Tuesday, December 30, 2008

This is the longest absence I have ever taken from Nigerian Curiosity. I was on vacation and although I had prepared several posts in advance and had taken the time to check up on Nigerian political and social events, I just could not find the mental capacity to take myself to "the place" that is required to address Nigerian issues. Even when I read about the recent ministerial announcements, and the more interesting fact that the Kwara State governor, Bukola Saraki , gave out 50 houses to "lucky beneficiaries" to commemorate his 46th birthday. As a consequence, 2 long weeks have passed with no activity on this site.  I apologize to all of Nigerian Curiosity's readers.

Nonetheless, I hope you all can understand that I chose instead to immerse myself in the beauty and wonderment that is Costa Rica. It is a small country but mighty in many ways. I have been amazed at the extensive road network the country has and the fact that even the tiniest 'villages' (4-5 homes on the Inter American Highway) are connected to the national electricity grid. The water from the faucets are fresh and drinkable. The people are warm and friendly, and even the mosquitoes are nice and malaria free.

A Tucan - native to Costa Rica

I have also come to the conclusion that Costa Rica is not a poor country. It is a developing country, yes, but poverty, at least of the scale I have unfortunately had the sad opportunity to witness, is not attributable to this nation. Of course, there are poor people here, but their poverty is not as overwhelming as it could be. Thankfully.

And, all that I have seen here makes me realize that when a nation is thoroughly committed to the advancement of its people, its citizens will advance, together. Costa Rica has no army and so it can pump the millions that otherwise would have been allocated to military expenses into schools (you can not drive too far around the country without seeing schools and I drove over 1200 kilometers during this trip), infrastructural developments (98% of the roads I traveled on where in great to excellent condition with the remaining 2% in preparation for fixing due to recent floods in various parts of the country), and an abundance of food (although a flood wiped out the banana and plantain crop around the Caribbean coast).

Now, my thirst and desire for the continued economic development and entrenchment of democratic principles in Nigeria has been refueled. If little Costa Rica can do it, and do it extremely well, if I might add, why can't Nigeria, and quickly? I continue to believe that it is possible and although I must be content with baby steps and in some cases inaction, I believe that the puzzle pieces are falling into place a lot quicker than we, observers, can see.

And, since I refrain from sharing my innermost thoughts at this site, I shall conclude by saying "Asta Luego" (see you later), as I plan on getting back in the Nigerian Curiosity saddle with much fervor.

Hope to see you around in 2009 and thank you for your support in 2007 and 2008.

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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

After visiting Eledureports.com, and reading a detailed account of Jonathan Elendu's experience under SSS detention, I am shocked at the inability of the Yar'Adua administration to understand that it continues to diminish its reputation.

Yar'Adua came to power with a conciliatory tone, offering an olive branch to the militants of the Delta, and exhibiting a humility that has been lacking from many of Nigeria's leaders. However, over the last few months of his tenure and particularly since his trip to Saudi Arabia for the 'lesser hajj' or medical treatment as is commonly believed, the President has seemingly taken it upon himself to exhibit non-democratic attributes, instead. For instance, the the shutdown of Channels TV, the arrest and continued detention of political bloggers Jonathan Elendu and Emeka Emmanuel Asiwe, (who is yet to see his 2 week old child) are the most recent examples of this administration's crackdown on dissenting voices.

But now, things have become even more serious what with the allegations that the SSS, a Nigerian security force that reports directly to the President, might have plans to 'waste' Elendu or make him an "American problem" - setting him up to travel with a dangerous/banned substance so that he will be arrested by the American government upon trying to enter the country.

If any of this is true, then that is very frightening. That a Nigerian should be subjected to such possibility simply for speaking his/her mind would be a travesty. What is even more disappointing is that this administration gives ammunition for such allegations to be made and gives them additional weight. By refusing to charge or 'release' bloggers like Elendu and Asiwe, this administration forces many observers to believe that there is indeed a possibility that these individuals could face further arrest or even worse. That, coupled with Nigeria's history of violence against journalists and dissenters like Dele Giwa and other journalists inexplicably 'murdered' in Lagos earlier this year, gives the impression (warranted or not) that even in a democracy 'guided by' the "Rule of Law" mantra, freedom is simply not a guarantee. And that, is the biggest travesty of all.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

A friend recently argued that Nigeria's ruling elite lack the education necessary to lead the country in the right direction and cited the fact that current President Yar'Adua is the first President to graduate with a college degree in support of his thesis. He believed that the lack of education amongst the nation's leaders is the reason why Nigeria is not better off than it is.

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Friday, December 12, 2008

"See, I don't care about what they say about us/I don't care about the bad people that make us look bad/I believe in Nigeria/That's my word/Naija for life." - Tolu "Bope Boya"


Despite the many problems, Nigerians are a very patriotic people who love their nation and the possibilities it represents. As is clear from the words above, the opening lyrics to Tolu's song "Bope Boya", immediately convey that patriotism. The entire song is a message from the artist encouraging all Nigerians to have faith in the country's future. That message is one that all Nigerians need particularly in light of the recent Jos deaths, arrests of journalists and bloggers, and the innocent babies who lost their lives as a result of fake teething solution.

The beat of this song is quite simple, and for some reason the base reminds me of what southern hip hop used to sound like in the late 19990s, just more modern (anyone remember Atlanta's Ghost Town Dj's "My Boo"?). However, the message of Bope Boya is very powerful. Consider the chorus,

"Bope boya a de be.
No matter how long we will get there.
Make you no give up Nigeria.
Soon we'll become the most desirable in the world."

I discovered this optimistic song at the wonderful gem that is Notjustok. And, if I may say, I especially loved the harmony deployed in the very final chorus. If Tolu or any of his team is reading this, I congratulate him on providing me with renewed hope and optimism for the potential of a better Nigeria. Someday.

