Politics

How Nigerian Youth Can Take Over Politics

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protesters-gather-at-gani-002

I bet you saw that heading and half expected me to talk about how we are going to protest and kick start a revolution either peaceful or violent that topples the current political class. We will do all this and have the country run by intelligent and politically awake youth who will take Nigeria to the promised land and we will live happily ever after. Right? Yeah sounds like something I would say or write 5 to 10 years ago. Naija has sucked most of the idealist out of me,  Not that I don’t believe in the revolution, I think we are due one in this nation. Dear Tuface, smh. Enough said! I believe we all have a right to voice our grievances and put pressure on our political class to effect positive change. Now, would they listen? Doubt it! We are a nation that does not listen to gently and well articulated points or people that are way too gentle, we are the gra gra nation; a nation of Warri no dey carry last, of sharp lagos boys and bini boys, of mallams and Okoros who wont hesitate to cheat you in the market unless you “open eye” for them. This is Nigeria. Equal opportunity loudness, everyone is shouting yet very few actually make sense. Read the rest of this entry »

Break This Glass If Buhari Wins…

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As I write this, President Jonathan has called to congratulate President-Elect General Muhammadu Buhari on his historic win. It is the first time an incumbent president is losing in Nigeria. Prior to this elections and with the powers of procrastination I started writing a post which lay as a draft in my wordpress about how to win an election in Nigeria and the points I made were thus Read the rest of this entry »

A Compendium of Thoughts

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I don’t have an elaborate blog post but I figured I would just share a few of my thoughts on some things that have caught my attention recently

First, I would like to send my condolences to the family, friends and loved ones of those lost in the Kano bombings. 20 people and counting lost their lives in that tragedy(story here). As usual, the attack was followed by condemnation from the usual quarters and I bet there will be increased surveillance and road blocks in Kano while the perpetrators will go underground for a while allowing the people to be lulled into a false sense of security before they strike again. Yes, some inroads have been made with the state of emergency in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe but these people can blend into the population and migrate and we would be none the wiser. Nigeria is a country without law and order and hence these people will continue to thrive unless we address the issue of law and order. The same poor policing and investigative skills that allow armed robbers, kidnappers, ritualists, pedophiles, vigilantes to move around scot-free allows these terrorists to thrive.

Speaking of vigilantes and jungle justice, I read about an undergraduate student killed in badagry by an angry mob who suspected him of armed robbery (read the story here). While it clearly seems that it was not the case. This story is reminiscent of the Aluu 4 who were university students killed in similar circumstances over a year ago. I find it quite problematic that some people in our country feel it is justified to kill a person without trial if the person is an armed robber. What happened to innocent until proven guilty? What happened to the right of a person to be given a fair hearing? It is a shame that when it comes to petty thievery, jungle justice prevails but when the person is say a politician who has embezzled billions, that same angry crowd will throng around him singing his praises. Besides the obvious lack of a justice system, perhaps jungle justice is a product of some sort of subconscious societal frustration with the state of things and it spews out in hate and venom when a petty thief or armed robber is caught. Perhaps it is a recognition that the police might let the person go if he or she bribes them sufficiently. I can only postulate, all I know is that law and order does not exist in this country.

In a democracy the law is written by the legislature and in Nigeria the legislature is paid handsomely for their service or lack of service to the country. They are currently in the throes of constitutional review or amendment. Two things caught my attention. First is the issue of local government autonomy which I believe if implemented could bring plenty of development to the country seeing as the local government is the arm of the government closest to the people. Before now, the funds for local government were first sent to the state account and the governor remits it to the local government chairmen. Given the corruption that is part of our national culture, the LG funds are sometimes not given in their entirety to the LG chairmen and are used as a way of keeping LG chairmen in check and under the control of the governors at the detriment of the people and development of local communities.

