Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Olusegun Obasanjo's story is an incredible tale by any stretch of the imagination. Here is a man of very humble origins, who managed to lead the world's most populous black nation not once, but twice. The first time as a military ruler and second time as a democratically elected president. In between these stints as Nigeria's leader, Obasanjo spent 3 years in prison. He was thrown in jail by then-dictator, General Sani Abacha, for criticizing the regime's woeful human rights record. This period in jail revamped Obasanjo's image from being merely remembered as the dictator that handed over to a democratic government, to a champion of the people. However, despite garnering the goodwill and admiration of the people, Obasanjo is now the subject of various accusations from adultery to corruption. These scandals suggest that at some point, the decisions Obasanjo made and whatever failures resulted therefrom, may have resulted in the squandering of his legacy. And the possibility of such a waste, is disappointing. But, as Nigerians consider that Obasanjo's legacy has been tarnished, it is important to remember that Obasanjo's story is Nigeria's story. The two are the same. Nigeria's legacy has equally been squandered, but unlike one man, a nation of 140 million people still have time to revamp its image and the story that outsiders tell about Nigeria.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Israel-Nigerian Cooperative Company plans to build a $10 million solar energy plant somewhere in Nigeria. A spokesperson for the company, Anthony Ohia-Ezukpo, said "Israel will provide the technical expertise for all the projects we will be executing." Ohia-Ezukpo also stated that the company will invest over $100 million in various sectors of the economy such as agriculture, health and construction. These investments, over the course of the next 12 months, will apparently bring 10,000 jobs to the country.

The various reports about new power sources in Nigeria are leaving me a tad bit confused. Is Nigeria's energy future going to rely on coal? Or, is it going to be solar energy? Maybe it will be a little of both, but whatever it is, the necessary power generating plants need to go up TODAY. My mother has not had power for the last 17 days and has been forced to throw out a lot of rotten food. She's not complaining about the situation and refused to mention it to me for fear that I would blog about it (sorry, mom). But, I can only imagine the many others that have gone without electricity for much longer and/or have never even had the benefit of electricity, which is much needed for our nation's development.

So, I will commend the organizers of this new solar energy venture, and encourage all necessary parties to this plan to "get the ball rolling". But, as was the case with the last post I did on solar energy plans in Nigeria, I will ask the questions many readers asked then,

  1. Where is the solar energy plant going to be located?
  2. When will construction begin and when is it scheduled to end?
  3. How will the power be transmitted to customers? (thanks, Imnakoya)
  4. Will Israel share their "technical expertise" with Nigeria?
I am sure many of you reading this have additional questions, and it is only fair that we all ask them. Whether they will be answered by those in a position to provide concrete information is a whole other story.

And as for the Brutish Airways' degrading and inhumane treatment of 136 passengers on a recent flight, the Nigeria Bar Association has taken the airline to court. That situation is not going to die down easily. I hear April 30th is the day the boycott begins...

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

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Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Independent, a large and well respected UK publication, published an article revealing "that derogatory remarks about race [at British Airways] are so common they are treated as normal."

This information was exposed by a current Brutish Airways pilot, Captain Doug Maughan, who decided "to go public with his complaints after struggling to persuade BA's management to take racism among its senior staff seriously. He has complained by email to BA's chief executive, Willie Walsh, but says no action was taken."
According to Captain Maughan, "[w]hat is common among white flying crew in BA is the use of mildly derogatory, sometimes jokey, language about other races, mainly aimed at black and Asian groups. Because it's so common, it's hard to tackle: it's ... the norm and rarely even noticed."

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Friday, April 25, 2008

It appears that the Nigerian government finally realized that a more decisive response was needed to the March 27th Brutish Airways incident where 136 Nigerians discriminated against solely on the basis of their Nigerian heritage.

On Wednesday, April 23rd, Felix Hyatt, the Minister of Aviation and Transportation, publicly condemned the incident, on behalf of the federal government, and stated the nation's opinion that maltreatment of Nigerian passengers by foreign airlines must immediately cease.

This statement was immediately followed on Thursday, April, 24th, by Nigeria's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Madueke, summoning the British High Commissioner, Robert Dewar, for a discussion of the matter. There, he "reiterated the [nation's] posture on Citizen Diplomacy" and warned that the federal government "would not tolerate the inhuman treatment of any Nigerian for any reason, even when there are allegations of criminal activities." Madueke went on to inform the High Commissioner that "bilateral relationship which the two nations have enjoyed over the years ha[ve] ensured the [government's] temperate reactions to the matter, but to maintain it, Nigerians must be treated with dignity within and outside the shores of the country." The High Commissioner, Dewar, promised to investigate the matter.

