Prince Charles Dickson

Prince Charles Dickson

"A good fortune may forbode a bad luck, which may in turn disguise a good fortune..." anonymous.

In local parlance there is a word called 'wash'. It actually has a relationship with some of its original dictionary meaning especially in informal terms.

However in Nigeria, it is used in local parlance as a slang. Its earliest use, came with the era of 'money doublers'. Mischievous characters that deceived unsuspecting but greedy persons that for a certain amount of money they would buy a chemical which they would use in 'washing' papers which inevitably turn to currencies.

Somehow the examples they show their unsuspecting victims are true. How they do it, I do not know, but after huge monies exchange hands, its all a 'wash'...a fraud, a lie, all part of the '419'. And many fall victim of these miscreants.

Stay with me and you will get this week's admonishment in the next few paragraphs. The term 'wash' was prominent in those 80's and early 90's.

Today, Nigeria is in a state of 'wash', I will take a few points from the just concluded olympics, renewed secessionists song and the recent miracle of electricity. Meanwhile I kept hope until the elaborate closing ceremony, hoping against hope, but each time we were close to a medal during the whole competition, it was all 'wash'.

Journeying through the social media, Nigerians at their painfully creative best consoled themselves, Gabon picked a medal, Kenya, Ethiopia, South Africa all climbed the podium, even Uganda was not left out, but Africa's 'giant' was missing in action.

Comedian Julius Agwu even advocated, we get one by hook or crook, even if it means stealing from another athlete.

Others advocated corruption, balloting snatching, bombing as sports that if introduced could be our strength.

Despite an almost appalling show, our basketball team showed grit and courage especially in the light of where we are coming from and the kind of sloppy preparations they had to go through.

As usual, it turned out a jamboree, at the last count four governors attended at some point, numerous officials and all could not give us any hope--just a 'wash'.

 

The truth be told, it was no miracle, you listen to athletes from the other nations talk of the intense training and preparation spanning two, three and four years and compare it to our usual three-four weeks training, camping and 'wash'.

We had the pain of the olympics to bear, but nothing to beat it like the foolishness and 'wash' of our 'so-called' elders. IBB and Obj started, enter Clark and then Dokubo the young misdirected character created by us.

Soon it was the Ndi-Igbo, and Arewa over presidency 2015, while we are bedeviled by a Nation tearing apart in 2012, we are still at the stage of who governs, not how and it all tells you we are yet to learn the 'shoeless' lesson.

While many were reacting and exchanging mouth-cuffs on Alhaji Mujahid Asari-Dokubo's statement “What will happen is unimaginable in the history of the world. I feel pained because I am a Muslim. I know the north will suffer because not only oil, we will cut them off totally from the cost. No food will go in...”

Yours faithfully only smiled because 'all na wash'. Not because he did not make sense or he did, but because Nigerians need to watch 'Hotel Rwanda', or see 'Sometime In April'. A man's face we all can see, the heart only few, if any can know.

Whether the Ogoni and Bakassi people in the Niger Delta declare their independence within an interval of seven days of Bayelsa State, popping an approval for a state emblem, anthem and coat of arms to mark and strengthen a sense of identity for the Ijaw people or not, its all a 'wash' because fact remains that we require true federation both structural and fiscal. We need purposeful leadership and not all these wash.

At the last count ten state have anthems, emblems, coat of arms, all that don't bring quality leadership. We did not get a simple olympic medal because we did not plan to get any...

In the midst of all these, silently something good has happened whether it continues or not will determine whether it is a 'wash' or real. In almost one month each day I have seen light, its been for over 10hours a day.

Many have testified to even more, in parts of Kaduna, Lagos, Adamawa, in Owerri, its almost 18 hours of electricity for Nigerians. I fact I had people complain of "overlight" as in much electricity and their 'units' easily finished. Some fresh breath or 'wash' we will see.

There are two lessons, one, is that it means things can work, especially in the light of the fact that PHCN workers are on strike and fighting the government. If their continued fight means electricity for us, let them continue to fight.

Secondly though, is the fact that, it is shame we can't make anything work until we sell it to either Indians, Chinese, Canadians, or Togolese. Meaning give it to us and we turn it to a 'wash', there is something inherent in us that makes ordinarily possible things impossible.

Many excelled with Nigerian blood competing for other countries at the Olympics, but without our flag. In recent times there has been constant improved electricity...add elements of good governance, social justice, fairness and security of lives, our flag will fly.

I end saying, let's not tear down the east wall to repair the west...we can, if we want to, only do we want to, time will tell.


Monday, 27 August 2012 08:20

A State Of Gelotology In Nigeria

If lice are not completely gone from one's clothing, one's nails will not be free of blood. (If the causes of one's problems are not removed, the problems will persist.)

These days in addition to professional comedians, I listen to our leaders, follow events in Nigeria in a state of gelotology, it makes one laugh and while you reflect on the shame we have become as a nation.

When I listen to them I ask whether those we refer to as leaders really know what they are up against or it’s just us the followers that are lost on reality.

On one of my voyage not so long ago, I had a flat driving to the airport, as we fixed it, me and my driver. I could not help watch as a man certainly in his sixties exerted himself dancing to one of these budding Nigerian artiste. Out of curiosity, the Journalist and writer in me got the better as I strained my ear to hear the song that was making him dance so hard and with all the smiles.

The song...Omo na mental case, start to dey craze...kolomental...and boy, the smile on his face. It hit me, how bad it had become, the old lyrics was gone, Dan maraya Jos, Ebenezer Obey, Hacourt Whyte, Victor Olaiya, and the rest. Now we dance to all sorts just to give laughter to the soul.

As an individual I guess I am alive because of the level of laughter I have been able to personally generate for myself in this insanity called Nigeria. When many are forced to listen to four minutes of record time where a young boy keeps screaming testing the microphone from the beginning of the track to the end and nothing more and that song tops the chart.

Laughter is an audible expression or appearance of happiness, or an inward feeling of joy (laughing on the inside). It may ensue (as a physiological reaction) from jokes, tickling, and other stimuli.

