Wednesday, December 29, 2010

There is no doubt that religion is an integral part of Nigerian society. Children are given Biblical or religion-related names such as Abraham or Olufunmilayo, which means God gave me joy in Yoruba. Nigerians also spend a lot of time in church, with services lasting 3 or more hours. Nigeria also churches and mosques on almost every corner, with some churches having the most amazing names like Guided Missiles Church or Fists of Fury. Additionally, religious leaders are extremely influential, commanding congregations in the thousands.

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Monday, December 27, 2010

Below is a documentary looking at Nigeria's history and particularly its' colonial history. It is very informative and although the footage belongs to the Federal Government of Nigeria, the video was shared by

Part 1 of 4

Part 2 of 4

Part 3 of 4

Part 4 of 4

What did you think about the program?

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The local Nigerian press has been awash with election talk for months. Now that an election schedule has been released, the country is waiting, expectantly, for the polls to occur. Questions remain as to who the final contenders will be and whether or not the nation’s electoral commission, INEC, can conduct elections within the time frame it has. An even more important topic of discussion is election-related violence. With the discovery of a cache of weapons, explosions in Abuja and other incidents,  there is a focus on Nigeria’s unfortunate dally with violence during electoral season.

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Monday, December 20, 2010

In the past, I have praised Cote D'Ivoire, also known as the Ivory Coast, and recommended that Nigeria's politicians look to that country for some inspiration. Specifically, policy makers in the Ivory Coast slashed their salaries in response to complaints from citizens in 2008. Today, however, I can only pray that Nigeria's politicians do not pick up any of the horrible 'habits' displayed by Ivorian politicians in recent days.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I recently took a look at the most played songs on my mp3 player. Not surprising was the fact that the majority of my top songs were Nigerian. After all, I am a huge fan of Nigerian music. What did come as a surprise however, was the fact that of these songs, the overwhelming majority were songs about 'enemies'. From tunes about "bad bele" or jealous people to pure tracks on "haters", it seemed like the songs I enjoyed the most put the spotlight on envious people in one manner or the other.

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Monday, December 13, 2010

This is a guest post.

A quick visit to President Goodluck Jonathan’s Facebook page might lead one to conclude that he is the Messiah that Nigerians have been yearning for. With 340,000 Facebook fans and counting, he is one of the most popular politicians in cyberspace it would appear, and Nigerians have bought into the notion that their President is both accessible and cares about the issues that affect them, as evidenced by the plethora of comments on Facebook and other online forums. However, a scratch on the surface will reveal that all that glitters is not gold.

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Thursday, December 9, 2010

Synopsis: Ann Pickard informs US officials that it has 'agents' in all major parts of the Nigerian government. One can only now wonder if Diezani Alison Madueke is one of those planted by Shell to keep an eye on the government's activities. She is a previous Shell employee. Granted, once she became Minister of Petroleum, there were rumblings from the oil industry against her selection, but much of that noise could have been a simple diversionary tactic. read on to learn more. This has become one of the most scandalous NaijaLeaks yet.

Also, read my initial thoughts on the NaijaLeaks here. Read Cable 1Cable 2 and Cable 3 as well.

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Synopsis: Ann Pickard, Shell's V.P. for Africa, discusses Gazprom (Russia), weapons, militants. She expresses concerns that Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State to did not co-opt (pay off) militants the way the governors of Bayelsa and Delta did. Pickard was unconfortable talking to US officials because she felt their system was "leaky". Looks like she was right.

Source: UK Guardian

Also, read my initial thoughts on the NaijaLeaks here. Read Cable 1 and Cable 2 as well.

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Synopsis: Discussions on uncertainty during Yar'Adua's sickness and absence in early 2010. Then acting president Goodluck Jonathan repeated his proclamation that he was interested in creating environment for credible elections. Terrorism matters are raised regarding Christmas bomber and "Talfa". INEC was also an issue. Goodluck confessed,
 “I was not chosen to be Vice President because I had good political experience,”  
“I did not. There were a lot more qualified people around to be Vice President, but that does not mean I am not my own man.” 
Also pay attention to the Comments Section of the document. Interesting analysis and conclusion.