Additionally, on the same day, Harold Demuren, Director General of the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), summoned representatives of British Airways. Demuren gave Brutish Airways until Monday, the 28th of April to provide details of the airlines plans to compensate the Nigerian passengers that were discriminated against on the much discussed March 27th Brutish Airways incident at Heathrow airport. Demuren also requested a full accounting of the incident. Brutish Airways was represented by its Nigerian staff, and Demuren criticized "the absence of the European staff of the airline who work in the airline’s office in Nigeria at the meeting." As a result, Demuren terminated the meeting and directed the airline to return with its top officers, and warned that the airline should not treat an issue, which the government is interested in, with such disregard.

I am sure that most Nigerians are pleased to see the decisive action that has finally kicked into gear on this matter. I am especially happy that Demuren demanded Brutish Airways return with its top staff members to answer questions about the incident. The failure of British Airways to send their 'top brass' to the Demuren meeting smacks of disrespect and only goes to reinforce the conviction that Nigerians were, and are, disrespected by the airline. If that is Brutish Airways' idea of proper customer relations, then I will be surprised that any person, be it a Nigerian or not, would travel with the carrier.

Nigerian Curiosity recently received a comment from a member of the British Airlines Stewards and Stewardesses Association (BASSA). The member recently expressed their apology for the Brutish Airways incident and expressed that although they have never had any problems with Nigerian passengers, they believe that a security risk prompted the pilot's reaction and thus the ensuing maltreatment.

While I sincerely appreciate the fact that this BASSA member (one of hundreds that visited the site within hours of Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect Pt. 2 being published on Wednesday) took the time to communicate with this website and its readers, I cannot help but wonder what sort of security threat Nigerians would pose on any flight that would require that they all be removed from the flight and that the one man that spoke out about a fellow passengers inhumane treatment, that man being Ayodeji Omotade, who also happens to be a British citizen, would then be banned for life from the airline and not receive his luggage for weeks.

Therefore, I maintain my stance in support of my fellow Nigerians and, in fact, all people who have been and are constantly disrespected by entities such as Brutish Airways merely on the basis of presumed negative stereotypes. Nigerians are not the only ones complaining about Brutish Airways, our brethren from the Carribean and Asia have also been maltreated by the airway and this has prompted others to join Nigerians in boycotting the airline. So, for Brutish Airways to have neither provided a proper response and apology to the Nigerians it disrespected, nor, introduced concrete plans to prevent a repeat of the incident speaks volumes of the carriers attitude towards not just Nigerians, but customers in general.

Nevertheless, I encourage continued communication between all parties to this matter. Like many others, I only wish that the Nigerian government had taken these and more steps much sooner. I have come to understand that many have set April 30th as the day on which the boycott begins. I for one am purchasing a ticket for my mother to travel for a visit to the United States and a later trip to England to visit her family members. I will not purchase those tickets with Brutish Airways or any of their partner and affiliate carriers that I mentioned in Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect Pt. 1. In fact, when I spend my money with Brutish Airways' competitors, i will be sure to inform them that they got my money in protest of Brutish Airway's apparent disregard for Nigerians. Furthermore, I have also contacted members of my husband's family who call England home and instructed that they are no longer to patronize the carrier. I believe in taking a stand for what I believe in. No matter how small said stand might be. I encourage others to do the same and especially encourage the Nigerian government to remember that its sole duty is to protect and serve all Nigerians.

Further Reading:
- Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect Pt. 1
- Nigerians, 'Brutish' Airways & Respect PT. 2

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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

In my previous post, I expressed my opinion that although I wholeheartedly support the ongoing petition and plans to boycott Brutish Airways for its inhumane and disrespectful treatment of Nigerians passengers, I believe that a more long term approach is necessary to prevent the re-occurrence of such behavior. Consequently, I advanced a few specific actions - a boycott by Nigerians and other like minded individuals/groups of Brutish Airways, its 9 One World partners and its 3 other airline affiliates (one of which operates in southern Africa), a boycott of British Airways interests such as the London Eye and a call for the exit of Brutish Airways head, Willie Walsh.

Although these suggestions are a few of many that Nigerians can take to decisively address this most recent incident, there remains additional issues that all Nigerians must consider. These considerations are crucial to ensuring that Nigerians do not continue to be abused and repeatedly disrespected by foreign conglomerates and even by our own fellow Nigerians.

The intolerable actions of Brutish Airways against the over 130 Nigerian passengers occurred on March 27th. Since that day, the silence from official representatives of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to this issue has been deafening. However, as I was about to publish this article, Nigeria's President, Umar Yar'Adua, finally ordered an investigation of the incident. Other than this recent development, I have not read or heard a clear reaction or response from other individuals such as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ojo Madueke, or even the Nigerian Ambassador to the U.K., Dozie Nwanna. It is also saddening that the National Assembly's most verbose member, Patrick Obahiagbon, is not on record on this matter. I hope that this changes very soon.

