NIGERIAN CURIOSITY 2007: REVIEWS AND RESOLUTIONS

Monday, December 31, 2007

I cannot believe that this blog has been up and running for a year. 149 posts later (this article will actually be the 150th) and I am yet to wrap my mind around Nigeria and the complexities it presents on every single issue. Case in point, the recent Ribadu situation is mind boggling to many Nigerians, even those of us that have learned to expect the unexpected. Anyway, my post on that issue is forthcoming.

NIGERIAN CURIOSITY: A YEAR IN REVIEW
I started this blog as a way to voice my opinions on Nigerian issues. And, I simply hoped that my family members and a few friends would read my thoughts and engage me in debate/conversation. Thankfully, I have been able to have enlightening and educating discussions on a variety of topics with readers from all over the world. I must take this opportunity to thank every single person who has taken a moment from their busy life to spur discussion at this venue. Your insight has been invaluable.

In all, I believe that Nigerian Curiosity had an excellent year.There were challenging times, but looking back at the year, I can say with all honesty that I enjoyed my year of blogging about Nigerian politics and participating in social commentary. A rewarding moment came in May, when the Nigerian Proclamation (and its adjoining Epilogue) was used by Nigerians all over the world to speak out about our country in hope for a better future. The resulting media attention was great but from this initiative, I learned that Nigerians are desperate not only for a change, but for a way to effect change. I still believe that we can transform Nigeria into the country we want it to be because that change is already happening.

Apart from the Nigerian Proclamation, I thoroughly enjoyed blogging about social issues. Here are my top 5 picks of the year:

  1. Osu or Not to Osu
  2. "I'm Not really Attracted to Nigerian Women."
  3. Is Nigeria A Breeding ground For Terrorism?
  4. Ladies Beware! Mohammed Abubakar is here!
  5. Polygamy and the State of the Nigerian Union
The political stuff was good as well. It was fun writing about Yardy but I must admit that writing about the constant tug of power-war between Aondoakaa and Ribadu was exciting. I never in my wildest dreams could have imagined that two powerful Nigerians would squabble with each other so frequently and so publicly. If I may just say - thanks for the material, guys! And to imagine that those good days could possibly over. Here are my top 5 politics-related posts of 2007:
  1. 'Soiled Hands' & Strategy: What Nigeria Says About Democracy
  2. Who Will Fight For Nigeria (AFRICOM Pt. 1)
  3. Political Soap Operas, Nigerian Style
  4. Calls For Aondoakaa's Removal Increase
  5. AFRICOM ... The Dotted Line Has Been Signed
There are always the random things that somehow make it unto the blog. You know, the miscellaneous stories that you just cannot ignore.
  1. Nigerian Weapon Production
  2. A Nigerian Boy Did What?
  3. Ireland's First Black Mayor Is Nigerian
  4. Nigerian Ingenuity (If anyone knows how to reach the gentleman that is the subject of this post, please let me know.)
  5. Nigerian 'Mafia' Discovered in Italy
I hope that like me, you enjoyed reading most of the posts at this blog and I hope you will return for more because there will be changes at the blog that should help make this site even more educational and hopefully entertaining. Case in point, the already functioning Nigerian Curiosity TV.

LAST WORD OF THE YEAR
I can only end the year by encouraging people to be supportive rather than divisive. Imagine how much progress we would make if that was one of our many resolutions? There are a lot of Nigerians out there working very hard to do incredible things and a little support from their fellow Nigerians could make the difference. I, for one, have been very fortunate to receive support from people and their assistance has been instrumental. Additionally, we must keep in mind that there are elements out there that will strive to keep us apart, that will work tirelessly to prevent collaboration. These types live by a basic credo - Divide and Conquer, and Rule them all. We cannot let them succeed.

So, let us end the year on a good note. Delta State's DESOPADEC, has managed to provide free health care services to 67 communities and 17 local government areas of the state. The program plans to provide micro-loans to various cooperative groups, provided portable water, scholarships to needy students and will increase jobs by establishing an oil refinery. This program is a clear indication that states are tackling poverty and trying to improve the quality of life of Nigerian citizens. I can only hope that such programs will continue to gain strength and that Nigerians, especially the less fortunate, will have opportunities to escape poverty.

On that note, have a prosperous and peaceful new year!

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OBASANJO-BELLO & THE ANTI-CORRUPTION CRUSADE

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

For years, people have made allegations against Obasanjo and his administration and finally, the anti-corruption crusade has landed at his door. Just last week, his daughter, Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, was accused of creating an alias to receive illegal contracts worth N3.5 billion while her father was President.

Various individuals and groups have been quick to distance themselves from Obasanjo-Bello and her father. Aondoakaa announced that Yardy's administration will not intervene in this matter but will instead allow EFCC to finish its investigation. Even her fellow politicians have gone for the jugular as there are calls from AC members for her to step down from her position as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Health. Groups like Afenifere are also demanding further investigation of the contract by the EFCC. Finally, there is a push in the National Assembly for a probe into the affairs of Obasanjo's administration, specifically a N59 billion telephone loan.

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EVERYONE'S GOT THAT CHRISTMAS FEELING...

Monday, December 24, 2007

Who said militants don't have a heart? MEND announced a Christmas ceasefire to give the Federal Government, average citizens and of course expatriates a break from constant violence and uncertainty. This is on the heels of another 'militant group' giving the Federal Government 48 hours to release Ibori. I take it that these militants are not one and the same. Nonetheless, I leave you to your own conclusion.

Although it only lasts for 24 hours on the 25th, it is enough for all of us, I think, to be thankful. So, from Nigerian Curiosity, here's wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas, continued peace and prosperity.

My only Christmas wish is that the quality of NTA Network News gets better. It saddens me that I have to watch the news in black and white. But, some news is better than no news, right? Anyway, season's greetings and regular posts will return on Wednesday!

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IBORI, THE EFCC & THE FUTURE OF NIGERIA'S ANTI-CORRUPTION CRUSADE

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

After reading the more than 100 charges leveled against James Ibori, I am once again shocked at the depth of human greed that some of us are capable of. Ibori's supporters do not have to remind me that he is innocent until proven guilty. However, I must state that the evidence against him is overwhelming, and recent revelations of his criminal past in the UK, his connection to the Abacha regime and to the murders of certain Nigerians will make it hard for Ibori to ever clear his name in a court of law, talk less of the court of public opinion. Nevertheless, as a believer in the importance of the legal system, I wish Ibori the best.

Despite the excitement that this scandal has generated for many Nigerians, I cannot help but try to consider what is going to happen next. The EFCC has stepped into uncharted territory - Ibori is the biggest fish to have fallen into Nigeria's anti-corruption crusade. Will he go to jail? Will he be forced to return the allegedly stolen funds? When one considers the multitude of potential results, it becomes clear that the Ibori scandal is actually yet to begin. Therefore, I have simply tempered my expectations for this case and encourage others to do the same. Here is why...

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BREAKING NEWS: IBORI TRIED TO BRIBE EFCC

Friday, December 14, 2007

Oh my, it is never ending. Ibori offered a $15 million bribe to Ribadu, in cash to stop the EFCC's investigation into Ibori's allegedly corrupt and criminal activities. I will have a proper post on Ibori on Monday. Don't forget to check out the 10 Commandments of Anti-Corruption. I wish Ibori and others read this, it might have kept them out of trouble.

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CATWALQ'S ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMANDMENTS

Just in case you are unfamiliar with my friend Catwalq's blog, I thought to share some insight that she provided freely at her blog recently. In response to Nigerian Lighthouse's call to observe Anti-Corruption Day, Catwalq wrote some very inspiring words that can be considered a creed that all Nigerians and quite frankly, all people, should abide by. I must say that my own personal rules align with those expressed by Catwalq, and thus I have no problem sharing her insight with you. I would only add that I have always believed that modesty and humility are far too often ignored by average individuals. If more people practiced them, corruption could be less of a problem than it is today.

