Monday, June 30, 2008

Earlier this month, I posed a question on values in the context of Nigerian society. I wanted to get a sense of what values the readers would describe as 'Nigerian'. It was an interesting exercise to say the least. I continue to hold the opinion that too many people have disregarded the difference between what is right and wrong. To me, this disregard connotes a devaluation of previously understood and shared value systems. And this opinion is reinforced by the fact that, in Nigeria, there appears to be a growing trend amongst a few who choose to dupe and betray their own flesh and blood.

I recently heard a story about a kidnapping that happened earlier this year. Now, for disclosure sake, let me confess something. Whenever I read a news story about an individual being kidnapped in Nigeria, I don't bat an eye. For some reason, I am immune to such news. I simply acknowledge the information and move on with the strong belief that the victim will be released in no time as long as certain 'conditions' are met. Thank goodness, I haven't been proven wrong yet.

So it was with a relative share of nonchalance that I was told a story of a kidnapping in Nigeria by a close friend of my mother's. He recently traveled to Nigeria to visit friends and family and also help his son's philanthropic organization. During this time, he discovered that his son's friend, a Nigerian American playing in the NFL, got a frantic phone call informing him that a family member had been kidnapped. The kidnappers wanted a hearty sum of N2 billion.

Well, it turned out that the kidnapped family member was actually taken by a cousin! The NFL player was being betrayed by his own flesh and blood. But that wasn't the only story I heard about individuals being duped by their family members. In fact, from what I am learning, that is becoming common fodder for many Nigerians.


It is unbelievable that a family member would kidnap a relative simply to extort money. However, on this issue, I have learned to "shine my eyes" (as Nigerians say) and realize that for some, family is no longer sacred. All one need do is check out this recent news headline - Kidnappers of Bayelsa SSG's Wife Finger His Cousin.

But, since when did it become acceptable to dupe a family member? How did this practice become so common and why? Stories of family members asking for money to feed their children but then using that money to build lavish houses are far too common. Many readers have of course heard stories of others taking money from relatives who live abroad and instead of using that money on an assigned task, they usurp that money for their own private use.

Now, I am not claiming that this behavior is limited to Nigerians. That would be absurd especially since history has proven that merely sharing DNA is not enough to prevent bad people from doing bad things to their relatives. Nevertheless, how do we quell this growing trend before it becomes uncontrollable? Or, is this issue one that is already beyond the point of return? I sincerely hope that is not the case because I cannot envision a future where taking advantage of relatives, or any person in particular, is a common practice.

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Friday, June 27, 2008

ISSUE #1: Excess Crude fund
In November 2007, Yar'Adua told Nigerians that the federal government would no longer tap into the excess crude account to fund the nation's power plants. His spokesperson stated that instead, private equity would be used to develop the power industry and that the government had turned to foreign experts "for possible assistance and collaboration in the development of the power supply infrastructure."

Given the above, is it not interesting that the Yar'Adua administration has now declared that $10 billion will be used to re-energize Nigeria's failed power sector?

I honestly do not raise this point as a criticism of the administration. I simply raise it because I am trying to understand the specific plan by the administration to tap into the excess crude account while also using funding from private investors as previously announced by the federal government. Clearly, telling the public that funds from the account would not be used and then, approximately 8 months later, using that same fund to finance power projects appears like a direct contradiction.

ISSUE #2: Agagu, Imoke and the 'Implementation Committee'
Additionally, the decision to ask Agagu and Imoke to join the 'Implementation Committee' which is charged with overseeing the effective use of the billions taken from the excess crude fund, further calls into question the promises made by this administration to brings into question Yardy's promise to provide,
"a purposeful and result-oriented administration that will yield tangible and visible benefits for all Nigerians".
On this Agagu/Imoke issue, I personally believe that Yardy is dealing with 'the devil' because he has to. There are 'principalities' that control Nigeria that have to be 'appeased'. It's nothing personal, it's just politics. However, that reality does not lessen the fact that Yardy's decision to include these men and Danjuma Goje (another former Minister who is tied to Nigeria's failed power sector) suggests business as usual. Unfortunately, as is the case with so much in Nigeria, Nigerians will simply have t watch from the sidelines and hope for some positive change.