The second issue that not only caught my attention but the attention of the whole country was the issue of renouncing one’s citizenship. The long and short of it is that there is a clause in there that allows any person who is married to be considered of age thereby allowing for child marriage. The honorable or dishonorable Senator Sani Yerima himself a man rumored to have married a 15 year old some years back championed the cause which set off the #childnotbride movement. The controversy brought to the fore the issue of girl child rights. I signed the petition and do sincerely hope that the controversy yields some fruit and at the bare minimum shed some light on not only the issue of child brides but child slavery (read house girl/house boy issues), women’s rights and so on. Politicians should stop the buffoonery and be agents of change.

In the category of politicians that try to sound smart but are nothing but entertainment for the populace falls Hon. Patrick Obahiagbon (story here). The grandiloquent former legislator clearly does not know the meaning of communication and efficient communication at that. He throws “big” words at the populace while discussing serious issues and makes a mockery of the issue being discussed. He distracts the populace from the main point of whatever he is talking about by his use of words. If I wasn’t sure that the man has a degree, I would have called him a stark illiterate. However, I will just stop at probably uneducated about the intricacies of efficient communication. What is the point of speaking of majority of the people do not understand you? It reminds me of a local champion who went to cram the dictionary so that he can impress his village friends with all the big words he know. The man is a clown, I told him so on twitter. Sir, I reiterate that you need a class in public speaking and efficient communication. Presidents and people of your caliber around the world speak plainly and argue their points intelligently. The use of words to confuse people speaks of a man insecure, unsure of himself and with an inferiority complex that necessitates the use of tricks to mesmerize the crowd and distract them from an emperor with no clothes.

You can see the tomfoolery for yourself below…

Ok politician bashing aside, I am quite happy that the APC has finally been registered (story here). I patiently wait to see what their manifesto would be like and what faces they would put up for the battle royale that the 2015 election is shaping up to be.

Those are some of my thoughts on some of the issues that caught my fancy. What are your thoughts about any of these issues? What ails you? Use the comment box wisely 🙂

Corruption: Evil Prospers When the Good Remain Silent

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police collecting egunje

How do you maintain your integrity in what seems to be a system that is corrupt at its core? How do you become an agent of transformation and change in a society where anything seems to go? Is it sufficient that you do not participate in the debasement of values? Or is the solution praying to a deity (read: God) and hoping that he comes down from heaven to change a situation that you are not willing to change yourself?

Clearly if I had the answers to these questions, I would write a book and be on a world tour giving public speeches and making appearances for a cool sum of money. Although if you ask me a lot of self-help authors and the like give common sense advice and get paid for it. Like a certain former US president who came to Nigeria and said the problem of terrorism in Nigeria is tied to education. No shitting me Sherlock! I could give you that pearl of wisdom for free. I’m not hating, I’m just saying. If you know me, do not give me a self-help book as a gift ever in your life. It’s tantamount to dipping a demon in holy water (if you believe that kind of thing exists and the proffered dipping is the solution). That being said, I would probably smile, collect the gift, say thank you and walk. I will like not read the book, I will skim through it if you persist.

When it comes to corruption in Nigeria, I believe we are all aware of what it is and the crippling effect it has had on our society. You would hardly hear a group of Nigerians discussing politics and not mention the issue of corruption. It is in everybody’s top 5 reasons why Nigeria has failed to live up to expectation or depending on who you speak to why Nigeria has failed. Generally our leaders and government institutions get blamed for being bastions of corruption. To quote Monsieur Jesus in Matthew 7:13 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” I know not all Nigerians are corrupt but I believe many of even the honest ones are silent partners in the culture by committing what we would call in catechism, the sin of omission.

There is a prayer said at the beginning of the catholic mass that goes thus (dear God, does the fact I know and remember this and some bible stuff mean I m not all that evil even though I m a born sinner)

“I confess to almighty God, and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have sinned through my own fault, in my thoughts and in my words, in what I have done and WHAT I HAVE FAILED TO DO; and I ask blessed Mary, ever virgin, all the angels and saints, and you, my brothers and sisters, to pray for me to the Lord our God.”