Cable discussing Yar'Adua's corruption is available here. My initial thoughts on NaijaLeaks is available here. More detailed analysis will be forthcoming.

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Synopsis: Discusses allegations of corruption by either late President Yar'Adua, his wife, Turai, and others supposedly friendly with them. Mentions smuggling racket by a certain individual known as Dahiru Mangal or Yar'Adua's 'Mr. Fix It'. Please read on for details. My initial thoughts are available and more detailed analysis on matters raised in these leaks will be forthcoming.

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Over the last few days, I have been wondering what would happen if the Wikileaks cables released information specific to Nigeria. This line of thinking was generated by friend, Beauty, who made the following comment to the Corruption Inc: Nigeria vs. Dick Cheney post of December 3rd, 2010:

"...We are masters of illusion and until we get WikiLeaks style revelations, Nigeria will remain irrelevant. "
Nigeria is the sort of country where information is a closely guarded commodity. And when those not included in the 'circle' gain access to it, they must be careful how they share it, as that could be dangerous. Nigeria does not even have a Freedom of Information Act. The bill has instead bounced around between various branches of the government and is currently stalled in the National Assembly.

WikiLeaks logo

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

I recently discovered that the Nigeria Police Force released a list of states with the highest rates of armed robbery in the country. As I was born and raised in Lagos, I quickly sought out the state of my birth. It was on the list. So was the state from which my mother's family is from - Rivers state. Luckily for me, my father's state, Ondo State, was nowhere on the list but a majority of the states in the ranking were southern states. Taking a closer look at the list gave me quite a bit to think about regarding criminality in Nigeria and certain related issues.

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Monday, December 6, 2010

Nigeria seeks to make nuclear power a main part of it's energy portfolio and has spent years in meetings with Iranian leaders and companies in an effort to partner on that goal. However, any friendship between both countries is now on ice as Nigeria reported Iran to the UN's Security Council for breach of UN sanctions. The discord stems from the discovery of weapons at a Nigerian port that originated from Iran as confirmed by the shipper, CMA CGM. One can only begin to speculate as to why these weapons ended up in the country.


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Friday, December 3, 2010

There was a period of time when many believed that Nigeria was indeed on an anti-corruption crusade. Popular and well known figures soon faced fraud charges. Individuals like Diepreye Alamieyeseigha and James Ibori were exposed for looting state government coffers. But the hope that Nigeria would tackle it's corruption challenge soon began to fade as scandal after scandal hit the press with little evidence of success. As of today those who stole government money and used their positions inappropriately, drive the streets in their imported luxury vehicles. And instead of dealing with that reality, Nigeria's main anti-corruption body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced plans to charge Dick Cheney with corruption.

Dick Cheney graphic by göttlich - Pentagon Questions Halliburton On $1.8 Billion of Work in Iraq NEIL KING JR. / Wall Street Journal 11aug04

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Monday, November 29, 2010

When the World Bank last classified countries along income lines in 2007, Nigeria was listed as a low income country. However, the latest classifications have now come out in the Migration And Remittances Factbook 2011, and Nigeria is now considered a middle income country.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nigeria's Electoral Act became law on August 20th, 2010. Despite that months passed with no information on when the 2011 elections would take place. After much uncertainty however, Nigeria's Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) finally revealed the dates for the country's upcoming elections.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

There is no doubt that corruption is one of Nigeria's most challenging issues. This is because, corrupt practices are intricately woven into every one of Nigeria's problems. Kidnappings for instance, would not be as much of a scourge if many in the police force , who are charged with protecting citizens, did not take bribes to either protect kidnappers and/or did not demand bribes to help citizens retrieve their loved ones. Similarly, the electricity sector would not be in such demise if politicians and officials did not steal money meant to buttress power as revealed by the power probes of 2008. These examples of how corruption contributes to national malaise come a dime a dozen. Consequently, it is no surprise that many Nigerians now experience corruption fatigue - whereby people still worry about corruption, but are simply exhausted by the sheer magnitude and impact of corruption on their daily existence. That exhaustion, in turn, disables the ability to be shocked and awed by recurring corruption scandals. 

