"FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!"

Thursday, October 30, 2008

ELENDU'S STORY
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.

WHY THE CONTINUED ATTENTION?
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foreign journalists have been arrested by the SSS and deported, a local Nigerian station was shut down, its license withdrawn and its staff arrested for legally broadcasting incorrect information about President Yar'Adua.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 CONTRADICTIONS
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.


DOING THE RIGHT THING
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."

http://www.usafricaonline.com/jonathan.elendu.jpg



Please read:
- Chukbyke's "FREE ELENDU NOW"
- Waffarian's "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!!!"
- Akin's "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- Ugo'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!"
- Kin'shar's "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!"
- NajiaECash's "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!"
- Just...Toluwa's "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW...."
- Ms. Catwalq's "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU"
- Naapali's "Free Jonathan Elendu"
- Aloofar's "Yaddy, U’D BETTER FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!"
- Sherri's "Free Jonathan Elendu"
- KritzMoriz's "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!"
- N.I.M.M.O.'s "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW"
- Loomnie's "Free Jonathan Elendu Now!"
- Huey's "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!"
- My Pen My Paper's "FREE ELENDU NOW, FREE ELENDU NOW, FREE ELENDU NOW"
- Sokari's (African Path) "FREE Jonathan Elendu NOW!"
- Lost At The End Of The World's "Free Jonathan Elendu!"
- Geisha.song's "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!"
- Avartsy's "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!!!"
- Chxta's "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!"




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NIGERIAN BLOGGER, JONATHAN ELENDU, IS FAR FROM 'FREE' & OCTOBER 31ST

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.

http://www.usafricaonline.com/jonathan.elendu.jpg

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EXCLUSIVE: BLOGGER JONATHAN ELENDU IS FREE!!!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

THERE IS AN UPDATE ON THE ELENDU SITUATION. PLEASE READ "NIGERIAN BLOGGER, JONATHAN ELENDU, IS FAR FROM 'FREE' & OCTOBER 31ST" WHEN YOU ARE DONE WITH THIS. ALSO, JOIN US ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31ST FOR "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!" DETAILS ARE IN THE RIGHT SIDEBAR OF THIS PAGE. THANKS.


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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DISTURBING NEWS ON JONATHAN ELENDU - TORTURE? HUNGER STRIKE?

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]

MY HUMBLE THOUGHTS
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.

OCTOBER 31ST - "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!"
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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BLOGGER, JONATHAN ELENDU, STILL IN CUSTODY

Monday, October 27, 2008

THERE IS AN UPDATE ON THE ELENDU SITUATION. PLEASE READ "DISTURBING NEWS ON JONATHAN ELENDU - TORTURE? HUNGER STRIKE?" WHEN YOU ARE DONE WITH THIS. ALSO, JOIN US ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31ST FOR "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!" DETAILS ARE IN THE RIGHT SIDEBAR OF THIS PAGE. THANKS.

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.

http://www.usafricaonline.com/jonathan.elendu.jpg

WHAT IS GOING ON?
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.


AMERICAN CITIZENSHIP & HABEAS CORPUS
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.

THE DEARTH IN INFORMATION
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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NIGERIAN BLOGGER ARRESTED!!!!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED. PLEASE READ "BLOGGER, JONATHAN ELENDU, STILL IN CUSTODY" WHEN YOU ARE DONE WITH THIS. ALSO, JOIN US ON FRIDAY, OCTOBER 31ST FOR "FREE JONATHAN ELENDU NOW!" DETAILS ARE IN THE RIGHT SIDEBAR OF THIS PAGE. THANKS.

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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WHEN 'OIL WEALTH' GOES

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."
http://www.cfr.org/content/publications/images/NigeriaOilWalkAP.jpg

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COLIN POWELL & 'YAHOOZE'

Friday, October 17, 2008

'Yahooze' is a hit song released by Olu Maintain in 2007. The song speaks of a flashy lifestyle with cars for every day of the week, fancy trips and expensive drinks. Before the song became a hit, however, 'Yahooze' was a popular slang term used to refer to the lifestyle of Yahoo boys. Yahoo boys are the proverbial scam artists who typically use 'yahoo.com' email address to bait unsuspecting and/or greedy individuals into letting go of their hard earned money. Olu Maintain himself has emphatically denied that his song glorifies the 'Yahooze' lifestyle and that it instead reflects his rise to fame and the changes that money has made to his lifestyle.

