Friday, March 30, 2007

Dami asked a pertinent question, whether the polls will not be delayed to allow AD to replace it candidate. According to Section 132(2) of the Nigerian Constitution, "an election to the said office shall be held on a date not earlier than 60 days and not later than 30 days before the expiration of the tenure of office of the last holder of that office."

As the Constitution is the supreme law of the land, it should trump the INEC rules and thus will require that elections hold, at most not more than approximately two months before OBJ's last day and at least no later than approximately a month after OBJ's last day as President.

OBJ's last day in office is May 29th, barring any act of God or otherwise that could extend his tenure.

Thanks Dami for the question.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Alliance for Democracy (AD) candidate unfortunately passed away. Mr. Adebayo Adefarati was 79 years old and had been sick for a while. He died in an Ondo State hospital. May his soul rest in peace and may God grant his family strength during this tough period.

Okay, I unfortunately have to address political issues. The first of which is an issue that I raised in 'Rest in Peace' when I incorrectly thought that presidential candidate Umaru Yar'Adua was no more. Section 37 (1) of the 2006 Electoral Act grants Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the authority to postpone elections indefinitely in the event that a presidential nominee dies. Assuming that INEC enforces this law, the much hoped-for democratic transition will not happen when we expected.

UPDATE: Just checked with BBC Online and they note that INEC determined that the AD should simply offer a replacement candidate. Thus, Adefarati's death will not postpone the elections.

Unfortunately, Adefarati's death is not the only stumbling block to the election. According to newspaper reports, INEC has acknowledged that if the courts of the land declare that Atiku is cleared to participate in the elections, INEC will have to postpone the polls in order to get the ballots printed for the 61.5 million registered voters. A task that will take time.

No conclusion can be made at this point in time. We shall all have to wait to hear the final verdict of the courts regarding individuals like Atiku that have challenged the INEC list. Of course, a delay of any kind will raise fears of instability and a potential return by the military. Nevertheless, all Nigerians will have to be patient during this time of insecurity. Something tells me that in a country where anything happens, Nigerians will be just fine at weathering this and any storm that comes their way.

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Here is the Executive Summary of the Report issued by the International Crisis Group. Their analysis of the current political tensions are not anything new, if you have been following the ongoing fracas. Nonetheless, it is good to have all the major factors analyzed in one document. Their suggestions to OBJ, the Nigerian Police, the AU and other political actors are dead on and will hopefully be read and considered by the Big Boys.

For a copy of the entire report, please click here.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Defense Industries Corporation of Nigeria (DICON) will begin mass production of the Nigerian version of AK 47s (AKA Kalashnikovs). They will be named after President Obasanjo and will be called OBJ 006.

According to the Director General of DICON, "the Nigerian new rifle was named after Obasanjo because the president was the second sitting Head of State to visit DICON after General Yakubu Gowon."
Just so you know, Kalashnikovs are the most popular guns ever made and there are more of them than any other weapon on earth. Why are they so popular? Because, they last for ever! They require very little training to use, very little accuracy for effectiveness and unlike other guns, do not need as much care and upkeep. Just slap it around a little and it will be firing again. They are so easy to use that children can use them efficiently and effectively.
I'm not quite sure why we need to be making AK-47s. Oops, I'm sorry, OBJ 006s. There are probably more Kalashnikovs on the face of this Earth than people. Maybe it is cheaper to make them than to buy them. Additionally, I guess the development of these weapons will translate into technological advances of some kind. Hhmm. Makes you wonder. It's curious that DICON was paid 1 billion Naira by OBJ for the manufacture of the OBJ 006. How deep does the rabbit hole go?

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What exactly is Name Prejudice? The term simply refers to the fact that some people face discrimination because of their name. In the U.S. there is talk about how certain names, such as African American names, are the target of bias during the job search, for instance. Historically, Jews have changed their names so as to improve their economic prospects or simply reduce the probability of Anti-Semitic bias.

If there ever where names that could suffer from name prejudice, it would be Nigerian names. Think about it. For people who are unfamiliar with our names, they can appear complicated and would require some serious tongue twisting and neck breaking to pronounce.

