea to the Committee with certain banks in mind.

Now, it is part of Chuks job as Guvnor to make sure that the banks operate within strict ethical and fiscal guidelines, and treat depositors funds with utmost respect. It has since been established that Chuks has no interest in this part of his job, and prefers to align himself with the very institutions he ought to be policing. Take the board of the AFC, for example. Chuks is the Chairman, and the CEOs of several Nigerian banks are the Directors. Hand in glove doesn't even begin to describe that relationship. And it leads one to ask if the dog is wagging its tail, or the other way round.

His close relationship with these persons cannot but lead to questions about his independence, and indeed, loyalty to his office. The revelations from the Capital Market probe in which he sought to lay blame for the over-subscription for shares at the feet of the subscribers and not the banks was instructive in this regard. Here was a CBN Governor being asked how he abdicated his oversight functions so glaringly, and instead of offering any explanation, no matter how far-fetched, he chose to threaten the people who had been wronged with prosecution. Now, I am not suggesting the government should become heavy handed in the issue of regulation of banks, but the Enron fiasco showed that too much liberalisation is a very dangerous animal indeed. Investors literally lost their shirts because the banks were in cahoots with Enron, and surely a stronger and rigorously enforced regulatory framework could have prevented that from occuring. There are those who say regulation stifles growth and development, but I say that works in the same manner that armed robbers will complain that the police stifle their operations (of course, in Naija, most people would say that our police actually enhance crime, but imagine if there were none at all).

Chuks has been good for Nigeria in some ways, no doubt, and there will be those who say you must take the good with the bad, but when you occupy such a sensitive position, the first things on your mind should be integrity and honour at all times. You shouldn't turn into the Maurice Iwu of banking. And sadly, this is what Chuks has done. No doubt a close relationship with the banks is required, given their importance in economic development, but the CBN is supposed to play the role of a kind but firm parent to these precocious kids, and not act as the booze-purchasing frat brother.

I've said before that Chuks should have gone quietly after the redenomination fiasco, and kept his dignity. He refused to do so, perhaps completely ensnared by the addictive elixir of the power he enjoyed under Baba. Power which enabled him to ride roughshod over his Deputy Governors and render them just about irrelevant. And power which enabled his to be the most important economic voice in the nation. The power went to his head like the powerful narcotic it is, and he refused to see the writing on the wall.

Sadly, I don't think he's going to have the option of a quiet exit anymore. He's made too many enemies who now control his fate. And his comfy seat of power must now be feeling a mite prickly.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Ike & Tina

I drank a can of Red Bull last night in hopes of being awake to watch B'rock clinch the Democratic Party's nomination. I apparently hadn't considered exactly how tired I was, because I promptly fell asleep, and didn't recover my wits until about 3 am. At which time I got to watch B'rock clinch the Democratic Party's nomination (which proves that everything does happen for a reason). Anyway, as soon as I saw that he had not only reached, but zoomed past the magic number of 2,118, I immediately sent texts to my Dad, my Mum, and Chxta.

Needless to say, I was utterly estatic. I had never given Senator Obama a chance initially, and I thought he'd be like Jesse Jackson, win a couple of states and then return to his Senate seat. Of course, as the race went on, I saw that my initial projections had been as accurate as a goal attempt from Emmanuel Adebayor, and I realised that I was watching history. I began staying up on primary nights until the last vote had been counted, and I said here that B'rock needed to hit Hilliar back for all the negative things she was saying about him. I was wrong again, proving I do not have a future as a political adviser (at least not in Yankee).

So, last night/this morning, when I watched his victory speech I got a little misty-eyed, and immediately prayed that God would erect a bullet-catching force field around the man posthaste. Then I settled down to watch Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN. There, several analysts discussed Hilliar's refusal to concede the nomination even now that it was clear that she had lost. Then one of them dubbed her and Bill "Itchy Willy" Clinton the "Ike and Tina Turner of American Politics." I rolled off the chair laughing, and I'm sure I disrupted the peaceful sleep of my neighbours. For I had never heard a more apt description of the pair, except that she's Ike and he's Tina. Now that the nomination is lost, I'm sure neighbours will have to deal with the sounds of lamps breaking as she berates him for costing her the nomination with his statements in South Carolina, and not bringing her the black votes he promised. No doubt Chelsea Clinton will come in for a broadside as well for not energising the young voters like she was supposed to.