Further Reading:
- Can Yar'Adua Accomplish His 'Mission'?
- The Africa Finanace Corporation

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Earlier this month, Yar'Adua confessed that Nigeria will not get regular power supply until 2011. I might not understand his comment, but even my favorite National Assembly member, Patrick Obahiagbon reacted by saying,

"There is no gainsaying the fact that the good people of Nigeria are righteously indignant of the epileptic state of power supply in the country and from that pedestal, it becomes germane for them to expect some kind of urgent solutions to this incubus and I am in perfect agreement with my countrymen."
Now although some, Obahiagbon included, might be put off by Yar'Adua's declaration, I, for one, appreciate it greatly. Nigerians now have a clear deadline with which they can hold the Yar'Adua administration and all public officials accountable. Despite my 'positive' perspective on this issue, Yar'Adua's plans to achieve this '2011 power mission' is drawing significant negative press, especially because of the plans to tap into the excess crude account.

The excess crude account was created to save profits made from the sale of oil to be used by Nigeria's 36 states, many local governments and the federal government. A spokesperson for the administration specified that the government will use $5.37 billion from the account to finance projects in the power sector, while $4.8 billion will be shared amongst the various states. This will not be the first time that the administration has tapped into the fund. The first time was last year when $1 billion was shared amongst state governors who had complained that their coffers were empty.

Although Yar'Adua declared a state of emergency due to Nigeria's failed power sector, the announced plans to use the excess crude funds is raising some key issues and the ire of some. Firstly, there is the obvious inflation risk. A sharp increase in domestic spending, while beneficial to national development, could, if unchecked, cause fiscal problems which would derail the economy from the much needed stability it currently has.

Secondly, there is an ongoing debate amongst some about whether or not the excess crude fund is a legal entity to begin with. This debate is predominant in the Senate and Senators like Ahmed Lawan have publicly expressed their concerns about the legality of the account. Many have gone as far as to push for the dissolution of the account all together.

Thirdly, the announcement that the federal government will work in partnership with the Africa Finance Corporation to develop the power sector with private funds has prompted probes in the National Assembly and media attacks on those who support the venture.

I believe that the mere fact that there will be opposition or that there will be ‘wahala’ should not be reason enough to not aggressively tackle and solve Nigeria’s woes. All we can do is hope for the best and apply ourself if and when called upon to make the dream of a bigger and better Nigeria happen.

Unfortunately, this optimistic approach alone will not help Yar'Adua meet the 2011 deadline. He will have to do a serious political dance to achieve the objective. That might include dealing with individuals who are directly tied to the predicament the power sector, and Nigerians, currently face. But, one key thing Nigeria's President will have to do is overcome the public impression that he is not strong or powerful enough to deal with the various 'principalities' that are major players in the country. If we are to assume that his objective is truly to advance Nigeria by improving the power sector then, Yar'Adua will have to twist the arms and maybe even ears of those who are not interested in national progress or simply do not agree with his plan and get them to fall in line so as to achieve the stated objective.

Can he do it? I will leave it to readers and others to come to their own conclusion. Nevertheless, Nigerians had better pray and/or make the necessary sacrifices to whatever God/gods they serve for Yar'Adua to accomplish his goal of regular power supply, or some semblance of it, by 2011.

Further Reading:
- More Solar Energy Plans
- Solar Energy Plans
- Could Coal Be A Power Solution For Nigeria
- Nigeria Is Full Of Gas
- Power Blackouts Loom Across Nigeria
- Nigerian Power Scandal: Authority Stealing
- Who Will Develop Nigeria?
- Who Will Develop Nigeria Pt. 2

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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Africa Finance Corporation (AFC) is the first private sector-led African investment bank with the capacity to leverage infrastructural spending for the entire continent. Created in 2007, its mere existence is already putting pressure on the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the IFC to increase their investments in Africa. The AFC aims to be the go-to institution for the funding of economic development on the African continent. But, despite the incredible future potential of this institution for the continent, it appears that the AFC is currently experiencing a serious attack in Nigeria. And this attack, if not halted, could prove to be the undoing of some seriously good work being done for the future of every African.