* If anyone can direct me to the lyrics of this song or is willing to transcribe them, I would be eternally grateful.

Further Reading:
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent II - P-Square "Say your Love"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent III - Infinity's "Olori Oko"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent IV - Tuface
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent V - Ty Bello's "Greenland"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent VI - Banky W.'s "Ebute Meta"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent VII - Fishe's "Africa"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent VIII - Asa's "So Beautiful"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent IX - Nayo's "1+1"
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent X - Conscious Music
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Monday, December 8, 2008

In 1979, Bob Marley and the Wailers released their album "Survival". With songs like "So Much trouble in The World" and "Africa Unite", the album was a powerful statement on black power and Pan-African unity. But one song from that album became a force, so much so that it became an unofficial national anthem and was used to celebrate the independence Blacks achieved in then-Rhodesia. That song is "Zimbabwe".

In it, Bob Marley sang "Africans a liberate Zimbabwe", meaning that Africans, in solidarity, achieved an independent Zimbabwe. However, as hundreds now die, and a cholera epidemic looms, I wonder if this worsening humanitarian situation will finally compel Africans to once again unite to liberate Zimbabwe, but this time from Robert Mugabe.

As an African, I can confidently say that we Africans, unfortunately, have a high tolerance for revered 'elders' and especially the despotic kind. Mugabe represents the problem with this attitude. Mugabe, once a respected leader is now at the helm of a Zimbabwe falling apart, and he seems either oblivious or uncaring about the people and nation he 'fought' for. He manages to do this with little confrontation or challenge from the majority of other African heads of state. And, while this failure continues, people die, and neighboring nations are threatened by the influx of refugees.

However, Mugabe is just one of many African leaders who have squandered the trust of their people and made decisions that led to the people's ruin instead. It is now clear that Mugabe's choice to destroy democracy in Zimbabwe, attack his opposition, transform a productive nation into a country of poor citizens fleeing to neighbor nations and ignore the reality that cholera is killing Zimbabweans is a crime against the people of Zimbabwe. That crime was committed by nobody other than Robert Gabriel Mugabe, who in a weird coincidence is named after the Christian Archangel Gabriel. This continuing crime creates problems for Southern Africa and reinforces that Zimbabweans, like many Africans, still, in the 21st century, have no say in their daily life and are at the mercy of their elders, leaders, rulers and in some cases on the continent, mere thugs.

So, will Africans, in unison, liberate Zimbabwe once again, or will we choose to wait for the West to help us 'solve' another of the continent's many problems? Ordinarily, one would say that "the choice is yours", but in Africa's case, it just is not the simple.

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

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Thursday, December 4, 2008

UPDATE (FEBRUARY 19TH, 2009): Nigeria's National Assembly finally passed a budget of N3,101,813,750,626. That amount was approximately N146 million more than original amount presented by President Yar'Adua. This increase was apparently due to additions made by the President.

After much delay, President Yar'Adua finally presented the proposed 2009 budget of N2.87 trillion ($24 billion) to Nigeria's National Assembly. The budget, which reflects a 8.4% increase from the last budget, was apparently parsed down to account for the continuing drop in the price of oil, Nigeria's main source of revenue, and the current global slow down. Consequently, this, the second budget presented by the Yar'Adua administration, presents a deficit of N1.09 trillion or 3.95% of national GDP. However, the deficit will be financed by funds unspent from the 2008 budget. The government will also retrieve $200 million from the Nigerian trust fund at the African Development Bank and will issue $500 million worth of bonds, for 10 years, on the international capital market to further plug the deficit.

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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nigeria is home to over 250 tribes and 140 million people of various religious leanings. Over the years, sectarian violence has broken out between Muslims and Christians, especially in the northern part of the country. The last few years have been relatively free of significant violence but all that changed on Thursday, November 27th.

Dozens of bodies brought to a mosque in Jos after fighting in the Nigerian town
As the world renowned Dalai Lama gave a speech about religious tolerance in Lagos, the northern city of Jos, in Plateau State, was set ablaze with sectarian violence. The irony is that the violence and deaths began on the same day the Dalai Lama was praising Nigeria and saying,
“[b]asically here in Nigeria, I think the large number of Muslims, the large number of Christians, I think basically remain very harmoniously, this is wonderful, please keep this type of harmonious relationship.”

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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Far too often, those who stand up and do the right thing end up being severely punished. So many have been destroyed for stepping outside the status quo, even though doing so is the honorable and proper thing to do. While such is not germane to Nigeria, it does appear that punishment for a job well done is increasingly becoming a Nigerian trademark. One need look no further than the rise and incredible fall of Nuhu Ribadu to confirm that in Nigeria, when it comes to doing the right thing for the country - no good deed goes unpunished.

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Monday, November 24, 2008

Those that follow Nigerian politics know that former President Obasanjo apparently sought to amend the Nigerian Constitution to grant him a third term. However, that attempt sparked outrage in the National Assembly and general public, in general. Despite that, many like retired General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma allege that Obasanjo handpicked Yar'Adua to fulfill his third term ambitions and maintain control over the nation.

However, in the current undemocratic atmosphere in Nigeria where bloggers are being detained, independent news channels and political programming is being shut down and journalists are being thrown in jail, the Joint Committee on Constitution Review (JCCR) is set to consider a proposal seeking a third term amendment to the Nigerian Constitution.

Nigeria's National Assembly has taken great strides what with the probe that exposed the deep rot in Nigeria's power sector. However, the National Assembly increased its pay by over 100% earlier this year in a country where over 90% of the people live on less than $2 a day. This same National Assembly also gave President Yar'Adua a pay hike earlier this year, gave 380 cars to the members of the House of Representatives and despite their 'objections' were powerless to prevent Nigeria from taking a risky $3 BN loan from the World Bank.