Well, recently at the Africa Rising concert in London, former US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, sang and danced to the 'Yahooze' song alongside artist Olu Maintain. His 'performance' has generated criticism and suggestions that Powell supports scammers because he 'jammed' to what one called the "scammers anthem".

I personally do not believe that it is fair to suggest in any way shape or form that Powell endorses illegal activity. It is ludicrous to make such an allegation simply because he chose to sing and dance along with a song which he enjoyed, even though he was unaware of the issues surrounding the song's lyrics. Besides, Nigeria's President Yar'Adua apparently likes the song as well. He was 'serenaded' and proclaimed "father of the nation" by Olu Maintain at an event celebrating Nigeria's victorious Under-17 football team, earlier this year. If Yardy can enjoy the song, why can't Powell? Below is a clip of Powell dancing on stage to 'Yahooze'. Please forgive the lady who kindly recorded this clip for dancing and singing along. She was obviously moved by the 'spirit'.

At the end of the day, is it fair to suggest that enjoying a song like 'Yahooze' means that one supports scam artists?

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EXCESS CRUDE FUND DEPELETED

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

According to Chukwuma Soludo, the Central Bank Governor, Nigeria's excess crude account is now depleted.

"NIGERIA'S enormous savings from the oil windfall have been depleted and what is left may not tide the country over any financial turn down should oil price fall below the budget benchmark of $62 per barrel..."

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NUMBER ONE REGIONAL TELECOM MARKET

Monday, October 13, 2008

Nigeria surpassed South Africa in the Middle Eastern/African region as the largest mobile connection market.

"The country has further stretched its lead in the latest period, passing the 50m milestone and ending the quarter with 51.7m mobile connections. Nigeria at the end of August hit the 55 million subscriber mark..."
"This makes [Nigeria] the 18th largest market in the world. South Africa which is now nearly 100% penetrated has less than one third of Nigeria's population (44m v 138m) and is likely to drop to third place soon."
It is good to see that Nigerians continue to take advantage of cellular phones. I hope that cellular providers will now begin to offer a wider range of 3G services to their customers, such as broader, cheaper internet surfing capacity. It is much easier to use and access cell phones than computers, and considering the fact that the underwater internet cable is finally coming to the West African coast in a few months, Nigerians and other West Africans will finally have access to higher internet speed and online capacity which can in turn be extremely positive for the country.

Maybe then, local Nigerian news outlets will be able to crosscheck their references and won't get shut down by the Yar'Adua administration for broadcasting incorrect information.


Related Articles of Interest:
- Nigeria is Not The Home Of Cyber Crime
- Nigeria's Internet Future
- Number One Regional Telecom Market
- 2009: The Year of African Broadband
- Nigeria Is Home To The World's Largest Cyber Cafe



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THE SIGNIFICANCE OF PERSISTENT PSYCHOLOGICAL PARALYSIS

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Imagine the human body. It can be strong, and physically healthy, but if the mind is not stable, the many positive physical attributes will be wasted. It is the same with a nation, in my opinion. Nigeria has everything it needs to be great - population, resources, location etc. What it lacks is the right mind frame or psyche from which to achieve the desired effect - a Nigeria we all can be proud of. Nigerians have to not just believe that change is on the horizon. Nigerians have to believe that they can effect that change. They have to believe that the people control their nation, not the Big Boys, the political godfathers or the many other unseen characters that pull the national strings. Currently, like Beauty so eloquently put it in The Nigerian Psyche discussion, Nigerians have outsourced their problems to God and it seems we are waiting for a savior, not ourselves, to put us on the right path. However, it is only when we achieve a state of national mental confidence that Nigeria can truly be great.

