Thursday, December 31, 2009

Air travel has transformed the world over the last few decades. The ability to be get from continent to continent in a matter of hours has meant an increase in transatlantic commerce, tourism and much more. Despite the access that air travel has created, travel to the African continent has always been much more difficult than travel to other regions. Flights to African airports continue to be expensive, cumbersome (due to a lack of direct flights) and sometimes, dangerous as evidenced by the recent near crashes at Lagos' Murtala Mohammed Airport when new radar equipment shut down unexpectedly. Furthermore, African travelers typically complain of bad customer service, older airplanes, and outright disrespect as was the case with the 2008 Brutish Airways incident when 130 Nigerians were unceremoniously thrown off a flight at Heathrow Airport. But, now, with the recent revelations that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (now deemed the 'Nigerian Terrorist') attempted to blow up a plane, it is likely that travel to and from the continent could get more complicated.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

When the spate of kidnappings began in the Niger Delta, Nigerians could disassociate from the expatriates being kidnapped. When the kidnapping sprees became a full fledged 'cottage industry' of sorts, Nigerians, collectively, wrote it off as something that only happened to wealthy Nigerians. When Boko Haram wrought havoc across the northern part of the country in an effort to achieve its radicalized Muslim ideas, the full fledged discourse necessary to address, analyze and solve that problem failed to fully materialize. And now, as a Nigerian has been identified as the alleged terrorist that attempted to blow up an aircraft, on Christmas Day, will Nigerians once again opt to disassociate from the matters at hand and fail to tackle the obvious realities that must be addressed?

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

When I was a child living in Lagos, Nigeria, I would sometimes see children begging. As a naive child, I would always plead with my mother to adopt them so that they would be able to go to school, be clean and not have to beg. I incorrectly assumed that these children, who I was told were from the northern part of the country, were parentless, but I soon came to realize that the money these children received was taken to a parent who usually watched from not to far away. Despite this, it came as a shocking surprise to learn that Nigeria, and specifically, the northern part of the country, is home to approximately 10 million child beggars. The child I used to be would want to adopt all these children but the adult I am today knows that this issue goes far beyond adoption and requires serious strategic planning to address the problem.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Earlier this year, I shared a video clip of a power outage at Nigeria's Murtala Mohammed Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. The video, shot by a Nigerian travelling through the airport, showed a complete blackout in the terminal section of the airport.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Here is a patriotic song created by DJ Jamix and featuring some of Nigeria's hottest stars of the moment - Terry G, 9ice and M.I. And for those unfamiliar with Yoruba, the title simply means "Nigerian" or "Child of Nigeria".


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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The head of Nigeria's anti-corruption agency, Farida Waziri , recently voiced her frustration with the slow progress her agency is making in its quest to reduce fraud and corruption in the country. Waziri opined that Chinese-style capital punishment for corruption convicts,

"is the only thing that will save the country, truly. Because corruption is much and the people are not concerned. If someone steals public funds, they will honour him without condemning the person. With this, our country will continue to be backward."[sic]
The real question is, would the death penalty be an apt deterrent to those considering ro already participating in corruption?

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Nigeria's President is currently recovering from surgery to combat a heart condition called Pericarditis, which according to the BBC, is likely "triggered by cancer". Despite this, his spokesman made it clear, at that time, that the President would still attend Hajj in Mecca. This revelation indicates how seriously the President and his handlers take the Hajj, that a sick man should feel the need to publicly commit to attending the Hajj. It also illustrates how importantly Nigerians, Muslims and Christians take their religious practices of participating in the Hajj and/or Pilgrimage to Israel (for Christians).

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Nigeria's vice President, Goodluck Jonathan, recently promised that Nigerians will not need generators in 2010. According to the Vice President, the federal government has taken the necessary steps to improve electricity supply in 2010 and thus limit the necessity for generators. However, it seems that while ordinary Nigerians might not need generators, Aso Rock, the residence of Nigeria's President Yar'Adua is scheduled to use generators. Not up to 1 after that declaration, it was revealed that N542.4 million is budgeted to buy generator fuel to power the President's residence and another N100 million for generator equipment at the Vice President's mansion.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It is practically an oxymoron to use the word "dead" in a sentence with Nigeria's President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua. Even before he attained the titles of President, Head of State, Chief Executive of the Federation and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces (Nigerians and their titles), he had died a few times in the court of public opinion. Yar'Adua's health condition, simply referred to as a kidney problem, has forced him to flee to Germany and Saudi Arabia for regular checkups and surgeries on numerous occasions. Each trip has been met with ever increasing criticism. Yar'Adua's most recent trip to Saudi Arabia, where he was treated for a "heart infection", has created debate over issues such as resignation, wazobia/tribal politics and power sharing amongst tribes and much more.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Nigeria's Femi Kuti is now a Grammy nominated artist. The 2010 nominees were recently announced and Femi received a nod for his current album titled 'Day By Day'.

Femi joins King Sunny Ade as the only other Nigerian to have received a Grammy nod. Unlike King Sunny Ade, this is Femi's second nomination. Other artists of Nigerian heritage have won Grammy awards and they are Sade and Seal who are both British citizens.

Below is a fan made video for his song, "Tell Me" off the album 'Day By Day'.