I must also take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who participated in Nigerian Lighthouse's Anti-Corruption Day effort. Some of you wrote 50 words, others engaged in challenging discourse on the initiative, some helped by offering constructive criticism and some others even took time from their busy schedules to draft incredibly insightful works on the matter.

A big 'Thank You' to you all. (And those of you reading this as well).

And here are the 10 Commandments of Anti-Corruption.

1. Do not encroach on people and their property. And do not allow them to do the same to you: If I am conscious that my actions not affect others and theirs, then I will be less likely to partake or indulge in something that violates the freedoms of others. Corruption does that.

2. Do all you have agreed to do: If I stand before you and say that I will serve you in some way, then I will. Politicians spout whatever will get them votes or even nothing at all, attain high positions and completely forget their promise to the society to serve. It is a matter of how strong your word is. My parents don't have millions but when they give me their word, they bend over backwards to fulfill it.

3. Every thought, word or action either pollutes you or purifies you: I choose to purified. So, I will not think ill, say ill or do ill to another person. That alone ensures that I am not corrupt.

4. Be responsible for your actions: I am not of the faith where there is salvation upon calling somebody's name; a technique that some people have taken it to mean that they can do whatever they like and then after, they just erase it with some mumbled words. I pay for every action and so does every body else. If you imagine that you can get away with something because the human justice does not get you, best be assured that spiritual justice is very fair and unbiased and that as Soul, you are going to enjoy in exact amounts the returns on any and everything you do. If not in this lifetime, then in another.

5. Be clean: Body, mind and deed. In the words of Kpakpando, KPOM!!!

6. Be grateful: I could have had it worse.

7. Do all things in the name of God: I don't think God will encourage you to take what He did not give to you, so don't even think to steal in the name of God.

8. Be careful what you say: A corrupt tongue will say corrupt things. And we all know the power of the spoken word. If, according to a majority faith, God said "Let there be Light" and there was light, does it not make sense that as his offspring, we can manifest or eradicate corruption with our words.

9. Be disciplined: Do the right thing at the right time and for the right reason

10. It's a matter of choice: Choose not to be corrupt.

My thoughts
Feel free to take the time to analyze and recognize the rules that you live by. It never hurts to take a personal audit of your life. Doing so can be very enlightening. And for those that are interested, take heart, despite the numerous shenanigans and manipulation of the system, Ibori was finally arrested by the EFCC and just might face justice after all. In time corruption will no longer 'pay' in Nigeria...

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CALLS FOR AONDOAKAA'S REMOVAL INCREASE

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On the heels of anti-corruption day, there is evidence that an increasing number of Nigerians are unimpressed with Yardy's pick for Attorney General of the Federation, Michael Aondoakaa.


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ANTI-CORRUPTION: THE NEED FOR PROPER SYSTEMS & INSTITUTIONS IN NIGERIA

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Corruption is such a difficult issue especially when it comes to Nigeria. Dealing with it is extremely complicated because so many good meaning people have differing views on the proper approach. Some Nigerians believe that corruption can be eradicated while others think that corruption is an ever present aspect of society and cannot be fully tamed.

Irregardless of your position on the issue, I believe that all Nigerians must in some way or the other commit themselves to improving Nigeria. I see corruption as the bane of our nation. It is incredibly entrenched in our everyday practices. Yes, I acknowledge that corruption exists in some form or the other in every country and institution. But unlike other places, Nigeria does not yet have the strong structures and systems that not only prevent corruption but dampen its negative effect on the most needy members of our society.

Consequently, Nigerians will greatly benefit from a system of enforced laws and institutions that educate about the ills of corruption and severely punish corrupt practices by individuals and entities regardless of their wealth or station. I believe that we will get there. But to do so, the average Nigerian must acknowledge the part he/she plays in fostering the system and commit to change.

We are on our way.

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ANTI-CORRUPTION DAY AT NIGERIAN LIGHTHOUSE - DECEMBER 9TH

Friday, December 7, 2007

In 2003, the UN declared December 9th as International Anti-Corruption Day. Nigeria has been celebrating the event with a week of conferences attended by various dignitaries and officials.

Nigeria is making positive strides in achieving the goal of a less corrupt society. We are finally investigating, charging and punishing corrupt officials and individuals. Even former rulers are trying to affect public opinion and salvage their reputations by throwing accusations of corruption at each other. This happened this week when
IBB told the country that OBJ's administration was corrupt.

In fact, Transparency International just stated that more Nigerians believe that the nation's anti-corruption campaign will prove successful in 3 years time. To keep such positive energy going and until we get to the point where we have strong institutions and systems that thoroughly limit corruption, why don't we all commemorate anti-corruption day by joining Nigerian Lighthouse in celebrating Anti-Corruption Day on December 9th and 10th.

The goal is to get as many people to write a 50 word (or less) message on how to eradicate corruption in Nigeria. All submitted messages will be posted at the website - nigerianlighthouse.org .

Most Nigerians have an opinion on how to stop corruption. Here is a chance to share that idea with the world! So, simply write a message of 50 (or less) words (that amounts to about 3 sentences) and send it to NigerianLighthouse@gmail.com. Then send another message to your friends encouraging them to participate as well. This will only take 5 minutes of your time and the rewards - sharing ideas that will definitely improve Nigeria - is more than worth it.


Corruption - your NO counts Corruption - your NO counts

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POLYGAMY AND THE STATE OF THE NIGERIAN UNION

Monday, December 3, 2007

I recently had the opportunity to engage in an interesting discussion with some fellow Nigerians on a range of subjects. You know, the usual suspects - who stole money, who owns the fancy house we all recently saw pictures of and of course (my personal favorite topic) - is Yar'Adua doing a good job. Anyway, we eventually began discussing polygamy. Our once casual conversation, soon became extremely loud and combative. I am now of the opinion that polygamy, like religion and politics, should only be discussed if you do not mind developing high blood pressure.

A few of us present felt that the practice should be banned. Others argued that it is a practice that has worked for centuries and should not be messed with. Besides, one person argued, it doesn't hurt anybody and it is legal in Nigeria.

This conversation got me thinking. Is polygamy constitutionally legal in Nigeria? Also, does the practice truly "not hurt anybody"? It also spurred me to later have a conversation with Ekene Agabu , a young Nigerian who is a motivational speaker doing a lot of good work around the United States. Our conversation also highlights the hopeful beginnings of Nigerian Curiosity TV (http://nigeriancuriosity.blip.tv/) - but we'll get into that later.

So, is polygamy sanctioned by the Nigerian Constitution? I did a Google search and everywhere I went, authors specifically stated that polygamy is legal under Nigeria's Constitution. Since I typically never trust anything until I have seen it with my own eyes, I took a look at the Constitution. I can unequivocally say that I did not come across the term 'Polygamy' in the Constitution. In fact, marriage was mainly referred to in the context of Sharia Law. Now, I know that many Nigerian men marry more than one wife (and can even maintain a few mistresses all at once) and I have never had the impression that such is illegal. So, I will simply associate this general belief that polygamy is legal to the fact that polygamy is a cultural/religious practice. Maybe that is why the Constitution failed to address it. Or, maybe it was ignored the same way tribes were not registered during the last national census.

As to polygamy not hurting anybody, I beg to differ. I come from a polygamous family and I can speak to the dysfunction that polygamy generates. Some fractured families exist in constant strife with mothers jockeying and fighting for attention, status, property and respect. I am sure that there are some polygamous families that manage to avoid the negative impact of polygamy but I challenge anyone to prove to me that those families were free of dysfunction. It just is not possible!

I personally feel that polygamy should be illegal. Of course, I understand that Islam allows men to marry more than one wife. But, Islam does not require polygamy. After all, good old Yardy is a Muslim and as far as i can tell he is married to one woman. As for Christians, well that is a whole other issue. African Christians have found incredible ways to modify their religion to match their cultural needs. I understand that some men in the Bible's Old Testament had more than one wife and several concubines (a la King Solomon), but again, polygamy is just not a requirement.