The AFC is a new investment bank and development financial institution that will be the equivalent of the IFC (World Bank). One of it's stated intentions is to
"mobilise and channel capital towards driving Africa’s economic development through projects that address its needs in a profitable way, creating benefits for both investors and the societies and people on the African continent."
According to Austine Ometoruwa, the President and CEO, "reducing poverty on the African continent through private-sector initiative is [the AFC's] mission." He goes on to state that,
"[t]he AFC is promoting [private sector] investment, based on a new development-oriented banking style in Africa that involves the proactive creation and management of infrastructure, industrial, and financial assets, including the six leading industrial sectors: power, transport infrastructure, telecoms, oil and gas, mining, and heavy industries. These areas offer the greatest development impact and the most attractive returns to investors.

An AFC-led consortium is financing a project that will develop Sub-Saharan Africa’s first deep-sea container port on the Atlantic coastline area of Olokola, Nigeria. The completion of this $1 billion landmark project is expected to transform Africa’s shipping and port capacity dramatically."
The institution is located in Lagos, Nigeria but will also have headquarters in Gambia, Ghana and possibly other locations on the continent. It is currently financing an 88km ring road around the city of Port Harcourt in Rivers State and has partnered with the governments of Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau to develop the infrastructure of those nations. The AFC is bringing development to Africa right now, at this very minute, and as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Chukwuma Soludo, said at a September 2007 lecture in Maryland, US, "[w]e cannot afford to crawl, we do not have the luxury of time." The AFC appears to be an instrument that will allow the continent to 'run'.

The AFC has been the subject of great discourse and disagreement in Nigeria over the last few months. The institution was created by Nigeria, under the guidance of Soludo, in an effort to ensure that Africans have the self-help that the continent needs to pull itself up from its bootstraps and ensure that Africa does not remain the poster child for charity. The goal of the AFC and its partners is to do the hard work necessary to prepare Africa to be a continent ready for business.

The fact is that the very concept of the AFC is threatening to many and in particular, institutions that depend on African poverty for their existence. There are others who dislike the AFC because it's existence limits the normal corrupt kickbacks and other practices that many have relied on for years to line their wallets. Specifically, the AFC is now charged with solving Nigeria's power crisis and intends to use best practices to accomplish this goal. Yar'Adua recently accepted an offer from members of the AFC to allow the institution to rebuild Nigeria's failed power sector using private funds. Such an act, if successful, will exclude many who have depended on the top heavy Nigerian bureaucracy to make money off the backs of average Nigerians. Therefore, it is no wonder that many are bent on crippling the institution before it truly begins its mission.

However, some Nigerians question Nigeria's investment of approximately $462 million which was withdrawn from the CBN and placed into an AFC account. This investment, and in fact the entire banking sector, is now the subject of another public National Assembly probe. In addition, Michael Aondoakaa created a 5 person committee to investigate the institution and under this authority, the ICPC has picked up certain members of the AFC board for 'questioning' with very little concern for due process. Some Nigerians incorrectly argue that because former president Obasanjo (OBJ) signed the investment bank into existence, Soludo must seek permission to run the institution from current president Yar'Adua. Others argue that because it received OBJ's stamp of approval, there must automatically be something wrong with it and hence it is a target for attack.

A resounding refrain amongst Nigerians is that we are too quick to take down our own. This concerning attitude is not merely a cliche, the average Nigerian that I know is very conscious of this apparently Nigerian characteristic and fear that any good work they do for themselves or the nation and its future will be ripped to shreds by those with bad intentions. As a nation intent in re branding itself and creating opportunities for young Nigerians, we must refrain from discouraging Nigerians from achieving success via hard work and determination, but must instead encourage and support those who are doing good things and bringing pride to the nation.