Congratulations to Femi Kuti, one of many carrying on the tradition of Afrobeat music as a tool of political discourse, education and empowerment, just as Fela Kuti once did.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

In order to expand its sources of energy supply, Nigeria is seeking to generate electricity via nuclear power. There are already 2 nuclear research centers at Ahmadu Bello University, in Zaria and another in the capital, Abuja. In June 2008, the G8 expressed concerns over Nigeria's quest for nuclear energy, citing concerns over safety and security. Some G8 members specifically questioned the nation's level of responsibility. Despite these and other issues, on December 3rd, 2009, the IAEA approved Nigeria's application to build a reactor in Abuja.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

The World Bank expects the Nigerian economy to experience exponential growth beginning 2010. According to Ismail Radwan, a Senior Economist from the Bank specified,

“The Nigerian economy is doing very well....the latest figures released by the Central Bank of Nigeria indicates that growth is still going on at six or even close to seven per cent this year and next year will even be higher. So, we know that the potential of the Nigerian economy is even higher than that...As a matter of fact, the Nigerian economy should be growing in double digits."

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Every few months, Nigeria stops at the rumors of the sickness/dying/death of its President, Umar Musa Yar'Adua. This time is no different, as the President was flown to Saudi Arabia on Monday, November 23rd, and again, citizens were told nothing until almost 3 days later, when they were informed by administration officials that Yar'Adua is not dead and "not seriously ill", yet, recovering in a Saudi hospital. But, as usual, the rumors and uncertainty persist and Nigerians wonder who is in charge of the national ship.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Lagos is Nigeria's economic center and has a rich cultural history and heritage. Its roads carry everything from okadas[1] to Bentleys. Unlike many other parts of Nigeria, upwardly mobile Lagosians are used to red carpet soirees, international concert events on its many beaches, intruding yet engaging paparazzi like Niyi Tabiti, and unbelievable tales of the city's rich, famous and even infamous. But, this is not unique to the Lagos of the 21st century. I remember stories from my late grandmother and others discussing Lagos nightlife as far back as the 1930s. Sundays spent watching horse races at Race Course, evenings spent dancing in fancy shoes and dresses, chauffeurs (yes, chauffeurs) carting important and rich Lagosians all over town for business and pleasure. Well attended polo matches and events that continue till this day. Yes, Lagosians are used to opulence.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Nigerians love their titles. As such, it is common to find people with a Chief, Dr., Engr., or all of the above in front of their name. And, they expect to be referenced by their title which indicates their many achievements and successes. It is no different for Nigeria's legislators. The members of the House of Representatives insist on being addressed as 'Honorable', while their peers in the Senate are referred to as 'Distinguished'. But given the record of the present class of legislators, and their most recent battle over where the 2010 budget is to be read, it is hard to call members of either body anything but useless.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

During a recent conversation with an American friend of mine, I tried to explain to her that Lagos was one of the most expensive cities in the world. It was hard for her to understand, and it was hard for me to fully explain to her as I did not have a whole bunch of statistics on my side.

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The concept of paying taxes, be it federal or state, is relatively foreign to many Nigerians. Unlike some parts of the world where almost everyone, regardless of their position or income pays some form of income/revenue/property taxes on a regular basis, taxes are only collected from some Nigerians and some businesses. Many argue that this reality contributes to a lack of political accountability on the part of officials and consequently, diminishes the impact of democracy on average Nigerians. But, just as important, the lack of a formal tax structure means that many state governments, like Kano State, over rely on the federal government for income and as such, the amount needed to cater to citizen's needs is limited.  This is undoubtedly a serious problem during the current economic slowdown. However, the Nigeria Governors Forum has announced that come fiscal year 2010, state governments will begin to collect taxes from many more residents.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Buba Galadima, a high-ranking member of the All Nigeria Peoples Party (ANPP) recently called for a violent revolution in Nigeria that would use the Jerry Rawlings Solution to purge the nation and create political change. The Jerry Rawlings Solution (JRS) refers to the execution of many powerful military officers and other military/political elite by Jerry Rawlings shortly after he took over Ghana in a violent 1981 coup. Galadima is not the first Nigerian to speak of such as a solution to Nigeria's problem and most likely he will not be the last. However, such calls for violence are not the solution Nigeria needs and in fact would likely create more problems for the country.

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Siji is a Nigerian musician now based in the U.S. Like every good Nigerian child, he completed a Masters degree in Engineering Product Design and then, began making and releasing his music.

Here is his song, "Yearning For Home". As one who thinks of 'home' on a daily basis and yearns to return, even if for a visit, I appreciate this song greatly. There are many references to Nigeria, Nigerian music - Afrobeat, and Yoruba culture (can you spot the ayo game?). The video is tastefully made and has a neo-afrobeat/soul/Brazilian feel to it.


Thanks to Mr Starks at World Famous Naija Blog for introducing me to this wonderful Nigerian artist.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Nigerians abroad send at least $10 billion in remittances to their loved ones at home. This amount makes Nigeria the 6th highest destination for remittances according to the World Bank. That also makes Nigeria the top remittance destination on the African continent.

Top recipients of migrant remittances among developing countries

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Friday, November 6, 2009

When asked if to consider entering the dangerous field of Nigerian politics, a man answered,

"I wouldn't make a good politician. I don't know how to lie."

That simple statement reflects an unfortunate reality in politics all over the world. Politicians are generally considered to be slick tongued individuals with the capacity to say anything to gain and maintain power.
liar-730096.jpg (400×360)
That statement also highlights that because of the reputation politicians have, average individuals do not expect them to be honest. But, if honesty is not a characteristic we expect from those who represent us, what does that say about who we are? And what does that mean for the future of representational politics i.e. democracy in Nigeria?