As a result, many Nigerians come to the West and find ways to make their names easier to pronounce for westerners. 'Kehinde' may become 'Kenny'. Or, as was the case with a young lady I knew, her name 'Nkechi' became 'Nikichi' when she pronounced it. Some Nigerians even reappear in the U.S. or England with English names they never had when you knew them in Nigeria.

Whatever their reasons for making such changes, I can understand the need to do so, under certain circumstances. I have seen resumes placed in the trash, not because the sender was unqualified, but because another sender with equal or less qualification was called John Alexander Smith, or some other familiar, easy to pronounce and Anglo Saxon name. Was the preference for John A. Smith over say, Jubril Ibrahim Otokiti (a fictional name) deliberate? I think it was a matter of implicit bias. People tend to prefer those who are like them over those they consider different. So, if the person receiving those resumes is named Amber Lauren Thompson (fictional name) and she the only Muslim sounding name she is familiar with is Osama Bin Laden, one can see why she would pick John's resume over Jubril's even if you don't agree with her decision.

Even I am biased against certain names. I must confess that I do not appreciate names that I think mean nothing or have little or no significance. Blame that on my upbringing. The Yoruba and other Nigerian groups take a lot of time to bless their children with names that will give them good fortune. So, when I meet people called Alize, Puma, Lexus, or another name given to a child in honor of a luxury good I cannot help but wonder what the parents were thinking. Nonetheless, I do not allow my bias to be a reason to disrespect anyone, no matter what I think about their name.

Despite the obvious or implicit bias against certain names, I do not want to discourage Nigerians from giving their children names that represent their cultural heritage or suggest that parents cannot or should not come up with creative names they like for their children (think of Toni Braxton who named her sons Diesel and Denim). There is nothing wrong with having a unique and distinctive name. We must all learn to overcome our biases and not allow such bias to be the reason for prejudice against those we consider different. After all, in some parts of the world, a name like Hannah or Skyler is foreign.

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

I've spent the week thinking about Nigeria and trying to blog about something positive. Please blame Snazzy for his wonderful post on Nigeria a few weeks ago. I, despite my love for Nigeria, and my desperate desire to find something positive to say, am stumped. I can't think of anything smart and witty to write about Nigeria.

That is a shame, because I have wonderful memories about Nigeria and the Nigerians I know. Yes, things are far from perfect there, but I truly believe that Nigeria's future is bright. That, despite the current political madness. I don't think I am overly optimistic. I think that as a Nigerian, I can't help but envision good things for my people and my country.

So, what positive things do I have to share about Nigeria? Oh, just the basics. In general, we are a country of go-getters, intellectuals, kind hearted individuals with a great sense of community and family. I explained to a friend of mine that when many Nigerian women have children, their relatives practically move in to assist in taking care of the baby. She thought that was a nice thing and regretted the fact that many Americans do not share that practice.

I can't help but think of my mother who took care of her own mother without ever once complaining. I had to beg my mother to allow her siblings to take care of my grandmother because I could see the stress she was enduring when my Mama's health began to fade. That is a quality that is not unique to my mother. A respect for and desire to honor our parents is a quality shared by most Nigerians. Although we drive each other nuts, I pray for the opportunity to care for my mother when she gets to a point where she can no longer care for herself. That, I believe will be a blessing.

I want my children to be Nigerian children who understand the importance of respect for others and respect for self. I am thankful I spent my formative years in Nigeria. I learnt so much about life and people. I plan on writing a list of my -isms to share with my children. A guidebook of sorts to help my daughter become a strong lady and my sons become confident gentlemen. I know that this list of -isms will be highly influenced by what I have learned from Nigeria.

When I come to think about it, it is not hard to be positive about Nigeria. Just reading the various blogs and seeing how much commitment there is to Nigeria and its issues clarifies that Nigeria's future will be bright as long as people maintain their ties to the Republic and continue to think critically about its issues, be that negative or positive.