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It took everything in me to contain my disgust and disappointment at reading that Dora Akunyili's latest opponent is the term 'Naija'. Akunyili is Nigeria's Minister of Information and the nation's rebranding czar. She was once widely known as a champion of he people for standing up to importers and sellers of fake drugs and other items. Unfortunately, she is now also known for sometimes making inappropriate outbursts such as those made during the underwear bomber scandal that almost jeopardized already tense Nigeria-US relations. And now, Akunyili has set her sights on 'Naija' in what can only be further evidence of failed Nigerian leadership.

N. Naija until i die.jpg

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Friday, November 12, 2010

In 2009, Nigeria received $10 billion in remittances from citizens living in the diaspora. One year later, the country is in the top 10 of remittance-recipient countries, having again received at least $10bn from the diaspora.


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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nigeria's constitution was amended earlier this year. The amendment process required the participation of all 36 state legislative bodies and governors. Additionally, the 360-member House of Representatives & the 150-member Senate equally wrestled with the contents of the modified document. And in July 2010, an amended Constitution was created. Unfortunately, the final document was not presented to the President for his signature and as a result the validity of the amended constitution became questionable. As such, the former head of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Olisa Agbakoba, sued to force the National Assembly to present the amended constitution to the President in August 2010. The NBA also filed its own suit on similar grounds. On November 8, 2010, a Federal High Court in Lagos declared that the amended Constitution is invalid without the President's signature.

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Monday, November 8, 2010

After months of relative calm in the creeks of the Niger Delta, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) opted to recommence its offensive with a bang. As such, on October 1st, 2010, MEND set off two car bombs during Nigeria's 50th independence celebrations. Since then, the militant group has attacked various pipelines and continued on a violent quest to interrupt oil production, Nigeria's main source of income. But, recent events by certain oil majors begs the question of whether MEND is beginning to have it's intended effect of making Nigeria an unpalatable location for foreign companies seeking to make money from the country's sweet crude.

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Monday, November 1, 2010

What is a country to do when an important water source is to be dammed upstream? 

The River Niger is to Nigeria what the River Nile is to Egypt. It feeds various estuaries and waterways that in turn nourish the lands that feed Nigeria. In fact, the country gets its very name from the river. In addition, the river also fuels a dam that is an essential part of Nigeria's electricity network. As the country is experiencing power problems and aims to improve the power sector, plans by neighboring countries to manipulate the flow of the Niger can negatively impact Nigeria's future electricity aspirations. And, the Nigerian government has announced it's intention to stop these developments.


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Friday, October 29, 2010

When many institutions release a ranking of countries, Nigeria tends to do poorly. There was the Free Press rankings from Reporters Sans Frontiers in 2009 and the Economist's Global Liveability report from March 2010 to name a few. Both of these rankings saw Nigeria listed negatively. And so, when I saw that Nigeria ranked 34 on a list of the most giving countries in the world, I was overjoyed to see a list that reflected positively on the country. The 2010 World Giving Index also made me wonder just how accurately the act of giving can be calculated especially in societies where giving is not characterized solely by writing a check or volunteering one's time. The poll raised questions about the nature of giving in African culture and whether such can ever be neatly packaged for an annual ranking.

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Monday, October 25, 2010

A lot of the perceptions some Nigerians have of their fellow citizens stem from stereotypes and archaic beliefs. These ideas should be long gone, but as is the case across the globe, stereotypical attitudes persist even in the face of contrary evidence.

'Perceptions' is a short documentary that interviews 3 Nigerians - a Hausa man, an Igbo woman and a Yoruba man. In the 10 minute program, these individuals share some of their thoughts about Nigeria's major ethnic groups. They explain why they dislike and like people from other tribes.