This delayed reaction from the current administration or even elected officials is disappointing, but unfortunately, expected. Many have repeatedly challenged and pleaded with the Yar'Adua administration to communicate with the people it represents - the Nigerian citizenry. Time and time again, such calls have been ignored. Yardy continues to react slowly to situations thus garnering the name "yawn adua" or even "sof'ly sof'ly Yardy". For instance, Yardy hardly reacted to Ribadu's removal from the EFCC. Again, for the third time, I repeat, as president, Yardy does not have the luxury to not react when Nigerians are maltreated by anyone.

Yardy has asked the Minister of Aviation, Felix Hyatt, to investigate this Brutish Airways incident, and I will admit that I am underwhelmed. This is presumably the same Minister of Aviation under whose watch a The Mystery of the Missing Aircraft came to be when a Beechcraft airplane went missing over a month ago. It is yet to be found. I sincerely hope this investigation by the Ministry of Aviation will not be the only reaction to this matter from tardy. If so, that would be a shame, to say the least, because this incident offered Yar'Adua the perfect opportunity to boost his goodwill amongst the citizenry and appear to be a man that represents the people.

Nevertheless, this failure to acknowledge, comment, react, or respond by Yardy's administration and other officials simply reinforces a view I increasingly have. Nigerians cannot wait for their government to get the change we need. We, Nigerian individuals acting together, must find ways to circumvent the minority of Nigerians who support, benefit from and protect the status quo to our greater detriment. We must through diligence, hard work, discipline, perseverance and faith strive to transform Nigeria and the psychology of Nigerians. We must all understand that with or without the help of the government, Nigerians are powerful and can achieve anything we commit ourselves to.

Nigerians are very passionate about this recent Brutish Airways incident and have used it as a galvanizing force. That is a good thing. But just as Nigerians have focused their frustration on Brutish Airways, it is important for us to take that same passion on focus it on Nigeria. Far too often, Nigerians avoid, with incredible skill, dealing with the hectic issues that surround our country. So many Nigerians are too busy with their hectic lives to pay too much attention to what has been done or not done by those entrusted with steering the national ship. As Nigerians make demands of brutish Airways, we must also remind our leaders that we expect better treatment and support change that will benefit the majority of our nation's people.

Nigerians must also take this opportunity to focus on their fellow Nigerians. This same amount of energy or more must be poured into individual efforts to stop the irresponsible few from ruining our collective reputation. That means applying effort into stopping those who are involved in fraudulent activities, supporting those who work hard and discouraging immoral behavior at any every level. To that extent, I will commend the Yar'Adua administration for creating an environment in Nigeria where people actually have hope that the corrupt will receive punishment. But, much more is needed to protect the interests of Nigeria and its people at home and abroad.

Brutish Airways spent 8.6 billion to build its new Terminal 5 and since it's opening, the place and the airline has been beset with negative press. This most recent incident involving over 130 Nigerians is just another situation that Brutish Airways does not need. As such, if there was ever a time to implement a long-term plan on how to demand respect from the airline, it is most definitely now. Brutish Airways cannot afford to lose market share, particularly on one of its most profitable routes - London to Lagos (West Africa). Nigerians must realize that applying the strategies that I mentioned in the first part of this article and taking small steps like informing competitor airlines that you are buying their tickets because you are boycotting Brutish Airways and its affiliates will have an immediate and drastic impact. It will force Brutish Airways to acknowledge that Nigerians will not tolerate maltreatment or disrespect and will put the entire world on alert, Nigerian government included, that Nigerians are an empowered people and intend to defend our own and our interests.

Go to the petition at Nigerian Village Square
Go to and learn additional steps you can take to respond to the incident.
Read Nigerians, 'Brutish Airways' & Respect Pt. 1

UPDATE: It appears that the British Airlines Stewards & Stewardesses Association (a union) is looking at this site quite frequently over the last few hours. If you came to this site via BASSA and would like to comment, please, feel free to do so. You can even be anonymous, so feel free to share your opinions.

UPDATE (APRIL 25): The Nigerian government has stepped up its response to the incident and I have equally responded to the BASSA member who took the time to reach out and offer their thoughts on this matter. Read all about it here.
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Monday, April 21, 2008

British Airways, or as I rather call them, 'Brutish' Airways, recently threw over 130 Nigerian passengers off a flight that was scheduled to leave Heathrow Airport for Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. One Nigerian passenger, Ayodeji Omotade, was even banned from flying on Brutish Airways for life, just for coming to the defense of a fellow Nigerian that was in fear for his life. The result, is that Nigerians around the world have started a petition to get an apology from British Airways and encouraged a boycott. It is important for consumers to demand and receive a certain level of customer service and for an entity like British Airways to ignore this fact and disrespect Nigerians is unacceptable. As such, I support the efforts to get better treatment. However, I believe that a more long-term approach must be employed so as to teach entities like Brutish Airways and others that disrespecting Nigerians will no longer be tolerated.

