...FROM COSTA RICA

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

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

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

http://www.dahabtravel.es/fotos_de_viaje/Costa_Rica/Costa_Rica_001_dh_mk.jpg
A Tucan - native to Costa Rica

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

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

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

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

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

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WILL JONATHAN ELENDU BE 'WASTED'?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

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

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

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

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

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WHAT IS CRUCIAL FOR LEADERSHIP?

Monday, December 15, 2008

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

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MUSIC: NIGERIA V. AFRICA: BOPE BOYA

Friday, December 12, 2008

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

Tolu

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

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

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


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

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

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

Monday, December 8, 2008

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

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

http://www.southafrica.to/transport/Airlines/cheapest-flight-survey/2007/mugabe.gif
As an African, I can confidently say that we Africans, unfortunately, have a high tolerance for revered 'elders' and especially the despotic kind. Mugabe represents the problem with this attitude. Mugabe, once a respected leader is now at the helm of a Zimbabwe falling apart, and he seems either oblivious or uncaring about the people and nation he 'fought' for. He manages to do this with little confrontation or challenge from the majority of other African heads of state. And, while this failure continues, people die, and neighboring nations are threatened by the influx of refugees.

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

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

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

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NIGERIA'S 2009 BUDGET

Thursday, December 4, 2008

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


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


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