It is, therefore, difficult for me to see how the National Assembly can objectively decide for Nigerians that Yardy should get a third term as President. This is simply a matter of credibility based on the facts. So, unless there is an outcry similar to what occurred during Obasanjo's 'Third Term Agenda', it is quite possible that the 'Rule of Law' democracy that is Nigeria could end up with Yar'Adua as President until 2019. I would recommend a national vote on the issue but considering the fact that the Independent National Election Committee's leader, Maurice Mmaduakolam Iwu, criticized America's recent historic elections by saying amongst other incredible things that,
"They should learn to keep a voters' register and they should learn to hold elections in one day,"
I, unfortunately, have absolutely no faith that such an act would produce a verifiable mandate upon which the JCCR could proceed.

The challenge remains whether Nigerians will succumb to PPP and allow the democratic dream to completely give way to democratic delusion.

Thanks to N.I.M.M.O. for the Iwu name correction.

Related Article of Interest:
- Nigerian Curiosity of 2008 (Fashola and the 2011 Election)

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Nigeria struck the black gold jackpot in 1956 when oil was discovered in a small village called, Oloibiri. Nigeria soon became a heavyweight in the oil market, dominating as the top African producer of crude (until Angola briefly stole the 'King of African Crude' crown) and the 8th largest producer of oil in the world.

According to IMF estimates, Nigeria made over $300 billion since the 1970s from the sale of oil. But, rampant corruption and theft left the nation with little to show for the oil wealth but poverty and incredible debt. Although penalties and late payments forced the country's debt to reach $35 billion in the 1990s, in 2006, Nigeria became the "first African nation to settle with its official lenders" when it arranged to have most of its debt erased by the Paris Club. Nigeria went on to create a plan that allowed it to pay off its debt and has steadily kept its debt low ever since. According to the CIA, Nigeria's debt accounts for only 14.40% of national GDP, in comparison to countries like Zimbabwe (218%), the U.S. (60.8%), Ghana (58.5%), the U.K.(43.6%) or South Africa (31.3%).

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I can now confirm that Emeka Emmanuel Asiwe, the owner of huhuonline.com, has been released from SSS detention. Asiwe was arrested on October 28th. Unfortunately, like fellow Nigerian blogger, Jonathan Elendu, he is not allowed to leave the country and return to the United States, his country of residence.

This, no matter how small, is good news.

Now, all that is left is to get the likes of Asiwe and Elendu their freedom to actually leave Nigeria.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

The fallout from the Leadership's "Yar'Adua Sick Again" article continues.

Apparently, "[i]n keeping with his commitment to upholding the rule of law at all times," Nigeria's President, Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, had publishers and editors from the Leadership paper arrested. They were arrested by the police less than 24 hours after they had been interrogated by the SSS who in the recent past, shut down and arrested the journalists at Channels TV in September, arrested Nigerian political bloggers Jonathan Elendu (who cannot leave Nigeria) and Emeka Asiwe (who has not been heard from since his arrest in October).

Prior to the arrests, the editors and journalists at Leadership Newspaper were interrogated by the Inspector General of Police, Mike Okiro, who 'invited' them to police headquarters in Abuja. The journalists were then also 'invited' by the SSS, which reports directly to the President, for further interrogation over the course of several days.

It is curious that a President who fashioned himself around a "rule of law" mantra upon entering office a year ago, now has the Police and his security agents at the SSS, interrogating and arresting journalists over a story that has nothing to do with national security but merely his health. This action by the administration is simply one of many that suggests that Nigeria is not a democracy and not even pretending to be. In truly democratic nations, when journalists make mistakes, they retract their errors, provide public apologies and are then dragged to court to defend defamation challenges when the publication's error negatively impacted an individual/organizations character and maybe livelihood. Considering the fact that Yar'Adua threatened to sue the newspaper already, and apparently has that option, these arrests are an unnecessary show of undemocratic force.

Reacting to the arrests, Festus Keyamo, a lawyer in lagos, aptly said,

"[This is] the latest ... intolerability displayed by President Umaru Yar’Adua's administration towards the Press.
Not long ago, we witnessed the unjust closure of Channels T.V, ... [t]he recent arrest and detention of Jonathan Elendu and [Emeka] Emmanuel Asiwe, both on-line journalists, is still fresh in our memory.
Their offence(s) have not been made known. They were not charged to court...[and] a popular programme on A.I.T, ... Focus Nigeria, has been proscribed by the Federal Government.[sic]
The irresistible conclusion we can draw is that the Yar’Adua administration has refused to be an Open Regime where the flow of information is always guaranteed, leading to all kinds of speculations by the Press."
Yar'Adua's draconian measures are also unconstitutional. The freedom of the press is a guaranteed right and it applies even when the press makes mistakes. None of this would have been necessary if, as I have suggested in the past, the President simply gave the public the truth (or some version of it) about his health condition. Then, the press would not have to do its job and search for information on that topic and of course, the administration would not be so defensive about the issue.

But, apparently in a "rule of law" democracy, the press can be shackled, citizen journalists like Elendu and Asiwe can be made to disappear and constitutional and human rights can be infringed upon with abandon. Hopefully, Nigerians did not sign up for that type of democracy and will encourage Yar'Adua to rethink his recent undemocratic actions for the betterment of Nigeria and the people.

Please read Reporters Without Borders 2008 Annual Report on Nigeria. Apparently, Leadership Newspaper is a constant target by the SSS and Yar'Adua administration. Very disturbing...