Nigerians have consistently received abuse and disrespect from various sources. In South Africa, for instance, police brutality prompted Nigeria's High Commission to officially protest the maltreatment of Nigerian citizens in various parts of South Africa. There have been numerous stories of Nigerian immigrants killed while in police custody and of course, one can never forget Brian Ross's (ABC 20/20) description of Lagos as a "corrupt, crime-ridden disgrace of a city." Such abuse and constant disrespect has been met by persistent and repeated calls by Nigerians for an apology and unfortunately, far too often, these demands fall on deaf ears.

However, that does not mean that we Nigerians should merely sit back and continue to be disrespected. We must continue efforts to organize ourselves and use our sheer size and spending power to discipline offending actors into recognizing that Nigerians, like any other group, must be treated at all times with respect. To expect anything less would be foolhardy and would sacrifice the efforts that many great Nigerians, such as Nnamdi Azikiwe, Obafemi Awolowo and other individuals strove for when they worked for the independence of our nation. We must not shame them.

I completely support the efforts of Nigerian Village Square, and others to sign the petition, and boycott Brutish Airways directly. However, I do not think that a boycott is a sufficient reaction. More stringent and drastic action is necessary. In order to ensure that neither Brutish Airways or any other corporate entity will disregard Nigerians again, a more longterm goal must be formulated to address this recent incident. I addition to boycotting British Airways, Nigerians must encourage other non-Nigerians to boycott British Airways as well. This is not just a Nigerian issue, this is a human rights issue. To treat any human being like an animal is uncalled for. To then brutishly bully another man who stood up for the rights of that deportee and then slander his name in public, is absolutely unjust.

Furthermore, Nigerians must look beyond British Airways. British Airways owns a 13.5% stake in another airline, Iberia. Nigerians, Africans and indeed, all like minded people, should also boycott Iberia. Nigerian money is just as 'green' as anybody else's and once we are more judicious about who we give it to, we will definitely begin to command more respect. Therefore, let us go even beyond British Airways and Iberia. The boycott should target all of Brutish Airways 'One World' Partners and other airline affiliates such as ComAir (which flies in southern Africa), Longanair (which flies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland), and SunAir (which operates from Denmark). Brutish Airways 'One World' partners, that should also be boycotted, are -
  1. American Airlines
  2. Cathay Pacific
  3. Finnair
  4. Iberia
  5. Japan Airlines (JAL)
  6. LAN
  7. Malev
  8. Qantas
  9. Royal Jordanian
Oh, but there is much more Nigerians can do to put a dent in the wallets of Brutish Airways and its associates. The London Eye is the world's tallest observation wheel and one of England's top tourist attractions. It is also sponsored by Brutish Airways. If Nigerians stopped visiting that landmark and mounted an effective campaign to discourage tourists from other parts of the world from visiting it as well, British Airways and others would definitely think twice about customer service and how they treat their Nigerian patrons.

Additionally, Nigerians must demand that Willie Walsh, the chief executive of British Airways, be fired. Considering the numerous disasters that have occurred at Brutish Airways since he has been in charge, this incident is just one of many that illustrates his inability to properly lead a competent organization. But, particularly as the human rights of Ayodeji Omotade were disregarded under his watch, and many other Nigerians have been disrespected by his employees, he should be directly responsible for the consequences.

These are simply a few things that Nigerians can do to ensure that there is no repeat of the disrespectful treatment doled out by Brutish Airways. The passions that have been stirred by this recent incident with Brutish Airways must not be wasted. It must be turned into a positive force to effect change on many more levels, and especially within Nigeria and amongst Nigerians. That will be the focus of my post tomorrow, Wednesday, the 23rd of April.

Further Reading:
- Watch the BBC's interview of Ayodeji Omotade here.
- Visit
- 'Boycott British Airways' (Akin at Blog City)
- British Airways:Apologize to nigerians Or Prepare For A Boycott (The Afro Beat)


UPDATE (April 25th): Read the third part in the 'Brutish' Airways series here. It presents the new actions the Nigerian government has taken to respond to the incident and also contains my response to the comment left by a BASSA member (British Airways union).
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Thursday, April 17, 2008

During a recent visit of an Australian mining delegation, Nigeria's Minister of Mines & Steel Development announced that the Yar'Adua administration plans on tapping into Nigeria's coal resources as a means to satisfy power needs.