As the nomination contest wore on, it became clear that Hilliar was far from being the benign former First Lady she often portrayed on television. In appearance after appearance, Hilliar showed the world that she was, in fact, a shrewish fishwife. From her "misspeaking" to her constant refusal to back down, to her statement that the nominating contest should have run until June because that was when Robert Kennedy got killed (while he was the frontrunner) she told us that Hilliar was in the race for Hilliar and not for the American people as she had always claimed. And watching her change her tone as often as she changed clothes was truly cringeworthy. At one point, Florida and Michigan didn't matter, then suddenly Florida and Michigan were the keys to the nomination. At first the popular vote didn't count, and now she claims that winning the popular vote is the key. And whether she liked it or not, the voters paid attention to her constant shifting.

For sure, Obama beat her, and beat her fair and square, but those punches she landed on her own nose did him worlds of good.

Now, it's on to the White House for the Obama Express.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

May 29

As we prepare to mark the ninth year of our great democratic experiment/learning process/PDP "vote capturing"/INEC's robust independence, we must look back on the intractable problems that once bedevilled our great nation and smile at their resolution.

For instance, in the past we had Supreme Military Councils made up of about 30 crooks (whose word was law) doling out money amongst their friends and favourites to the detriment of the national good. This problem was resolved by the creation of a Federal Executive Council and National Assembly made up of about 500 crooks (whose word is law) doling out money to their friends and favourites to the detriment of the national good.

We used to refine crude oil in Nigeria, and the Government always groaned about the subsidy. We now import refined products and the Government groans about the subsidy.

We once used to live in fear of soldiers breaking down our doors to arrest our loved ones who dared to speak out against their paymasters, now we live in fear of thugs breaking down our doors to kill our loved ones who dare to speak against their paymasters.

We once considered constant electricity to be the luxury of the rich, now we consider constant electricity to be the luxury of the mega-rich.

We used to have several tiny banks, each doing their best to rip off the unfortunate Nigerian customer. We now have few large banks, each doing their best to rip off the unfortunate Nigerian customer.

We once thought it was an act of courage to drive around Lagos without a well-armed escort, and now we think it is an act of courage to drive around Lagos.

Fela, the great sage and seer, once described democracy as a demonstration of craze. Witnessing a catalogue of simply disgraceful behaviour by our "honorables" on Channels TV News last night, I couldn't help but agree with him, as I am so often compelled to. Witnessing fathers and grandfathers displaying all their agbari skills without restraint on national television made me alternate between tears of laughter and, well, more tears of laughter. One video from Ondo State, showing a legislator attempting to seize the House Mace was particularly hilarious. Here was the fellow, struggling desperately to wrest the Mace from some other folks, when from behind him, someone steps up and delivers a punch that Muhammad Ali would have been proud of. When he is helped to his feet, after assorted refs have counted to a hundred and gone for lunch, all he does is rub his head and look bewildered. You wouldn't want to be that guy's kid in school the next morning, trust me. Or the "Civilian Coup" in Delta State wherein the Speaker of the House of Assembly actually had his seat pulled from underneath him, and then got dragged out of the Chamber, so a new Speaker could be installed.

On May 29 our rulers will get out their collective soap boxes, and proceed to do their very best to dislocate their own shoulders via vigorous self back-patting. We will hear about how the military destroyed everything for so many years, and how there has been so much to do. We will hear about the "great strides" that have been taken in bringing democracy dividends to the ordinary Nigerian (by which they simply mean that instead of the General from your home town building a mansion in your back yard, you now have the Senator, the Honorable, the SHA Member, Local Government Councillor, and the local thug building mansions in your backyard). We will be told that we must exercise patience while our children attend substandard schools while the funds to give them a decent education are spent on Harvard tuitions for the children of government and party functionaries.

