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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