Already the Association of Corporate Affairs Managers of Banks (ACAMB) advised that the ongoing probe of the AFC must be done with "extreme caution" so as "not to be seen by the international community as a cog in the wheel of the Corporation's progress." The association also suggested that the CBN should instead be commended for its "proactive-ness" in spearheading the AFC's creation and noted that there were no allegations of impropriety against the institution thus making the current probe " a distraction ... capable of undermining the reputation and strides made so far by the AFC..."

The AFC is an opportunity for Africa, with Nigeria at the helm, to completely transform the continent. And even though this process will eliminate the "chop chop" that has gone on in the past, that is not reason enough for Nigeria to not support the institution wholeheartedly. I understand that Yar'Adua prides himself in not interfering with the National Assembly, but it is clear that his influence would go a long way to deter detractors from unnecessarily erasing the good work that has been done for the nation. This is especially the case with the Attorney General, Aondoakaa, who instead of clearing Soludo's name further fueled the 'rumorville' by stating that Soludo had not yet been indicted by his 5-person panel and left open the possibility that such indictment could happen. There is little reason to discredit Soludo given his tireless effort in revamping Nigeria's financial industry resulting in 16 Nigerian banks ranking in the world's top 1000. His hard work should not be flushed down the drain, especially as we know that there is 'history' between Aondoakaa and Soludo.

Furthermore, the attacks against the AFC will dissuade private investors, many of whom have plunked millions of their money and others who want to invest in the institution because they believe that it can re-brand the continent into a continent ready for business and capable of competing with other economic powers.

I am not claiming that AFC is the magic pill Africa needs to develop and become the continent that every African dreams about, but I do believe that it has the necessary foundation to achieve its mandate and allow African nations to compete on a global scale. Besides, after many failed starts and attempts, it is about time we try this new approach of leveraging private funds to achieve African development and success. This is an opportunity for Nigeria to go down in the history books, once again, for taking the lead in creating a better continent that we can all be proud of.

Further Reading:
- Political Soap Operas: Nigerian Style
- Sabotage: Aondoakaa vs. Ribadu et. al.
- The Nigerian Kase

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My husband has repeatedly accused me of rewriting history. After many years of marriage and hearing this accusation, I have learned to arm myself with the perfect response - evidence. That is why when his daughter used the toilet tissue paper to decorate the bathroom, I collected photographic evidence and recorded the act using a camcorder. Since that day, my husband has restrained himself from accusing me of rewriting history. I, in turn, have learned the incredible value of unquestionable evidence.

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Friday, June 6, 2008

In a conversation with a gathering of the Nigerian community in South Africa, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria told the world that Nigeria's Ministry of Transportation is currently investigating the disrespectful treatment of 136 Nigerians aboard a Brutish Airways aircraft in March of this year.

Yar'Adua went on to inform those present that if necessary, sanctions will be imposed upon the airline. The federal government has previously suggested through various lower officials that the Brutes could face sanction for their treatment of Nigerian passengers, but this is absolutely the first time that Nigerians are hearing from Yar'Adua personally on the matter of potential sanctions.

We will continue to watch and see what the investigation of the Brutish Airways incident reveals and can only that the government will keep its promise.

This announcement came just as the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Bob Dewar says that he is "sorry" for the disrespectful maltreatment meted out by Brutish Airways upon Nigerians. He promised that the British government would ensure that there is no such repeat by the airline and said,

