Sunday, July 29, 2007

EKO (the traditional name for Lagos, Nigeria's commercial capital) has always been a hustle and bustle city. According to the recent 2006 census, Lagos is home to anywhere between 9 to 13 million people (depending on where you look), making it the 2nd most populated state and probably the 11th most populated city in the world. It is an aggressive place where people work tirelessly, in the intense heat, to make ends meet, but enjoy themselves at night at bars/clubs, at Owambe parties (neighborhood parties that last until the wee hours of the morning) or simply by hanging out with friends at the local 'Mama Put'. It is truly the city that never sleeps.

It seems, however, that the new Commissioner of Police ("CoP") is out to stamp out "immorality" from this 'Center of Excellence'. Mohammed Abubakar ordered a clampdown of 'indecently dressed' girls. His rationale was that suggestive outfits cause public disorder. As a result, 90 women and 3 men were arrested and appeared before a magistrate court on charges of indecent dresses.

Although I am extremely curious to know what the 3 arrested men were wearing to fall into the net of the 'indecency' police, I am outraged that Abubakar would try to dictate what a woman should wear when she is out minding her own business. Yes, some might wonder if these women were prostitutes dressed for their trade. There is no evidence to suggest this and so I will not assume that they were arrested on that basis. Despite this, I declare that even if they wanted to dress like ashawo (a loose woman/harlot), it is not and has never been the CoP's concern.

Instead, I rather focus on the fact the Nigeria's constitution does not ban 'indecent' dressing. That being the case, on what legal basis does Abubakar determine that 'indecent' dressing is a crime to warrant arrest and prosecution. Upon what state or federal law will these 9 women and 3 men actually be charged? They did not commit a crime from a legal perspective, nor did they commit a crime from any other standpoint. Lagos, believe it or not, is a liberal city. Our women may dress the way they want, especially under the cover of darkness in an attempt to enjoy themselves. That is not a secret in the city of Bubblers. I bet anything that those women didn't look half as bad as the average video honey in a hip hop video.

It disappoints and even scares me to even think that the Sharia mentality of certain northern states may be affecting the thinking of the CoP. We all know what happens in certain Sharia regions where women must be covered from head to toe. I will reserve my feelings on Sharia Law, but it is suffice to say that I respect what some people have chosen for themselves. I will mention that we all know that even Sharia states have areas were 'immorality' is allowed, to an extent. Lagos is not a Muslim state. It isn't even a Christian state. It is Eko - a state, a city, a mentality, a way of life. In its own way it probably supplants religion (no disrespect to anyone). The real residents of Eko are Lagosians first and everything else later, which is why it is a place where anyone and everyone can come to and live in relative peace. To now have this CoP trying to change our cultural norms is disquieting and if Sharia mentality has anything to do it, I shudder to think of the possible future.

Keep in mind that these actions are on the heels of the Hisbah or Sharia Police threatening to enter Sabon Giri, an enclave of non-muslims in Kano. It seems that there is a breeze of morality in the air. I am all for morality, but I believe in focusing on priorities. The way a woman dresses has no correlation, direct or otherwise, to the violence and lack of security that Lagos experiences. Lagosians sometimes rely on street justice to punish and deter crime. Abubakar should continue to work on improving the state of security in Lagos and not worry about whether the length of some young girl's skirt is making him or any of his subordinates blush.

PS. - Gani Fawehinmi, the resident Al Sharpton of Nigeria, feel free to take this case all the way to the Supreme Court. This issue has got the exteemed SAN's (Senior Advocate of Nigeria) name written all over it....

Read more!


Friday, July 27, 2007

Olutosin Oduwale, a 22 year old student at Southern Illinois University, was charged with making a terrorist threat on Wednesday July 25th.

Oduwale, a fraternity president and aspiring rapper ordered a shipment of semi-automatic weapons online and threatened a repeat of the murderous rampage that occurred at Virginia Tech recently. Oduwale has previously faced charges on theft and fraud in the past and his bail for this terrorist charge has been set at over $1 million.

Those who know him have stated that this is all a misunderstanding and that the paper on which the threatening message was found contained rap lyrics.

I have no words but will wait to learn more about this case. I can, however, say 'Na wa oh!'

PS: Thanks to DEE for the link to this story.

Read more!


Thursday, July 26, 2007

It finally exists. 32 men and women were sworn in today to fulfill various posts in the Nigerian government. Nigeria's Constitution requires that at least one minister must come from each state, so it must have been quite a task to finalize this list.