Well, I will spend this weekend catching up on a few Nigerian flicks, chopping my efo and enjoying the sounds of my children's laughter. Their laughter and the laughter of all children is the constantly positive element of Nigeria and all Nigerians. It reflects what can be a bright and happy future for my country.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

My husband is a certified cricket fanatic. Whenever the West Indies team plays the whole house pretty much has to watch. I'm not complaining, really. If this is the vice I have to deal with, I take it on gladly.

However, there is little to be glad about regarding cricket at this moment. It was recently revealed that the late Pakistani coach, Bob Woolmer, perished as a result of "manual strangulation."

Woolmer died a few hours after Pakistan lost a match to Ireland. Keep in mind that Ireland is new to the Cricket World Cup experience and Pakistan is one of the best teams in the world (ranked 4th, I believe). So, when Pakistan lost, people were very surprised. I personally was happy for the Irish, particularly as they won their match on St. Patrick's day (luck of the Irish, I guess). However, when a few hours later, it was announced that the Pakistani coach suffered a heart attack and later died at the hospital, many people thought the poor man's heart just gave out.

To now hear that his death was as a result of strangling and to discover that there is a possible mafia link, is absolutely disheartening. All this wahala in a sport that fines players for even looking at an opponent the wrong way! My condolences go out to Mr. Woolmer's family and all those who will miss him. As for those good for nothing people that are responsible for his death, Prime Minister Portia will have your hide for acting up in Jamaica during the sacred world cup. Wait until she sic them downtown boys on you, bombaclot! (Please excuse the expletive).

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The head of the EFCC was recently interviewed on Hardtalk, a BBC program. Thanks to Dee for sending me the link.

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

According to The Guardian, Atiku Abubakar is not listed on the INEC's list of individuals cleared to run for President on April 21st. Atiku has now taken the case to court which according to INEC is his only remedy. INEC declared on its website that Atiku will be allowed to run if "a competent court" orders it.

In a statement released to the press on Thursday, Atiku and the Action Congress (AC) party "warned the electoral commission not to plunge Nigeria into the kind of crisis that a similar action created in Cote d'Ivoire, where a presidential candidate, Alhassan Quattarra, was denied a right to contest." (The Guardian). Is this a threat? Will Atiku and the AC orchestrate violence in order to keep the polls from happening? I desperately hope not, but at this point, anything is possible in my country, Nigeria.

Everyone is talking about violence on April 21st. Obasanjo issued a violence alert and put the armed forces "on full alert". Even Wole Soyinka has declared in a statement that anarchy looms, stating "[w]e are now firmly within the terrain, not even of the rule of law, but of the paranoid will of any individual, however, powerful, against the fabric of society, against such seeming intangibles as confidence in the ability of the law to protect the individual and the community..." He also "called on Nigerians to rise up in defence of the rule of law and prevent the enthronement of fascism in the country." ("The Will of One and the Rule of Law").

So will we descend into outright violence and chaos as a result of the 'beef' between Obasanjo and Atiku? I know some have called for revolution, but as a pacifist, I worry that any violence will spiral irreparably out of control. The consequence being inconceivable.

The 'powers that be' must not be allowed to prevent 43.5% of the populace from carrying out their democratic right to vote on April 21st. Nigerians must refuse to be duped into fighting one another just because certain people cannot keep their egos in check. To do so will be a complete injustice and absolutely reinforce my belief that the populace, the citizen is irrelevant to the 'big boys'. As I noted to some other bloggers recently, Peace and Unity are the ending words of our National Anthem. Let us not forget the importance of those words in a quest by a few for control and an attempt on their part to destabilise the hopes and dreams of the many. It is not too late to avert chaos.

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Friday, March 16, 2007

My mother and I use Skype often. Despite the frequency of our communications, my mom sometimes complains that her headphones don't work. Whenever that happens, she calls the IT guy, Peter, to help her fix the problem.

Recently, I thanked Peter for constantly assisting her with the headphones. I then asked my mother if he was married and she informed me that he was single and would probably not marry soon. I, in turn, said that I hope he eventually finds a wonderful wife. I also wished that he have smart children who will someday help him with his technology issues when he becomes an older man.

My mother laughed and said, "Ah, you don't know that he is older than you?" Puzzled, I asked, "So, what?" She said, "You are praying for someone older than you, now." I took a breath and calmly responded, "Well, if he doesn't want me to pray for him, I can always take my prayer back. After all, God does not consider the age of the person praying, does he?"