"British Airways have [sic] given us its assurances that they will continue to very much value the Nigerian customers and that dignity of Nigerian customers is paramount for them. On this particular occurrence, I say to you that it is an unfortunate incident which we hope will not be repeated."
While it is wonderful that Dewar took the time to express the British government's apologies to Nigerians, it remains a shame that the last Nigerians heard from BA was the supposed 'apology' read by journalist Ademola Adedoyin on May 2nd. It seems Brutish Airways is content to keep quiet and let this issue die a slow, silent death. For the sake of Nigerians, and other peoples who are disrespected purely on the basis of their nationality, skin color, gender, race, sexual orientation or any other aspect of themselves that they cannot change, I hope that the Brutes do not get their way. What BA seems to not realize is that this issue will likely not die. It will simply resurrect itself in the form of some other person or group of people. And, once that happens, the Nigerian incident will be brought to life again and used to galvanize the efforts of another group intent on crippling the airline. I stand by original suggestions on how Nigerians, if serious, can collectively deal BA a serious financial blow. Nevertheless, only time will tell if concerned Nigerians and the organizers of this boycott have a detailed follow up plan to the boycott.

You would never believe the generous hatred and disrespect that was generated by a simple post alerting members about the BA incident. I am hesitant to put up a direct link to the site and/or even mention it as I am not in the business of advertising for free, except if to do so is to benefit Nigeria, Nigerians or an issue that I truly believe in. All I will say is that it is a website for 'oyibo' people resident in Nigeria to share information and discuss. And, for those who are unaware, 'oyibo' is a term used in Nigeria to refer to Caucasians and light skinned Nigerians.

Alright I will mention the site - oyibo online. (you can search for the domain name, yourself). But if any of my readers are a member of that site, please inform the administrator, that judging from the thread on the BA incident, I suspect that members of that site do not hold Nigerians in high regard. That is fine, it is their opinion, but most people know better than to stereotype an entire nation. Nevertheless, I respectfully join others in requesting that the thread be removed. It is an utter disgrace for people who are living in Nigeria, with our invitation and with our welcome to turn around and completely disrespect their hosts, particularly when many of those insults border on pure racism. I in no way shape or form encourage censorship, but we must be responsible for our words, even when we are online and have the benefit of anonymity. It is within people's right to discuss and even complain about things. But, when such conversations degenerate into expressions of racism (referring to Nigerians as dogs or other animals) and/or are completely rude and distasteful, the administrator has a responsibility to take that thread down.

Further Reading:
- Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect Pt. 1
- Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect Pt 2
- Finally, Some Concrete Nigerian 'Action' on Brutish Airways & BASSA
- "Casual Racism" at Brutish Airways?
- A Brutish Airways 'Apology'?
- More on Brutish Airways
- Brutish Airways Calls Police on Nigerians

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"There is a total loss of confidence between Shell and the Ogoni people", and so "another operator acceptable to the Ogonis will take over. Nobody is gaining from the conflict and stalemate, so this is the best solution..."
- Nigerian President, Umaru Yar'Adua
In a stunning move that is sure to gain the goodwill of the Niger Delta, President Yar'Adua announced that Shell will no longer operate in Ogoniland. Yar'Adua announced this information while talking to a gathering of members of the Nigerian community in South Africa. The Ogoni people, who witnessed environmental and health devastation as a result of oil operations in their region, have hailed this announcement and are in support of Yar'Adua's decision. The Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), a group of which the late-great Ken Saro Wiwa was a member and key leader, called the announcement, "a bold step that stands the brightest chance of quickening the resumption of oil activities in Ogoni."

Shell abandoned its oil fields in Ogoniland in 1993 due to the irreparable relationship between the company and the people of the land who protested the companies operations. The Nigerian Government has repeatedly told the company to resume work in the area, but it has refused. The government even threatened to withdraw the company's operating license if it did not resume operations by the end of May 2008. Consequently, those oil fields will soon be controlled by a new company which Yar'Adua says will be announced by the end of the year. Once this new story broke, Shell informed the media that it was not informed of this decision.

I personally believe that this move by President Yar'Adua is a positive sign of good faith to show to not just the Ogoni or the Niger Delta, but the entire nation of Nigeria that this administration will not only listen to the people but will also do what is necessary to solve the problematic unrest of that very important region.