Each day our leaders here in Nigeria ensure that we laugh with tears as a result of the expensive jokes they dish out due to their recalcitrant behavior.

Inhaling nitrous oxide can also induce laughter; other drugs, such as cannabis, can also induce episodes of strong laughter. Strong laughter can sometimes bring an onset of tears or even moderate muscular pain.

The last phrase of that ‘short’ definition is true about Nigeria...but for emphasis it’s not strong laughter, in our case its painful laughter. 

Scientifically speaking, Laughter is caused by the epiglottis constricting the larynx, causing respiratory upset. The study of humor and laughter, and its psychological and physiological effects on the human body is called gelotology.

The study of Nigeria, its politics and peoples is also one that can be referred to strange case of gelotology.

A 6 years old laughs an average of 300 times a day while adults laugh 15times to 100 times a day. Nigerian politicians never stop laughing as the steal us dry and misrule us. We have cried so hard that we equally laugh at their bizarre ways.

We will not revolt, either through violence, or even an intellectual revolution or a purge of some sort. So let us keep laughing, we live in a nation and times when absolutely nothing and everything is both impossible and possible.

Our President rules from anywhere according to his Minister for Information, we are told that despite the state of insecurity in the North, a record 900 plus kidnappings in the South East, we are still the investors’ haven. If you see that as vexatious and refuse to smile you may die of too much thinking, a form of patriotism in these parts that is scary.

If you think we are sane, I laugh because in Kogi, while it has witnessed increased violent killings, its state government says it has refused to pay teachers because they cannot spell their names and do not know how to fill bank teller. It is not annoying, I advise you to laugh, afterall our president doesn't give a damn.

After berating each other as fools two elder statesmen and former presidents, have come together to protect their class exploitation in our cassava republic. Which reminds me, how of us have been privileged to eat cassava bread, the official bread of the state house. We cannot eat the regular one these days as the price keeps increasing. To stay alive, just laugh off the stress.

I always believe that many times you have no choice but to sometimes do a surgical between the speaker and his words but it is only in a system like ours that Dokubos are given podiums to speak, and then we gratify him with responses when he should be treated as a comic.

Abeg like we say in local parlance I can't fit laugh. But I mean it is better you laugh and enjoy all that was in offing at the Olympics where N2BN has gone down the drain, and the sports minister tells us not to worry that we will win 5 medals in Rio come 2016.

What more is laughable…we are nearing the end of August from years back when a complete ship disappeared on Nigerian waters to the point where tractors were blown away by wind in Bauchi state and we are dancing a dance of shame of $620,000 that was first exhibit, bribe, gift also disappear. If all these are not serious matters then please join me in laughing.

We have over the years become a nation of clowns, clowners, and clownees, all engaged in the act of laughing out our stress, our difficulties, and our irrational behavior.

Only in our parts do we see a government that has not paid local government workers for over three months complain about a corporate organization that sacked its own. With a life expectancy age of less than 40 years. The bombs do not hack you down; robbers do not shoot you down. You are not stolen and you do not disappear, you are advised to laugh it out while thanking God for the gift of life in the nation of the happiest people.

When last have you really seen the Senate in really upset mode for the common man, they are always in jolly mood, exchanging banters, collecting their remunerations after which they go on recess.

Even when the nation is on fire, our Federal Executive Council still manages to give away contracts, they do not fight, they are all smiles as they lie to us about a 2013 budget, when the 2012 budget that was bare passed just few months ago is yet to function. Nigeria is fun, it is a big problem to itself, corruption incorporated yet I beg to say it is still a sweet place to live in…

I end this admonition by saying let us laugh! And pray that the Almighty Allah helps us realize the reality of our grim circumstances of existence. The fact is that there are still lice in the Nigeria fabric, serious issues are still amusing. If we continue like these whether we will still find it funny and laughable only time will tell.

The war that the two-eyed person saw and fled is the same the one-eyed person vows he will join.

I will start this admonition by asking, what is really wrong with Nigeria, is it the people, her leaders, the political structure, or maybe there is nothing wrong, we are actually supposed to be this way?

In the heat of the subsidy induced strike, the president had promised that civil servants would be paid on the 20th of every month. First no one was sure that he was referring to all civil servants.

He must have meant federal civil servants because as he spoke many state civil servants were being owed December salaries and off course I know a for a fact that many federal civil servants were being owed too and no one bothers about the private sector workers, in many a private sector that depends on the public sector.

As I write this, it is already the 51st of the month if you take into cognisance that its already 20th of February and 31 days of January gone and salaries have not been paid.

How the payment of salaries for work legitimately done translates to palliatives remains a mystery.

The president promised that he was going to cut a percentage of his salary and that of the executive arm. I can say that for sure the executive arm of government, in this case Ministers are not being owed January salaries and no one can say for sure that their salaries were short any percent.

In the heat of pressure not only were buses promised, but some of us had the privilege of electricity on that day and were treated to the launch of some of the diesel-powered-smoking buses.

While I do not want to court controversy on the sources, and condition, and terms associated with those buses. The irrevocably truth is that many Nigerians after almost eight weeks are yet to see the buses anywhere. They were simply launched and sent back to where they were taken from.

Governing and steering the ship of state in a nation as complex as Nigeria n itself is no mean task, but when we are saddled with a leadership that suffers acute shortage in integrity and a followership that remains docile and is beset by its own acute poverty of the mind, this is what we get...failed promises.

In the next few months, the possibility or rather reality of another round of strikes looms as one wonders how an unpaid N18,000 would take one home, when indeed it cannot take one to the bus stop.

When PMS was N65, and the 'subsidians' were calling the shots, there were was fuel everywhere, while we sat at home protesting the fuel at N141, it was everywhere, when it became N97, it simply disappeared in many states of the federation and still is available everywhere at black-market prices.

The above tells you the complexity of the Nigerian state. The removal of subsidy whether real or imagined, the dramatics of the probe by the National Assembly: does not remove the fact that palliatives cannot rule out the economic problems created by removal of subsidy.

Off course one needs to understand all the promises of palliatives from the standpoint of a person who one hand promises what he does not have, while on the other, and even if he had it, does not intend to deliver it.