As the program is only 10 minutes long, it is very possible that there is additional footage which would give a fuller picture to the discussion these individuals engaged in. That being the case, it must be said that these individuals are free to have and express their opinions and any criticism of those opinions should not rest on the shoulders of the participating individuals alone.

I for one think that the views expressed are reflective of attitudes held by many Nigerians. There is indeed distrust between Nigerians and it oftentimes is expressed within a tribal context. As such, many are not surprised to learn of southerners being attacked in the northern part of the country or northerners being accused of creating Nigeria's underdevelopment. The distrust goes deep and spans decades to pre-independence times. Only a concerted effort will allay those fears and stereotypes. And such an effort is needed because tribalism is a divisive element in the fabric of Nigeria and it contributes to violence and disunity.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Nigeria's ruling party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), decided to adopt zoning as a policy. As such, the party agreed that Presidential power would rotate between the north and the south of the country. With former President Yar'Adua's death, the PDP was rocked by tension with northern members insisting that the zoning agreement be observed and many southern members advocating that then-Vice president and now-President, Goodluck Jonathan be allowed to run for the presidency even though he is a southerner. Although many, including the United States government, insisted that this zoning matter was a PDP and not a national matter, the reality is that zoning has permeated the fabric of Nigerian society. It is encouraging a divisiveness along tribal lines that serves to weaken and not strengthen the Nigerian union.

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Monday, October 18, 2010

This is a guest post.

The advent of democracy is often heralded as a progressive development in most countries, especially developing countries like Nigeria. In our case however, there appears to be an uncomfortable correlation between “democracy” and an increasing divorce from reason and logic on a national scale. As a matter of fact, one might call the Nigerian situation “democrazy”.

As a young person who left Nigerian shores over a decade ago, and still vividly remembers the sawdust stoves of the Abacha era and the SAP graffiti of the Babangida era, I have to wonder at how we have since ended up with a system of government largely populated by thugs and criminals, and characterized by all manner of perfidy. Nigeria is the country that completely confounds reason. Anything can happen in Nigeria which usually makes nonsense of any sort of planning or analysis. In spite of this however, I have concluded that it is shame, or the absence thereof, that has led us to this ignoble end, 50 years after independence. It is worth examining the impact of this widespread Shamelessness on us as a people.

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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

It seems that Nigeria, and Lagos in particular, is very popular with the BBC this year. From 'Welcome To Lagos' Part 1 2 and 3, to the 'New Kings of Nigeria', Lagos has been a focus of the news outlet.

And once again, another documentary on Lagos has hit the BBC airwaves. Aptly described as a "mockumentary", Theroux spends some time talking to Area boys, kingpins and others.

Take a look.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

In the days after the October 1st bomb blasts in Abuja, there has been a measure of confusion. The blasts, which resulted in the deaths of at least 10 people, have been blamed on all manner of people. Then, MEND admitted to foreign media outlets that it carried out the horrible bombings, a claim that was dismissed by President Jonathan who insisted that MEND was not the perpetrator but rather a "foreign-based" group was to blame. This debate between the President and MEND continues to play out in the media in an undignified manner that makes all players look like losers. But, even more significant is that for all the information that has been released, the tale of the Golden Jubilee bombings is far from clear.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

It is common knowledge that Nigerian politicians waste little time providing detailed explanations on their ideas for the country's future. Other than vague semi-promises and conjecture, politicians and political aspirants offer no specific promises. Instead, they convince voters to vote by throwing around large sums of cash and food,  then insist that it will always be like that when they gain office. While it may appear that there is no measure to counter this votes for money approach, there in fact is a way to discourage future politicians from using it. The key is to render the tactic impotent by creating a counter approach that thus far, has not been used in Nigeria.