We will be told that decent drinking water, motorable roads, stable electricity, and basic security are being worked on and will be delivered soon, while our rulers drink Ragolis and Eva, ride in jeeps, utilise the largest generators and use their MOPOL to chase us off what thin strip of good road we were clinging to.

We will be told to exercise patience while the "rule of law" enables perpertrators of the most nefarious crimes against the people in recent memory dance and dine in absolute freedom.

Oh yes, patience will be a major theme of May 29 addresses. We will be told to exercise patience until it becomes a virtue. Someone once told me that if you chase a goat to a wall, it will turn around and charge you, but if you chase a Nigerian to a wall, he will dig through or under the wall so he can keep running. I know we have had men of courage in this country, but I am loath to begin naming them here. Suffice to say they have been occasional comets during our perpetual Antarctic winter. Their light shines too short to do more than offer a glimpse of the direction in which we should head, then is snuffed out by collective apathy.

Yes, Nigerians generally, no longer give a shit. We don't care if our rulers steal our money. We no longer have (ife we ever did) a collective desire to hold our rulers accountable for their misdeeds, and that is perhaps the enduring legacy of military rule. The military did us irreperable harm, but it wasn't in the area of infrastructure or national development. It was in our psyche. After such a mind fuck, we became ready to accept them when they tossed the guns and whips and came back with constitutions. Now we constantly hear "no to military rule" and "the worst civilian government is better than the best military dictatorship." What a crock. Mind you, I am not advocating a coup, but at least during military rule we didn't have a collection of quite so many pigs gathered at the trough. We had a few large pigs and a collection of piglets. Now we have several large pigs and an even larger (and still growing) collection of piglets.

Our political parties are, in general, a gathering of persons whose only common ideology is "there is no such thing as Government money." There is no better demonstration of this than the PDP. The only thing that gathering has in common is avarice.

Well, I'm venting, perhaps even ranting a bit, but if you can't rant on your blog, then where can you? Besides, maybe 10 or 20 people will read this post, or a few more who stumble across it, so let me offer a personal solution to Nigeria's power woes:

1. A blanket ban on the purchase, or use of generators by all top government functionaries, and permanent load shedding of their homes.

I can see it now: the "honorable" minister for energy (power) forced to do battle with mosquitoes with his own hands while cursing and waiting for PHCN to restore power to his area. If PHCN doesn't start working properly in a week. I know it won't happen, of course, but it's a lovely thought on which to celebrate demonstration of craze day in Nigeria.

As for me, I intend to celebrate by tackling some laundry which has refused to abandon the politics of opposition, and then I shall loot generously from the public till of my kitchen, before retiring to my plush villa in the middle of my flat for a well-deserved foreign vacation.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Physical Fitness

Sometime ago, while I was still doing my NYSC, it was decided by top management at my place of primary assignment that the lifts would no longer carry persons to or from the first floor. This policy was instituted with a view to ensuring that staff got some regular exercise at the office, since many people were way too tired to use the various gyms the company had partnered with. It was also believed that this new fitness regime would improve staff performance, and so on and so forth.

Needless to say that I, at the time was more than willing to use the stairs for a few reasons:
1. I was young and strong;
2. The lifts could often be a hinderance rather than a help; and
3. My office was on the first floor.

Of course, not everyone could comfortably play "spring chicken", and you'd find a few people at their desks and blowing like whales, or queues at the water fountain, as staff desperately tried to rehydrate themselves. And, naturally, the big ogas with first floor offices still used the lifts.

Well, if top management knew then what we found out today, there would have been a very simple incentive to physical fitness - the presence of the EFCC.

Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello has been engaged in a war of words with the EFCC since it was revealed that she collected some cash out of the 300 million Naira health ministry palaver, for which the heads of the minster and minister-of-state duly rolled. When the trial of the accused persons began, Iyabo was named as an accused person, but failed to show up in court. When the EFCC announced that she was on the run, she hit back, calling them liars. Recently, she bragged that she was ready for them.