It's almost becoming an old record harping on the apparent woeful failure of government in meeting its responsibilities but we cannot stop stating that which is obvious, for fear of the possibility that government's failure may be due to its limited knowledge--When a Sanusi, or Ngozi, a Labaran Maku, or Wogu does not buy fuel or need palliatives to survive, how do they understand?

A plethora of committees are daily being set up, inaugurated and reports in different colours, white, blue and black papers submitted but the ordinary Nigerian does not feel the impact of governance even at the lowest level.

Palliatives remains the politics of borehole and gutter culverts, one for which in a particular local government a governor, local government chairman, senator, representative at state and national level will battle to achieve.

Sometimes, those at the helm of affairs say and talk sense, the only problem is their actions never make sense. Lamido of Jigawa, over the week after meeting with the president had stated in a conversation with journalists that "far from introducing palliatives, what government ought to do was to strengthen national institutions to create a feeling of self worth in citizens who should be prepared to pay for the services they enjoyed".

In concluding, I have a son in the house who clocked 5 years. He is a product of a private education so far, he was born in a private hospital, the water he drinks one buys, he has never had the privilege of a public park, he is growing up in an environment of ethnic hate, religious divide, and a search for political correctness, one for which politicians promises haircuts for men that are bald and talk of bridges were no rivers exists.

As a citizen, one battles daily to stay patriotic, raise these kids in an era of palliatives, in a system that suffers from systemic failure as a result of both the governor and the governed.

As it was in the days of SAP, so it is today, we go the same circle, commentators are literally given a free gift of prophecy, because nothing new is in the offing, an increase in price, a strike, a negotiation, a slight reduction, promises made, sufferings increase, the populace adjust, many hope, and wait, believing it will be their turn to steal--and the palliatives pale away and we continue to tell kids like my five-year-old stories of a golden past.

The Yorubas say 'Ohun méjì ló yẹ Ẹ̀ṣọ́: Ẹ̀ṣọ́ jà, ó lé ogun; Ẹ̀ṣọ́ jà ó kú sógun', meaning that only two things are proper for a warrior: the warrior goes to war and drives the enemy off; the warrior goes to war and dies in battle. What we want as Nigerians, how we want it, when we want it, we win or lose, time will tell.

“In Taraba, Politics, Religion Don’t Mix”--Emma Bello
In this interview, Taraba state’s commissioner for information, culture and tourism, Emmanuel Bello, noted that the state is best suited for tourism activities giving the peaceful ambience of the state. He said all the religious and ethnic groups have learnt to remain peaceful and united in the face of provocations from some quarters, stressing that politicians can’t use religion to divide the state. Excerpts.


How has Taraba state managed religious harmony, especially in these testy times when there are crisis elsewhere in the North?

Well, to be honest with you, we have grappled with other clashes of culture in the past, but religious disharmony is not one of those types of crises. In fact, I can boldly say that religious crisis is alien to us in Taraba. We’ve had our fair share of ethnic battles in the past. But somehow God has been kind to us in that we don’t have serious religious challenges. This is due largely to our cultural, ethnic makeup in the state. There is hardly a home where you would not find members of the two major faiths as family members co-existing. In my household, for example, which may be seen as a Christian home, many of us are still Muslims. In short, we all live together and we won’t understand anyone coming to ask us to have a fight because of differences in religion. It would be a strange invitation to us.

You can come and start telling me I should look at the other fellow religion. It won’t work because I grew up together and we have come to see ourselves as one. Even a smooth-talking politician cannot campaign on the grounds of religion. He would be ridiculed and chased out because religion is not an issue in Taraba politics. Also, a religious crisis in Taraba will mean one brother is fighting another. It would mean families are torn apart. I give you an example. You know, my colleague the commissioner of health, Prince Gabdo, told me the other day that he is on the advisory board of the Christian Association of Nigeria in Gashaka-his local government! Can you beat that? A muslim in CAN? Now, this is a blue blooded fulani prince. Yet, he is in CAN. During the campaign, I watched as he sang many Christian songs at the rallies in his local government. The way the zumuntan mata easily sang with him, you would think Prince is a choir master.

So we are like that. As I speak with you, many journalists especially from the South still think our governor is a Muslim judging by his name. Many letters to my office directed to him will often add the prefix “Alhaji”. The governor’s name is Danbaba Danfulani Suntai but he is a Christian. Yet, he is very much at home with Muslim, just like everyone is at home with every other person. We really don’t make any thing out of these in Taraba.

Beyond this, what other deliberate policies are in place to stave off ethnic or religious tension?

First, the governor himself is detribalised. I already told you that even in his family, Islam features greatly. So as a person, he is at home with Muslims, as well as Christians. Then in his appointments and other distribution of the dividends of democracy, he ensures everyone is carried along. Let me tell you something that happened only recently. The governor constituted a board but had to quickly change it when someone observed that a certain segment of our society wasn’t represented on it. Some arrogant fellow would have spurned all entreaties and stick with his or her decision. But, not Suntai. He hurriedly amended it to for balance and to carry everyone along. In fact, he even apologised for the oversight because he is a human being. When last did you see a chief executive of even a chemist shop who apologised to his subjects? So, we are all learning from him how not to show what Hausa people call “babanchi” i.e discriminations based on any indices.

He shocked the whole state recently when he cited the federal university in Wukari. Remember that many of his colleagues were moving the facility to their villages, even when the place has no access road. But a detribalised soul that he is, he took the university to Wukari. It is gestures like this that endears him to everyone.

He has also built both the Christians and Muslim centre in the state capital to serve as multi-purpose centres for the faith. Then he appointed both a Christian and Muslim adviser to counsel him on the religions. In Taraba, Christians celebrate sallah, just as Muslims fete with Christians on their festivals. Like I told you, we are together twenty four hours and now it is hard to tell the difference. So as a Christian, you must have a Muslim as a member of your family, a friend, a colleague or a neighbour. And if you are a Muslim, it is the same thing. No segregation! We should be exploring these relationships to foster unity amongst our people in other parts of Nigeria. It is mutual suspicion that breeds religious acrimonies. Even in the current budget, the governor has made provision for a huge sum that would go to servicing both religion. The money would go into building and m,aintaining places of worship, centers, pilgrimages and others. Everything would be on equal basis. The governor recently gave out hilux vans to all the sixteen local governments. In each local government the CAN got a hilux van. The Muslim Council got one too. Again, it is about balance and not showing any form of discrimination to anyone.