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Monday, October 4, 2010

Independence celebrations are meant to be joyful occasions. And for a country like Nigeria that faces significant challenges, even the most cynical can opt to find something to be joyful for on independence day. Unfortunately, on October 1st, 2010, a day signifying 50 years of independence from Great Britain, Nigerians had much to be sorrowful for. A series of bomb blasts ripped through sections of the capital, Abuja, leaving the dead, injured and shaken in it's wake. Hours after the incident, it became clear that the media and even individuals were forewarned of the impending explosions. Yet, the Nigerian government argues that it was caught unaware. The inconsistency of that position, in light of further evidence, reiterates the failure of leadership that continues to destroy Nigeria. A failure of leadership that, once again, resulted in death.

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Friday, October 1, 2010

Proper post on my thoughts to follow. However, my condolences go out to the injured and the dead. Asokoro General Hospital is seeking blood donations according Nze Sylva.

What I can say at this time, is that I struggled to find the positives about this day, Nigeria's 50th independence anniversary. Thankfully, I was able to look at individuals, and not the state and it's representatives (government), as a basis to have hope for the future. My opinion on that is yet to change. But, in the aftermath of the bomb blasts, my disatisfaction with the government continues to mount. And from what I see of public discussions, most, if not all goodwill MEND might have had has evaporated.

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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Now that I think about it, Nigeria's independence day in 1960 must have been akin to some contemporary celebrity weddings. The lead up to the event is exciting. The ceremony is lavish and beautiful. The bride and groom pose for lovely pictures. And amidst all that, observers are convinced that the union will in fact fail.

I say this because when Nigeria became a self-governing nation state on October 1st, 1960, even Great Britain, the former colonial ruler, didn't think 'Nigeria' would make it.

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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Nigeria, like any other country, is known for many things. It is known for it's talented crop of writers, performers and even scientists like John Dabiri. Unfortunately, it is also known for poverty in the midst of oil wealth. But even worse than that sad reality is that Nigeria is increasingly becoming a kidnapping capital. Nowhere else is this madness exemplified than in the reports of 15 young children that were kidnapped on September 27th, 2010.

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Monday, September 27, 2010

Below are Dele Momodu's campaign videos.  He is a publisher of a gossip/society magazine, Ovation, and according to his website and other social media sources, he wants to become Nigeria's next president. I know very little about Momodu, but, there is growing controversy over the name change of a certain Facebook fan page. Originally called "Save Nigeria", the page was assumed to be related to Save Nigeria Group (SNG) which organized a youth-led march to the National Assembly on March 16th, 2010 in Abuja. SNG is tied to Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka, and progressive youth groups such as Enough Is Enough (EIE). For those who mistook Save Nigeria for SNG, many were quickly outraged when an email was sent to members informing them that the fan page was to become 'Dele Momodu For Nigeria'. One commenter called it an "abracadabra" and "win members by subterfuge" tactic.

Nevertheless, these are the videos tied to the Dele Momodu campaign.

And this has got to be my favorite. It takes me back to the late 1980s when as a child I would dance 'fuji cabbage' (a dance move) to fuji music at birthday parties and events attended with my mother. Please pay close attention to the 0.47 mark where Momodu lays on a bed with his stylish man-purse and multiple cell phones.

While the videos give me little idea as to what sort of president he would be, his Louis Vuitton man-purse suggests that he will definitely be a stylish one. Hopefully, more professional material will be introduced in the weeks to come. But most importantly, more details about his ideas, and not just his apparently vibrant personality, will be the focus of his campaign. It should take much more to become President, even in Nigeria.

From the Archives:
- Goodluck Jonathan's Campaign Videos

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Friday, September 24, 2010

Below is a video of current president Jonathan answering questions from journalists at the United Nations. There are hard hitting questions. He advocates for "peace enforcement" and not peace keeping in Somalia. This is in line with his push for better treatment of African Union soldiers in Somalia who the Nigerian government argues should be paid as well as UN peace keepers. He goes on to discuss current Darfur matters and the achievement of the millennium development goals (MDGs)

Watch and please, share your thoughts.