In addition to Australian investors, Nigeria is also being wooed by Chinese and Indian mining interests that hope to develop the nation's mining industry. The Minister, Sarafa Isola, also stated that the federal government studied other coal powered countries, such as South Africa and Canada, to ensure that internationally accepted practices and standards are adopted and observed by Nigeria's mining industry.

Most well-meaning Nigerians support efforts to improve the current power deficit Nigeria is experiencing. If Nigeria has coal, of which it apparently has 1.386 billion pounds worth of coal deposits, then it might just be time to use this resource to the nation's benefit. Clearly, Nigeria must diversify its power-generation portfolio. Recent power problems have revealed that the reliance on oil and hydroelectric dams for power have suffered due to interruptions in oil output/supply, severe dry seasons and of course, pure corruption. The use of coal in some parts of the country would therefore, be a beneficial use of natural resources for power generation.

However, the federal government cannot ignore the obvious fact that coal is not a sustainable energy source and its mining and use are very detrimental to the environment. The "un-earth friendly" character of coal has hindered the completion of the Kyoto Protocol. And disagreements over the rights to use coal continue to be a lightening rod in international environment discussions. As such, any measures to tap into this resource must be done with the utmost detail and dedication to limit the negative environmental effects.

Mining is not just environmentally unfriendly, it is also extremely dangerous. On average, coal mining is one of, if not the, most dangerous profession. China, for instance, recorded an average of 5602-6995 coal mining deaths every year between 1996 and 2006. Although Isola has promised that Nigeria's mining industry will meet international standards, that does not change the fact that mining causes an incredible amount of death and other chronically fatal diseases such as heart and lung disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases such as emphysema, high blood pressure and kidney disease. As Nigeria ventures into this process, we must do our utmost best to provide the necessary support for those who will undoubtedly come down with such diseases. With the nation's health care system being in the state that it currently is, one can only wonder who will carry the brunt of the pain that coal mining will produce, despite the hopeful positive benefit of power generation that is needed to develop the nation.

Furthermore, one can only hope that all these foreign investors that will 'help' Nigeria tap into resources like coal will also be sharing their technology with Nigeria so that the nation can work to improve on such and other technologies for our own benefit. After all, these investors will be making significant money off our resources, so we must get something back, and not just power generation, but tangible technology. Many readers are not necessarily receptive to these demands when I make them, but I am not deterred from my belief that if Nigeria chooses to bring in foreign companies to do financially lucrative and technologically advanced work, Nigerians must also benefit, particularly by learning the technology behind the processes used.

Yar'Adua's administration will definitely be judged by its ability to meet it's promise of a Nigeria that has power to fuel its needed development. The world is still watching.

Further Reading:
- Power Blackouts Loom Across Nigeria
- Nigerian Power Scandal: Authority Stealing
- Solar Energy Plans
- Who Will Develop Nigeria?
- Who Will Develop Nigeria Pt. 2

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Monday, April 14, 2008

The Bible teaches Christians to forgive. In fact, Jesus Christ advised Christians that if slapped, they should turn the other cheek and allow themselves to be slapped again. Islam also requires Muslims to practice tenet. In fact, practically every major religion espouses forgiveness as an important tenet.

When one considers the complaints that there is little accountability on the part of elected officials and complaints that some of the powerfully corrupt live without fear of retribution or punishment, one cannot help but wonder if our ability to be a very forgiving people is not the source of our trouble. Granted, the Yar'Adua administration has repeatedly committed itself to the 'Rule of Law' and Nigerians have witnessed many previously rich men and women return money that was stolen from public coffers. Yet, there remains reason to continue to examine what it is about Nigeria that has contributed to the problems we face today in an attempt to hopefully not repeat those same mistakes in the future.

So, again, could forgiveness be a character trait that causes more harm than good? Possibly. When one forgives and chooses to forget, they open themselves up to a repeat of the very injustice that caused their problem in the first place. This could partially explain why it seems that Nigerians have historically repeated mistakes and continue to struggle to fulfill the dream of a greatness that it arguably deserves.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The nation is currently on a quest to 'rebrand' itself and change its public image and the misguided international perception of what it means to be Nigerian. Consequently, the present administration reached out to Nigerians all over the world to do their bit to achieve this and other important goals. In 2007, for instance, Chukwuma Soludo, the head of the Central Bank, met with ordinary Nigerians around the world encouraging them to reconnect with Nigeria and participate in the efforts to improve the nation such as the African Finance Corporation. One of the many Nigerians that were convinced to apply their efforts to the Nigerian cause, someone who had been doing so for many years, was Kase Lawal. Unfortunately, as has been the case for many other Nigerians, Lawal's love for the land of his ancestors threatens to be a detriment.