Polygamy is sexist, contributes to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and is simply a tool for some people to feel better about themselves by 'owning' women. It is simply arcane and we as a people need to look this matter in the eye.
Nigeria must address certain cultural norms and eradicate them in order to achieve a nation we all can be proud of. In the past, I have discussed my dissatisfaction with culturally accepted practices such as the antiquated Osu caste system, destructive skin bleaching and potentially dangerous fattening rooms. Another such norm that should be up for national debate and review is Polygamy.

To the female readers, would you be willing to be in a polygamous relationship? To the male readers, do you aspire to have a polygamous marriage? I will not even delve into the issue of open relationships (married or otherwise). That just gets too complex. Why would you avoid or participate in polygamy? I am simply curious.

Anyway, please enjoy this clip of Ekene Agabu answering a few of my questions on polygamy. Please pay close attention to his suggestions. They are worth a good listen. (Forgive the video and sound quality. I am new to this).



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CONGRATULATIONS, YARDY!

Friday, November 30, 2007

Dear Yardy:

Can you believe it? It has been 6 months already! Some doubted that you would make it this far. Even Shinzo Abe could not handle the task of running Japan and resigned after less than a year. He was later treated for exhaustion. Incredible, considering how healthy the Japanese are. So many of them even live past 100 years, while we Nigerians seem to kick the bucket at 47 or less. Anyway, running the juggernaut Nigeria , with less than prime health (as in your case), is even more difficult. Congratulations.

It seems it was only yesterday when you gave what some called an inspiring speech while accepting your new position. You then followed that up with an incredible feat - declaring your assets. Average Nigerians are still reeling in pleasant surprise from that move! Good job! You might become a pop icon. So many people have developed all sorts of nicknames for you. Femme even thinks that the name 'Yardy' is "sexy"! Did you ever think people would attribute that word with you? You, a simple former teacher with a no-nonsense reputation and anti-corruption spokesman.

I will not dwell on any shortcomings, for after all, you are human, shebi? Besides, this is a congratulatory letter, so I will avoid the negative. Instead, let me congratulate you on creating a new attitude amongst the Nigerian elite - fear! It appears that many now realize that their status and wealth might not be enough to protect them from scandal, shame and maybe even jail (though some people clearly deserve much longer prison terms than they are getting). Even Julius Burger is scurrying to "clean" up its act!

So, maybe continuously touting "rule of law" and taking forever to announce the members of your cabinet might pay off after all. I wish you the best of luck in moving Nigeria forward. The feat, is Herculean. With each success, there will be disappointments. But, as long as you continue to work towards the development of the Nation, and you lay the foundation for others to continue such development, you might just overcome the cloud of illegitimacy with which you became Head of State.

Best of luck, Yardy. The pressure is high and we are watching. Please do something about Aondoakaa. His actions suggest that your administration might not be so anti-corruption after all. Shikena!



With warmest regards,
SolomonSydelle

PS: Don't worry, I will return to my usual cynical self in a few hours. I just wanted to give you a slight break! And by the way, you never told me your thoughts on The Nigerian Proclamation. Call me!

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MILITANTS HAVE KIDNAPPED THE FOLLOWING NIGERIAN LEADERS...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Okay, not really, but if the following joke were real, that would be the leading headline in all of Nigeria's newspapers and even in many foreign papers as well.

Enjoy the 'lighter' side of Nigerian politics....

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway. Nothing is  moving.

Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down his window and asks, "What's going on?"

The man responded "Militants have kidnapped, OBJ, IBB, Atiku,Buhari, Tony Anenih, Ahmadu Ali, Dariye, Nnamani,
Odili, Ibrahim Mantu, Tinubu, Kalu, Maurice Iwu, Adedibu, Ibori, Olubunmi Etteh, and Igbinedion.
They're asking for a $500 million ransom. Otherwise they're going to douse them with petrol and set them
on fire. So, we're going from car to car, taking up a collection."

The driver asks, "How much is everyone contributing, on the average?"

The man responded "About a litre of petrol and a stick of matches."


Too funny!!!

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SIEMENS & NIGERIA - CORRUPTION INC.

Monday, November 26, 2007

For over a year, Siemens AG, the venerated German conglomerate, has been the subject of many intertwined investigations in various parts of Western Europe and America. The tactics used by this company to obtain contracts came into question when it was discovered that the company had a multi-million dollar "slush fund" of almost $256 million. The resulting scrutiny has led to various arrests in Europe, a case against a Siemens 'conspirator' in America, and apparently, a probe by Nigeria's ICPC into handsome bribes totaling 10 million Euros that were allegedly paid to high ranking Nigerians in order to obtain lucrative government contracts.

Siemens Logo
Siemens was found guilty of paying out bribes in a Munich court last week. German authorities then released the names of foreign individuals that were involved in fraudulent activities. These individuals have been indicted by the Munich court and will eventually have to make themselves available for questioning. On the list were a dew Nigerians including Bello Muhammed Haliru, Tajudeen Olanrewaju and Senator Jubril Aminu. Most of the alleged fraudsters have denied any involvement with any Siemens corruption.

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AFRICOM... THE DOTTED LINE HAS BEEN SIGNED

Monday, November 19, 2007

The world is achatter with talk of AFRICOM and no matter where you turn, the prognosis is negative or at least unclear. The only people attributing anything positive to AFRICOM is the U.S. government and even they don't seem completely convinced.

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COALITION AGAINST CORRUPT LEADERS LEAD MARCH AGAINST OBJ

Friday, November 16, 2007

The Coalition against Corrupt Leaders (CACOL), a group of young Nigerians, took to the streets of Lagos today with calls for the prosecution of former President Olusegun Obasanjo.

CACOL's members marched to the Ikoyi offices of the EFCC and submitted a petition that alleged that OBJ stole money from the nation's coffers and should be arrested and prosecuted. The petition provided apparent evidence of OBJ's unjust enrichment by pointing to the creation of his privately owned library, a privately owned educational institution, Bells University of Technology, and the former general's Temperance Farm at Ota. CACOL is also calling for an investigation into the management of the Petroleum Technology Development Fund. They elaborated that,

“The Ad hoc Committee on the operation of the PTDF gave a verdict in February 2007, indicting the former President of gross financial mismanagement and corruption.

“The chairman of the panel, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN), said that the former President issued public funds for the prosecution of his third term bid and supervised the diversion of public funds which were illegally deposited in banks”

The petition and protest were closely followed by the EFCC announcement that it is ready to investigate and prosecute OBJ for any unjust enrichment.

I am happy to see that young Nigerians are exercising their democratic right to protest and to call for accountability. I can only hope that Ribadu will actually follow through with a thorough investigation into the allegations. In a way, I feel sorry for Obasanjo, because I can admit that he did some very good things for Nigeria, particularly for the economy. Nigeria will probably benefit from some of the right choices he made during his administration. Unfortunately, he destroyed his own legacy by not alienating himself from the calls for a third term, interfering in the 'election' of Yardy as President and aligning himself with dubious characters like Kalu and Adedibu (who was finally arrested and might actually face justice for his un-god fatherly activity in Ibadan!).

Congratulations to CACOL and others that are willing to defend the rights of Nigeria. They, for better or worse, are Patriots!

And what is all this about Iyabo Obasanjo being a two time convict in the United States?

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PEW REPORT: AMERICAN BLACKS CANNOT BE CONSIDERED ONE RACE

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Pew Research Center released a new report that suggests that blacks cannot be considered a single race. The reason for this, according to participants, has to do with divergent values between upper and middle class Blacks and lower class Blacks.

Reading over the report and listening to the commentary it generated on NPR this morning suggests to me that the concept of 'Blackness' is in flux. I always believed that one's blackness primarily had to do with the color of their skin. In fact I would argue that historically, that was the case. If one is to believe the new Pew report, one's Blackness now has more to do with your class and values.