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The drama of Nigeria's football team at the recently concluded FIFA World Cup is one for the history books. Well, maybe a Nollywood film at least. The Nigerian team, for all it's chances managed to repeatedly come up short and the disappointment drove Nigeria's President, Goodluck Jonathan to announce a ban on all football teams. That ban soon led to a showdown between Jonathan and FIFA in a testy match where FIFA flexed its muscles and the Nigerian President soon reversed himself. 

Lead Image

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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

There was a time when Nigerian politicians would release entire music albums for campaign purposes. Although I am unaware whether modern day parties continue with that practice, a praise/campaign song was played in the background during former dictator Ibrahim Babangida's campaign rally held on September 14th in Abuja.

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Monday, September 20, 2010

Per a constitutional schedule, Nigeria's next polling season will take place in 2011. Due to recently made changes in the country’s Electoral Act, elections are scheduled to commence in January 2011. Despite this knowledge, there remains uncertainty. The electoral body, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) revealed that the Commission is behind schedule, and that the time schedule is the Commission's greatest challenge. And now, the Commission has announced that elections need to be postponed. Specifically, INEC will seek
"all legal avenues for the extension of time to enable the commission to deliver on the aspirations of Nigerians for a credible voters register and free, fair and credible elections. Should this happen, May 29, 2011 inauguration date must remain sacrosanct."
These and other realities indicate that Nigeria is not be ready to conduct free and fair elections. 

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

On Wednesday, September 8, 2010, Nigeria's president, Goodluck Jonathan, informed a group of governors that he would run for president in the upcoming January elections. This information came months after much speculation about a campaign. There was even agitation amongst members of the northern elite who argued that the next president must come from the northern half of Nigeria. In more banal news, a group of women promised  "sex starvation" if Jonathan failed to announce his candidacy. Despite all the pre-announcement dramatics, there was never any doubt that Jonathan would run. The lack of surprise is due to many factors including the fact that his campaign website was unveiled before this announcement and that one of his campaign logos features prominently on the federal government's website. In light of his announcement, what remains is the reality that Jonathan missed an opportunity to set an example of Nigerian leadership that could have changed the path of Nigerian democracy and possibly influenced democracy on the continent.

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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Salisu Suleiman's recent blog post titled, "The Psychology of the Northern Elite" got me thinking about a lot of things. Suleiman pointed out that the northern elite has repeatedly failed to meet the challenges of the region be it in education, health care, infrastructure or business. He went on to argue that the current zoning debate, where the northern elite is staunchly against a southern president for Nigeria in 2011, is merely a self-serving issue because,
"regardless of who is in power, majority of Northerners (regardless of ethnicity or religion) have nothing to show. The psychology of our leaders is to systematically narrow the economic and political space to the exclusion of the majority."
Suleiman's observation of the "psychology of [Northern] leaders" raises many questions about Nigerian leadership and the challenges that citizens face in an age where leadership has little to do with the people. What does this say about Nigeria's future?

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Friday, September 3, 2010

This article is a follow up to 'Saudi Arabia Bans Repeat Nigerians From Hajj'

With less than three months until the 2010 Hajj, it was revealed that Saudi Arabian officials implemented a Nigeria-specific ban. Although the ban was possibly enacted in 2009, knowledge of the ban came to light only in the last week of august 2010. According to the new rule, Nigerian Muslims can only participate in the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca once in 5 years. Since that announcement, the reaction of the Nigerian government has been questionable. And in fact, the Jonathan administration's response puts in jeopardy future administrations and their ability to be taken seriously in the international arena.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Religious pilgrimages are a major event in Nigeria. As such the country sends thousands of Christians to Israel and even more Muslims to Saudi Arabia. However, Saudi Arabia announced that it will no longer issue visas to any Nigerian that participated in the Hajj within the last 5 years. According to news reports, this ban is Nigeria-specific. In response, heads of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) have set off to Saudi Arabia to plead on the behalf of the country's Muslims.