Notice the highlighted part, it is believed in le doctrine of the Papists that a failure to act in the presence of evil is in itself a sin. Are you beginning to see my point? When it comes to corruption many of the honest and good people in our country turn a blind eye to whatever shady dealings are going on around them, they refuse to outrightly report the wrongdoing. Sometimes it is because even the bosses are corrupt, other times it’s a fear of losing your job in a country that has become a Mecca of unemployment, other times still it is a moral/religious thing where the person is honest to go to heaven and is a practice in self control much in the same way as some people abstain from sex, he/she wants to partake in the looting but he/she has learnt control through religion. In a country, where a governor who loots the treasury but does some work is hailed as being at least cleaner than his counterparts it is little wonder that the man or woman that chooses not to participate in bribe taking, contract inflation and the other potpourri of corrupt practices is sort of a moral hero, an example of people to look up to.

On the other hand, the whistle blower and person who goes against the corruption is often seen as a trouble maker; a person who refuses to eat and wont let others eat (there must be an African proverb that captures this sentiment). In many cases such people do not end up wealthy, they end up chewed up and spit out by a system that seems rigged to punish crusaders against corruption. Their lives are slandered, people will make up rumours about them most likely the corrupt people in the first place. If their honesty elevates them, they might become targets for assassinations and many of the like. It is reasonable to say that the typical reward for standing up to corruption in Nigeria does not encourage people to stand up to corruption so we all sit down and play dumb to what is going on around us or make it known that we don’t participate in such (example – Ah! No involve that madam o, she go spoil our runs. I hear say she be deeper life. Them no dey collect bribe)

It is a trifle sad that I have to act all abstemious, sanctimonious, holier than thou before people can safely assume I will not participate in their feast of corruption. If you are a yuppie person who seems generally fun and street smart chances are people will try to co-opt you into their schemes, it is left for you to say no and ignore the actions or perhaps your job or life might be at stake. No kidding. Stories abound of an employee who refused to engage in the nation’s past time or refused to give kickbacks to the boss and was ignored for promotions, or even set up to be fired or worse still put in a dangerous place where an accident was quickly arranged to silence the person who would not participate.

The reason the average Nigerian will tell you straight up that we are not corrupt is that there is a silent majority who sit on the side lines watching the evil being done who would not engage in it themselves. As much as in some relativistic way of thinking, it is admirable that we have a large number of individuals who are honest. I think it is naïve to believe that we will be ever able to minimize corruption in our nation if this silent majority does not turn into a vocal majority challenging the perpetrators of corruption, refusing to let their subordinates engage in bribe taking. Perhaps when this happen, then we can talk about fixing Nigeria.

Readers, So how do you act when faced with corruption? In what ways can we as individuals fight corruption in our nation?

Democracy Day: What is Nigerian Democracy?

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Goodluck Jonathand

I was born and came to consciousness of what democracy was in an era of military rule. In primary school we were told that “Democracy is the government of the people, by the people, for the people.” Sounds like a great soundbite and of course I thought my primary school teacher “Uncle Francis” (No, he is not my father or mother’s brother, we just had a habit of calling teachers Aunty and Uncle, smh) was so smart until I grew up and found out it was a quote from Abraham Lincoln. Back to the matter at hand, if democracy is people driven as implied by the definition; what if the majority of people in question are a set of selfish, bigoted, biased, unpatriotic, power hungry, wealth driven, corrupt and illiterate human beings waiting for God to come down from heaven to fix their country himself when clearly they aren’t God’s chosen people (read:Israel?)? Happy Democracy Day Nigeria!