What about political offices? Your governor has been accused of filling his cabinet with more Christians than Muslims?
That is an erroneous notion because like I told you, Taraba does not consider religion in any political decision. We just do our thing based on conscience, competence and geographical spread. In our history as a state, religion has never featured in our allocation of the resources of power. So for instance, at various times, Muslims or Christians have occupied all the “sensitive “positions in the state like that of the SSG, Head of Service or commissioners of all the portfolios. We have had Muslim SSG’s. The current one is a Christian. It never bothers anyone. All we need is good governance. There was a time when all our senators were Muslims. We didn’t see them as Muslims, but rather as Tarabans who are occupying positions. We have had ministers, ambassadors, and other federal appointment who were either Christians or Muslims across the years. All that is not a problem to us and no one has ever made it an issue. So for anyone to fall back to religion in addressing these issues, it is mischief at its best. People who talk like that have run out of cogent points to criticise our governor.

What about cultural fusion?
Taraba, probably, has the largest ethnic group in Nigeria. We have over 50 ethnic groups speaking close to a hundred dialects. Yet we live in peace because we have learnt to joke about our differences. For example, the Tiv and the Fulani have an ancient joke between them. According to the lore, the Fulani once gave the Tiv man a cow to keep. The tiv then killed the cow and ate it up. The next day, the Fulani guy asked the tiv for his cow. The answer he got from the tiv is the basis for the joke they have between them till today. We have such jokes all over the country. We must bring them back and learn to laugh rather than fight. In Taraba, we have an abundance of such play among the people. My ministry would soon make a compilation of such jokes. We also have shared values and many of the ethnic group can find common grounds in what they eat; what they drink; or some common bond in history. Intermarriages have also solved many of the crises, just as other forms of interaction are helping to douse tensions.

Also from time to time, we come together as a people in cultural fiestas. In such events, we appreciate each other: our dances, songs, costume, masquerades, history, cuisine, implements, and every cultural artefact.

Monday, 13 February 2012 15:56

Nigeria: A Revolving Combubaration

One boasts only about things proper to boast about; whoever heard of the boast, "By this time yesterday I had given my parent-in-law the beating of his life."?

The Federal Government has constituted a National Refineries Task Force, headed by a former finance minister and foremost economist, Dr. Kalu Idika Kalu.

Same man that was only last month tear-gas by the police in Lagos-

The government went ahead and appointed former boss of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as Chairman of the Petroleum Revenue Special Task Force.

Same man who just months asked Jonathan to resign for being/running a corrupt government.

As far back as 1978, during Obasanjo's first coming we called it Operation Feed Nigeria, Umaru Dikko headed a presidential committee on Rice during the Shagari era, and today we even have a taskforce on fertilizer.

Committee on the reorganization of police, committee on oil pollution, and special review committee apparently reviewing something.

There is the committee that audited contracts in Niger Delta, also local content committee. There was a committee set up to probe the now re-arrested Boko Haram suspect.

I recall a special committee to look at the rebrand Nigeria project.

In the 1970's it was the Indigenization Decree, today, if we allow some states or the Federal government, they would privatize even the air that is indigenous to us as Nigerians. We have seen it all from the National Council of Privatization to BPE.

We have seen the metamorphosis from ECN, NEPA, and PHCN, distribution companies, gas turbines and water turbines yet very little in movement. The energy problem still remains a big problem that defies solution.

Then President Shagari, and his team simply called it 'austerity measure', Buhari/Idiagbon called theirs just 'essential commodities'. IBB said SAP was the best as recommended by Brentwood blue-eyed economists.

Obasanjo paid all the debts or most at least, on the advice of World Banker Ngozi Iweala. Sadly between when we started the aborted 7 point agenda and the recent transformation cum fresh breath government, we again owe as much as we paid off and were forgiven off.

Rapidly we saw the likes of MAMSER, NOA, Rebrand Nigeria ala Frank Nweke, and Great People Great Nation ala Dora. We have been victims of PAP, NAPEP, NEEDS and SEEDS...today we are told it is SURE.

In the last 30years we have removed subsidy for virtually same reasons. Same story that we were tackling petroleum product trafficking. From coup plotters, mafians, kitchen cabinets to cabals...still combubarating.

We were witnesses of the then Lagos Administrator Buba Marwa's 'operation sweep' in Lagos. Today if it is not Operation yaki, it is operation thunder, rainbow, sunset, or desert, and all these excludes mass murder perpetuated by operations led by misguided elements in all sections of the country.

From the Dele Giwa bomb, the ones during Abacha, to the knockouts that go off in Borno, Yobe, Kaduna, Kano, Abuja, Plateau...there seems no respite in sight. Citizens maimed and killed for no fault known to them.

NADECO, SNG, CD, CLO, monitoring and fighting for democracy, human rights and elections. Yet all seems a combubaration.

If its not AREWA, it is OPC or Afenifere, Ohaneze or MASSOB but still the ordinary man cannot make meaning out of the whole drama.

Only NNPC has countless Presidential taskforces on the oil sector, we have several advisory councils on almost all the existing ministries. Waste remains the order of the day as both human and financial resources fly in allowances and logistics for duplicated functions.

We are saddled with law keeping and investigating bodies that include the EFCC, ICPC, DSS, DMI, Police CID plus other special 'mechetra' taskforces and criminal bodies.

The National Assembly has lost count of the numbers of probes. Its internet site which should provide such information even needs to be probed. All these probes, only probe certain pockets as the poor masses eyes probe in anticipation that succor may come their way to no avail.

Not much has changed, rob with arms and be shot. Steal billions with the pen and be negligent in your duty at the top and you get a slap on the wrist, a national award and an appointment.