A tough question to ponder, but politics is probably the second oldest profession on Earth, after prostitution, and like the latter, it will be around in some form or another. In essence, politicians, those who lie or otherwise, will always be around.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

With an unemployment rate of 28.57%, the revelation that 23 million of Nigeria's youths "are unemployable" was a tough pill to swallow. Mr. Depo Oyedokun, Chair of the House Committee on Youth and Social Development made the announcement while presenting a bill that would require this fact be considered in all government policy. Oyedokun stated,

"Of the over 40 million unemployed youths in the country, 23 million are unemployable and therefore susceptible to crime, hence the need to articulate what could be done to salvage the situation... [the] aim is to create the enabling legislative framework that would ensure the total emancipation of the Nigerian youths."

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Monday, November 2, 2009

According to Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF), freedom of expression is suffering in Nigeria. The organization's most recent Press Freedom Index 2009 categorizes freedom of the press in 175 countries and Nigeria ranked 135, right above Mugabe-controlled Zimbabwe. The only question is whether this categorization by RSF is accurate - Is Nigeria's press free or not?


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Friday, October 30, 2009

I posted this joke some years ago, and while looking over old posts, I stumbled upon it. As always, it made me chuckle. Not because I wish harm on anyone, but simply because the joke is very funny.
Enjoy the 'lighter' side of Nigerian politics....

A driver is stuck in a traffic jam on the motorway. Nothing is  moving.

Suddenly a man knocks on the window. The driver rolls down his window and asks,
"What's going on?"

The man responded, "Militants have kidnapped, OBJ, IBB, Atiku,Buhari, Tony Anenih,
Ahmadu Ali, Dariye, Nnamani, Odili, Ibrahim Mantu, Tinubu, Kalu, Maurice Iwu,
Adedibu, Ibori, Olubunmi  Etteh, and Igbinedion."

They're asking for a $500 million ransom. Otherwise they're going to douse them with
petrol and set them on fire. So, we're going from car to car, taking up a collection."

The driver asks, "How much is everyone contributing, on the average?"

The man  responded, "About a litre of  petrol and a stick of matches."

I wonder what names would be added to the list of 'kidnappees' now that this joke is a few years old.

UPDATE: In some unfortunate news,the father of the former chair of the Central Bank, Charles Soludo, was allegedly kidnapped. According to Nigerian Police, Soludo's family is yet to report the kidnapping. Whatever the case, I can only hope that the elder Soludo is well and that he be with his loved ones. 

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Michael Peel's first book titled A Swamp Full of Dollars is a refreshingly balanced look at Nigeria through the prism of its most famous export - oil. Peel, who lived in Nigeria for some years as a reporter for the Financial Times, goes beyond the typical depictions and assertions made about Nigeria. He places modern day issues such as the Niger Delta militants, political corruption in a historical context, enlightening readers about the roots of many oil-related problems.

Even the most well-versed and passionate observers of Nigeria and its history would be interested to learn of the 1895 palm oil war between residents of the Niger Delta and British colonialists, given the parallels to present violence, corruption and subjugation in the same region more than a century later. Peel also focuses on the complicity of non-Nigerian actors/interests and their role in creating some of the issues Nigeria faces. Peel expressly illustrates how these foreign actors have exploited Nigerian oil and compounded problems, showing a weave of complexity that is fascinating.

A Swamp Full of Dollars is definitely a must read for all trying to understand not just Nigeria but how oil an the converging interests of of others can transform oil, a natural resource that should be a blessing, into a curse, of sorts. Peel has managed to write an engaging, yet informative book about Nigeria, its people, its past and possibly its future. It is a definite addition to any library, personal or otherwise.

To learn more about Michael Peel or the book, please visit his website or IB Tauris

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Monday, October 26, 2009

Nollywood is Nigeria's film industry and currently the third largest in the world after Hollywood (U.S.) and Bollywood (India). Movies are created with small budgets and in a short amount of time, and despite the quality issues of many of them, they have become a mainstay of the average Nigerian, and proven popular across the African continent and the Caribbean. Nollywood continues to gain recognition and one of its most well known stars Genevieve Nnaji, recently received mention on the Oprah Winfrey Show, a program watched my millions across the world. Good or bad, Nollywood has allowed ordinary Nigerians to influence lives beyond the shores of Nigeria.

Despite these attributes, TIME Magazine opted to create a questionable pictorial essay on Nollywood entitled, The Stars of Nigeria's Movie Biz. Shot by Pieter Hugo, the pictures were taken from the book Nollywood and the images are creating quite a stir.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Not too long ago, a Nigerian traveling to Europe documented a power outage at Murtala Mohamed International Airport in Lagos, Nigeria. The outage was in the terminal and based on the description given by the gentleman filming, individuals were boarding planes in darkness.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Nigeria's mining industry is a sector on the verge of a boom. The current administration has been propositioned by various countries and mining companies seeking to take advantage of the nation's ample natural resources such as gold, precious and semi-precious gemstones, metals and ores. Like in many other African countries, China has made many inroads in Nigeria's mining industry.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Chimamanda Adichie's talk at TED.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

It has become cliche to complain about Nigeria's power problems. The recent discussion on the potential government ban on imported generators, and the ire it created raises even more questions about power generation and the needs of businesses and individuals. It is definitely time to rethink Nigeria's approach to the creation and supply of electricity. Consequently, I now believe that Nigerians and its leadership should be discussing the possible benefits of a modern smart grid and not a power generation goal of 6000 or more megawatts.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

I heard this song sometime ago at one of my favorite haunts - The song, "Be Like Yours" is by Omolara Ayodele and has a neosoul, jazz vibe to it. She was born in Lagos State and received a degree in Philosophy from the University of Ibadan. Omolara has featured MI on another track "Tonight".

According to her Facebook Fan page, she mentions Lauryn Hill, Brandy, Sade and Mariah Carey as some of her influences, and that is evident from the moment she begins to sing. I particularly like the smooth harmony employed in the chorus section and am impressed by her clear vocals and lyrics. Her video is simple and highlights the quality of the song she sings.