This conversation about age brought to mind the fixation Nigerians have about age and the role it plays in our interactions. As a people, we value age. The older one is, the better he or she is, technically. I believe that is because we see age as an indicator of experience and wisdom. Therefore, we give respect to those that are older than us and look to them for advice and guidance.

That attitude towards age is a very good thing. Anyone would be blessed to live a long life, particularly if it is fulfilling and satisfactory. However, the preoccupation with age can also present a negative - ignoring the potentially beneficial skills and experiences of those that are younger.

Many Nigerians, my Aunty Amba being one of them, did not want Donald Duke to run for President. Why? Because he is "too young". In my book, his age is not an indicator of his experience nor is it an indication of his potential ability to be a good President. It is his ideas and the willingness to execute them that should be important to all of us.

One could argue that despite the age and supposed knowledge of our leaders, past and present, Nigeria is still in chaos. How has their 'wisdom' alleviated the poverty of the masses? Or has their experience made it easier for parents to provide for their children? As I noted before, there is absolutely nothing wrong with respecting our elders, after all, we can learn a lot from them. Despite this, I believe a blind and unquestioning respect of those we deem 'elders' is foolish and quite frankly has played a role in creating a lot of the problems Nigeria now faces. Especially when those 'elders' have consistently proven themselves to be ill-equipped and have frequently let us down.

Let me be honest, I have been very fortunate to be surrounded with elders that are wise and whose knowledge has proven extremely helpful. I do not think that I could have achieved half the things I have achieved without the sound counsel of my elders such as my late maternal grandmother ("Mama") and an uncle ("Wise Man") to name a few. Nevertheless, these elders have always allowed myself and others to be critical of their suggestions and in their wisdom have always proffered additional information to overcome any hesitation and suspicion we might have had about their advice.

These individuals encouraged conversation and dialogue, a much needed interaction between young and old. It is that discourse between old and new that I feel is lacking in the conversations that many of us have about Nigeria. I tend to feel that certain elements will not allow for a "young boy" or a "small girl" to participate and contribute to discussions about Nigeria. That attitude is definitely to our detriment because age does not signify wisdom in every case. Maturity is an important element and is not dependent on age. Many young people are very mature and display wisdom beyond their years.

It would be to our nations benefit to find a way to effectively take advantage of the wisdom and experience of our elders while also accessing the experience and skills of the young boys and small girls. Other nations and cultures practice such interaction and have benefited from this interaction exponentially. Think about YouTube. It was created by a couple of 'young boys'. Young people tend to spur innovation in a way that many of our elders cannot because they are sometimes set in their ways. We can all think of hundreds of examples where young people that have created something new that was advantageous to all - young and old.

Again, there is nothing wrong with age and this is not an attempt to criticize older people. Age, especially when accompanied by wisdom and knowledge, is an absolute and unquestionable blessing. We as Nigerians, however, must find a way to encourage an exchange between those of us that have wisdom and the intelligent "small girls" and "young girls". It will be to our nation's advantage to take advantage of the benefits of age and the benefits of youth. No nation will succeed without this formula.

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

As I have noted in the past, my area is Nija central. There are a lot of Nigerians in the surrounding towns and in the state of Maryland, in general. That being said, I was shocked and horrified to discover that a news article I heard about recently involved a Nigerian.

Amara Eden is a mother of 5 children between the ages of 6 years and 6 months. She was arrested for and charged with child neglect. She left her children alone and unsupervised in a basement apartment that was filthy and absolutely disgusting from the pictures shown on the news.

She allegedly informed a police officer that in her home country, it is a shame to go to jail. She is right. But, it is a shame to not take care of your children, as well. We all know that times are hard, it takes a lot to raise and care for children. However, if you see or read about the conditions these children lived in, well, you would be speechless.

There were options available to this woman and her children if she needed help caring for her kids. Maybe she did not know. It is unfortunate that her children had to suffer the consequences. Her youngest has cystic fibrosis and all the children are suffering from respiratory problems.