The following is a list of the named Ministers and their deputies/junior ministers.

1. Attorney-General/Minister of Justice: Mr Michael Aondoakaa (SAN)
2. Agriculture/Water Resources: Abba Sayyadi Ruma
3. Agriculture/Water Resources: Adamu Maina Waziri (State 1)
4. Commerce/Industry: Chief Charles Ugwu
5. Commerce/Industry (State): Ahmed Garba Bichi
6. Culture/Tourism: Adetokunbo Kayode
7. Culture/Tourism (State): Aliyu Idi Hong
8. Defence: Yayale Ahmed
9. Defence (State): Mrs Fidelia Njeze
10. Education: Igwe Aja-Nwachukwu
11. Education (State 1): Agada Anthony Jerry
12. Education (State 2): Mrs Aishatu Jibril Dukku
13. Energy (State): Power Mrs Fatima Ibrahim
14. Energy (State) Petroleum: Henry Odein Ajumogobia
15. Energy (State) Gas: Odusina Emmanuel
16. Environment/Housing: Mrs Halima Alao
17. FCT: Dr Aliyu Modibbo Umar
18. FCT (State): Sen. John Akpanudoedehe
19. Finance: Dr Shamsuddeen Usman
20. Finance (State): Aderemi Babalola
21. Foreign Affairs: Ojo Maduekwe
22. Foreign Affairs (State 1): Tijjani yahaya Kaura
23. Foreign Affairs (State 2): Amb. Bagudu Hirse
24. Health: Prof. Adenike Grange
25. Health (State): Gabriel Aduku
26. Information/Communication: John Odey
27. Information/Communication (State): Ibrahim Nakande
28. Interior: Maj.-Gen. Godwin Abbe (Rtd)
29. Interior (State): Hassan Alhaji Haruna
30. Labour: Dr Hassan Lawal
31. Mines/Steel Development: Chief Sarafa Tunji Isola
32. Mines/Steel Development (State): Ahmed Moh'd Gusau
33. Transportation: Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke
34. Transportation (State): John Okechukwu Emeka
35. Science/Technology: Mrs Grace Ekpiwhre
36. Youth Development: Sen. Akinlabi Olasunkanmi
37. Women Affairs: Saudatu Usman Bungudu
38. Minister/Deputy Chairman National Planning Commission: Sen. Sanusi Daggash
39. Minister/Chairman, National Sports Commission: Abdulrahman Gimba.

SOURCE: Nigerian Tribune online, 07/26/2007

Read more!


Saturday, July 21, 2007

Wife of jailed MASSOB leader, Ralph Uwazuruike, recently told the BBC that despite her husband's imprisonment, she is committed to gaining independence for Igbos and stated "the struggle continues."

Mrs. Uwazuruike is quoted as saying that, Igbos are "not wanted", thus the continued need for a separate existence. Her husband is on trial for treason due to his calls for secession. He was arrested in October 2005.

Now, the more I pay attention and talk to people, the more I believe that the majority of Igbo's DO NOT want to create their own separate state. If that is true, then Ndigbo (Igbo people) needs to organize themselves (something they are very good at doing) and put an end to the secessionist talk and the statements suggesting that they are less Nigerian than any other tribe. How can a proud people publicly declare through 'mouthpieces' that they don't feel wanted? It infers defeatism and weakness - attributes that are not customary to any group of Nigerians. Ndigbo, and all Nigerians, can not allow opportunists to claim that they represent the whole, particularly when their comments have little positive value but instead, can cause serious havoc and violence.

This is not a matter of not being "wanted" as Mrs. Uwazuruike and others suggest. Nigeria is your land, so, claim it. If you don't think Nigeria is your home, or just feel like making useless noise, then please stop making excuses for your insecurities and inferring that other Nigerians look down on you as a people. That is untrue. I have to say that although I respect her right, any other person's right, to speak their mind about what bothers them,
Mrs. Uwazuruike's comments and Ojukwu's , not too long ago, seem too opportunistic for me to warrant them significant merit. Some people like to hear themselves speak and constantly feel the need to be important. Such people are the worst kind because they will do and say whatever is necessary, damning the consequences, to satisfy their compulsions. Read the following sentence and let it simmer - Nigeria belongs to all Nigerians.