From the Archives:
- Fame Enterprise and the Entertainment Industry
-Nigeria vs. The African Continent
-P-Square "Say your Love"
-Infinity's "Olori Oko"
-Ty Bello's "Greenland"
-Banky W.'s "Ebute Meta"
-Fishe's "Africa"
-Asa's "So Beautiful"
-Nayo's "1+1"
-Conscious Music
-Bope Boya
- Douye
- H-Man's Uwadiwe
- Asa's The Place To Be"

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The publication, Business World recently reported that the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) plans to ban the importation of generators. Now, for anyone who knows Nigeria, lived in Nigeria or has been to Nigeria, generators are a way of life for those who can afford them. The sound of generators whirring at all hours to deliver electricity is likely more prevalent today than the sound emitted from the deadly anopheles mosquito which freely delivers malaria.

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AT 49....

Monday, October 5, 2009

Nigeria celebrated its 49th independence anniversary on October 1st. A former colony of Britain, Nigeria started out as an economic outpost, supplying the British crown with riches and influence that pays dividends even today, and it eventually became a formal and independent nation state in 1960. An independent nation that even many of its creators believed would have a hard time succeeding. Since then, the country and its people have experienced ups and downs like any other nation, but as each year passes, questions are raised as to which direction the nation is going.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

In an effort to bring peace to the Niger Delta, Nigeria's federal government created an amnesty program. The program required militants to surrender their weapons and in return, they would receive a presidential pardon, education, training and access to a rehabilitation program. The amnesty offer was announced by President Yar'Adua in June and is set to end at midnight on October 4th. Since its announcement, militants have turned in many guns and across the Delta region, much of the tension and violence, which peaked earlier this summer in battles between the Joint Task Force and MEND militants, has seemingly ebbed. It now appears that many militants are participating in the amnesty program and that there might be some dividends.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

One of the great deficiencies of being human is the fact that we forget things. Consequently, the field of history gained a foothold in human existence. But, despite spoken and written history, there are those who have decided to re-write the past particularly in the case of the late Nigerian dictator, Sani Abacha, such as Presidential hopeful, General Buhari, former military dictator, Ibrahim Babangida and former interim government head, Abdulsalami Abubakar. But, Abacha's own son might be doing the best at rewriting the history of Sani Abacha and its role in the decay Nigeria currently struggles with.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Nigeria is a complex country with faultlines that run throughout its length and breadth. The faultlines that comprise the various interest groups and issues within the nation's body politic are equally complex, and according to some, indecipherable. In many cases, however, some of the faultlines are hidden under layers of other distracting and more obvious issues, but, nonetheless, they exist and it takes a well-trained eye to identify them. The recent death of Gani Fawehinmi has revealed previously unnoticed faultlines and suggests that others are about to become more pronounced.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

A member of Nigeria's National Assembly displayed a significant amount of self importance and lack of tact recently. Chinyere Igwe, a member of the House of Representatives (PDP, Rivers State), slapped a Sergeant-At-Arms that dared ask for his identification prior to allowing Igwe into the National Assembly Complex. The last time I heard of a similar incident, was when former US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D, Georgia) punched a Capitol Police officer in the chest when he requested her identification in 2006. While McKinney argued at the time that the incident stemmed from racial profiling, one can only imagine what basis Igwe will assert for his (if ever), for his, as fellow blogger Akin calls it, "undignified" behavior.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

It was with great curiosity that I learned that a former President of Taiwan was sentenced to life in prison, last week. Chen Shui-Bian is the first former Taiwan leader to be put on trial, and he was convicted for embezzlement of state funds, money laundering and the accepting of bribes. I couldn't help but wonder if such would ever be possible in Nigeria, a country which has witnessed Heads of State, like Sani Abacha, plunder the national bank account while other officials, big and small, have used their influential positions to gain astounding wealth at the people's expense. Despite this, most are yet to be held accountable, although the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) claims that it has recovered over $55 million  in lieu of convicting those who illegally amassed those sums since its new boss came to office.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

I am a Science Fiction fan that was determined to watch the recently released District 9 movie, particularly when I learned of its connection to the African continent. But, then, I learned of the extremely derogatory portrayal of Nigerians in the film and I had to pause. My anti District 9 stance was only cemented when I also discovered at Pyoo Wata's site that the director and co-writer, South African Neill Blomkamp, admitted that he included Nigerians in his film to portray murderous, cannibalistic villains because,

" [i]f I try to keep South Africa as true to South Africa as I could, then, unfortunately, a massive part of the crime that happens in Johannesburg is by the Nigerians there. It's just the way it is. I wanted to have a crime group, and thought the most honest refraction of a crime group would be Nigerians, for one."

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Interesting video on how state authorities are working to create clean and green spaces in Nigeria's financial capital.

Are you aware of similar beautification efforts across the country? Let us know by sharing your thoughts.