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Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Nigeria's President Jonathan finally signed the amended Electoral Act into law on Friday, August 20th in the presence of several political figures and local dignitaries. During the signing ceremony, he said, 

"the process leading to the passage of the bill was a test of the nation's emerging democratic maturity. It is proof that this system can muster the capacity to correct itself while the nation moves on to a higher level of political development."
That description could be correct, but it ignores the numerous delays on the part of the Senate, the House of Representatives and even, President Jonathan, in formalizing the Electoral Act. Nevertheless, the finalization of the amended law is definitely a step in the right direction for the actualization of upcoming elections. This is particularly the case as monies necessary to conduct the polls have been deposited into the election commission's account. Despite this progress, other factors highlight the reality that a free, fair and credible 2011 election are still not guaranteed. In fact, given time constraints and other logistical challenges, Nigeria's upcoming elections could sadly be just as bad or worse than the controversial elections of 2007.

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Monday, August 16, 2010

In June 2010, a representative of Nigeria's political capital, Abuja, announced that local prostitutes had "48 hours to vacate the city and quit the job".  Abuja's Secretary for Social Development, Mrs. Blessing Onuh, also warned men that make use of prostitutes that they will be arrested. Almost two months after that proclamation, Onuh has announced that prostitutes will be sent to a rehabilitation center to prepare them to reenter society. The new information on Abuja's plans for call girls is welcome news. However, as is often the case, a lack of information creates more questions about the strategy to give prostitutes options that would discourage them from having to sell their bodies.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The next Nigerian elections will likely be the most important ever conducted. One reason is because Nigerians will be stuck with the winners of the January polls for anywhere between 4 to 8 years. Even more significant is the fact that if, 12 years after a return to democratic rule, Nigeria is unable to carry out credible elections, there may not be many more opportunities to create a truly democratic system of government.

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Nigeria's next elections will occur in January 2011 and candidates are making their intentions known. Tinkering with the nation's electoral law and amendments to the Constitution, however, created a situation where there are less than six months for pre-election preparations. As can be expected, this short period of time is creating complications for Nigeria's election body, the Independent National Election Commission (INEC). Given the rampant fraud of the last election, a review of the voter register proved that a new one must be created. As a result, INEC announced that it needs at least N74 billion to not only create a new register and train 360,000 personnel, but to conduct federal and state-government elections in less than six months. Considering the dire situation at hand, one would think that Nigeria's legislators would get serious and do what is needed to smoothen the task INEC faces in conducting what President Jonathan has repeatedly promised will be free, fair and credible elections. Instead, Nigeria's legislators remain on their holiday and once again are proving that they are not servants of the people and care little about credible elections.

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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

During a recent conversation, a friend pointed out that one of Nigeria's problems is a growing inability to appreciate and have compassion for others. She pointed out that some believe that if a person is deemed to be outside of one's immediate family, tribe, socioeconomic class or religion, then that person does not deserve to be treated well. This observation goes a long way in understanding the treatment of Nigeria's most vulnerable groups. From domestic help, to children who are sometimes mistreated and violently abused by their employers or those in a position of power over them.

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Monday, August 2, 2010

After much delay, Nigeria's Electoral Act is practically amended as all that remains is the President's stamp of approval. The changes to the law mostly reflect the suggestions of the Uwais-led Electoral Reform Committee (ERC). And the electoral body, INEC, got most of the changes it's new leader, Attahiru Jega, pled for. While this new law means that the 2011 elections are one step closer to becoming a reality, certain additional factors could hamper the effective roll out of polls. In fact Jega already noted that there is not enough time to conduct proper elections.

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Just weeks after announcing that the US plans to ban certain Nigerian officials from receiving travel visas, the country declared that it will seize the ill gotten wealth of Africa's 'leaders'. This warning was made by the U.S. Attorney General, Eric Holder, at the African Union summit in Munyonyo, Uganga. According to Holder, the U.S. government will not allow its banks, or banks in the West to be safe havens for monies stolen from Africa's coffers. For a country like Nigeria that has lost billions to 'leaders' like the late Sani Abacha, and their family members who treat(ed) the national treasury as their own personal account, such information is good news. The less places there are that welcome such ill-gotten funds, the harder it will be for Africa's politicians to reap the rewards of their theft and effrontery. 