Police reform, labour reforms. Aviation sector reforms, Cassava, ofada rice and cement reforms. Banking reforms ala Soludo, ala Sanusi...a case of same difference.

Whether its board, bureau, cabinet, commission, council, trustees, panel, agency, authority, audit, inquisition, probe, hearing, inquiry, and consultants. It's all the same combubaration.

Combubaration of Okigbo report and Oputa panel, the Lemu panel and the Niki Tobi panel, Judicial inquiry, commission or Presidential force, Legislative probe or summon, it is like the sketch of two characters who met on the street, homeless and jobless.

The struggle at stake is how to make economic ends meet. To the point of the proverbial manner that will fall from heaven. With no help forthcoming for their situation they decide to waiting by the roadside until the good times will come.

As Don King says "the blackman fights from womb to tomb". In Nigeria, we keep doing the same thing expecting a different result.

We believe let us beat our in-laws, it will solve the problem.

Combubaration means 'a combination of issues', of combination confusion and conflagration: the story of Nigeria, nobody wants to take responsibility for the failure of somebody, and somebody says it is nobody. As we move in a combubaration...where we want to go, our fate lies in our hands, only time will tell.

Tuesday, 07 February 2012 11:14

Let Us Break Nigeria Or...

Many times the Cheetah chases the Antelope; the Antelope outruns the Cheetah not because it is faster than the Cheetah but by reason of the pursuit. While the Cheetah is chasing food, the Antelope is running for its live.

"I only wish people would get away from this sentimental obsession of believing that those who call for an OPEN DISCUSSION on Nigeria are necessarily calling for Nigeria to break up, or that there is something sacrosanct about Nigeria, and that Nigeria can never DISINTEGRATE into 1000 pieces if care is not taken!

It was MAN that put Nigeria together. It is MAN that is holding Nigeria together as of today. It is MAN that is doing all the things that are threatening to break up Nigeria today. And it is MAN who can sit down to discuss and see if we can work out ways to fix all that is wrong with Nigeria!

If my marriage is threatening to break up, and I refuse to sit down with my wife, and if need be, with family and friends, marriage counselors or pastors and priests, then I cannot be serious about wanting my marriage to work, and not break up!There is nothing called a marriage made in heaven! It is you who can make your marriage a 'HEAVEN or a HELL'!

It is the same with nations: Nigerians are the ones who can make Nigeria a HEAVEN or a HELL for us, if we are only willing to sit down and TALK HONESTLY about what is ailing Nigeria, each group from his or her own perspective, and then see how we can arrive at WORKABLE COMPROMISES!

No one and no group can ever get 100% of what they want from any living arrangement, no matter how perfect!

Living together in a house, in a family or in a nation is always about being ready and willing to make COMPROMISES!

There were very few words that could have expressed the Nigerian situation better than the ones above, they are the virtual words of my friend and brother Dr. Valentine Ojo of Tall Timbers, MD in the USA. It is the story of Nigeria.

As I penned this admonition, MEND struck an AGIP trunk line in Brass Bayelsa, they called it a minor attack, a reminder that the issues are still there.

While they were at it, Mr. President and his erstwhile governor in same Bayelsa called each other liars. While it is difficult to say which of them was saying the truth. The fact is that both men represent the problem with Nigeria-mutual distrust.

Again as Val Ojo puts it- The oil producing areas feel they are being abused, neglected and used, and reaping no discernible benefits from their oil.

However mysterious Gbomo Jomo puts a twist saying "We have constantly warned Nigerians about Goodluck Jonathan and his train of idiots running Nigeria. Events of the last few months have vindicated our position on the inability of this moron to lead Nigeria anywhere but downwards".

Very harsh words, almost unprintable but coming from one's kinsman tells you there is trouble.

"Rather than address serious issues facing the nation and its citizens, Goodluck Jonathan squanders public funds on tribalistic sycophants and thugs calling themselves ex-militants".

This may be a lie, but it is equally not far from the truth.

The non-oil producing areas of the North, especially the North-East - to go by the recent revelations from Sanusi who should know - feel that they are not getting enough attention or their own fair share of the 'national cake'.

Yet we are witnesses of the squandermania, looting, and maladministration that have been meted out to the people there by their own leaders.

The South East feels that they have been neglected and not compensated enough for the ravages of the Nigerian Civil War. At the slightest provocation they are victims, but they have continued to be plagued by the leadership of dealers.

The South West feels they are being shoved away from center stage and gradually being marginalized, and that they are being held back in their desire to move ahead.

The Middle Belt feels that they don't even belong anywhere, neither to the South, nor to the North, that people don't even think that they exist or matter in the scheme of things.

The Muslim North feels that their religion is not being given enough playroom.

The Christian South feels the Christians are being persecuted in the Muslim North which they believe would like to Islamize the whole of Nigeria!

Nobody is really happy with the project called Nigeria. From teachers, doctors, farmers, mechanic, security agents.

Just ONE...one CLIQUE which has been, and which is still today benefiting from the current chaos in Nigeria, a CLIQUE that cuts across ethnicity, geographical area, religion, and even educational and social class or status since even ILLITERATES who were once socially disadvantaged yesterday, have today become "honorable politicians" - Senators, Members of the House of Rep, Governors, Ministers, Commissioners, Presidential Advisers, and Local Government Chairpersons - all ENJOYING the GOOD LIFE - at the expense of some 99% of the population!

Shouldn't we better agree to come together and talk about it while we still can, even if those talks are going to be long and surely complex...and even if we may never quite agree on the reasons why some elements in the society are disgruntled?

Must we continue in this fashion like an old rickety truck that is still barely moving, until that truck totally breaks down and can no longer move or even be repaired...?

I do believe this may be the only choice facing Nigeria and Nigerians right now: an open an honest discussion forum - not only with Boko Haram - and call it whatever you like, involving everyone with something at stake, where people can bring out their grievances, justified or not, in the open.

The sooner we resolve to do the more INTELLIGENT THING, the better for all of us I do believe.

Nigeria can simply not continue like this, and hope to exist much longer as one nation. The handwriting is clearly visible on the wall, and we are merely refusing to read it correctly!