On tap for next week, a look at the rising tempo of anti-Nigerian sentiment, from South Africa, to SONY advertising. And, how Nigerians themselves can go from simply responding to these assaults on theirs and the nation's character to instead, more proactive action that will prevent such incidents in the first place.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Discrimination is something countless people have given their life to overcome. All around the world, countless stories tell the tale of those who suffered discrimination on account of their race, religion, tribe, sex and even sexual orientation. But despite our familiarity with the concept of discrimination, instances of outright bias against certain groups of people continue to stun the mind.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

Over the last few years, Nigerians have grown accustomed to an increase in kidnappings. Initially used by MEND militants as a tactic to terrorize foreigners working in the nations oil industry, kidnapping is increasingly used by some to make money quickly. Kidnappings have become a lucrative business with the taking of children such as Margaret Hill in 2007, foreigners that have lived in Nigeria and selflessly helped communities for decades, such as Dr. Robert Whittaker, and even defenseless senior citizens across the Eastern region. The most recent publicized kidnapping involved legendary Nollywood actor, Pete Edochie. Edochie played the role of Okonkwo in the series production of Chinua Achebe's 'Things Fall Apart'. While Edochie was released unharmed and allegedly without having to pay a ransom, what is clear is that kidnapping has gone beyond being a remote trend to become a constant part of Nigerian existence in certain parts of the country.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Recently, I had a discussion with a Nigerian who argued that Nigerians were wasting their time blaming Yar'Adua for their woes. Instead, he passionately argued, Nigerians should look closer at former President Olusegun Obasanjo who handpicked Yar'Adua to be President and whose failures as President will have long lasting ramifications on the country. After reading the recently released Chatham House report, Thirst For Oil, in which the group compared the experience of Asian companies in the oil sectors of Nigeria and Angola, I cannot help but understand why anyone would want an investigation into the 2-term Obasanjo administration.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

A recent Washington Post article explained that scam artists in Nigeria were beginning to feel the effects of the global recession. Apparently, their victims were holding on tighter to the little money in their wallets meaning it is harder to get these individuals to send out the requisite check or 2 to collect on a dead dictators stolen monies or lottery winnings that the victim never actually played in. As a consequence, scammers were resorting to indigenous charms and medicines to increase their prowess and success. They were also working harder than ever to ensure that their chosen line of illegal business paid off for them. For all the hardships the recession has brought, it might just be the opportunity to steer victims clear of online scams regardless of their origin and give Nigeria a chance to overcome its reputation as the home of online scams.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

I recently watched a video of a favorite Nigerian artist, 9ice, on Youtube, In the video, 9ice is singing along to what is apparently a song from his upcoming album. While doing so, a young child taps on the window and begs for some money. 9ice shoos away the young boy and keeps driving.

What was a video put online to get fans excited about a new album, has now become a heated discussion on the appropriate protocols necessary for dealing with beggars. This issue is pertinent given the fact that beggars are a common site in certain parts of Nigeria as they are in large cities around the world such as Washington D.C., Mumbai, London or New York.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I recently asserted that the drop in Nigeria's oil revenue could be a silver lining because it could motivate all levels of government to diversify their source of income and reinvigorate many ailing domestic industries. Some readers correctly pointed to Lagos State which has managed to generate money independent of the oil money it receives from the federal government. In fact, in 2007 Lagos State achieved a GDP of N3.68 trillion ($29.028 billion). Other readers questioned the idea that many state governors would work to not rely on the oil wealth they currently depend upon.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

In 'Soiled hands & Strategy: What Nigeria Says About Democracy,' I observed that despite the flawed Nigerian presidential elections in 2007, the world was willing to look the other way and welcome Yar'Adua with open arms. Those elections were considered by all observers, domestic and foreign, to be fraudulent. At the time, many countries and individuals made strong public statements in reaction. Nevertheless, the U.S. and many other global powers were quick to send dignitaries to attend the inauguration of Umar Yar'Adua, despite how he came to power. Then, as now, Nigeria's oil speaks volumes and the world, including the United States, is forced to listen attentively. And, Nigerian officials continue to make basic mistakes that are capable of jeopardizing the possibility of peace in the country.

Hillary Rodham Clinton and Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adu
(Sunday Alamba/AP)

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

As U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, lands in Abuja, Nigeria, the world watches keenly to see how her visit with Nigeria's leadership will be. After Obama's recent trip to neighboring Ghana and, the glaring omissions of that trip, it will be interesting to hear exactly how Ms. Clinton will go about taking "a tough line" on the needs for electoral reform, violence, an end to the corruption in government and the problems in the oil-rich Niger Delta. Nigeria remains the top African exporter of oil to the US, it is the United State's largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa, and the U.S. is home to a growing number of Nigerians in the diaspora. These realities are not lost on America's leadership and according to Assistant US Secretary of State for African Affairs, Johnnie Carson,"Nigeria is undoubtedly the most important country in sub-Saharan Africa". Questions remain as to what issues the Nigerian government will in turn raise with their powerful ally.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In late April, the offices of the Benue State government was raided. On a hot night, thieves stole N2.5 million without leaving much of a trace. Apparently, the thieves entered the office through an opening intended for an air conditioning unit. They tried the safe but after realizing it was empty, they forced open some drawers to gain access to the money.  This was the second such theft in Benue's Government House this year alone.At the time, there were police officers on guard protecting the building and, there was also an accounts officer on duty. Yet, nobody was aware of any thieves entering the Accounts Section.

Almost 4 months later, the mystery of the stolen N2.5 million is still to be solved and even worse, employees at Benue's Government House are yet to receive their salaries for the month of August. The State Commissioner for Finance and Economic Planning, Oklobia Omadachi, told journalists that he signed the salaries about two weeks ago, but could not confirm whether or not staff had received their salary. He also stated that he could not reach his superiors. And, during all this confusion, state employees are going without the pay they need to satisfy their obligations.

It seems this mysterious theft of N2.5 million reflects the way money tends to 'disappear' (legally and illegally) in Benue State. It's governor,Gabriel Suswam, speaks of transparency, accountability and good governance, but, ironically, has spent almost N1 billion in barely 2 years on foreign trips. An additional N6.8 billion has been spent by the governor on "unspecified" gifts. A former Benue State lawmaker has accused the governor of theft to the tune of N23 billion.