It is possible that she suffers from depression or some other mental and/or emotional condition that impaired her judgment. But, I wonder if she loved her children because on the news tonight it was alleged that she said she would have simply killed herself rather than return to her home only to be arrested.

I just hope that she gets the help she needs. Even more important, I hope that those children recover and forget about this madness. I wonder where their father[s] is/are? Did they have any family members that could have interceded on their behalf? We have to keep our eyes out for each other. Maybe someone could have offered to care for those poor children while she worked or did whatever it was that she was doing when she left those children alone for hours in their own filth.

We must learn to ask for help when needed. It doesn't make you a weak person to acknowledge that you can't do everything alone. Life is hard for all and we can only manage together. I wish I could have done something to prevent this from happening.

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Many of us have heard about Nigerian women being trafficked into a life of prostitution in Italy and other parts of Europe. Yet, many of us may never have heard of Nigerian children being trafficked in Europe.

Nothing shocks me anymore, but the plight of children who suffer never fails to pain me. I must thank Naijablog for highlighting this issue and would like to encourage you to please visit http://www.afruca.org/ to educate yourself about the problem. You never know how you can help make a change. All it takes is one person doing something little or something large to change the life of another person.

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There is always a lot one can say, but if someone else says it better and more eloquently, you must give way to them. As such, I am posting a short documentary with music of Fela Anikulapo Kuti talking. I cannot tell you when this was shot, but I can tell you, and I am sure you will agree, that his comments are timeless.

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Monday, March 12, 2007

I have Igbodr to thank for the hilarious title to today's post. She spelt out exactly what I was thinking with her statement. Her email to me was the third I received regarding Vice President Atiku and his busted knee.

It seems that this election is very stressful for some of Nigeria's political candidates. Every other week, we have a Presidential candidate flying abroad for emergency medical care. A few weeks ago, Buhari went abroad for a 'check up'. Last week, Yar'Adua practically 'died' from his kidney 'condition'. This week, Atiku Abubakar fell off his treadmill and was informed that not only had he messed up his knee, but Nigeria lacked the appropriate surgical equipment to fix his 'condition'.

With all these medical emergency trips happening, maybe Igbodr is right, we do need "fresh blood". It is clear that a few of the candidates are crumbling under the weight of strenuous campaigning. We probably would do better with a younger or at least healthier bunch of 'leaders - both physically and intellectually. I opine that we would definitely do better with younger, newer and fresher individuals capable of using their skills, experiences and ideas to properly serve the Republic.

However, even more than "fresh blood", we need more investment in our health care system. It is sad to see that a whole bunch of arguably rich, old men get to fly abroad (in the Presidential jet no less i.e. Yar'Adua and Atiku) when they need health care. Where do poor people go? There are very capable doctors in Nigeria but as was the case with Atiku's busted knee, they lack some of the equipment necessary to further their profession and honor the Hippocratic Oath.

I hope that these 'leaders' and others will be embarrassed as I am embarrassed about getting calls asking why our politicians keep going abroad to see doctors. I hope that they will be spurred to invest in the nation's health system. After all, we can't all fly to Germany, the U.K. or some other place with better equipment, now can we?

In honor of all the 'mature' folks, I am posting the recent performance of legendary Soca artist Arrow. He just performed at the 2007 Cricket World Cup Opening Ceremony in Jamaica on March 11th. Not familiar with his name? Well, I know you are familiar with his hit "Feeling hot, hot, hot!" The man is definitely old but put all the young performers to shame as he wound his body thoroughly and got down during his performance. Old folk can do it! Our politicians and particularly, those trying to become president of the madhouse that is Nigeria, need to get it together!

Arrow performing his legendary hit "Hot! Hot! Hot!"

Oh by the way! Good luck West Indies!!!!! Hope you win the tournament!

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Friday, March 9, 2007

Feeling a little rebellious today, so I thought I would post a quote from someone I practically consider to be a prophet. Would name a child after him except for the fact that my mother would skin me! Anyway, read the following, place it in context of 'White Man's Magic' or any of the other posts on this site. Or, simply put it in the context of your own thoughts on Nigeria, it's past and future. So strange how history constantly repeats itself.