Reports emerged today indicating that while EFCC officers were waiting to arrest her, Senator Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, a woman who can hardly be described as a Marion Jones in her prime, evaded capture by going over the back fence of her Jabi residence. This event leaves a lot open to the imagination. You see, Iyabo is not noted for a physical nature, and seeing as she never embarked on a mountain climbing exercise like the "Action Governor" Lucky Igbinedion, one must wonder how she developed her technique. It is not yet known which high jump method she may or may not have utilised in making her escape, and it has also not yet been revealed whether a ladder or pole vault was discovered at the scene. All that is known is that the EFCC came in the front door, and Iyabo went over the back fence. One can only imagine the amused/frustrated looks on the faces of the cops at that moment. Frustration because she got away, and amusement because of how she got away.

No doubt, various men and women of high standing (and who may or may not become EFCC targets in future) are taking note of this, which shall soon become known as The Iyabo Method. Baba, on receiving the news of his daughter's narrow escape from the clutches of the monster he created, might have cringed in embarrasment at the idea of his child scaling a fence like a common crook, but then again, knowing Baba, he would probably have smiled with pride at her ingenuity.

Next time, however, she might not be so lucky...

Monday, April 07, 2008

3 Strikes

Ed's Note: The Law has not finally lost his marbles, and is fervently praying neither of the people mentioned in a previous post reads this, or The Law might be in need of a coffin...

I sometimes wonder if Cupid, or whichever mad scientist runs the relationships department operates a sort of reverse 3 Strikes policy. As in, 3 Strikes and you're out for good. You see, I've had 3 great loves in my life, each one stronger than the last. And for anyone completely aware of me history reading this, K doesn't count because she was, well, puppy love.

So, here they are, in chronological order.

A: I first met her at a friend's birthday party in my first year in the University. To say she outshone the other young ladies at the event would be a gross understatement. Next to her, they were candles. I didn't fall in love with her at first sight though. I don't believe in such fruppery. Although if I am honest, it took about 30 seconds. Nano seconds, that is. Well, I wasn't a very confident fellow back in those days, so I pulled out all the reasons she'd never go out with me, namely there were richer, finer guys, etc, and beat them into my brains so much I accepted them as dogma. What a fool I was. I contented myself with seeing her only occasionally, even though each time I laid eyes on her, my heart would literally stop. I kept telling myself it was good to be friends with her because I could never be more. I was such a coward. Out of fear of rejection, I never did a damn thing. I wish I had a time machine, I'd go back and ram a red hot poker or a 600 volt cattle prod up my own behind. And so, the time passed, and the feelings diminished, and faded from an acute ache to a dull throb. And I congratulated myself for surviving. Some days, I feel I shall go to my grave with her as my one greatest regret.

V: V broke me out of my funk over A. She was about 12 metric tons of fun, with a sense of humor that was totally out of this world. When she came along, I decided to apply the lessons learnt from A, and screwed my courage to the sticking place. I spoke up. Man, oh man. Well, she decided we'd better be friends, and I guess she was looking for a guy with a lot more, ahem, experience. She then decided to set me up with a friend of her's who, apparently, was as bewildered with her decision as I was. Well, I took that on the chin. I and V are still friends today, and with hindsight, perhaps this turned out well.

B: B... B... B... Chxta is aware of all the details on this one. When I met B in law school, I was sure that I'd finally found "the one". She got me (something no one else managed before or since). She understood my sense of humor, which could sometimes appear from way out in left field. When I talked to her, I never had that subconscious feeling that I should lower my intellectual standards. Heck, with her I actually felt I needed to raise them! For her, I would have sold my soul with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. For her, I would have fought armies of dragons and legions of devils. If my previous loves were conflagrations, she was the core of a blue supergiant. And boy, did she roast me. Before her, I had no idea what it was like to be owned by someone else. She was the source of my greatest joy, and the source of my greatest pain. Before her, I didn't know that pain could cleave you in two just as surely as a broadsword. She pushed me to the very brink of sanity, and that is no joke. I strongly believe that if I didn't end up in Uselu in December 2005, there is nothing else life can throw at me. Because she was the kitchen sink. And perhaps I did lose my mind, because as I sit here typing this, I realise that even with the foreknowledge of how things would turn out with her, I'd do it all over again, and I'd do it again gladly.