Nevertheless, I was taken aback by a glaring ommission. It appears that the study did not focus on an important source of diversity within the 'Black' group - the growing number of foreign born Blacks in America and their heirs. In this day and age, the average 'Black' American can be of Caribbean or African origin. My neighborhood can definitely attest to this phenomenon. I live within shouting distance of 7 African families (6 of them are Nigerian).

I completely understand that the Pew report was meant to focus on African-Americans. Consequently, I am curious as to why a discussion on the diversity of Blacks did not touch on foreign-born Blacks. But considering the fact that a major contender for the Democratic Presidential ticket is part Kenyan, and the number of Black immigrants from the Caribbean and Africa continues to increase, I believe that it is high time that the existence of foreign-born Blacks be recognized and their issues addressed.

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AONDOAKAA DROPS CHARGES AGAINST 'SPIES'

Monday, November 12, 2007

Not too long ago, Nigerian papers were awash with the arrest of Mrs. Asuni and some others who at the time were accused of espionage and terrorism. They apparently recorded footage of various oil installations and other allegedly sensitive locations in the Niger Delta region.

When I initially heard the story, I ignored it. After all, every nation has spies. It is commonly understood that foreign spies are in Nigeria just as Nigeria has agents in foreign countries. The possibility of there being spies in the Delta, though troublesome, is not shocking considering the energy agendas of most oil-hungry nations.

Unfortunately, I can no longer ignore this story because I find it incredibly worrisome that the 'spies' have been released and all charges against them have been dropped by Nigeria's Attorney General, Michael Aondoakaa. Aondoakaa failed to give a reason for his action, but apparently, his decision was 'based' on Section 174 of Nigeria's Constitution. Section 174 (1)(c) basically allows the Attorney general to drop a suit as long as no judgment has been reached. As the case was yet to truly begin, Aondoakaa was free to discontinue the case against Asuni and the other 'spies'.

And therein lies my issue. For all the talk of "Rule of Law", Nigerian laws make no sense! Under the Constitution, Aondoakaa is allowed to drop charges in practically any situation and no basis is required. The Constitution does not provide clear parameters within which the Attorney General can function. This problem is quite significant because a successful democracy requires defined rules by which it must operate with an eye for equity regardless of circumstance. How can the "Rule of Law" be applied when officials, by law, have no obligation to explain their decisions to the public they serve? Or, are we just supposed to trust officials? Considering Nigeria's track record, it would be absolutely foolish to assume that any official has the interest of the general public in mind when they act. My opinion might not be very popular, but I believe that it is much better to be pessimistic and allow Nigerian officials to surprise you and prove you wrong, than otherwise.

So, back to the pressing question, why did Aondoakaa suddenly and immediately drop all charges against these 'spies' considering the fanfare with which they were initially paraded before the nation and the world as potential agents working against Nigerian stability? I knew the situation was fishy when within days of finding 'spies' in the Niger Delta, it was revealed that Mrs. Asuni was actually a naturalized Nigerian of American origin. I knew then that like all things Nigeria, this story had many twists and turns that no ordinary human would ever fully discover!

Anyway, the laws that govern the land must be specific and detailed so as to limit the unilateral actions and ambiguous decisions by officials. This goes for Aondoakaa and his arch-nemesis, Nuhu Ribadu. The only way that Nigeria can properly function is if we review the various laws that empower the many offices and institutions upon which the nation depends. Too often do these laws conflict and undermine each other, making calls by Yar'Adua for the "Rule of Law" a toothless term of little to no consequence within the Nigerian situation.

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NIGERIA'S SENATE GIVES ULTIMATUM TO OIL COMPANIES...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The oil companies have been given 7 days to "rectify faulty oil pumps and stop oil spills." Apparently, this ultimatum is in response to a recent trip to the Delta that was taken by a few Senators who apparently had little idea about the severity of the damage and poverty experienced by Delta residents.

Senator Eze of Enugu North said, "The Senate President has rightly put it that this is going to be a test case that we are not toothless bulldog. This Senate will bark and bite and we have to demonstrate the centrality of the Senate in the nation's democratic governance."

The motion passed by the Senate included the following language,

We "[c]ondemn unequivocally the Shell Petroleum development Company for its dastard act of neglect of the Ikot Ado Udo Oil Spillage in Akwa-Ibom for three months, leading to loss of livelihood to the people.

"Urge the President, Commnader-In-Chief [sic] to direct the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) and other relevant multi-national corporations to rectify oil pumps and stop further spillage in the areas within seven days.

"Direct its Committees on Petroleum (Upstream) and Environment to invite the Minister of State Energy (Petroleum) and Minister of Environment to look into the issue and all other outstanding issues in the Niger Delta raised by the various Syndicate Groups and report back within two weeks.

"As a long time measure, direct the Committees on Petroleum (Upstream), Envir-onment and Judiciary and Legal Matters to immediately forward proposals for the amendment of all existing legislations to compel the multi-national oil companies responsible for oil spillage/ecological degradation of their operating areas to restore/develop the host communities/operating areas and pay adequate compensation."

Alright, it took a trip from some Senators for them to finally realize that oil companies must do a better job in the Delta? I hate to be so cynical, but they make it too easy for me. Besides, reading the 'motion' makes me realize that all this is empty rhetoric! It fails to contain a specific plan on addressing the environmental problem other than passing the buck on to the relevant agencies.

Something tells me that Senator Eze's words will come back to bite him. But, I wonder, why are there no laws that require the oil companies to observe better environmental practices? I concluded that there aren't adequate laws based on the last paragraph of the motion. The Senate should not be condemning, urging or directing. They should DECISIVELY institute a motion to create the necessary laws that will protect the Delta's people and give oil companies the guidelines within which they can properly operate. TAKE CARE OF THE PROBLEM, ISN'T THAT YOUR JOB? The Senate makes it seem as if the oil companies are the bad guys! The government is at fault for not regulating the oil companies! If the Senate truly wanted to regulate oil production, it would.

We are watching....

Read more!

NIGERIA IS SUING TOBACCO COMPANIES $40 BILLION SUIT

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Considering how often Aondoakaa and Yardy are criticized on this blog, I am excited to report that the Federal Government is suing 3 major tobacco companies. The suit is for $40 billion in compensatory damages and alleges that cigarettes cause harm to Nigerians.

This is not only a first for Nigeria, it is a first for the African continent. “It is the first time ever that an African state files a case against a tobacco company. No other state in Africa has ever done it,” said Babatunde Irukera, the lawyer representing the Nigerian government. Four states, Lagos, Gombe, Oyo and Kano State have also filed suit against tobacco companies, while three more states are preparing to sue as well.

It appears that there is a growing awareness of the danger of tobacco products. Various organizations and official entities are beginning to campaign for better public health by discouraging smoking. The Federal government is a signatory to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and in observance it instituted an anti-smoking campaign that is featured on radio stations across the country. In 2006, Lagos State
recorded more than nine thousand cases of tobacco-related diseases at its hospitals. The state has spent over N2.7 billion treating these cases over the course of just one year. Considering this information, it is no surprise that Lagos State, and the federal Government, seeks compensation from tobacco companies.

It is about time that our public officials actually serve the people and their interest. I am happy to learn that public officials are working with small local organizations to improve public health and Nigerian life expectancy. I am hopeful that this and other positive acts on the part of various Local, State and Federal officials is sign of better things to come for Nigeria. Hopefully, other African countries and developing nations from other parts of the world will also take an active step in reducing the deadly impact of cigarettes.


For another take on this very important issue, please visit Akin Aworan's blog. He cuts right to the chase on this one...