UPDATE: Nigeria's federal government is now charging 4 journalists over the Leadership article. Please read the report at Reporters Without Borders.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Yar'Adua To Sue Nigerian Newspaper
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Yar'Adua And The Continuing Heath Issue
- The Consequences of Yar'Adua's Mysterious Health
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
- Nigerian Blogger Arrested
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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On November 8th, Leadership Newspaper's lead story was titled "Yar'Adua Sick Again" and it alleged that the President had missed certain events due to health matters. The newspaper also stated that doctors were flown in from Saudi Arabia on his behalf. The following day, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Olusegun Adeniyi, announced that Nigeria's President will sue Leadership Newspaper for libel. According to Adeniyi,

"In keeping with his commitment to upholding the rule of law at all times, Yar'Adua has directed his lawyers to take appropriate legal action against the Leadership newspaper...
There is no truth in the entire report ... the only reasonable conclusion is that the publishers ... ran the report ... to embarrass the President and destabilise his administration. [sic]
The truth is that the President is in good health and has been attending to all his official duties in full view of the media in the past week"
This announcement resulted in an immediate public apology from Leadership Newspaper. According to a Daily Trust report, Leadership's publishers stated,
"...portions of the lead story carried yesterday ... did not meet the standard we have set for ourselves as a newspaper. Having taken a second look ... we can understand the concerns of the Presidency and therefore sincerely apologise...

That mix-up does not suggest, however, that we have been working in alliance with any person or group or party that does not mean well for our president or our country."
Yar'Adua has every right to sue anyone who defames him or his character. Clearly, Leadership Newspaper has retracted some of its report and admitted that its article, "Yar'Adua Sick Again", was not entirely factual, thus furthering any libel case the President might have against the publication.

If this were a perfect world, however, two crucial things would have happened.
  1. As soon as he became President,Yar'Adua would have told the nation exactly what was/is/might be wrong with his health. That, coupled with Nigeria's fervor for religion, would likely have endured the public to him, forcing most to pray for him and defend him from any further discussions about his health.
  2. Upon being upfront with the people, he would have sued the first publication to then print untruths about his health instead of shutting down Channels TV and arresting bloggers like Jonathan Elendu and Emeka Asiwe (who has been missing for over 2 weeks).
Granted, hindsight is 20/20, but had these two things happened, there would be little need for the President to respond to rumors about the condition of his health this late into his presidential term, especially as there are other important matters that he must deal with such as establishing his cabinet (which was recently dissolved) and addressing the myriad of issues Nigeria faces. Of course, there will always be detractors, but by sharing a personal issue with the greater public, Nigerians would more than likely defend him and squash political opportunists who try to use his health as a divisive issue.

Additionally, I must confess that I am turned off by Adeniyi's accusation that Leadership Newspaper was attempting to "destabilise"[sic] Yar'Adua's administration. While that might be true, it sets an unhealthy precedent when a democratic government publicly makes general accusations that it in turn does not butress with further evidence. This is not the first time those close to Yar'Adua have accused others of trying to undermine the government. In fact, it seems to be a recurring refrain from those in power right now and that is dangerous in a nation that has seen many dictatorships and is struggling to gain a true democratic footing.

Finally, I must highlight one more statement shared by Adeniyi on behalf of the president.
"While Yar'Adua fully believes that a free and unfettered press is essential to the growth and entrenchment of democracy in Nigeria, he is equally of the view that the propagation of spiteful and malicious falsehood must not be allowed to become an acceptable weapon of political opposition in our country."
I completely agree with the sentiment above and thank God that courts are best equipped for dealing with defamation cases. However, I must remind the president that 2 bloggers were recently detained and accused of everything from treason to money laundering. They are yet to be charged with any crime even though their characters have now come under question and they are not free. I must also emphasize that although spiteful and malicious falsehoods can have legal consequences, the freedom of speech and expression by average Nigerians and especially bloggers and citizen journalists is a universally accepted right that should never be suppressed particularly in a democratic nation. Consequently, I repeat my call for Jonathan Elendu to be given his travel documents so he can return to his wife and child, and that Emeka Asiwe be released from SSS detention so he can as well return to his family. Or, do we want to add the following to the growing global ideas about what kind of country Nigeria is -
"It looks like Nigeria isn’t any nicer than China when it comes to dissenters and blogs."
It could be, if we aren't truly committed "to upholding the rule of law at all times."

**If, for any reason, the original Leadership story becomes unavailable, I have a copy and can make it available, when necessary.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Yar'Adua And The Continuing Heath Issue
- The Consequences of Yar'Adua's Mysterious Health
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
- Nigerian Blogger Arrested
- Turning Away from Democracy

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Monday, November 10, 2008

In the aftermath of Uzoma Okere's violent assault at the gun butts and horsewhips of Arogundade's men, Nigerians have reacted with outrage that a young woman could be treated like an animal. The internet has proven to be the main forum for young Nigerians to discuss Uzoma's situation and advocate justice for her. I congratulate every Nigerian and non-Nigerian that has taken the time to think about what happened to Uzoma and spoken up in her defense.

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Friday, November 7, 2008

UPDATE: Ms. Okere just won a N100mn judgment against her assaulters. To learn more, click here.

Nigeria is an interesting place and there are interesting updates on Uzoma Okere's case. These updates raise serious issues that every Nigerian should be concerned about.

FASHOLA STEPS IN: Governor of Lagos State, Babatunde Fashola, apologized to Uzoma, saying,
"Those of us who exercise authority in the state who owe it a responsibility to protect you have actually turned against you. I am sorry.
This matter has been brought to my attention by e-mails, well placed on the internet on what took place. I can assure you that our democracy will protect you, you will get justice....
Whatever legal assistance you will require, the state government will provide it for you. I will make representation to his Excellency, Mr. President and all the reports I get from the Ministry of Justice, I will pass it to him. I am sure that he will do justice to it."