Notwithstanding the damning evidence, Suswam has been credited with infrastructural development in some areas of Benue State. This alone has galvanized some and it seems his camp already begun campaigning for reelection although the next elections do not take place until 2011 and in direct opposition of President Yar'Adua's call to all governors to hold off on early campaigning. It would be interesting if the governor took some time to look into this situation and ensure that staff receive the salaries due them.

If there is one thing that happens far too often in Nigeria, it is that people go for weeks, months and sometimes years, without pay. Benue State staff should obviously get paid, especially since the state's Commissioner for Finance stated in June 2009 that Benue is capable of functioning during the economic downturn. When this will happen, remains the question.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Like any other country, Nigeria takes the time to grant citizenship to foreigners that meet certain requirements. A main way for foreigners to obtain Nigerian citizenship is via 'naturalization', which requires the following - an individual must be at least 17 years that resided in Nigeria for at least 15 years, is of good character, plans to remain in Nigeria, is familiar with Nigerian language and customs, has a viable means of support, and has renounced previous citizenship. Another way is through 'registration' and this mostly applies to women (not men) married to a Nigerian citizenship. Of course, individuals with at least one Nigerian citizen for a parent can also become Nigerian citizens themselves.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Boko Haram is the militant Islamist sect responsible for the death of at least 800 individuals in northern Nigeria during a series of attacks in late July. It's attack began in Bauchi State and soon spread violence across other predominantly Muslim states, forcing 4000 to flee their homes, according to officials. In addition to the deaths, businesses, homes and churches were burnt in the process. Its leader, Mohammed Yusuf, was apparently killed in custody by officials, despite initial assertions to the contrary, and in the aftermath of the violence which spanned several states, there remain many unanswered questions.

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

Ask some Nigerians what it is about their country that they would change and many would say, "Everything." Others argue that corruption is the key problem that underlies every other issue faced by the country. In response to this belief that tackling corruption would help solve other issues, various tactics have been employed by the Nigerian government, expending money, time and the goodwill of citizens and foreigners alike. But, what if the emphasis on corruption has been misplaced? What if there is a different 'problem' whose solution could ease the quest for development and advancement across the Nigerian spectrum?

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Lagos State is Nigeria's financial center. Over the last few years, its residents have worked in conjunction with their governor to improve many things about the State. Many roads are also being improved and areas like Oshodi, which were previously congested and unmanageable are now unrecognizable. Street lights that previously failed to work are functional, trees have been planted for beautification and CCTV security cameras are up and running to increase security with more cameras on the way.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Nothing brings home the impact of MEND militancy that the reality that Nigeria's oil revenue was cut in half within the first quarter of 2009. MEND stepped up its attacks on oil installations this year and has steadily interrupted oil production. Government officials believe that the nation losses an average of 1 million barrels per day to militant activity. As a result, Nigeria has once again lost its position as Africa's King of Crude to Angola.

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Monday, July 27, 2009

At least 39 people were killed on August 26th in Bauchi State as a result of clashes between armed men and police officers. According to the BBC website, "clashes erupted when 60 Islamist militants armed with guns and explosives attacked a police station." All roads leading to the area have been closed, an indefinite curfew has been placed on the state by its governor and the mortuary where victim's bodies are being kept is now guarded by the military.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The footage below shows how many Nigerians have found an alternative solution to the nation's epileptic electricity situation. I wonder how this product can be taken a step further - expanded to produce more light, for a longer period of time.

Remember the gentleman who created his own helicopter from car parts and other items? Read up on his ingenuity in Nigerian Ingenuity.

Related Articles From the Archives:
- The Mission To Light Up Nigeria
- 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

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Despite the overtures of amnesty granted by the Nigerian government, the oil war that was sparked earlier this years has taken on a whole new dimension.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) blew up the Atlas Cove Jetty, a loading dock for oil tankers, in Lagos State on Sunday, July 12th. The attack lasted over 3 hours and has effectively crippled the capacity of the facility to receive petroleum products. It happened just as MEND leader, Henry Okay, was granted amnesty and released by the Federal Government.

Destroyed Receptor pipeline for refined petroleum products at the Atlas Cove Jetty which is responsible for 35% of the nations daily consumption of petroleum products. 
Actual images of the destruction; Source: Vanguard Newspaper (NG) Online

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Barack Obama was well received in his first visit as president of the United States to sub-Saharan Africa. In less than 24 hours, he met with Ghanaian dignitaries and traveled to a Cape Coast Castle, the location from which thousands or maybe millions of slaves were forcibly transported to the Americas. Overall, his speech in Accra, Ghana was poignant and congratulatory of Ghana's democratic successes, using it as an example of the possibilities for other African governments. Obama's speech was very good and reinforced much of the beliefs many Africans have of what is necessary to create a better continent for Africa's people. But, despite the positive message to Africa, Obama omitted much of the reality of America's historical relationship with the African continent.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Please read the full text of President Barack Obama’s speech Saturday in Accra, Ghana. Also, read my thoughts on the speech in The Glaring Omission.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Part 1:

Part 2:

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Thanks to Dr. U.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Although Nigeria's Senators blatantly violated their Constitutional obligation to 'sit' for at least 181 days last year, they are working overtime to ensure that their presence is felt in 2009. On July 1st, the Senate cut N6.2 billion in budgetary allocations for education and healthcare spending in the capital city of Abuja also known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). That money was instead funneled to finance the N25 billion Abuja Road project. N250 million was also slashed from a N350 allocation  in the FCT budget to buy "horses and stables" of the FCT for the road construction project. While it is understandable that Nigeria faces a budgetary deficit, and has been racking up more international debt, some of the Senate's budgetary changes are questionable.