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Thursday, March 8, 2007

I spent most of yesterday and last night thinking about the fracas that was Yar'Adua's health condition and 'death.' That made me think of the Law of Unintended Consequences. The law suggests that the actions of people—and especially of government—always have effects that are unanticipated. Most economists are familiar with this concept and some political scientists study it when dissecting the intersection/interaction between economics and politics and other social factors.

Let us first consider what happened over the last 24 hours in Nigeria regarding PDP presidential candidate Yar'Adua. Many heard from text messages, blogs and other sources that Yar'Adua would not be attending a scheduled event in Lagos because he was short of breath. The story then became that he was taken to hospital in Abuja and soon after flown to a specialist in Germany for immediate treatment. Now although we have never quite been informed of the specifics, it is clear that Yar'Adua suffers from a 'kidney condition' - one that requires dialysis and constant medical oversight. This 'kidney condition' has been the source of numerous speculations - primary of which is that his 'condition' will make it close to impossible for him to lead Nigeria.

With the background information out of the way, I can now arrive at the issue I originally began with - unintended consequences. The recent rumors about Yar'Adua's health and the lack of adequate and reliable information from a knowledgeable source resulted in an unintended consequence - Yar'Adua's health is now under more scrutiny than ever. Some have questioned (and will continue to question) how it is possible that someone who intends to be the Head of State cannot keep up with the grueling campaign schedule? Others will assert that his inability to perform under stress makes him unfit for Aso Rock. The fact is that irregardless of public opinion, there is an even greater shroud of concern around Yar'Adua, and for good reason.

All this could have been avoided by simply providing information in the immediate hours after it became clear that he needed emergency care. However, as is typical, our 'leaders' do not feel accountable to the populace and therefore do not see the need to honestly communicate with them so as to assuage them of their fears and concerns. We, in turn, do not hold them accountable, nor demand that they answer to us. Consequently, the unintended consequence is that even if Yar'Adua's 'condition' was originally blown out of proportion by all of us political junkies, the failure to remedy the situation has simply escalated his health to the forefront of concerns, making it likely to be subject to more rumors.

Despite all this, I am glad that he is alive and well. His family and all those who cared about his safety are probably relieved that he is well enough to give interviews and that he will continue as PDP presidential nominee. That is the bright spot in this situation. Hopefully, PDP and others can use this situation as means to achieving unity and downplaying fears and concerns that can lead to insecurity as was evidenced in the last 24 hours.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2007

It's a miracle - he has risen from the dead! All jokes aside, I got a call directing my attention to a radio interview Yar'Adua did from hospital. Thank God, he is alive and well. I have been sitting on pins and needles hoping that the news of his death I received was incorrect. Thankfully, it was.

Anyway, here is the BBC's report on an interview they did with him in Germany.

Now, can we all find out why the need for the mystery and lack of concrete information about his condition? People who should have known, had no clue as to whether the man was dead or alive. More information could have prevented the 'RIP' post I published earlier.

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Just confirmed that Umaru Yar'Adua has passed away. May his soul rest in peace and may Allah have mercy upon him. May his family be granted peace and strength to get through what must be a tough and trying period.

May God have mercy upon Nigeria because we are already a country in chaos and the passing of a presidential candidate so close to elections could spark further instability. I hope and pray for peace in Nigeria. I must quote General Danjuma who recently wrote, "[T]he wheel of our national progress that was steered from the edge of chaos is regrettably being pushed back to the precipice." This statement was made prior to Yar'Adua's death but I feel it is appropriate considering the current circumstances.

UPDATE: Sorry to fuel the rumor mill but just discovered something at Sahara Reporters. Apparently, Section 37 (1) of the 2006 Electoral Act grants Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) the authority to postpone elections indefinitely in the event that a presidential nominee dies.

The section reads: "If after the time for the delivery of nomination paper and before the commencement of the poll, a nominated candidate dies, the Chief National Electoral Commissioner or the Resident Electoral Commissioner shall, being satisfied of the fact of the death, countermand the poll in which the deceased candidate was to participate and the Commission shall appoint some other convenient date for the election.”