Further Reading:
- Selling Cigarettes to Nigeria's Children

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YAR'ADUA, MUGABE AND THE "RULE OF LAW"

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Yardy bucked custom and publicly criticized Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe at the ongoing EU-AU Summit in Germany. Nigeria's head of state again used the term "Rule of Law" (I wonder if anyone is counting how many times the man has uttered that term, Nigeria Politricks, are you game?). To the gathering of European officials and African representatives, Yardy said,

“I want to emphasise that what is happening in Zimbabwe is not in conformity with the rule of law. I do not subscribe to this."
Okay, I will admit that I am also getting tired of hearing the term "Rule of Law" uttered by Yardy. It appears that every time I read any statement made by him, it must contain those three words. He is obviously working hard to be make "Rule of Law' his moniker. That is fine because we all know that Nigeria and some other countries - Zimbabwe, included - need to better practice respect for the rule of law.

Yet, I cannot help but notice that Yardy was pandering to the audience. He was in Germany for the European Partnership with Africa Summit. He went on to implore attendees to not turn the presence of Zimbabwe into a divisive issue that could steer attention from the fact that the event will be mutually beneficial for EU and AU nations. Yardy also requested the equivalent of the "Marshall Plan" for Africa. His suggestion was to increase foreign assistance to develop African nations. He apparently said the right things. And, this makes me wonder why the President of Nigeria can be such a capable speaker about Zimbabwe when he in Germany, and yet fail to decisively comment AT ALL on pressing corruption issues at home! Yes, once again, I am harping on the Ettehgate scandal which he avoided by simply relegating it to a due process issue.

I mean, come on, you have to take a stance! Even, OBJ is publicly questioning Yardy's "sof'ly, sof'ly" style. Obasanjo told Nigeria's The Nation newspaper, ""For Nigeria to be great, [Yar'Adua] must be prepared to take tough decisions and carry out reforms..." Although, I believe OBJ is not in a position to comment on the performance of the present administration, I must confess that for once, we are of the same opinion on an issue.

Related Articles of Interest
- Zimbabwe
- Nigeria, Mugabe & The ICC
- 'Soiled Hands' & Strategy":What Nigeria Says About Democracy
- Yar'Adua, Mugabe & The "Rule of Law"

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WILL ETTEH BE PUNISHED?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Akin asked a very pertinent question in response to my last post about former Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mrs. Patricia Etteh. His question was "Hang on: are you telling me that she won't even be punished or anything??"

Unfortunately, with Nigeria, one cannot always proffer a definite answer. I will say this, however. The Integrity Group specifically referred to the Corrupt Practices and Other related Offenses Act of 2000 and the possibility of up to 47 years in jail for actions related to the scandal. Unfortunately, the head of the ICPC recently told the press that his office was yet to be contacted by the Integrity Group or any Parliamentary Office yo place charges against Etteh or her deputy. He also clarified that the Etteh scandal would more appropriately fall under the auspices of EFCC but that his office could, if invited to, place charges against her. Now the fact that these individuals are talking about this suggests that people are thinking about the next step for Etteh. Meaning, it is not a forgone conclusion that Etteh will go unpunished. Considering our history, that is an excellent development.


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ETTEH: SPEAKER, NO LONGER ....

Monday, October 29, 2007

My last post began with the allegation that Etteh had resigned and ended with the clarification that she had only agreed to resign.

I am glad to state unequivocally that the woman has FINALLY RESIGNED!!!!!!

An acting speaker has been elected, so it appears that the probe into the contract scam will finally get underway.

Etteh's resignation, and that of her Deputy, was an attempt to avoid impeachment. As of yesterday, Monday, 214 signatures were obtained and less than 8 more were needed to have her impeached.

I am a little underwhelmed by all the unnecessary dramatics involving this woman. I can only say that I hope that the House will look into the issues and facts surrounding the scandal with "immediate alacrity and effect".

Meanwhile, Yar'Adua will undergo a health checkup in Germany this week. He is there for a conference called European Partnership with Africa Summit. I wonder if he will FINALLY make a public statement on the Ettehgate scandal. Judging from his "sof'ly, sof'ly" approach to Nigerian issues, I will be surprised if the he makes more than a passing comment.

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ETTEH HAS RESIGNED!!!!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

The title of this post speaks for itself. For details, read more here.

Something tells me that the POLITICAL BOXING MATCH is simply between rounds. After a vicious Mortal Combat Session in the House of Representatives, the death of an Etteh supporter, the delay of decisions on next year's budget and the general halt to most business by our elected officials, Mrs. Patricia Etteh decided to resign.


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NIGERIAN INGENUITY

There might be all sorts of issues with Nigeria and Nigerians, but no one can ever deny our ingenuity and our ability to succeed under any condition.

Mubarak Muhammad Abdullahi is a 24 year old physics undergraduate student who has built his own helicopter. He used scrap metal and the engine from a Honda Civic to create his 'wheels'. He built it over a period of 8 months and has flown it 6 times.

Photo

Unfortunately, this young man's incredible ability is yet to be harnessed by any Nigerian institution, private or federal. According to Yahoo News,

He hoped -- and still does hope -- that the Nigerian government and his wealthy compatriots would turn to him and stop placing orders with western manufacturers.

So far, however, government response to his chopper project has been underwhelming to say the least.

Although some government officials got very excited when they saw him conduct a demonstration flight in neighbouring Katsina state, Nigeria's Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has so far shown no interest in his aircraft.

"No one from the NCAA has come to see what I've done. We don't reward talent in this country," he lamented.

This is home grown talent that can be developed for the benefit of Nigerians. Some serious investment in Mohammed and others like him could lead to an incredible change in the face of transportation in Nigeria. I just visited Omohemi's blog where she noted that road transportation is next to impossible. Imagine if we used helicopters to get around the city? This could happen all over the country. It would simply require private capital to create the system and of course, capital would be needed to improve on Mubarak's helicopter and build more of them. I know, the concern is safety, particularly in light of recent air crashes in Nigeria. That is an understandable concern, but I believe that if a private enterprise attempted to provide helicopter traveling any city, they would have to rely on a serious safety record to maintain clients.

Helicopter travel within cities like Lagos would alleviate fears over theft and other forms of violence against individuals. This is a system that could be implemented over the next 3 years with development and manufacturing of such helicopters possible in even less time. Imagine the jobs it would bring to various cities? Students of manufacturing and engineering would have local businesses in which they could intern and develop skills before moving on to the market place!

Despite my optimism, something tells me that some foreign country/business will scoop Mubarak up and sponsor his education and career outside Nigeria. If and when that happens, it will be a shame for Nigeria. But, obviously, a positive for Mubarak.




Any takers????
(Yardy???)









Thanks to Fefe for the Yahoo article.
Read Pharrell's blog (yes, that Pharrell from the Neptunes/NERD) for comments from Western observers on this issue.

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NIGERIAN 'MAFIA' DISCOVERED IN ITALY

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

You know it's bad when the Italian authorities are going after Nigerian cults instead of focusing on traditional Italian mafia organizations.

Nigerian Universities are plagued by various male and female cults. These organizations are primarily characterized by their violence. Their activities have clearly expanded beyond the shores of Nigeria as Italian authorities arrested 5 Nigerian men in various Italian cities for their participation in the Eiye Confraternity.

The Eiye cult members will be charged with running drug, extortion and prostitution rings and running a credit card scam.

According to Italian authorities,

“The operation started after the Nigerian government warned us that several gang members had left Africa and spread into Europe. Other members of this gang are active in the UK, in particular, where they can get fake passports,”

"The ... members would mix the blood with water and everyone in the gang would drink it,”

"We found several machetes and axes, some of which had been used to hack off people’s arms..."

MY THOUGHTS

When will the madness stop? I know that Nigerian authorities in various states have put in place laws to catch and severely punish cult members but I do not believe that those laws are properly enforced. I also believe that cults are used as the violent arm of many politicians especially during election time. Therefore, we have a situation where instead of cults diminishing in power and popularity, their strength and 'value' is increasing in a society where many things are on its head. I am happy that the Nigerian government assisted the Italians in shutting down this operation, God knows I am tired of hearing about illegal activities tied to some Nigerians. However, I implore that same government to put more effort into destroying the hold that violent cults have on existence in most institutions of higher learning.