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PERSISTENT PSYCHOLOGICAL PARALYSIS

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yesterday, I talked about The Nigerian Psyche and asserted that psychologically, Nigerians as a group, do not truly believe that they "are capable of grand success either as individuals or as a nation." From reading the responses to that post, it is clear that we understand the importance of a national psyche. Furthermore, we also understand why a positive and enabling national mindset is crucial for the success of any nation. Some commenters confessed what many Nigerians feel - a hesitance to be unconditionally proud of our fatherland. Some noted that there is little concept of a collective national goal but more a collection of individual objectives. These and many more perspectives on the issue, have helped to further the discussiona nd will hopefully allow us to create a workable solution to the problem I present below.

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THE NIGERIAN PSYCHE

Monday, October 6, 2008

No civilization or nation of significance has ever existed without a national story and image that conveyed greatness. Open any history book and the great civilizations look out at you from behind their impressive stories of strength and achievement. Those stories and/or images became the focal point around which the people rallied. They amplified pride and encouraged a zeal to achieve not just personal success, but national success that would be the envy of others. The story of a nation and the image it portrays to citizens and foreigners is crucial in shaping the psyche of that nation. It determines the national awareness of who citizens are with respect to everyone else. Concurrently, that psyche is the pulse of the nation and can give an immediate insight into the mindset of the people.
http://www.artheos.org/images/3139.jpg

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THE MORNING AFTER...

Thursday, October 2, 2008

I remember it like it was yesterday. October 1985. The mood was electric. There was excitement in the air. I was a child, happy to have a day off from St. Mary's Primary School, happy to have my mother home from work and happy to be surrounded by family, friends, food and crates of 'minerals'.
http://motleysgroup.com/a8071/51.jpg

It was October 1st, the day Nigerians celebrated Independence Day. My favorite jingle, at that time, was blasting from my mommy's Sony television set. "Nigeria is 25" the singer sang. His voice was melodious and conveyed an enthusiasm that was infectious. I was a very young child then and although I was a curious and rambunctious child, I had little context of what 'Independence' meant. My family had just returned to Nigeria after years abroad and although my teacher had given us a quick lesson on the basics of Nigerian Independence, my young mind did not truly appreciate the significance of what 'Independence' meant.

Nevertheless, I knew that whatever 'Independence' was, it made me happy. I knew that whatever 'Independence' was, it made my beloved and now deceased grandmother, whom everyone called 'Mama', ecstatic. She told funny stories in her colorful Pidgin English about the original Independence Day and the pride everyone felt. She shared jokes about her old neighborhood at Pike Street and how on Independence Day, a fight broke out between two drunken neighbors. As she spoke, my lovely cousin Vicky sent me to the kitchen to get Uncle Max (RIP) a bottle of Star Beer. I would usually grumble at such an errand, especially whilst listening to the sweet gist my Mama always had. But, on that day, Nigeria's 25th birthday, I was happy and nothing could have soured my mood.
http://img.timeinc.net/TFK/media/goplaces/nigeria/050408_challenge_special.jpg
23 years later, on October 1st, 2008, my mood was far from happy. It was Nigeria's 48th birthday and I was faced with the reality of the country I love. The issues I focus on - politics, economics, health, power - forced my mood to sour because I realized that if I had to give Nigeria a grade on those issues, it would not be an 'A'. I could not help but wish, desperately, to be transported back to 1985. To, once again, be a child with little to no idea of the realities. To be with my grandmother, mother, cousins, aunts and friends laughing about hilarious stories and looking expectantly to Nigeria's future. I can't help but wonder what my Mama would think about what Nigeria is today. I wonder if it would measure up to her expectations.

Yet, at the same time, I can't help but feel proud. I have always worn my Nigerian citizenship and heritage with pride. It has served me well a majority of the time and yes, it has brought me pain many a time as well. However, I consider the challenges Nigeria faces and I am amazed at the fact that Nigeria has not fallen apart. I am encouraged by the happiness in the voices of those I speak to back home who, despite their problems, are thankful for what they have and grateful for the blessing of life.

Yesterday, Nigeria's 48th birthday, was a day I spent wishing to go back to the blind optimism of 1985. Today, on the morning after, I chose to be optimistic. Not blindly optimistic, however. After all, the mind of a child cannot compare to the intellect and experience of an adult. Despite that, I choose to believe that Nigeria, despite the stalled starts, the many steps backward and even the outright failures, will emerge from its drunken stupor to a bright morning after. And, I continue to commit myself to play a role in ushering that morning after.

I hope you will too.



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