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

As a Nigerian who grew up in Lagos, I have seen everything. Consequently, the video below does not shock me. What shocked me is that people were brave enough to approach the officers, all be it from a safe distance, and that an individual was brave enough to film and share this atrocity with the world. It is unfortunately common for men in uniform to use their military power and authority to force fear upon the populace and abuse the rights of citizens via brute force. This opinion of mine is in no way an attempt to condemn the entire armed forces, after all Nigeria's soldiers have consistently sacrificed their lives, with far too little credit, for peace initiatives all over the African continent from Liberia to Darfur.
However, no accomplishments will overcome the reality of the footage below - average Nigerian citizens are at the mercy of military officers. In the clip, you will see the public violent assault of a young lady, Uzoma Okere, on the streets of my hometown, Victoria Island, Lagos. According to Nigeria's Punch Newspaper,
Six armed naval ratings attached to a Rear Admiral identified as Harry Arogundade, went wild on Monday on Muri Okunola Street, Victoria Island, Lagos, beating and stripping the lady naked.
According to eyewitnesses, the naval ratings hit the lady with their gun butts and beat her with horsewhips.
She was accused of not quickly giving way for the naval officer‘s convoy on her way home in her Mitsubishi Colt car.
By the time the rage ended, Okere, who was forcibly handcuffed and dragged into a private residence on the street in a humiliating assault, was left with a battered face, blood-shot eyes and bruises all over her body.
She was [later] admitted at Kamorass Hospital on Victoria Island.
This treatment of a human being is absolutely unconscionable. Okere is someone's daughter, someone's sister, someone's friend and above all a human being who should not have ever been treated like an animal. In fact, many animals around the world get better treatment. Her assault at the butts and horsewhips of those military officers, in addition to the recent SSS detention of Jonathan Elendu, Emeka Asiwe (whom we are yet to hear from) and countless faceless Nigerians who have lost their freedom and even lives at the hands of Nigeria's military officers simply reinforces that democracy and its ideals continue to struggle in Nigeria. The Nigerian people and the Nigerian government must realize that freedom is the birthright of every human being, even Nigerians. As such, we must all work together to protect the rights and freedoms of the nation's citizens.

In this age of modern technology, enlightened ideas, and even the achievement of the previously impossible - the election of a Black man with a funny name as President of the United States, the rights and freedoms of the people must be paramount. It will be interesting to see what, if any, will be the response from President Yar'Adua to, yet again, another gaffe on the part of security services. Nigeria's Armed Forces, charged with defending the union of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, must not resort to attacking the citizens they serve, like Uzoma Okere, simply because her Mitsubishi Colt didn't move quickly enough for their liking.

Hattip to reader, Webround, for sharing this clip with me.

A concerned citizen created a Facebook page to start a petition for justice for the victim of this assault. Visit it here.

UPDATE: Per Reader Archiwiz's request, I am including the contact information for the head of Nigeria's Ministry of Womens Affairs, Saudatu Usman Bungudu. She can be reached
Via email: sbungudu@nigeria.gov.ng, simuhammad@fmwa.gov.ng, selmohammed@nigeria.gov.ng
Via telephone: +234-095237115, 09-523-7279, 09-523-9883, 09-523-7278
Via fax: +234-095233644, 095237112, 095237113

You can find the Minister's CV here.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Turning Away from Democracy
- "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- Blogger, Jonathan Elendu, Still In Custody
- Nigerian Blogger Arrested!!!
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

The first Black President of the United States of America.

This is a historic moment.

Remember where you were when this happened.

And for the rest of the world, Nigeria in particular, YES WE CAN!


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This article was published in Nigeria's Vanguard newspaper on Sunday. It makes a detailed case for why Obama, and not McCain, must become America's new President.

Today, the American sense of self, of security, self-assuredness and invincibility, all once the hallmark of being American, is very battered. Therefore, this election, the challenge is not how to choose who responds to the whims of the people more, but rather whom the people and the nation desperately need to take the helm of a hurricane-battered national economy and psyche. On November 4, Americans must choose a President who can chart a new course for America to sail into the future, refitted or rebuilt, reinvigorated, and restored to a more than minimally wholesome functional condition.

From this perspective, the candidacy of Senator Barack Obama becomes very significant. It offers a bold and compelling opportunity for the American people to find the wisdom and courage to pick the president that America badly needs. Searching for a President in sober times is a completely different affair from picking one from the hat as it were, in good times. The question before the American electorate in the next few days is: Who Needs Whom More: Barack Obama or America?

America’s new leadership must pursue the new or renewed American dream while committing to fair and equitable room for the competing dreams of other nations and peoples rather than being constantly in conflict partly as a result of a single-minded pursuit of one national ambition that dismisses the dreams and passion of others. Having the courage, integrity and persuasion to guide the American people to understand this new global dispensation in which power and military might have become virtually obsolete, will be one of greatest challenges of the new President. And yet it is a task that must be done if Americans are to better understand the world they live in. The very idea itself of Americans having to fit into the world, rather than the other way round as they have always understood it, is itself, the core of the challenge.

In all of this, what then exactly are the necessary and compelling qualities and attributes required in the man whose task and responsibility it will soon be to lead in building this new America, and how does Barack Obama fill the ticket? There are twelve of them: The new President must be a profound visionary; possess exceptional intelligence; be inspired and inspiring; exemplify decency, honesty, integrity, transparency and candor; have extremely good judgment; be competent, diligent, and be in vigorous and robust health; be a team player, not a maverick; be calm and cool under fire, and yet have a will of steel and the guts to act quickly and decisively when compelled to; have a profound mastery of the art of listening; possess an informed and enlightened global perspective; have profound humility; and enjoy maximum confidence, trust and goodwill at home and abroad. Fortunately, he need not be a good dancer.