"I am so proud to have been born and originated and to have been a Nigerian and I know the best of Nigeria is yet to be known in the world stage, it is still evolving ... I honestly believe that sooner than later Nigeria would take its place and would be a part of the global countries that is [sic] leading us into the next century."
African News.

On the international stage, there are few Nigerians, and indeed few people, that command respect and reflect success the way Lawal does. He is a billionaire oil man and easily amongst the wealthiest black people in the United States. Lawal, who is a dual citizen of both Nigeria and the United States, owns a Houston bank and holdings in real estate businesses. He also has an endowment of $1 million at his alma matter Texas Southern University. Although many have never heard of him because of what appears to be a relative shyness and signature modesty, he was heralded by Ebony magazine in 2006 for creating one of the most powerful Black-owned companies in the United States. Lawal was also on the cover of Black Enterprise Magazine in June 2006 and his company CAMAC Holdings, a legitimate American-based company, was designated the company of the year. Lawal donated $1 million to the creation of an archive for the papers and other materials of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Lawal has also been recognized by the Nigerian Lawyers of Association at a dinner in 2007. There, he was applauded for his contributions to Nigeria and its people. The event was attended by Opral Benson, the Attorney General of Nigeria and Nigerian Curiosity's Person of 2007, Michael Aondoakaa, and representatives from the EFCC. At that occasion, another highly respected Nigerian, introduced him by writing,
People are distinguished more by the small things they do, not the big things. People are special by the little cares and concern they have and demonstrate, not by the grand gestures... People excel by the quality and excellence of their being, not by their public persona. One man combines all of these singular attributes, and does so with a simplicity of personality and elegance that makes him so special, and so profoundly loved and cherished by those who are close to him. That man, the special man you honour this evening, is none other than Dr. Kase L. Lawal. Kase is special because people are special to him, at any time, and no matter what. This, we know, is what makes people blessed. And Kase is blessed.
On Thursday, April 3rd, a newspaper published by the McClatchy Company, alleged that Lawal was a named defendant in an 8 year old Nigerian complaint accusing him of fraud and cheating the government of $1.9 million in oil royalties. This report was soon followed by a certain website
which alleged that Lawal is a fugitive under investigation by Nigeria's EFCC. The site went on to make various other suggestions all of which put the character and reputation of Lawal under suspicion. According to other news outlets, Lawal hosted a function at his Houston, TX home to raise money for Democratic nominee candidate Senator Hillary Clinton. The event raised $100,000 and and with people looking closely at the Clinton's finances, Lawal's action has now come under some scrutiny.

Upon doing research and asking questions, it is now clear that the information presented to the world is false. How can Lawal, or anyone for that matter, be a fugitive from the law when he has visited Nigeria at least 70 times since 1999 and he has never been charged? Even though Nigeria has a reputation for lawlessness on the part of the rich, there would have been some talk, some criticism in the media and by lawmakers by now. Also, how can any website claim that Lawal is being investigated by the EFCC when it has been confirmed by actual and reliable sources that no such investigation or inquiry exists? In fact, Nigerian Curiosity has learned from very reliable sources, that not only are there no pending charges against Lawal, but that this has been stated in writing by Nigerian authorities.

Furthermore, the nation just tapped into its connection to this so-called international fugitive during a recent visit to Houston by Turai Yar'Adua on a recent trip to the Port of Houston. Lawal is the only black Commissioner to the Ports of Houston Authority. Yet, the world is to believe that this same individual is a wanted man, the subject of an EFCC investigation and a party to an 8 year old criminal complaint for which no charges have ever been formally charged against the alleged defendant. If he is a party to a crime then Aondoakaa, as the Minister of Justice, should simply press charges against him so that any accusations can be settled in a court of law. Better that, than his spokesperson, Taiye Akinyemi telling the foreign, and arguably biased, press, that, "There are many rich and powerful Nigerians out there. If he's innocent, he should come here and defend himself. The Nigerian courts are waiting for him. Nigeria is practicing the rule of law now."


Don't Become A Pawn:
There is a serious ongoing battle in the United States with various interests vying to gain the White House. This political battle is between incredibly powerful groups who will burn every bridge necessary to achieve the ultimate goal of having their interests and ideas represented by whoever becomes the next President of the United States. This duel has seemingly ensnared Kase Lawal. And, by suggesting that Lawal is a fraud despite no documents or legal evidence proving or even hinting such, some Nigerians might have unwittingly allowed themselves to become pawns in the American political battle for the Presidency. The ensuing result is that the mere mention of Lawal's connection to Nigeria has incited vicious '419' comments and other unfair scam accusations against him and Nigerians as a whole in the comments section at one ABC blog. Nigerians must never allow their interests of improving the nation to become secondary to the interests of other elements. To allow such is to cause a disservice to the average Nigerian who works hard to make ends meet and trusts in public officials to serve their interests.