Now, considering the gossip in Nigeria that OBJ intended to extend the transition, the death of Yar'Adua could cause a lot of problems for a lot people.

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Na wa for Nija, oh. Our newspapers and other news sources reported that Presidential Candidate Umaru Yar'Adua "collapsed" or is in Germany for a check up or is dead. What is the man's actual condition? Nobody knows.

Since he became the PDP presidential candidate there has been so much mystery about his condition. There is so much speculation, but in general Yar'Adua is said to have a "kidney condition". What exactly does that mean?

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Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A recurring theme at this blog is the image of Nigeria in the global media. (See NIGERIA IS UNDER ATTACK for example). I continue to be dismayed by the way that my country and its people are characterized. Today, like many other days, was just a bit more of the same.

The newest case in point is a recent BBC article titled 'Dog's dinners prove popular in Nigeria.' In the article, the author discuses the alleged gastronomical trend of dog meat in Abuja. Apparently, dogs are becoming scarce because they are now a cure-inducing, sex-life improving, juju-protecting delicacy.

I know that Nigerians tend to joke around that Calabar people regularly eat dog meat. In fact, my cousin from Calabar claimed to have eaten dog meat at a neighbors house. My Uncle in Lagos, AKA The Hitman, used to threaten to 'dash' the children's dog to Calabar people to eat, just to get the kids to keep the doggie in check. We can all think of stories about dog meat and Calabar people. Despite this, I was close to enraged when I discovered the BBC article.

I guess it had to do with a description of a dog meat-eater "tugging his chunk of dog meat." Or, no, maybe it was the picture of a man gnawing on what I assume was a dog's rib. Whatever the case, the article brought to mind repulsive images of someone killing and cooking the local Bingo. As much as I respect a person's decision to eat what they want, as long as the food is not stolen or human flesh, this article just reinforced for me the lack of control Nigeria has over its image in the Western media.

Nigeria is the laughing stock of the world and it is a shame. Now we are being described as dog eaters. What next? I can't wait to read or hear the next scandalous portrayal of Nigerians that will plastered all over TV screens, computer screens and newspaper pages. Although Nigeria gets a bad rap, I think it is important to note a few things. Did you know that there was a time when Mark's and Spencer's had the word 'Ekabo' at its entrance? For those that are not aware, 'Ekabo' is the Yoruba word for 'welcome'. Did you also know that Nigeria was influential in assisting several African countries in achieving independence? Some countries even wanted to be included in our territory. And, did you know that at one point, Nigerians were given 5 year multiple entry visas to visit various European countries? If you are reading this and are not aware of such information, you probably think I am making it up. But, call your folks and ask them, they will tell you of the glory days when Nigerians only thought about hope and progress. Nigerians were respected for their incredible intellect, business acumen, artistic capabilities and incredible culture. Nowadays, like the late Rodney Dangerfield used to say, we can't get any respect.

These days, average Nigerians are worried about how to get through the day. They can't be bothered about anything other than self-preservation. Nevertheless, there are those of us that must and do worry about our image, which as the title of this post points out, has gone to the dogs. As I noted before, we better get a handle on this situation before it gets too late "to do effective and efficient damage control in the future".

P.S. "We need a new P.R. agent!"

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Monday, March 5, 2007

I received a call from my mother today. In the background, were several voices engaged in a heated conversation. She informed me that she was visiting her brother in Port Harcourt. As NEPA had "taken light" (or rather, "Power Holder," PHCN), the entire group of siblings, cousins and one grand uncle were all sitting outside in the stifling heat, having an argument about Nigeria and the upcoming election.

"Obasanjo is a thief," someone shouted.
"Na you wey be thief, ole" my mother responded laughing heartily.

I asked my mom who she plans to vote for and she told me "Nobody." Her reason was that she voted in the last election and doesn't feel that it was of any benefit.

"Who did you vote for, mom?"
"Ah, my dear. It was Obasanjo I voted for, oh."
"Well, then what are you complaining for? You clearly got what you wanted."
"I guess so, " was all she could say and we laughed for a long time.