The current crop cannot, it’s not an exercise the present NA can do or want to do but we have to draw modalities. It remains to wait and see if we are intelligent and mature enough to decide to do the right thing Time will tell.

Saturday, 04 February 2012 06:13

If You Ask Me About Nigeria...?

If you ask me; na who I go ask? The matter wey we see so, e tay wey e start. No be me go talk am, e heavy for mouth. If you ask me…The matter for ground…Eh! Na who I go ask? Omawumi

If you ask me; we were never really united, right from the word go. Mutual distrust and suspicions, a civil war, coups with several colorations, countless ethno-religious and socioeconomic clashes, an almost clueless political class and a citizenry sailing by these winds make us Nigeria.

But the matter wey we see so e tay wey e start, to a point asking the question how did we get here has suddenly become stale.

Despite all the cosmetic posturing we are yet to get the right formula--For fear of sitting it out with each other on a table.

If you ask me, I am sure many cannot recall how everything Chinese once inferior, is what we all go for, or how almost every disease can be cured in India. They planned and we watched and enjoyed our boom, it wasn't the money but how to spend it.

The same too much money, that made our ivory towers top class, when they were few but were top notch, now If you ask me; I don't know how we got to this point that ASUU goes on strike for months without end, resume, set exams for students that have been watching British Barclays Premiership, prostituting part time and engaging in political thuggery.

And we are bothered that the graduates are not only half-baked but in many cases not even baked.

If you ask me, I recall on two or so occasions we missed out of the continent's soccer fiesta the nation's cup. But its reflective of where we are, over 5 years, no Nigeria has been best in the continent, this year we are practically out of all the FIFA organized tournaments, including our forte; female soccer.

Nations progress, a step at a time, slowly and steadily nay Nigeria has at best been stagnant or debatedly retrogressive.

If you ask me, we have lost steam, many still cherish our lost glory, others passively fear our potential, sadly today we are not at the forefront of anything really good.

 

Our neighbours like Ghana, now an educational hub for us, its scary that if we let them, electricity will come from there. Since if you ask me, I will tell you Niger Republic has a new refinery and we don't.

There is the now heavy matter of Boko Haram. If you ask 10 commentators how it started, where, who, why and which, you will get at least some 6 versions. Is it like Egbesu, OPC or MASSOB, or different, how different, are we all guilty or just a case of no one wanting to take the blame?

One thing is certain, e tey wey e start...As our population grew, the few infrastructures we had, which served were left to decay, new ones that were started ended up in a zoo that contains only Elephant projects.

Today who do we ask for explanation that Bayelsa gets 13% Derivation, generates billions for the nation but just joined the national electricity grid that in all purpose is no big effort because it barely has light. That Akwa Ibom gets 4-5 times more money than Nassarawa and Plateau put together from the federation account but is not any close to looking like Ghana simply because whether its Rivers, or Sokoto, Kano or Imo, we have dealers as leaders.

If you ask many, they say it was Jonathan they voted, how naïve to expect a crocodile to birth a dove, a nice man, he smiles a lot and gradually he will change Nigeria...that remains to be seen, if he changes Nigeria or Nigeria is actually changing him.

As a people we are tensed, Northerns are supposed to be afraid of palm oil from South, while Christians fear apple and oranges, Maiguardi and shoe shiner. While there is believe that we can surmount these wicked tantrum that is getting out of hand, I dare ask, at what cost.

Let us forget the messenger and take the message. How easy when the messenger is part of the matter.

If you ask me, this man had 8 years to bring change, instead he was as they all do, posturing, and blaming everything. So no be my mouth you go hear say former President Olusegun Obasanjo, stated the country needs real leadership now more than ever.

Speaking as the guest lecturer during the 41st convocation lecture of the University of Nigeria, Nsukka (UNN), he said time is ripe for the nation's leaders to holistically reform education, if indeed they are serious with the transformation agenda. If you ask me he knows they are not serious, he was there too and was not serious.

He said: This country cannot continue to wobble along like a stalked and wounded lion, walking to its death. We have immense resources. No be my mouth we go hear that even the devil tells convenient truth.

If you ask me, he did not write this and off course tells you what he thinks of his boy Goodluck Jonathan...

In the words of Churchill, we will never, never, never give up. But it remains a choice, everyday we are close to breaking point. Let us talk on the way forward or else time will tell...

"What food might this contain?" The mouse wondered. He was devastated to discover it was a mousetrap.

Retreating to the farmyard, the mouse proclaimed this warning: "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The chicken clucked and scratched, raised her head and said, "Mr. Mouse, I can tell this is a grave concern to you, but it is of no consequence to me. I cannot be bothered by it."

The mouse turned to the pig and told him, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The pig sympathized, but said, "I am so very sorry, Mr. Mouse, but there is nothing I can do about it."

The mouse turned to the cow and said, "There is a mousetrap in the house! There is a mousetrap in the house!"

The cow said, "Wow, Mr. Mouse. I'm sorry for you, but it's no skin off my nose."

So, the mouse returned to the house, head down and dejected, to face the farmer's mousetrap...alone.

That very night a sound was heard throughout the house - the sound of a mousetrap catching its prey.

The farmer's wife rushed to see what was caught. In the darkness, she did not see it. It was a venomous snake whose tail was caught in the trap. The snake bit the farmer's wife.

The farmer rushed her to the hospital. When she returned home she still had a fever.

Everyone knows you treat a fever with fresh chicken soup. So the farmer took his hatchet to the farmyard for the soup's main ingredient. But his wife's sickness continued.

Friends and neighbours came to sit with her around the clock. To feed them, the farmer butchered the pig.

But, alas, the farmer's wife did not get well...she died. So many people came for her funeral that the farmer had the cow slaughtered to provide enough meat for all of them for the funeral luncheon.

And the mouse looked upon it all from his crack in the wall with great sadness.

The Igbos say onye aghana nwanne ya meaning your neighbour's challenge should be of some concern to you!