Let Us Not Sabotage Each Other:
If anyone has any charges against Lawal man and his company there are formally recognized legal procedures that should be followed. There is no reason to believe that any legal charges would not be responded to by Lawal and his attorneys. There is no reason to level reckless allegations or use smear tactics to defame people. To assume and suggest that the mere fact of somebody's wealth makes him/her a suspect is not only dangerous and unfair, but it runs against the inherently Nigerian drive to be successful.

There may be cases of ill-gotten wealth at home, but in Nigeria, like anywhere else, there are many people who have earned their money and their success the hard way. In this case, Lawal made his wealth in the United States. Without a doubt making it abroad for Nigerians or other Africans, especially in the world's most competitive economy, which the United States is, takes exceptional talent, effort and dedication. Thus, for those few Nigerians who do make it, particularly those that then try to help Nigeria, we should be careful to not damage their hard-earned reputations. And when there are legitimate problems, as will sometimes be the case, they should be handled within established due process, with the presumption of innocence until proven, in a court of law, otherwise. And the public officials responsible must be meticulous and at least professional and circumspect.

At the end of the day, we all have to watch and see how this 'kase' will end. But, in the mean time, well-intentioned people must insist that things be done the right way and that the interests of Nigeria and Nigerians not be ignored. We must also work to protect Nigerians who have worked hard and excelled within their areas of expertise. This way, we do not create a precedent where successful Nigerians are accused without cause and without evidence. Such a precedent would stifle and put fear in Nigerians who are trying to be progressive and hoping to leverage their success to better Nigeria and its people.
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Thursday, April 3, 2008

The current probe into Nigeria's failed power sector revealed and continues to reveal how trusted officials and their private sector 'friends' robbed the nation of millions, resulting in a country that cannot provide electricity for any sustained period of time. It is definitely a positive thing that the failures of the power sector and those involved are highlighted for the world to see. After all, democracy is all about accountability. Yet, the constant variations of the same allegations and revelations that are 'exposed' everyday have become repetitious.


It is time to move on to the next step. No more public humiliation of corrupt officials and their friends, no more confessions from Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello about how much money (N10 million) she took from the Ministry of Health. It is time for the business of prosecution and punishment. Yardy just instructed the EFCC to charge Global Infrastructure Holdings (Nigeria) Ltd. (an Indian company meant to manage Ajaokuta Steel). He also directed the EFCC to prosecute members of the Federal Government and others that were involved in the failure to honor contracts meant to provide energy to millions. While it is refreshing to see Yardy jumping into the fray and taking a public stand on this power-corruption nuisance, more is needed. Assets must be frozen. Passports must be held by courts to prevent flight. Nigeria Politricks would probably advocate the creation of special prison cells for the many that should, but probably will never see a day in jail.

I know I previously advocated the 'censure' Aondoakaa a while back. Although I seemingly got my wish, I never advocated muzzling the Ministry of Justice. It is time to 'unleash' Aondoakaa and as many staff as can be spared to commence the many cases that needed to be before the courts last week. The nation must be apprised of the specific plans the Ministry of Justice and other satellite Commissions (EFCC, ICPC) have to punish those that have failed to honor their responsibilities and contractual duties to Nigeria and its people.

Two months ago, fellow blogger, Omodudu, pointed out that 18 turbines worth $3 billion, remained idle at the Apapa Wharf in Lagos because the "government ha[d] no way of moving them to the site of the power stations." Omodudu went on to suggest that at least 1 million Nigerians could show up and find a way to lift those turbines and get them to their locations. Well, I am happy/sad/nonchalant to inform the world that there is something 'rottingly fishy' going on. ThisDay Online reports that there are actually 21 turbines rotting away at three Onne, Warri and Calabar. And, government officials are still scratching their heads on how to 'fix' Nigeria's electricity woes. Some person or company got paid a grand total of $300 million, as far as we know, for those turbines. They have probably invested that money, doubled it by now and are lying on a yacht in the Mediterranean sipping on a cold alcoholic beverage. Whoever ordered those turbines without ensuring that they get to their necessary destination should probably lose their job. In fact, their boss should lose his/her job and be charged for criminally failing the public.

For over two weeks, Nigerians have been watching the saga of the missing plane. A small plane, allegedly belonging to James Ibori according to Nigeria Politricks blog, disappeared and is feared to have crashed somewhere along the border between Nigeria and Cameroon. For two weeks, newspapers have been awash with theories and speculation over where the plane crashed. Nigeria pleaded for help, and was reportedly turned down by Cameroon, to search for the missing plane. Soon after, reports came out that necessary equipment needed to track planes is non-existent and/or inoperable in Nigeria. People like my sweet mother, questioned why the nation lacked such necessary equipment to manage aviation. All I could do was explain that if the nation can not generate enough electricity to power homes and businesses, it should not be shocking that aviation equipment is unavailable. But, the embarrassment of this situation knows no bounds because now, Nigeria will use the assistance of "foreign missions" to find the missing plane.