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Friday, July 3, 2009

The Nigerian president's political party, the People's Democractic Party (PDP), has publicly accused the Obama administration of seeking to destabilize Yar'Adua's rule. According to the PDP, the US Embassy plans to meet with pro-democracy groups and that those groups will seek to convince Obama that Yar'Adua's presidency is "illegitimate". The party warned the United States not to,
"promote the evil plans of these unpatriotic politicians against a democratically elected government as such would raise questions about its respect for the sovereignty of other countries and the international doctrine of non-interference in the internal affairs of other sovereign nations."

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Reuben Abati recently criticized younger Nigerians for their shortening of the nation's name from Nigeria, to Naija or Nija, calling it an illustration of a national identity crisis amongst younger generations. While one can understand the discomfort certain more mature segments of Nigerian society might have with regard to this reality, the fact that younger Nigerians are changing Nigeria, its norms and indeed the very name of the nation is not necessarily something to demonize. The time should be taken to understand this change, as it might not be as negative as some believe. Hence, people like Abati should reconsider their views and realize that this transformation in the name younger Nigerians use to refer to their country is actually a good thing that can be beneficial over the long run. The generational divide does not have to be wide.

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Despite the issues I have with this administration, I try to acknowledge when something good comes out of Nigeria's government.
At a recent conference, Nigeria's Foreign Minister, Ojo Maduekwe, made the following statement,
"please don't criminalize Nigerians even if they left Nigeria without adequate papers. They are working hard in your economy, they are adding value to your economy, regularize their papers,"
"If a Nigerian is working hard in London, Sweden, United States or any other country but doesn't have papers, give him his papers after all that is a typical case of using diplomacy. Most Nigerians are honest and hard working people. I think I am sick and tired of this criminalization of my countrymen because this is one of the most beautiful countries in the world,"
I am happy to hear someone, anyone, say something good about Nigerians. Some Nigerian officials have no problem disrespecting Nigerians by not only ignoring the people's needs but speaking of them disparagingly like IBB did in 2007. So when a Nigerian official speaks up for the people, he deserves a little spotlight.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Speaking Frankly
- Keeping It Real
- Why I Blog About Africa
- I think Nigeria Needs A Revolution
- The Nigerian Psyche
- Persistent Psychological Paralysis
- The Significance of Persistent Psychological Paralysis

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Friday, June 26, 2009

Ayodeji Omotade, the Nigerian man whose protest of the inhumane treatment of a fellow passenger, led to Brutish Airways throwing over 130 Nigerians off a flight, has now been vindicated. Sued by Brutish Airways in 2008, a court recently cleared him of all charges.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

In April 2009, Nigeria's government announced the creation of a panel charged with investigating the Halliburton corruption scandal and identifying those Nigerians who received some of the $180 million the company paid to Nigerian officials in bribes. Given Nigeria's serious 'punishment problem', many wondered whether the panel, given a 8 week limit, would accomplish its goal. The time limit is technically up and not only is there little word on the panel's report, but media reports indicate that the Yar'Adua administration is pointing the blame for possible failure at the United States.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

For those who were unable to catch the showing of "Dollars and Danger: Africa, the Final Investment Frontier" on CNBC, please feel free to watch the entire program, with limited advertising below.

Also, check out my reviews of the program and ensuing discussion -
- Part 1
- Part 2

Related Articles
- A Nigerian Reviews "Dollars & Danger"
- A Nigerian Reviews "Dollars & Danger" Part 2
- Nigerian Ingenuity
- Nigeria's Re-branding Effort
- Using Nigerians to Re-Brand Nigeria
- Re-Branding Nigeria: Success Is The Key
- Rebranding Nigeria: With Britain's Help?

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

A reader came to my other blog, 'It Was So Much Easier When I Only Had One...' and commented that Asa had a new song on the airwaves. As Asa is one of Nigeria's most respected contemporary artists, I had to go find the track.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

As discussed in Part 1, Erin Burnett's program "Dollars and Danger: Africa, the Final Investment Frontier"managed to present a balanced portrayal of the business challenges and opportunities in Nigeria and indeed the entire continent. While my last post focused on the program's discussion of Nigeria, this post will concentrate on other larger issues related to investment in Africa.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

When I first learned that CNBC's Erin Burnett visited Nigeria and would present a documentary on the country, I got worried. Far too often, Nigerians are simplified to fit certain basic stereotypes - corrupt, dirty, poor, corrupt, and the list of negative connotations could go on. Inspite of my concerns, "Dollars and Danger: Africa, the Final Investment Frontier" did not present a negative or overly-simplistic picture of Nigeria, Nigerians and the African continent.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Whenever there is a discussion of cyber crimes, the word "Nigeria" will soon be raised. This is the unfortunate reality for the country which has a reputation as the home of many online scammers and other criminals. Yet, Nigeria has been in partnership with Microsoft to combat cyber crime for at least 4 years. Unfortunately, it is not clear whether this partnership has produces significant benefits for the country and its damaging reputation.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Even before becoming President, Obama's favorability was high in Africa. Kenyan's lauded him as one of their own, Tanzanians wore his face emblazoned on traditional clothes and fabrics and 66% of Nigerians wanted him to win the Presidential election. Such popularity was the norm across the continent. And when it was revealed that he would be visiting the continent, some thought it was an acknowledgment of the continent's importance, others, like many Nigerians, felt snubbed by his decision to not visit that nation, and others yet, were happy that he would specifically visit their countries. But despite the support Obama receives and the excitement he generates, Obama's first official trip to the African continent is a missed opportunity to endorse the very democratic change he championed on the African continent. On a continent where many countries are struggling to create systems of democratic representation that work for them, this missed opportunity could have dire consequences.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