The Zulu's puts it in this way, "Umuntu Ngumuntu Ngabantu": "A person is a person because of people." Other translations state "a person is a person through other persons." In either case, this compelling truth about what it means to be a "human" in the Afrikan context reveals the wisdom of our ancestors and the tremendous beauty of our way.

In a word it is the spirit of Ubuntu. Ubuntu: the spirit of reciprocal living that luminously envelops a community in healing energy radiating from the hearts of interdependent human spirits sharing, and loving.

Archibishop Desmond Tutu further explained Ubuntu as the essence of being human. Ubuntu speaks particularly about the fact that you can't exist as a human being in isolation. It speaks about our interconnectedness. You can't be human all by yourself, and when you have this quality – Ubuntu – you are known for your generosity. We think of ourselves far too frequently as just individuals, separated from one another, whereas you are connected and what you do affects the whole World. When you do well, it spreads out; it is for the whole of humanity.

How will Patience Jonathan feel if either of her kids, relatives lost a leg or limb in Madalla, how would she feel if she lost an in-law was killed in Kano, would it make more sense if any occupant in Aso Rock on assignment to Yola was butchered?

Do our leaders behave like the chicken, like the pig, like the cow, after all they all have security votes, and they can afford to ride in bullet proof vehicles purchased at the taxpayers' expense.

Is there any semblance of Ubuntu in the elite we call leaders, they are well versed in condolence visits and messages, experts in on-the-spot assessment, but they do very little to prevent the avoidable.

In recent times we have had the Solomon Lar panel, Shiekh Lemu commission, and specific ones for Kaduna, and Borno, but even when they are made public, there is no effort or will in putting the recommendations or findings to work.

No one cares up there, just rhetoric...Its either they are on top of it and the killings take place under, or they are bringing it under control after it has happened. Will we witness a difference in approach if the Senate President is kidnapped of governor attacked and killed?

Already the feeling for Boko Haram is deadly divided regarding their targets, many are now saying leave the poor masses and attack the ruling class. No one is being brought to book; no one is facing the wrath of the law.

According to an NTA report monitored by burningpot.com, they called the Bayelsa Explosion in Tombia dynamites, not bombs; my humble question, if the president's uncle was blown to shreds by it, would it have mattered if it was a bomb or dynamites.

The conspiracy theorists are spinning the theories in their dozens, when it capitulates, it will touch all of us. We need each other, we either retrace our steps now or it may be too late, the occupy Nigeria dance was just a tip.

Our leaders need us to lead, rule or govern, even the monies they steal, they still need us to impress, to suppress, and they cannot be in isolation. They can't be human all by themselves, and the earlier they see the mousetrap the better, sooner or later, the bomb may not just be an ordinary citizen, time will tell.

NB

The Concerns of a rat was told me by 'Dozie Kaidi Obiaku

Sunday, 15 January 2012 11:12

Occupy Nigeria According To ‘Amebos’

The defects and faults in the mind are like wounds in the body. After all imaginable care has been taken to heal them up, still there will be a scar left behind. Francois de La Rochefoucauld

A gossip is one given to tattling, idle talk or rumour especially about the personal or private affairs of others. A gossip is a busybody, chatterbox, and a parrot, in local parlance, here in Nigeria, we call such persons an 'amebo'.

What started out as a protest is today an 'Occupy Nigeria' movement. The issues have almost snow-balled while a docile leadership looks on, playing Tom and Jerry as the nation boils.

Every Nigerian has become an expert in oil production, sales, consumption and export. We see all sorts of figures and mathematics, everyone is an amebo, and even a carpenter is knowledgeable about refinery maintenance, turnaround and capacity, after all, there is a Google 'how to do' on almost everything on earth.

For Nigerians it's all about Fuel Subsidy Removal and nothing else, you won't blame us; it's the reigning and hopefully not the last hottest issue around, still there will be a scar left behind.

The government official amebo NTA has carried on like all is well, not that one blames them, the television house is part of what is wrong with Nigeria, the taxpayers pay, and the government dictates the tune. We are grateful for the people's amebo like this medium,that has lived up to their responsibilities.

What have we not heard from amebos, like Dr. Levi resigned, or that Reuben found his conscience and left Mr. Jonathan, and while Mr. Attorney General was threatening workers and protesters, some amebo found millions in dollars in his account, he said the accounts were his,but "money wasn't his''.

Amebo is Sanusi, caught in between economics and realism, or could anyone miss Labaran Maku, the onetime deceived student activist earning his pay as the chief amebo in charge of misinformation.

There is the ex-world Bank amebo that told us that FSR wasn't her idea but that of the 36 amebo governors, other amebos said it was the beautiful amebo in petroleum. However the fact remains that some amebos succeeded in 'confusing' my apologies, I mean convincing the amebo-in-chief.

While we occupied, amebo sources revealed that actually unknown to many we are where we are with this particular government because Mr. Jonathan had shoes but just won't wear it. He had better options but won't use it, cause he just cannot see it.

We have painfully and sadly been made to witness unavoidably deaths due to the only Police with force in the world, they tackle protesters with live bullets, shot into the air, and citizens are killed by accident and the government calls such extra-judicial killings of protesters just "passing away" according to Ngozi Iweala

Whether we finally get N65 or a bargain, the fact is that Nigerians know more today. The risk is higher; the nation is on the edge. Many amebos, lots of half-truths, misinformation, and propaganda, outright lies, thankfully the bitter truth too.

Truth such as this government has goofed and sadly they have been doing that since inception, and most likely will do till the end of its time.

One of the many things most people know now, including those that voted Jonathan and not PDP is that it makes no difference, Mr. President has made several speeches, watered talks, none addressing the issues, none of them firm, or convincing enough.

How government of over 40 ministers, countless advisers cannot address or arrive at a solution to the FSR problem tells it all. How 1600 diesel buses and a 25% reduction in basic salary of the executive will solve a problem of over 150 million people tells you how unimaginative the government is.

Only amebos can really tell us how one compares a SIM card to fuel,after deregulation Kerosene is on the increase, and almost unavailable all the time and diesel still has not seen any significant improvement.