I understand that there will be discontent and serious misgivings about the civil war (Biafran war) amongst those who suffered the most. However, all Nigerians must remember that when the message being spouted at you is divisive and even violent, consider whether the messenger actually has your true interest at heart. I would argue that 9 out of 10 times, they do not. Nigerians must truly address Biafra and the issues it conveys. I am unsure as to what steps have been taken, but a national day of memorial for the Biafran dead and a continued discourse towards unity and equity continue to be necessary in Nigeria to address the bad feelings that some Ndigbo feel and the sour past all Nigerians must deal with as a part of our shared history.

I would like to see and hear more people fighting for Nigeria, and not just segments of the population or its resources. After all, if one of us is dissatisfied, we will all suffer. Thus, we must work in unison to improve our lot together. It is high time we no longer allow opportunists, from within and without, to take advantage of us by creating and stoking the flames of disharmony to our detriment. If not, at the end of the day, Nigerians will end up used and abused. That is a future that I cannot imagine for myself or my people.

(Read Biafra post for more thoughts and comments from readers).

AddThis Feed Button

Read more!


Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Efik send their women to 'fattening rooms' in preparation for marriage. There, they are fed large amounts of food, massaged and made to sleep for long periods of time in an effort to increase their weight and gain fuller proportions. (If you are not familiar with this practice, please click here to read a detailed description of the procedure.) Efik women (and men) take great pride in this time-honored tradition of fattening brides before marriage. I have indeed heard stories of girls who were refused by a fiance's family because their stature was not befitting a proper rotund bride.

Prince Edem recently described best the social importance of the fattening rooms in a recent BBC article on the subject when he stated, "
People will think I am not rich... If a woman is not fat and has not gone through that process she does not qualify for marriage." He then went on to explain his 'revulsion' for slim women, clarifying that he could never marry one as slim women hold no appeal for him.

As much as I can appreciate this tradition, I wonder about the consequences of such fattening rooms for the health of the bride to be. Making any individual gain enormous amounts of weight is unhealthy and can result in serious health problems. Obesity and simply being overweight have been shown to be bad for health. Obese and overweight people are at a higher risk of suffering from diabetes, joint and muscle pain, heart problems and many other health problems that I will not expound upon here. To maintain this fattening practice in this day and age, despite our knowledge about the importance of health and the consequences of being overweight and obese is foolhardy in the least and dangerous at the most. Especially when you consider that, as Prince Edem suggested, this practice is simply maintained to show the world that one is rich - not a very redeeming quality in my book, especially when a woman's health is concerned.

I am all for maintaining traditions, but I nonetheless believe that like anything else, traditional practices are subject to review and can be discarded or modified if and when they are shown to be detrimental. Like the Osu practice in Igbo land, which I have already espoused my opinions on, I believe it is time to at least modify this 'fattening' practice. There are better, more health conscious, ways for people like Price Edem to flaunt their wealth to society. Do what the Kalabari people do, require a man to build a house for the woman in her village. The bigger the house, the more people will sing the man's praises. Or, simply put an ad in the paper or on television telling all who are willing to hear, (or read), how much you are worth. Sort of like what Yar'Adua did - publicly reveal your assets. The whole world will understand that you are unquestionably rich. Of course such a practice would not work for those who are simply perpetrating at being rich, but that is an issue for another day.

Further modification of the fattening process could require women to go away to 'beauty rooms' instead. I would be very envious of any woman who spent 6 months being pampered from head to foot with massages using oils from natural plants, soaking in mud baths and eating delectable dishes while she read a few books and engaged in meaningful and stimulating conversations to prepare her to be the partner of a 'wealthy and important' man who can obviously afford such a 'beauty room'. Doesn't that sound much better than fattening a woman as if she is a cow being prepared to produce choice cuts of steak?

If the fattening room practice is about beauty, which it arguably is, then we need to modify our understanding of beauty. Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes. I am not campaigning for thinness, but I am campaigning for healthiness. Just as women do not have to be skinny to be considered beautiful, so also do they not have to be obese or overweight. A woman can be beautiful however God made her. Fattening her up, should not be a prerequisite.

No one is above change. No people are above correction. I believe that we must change the aspects of ourselves that can and do cause us more harm than good. This fattening practice would qualify. Think about it....

Read more!


Sunday, July 15, 2007

There have been talks in Abuja between militant Mujahid Asari-Dokubo and Goodluck Jonathan. I am a believer in communication. Let's hope that this will result in good things for the Delta and Nigeria, as a whole. My fingers are crossed.

Read more here.

Read more!


Sunday, July 8, 2007

Most Nigerians are familiar with the word. Many more are familiar with the dire and violent conflict that it represents. For my family, Biafra conjures powerfully negative memories and stories of a time when our maternal grandfather was lined up to be shot, but thankfully spared (he lived into his late 80s, thanks be to God).