Yes, some of you are thinking shame on me for being so darn pessimistic. If you are looking for a feel good message, I believe a prosperity preaching pastor would be more up your alley. Don’t get me wrong, I bet there are things to be optimistic about in Nigeria but forgive me if I fail to see them at this moment. Democracy is great in principle and when you look and think about it, Nigeria has managed to sustain 14 years of democracy and that is quite an achievement. From the pseudo-dictatorial days of Obasanjo to the laissez-faire, amnesty giving and slow motion presidency of Yar’adua to the clueless and drunken stupor of a presidency of Goodluck Jonathan (You gotta love a man that can handle his liquor. Link), of course one would be amiss to mention that all the regimes have had one thing in common, corruption to varying degrees of intensity.

I have heard it said that a people deserve the type of leadership they get. Definitely that is the case in Nigeria. How do you expect your leaders not to show ethnic bias and nepotism when majority of Nigerians mistrust people of other ethnic groups or regions or on the flipside only trust people of their own ethnic group or region? How do you expect the leaders not to be corrupt when people are consistently cheating each other in business, marketplaces and homes daily, when people are basically waiting for their turn to taste part of the national cake? How do you expect the government or leaders to value the lives of their citizens when the citizens don’t feel outraged or upset over the loss of a single Nigerian life as long as it doesn’t affect them?

Truly truly I say unto you that even if we have a free and fair election it wont solve anything whatsoever. Why? Well first of all if democracy is the will of the majority, what if the majority vote based on ethno-religious bias and do not vote for the most qualified candidates? Will that produce leaders capable of changing Nigeria? Do I hear someone living under the delusion that Nigeria is on the fast track to being a nation free of ethno-religious bias? (#nawash) What if the people vote based on monetary persuasion? When such leaders get elected and seek to recoup their electoral investment with interest through corrupt practices, are they not somewhat justified? What if the parties are only concerned with the attainment of power for the sake of power, influence and wealth and not because of any genuine desire to move the country forward? What if the politics of the country is not policy driven and almost all the parties have similar or same manifestos? I guess the concept of choice goes out the window. What if even an election amongst 35 governors cannot be properly done without controversy? Where is the hope for 2015? What if the country still has political godfathers capable of single handedly deciding the outcome of an election with their power, influence and wealth? What if the parties keep recycling the same politicians with the same ideas they had 30 years ago? What if the youth are not any better and seek power for the sake of popping more bottles of champagne in Abuja clubs? Democracy is a hell of a thing, no?

Democracy is a great thing when you have a people that are willing to put aside petty differences. It is a great thing because it gives rooms for a pool of ideas to be shared and the best ideas are utilized to move the country or polity forward. Democracy is a great thing because it allows for checks and balances and leaves no room for any individual group to completely control a country. Democracy provides for an independent judiciary, legislature and media. Democracy makes the government accountable to the people that put them in power supposing they did. Democracy is a beautiful thing when a country has moved beyond vying for regional dominance and seeking to find policies that will better the lives of citizens. Democracy is delivering dividends in security, education, health, power, infrastructure, agriculture, poverty eradication, reducing the wealth gap, fighting corruption, fostering unity, peace and progress.

Once again, Happy Democracy Day my fellow Nigerians. Ladies and Gentlemen, What is wrong/right about our Nigerian democracy? How can we make it better? Is there hope for this country? Will the poor not wake up and eat the rich one day? I humbly await your comments.

Where are you from? Indigene Status in Nigeria and Being a Foreigner in One’s Land

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Nigerian states

The Nigerian legislature is planning to do a review of the 1999 constitution that was basically a conglomeration of past decrees and constitutions from republics past with a pinch of salt from the military leaders and some “politicians” at the time. So in fact, it did not truly encapsulate the views, preferences, consensus, scruples and prejudices of the Nigerian people. So indeed I applaud the attempt by the Senate and House of Reps to review the 1999 constitution. I further applaud the use of people’s forums where each representative goes to his/her people and hear their views and opinions about the upcoming constitutional review. Now if and only if each representative and senator votes for propositions and suggests them for the review according to the views of the people that he/she represents then ladies and gentlemen we might be in the throes of true democracy in Nigeria. That being said I would have preferred a general referendum in which there is first a collation of issues to be considered for the constitution review and then it is put back to the people to vote. Call me an idealist or perfectionist but wouldn’t that have been grand to have the views of every Nigerian reflected in the constitution? Ingest the idea, let it digest and excrete it in the appropriate area while I go to the topic of the day.