When Yar'Adua became President, he offered an olive branch to the Delta and it was well received, resulting in a ceasefire announcement from MEND which I hailed at the time. That move by Yar'Adua spurred a tremendous amount of hope in Nigerians of all ages, tribes, religions and political leanings. I daresay that this current announcement and the support it has received from Ogoniland, MOSOP and apparent Yar'Adua spokesperson, Ken Saro Wiwa, Jr. will also serve to provide hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel and that in due time there will be a halt in the rash of violence that has held the Delta, and the entire nation, hostage.

I am hearing that the United Nations will indeed release Nigerian born Ibrahim Gambari to head the special Niger Delta Summit Steering Committee. This should further convince all necessary parties to the issues of the Niger Delta that this administration plans to address the problems decisively.

I, for one, extend a hearty hand clap to Yar'Adua for taking a step that from a first glance reinforces his administration's commitment to the protection of average Nigerians and their interests. On this day, with regard to the Niger Delta, there are nothing but good signs.

Hattip to Dr. U for the heads up on this story.

UPDATE (6/23)
: It appears that Gazprom and some Chinese oil companies are in the running to replace Shell in Ogoniland.

Further Reading:
- No Longer King of African Crude?
- The Global Food Crises, Nigeria & MEND
- Port Harcourt & Nigeria Under Siege
- Is Nigeria A Breeding Ground for Terrorism?
- Why Is The Breadbasket Always Empty?
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Thursday, June 5, 2008

A visit to Afolabi's blog afforded me the opportunity to hear this installment in the Music Series. This is Nayo's '1+1'.

Nayo is a Nigerian musician and she has been compared to another incredible musician of Nigerian origin, Sade. Her first single, 'African Girl', which is also the name of her album, was very well received when it made its debut earlier this year.

I have listened to this song once, but I knew it had to be included in the Music Series. Unlike other songs in this series, the video for this song is not online, but if anyone has seen it, please let me know. Nonetheless, I think it is a beautiful song and I hope that you will enjoy it.

1+1 - Nayo

Check out her Myspace page.
Check out her website -

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"

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Monday, June 2, 2008

Values are defined as,

Sociology. the ideals, customs, institutions, etc., of a society toward which the people of the group have an affective regard. These values may be positive, as cleanliness, freedom, or education, or negative, as cruelty, crime, or blasphemy.
Despite this nice dictionary definition, I simply think of national values as the qualities that define a people. With regard to Nigerians, national values transcend tribal or religious groupings and are the terms and/or concepts that embody who we are as a nation.

Recent conversations with a fellow blogger and some of my mother's dear friends left me struggling with my attempt to define Nigeria's core national values. One individual flat out told me that he did not believe that Nigerians had values anymore. He concluded that Nigeria's leaders were to blame. Nevertheless, in general, most people I have spoken to about this topic can refer to a good amount of values that they were raised with and that qualify as national values. However, the general consensus is that the importance of those values i.e. education, respect for elders, charity, importance of morality e.t.c. are dwindling. That could be correct, after all, watching television would suggest that both Nigerians and non-Nigerians appear to be less interested in the achievement of a solid education and a good reputation. It does seem as if the entire world is more interested in gaining wealth quickly and achieving fame/infamy over the tenets that our parents and their parents were taught to hold dear.

Now, I understand that with modern times come newer ways of thinking, after all I personally have suggested that Nigerians turn away from some of the customs that arguably identify some of us as Nigerians such as the Igbo Osu Caste system, the Fattening Rooms (practiced by the Efik, Ibibio, Okrika and Kalabari people of Souther Nigeria) and my most controversial suggestion to date, the illegalization of polygamy. Despite this, I do believe that there are basic ideals that people, in this case, Nigerians, must never waver from because these ideals shape who we are for the better.

So, what values do you attribute to Nigeria and why? Do you consider these to be positive or detrimental? Are these qualities/concepts/ideals that you were personally raised with or that you have seen in others? And, do you have any suggestions on how to create/reinforce national values?

Just curious...

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