Biafra was to be a sovereign territory for Easterners but the attempt to secede resulted in incredible bloodshed, famine and suffering. So, whenever I hear "Biafra', I pay attention but I do so cautiously and guardedly.

I was thus, cautious, guarded and incredibly curious when I discovered that Ojukwu was interviewed by BBC. He proclaimed that Igbos "are not equally Nigerian as ... others" and declared that "[t]he only alternative is a separate existence." Emeka Ojukwu, a former military officer in the Nigerian army, led the call for a separate state for Igbos in the 1960s. Some revere him and consider him a hero, others refer to him in much more derogatory terms.

But, back to the issue at hand. What exactly does Ojukwu mean? Is he, again, suggesting secession? In the BBC interview, despite suggesting a separate state for Igbos, he also mentioned that Nigeria could still remain a united nation. These two statements seem contradictory and the article does not elucidate further. Unfortunately, I neither have access to the entire interview and cannot speculate on the intentions behind Ojukwu's statements, nor am I knowledgeable about the context within which they were made. It would be interesting to have a broader understanding of where he is coming from. Nevertheless, I must wonder whether Igbo people feel like second-class citizens in their own country. If so, how is that possible? The Igbo people that I know are successful, industrious, hard working and extremely driven in business, education and any other area where I have had the opportunity to get to know them. I find it hard to believe that in this day and age, Igbos are relegated to second-class status.

I once asked an ex-housemate about Igbo-feelings post Biafra and she told me that a lot of Igbos continued to feel threatened and feared potential future attack and subjugation. I listened respectfully, and I asked a few questions, but did not believe that such sentiment was widespread. I thought instead, that she was repeating what she had heard older Igbos discuss and that her remarks did not reflect the existence of contemporary Igbos of my generation. Reading the short write-up on Ojukwu's BBC interview, however, I now cannot help but revisit what I was told by my old roommate. Therefore, I ask again - do Igbos truly feel that they are second-class citizens? Do they believe that an independent state will improve their situation and status? Do younger Igbos feel this way? And finally, do any of you think that a repeat of the Biafran war, in any part of the Republic, is possible? Even before considering these questions, there remains the one unasked question - Does Ojukwu still speak for Ndigbo (Igbo people)?

I must confess (in case you are unaware), I am a staunch supporter of a united Nigeria. I believe we gain more as a nation of over 240 tribes and 140 million people, than as a fractured country. Despite these feelings, I still want to know other opinions, even if they differ from mine.....

For more information on Ndigbo and Igbo issues, please visit the World Igbo Congress.

AddThis Feed Button

Read more!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

That damn green passport!!!! My frustration and anger knows no bounds!!!! I previously discussed the impact of Nigerian citizenship and specifically, Nigerian passports in 'The Pride and Pain of Nigerian Citizenship'. I wrote that post to get some closure to a bad Nigerian-passport experience. Unfortunately, I had no idea that the bad times were not done yet.....

I am still in the West Indies and decided to take a trip to Tobago (the other half of Trinidad). My family and I visited a travel agent, purchased our tickets and prepared for an exciting trip to another island.

The day arrived and we made our way to the airport (we were in Barbados). After a tiring flight, (my daughter, 'The Enforcer', threw up on all of us), we finally landed in Tobago. There, we discovered, to our surprise, that unlike most other East Caribbean nations, Nigerians need visas to enter. So, there I was at the Immigrations counter, looking at the Chief Immigration Officer (CIO), thinking 'This cannot be happening... they are going to send my Nigerian behind right back on the plane. Lord, help me.'

Luckily for me, a few factors weighed in my favor and the CIO allowed me to enter his country.

  1. I was travelling with US citizens.
  2. I was staying at a reputable hotel.
  3. I didn't look 'dodgy'.
But, even more important than any of those factors was the fact that I am a U.S. green card holder. Once he was informed of my U.S. status, he promptly looked at me and said, "Okay, this will take a while, but I can get you in." He gave me a waiver that allowed me to vacation in Tobago although he held my passport.

When he called me to get my signature, I sheepishly thanked him for his assistance and said, "Sorry to have put you through all this. I know it took some work on your part."
The CIO laughed and said, "Girl, relax yourself."
He stamped a few more documents, handed me some papers and said, "Go, have a good time, okay?"