When two Nigerians meet anywhere in the world, after establishing that the other person is Nigerian, they ask a follow up question, “where are you from?” This question many a times made me cringe but I dutifully and smugly answered, “I am Nigerian.” And walk away.

In Nigeria there is a policy, doctrine. Principle that has for a while given reason to shake my head vigorously. As the heading says, it is the issue of indigeneship. Why did I preface this with talk of the constitutional review because one of the issues under consideration is what makes a person an indigene of a state or area in the country. What?!! You are surprised? Galled? Amazed that a person who is already a Nigerian has to further certify that he is an indigene of a certain area? Me too! Not that I did not know that this was the case but I do absolutely think it is quite the retrogressive idea and policy. In Nigeria, the concept of indigene colloquially means that a person can live for years in a certain area and never be an indigene of the said place, you can be born in a place and not be an indigene. You are an indigene of where your grandfather and perhaps 3 or 4 generations before you settled down, you are an indigene of the area where your ethnic group is predominant and last of all you can be an indigene of a place that you have never lived in for a full year in your life except for Christmas holidays when you go for a visit.

The issue of the indigeneship is an interwoven nest of tribalism, regionalism and a general moratorium on the concept of a united and one Nigeria. Indigeneship is the reason why people who are of the same ethnic group can connive to cheat another person of a different ethnic group because they believe the person is not their “brother” even though one of the conspirators has never lived in the prescribed state of origin and speaks “his language” with a funny Lagos accent. The concept of the indigene also comes in play in certain universities where a cachment area is applied. For those not in the know, a cachment area is group of states surrounding the said universities where indigenes of the said states are given preference over those from other states in terms of admission. Indigeneship comes into play when government is trying to apply federal character where people from all regions are represented. Indigeneship is also the reason a person who has never lived in a certain state can become governor of the said state to the detriment of the “settler” who has lived there for perhaps 30 years. And we wonder why our states don’t progress, men and women who spent their whole lives in Lagos and Abuja wake up one day and run for the executive position of a state they don’t know about and we wonder why they can loot without a conscience.

Part of the reason for the Plateau crisis that started in the early 2000s was that the Hausa/Fulani who were perceived as “settlers” were trying to “dominate” the political arena of the state to the detriment of the “indigenes”. The same thing can be said for many ethnic/religious clashes in places such as Kaduna where the indigenes or settlers happen to be predominantly of one religion while the other side is of the other so when a clash occurs it is put in terms of religion because no one wants to admit it is basically a political tussle between a typically disgruntled indigene population and rising settler population. The ethnic cleansing that followed the coups of 1966 that eventually led to the Nigerian civil war was clearly a case of the indigenes of the north being goaded by their leaders and sentiment to see the Igbo settlers not as partners in progress but as foreigners who have come to dominate them.

The serious problem I see with the whole concept is that every Nigerian who is living in an area outside his “ancestral” homeland is very reluctant to put down deep roots in the said area. Most people are waiting for the other shoe to drop so they can run back “home”. This leads to the strong sense of suspicion amongst people of different group. There is a sense of we against them because we do not truly see every Nigerian as belonging to every part of the country.