Of the two candidates, only Barack Obama possesses the totality of these critical attributes. Tried and tested by one of the most rigorous scrutinies of any candidate in America’s history, by the public, the media and his opponents alike, Barack Obama has demonstrated these attributes beyond dispute. If there is also a striking attribute that has won Barack Obama the respect and support of millions of once hesitant Americans, it is his remarkable fortitude, and the manner in which he has stayed the course, unwavering and undaunted in the heat of battle, and in the face of quite unprecedented assault. This is an important quality for a leader who not only must stay level headed in dangerous circumstances as these are, but must avoid reckless brinksmanship, being armed with so much destructive power.

Barack Obama is an all-American and a child of the world at the same time. He embodies the dreams and hopes of not just America, but of the world at large. That is why he is so much embraced by the world, an important asset because Americans love to be loved, and what better way to restore being loved than through the world loving their President?

What about the candidacy of Senator John McCain? Surprisingly, McCain has made much of being a maverick. A good President must, by purpose and definition, be a team-player---the captain of the team. The notion, therefore, of a maverick as an American President, even in good times, is an oxymoron, a woeful contradiction in terms. One cannot lead and be contrary. Put differently, a maverick is essentially anti-social, having little use for compromise. A maverick cannot be a political leader, and certainly not the kind of President America needs. There are a couple good examples of contemporary genuinely maverick heads of state, and one suspects that John McCain would not be too thrilled to be counted as one of their fraternity. In fact, he would be scandalized by the comparison. Artists, writers, athletes, performers, stand alone intellectuals, and private individuals have the priviledge of being mavericks, because the lives and fortunes of others, let alone of an entire nation, do not depend on them.

Through the primaries and a little into the general elections, John McCain’s campaign had substance, integrity, style, appeal and decency. That was until it lost its mind and focus, and deteriorated into a desperate struggle to win at all cost. His subsequent recklessness in not curbing the frenzy of dangerous outbursts amongst his frustrated supporters who have not learned how to lose with dignity and grace, but rather threaten public peace and security, and his mind-boggling abandonment of good judgment in selecting a running mate of less than acceptable intellect, no matter how smart, conspire to forfeit for him, the right to a job so critical and that he wants so badly.

As for this matter called “the race factor’, perhaps the time has come for every American of voting age to come to terms with this long overdue distraction. Barack Obama happens to be a black man, and that will not change. Even if it could, there is hardly enough time to do so. The candidacy of Barack Obama continues to be a bargain for Americans. They will be getting so much for the price of one. Americans have come a long way, and as the smart people that they are, they have the uncanny ability to rise above themselves to acts of courage when the occasion calls for it, and the opportunity lends itself. Barack Obama and his candidacy present America a great opportunity to offload the burden of the dark side of America’s history. November 4, 2008 has become the World Cup Finals of National and Global Politics. Billions of people will be watching and praying for a young man who embodies their deepest dreams. With Barack Obama as President-elect, America, and indeed the enlightened world, could not ask for a better present this Holiday Season.
Dr. Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., a noted scholar, author and expert on development and strategic studies, is a founding and senior member of the Billion Minds Foundation. He is also the founder and publisher of Third Press Publishers, and the President and CEO of the Telecom Africa International Corporation, in New Rochelle, N.Y. Dr. Okpaku, a Nigerian, holds a B.Sc. Degree in Civil Engineering from Northwestern University, an M. Sc. Degree in Structural Engineering from Stanford University and a PhD in Dramatic Literature and Theatre History, both from Stanford University. This Article is an excerpt from a “Barack Obama and the Renewal of the American Dream”, a book in progress.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

Nigerians have lived through some interesting political times. In the past, a specific military regime took the time to publicly flog civil servants for arriving to work late. Under various dictators, independent thought was punished, some, like journalist Dele Giwa were blown apart to bits. And, of course, no reasonable Nigerian can forget the distinctly dark terror that was the Abacha regime, although some would rather rewrite that part of Nigeria's history. Then, Nigerians spoke in hushed whispers about the various rumors surrounding the late General and the many who crossed his path, only to never be heard from again.

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Thursday, October 30, 2008

On Saturday, October 18th, Nigerian political blogger, Jonathan Elendu was arrested upon arrival at a Nigerian airport. He was arrested and detained by the State Security Service (SSS), which according to the US State Department, reports directly to Nigeria's President. Elendu was detained by the SSS, without charge, and reportedly tortured and forced to starve for fear of poisoning. He was eventually handed over to an anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), but still, he was not charged in a court of law. Although Nigerian law requires every detainee to be charged within 48 hours of arrest, Jonathan Elendu was held for a period of 11 days without contact with a lawyer or his family. Until, Wednesday, October 29th, when word was received that Elendu was no longer under arrest and was receiving medical care. As of right now, Jonathan Elendu is no longer under arrest, but as his passport is still in the custody of the Federal Government of Nigeria, he is not free to return to his wife and child who live in the US.

So, you are probably wondering why an online rally for a guy who is no longer in detention. Well the clues to that question lie above, but I will spotlight them for argument's sake. Consider the following factors,

  1. arrested upon arrival
  2. detention for 11 days
  3. Nigerian law requires charges within 48 hours of arrest
  4. no legal counsel
  5. torture
  6. hunger strike (for fear of poisoning)
  7. released but not given travel documents
Then, remember that in the last couple of months, foreign journalists have been arrested by the SSS and deported, a local Nigerian station was shut down, its license withdrawn and its staff arrested for legally broadcasting incorrect information about President Yar'Adua. And, keep in mind, that not too long ago, the President's party accused oposition parties of treason, in what I deemed an attempt to suppress the opposition and those with ideas contrary to the administration and its supporters.