So, there they are. But given the fact that the last ball went smack into me arm, can't I get a fourth? Or shouldn't I be allowed to take my base?

Friday, March 28, 2008

Gentleman No Dey O!

I read somewhere that when Jackie Robinson was signed as the first black man to play Major League Baseball, he was told there were certain things he could not partake in. These included foul language, alcohol, cigarettes, and (naturally) women. He was told that he had to be a model citizen and human being if he wanted other black players to follow in his footsteps. Of course, the white players on the team could cuss like sailors, drink like fishes, smoke like chimneys and hump like rabbits, but ole Jackie would only be allowed to watch them with longing in his heart.

Today, there are several black players in major league baseball (in fact, the MLB now says there aren't enough) and is consequently doing its level best to rekindle interest in baseball among black kids. But, like typical persons of African descent, they're mostly interested in basketball and football, which are the sure-fire tickets to large paydays. Baseball is doing ok, but many black kids dream of being like Mike.

Also, in today's MLB, the black players may use whatever swear words cross their minds, swim in bath tubs of beer, snort cocaine, smoke weed, and have orgies that would put the Romans to shame. America came around, and decided it was ok for the black guys to do whatever the white guys did. And boy, have they revelled in their freedom.

Now, we have one Senator Barack Obama (D, Illinois) or B-rock (thanks kulutempa), who is the first black man to be allowed to play American politics on the grandest stage of them all - the race for the White House. And like countless black men before him to challenge a white dominated establishment, he's had to be a gazillion times better than any of them just to get his foot in the door. And he's been pushing the door wider with every passing week.

When the race for the Democratic Party's nomination began, everyone expected it to be a coronation of Hillary Clinton. She'd been hotly tipped for the nomination as far back as the day her husband left office. Indeed, in the elections for New York's Senatorial Seat, coming in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks (during which Rudy Giuliani covered himself in glory for his handling of things in New York City) she proceeded to wipe the floor with Giuliani. During the last presidential race, she didn't run, mainly because she hadn't put enough on the ground, but even as the contest between John Kerry and Dubya was rounding up, Hillary let it be known that she was coming in next. At the time, there was no visible, credible opposition to her ambition, and she strutted around, probably choosing the drapes she would like in the Oval Office.

Then, the junior senator from Illinois stepped up. At first, people tended to dismiss him as another Jesse Jackson, who would make some noise, then fade so Queen Hillary could strut her way to the nomination. Hell, even this writer didn't think B-rock had as much chance as a snow ball in hell. (I'd have wagered money on the snowball, truth be told.) Then B-rock started winning. After he picked up his first few, Hillary went on air and shed some tears, then picked up a win. Then B-rock went on another long streak of wins, handing Hillary resounding defeats in primary after primary, and caucus after caucus. He picked up endorsements from some of the powerhouses in the Democratic party, including the entire Kennedy family, and overtook Hillary in campaign fund raising (a lead he still hasn't relinquished).

Then things started getting muddy, as Hillary and her husband decided to go to the Karl Rove School of Political Chicanery. Pictures of B-rock in traditional Kenyan dress, including headgear, were released by Hillary's campaign. The intent was to portray B-rock as a muslim. The staffers responsible for the incident "resigned" and Hillary's campaign went on. After that, they started mentioning his middle name, Hussein, and trying to whip up some of that good ole anti-Islamic sentiment. Through it all, B-rock refused to participate in the mudslinging, even though it ended up costing him California. Then she complained that B-rock was getting favourable coverage by the media! I mean, he's wiping the floor with her in vote after vote, and she wants them to talk about her? One of her campaign staff then said that if B-rcok wasn't a black man, he wouldn't be in the position he was in, ovbiously telling people that B-rock's wins were some kind of affirmative action. At first, Hillary merely distanced herself from the statement, without asking the woman to resign. Eventually though, Hillary bowed to pressure, and the woman "stepped aside."