Feel free to read this very interesting article which includes an interview of 2 UNIBEN cult members from 2006.
Also, read the current reactions to this story from Western individuals here.

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IS OUR LACK OF INTELLIGENCE KEEPING US BACKWARD?

Friday, October 19, 2007

James Watson is a Nobel Prize winner who helped unravel the mystery of DNA and now runs an American research institute. He recently stated that he was "inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa" because "all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – whereas all the testing says not really". He said there was a natural desire that all human beings should be equal but "people who have to deal with black employees find this not true".

Watson has now retracted his statement and even apologized for suggesting that Africans are inferior. His research institute, The Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory on Long Island, has put him on suspension with the possibility of further action.

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GLOBAL DEMOCRACY DAY!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Today is Global Democracy day. Global Democracy Day Work Group is working to convince the United Nations to designate this day the official international day for democracy.

Nigeria in particular needs to focus on democracy and the importance of good governance. As many know, the country is currently embattled in the Etteh scandal, the ongoing Aondoakaa vs. Ribadu feud, countless allegations of corruption, murder and all out political drama.

Despite all this, Nigerians can hope that due process and the rule of law will rule the day and that these crucial aspects of democracy (due process and rule of law) will set the necessary precedence for an even better democratic Nigeria. A Nigeria we can all be proud of!

Please visit NIGERIAN LIGHTHOUSE and join in the Global Democracy Day effort!!!!!

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SABOTAGE: AONDOAKAA VS. RIBADU ET. AL.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

"I want Nigeria to be a country with people who fear God; a country whose citizens obey the rule of law and due process; a country where the citizens shun evil acts and do the right things to promote peace in Nigeria and the world at large."
This was apparently Yardy's wish for Nigeria at the end of this year's Ramadan. Yardy seems to know how to say the right things even though it typically takes him too long to actually say it. Case in point, he is yet to comment on the continuing saga of the battling egos - Michael Aondoakaa (Attorney General of the Federation) and Nuhu Ribadu (EFCC). Don King announced recently that he wanted to plan another 'Rumble in the Jungle'. Unknown to him, Rumble in the Jungle 2 is taking place right now in Nigeria and it involves the current Ibori investigation.

THE IBORI INVESTIGATION

James Ibori is the former governor of Delta State. He has $35 million in assets in the U.K. and it includes a private jet. In addition to being under investigation by the EFCC, British authorities are investigating the UK-based assets of Ibori on the allegation that they were the proceeds of crime. British authorities have thus attempted to freeze Ibori's assets. Unfortunately, this attempt was thwarted by non other than a frequent character at this very blog - Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, SAN.

Aondoakaa wrote a letter on Ibori's behalf to the British Court that influenced its decision in lifting a previously placed restraint order on Ibori's possessions. Please note that Aondoakaa initially denied writing such a letter but the Nigerian media pestered him into admitting his lie and confirming that he did communicate with the British court. Yes, you don't have to remind me, Ibori is innocent until proven guilty. But, as a result of his assistance, Ibori's assets in the U.K. can be now liquidated, and the cash raised can then be hidden, if he (Ibori) so chooses. And assuming that he is eventually proven guilty, where will that leave hungry, suffering, uneducated Nigerians who have had their future robbed by those meant to serve them? This act by Aondoakaa, has not only frustrated the efforts of British authorities but is a pin in the eye of Ribadu and the EFCC which is working with British authorities in determining whether Ibori amassed his wealth through illegal means. By sending a secret letter on Ibori's behalf and then lying about it, Aondoakaa's actions reinforce the allegations that himself and his boss are working to protect certain powerful and corrupt Nigerians to the detriment of Nigerians and our quest to destroy corruption's hold on our nation. He has also given Ribadu more cause to attack him!

Even more important than the tug of war between Aondoakaa and Ribadu is the shameful way that these men are paying a serious disservice to Nigeria. Imagine, the world continues to look at us and laugh. The only thing that smart, patriotic Nigerians can do, is hang their heads in shame. Not only are we bombarded by constant 419/internet scam attention, the useless shenanigans of unelected officials seemingly provide fodder for more Nigerian jokes.

Don't get me wrong, I am not necessarily a fan of Nuhu Ribadu, and have criticized him in the past (regarding his support of Wolfowitz and antagonizing Aondoakaa). I will go a step further and acknowledge that the laws empowering agencies like the EFCC, ICPC and others need to be streamlined and checks and balances must be introduced. After all, there is no one to keep the EFCC in check and that is very dangerous. Nevertheless, I continue to be stupefied by the constant power struggle between himself and Aondoakaa and am saddened to see this soap opera play out on the global scale!

YARDY CONTINUES TO DO "SOF'LY, SOF'LY"

Again, I challenge Yardy to TAKE A STAND and bring an end to this madness. I understand that he strongly believes in non-interference but as President, he will not always have the luxury of non-action. As in the Etteh scandal, Yardy's voice has been practically nonexistent. It is crucial for the President of the Nigerian Federation to be the yardstick by which most things and happenings, especially political, are measured. Can you imagine how much of an impact he could make in this and other situations if he just spoke up? Fire Aondoakaa, fire Ribadu, announce to the nation that you are firmly behind anti-corruption and firmly behind creating progress. Be tough! These men and Mrs. Etteh are not symbols of progress, no matter how much they want to be and thus Yardy should distance himself from their behavior. Take the time to talk to the people, personally. We all know that Nigeria's tag-line is sometimes - "This is not the way we do things here..." and Yardy bucked that tradition by releasing his assets for all to see. When he did that, he gave so many people hope that a new day was on the horizon for Nigeria. However, it is my opinion that Yardy's 'soft and slow' style is going to allow him to be overtaken by his brazen and much more aggressive subordinates who will turn an already struggling nation into a battleground to fulfill their egoism and crush their perceived foes! Who will suffer the consequences? Why, the very people that these men and women are sworn to serve, defend and protect.

Yar'Adua should take a cue from his wishes for Nigeria. Especially the final sentence quoted above. He should promote peace by getting rid of the divisive factors that are clearly not interested in Nigerian peace or progress. Come on, Yardy. We are waiting for you to DO SOMETHING GOOD!


To understand the Aondoakaa/Ribadu fiasco, please read the following:
POLITICAL SOAP OPERAS, NIGERIAN STYLE

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NO NIGERIAN VISA FOR BILL GATES!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Apparently, Mr. Gates recently needed a visa for a planned visit to Nigeria. He was initially refused said visa on the premise that the authorities required proof he would not reside in Nigeria indefinitely, which would cause a strain on social services.

Eventually, the situation was cleared and Mr. Gates received a tourist visa to travel to the country of my fathers. He had to get a letter from his bank, though.



Considering the horror stories Nigerians and non-Nigerians have when they seek travel documents to go to Nigeria, I am happy that regardless of connections, or wealth, all people must go through the same requirements to visit Nigeria. I think that the Embassy officer that initially rejected Gates should get a raise, at least a commendation for treating Gates equally.

Furthermore, Gates' application was likely treated much better than that of most Nigerian applicants for a visa to America. Or anywhere in the world, for that matter! The immense criticism that Nigeria is receiving for carrying out the letter of the law, is ignorant and unnecessary. I know that this story will be fodder for late-night comedians everywhere, but I for one see this as a positive story for Nigeria. Digital Journal sums up my thoughts on this matter - "At least we have to admire Nigerian officials they didn’t care who the person was and just followed the government procedures."

Something tells me that Gates could care less about this situation. Although he is a very talented and driven man, I do not get the idea that his ego could be bruised by this incident.

I am sure he is quite pleased that the $100 laptops are now being used by children in Nigeria. Those children will some day be using some Windows application and buying some Microsoft program, putting more money in his pocket and thus supporting his philanthropic activities.