I am disappointed in what I see as a dangerous direction for Nigeria and its citizens. The arrest and unlawful detention of Jonathan Elendu is just another piece of a puzzle that spells trouble for Nigeria's path towards entrenched democracy. To simply detain, torture and maltreat another human being is unacceptable, no matter where or why, particularly as that person, in this case, Jonathan Elendu, had not been charged or convicted of any crime. How can we as a people simply turn a blind eye to such action? I understand that we are all busy with the realities of our life, but I hope that Nigerians and people the world over will begin to pay closer attention to the importance of protecting human rights regardless of who, where or why because if not, someday it could be you being persecuted for no concrete reason. For this reason, I, and hopefully the many others that are taking the time to think about Elendu's situation today, encourage the Nigerian government to commit itself to the better treatment of all Nigerians. The government can begin this by returning Elendu's passport to him so he can return to his family. They can always charge him for whatever crimes they believe he has committed and have him returned to face justice, if necessary. To withhold his passport only suggests that the government has nothing to charge him with but instead wishes to use him as another example to discourage opponents and those who might choose to question the actions of the administration and its associates.

The curious thing about this situation is that it suggests that Nigeria is a dictatorship, when in actuality, for the past 9 years, Nigeria has been a democratic nation. Yes, the term democracy clearly has a unique meaning with regard to Nigeria, but that doesn't change the fact that Nigeria claims to be a democracy and i hope, is working towards the entrenchment of democratic principles. President Yar'Adua has always publicly committed himself to a 'Rule of Law' mantra and has publicly claimed to be a "servant leader" that is focused on providing,
"a purposeful and result-oriented administration that will yield tangible and visible benefits for all Nigerians"
I find this contradiction - for a "servant leader" to resort to draconian measures as payback - very disturbing. Yes, Elendu blogs about corruption and power in Nigeria and yes, some online websites have shared pictures of Yar'Adua's son and/or shared potentially sensitive information about the President or others in power, but it is the role of Yar'Adua as the President of Nigeria to not infringe upon the rights of the very citizens he is charged with protecting and serving. Elendu should never have been arrested. He should have been visited by security forces while in the country and questioned, if that was necessary. Bustling him to a detention center, holding him for almost 2 weeks, depriving him of legal counsel and failing to charge him in a court of law is clearly unconstitutional and violates basic human rights as determined by the UN Human Rights Treaty which Nigeria ratified in 1967.

I must stress that this act of encouraging better behavior and choices from the Nigerian government is not to be seen as an attack on the President and those who work with him. Every Nigerian citizen has a duty to do what they can to improve the nation. That duty can be expressed in any number of ways. By expressing my disappointment in the choice of the administration with regard to Elendu and encouraging alternative measures, I simply hope to remind everyone, regardless of their nationality, that we must treat each other well. I believe that I, and many others, have a right to free speech. Ultimately, we cannot ignore the fact that every human being deserves to be treated as such and nothing less.

So, I and many others choose to speak up and encourage the return of Elendu's travel documents and his safe return to his family. Until then, he is not truly free and a citizen's freedom is the most important right that every human being deserves.

I hope you will join us, because we cannot make a difference without you.

UPDATE: Elendu has confirmed that his property is still in the custody of the SSS. "[M]y laptop, flash drives, cell phones, clothes, wallet, green card, credit and bank cards are still in the custody of the SSS. In fact, everything I came with from the States, apart from the clothes on my back are in the custody of the SSS."


Please read:
- Chukbyke's "FREE ELENDU NOW"
- Akin's "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- NovaScotia's "Free Jonathan Elendu"
- NaijaLive's "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- Beauty's "Jonathan Elendu: Is He free?"
- Aloted's "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- Tales&Tallies's "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- CCUD's "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- Just...Toluwa's "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW...."
- Naapali's "Free Jonathan Elendu"
- Sherri's "Free Jonathan Elendu"
- Loomnie's "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- Sokari's (African Path) "FREE Jonathan Elendu NOW!"
- Lost At The End Of The World's "Free Jonathan Elendu!"

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As suspected, pressure from within and outside Nigeria resulted in Jonathan Elendu's release from unconstitutional SSS/EFCC detention. Jonathan Elendu was arrested almost 2 weeks ago and according to reports was tortured and forced to starve due to fear of poisoning.


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Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Nigerian Curiosity just got word from Elendu's family that Jonathan Elendu has been released and is currently seeing a doctor. It is unclear whether his passport has been returned and whether there were any conditions for his release.

I will update with more information once received.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

According to Nigeria's Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA), detained Nigerian blogger, Jonathan Elendu has been "tortured to either disclose the sources of the several embarrassing news reports on prominent political leaders in Nigeria" and is on a hunger strike because he is afraid that he will be poisoned in jail. HURIWA's National Coordinator, Mr. Onwubike also said that Elendu "was also being reportedly pressured into framing up some others."

Onwubike went on to say,

"As a human rights body, HURIWA condemns the SSS resort to torture (physical and psychological) to extract information from Mr. Jonathan Elendu.

"It is unimaginable that the SSS would resort to Stone Age methods of extracting information in a brazen breach of the fundamental human rights of Mr. Jonathan Elendu in an administration that has made respect for the rule of law its mantra ... equally condemnable is the reported transfer of Elendu from the custody of the SSS to that of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for possible arraignment for money laundering, since SSS appears to have come to the end of the road."

"If true, this calls to question the competence of the SSS as an intelligence and security organisation."[sic]

I hope that this report, the only one, other than my previous post, that has come out with new information about Elendu's situation in almost a week, is not true. However, I have to admit that given the US State Department's report on the SSS and other security forces in Nigeria, I think there is more truth to this news story than I care to admit. If Elendu is on a hunger strike, then his health over the last 11 days must have deteriorated significantly and if he is not going to be released by the Nigerian government, he should at least be allowed to see an independent and reputable doctor to care for him. There is precedent for such. After all, while under EFCC detention earlier this year, James Ibori was flown to a hospital when he needed medical care. In fact, when released from jail, the Court noted that his health "needed the sort of medical attention he could not receive in prison." The same - medical care and release from detention - should be accorded to Jonathan Elendu.

