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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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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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.


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????

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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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..."


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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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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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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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.


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!


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:

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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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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.

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Monday, October 1, 2007


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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