Then Hillary started talking about B-rock's "lack of experience" and ran a "ringing phone" campaign ad calculated to whip up fear in voters. These enabled her to take Texas and Ohio. B-rock's controversial pastor then entered the equation, and this was used by Hillary to its maximum potential. Only the fact that B-rock is a gfted, nay brilliant, orator, was able to save his skin. Never mind that the said controversial pastor was received in the White House by Bill and Hillary Clinton while the former was POTUS.

Chxta has pointed out that it is perhaps time for B-rock to get into the gutter. While I am no fan of gutter politics, I certainly know that it is the single dirtiest game on earth, and American Politics is the king rat in that particular sewer. There is no way you can say "I'm a clean fighter" and get into the ring with Mike Tyson. In a certain video, Bruce Lee pointed out that in order to win a fight, you must be willing to adapt your style to match you opponent. He once grabbed a fellow actor from behind and held him in a choke hold. When the actor asked what to do in that situation, Bruce Lee simply said, "Bite me." The guy looked shocked that the undisputed king of martial arts would advocate stooping to such "underhanded" tactics. Then Bruce Lee said, "If you pour water into a cup, it becomes the cup. If you pour water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. Be water."

The long and short of that video was "Fuck Queensbury rules." I hate to say it, but B-rock must be willing to take the fight to Hillary on her own level. If that means dropping the Harvard inflections, and becoming more "street" so be it.

Hillary has handed him the perfect weapon - her lies about Bosnia. And simply saying things like "Experience, huh?" don't cut it, I'm sorry. He has to get in there and force people to take a good hard look at her so-called "experience" and realise it's all just smoke and mirrors. I know the Republicans are waiting for it to get really nasty so they can preserve their dirt-digging energy, but B-rock, despite everything, is still outraising John McCain, the Republican Presidential Candidate, by a whopping 5:1. A few choice revelations about Hillary, some more uncovered "misstatements" etc. Get people to know the real Hillary, not the one parading about in public. Strip her of her cloak of respectability, and bring out the woman who spat four letter tirades at Bill Clinton during the Monica Lewinsky affair and hurled a table lamp at his head.

B-rock needs to get under her skin in the same manner. And adopt the following as his new campaign slogan:

Dis wan dis wan, gentleman no dey o!
Dis wan dis wan, gentleman no dey o!

Take her down.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Gunshots, Flak Jackets, and Videotape

Recently, Hillary Clinton, as part of her "foreign policy experience" campaign soundbites, stated that she recalled landing in Bosnia under sniper fire, and having to run straight to her car and get whisked off to the U.S. base located therein. While making this speech, Hillary laughed a little when mentioning the gunfire, as if to say "Hey, I'm cool about it, I've been shot at before, you know, gunshots ain't that big a deal. In other words, I can be cool under serious pressure."

Then the video of the event surfaced. Showing Hillary and Chelsea Clinton walking leisurely down from their plane, shaking hands with some military commanders, then stopping to have a poem recited to them by a little girl. Then strolling to their cars and driving off at the break-neck, sniper-fire avoiding speed of 20-25 mph.

Hillary now says she "misspoke". And that there was gunfire "in the hills around the airport". In other words "Fuck, where the hell did that video surface from? I thought we got all the copies." And "Ok, so they weren't, like, shooting at me, or in my general direction for that matter, but it was still pretty intense." She went further to say "They told us there would be gunfire, and that we'd have to move quickly... There was a little girl there, but I just took the thing from her and left." Gimme a break! I mean, "they told us"?! What about what actually happened? What she "remembered"? Was it a transplanted memory? Has she even seen the damn video? It was as scary in there as a kindergarten pillow fight for Christ's sake.