Personally, I was born in Lagos and for the most part grew up in Abuja. However I am an Indigene of the great state of Adamawa. I am proud of my ancestral lineage and for half my life I have visited my state once or twice a year. I happen to not speak my language but can speak Hausa the lingua franca of northern Nigeria. I would like to think of myself as very much a Lagos and Abuja citizen as one of Adamawa. Anyone who has met me knows that my thinking has been greatly shaped by my upbringing in Lagos and Abuja. It is my humble opinion that every Nigerian should be able to be a citizen of every part of the country. The new constitution should factor in places of birth, places where people live in order to set down the framework of a future united Nigeria. I am not under the illusion that changing the constitution to give me the right to be an indigene of wherever I live will make everyone in the said area accept me but I do believe it will help in future generation to foment a sense of oneness so that our children and grandchildren can grow up in a truly united Nigeria and not be foreigners in their own country.

So folk, what do you makes a person qualified to be an indigene of a certain area? Is it right to give preference to indigenes of a certain area if we are all Nigerians? Are there mental borders erected in the country preventing free movement of people? Are we truly in a free country if a person cannot choose to live anywhere in the country and enjoy the same privileges as other citizens? Isn’t this some type of ethnic apartheid? I would love to hear your views ladies and gentlemen, use the comment box wisely…

Bad Religion and the Audacity of Idiocy

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protest

I have half followed the controversy surrounding the anti-muslim video (the youtube comments are smh worthy) that was released on the internet that depicted the prophet of Islam as a sadistic nymphomaniac with erratic tendencies. I believe it was meant to be a comedy or something of that nature. Its actually poorly executed though. On the one hand, I was appalled that the people behind this video were “Christians”. I put that in quote because I am sure that the video was certainly un-christlike and did little to promote peace in our strife-prone world. On the other hand, the wanton violence and threatened violence that followed the release of the video from a section of the muslim ummah (community) was certainly disheartening and seems to be a continuation of a cycle of reactionary and retaliatory actions that underscore what can only be poor PR for the muslim faith.

Of course in situations like this, I am fairly sure that there is moderate, intellectual section of the muslim population that have reacted with outrage and disgust but not on a physical level of assault and vandalism. These are people that recognize the video for what it is, a provocation. These people probably also recognize that Allah is the ultimate and they need not fight for author and finisher of all things. They know the truth about their prophet and no work of poor cinematic quality will tell them otherwise. The outrage comes from the level of close mindedness and disrespect on display in the video.

Before you christen my defender of the muslim faith, I will reiterate that I am a Christian and I was equally appalled by the video. I really wish these nuts who hide under the guise of Christianity to do these things will quit. Neither religion can really claim the moral high ground in its centuries old history. People have committed all sorts of atrocities in the name of Christianity and Islam, it is ridiculous. It takes someone who is really ignorant of the other religion or a poor student of history to stand and condemn the main figure of a religion. Of course, I have grown to a conclusion that all religion might be likened to a drug, too much of it might lead to addiction to the point of fanaticism or overdose leading to the death of the mind. And like any drug whose original aim is to cure a disease, in this case human immorality and lead to better health which I will liken to greater spirituality and adoration of God.

Of course there is a bigger context of a clash of cultures, of political power and subjugation to a world hegemony presumably representing a judeo-christian agenda versus a section of the world that feels backed into a corner and has resorted to violence but alas that is way above my pay grade and the scope of my musings. Of course I often wonder where free speech ends and the infringement upon the right of others to practice their religion in peace starts.

Clearly because you have the right to say whatever you like does not mean you say what can incite or denigrate others. Fundamentalism aside, the Qur’an does allude to Christians being the more friendly of the “People of the book” in Sura 8:52. That said, I do question the motives of the makers of the video. Were they trying to evangelize? If so, how exactly does pissing people off convince them that yours is the right religion? I wonder in ancient Sumerian.

I was listening to the song below, the title is catchy but the song is not really about the same thing as the topic though.

Disclaimer: I may not fully understand the intricacies of the controversy

What do you think of the controversy surrounding the video? Yay, Nay or don’t give a shay? Use the comment box below. Why do people resort to violence in defense of their religion? Does the creator of the universe not have the tools to defend himself? Speak you piece, peace or pieces s’il vous plait.