You can also read my article on the recent Human Rights Watch report on Nigeria called 'Nigeria: Politics Mired in Corruption and Violence'. It is available at Nigerian Lighthouse.


Thanks Uju for the Gates info and thanks also to Misan at The Afrobeat for the $100 laptop clip!

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WHO WILL DEVELOP NIGERIA PT. 2

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

This post is an attempt to continue the discussion generated by my "Who Will Develop Nigeria?" article from September. There, I posited that Nigeria must do a couple strategic things - take advantage of Nigerian skill and experience by ensuring that Nigerians are an integral part of the plans and policies to develop Nigerian infrastructure. I also opined that the government must require that any foreign companies that get large development contracts be headed by Nigerians/Africans.


Read more!

"INDEPENDENCE"

Monday, October 1, 2007

Independence

What exactly does that word mean?

In Nigeria's case, I can honestly not provide a definite answer.

While this lack of definition disturbs me, it also gives me hope to believe that Nigeria is undergoing a metamorphosis. As a moth becomes a butterfly. Nigeria, who she is, what she is, cannot be defined. those who know her, need no definition to understand her and love her.

To those who know her, understand her and love her - let us take this day to commit ourselves to her greatness. Because although she lacks definition, although she is in transformation, we know her, we understand her and we love her.

Independence? It is a mere word we have forgotten, but some day shall be the force we command. Simply because we know her, we understand her and we love her.

Enjoy Nigeria's Independence day by voting for the best message in the Speak Up Nigeria campaign hosted by The Nigerian Lighthouse.

The finalists are -

Finalist #1 - Sokari Ekine

Finalist #2 - Sarah T. Agbabokha

Finalist #3 - Ayo Adene

Finalist #4 - Adekunbi Akin-Taylor

Finalist #5 - "Bighead"


Nigerian Lighthouse strongly believes in honoring the voice of the people, so go exercise your vote by choosing which finalist should receive the grand prize of an IPOD NANO.

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THE ONION'S SPOOF ON NIGERIA'S POLITICAL WOES

Saturday, September 29, 2007

This is simply a spoof, but I swear that it reflects the lack of understanding about Nigeria (and other countries) in Western media.



In The Know: Situation In Nigeria Seems Pretty Complex

Thanks Uju for the link!

This next clip is on Africa. How do you feel about this one?



In The Know: Is Our Wealth Hurting AfricaĆ¢��s Feelings?

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POLITICAL BOXING MATCH: ROUND TWO! & A NIGERIAN AT THE VATICAN

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The panel set up by the Nigerian House of Representatives to investigate the "Etteh scandal" has declared that "due process was not completely followed in awarding contracts".

The only issue remaining is whether Etteh will have to step down from her position and that decision will not be made until mid October because a two-week recess was recently announced. The recess is supposedly intended to give politicians time "to enable ... various [House] committees liaise with the respective ministries over the 2008 Budget".

According to ThisDay newspaper, 5 members of the 9-man investigating panel want Etteh indicted. The other 4 would rather have the management of the National Assembly indicted instead.

Apparently, Etteh is now wooing South Eastern state governors for their support in keeping her job. Nevertheless, this whole fiasco continues to unravel while Yardy visits the U.S. and is giving speeches where he calls himself a "Servant Leader". He should have gotten his house in order before going abroad to utter words like 'servant' and 'leader' if you ask me. How, do you ask? Tell Etteh to resign, regardless of whether or not the allegations are true because her presence in that position (Speaker of the House) discredits the position, the party, the country. He has not had a forceful enough public reaction to this incident and yet he hails himself as being anti-corruption!

Well, I rather read about Fortunatus Nwachukwu, the new Nigerian Head of Protocol at the Vatican. I am not Catholic, but as a Nigerian I am proud of my country man for achieving this position. Maybe he can get the Pope to pray very hard for my people. God knows we need serious Holy Ghost fayah and Holy Water because clearly we mere humans continue to suffer under the strain of doing the right thing at the right time in Nigeria.


PS - Wetin happen wey Igbo people dey give their children serious name like Fortunatus? I bet he got teased mercilessly all the time as a kid!

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POLITICAL BOXING MATCH: ROUND ONE!

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nigerian politics - the gift that keeps on giving!!!! Remember, my last post was titled, 'Political Soap Operas, Nigerian Style', and this current post continues with the theme of political entertainment in Nigeria!

By now, many of you know of the Mortal Combat session in Senate a few days ago. The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Patricia Etteh, appeared before a committee to answer questions about the N628 million contract scam. Nigerian democracy was in full form with supporters and non-supporters of the Speaker getting into a serious boxing match.





REUTERS FOOTAGE





NTA FOOTAGE

No wonder our politicians need a hardship allowance! If the execution of your duty required a coach, gym membership, workout equipment, and boxing gloves, you would want more of the peoples money too!

But, on a serious note, was the fight necessary? Whatever happened to dignity? Politicians used to be individuals that the populace could look up to, respect and admire. Those days were long gone over 20 years ago, one could argue. This fight is just another illustration of the breakdown of our society. People do not respect themselves and have no care for neither dignity nor shame.

If you have a problem with what you saw in the above clip, or anything else going on in Nigeria, then make sure you participate in the SPEAK UP NIGERIA Campaign, presented by Nigerian Lighthouse. The project is an opportunity to send a message, any message, to Nigeria. Your message can be long or short, funny or serious. It just has to be good in order to win an IPOD NANO. However, it is more important that you take the time to send the country a message in commemoration of Nigeria' 47th day of Independence. Visit Nigerian Lighthouse website for more information and/or stop by the Speak Up Nigeria Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=5686244917




PS: I am writing an update to 'Who Will Develop Nigeria?' to respond to the comments received.

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POLITICAL SOAP OPERAS, NIGERIAN STYLE

Sunday, September 16, 2007

As usual, there is never a dull moment in Nigeria. Nigerian politics, in particular, never fails to disappoint. A quick perusal of our national dailies will delight, displease and even dismay the faint at heart. There is always one scandal or the other. Currently, the hot button topic is the N628 million contract scandal involving Mrs. Etteh, the first female Speaker of Nigeria's House of Representatives.

Despite the various shenanigans, the ongoing squabble between a few public individuals makes the current political elite sound like a bunch of catty 10 year old girls. Their back-and-forth tiffs exhibit a level of immaturity and a lack of sophistication. Although these new officials gave many of us a very slight reason to hope that things might change, their public behavior should give all of us pause. Not sure what I am talking about? Pay attention...


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PDP MUST SETTLE US!!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Some 'area boys' in Ondo state recently kidnapped a few Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) officials. PDP won the state elections, held in April 2007, by a landslide and also won the Presidential election resulting in Yardy becoming President of the Republic. The elections, in Ondo State and across the country, were marred by serious allegations and evidence of poll tampering. The 'area boys', who claim to be members of MEND, allege that they helped PDP in rigging the April elections in Ondo State and are waiting to receive payment for their 'assistance'. The kidnappers took 11 governing officials hostage over the weekend and they demand that Dr Olusegun Agagu, the Ondo State governor, must pay a ransom of nearly $4 million.

The PDP has of course insisted that the allegations are false and stated that the kidnappers will receive absolutely nothing. On Tuesday, the kidnappers released two hostages and released another on Wednesday. We will all have to wait to see how this scenario ends.

Not good for PDP's image
But, here is the thing. This is not good news for PDP. Allegations of rigging are easy to believe based on the debacle that was local Ondo State elections earlier this year. Additionally, considering the reports released by Transition Monitoring Group, a Nigerian election watchdog organization and of course the recent EU criticism of the elections, these allegations continue to drag Yardy's party in the mud. This story simply reinforces what every ordinary Nigerian knows - politics is big business in Nigeria and in the words of the former PDP head and former Nigerian President, OBJ, elections are a "do or die" affair. Politics is unfortunately about money not the issues and the constituents. And, there is seemingly nothing anyone can do to change that equation.