Furthermore, being that Elendu is now in EFCC custody, why is it that Elendu has still not been allowed to meet with his lawyer, Ugo Muoma? In all my time covering and following EFCC cases, I have never heard of an individual being denied his Constitutional right to legal counsel. It is quite curious that Elendu has not been allowed to speak with his lawyer and his family.

I have to also mention that apparently what is happening to Elendu could happen to anyone in Nigeria, especially if you are not a person of means or with considerable 'connections' to protect you. It is for that reason, the very ability to infringe upon the right to be free, that many are coming together to encourage the Nigerian government to either release Elendu, or charge him. On Friday, October 31st, many of us will title our blog posts and change our Facebook status' to say "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!" Please join us. You do not have to be Nigerian or even be a blogger to be troubled by the Jonathan Elendu situation and this new development. Together, we can all encourage the Nigerian government to do the right thing in this case and hopefully prevent such from happening to any person again.

Also, check out Waffy's published article (Nigeria's Guardian newspaper) - 'Who Is Afraid Of The Internet?'

Related Articles of Interest:
- Blogger, Jonathan Elendu, Still In Custody
- Nigerian Blogger Arrested!!!
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
- The Nigerian Psyche
- Persistent Psychological Paralysis
- The Significance of Persistent Psychological Paralysis

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Monday, October 27, 2008


Last week Saturday, Nigerian blogger, Jonathan Elendu of Elendureports.com, was arrested and detained by the internal intelligence unit, the SSS. The SSS, which according to the US State Department, reports directly to Nigeria's President, initially accused Elendu of "money laundering" and then by Friday, October 24th, accused him instead of "sedition". Thanks to the attention from bloggers around the world, various international organizations and major news outlets, it appears that there has been a change in Elendu's situation. Nigerian Curiosity has been informed by a family member of Elendu's that he is no longer in SSS custody, but has now been transferred to the anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Additionally, he now has a new lawyer.


Despite this news, there remains the fact that Elendu continues to be detained despite the fact that he has not been formally charged of any crimes in a court of law. If he is no longer the "charge" of the notorious SSS, what evidence is there to suggest that he should now be the "charge" of the EFCC? How does one go from being publicly accused of money laundering, sedition and then, by suggestion, corruption, within the span of just over a week? Some are beginning to say that this is a ploy to hold onto Elendu and prevent him from ever leaving Nigeria as a free man. Given a troubling history of unlawful arrest and detention, this possibility is not far fetched in Nigeria. If Elendu is guilty of any crime, the evidence should quickly be presented in court and shared with the public. Despite all this, I simply hope, above all else, that there will be no need for any Court processes and that Elendu will be released early this week. I also hope that his seized passport will be returned to him so he can return to Michigan and be reunited with his family. Furthermore, as the US State Department has reported that Nigerians detained by security forces such as the SSS have been abused, sometimes even murdered, I particularly hope that Elendu is released unharmed.

The fact is that, if Elendu were an American citizen, his arrest and detention by the SSS and EFCC would have resulted in swift action by the American government and essentially, Elendu's release. Nigerian Curiosity has also been informed that Elendu, a US Green Card holder, has his US citizenship interview scheduled for next month. Apparently, he has held his Green Card for a long time and upon the inisistence of his sage wife, applied for his American citizenship. Given his recent arrest by the SSS and now his detention by the EFCC, I hope that he will be released in time to attend his interview and that he will be offered American citizenship. American citizenship will likely protect him from any future problems with the SSS or any other Nigerian office on account of his blogging.

Also, Nigeria apparently does not actually guarantee habeas corpus, and historically, the government has rejected court orders requiring the release of detainees. Therefore, being a detained Nigerian citizen essentially means that the Nigerian government can hold you for as long as possible.

This story is 9 days old and yet there is an incredible lack of information on Elendu's situation. His own family knows little of his present condition. Nigeria's larger newspapers have either decided or have been instructed to not report on this story and ignore it daily. In fact, the number of Nigerians that know about this situation is arguably tiny. It seems that Elendu, and those who seek his release, must therefore rely on the international media to get information on his condition. Hopefully, more foreign news outlets will focus on this story, especially if Elendu continues to be detained.

Please continue to seek Elendu's immediate release from detention and his return to his family in Michigan.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Nigerian Blogger Arrested!!!
- Channels TV Shut Down By Yar'Adua
- Suppression In A Democratic Regime
- Nigeria, Be Careful What You Wish For
- The Nigerian Psyche
- Persistent Psychological Paralysis
- The Significance of Persistent Psychological Paralysis
- The Consequences of Yar'Adua's Mysterious Health
- Rewriting Abacha's History

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008


Nigeria's State Security Service or SSS, the same intelligence agency that shut down Channels TV for legally broadcasting incorrect information about President Yar'Adua, is at it again.

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Monday, October 20, 2008

One thing that has accompanied the global financial crisis has been a significant drop in the price of oil per barrel. It has fallen by 50% in the last 3 months. While some quietly argue that this was a ploy by the Bush administration to help Republicans win the upcoming election, it is more likely a sign that speculators and serious investors are putting their money elsewhere - gold, for instance, or letting it sit in a bank account.

These uncertain economic times have forced the Nigerian government to not only announce major budgetary cuts but to also announce that the government will need to look beyond oil for revenue and that

"There may be a need to intervene to balance the market, if the price slide seemingly predicted on demand and over-supply continues..."
This follows the recent news from Soludo at the World Bank meetings that the Excess Crude Fund, a savings account that contained the windfall from oil earnings, is now depleted. And, this action may have been a reaction to the advise given by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the World bank. She specifically stated on the 15th of October that Nigeria needed to be "prudent with [its] budget."

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