Now, I understand that I should not have relied on my travel agent's 'knowledge' as to whether or not Nigerians need visas to visit Trinidad and Tobago. I should have done the research myself. This will never happen to me again. That being said, being that Yardy is taking his sweet time in revealing who will have key government positions, I would like to suggest the need for some serious bi-lateral agreements that will allow Nigerians to travel a lot more freely. He needs to create a post for an individual to go around the world and make life easier for those of us Nigerians that want to travel using our Nigerian passports. It is a shame that my American green card (God bless America) made the difference in getting me into Tobago. Thank God, the CIO was a nice person and thought of a way to get around the rules. It would have been an incredible shame to have hopped on a flight right out of Tobago. It just so happened to be a beautiful country with warm, wonderful people. I would have missed out on a nice experience on account of that damn green passport.

Read more!


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Goodluck Jonathan seemed to be in need of some luck until recently. Before becoming the new Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, he encountered a few serious 'mishaps'.

In December 2006, his campaign offices were bombed. This was later followed by the partial destruction of his 'country' home which suffered the wrath of explosives Additionally, news reports alleged that there was an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap him.

Now, who would want to hurt good old 'Goody'? In a country as complex as Nigeria, the answer could be anyone and everyone. It is safe to speculate that someone wanted to hurt Goody. As I am a sucker for conspiracy theories, I'll espouse a few of my own on this issue.

Anti-Militia Interests

There are those with a keen interest in discrediting militant groups such as MEND. Arguably, MEND has local support because it aligns itself with the needs of the people and fights for their improved welfare. That being the case, a successful attack on Goody could be attributed to MEND and then used to discredit it and other groups. They would be accused of not having the people's interests at heart because they attacked a 'son of the soil' who could have used his position as Vice President to effect positive change for the people of the Delta.

Such a tactic to discredit and embarrass militants would have extremely limited success. Considering the fact that Goody didn't seem to do much for Bayelsa State (he is the former governor), I don't think that resident of the Delta, or Nigerians for that matter, will jump to the conclusion that militants sabotaged the regions chance for change.

This tactic could nevertheless prove effective in giving additional ammunition to the government to send more soldiers to the region and give more access to American troops who already patrol the Gulf of Guinea. The result could be a bloodbath that might not necessarily lead to a weakened militant operation in the region. In fact, the resulting bloodbath could spill far beyond the porous borders of the Niger Delta and impact the entire Republic.

Anti-'Southern' Interests

Okay, this is a sensitive subject, so if you REALLY do not like conspiracy theories, skip this section. Now, for the rest of you 'wey get liver plenty' (translation: brave people), please consider the following.

Remember those horrible rumors that OBJ selected Yardy for President with hopes (and according to the harsher speculators - knowledge) that he (Yardy) would die? Well, let us take that rumor a step further, for curiosity's sake. What if OBJ selected a northerner, Yardy, so he could die and leave Goody, a Southerner, as President? He would have satisfied the northern 'talking heads' by providing a hand-picked northern candidate and satisfied southerners by selecting Goody as the Vice President.

Goody's recent bad luck could therefore be a result of agents that want to prevent a southerner from becoming President if some reason Yardy were to become incapable of fulfilling his duties as President. I know this might seem far fetched to some, but for me, a regular conspiracy loving political junky, this theory has more meat than bones.

Anti-Foreign Interests

There could be those that wished to attack the potential V.P. so as to remove any doubt that the Delta is a lawless area. Imagine, if the hand-picked Vice Presidential nominee had been seriously hurt or even killed, most of the foreign owned operations that remained in the Delta would have evacuated completely. That could leave the region open to new investors who could come in and have a better bargaining tool (after all, others left due to security concerns).

Anti-Goody Interests

Of course, there could be elements who simply dislike Goody and want him gone. I could never speculate on who those could be but we all know that no one gets to become Vice President of any country without developing enemies of some shape and form along the way. Therefore, the recent attacks on Goody could simply have been the result of a few burnt bridges.

Regardless of the flexing of my scheming mind, I am happy to report that the last I heard of Goody and Yardy, they were both in good health and apparently busy serving the country. In fact, the Vice President was recently visiting with fellow Ijaws, reassuring them that Yardy's administration has their interests at the top of his list of things to do. He was very well received by the Ijaws who welcomed their 'son of the soil' with open arms. We shall see...

Anyway, I am quite sure that as the new V.P., Goody has good protection and I do not anticipate anything negative happening to him. The above has simply been the ramblings of a curious mind....

By the way, the one month MEND gave Yardy is officially up.

Read more!