A 2008 report by the Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is a partnership between the FBI and America's National White Collar Crime Center, revealed the top 10 countries of cyber crime perpetrators. They are

  1. United States of America (66%)
  2. United Kingdom (10%)
  3. Nigeria (7%)
  4. Canada (3%)
  5. China (1%)
  6. South Africa (1%)
  7. Ghana (1%)
  8. Spain (1%)
  9. Italy (.5%)
  10. Romania (.5%)

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Monday, June 1, 2009

The 2nd Anniversary of the Nigerian Proclamation was on Friday May 29th. That day was also a holiday in Nigeria set aside to celebrate the transition to democracy and on that day in 2007, current President Yar'Adua was inaugurated. In 2007, bloggers reacted to the unsatisfactory elections by sharing the Nigerian Proclamation online. Considering that the general and Presidential elections of 2007 were rife with violence and irregularities, there is definitely room for improvement on the quest to a free and fair democratic system. It is also hard to ignore that the most recent elections in Ekiti State reflected a harsh reality - that fair and peaceful democratic elections are still the exception to the norm.

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

For some reason, the Financial Times recently attributed Nigeria's fuel shortage to "[a] showdown between President Umaru Yar’Adua and powerful Nigerian oligarchs over his moves to break their grip on the lucrative fuel importation business..." This is positive P.R. for Yar'Adua who is generally considered an inept President that has yet to produce on any of his promises. While I cannot speculate as to why this was the explanation given by such a widely read international publication, I, for one, was immediately curious and began to think critically about the current fuel shortage and resulting violence in the Niger Delta.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Minister of Information, Dora Akunyili, met with Bob Dewar, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria on Monday, May 18th, 2009. During this meeting, in Abuja, Nigeria, Dewar stated his country's support of the re-branding project and Akunyili responded,

"We count on you to help us in this journey of rebranding Nigeria and we pray that by the grace of God it will succeed.
"I am happy that you are in support of this rebranding project. I look forward to getting some help from you on this work of letting the world know that Nigeria is not where nothing works..."

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Nigeria just made the list as one of 13 countries considered to be "egregious" violators of religious freedom. The list was created by the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and the Commission recommended designating Nigeria and the other nations - "countries of particular concern" or CPC. The Commission made various recommendations to the Obama administration, Congress and others in the U.S. government and declared that

"CPC designation is not an end point, but the beginning of focused diplomatic activity ... from which important obligations in the form of consequent actions flow."

The countries on the list were -
  1. Myanmar
  2. North Korea
  3. Eritrea
  4. Iran
  5. Iraq
  6. Nigeria
  7. Pakistan
  8. China
  9. Saudi Arabia
  10. Sudan
  11. Turkmenistan
  12. Uzbekistan
  13. Vietnam
While I cannot immediately determine the parameters used to designate Nigeria a religiously intolerant country, I can definitely say that Nigeria has a way to go in creating sustainable peace between Christians and Muslims in certain parts of the country. It was only in November of 2008, when political discontent morphed into religious violence in Jos and resulted in the death of many hundreds of people. In fact, it is commonly accepted that most religious violence in Nigeria is impacted by political and economic realities which when stoked can result in life or death consequences. Both the Sultan of Sokoto, a respected political and religious leader in the Muslim North and Catholic Archbishop Onaiyekan, have publicly admitted that much of Nigeria's religious violence is manipulated by politicians. Nevertheless, Nigerian Christians and Muslims live, school and work together in relative peace in countless parts of the country.

One cannot avoid the fact that the mere option of marrying a person of a different religion is not available for many Nigerians. This issue has divided many a family and caused considerable tension for many individuals.

Despite all this, I believe the ultimate goal should be the eventual creation of a more tolerant society, regardless of the issues. Mutual respect for others, even when there are disagreements, will help foster peace and limit the repeat of the violence experienced by the people of Jos in 2008.

Related Articles of Interest:
- Religious & Political Violence in Jos

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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

In April this year, a committee was created to investigate the Halliburton scandal and the $180 million spent by the company in bribes to gain lucrative contracts in Nigeria. The Committee had 6 weeks to determine the Nigerians involved in the crime and bring them to justice. Last week, the Nigerian federal government arrested some individuals linked to the crime.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Since coming to power, Nigerian President Yar'Adua has consistently committed his administration to solving the epileptic state of the nation's power supply. Yar'Adua named 2011 as the year when Nigerians will have reliable power supply. Over the last 2 years, there have been reports on plans to use solar energy and build a $10 million solar energy plant. There have been announcements by the government that it will harness the vast reserves of liquid natural gas (LNG) to remedy the power shortages. But, it seems the government believes that one of the most effective ways to generate sufficient power is through coal and the rhetoric on coal as a power solution continues to increase.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Domestic and international observers declared Nigeria's 2007 Presidential elections "flawed" and the results of many local and state elections have been overturned by the Courts. Unfortunately, Nigerians are increasingly accepting the notion that elections will be rigged to suit the needs of particular political interests. And, the current election confusion in the state of Ekiti, shocks the senses and calls into question whether fair and violence free democratic elections are truly possible in Nigeria.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Somali pirates are demanding $1 million (US) to release 10 Nigerians recently reported to be in their custody. The Nigerians were kidnapped over 18 months ago when their vessel, the MV Yenagoa Ocean, was seized.
In response to these ransom demands, members of Nigeria's Senate summoned the National Security Adviser and the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Interior. This move is in addition to the fact that President Yar'Adua recently set up a committee to retrieve the vessel, and hopefully its crew.

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