Is MEND really involved or is this a set up?
Another thing I noticed was that these kidnapping 'area boys' have now associated themselves with MEND. In the past, I noted that we have allowed the militancy in the Delta to get out of control, resulting in armed gangs terrorizing Nigerians and foreigners alike. Here, a couple gangsters who claim to have rigged the election now are using MEND as cover. The fact that MEND has not distanced itself from these allegations is troubling but not shocking. In a country where allegiance shifts based on the number of zeros offered, it is not shocking that a MEND splinter group (or MEND itself), could work with PDP. It is sad to think that ideologies can be so quickly forgotten when money is involved. (Remember, the kidnappers are seeking $4 million - that is a lot of money).

Or, is this all a set up? I noted in another post that I love conspiracies, so let me share a potential one. Is this another attempt to weaken MEND and/or an attempt to weaken Goodluck? I previously discussed that there are possibly those with a keen interest in discrediting MEND. Assuming that my theory is correct, this kidnapping and ransom request would be a good means of achieving said goal. I can also imagine the talking heads discussing that Goodluck, as a Delta man, should be able to keep those militants in check. His inability to do so, thus, creates a situation where he is considered weak and could be attacked (not necessarily physically).

Well, let us all hope that this situation resolves itself peacefully. I cannot imagine what the families of the hostages are going through and hope that they are all released unharmed. Just another chapter in Nigerian politics.


PS: An 'area boy' is simply a term reserved for hoodlums or people who look and act like them.

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WHO WILL DEVELOP NIGERIA?

Friday, September 7, 2007

If you have ever taken a trip to Nigeria, then you know that Nigerian roads are dangerous and need an extreme makeover. If you have had the opportunity to discover, then you also know that the railroads are underdeveloped and are desperately seeking an upgrade.

So, it was with great interest that I began to pay close attention to various news reports in the Nigerian media that focused on future, unspecified infrastructural improvements. A recent report from the World Bank advised that the Nigerian government should develop its rail system connecting Lagos to Kano and Port Harcourt to Kano. It also suggested that other rail connections be completed in a secondary phase so as to improve Nigeria's rail infrastructure and provide necessary benefits to the country's domestic market and export economy. These improvements would also facilitate the following planned projects - the US$8-bn Trans-Saharan gas pipeline linking Nigeria and Algeria; the US$6-bn Olokola liquid natural gas (OKLNG) project, and the US$3.5-bn Brass River liquid natural gas (LNG) plant.

A few days after the World Bank report came out, I read that Yardy was in talks with a representative from General Electric. On Monday, September 3rd, Yardy met with Nabil Habayeb, the President and CEO of GE's Middle East and Africa Division. They talked about improving Nigeria's power/energy output and revitalizing the nation's transportation infrastructure. Yardy stated that his administration was "very serious about forging ahead..." with infrastructural improvements and would continue talks with GE.

It is exciting to witness all this 'chatter' about possible development, although, I wait with bated breath for the work to actually begin and be completed. You can't blame me. As a Nigerian, I am used to lots of promises with no results. Nevertheless, here is what bothers me, I find it difficult to believe that there are no Nigerians, inside or outside the country, that have the experience, skill and drive to develop a workable, strategic plan to improve and develop Nigeria's transport scene. Therefore, why is Nigeria considering paying an American firm to help us figure out how to solve the problem? Yardy might be a former school teacher, but his bank account tells me he is 'smart' at making money. So, he must not forget that development is a multimillion dollar business, and unless we become strategic and place the interest of Nigerians first, we will continue to not gain any advantage from the 'development hustle'. Everyone else will make money off our backs and our people will continue to live in poverty in an underdeveloped country with unfulfilled dreams.

It is my opinion that Yardy should have demanded that any company we work with be run by a Nigerian or African, at least. The amount of money to be made in Nigeria would force any company to acquiesce to such a demand and thus give Nigerians an opportunity to improve their position and finally allow the country to gain a real benefit. Such a move would also send a signal to the entire world and stand as a lesson to anyone willing to see that Nigerians look out for their fellow countrymen/women and will work together to improve our lot. I cannot express how disappointed I am in what may happen in the near future. This just seems like another example of the 'White Man's Magic' complex or the fact that our leaders do not care about Nigeria and lack a vision of what the horizon needs to be from a psychological, economic, social and strategic perspective.

I continue to ask, "Who will fight for Nigeria?" I am yet to find an answer.

Read up on Yardy's first 100 days in ofice at The Afro Beat.

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NIGERIA DISCUSSION SERIES: PORT HARCOURT & NIGERIA UNDER SIEGE

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I initially wanted to discuss what I see as a growing intolerance in Nigerian society. However, a couple posts I read by some bloggers changed my mind and the direction of today's post.

If you have paid attention to Nigerian news, then you know that Port Harcourt is under siege. Rival gangs turned the city into a war zone last week, leaving many innocents dead in their wake. This compelled the government to send in the military. The soldiers were meant to bring peace to a chaotic situation, but it seems that they have simply compounded the situation. They are ordered to seek and kill insurgents and militants and have seemingly gone on a killing spree. And, despite a dusk till dawn curfew, people are still losing their lives.

I find it interesting that the international media is paying little attention to the plight of Delta residents. But, then again, the world price of oil is low and the people in the developed world are paying less to power their automobiles, so there is no reason for them to fret. That is a shame, because people are dropping like flies for no reason other than oil, and the curse that comes with it.

Nigerians, however, need to be very concerned about the increased violence and upfront attack on the people of Port Harcourt and other parts of the Delta. This problem was a small one that has gotten out of control. We can no longer disassociate ourselves from the problems of the Delta because if we do not get these problems under control, the violence there will spill to other parts of an already turbulent country. Don't believe it is possible? Consider the fact that the various gangs in the Delta region have acquired 'kidnapping' skills. Are you aware that they no longer just kidnap foreign oil workers? The mother of the Speaker of Bayelsa State's House of Assembly was kidnapped and held for 2 weeks. She is in her late 60s, an old, defenseless woman. Some might think that because her child is rich, the kidnapping is okay, but realize that it could be you or a family member that gets caught in the cross hairs next. These violent gangsters will soon simply sell their 'skills' to the highest bidder. I once discussed the possibility of Nigeria being a breeding ground for terrorists. I am saddened to think that my 'prediction' may have come true and that Port Harcourt is the illustration of the point made in that post.

Also, these gangsters (not talking about MEND which is seeking improvement for the Delta's people), are making it harder for Nigerians to buy oil. For instance, a contractor supposed to correct a couple problems with some pipelines, has been informed by a gang that he must pay $69 million to do his work. Understandably, the contractor is limited in his ability to fix the problem pipelines. Thus, the nation waits with bated breath for oil to flow but it doesn't.

When Yar'Adua came to office, he waved a white flag at the Delta and sought cooperation to improve the lot of its people. He sent Goodluck to meet with leaders. MEND gave the nation a reprieve and suspended its activities. I understand that the UN is in talks with Yardy's administration to find ways that the organization can lend it mediation skills to finding a solution to the chaos. But, despite all that, things are now worse than they were and Nigerians are losing their lives because they are caught in a game of egotism and greed.

We can talk about solutions to the Delta's problems, but that has been done before. I am curious as to what people think it is like for someone living in that chaos. I want to know what YOU think that we, Nigerians (not the government) can do, if anything, to stop the madness. How can we restore calm and order to Port Harcourt and the Delta in general? Do we need to get international attention? I wonder, if more people read Jaja's description of his life in the 'Garden City' or Porter deHarqourt's lyrical narrative of his existence and recent experiences, would they think twice and take the time to put pressure on the government and interested parties to to improve the situation. Or, would they just ignore the plight of the Delta's residents, as long as the price of oil is stable and the global economy is intact? What are your thoughts on life in Port? As a member of the Nigerian Lighthouse team, I want to know how bloggers can make an impact? I believe it is possible. Anyway, let us all know...

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