Some amebo say the protests have been hijacked, but we must also recall according to Mr. Jonathan with Boko Haram in the Executive, Judiciary and Legislature, his government has equally been hijacked.

Amebos inquire why this government has pumped in so much energy into the poison called FSR, but cannot do same for security and other sectors of the Nigerian state.

While we are occupying,ethno-religious themed killings continue in Adamawa, Gombe, Yobe, Borno, and Edo, and in some cases government has been fingered.

Amebos watched with pain as India celebrated one year without a polio case and Obama sought to merge government agencies for more effectiveness and cut costs.

The Defence Minister said we should give them six months to turn Nigeria into London, the Petroleum Minister said the Port Harcourt refinery will be working by October/November, why not let all this happen first and let Nigerians pay N500 per litre for PMS.

Amebo sources say Mr. Jonathan is the most abused President in the shortest period of time,in recent times, Abacha was cruel, but now we know, he stole,but he was prudent too. Obasanjo was arrogant, vengeful but left us plenty money in the reserve and plenty problems too, late Yar'adua was slow, unfortunately today Jonathan is not moving and do you blame a nation suffering from expectation fatigue.

While all I have said is subject to all sorts of debate, and argument. I end with the truth; first Nigeria is not a private or personal property of a few. The truth is that this government is at loss on many fronts.

Nigerians are hatefully divided along different lines, despite all the tattling, rattling, gossiping and parroting. We cannot continue like this, Mr. Jonathan, it's not about talk, it's about action, act and prove us wrong, we doubt he can, we know he cannot, time will tell.

 

"Provision of road, electricity, water, health services etc are not palliatives, they are the duty of government".

But no one knows, those that know, do not care and some care in very hypocritical manners. Sadly in the words of a cabal, the people are no better than we the politicians and in truth, we get away with it because the people 'ALLOW' us to, and they want us to so long as we spend the loot on them.

With those lines I take this week's admonition, the first for the year 2012, one that has continued literally from the same point as 2011, with pain, insecurity and a government that lacks trust.

I have painfully looked on as government officials lie through their teeth on the fuel subsidy. I have watched Mr. Jonathan say the nation is not broke but will go broke if subsidy is retained. And equally promise that Nigeria will be like UK in few months when the effects of the removal of fuel subsidy die down.

While citizenry are peeling away from earth by reasons of avoidable deaths, fuel subsidy, simply put, reconstructing a cabal...the burden of a nation stands on the threshold of redrawing our socio-economic and political map.

It's laughable how 1600 diesel buses would solve the transportation problem of 36 states and cater for some over 150 million Nigerians, which roads would these buses ply. Same roads the cabal took money and refused to build and donated some back to the ruling party. Or is it the fact that, more accidents, more waste of Nigerian lives and chop for the cabal that supplied the buses.

For me, the problem with Nigeria is not fuel subsidy; it is corruption from top to bottom, confused leadership and a docile followership. A cabal, which like all things bad in Nigeria, has no return address.

Having read the Subsidy Reinvestment And Empowerment Program (SURE) booklet. I can't help but laugh more at the Nigerian and our ways, I can recite the 20 pages off heart, the first page is a picture of Jonathan, the second, Namadi, I am sorry that Ngozi did not make it..., two other pages detailing how they would share some billions amongst governors and LGA Chairmen...the last page is that of the map of Nigeria.

Leaving us with 14 pages of how a yet to be available and fraudulent over 1 trillion would be spent on the existing cabal or a new cabal.

Explaining the SURE document, the president stated that, "A robust programm structure has been developed to ensure adequate oversight, accountability and implementation of the various projects".

I will pick just one project area...Component 'D', the rail transport projects. Interestingly, in the last month of last year, China launched a super-rapid test train, which is capable of travelling 500 kilometres per hour; this was despite serious problems on its high-speed network.

The train, made by a subsidiary of CSR Corp Ltd, China's largest train maker, is designed to resemble an ancient Chinese sword, the official Xinhua news agency had reported.

In February 2011, the railways minister, Liu Zhijun, a key figure behind the boom in the sector, was dismissed over corruption charges that have not yet been tried in court.

How soon do we forget, Abacha brought the Chinese, millions went, Obasanjo brought the same Chinese billions disappeared, death did not give Yar'adua time, and again Jonathan is talking Chinese...fact is that like former Attorney General and Justice Minister said, the best we have done is to rehabilitate a Royal Niger Company Railway that should be in the museum with billions of dollars with nothing or very little to show.

No one is being punished, it was the 'inner caucus' during Obasanjo, Yar'adua had a small 'kitchen cabinet' and this group of self-serving leaders tell us they are faced with a cabal...

Government says the subsidy administration is beset with ineffiencies, leakages and corruption...tell me what is not beset with those three terms today, from health to education, security to agriculture. Previous governments have given the same rational for discontinuing subsidies, and no solution in sight...because of a cabal exploiting the leaks and getting away with it and citizens have to pay for it.

This government is promising 3,877km of railroad, 1,326km of roads and bridges, some incomprehensible safety net programmes that make no sense to the woman that sells bean-ball or the local tyre repair man. Monies that will again go, to some new cabal or the existing ones, just like all the power projects money that disappeared.

"There is simply no accounting for many decisions in our dear country and there never will be at this rate." A politician said this to a friend and the truth is that, we are in no change mode yet.

I end my admonition stating categorically that I will take back my comments and apologize if we get to buy fuel at N65 or less by the end of December 2012, as a result of Mr. Jonathan's well laid out IMF/World Bank pill.

Until then, the Yoruba's say Ẹni tó tan ara-a rẹ̀ lòrìṣà òkè ńtàn: àpọń tí ò láya nílé, tó ní kí òrìṣà ó bùn un lọ́mọ. Meaning, it is the person who deceives himself that the gods above deceive: a bachelor who has no wife at home but implores the gods to grant him children. (It is self-deceit to expect the gods to do everything for one, when one has not lifted a finger on one's behalf).

Mr. Jonathan ride on, and you cannot deal with the cabal with your-all-knowing lieutenants. I can only but ask Nigerians help themselves, lift a finger, beg the cabal or occupy peacefully for change, time will tell.

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