She's been caught in a massive lie, and now she looks like what she's been all along - Bill Clinton's wife. An American comedian (whose name I forget) once lampooned Hillar's foreing policy "experience" as follows: "I've been a comedian for 20 years, and I've been married for 10 of those years. But I'll bet if my wife gets up on this stage she won't be that funny."

Hillary's foreign policy experience is actually limited to 8 years of pillow talk with her husband while he was President of the United States. It is my humble opinion, therefore, that she should kindly stop telling the world she has any knowledge of how to deal with it.

And next time, she should make sure she gets all copies of the video before going out there and shooting her mouth off.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Ok, my friends know I am a man of certain peculiar contradictions. I only drink socially, and then only Guiness, but my fridge is stocked with all kinds of genuinely hard liquor (the only thing missing so far is a bottle of gin, which error I am assidiously working to rectify).

In The Mafia Manager, V said that a thief with no opportunity to steal considers himself an honest man. Of recent, I've found myself relating to that statement. And no, it's not the way you're thinking. See, since I made it out of puberty alive, and began wandering the haphazard minefield called women, I made it a rule to cast a wide net, but once a "fish" was hooked, discard all the rest, and concentrate on she that was "in hand". In other words, I fancied myself a one-woman-man. All these years of clinging to that belief, and now I find my principles being seriously tested. Perhaps I never was truly afforded the opportunity to double-date, and so felt free to take on the label of non-playa. In recent weeks, however, the said opportunity has, shall we say, presented itself. And, to quote my Wafi brothers, na me take my own hand find trouble.

I'm currently in a relationship with someone, I shall refer to as E, and she's fantastic. She's smart as a whip, disgustingly beautiful, and I wouldn't trade her for all the Angelina Jolies in the world. The catch is, she's not here. We talk on the phone a lot, but the last time I saw her was in January. I had to spend Val's day doing, erm, something, erm, of a private nature. Nuff said. The thing is, I love her. She is my heart, my soul.

So, where does this post spring from? About three months ago, I met this other lady, M. At first, it was all "harmless" flirtation, nothing serious. I'd go to her office to transact business, and we'd shoot the breeze. I was on a roll. I became a favoured customer, allowed to jump queues, which in Naija, is a nice option to have. Somewhere along the line, our business relationship became more personal. I'd call her after work, and we'd hang out. Some weekends, we'd spend the whole of Saturday together, indoors, watching movies (get your mind out the gutter). My cousin, who's a girl, started flashing these warning signs in my face. Reminding me I had a girlfriend, and telling me M was some serious competition, and telling me I was allowing M become part of my life. I laughed and said we were just friends, and if it made her feel comfortable, I'd tell M I had a girlfriend, as M had told me she had a boyfriend. Soon after I delivered that piece of news, M and I had a falling out. She picked some issue to quarrel with me over, told me I didn't care about her, and told me not to call her again.

From then on, it was strictly business between us. My "favoured customer" status was revoked, and I whenever I did get to her, it was all mechanical, the banter was gone. I shrugged. No skin off my nose, and all that.

Then I found, to my instant dismay, that I was missing M. It made absolutely zero sense. I even told myself that I must be loco. I asked myself why I cared. But the feeling wouldn't go away, in fact, it got worse. Like an OOBE, I found myself doing things to get her attention. I changed my evening run route so it passed by her office, and then her home. Didn't go in, though. I'm not a stalker. (Feel free to trot out the "opportunity" statement here.) In any event, after doing some things I will not repeat here, M and I got back on speaking terms, then laughing terms, then post-work terms.

The thing is, I have wondered how it was that I allowed M get so deep under my skin. Whether I like it or not, she's actually become E's fierce rival in my head, and once my head goes, the rest of me follows. I know it's not fair to E, since she's not around to directly defend her territory. M is very much like E, especially in my most important category - the ability to have a conversation without feeling like I'm speaking Greek to a Chinese mule.