I asked my aunt, who came in from Calabar, what happened to Donald Duke.
"Don't mind him. Anyway, he was too young to run for President. Obasanjo would have used him." She said.
"Hey, watch your mouth," my mom instructed.
"Heh, sorry, oh. But it is true." Aunty responded.

Next thing, my uncle, the family drunk (you know every family has one), excuse me - recovering alcoholic - screamed, "I'm voting for Atiku. Up Atiku!"
A couple people cheered him on and that got my mother really heated.
"Atiku, keh? Oti oh. Barawo Banza!" my mom screamed.

I could not believe she swore. Now, I have only heard my mother curse one other time and that was when i made her watch an episode of Jerry Springer. The word was "$#*!" and she only said it because two 'sisters' were claiming to be lesbian lovers. You know the typical Jerry stuff. In such a case, a swear word is more than appropriate. But, for my mother to randomly curse out Atiku is strange. She must have had whatever my uncle was drinking.

Then, I was informed that the new rumour is that Obasanjo wants to extend the elections until October and that he will do anything to hold unto power for as long as it takes. And, my drunk uncle also enlightened me that although today is Obasanjo's 70th birthday, he is "really 80" and is "going senile".

Although I got a great laugh out of listening to my family members slander the various politicians running for office, the heated nature of their discussion made me realise that the country is extremely polarised at this time. If my little family can have such wild arguments at 9pm local time while sitting in the heat, I can't imagine what people who don't like each other are doing to one another in the name of elections. How strange that my family could possibly reflect the divisions that have taken root in Nigeria on account of democracy.

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Since I got a couple calls about the Discussion series, I thought I would post a link to the current host's site. There is an excellent commentary on the financial opportunities that are available in Nigeria at AIJUSWANARITE. Before you begin to wonder, let me assure you that Snazzy, the blog's host and author, provided a concise and well informed discussion on the topic that is interesting and could be educational for some.

Do take the time to read the post and if inspired, leave a comment as well.

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Thursday, March 1, 2007

After all the controversy surrounding Naira notes inscribed with Arabic scripts, the Central Bank has introduced some new notes that no longer have the Arabic writing. They now are inscribed with the value of the notes in Hausa, Igbo and Yoruba.

The new notes are supposed to be smaller in size, sturdier (remember all those Naira notes that practically withered away in your hands?) and harder to forge. All that will not change the nauseating feeling I get when Mama Sudirat pulls out a dirty 10 Naira bill from her sweaty bosom!

Anyway, back to the issue at hand. I am curious about the various denominations of currency we have in circulation. We have 1 and 2 Naira coins, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1000 Naira notes. Do we really need all those various denominations? How do they help? Don't they just add to the complexity that is using the Naira?

As you can probably tell, I don't find most of the notes and coins necessary. When was the last time anyone used a 1 or 2 Naira coin? To do what? Tom Tom sweet has not been under 5 Naira for as long as I can remember. Even Okin biscuit cannot be cheap enough were one would use most of the lower denominations. I bet if I made the mistake of dashing some beggar 500 Naira, he/she would probably look at me and fling the money back in my face, saying "Wetin I go do with 500 Naira?".

If the Central Bank wants to keep coins in circulation they should be worth 50, 100 and/or 200 Naira. That way such denominations will not take up too much space in our wallets. I remember going to lunch at some Chinese restaurant around Adeola Odeku. Thank God my brother carried the entire bank with him. He had to place several notes on the table in order to pay. I should have just suggested we buy some Suya or Shawarma with Seven Up, instead. Would have been just as satisfying.

We should remove lower denominations from circulation as the mere cost of printing them is probably impractical. Why waste money when it could be placed to good use? I'd rather see some better roads. That would definitely keep down the number of accidents and road deaths such as the one that just happened in Katsina State.

Why does everything in Nigeria have to be so complicated? A wise man once told me that Africans do not see the world in black and white. Only white people do. According to him, Africans, and Nigerians in particular, see the world in shades of gray. Things are not cut and dry but complex and constantly evolving. I don't mind complexity as long as it has some order to it. I just wish we could find a way to uncomplicate the complexities that are Nigeria. Can we please start with the Naira?

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