I cry for my beloved country. It is a beautiful land of rich history, abundant resources and incredible people. Somehow, we have lost our way and cannot handle small issues properly or tackle many large problems effectively. Whenever my spirits rise in anticipation of progress, a closer look into various situations dashes my hopes and dreams of positive change. I know that people are 'trying', but 'trying' is inadequate. Decisive, well reasoned, action is necessary at every level be it individual, state, or federal. And such action is especially necessary now that we are taking a closer look at ourselves as a nation and revealing our failures for what the truly are. We must not allow this opportunity to pass without doing the right thing - requiring the return of misappropriated funds from officials and contractors, suing them and sending those liable to jail. We must also use this opportunity to highlight a unified and well thought out strategy that we apply immediately to remedy the nation's failed energy sector, flailing aviation sector and quite frankly, every other struggling sector or industry in Nigeria.

Crime and Punishment. Those who did the crimes must be ready to do the time and the nation must be ready to dole out the necessary punishment and get back on the road to greatness.

Further Reading:
- Halliburton & Nigeria - Corruption Inc. Pt 2
- Nigerian Power Scandal: Authority Stealing
- Obasanjo-Bello and the Anti-Corruption Crusade
- Siemens & Nigeria - Corruption Inc.
- Corruption: The Common Denominator To All Our Problems

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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

I was introduced to this artist not too long ago and since then I have been hooked to this particular song. The song is called "Africa" and the artist is Fishe. I will not pretend that I know that much about the artist whose real name is Andrew Mosheshe, but I will say that his song "Africa" is what I listen to when my day of following Nigeria and Africa related news has me feeling disappointed and sometimes upset. And since that happens often, I listen to "Africa" a lot.

"Africa" reminds me of my pride and love for not just Nigeria, but the entire continent. It takes me back to my Pan African roots. It reminds me that the road ahead is and will be tough but that we all must pull ourselves by the bootstraps and face the challenges ahead with dignity and strength. Now, you might not take all that away from listening to the track, but I am just sharing what I feel when I listen to it. When you listen, pay attention to the 'ancestors' he calls to and the contemporary Africans he mentions. To me, it is all quite inspiring, when you consider the odds these individuals and many more faced but yet accomplished success and recognition.

So, without further ado, and before you think I am 'weird', here is Fishe's song, "Africa".

God bless the rivers out in Africa
God bless the people back in Africa
Each and every nation in Africa
May God bless the continent of Africa

Verse One:
Africa. The home of civilization
Home to 53 strong and beautiful
Beautiful females, rich vegetation
The sunshine, the rainfall, the perfect location
Perfect for a very nice family vacation
What a wonderful work of creation
But the media only projects the negative situations
Kids dying of starvation on your TV station
War and diseases, just devastation
Tarzan in a jungle, no modernization
But these are just the media's misrepresentations
We've got modern infrastructures across every nation
All forms of modern day transportation
Modern hospitals and schools that give a good education
Africans come together in unification
So we can rise up to any given occasion

Let me take you back to the days of western colonization
One of history's worst case of dehumanization
The days of the so-called explorations
When really it was nothing but exploitation
Enslaved the population of a whole generation
Took some of us away to work in plantations
There's no justification for this victimization
There's no amount of reparation
That can pay of this....human degradation
Human rights violation
Racial segregation, racial discrimination
When Martin Luther marched in peaceful demonstration
For liberation and total emancipation
So we no longer care about skin coloration
Whether you're Latino Asian Black or Caucasian
Everybody come together in unification
So we can rise up to any given occasion

Nelson Mandela. Patrice Lumumba
Nnamdi Azikiwe. Kwame Nkruma
Haille Sellasie and Sekou Toure
Steven Biko. Julius Nyerere
Obafemi Awolowo. Jomo Kenyatta
Inwar Sadat. Thomas Sankara
Wole Soyinka. Desmond Tutu
Mariam Makeba. Shaka the Zulu
Martin Luther King Jnr. Marcus Garvey
Malcolm X and Ralph Albernate
Rosa Parks and Harriet Thubman
WEB Dubois. Frederick Douglas
Ray Charles. Nat King Cole. Bob Marley
Tupac Amaru Shakur. Mohammed Ali
Jesse Jackson. Louis Farrakhan
Oprah Winfrey. Barrack Obama


And, so, I add to the prayer - God bless the Continent of Africa and its peoples all over the world. And like Peter Tosh says "You're an African!"

Check out Fishe's website -

Further reading: The Music Series

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"

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