My feelings for E have not diminished in anyway, in fact they're as strong as they've ever been. But somewhere along the line, I have developed feelings for M that are steadily growing stronger. And I don't know what to do. I could break up with E, which is impossible. I could cut M off completely, which, judging by recent events, stands shoulder-to-shoulder with impossible. Or I could yell "geronimo" and see where this roller-coaster is headed.

Either way, I've now learned what Fela meant when he said "When trouble sleep, yanga go wake am..."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Red Light, Green Light

Ed's Note: I think it's high time I had this particular rant. In fact, it's been a long, long time coming.

When I was a kid, there was a game we played called "Red Light, Green Light". The game was based on the colours of the traffic lights, so someone got to play the traffic light, and the others got to play cars. So, when you heard "red light", you stopped, and when you heard "green light", you moved. The purpose of the game was to get to the position of the "traffc light", and in so doing, you got to take over and exercise some iron-fisted, dictatorial control over the rest of your playmates since no one could move without your say so. But if a player moved before green light was called, the person either got thrown out of the game, or ordered back some steps. And no, no one could play the role of a bullion van.

Now I am an adult, living and working in Abuja, and sometimes I wish I could play that game with Abuja drivers, only, instead of throwing rule breakers out of the game, I'd get a fucking car compactor and crush their fucking cars. Preferrably with them inside. The amount of broken glass I've seen on the road in the last year is enough to build a glass car, complete with glass wheels and a glass engine. I don't know if referrring to many Abuja drivers as maniacal psychopaths would be construed as an insult to true maniacal psychopaths everywhere. They don't stop when they see red lights, they drive on the pedestrian walkway if there's a hold up, and they see absolutely nothing wrong in staying in the turning lane, then heading straight, usually running into someone who was turning.

And don't even get me started on the speed. I know that for many Nigerians, the idea of a road that is both wide and smooth is a fairy tale. But many, on arriving at just such a place, react like they're in heaven, and decide to find out whether the 200 on the speedometer was just put there by the manufacturer or if it's actually an attainable speed. And then, with screeching tyres and melding metal, they're reminded that they're actually on good ole earth.

A couple of nights ago, I watched some idiot total an Inifinti QX9. He approached a corner way too fast, and instead of heading straight and looking for the next U-Turn, he jumped on the brakes and tried to make the turn. (Perhaps he'd just finished watching "The Fast and The Furious: Tokyo Drift" or something.) In any event, with loud squeal of tires, he slammed into the road divider, went airborne, and came to rest against a stop light. And, just to prove that Fortune is indeed blind and takes care of fools, he stumbled out of the wreck with nary a scratch. The wonders of modern engineering, perhaps. Others, though, are not so lucky.

Nigerians appear generally incapable of exercising any sort of self regulation when the authorities decide to abdicate. Whenever I stop to allow others pass, I am assualted by a cacophony of car horns, and other drivers decide to zoom around me since I apparently don't have a destination in mind and am just wandering aimlessly.

Now, in the event of power failure (insert hearty guffaw/snide snicker here) the human back up is expected to kick in to prevent accidents. It is a notorious fact that at several junctions in Abuja, the traffic lights have not worked for so long it would be safe to assume they were installed by an ancient and wonderfully idealistic civilisation.

At these junctions, which are entirely in human hands, you must screw your courage to the sticking place if you're driving towards them at any time between 12 and 2pm. Because that's when the traffic controllers choose to retire to some leafy shade to gist and watch the traffic control itself. Of course, when the inevitable accident occurs, they hop out adjust their uniforms and haul out the trusty rope and blue chalk to apportion blame for the incident. Never mind that they are being paid to make sure that the accident wouldn't occur in the first place.

And, before they start bitching about the lousy pay and poor work conditions, there are some of them who take some pride in what they do. There's a particular guy who can be found at his post rain or shine, and not only does he do his job, he fucking dances while doing it. I guess that makes him special, huh?

In any event, it's only God that keeps one out of the crosshairs of these fucking wacko drivers. And I pray I never run into one. Because I'll fucking murder the bastard.

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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...