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Once a peaceful region where people of different tribe and religion could live in relative harmony, Nigeria's middle belt region has become a constant in local and international news. This is particularly the case in Jos where constant and repetitive fighting between residents have resulted in thousands of deaths over the last few years with fighting as recently as January 2010. And unfortunately, more fighting erupted in Jos. But that fighting, which took place in Tagir village, was preceded by fighting in Mazzah village only a week before. And, on July 23rd, Nigerian forces diffused a bomb that had been planted in a home abandoned during the January fighting. These most recent incidents have occurred weeks before the 1 year anniversary of the Boko Haram attacks of July 26th 2009. They raise the question of what, if anything, Nigerian authorities have done to address the factors that lead to the violence and insecurity in the nation's middle belt.

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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

There is nothing more dangerous for a developing democracy than for it's citizens to have no idea of when the next elections will be. For some reason, in this, the 21st century, that is indeed the case for Nigeria. After decades under military rule, protests, strikes and even deaths, a people that fought hard for democracy are now dazedly watching the little democracy they have disappear. This is because, although elections are to be concluded by the end of May 2011, there remains no clear idea as to when upcoming elections will take place. The consequences of this reality are dire and especially suggest that Nigerians will be ill-prepared to make an educated decision on who their future representative should be. Even more worrisome is the fact that the lack of adequate preparations for national elections increases the likelihood of fraudulent results. In a country where basic human and civil rights are not guaranteed to the majority of the people, the lead up to Nigeria's next elections are disappointing and spell catastrophe for the nation's political, economic and social future.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Nigeria has lost trillions to graft over the years. As such, it is no surprise that on most key indicators the country ranks low. From child mortality rates to life expectancy, the country has much ground to cover. Despite this reality, many argue that those who have stolen public funds should receive a pardon. Others have advocated that it may be better to forgive these thieves and move on. Keeping with that line of thinking, the head of Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), Muhammad Nadada Umar, proposed amnesty for Nigeria's corrupt. Specifically, Umar wants to give these individuals a six month period during which they can return stolen funds. He then went on to state that the returned money could be invested in his agency where it could earn about 3%.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

Corruption is an issue many African countries are faced with. In an effort to counter the problem, some African governments reach out to their non-African counterparts for help. Specifically, they seek agreements that will prevent some of their citizens from traveling and enjoying the benefits of being abroad. Nigeria's President Jonathan made such a request during an April visit to the United States and now, the US government is creating a lost of Nigerians banned from entry into that country. This act of having foreign governments ban Nigerians is complicated and raises concerns over what seems to be a need to have someone else save Nigeria and solve Nigeria's issues.

Make Nigeria a corruption-free zone

Photo by John Bracken

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Friday, July 9, 2010

If the FIFA World Cup was to be won based on bad reputations, Nigeria would have won the cup without any need to even play. That is just how bad the reputation of Nigerians are, unfortunately. So much so, that no matter were one goes in the world, people have taken to blaming Nigerians for everything bad that happens there. This, despite the reality that the majority of Nigerians should not be represented by a minority that clearly behave badly. For instance, someone I know once blamed Nigerians for all crime in the entire country of Ghana, forgetting that, at the time, the country sat between two insecure nations - Liberia and the Ivory Coast. Take South Africa, for instance, where xenophobic riots in 2008 resulted in the deaths of many foreigners including Nigerians. There, a popular film producer asserted that his abysmal portrayal of Nigerians in his film was because, in his biased opinion, "the most honest refraction of a crime group would be Nigerians". The producer, Blomkamp, ignored the fact that South Africa is one of the most dangerous places in the world and chose to blame that failing on Nigerians.

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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Less than a week after announcing a suspension of Nigeria’s football team, Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, reversed the decision. Unfortunately, Jonathan’s reversal was announced on the very date FIFA had declared as the deadline for reversal. This now gives the impression that Jonathan bowed under pressure to an international sporting organization. That perception can be harmful for Jonathan who only has a few months in office before presidential elections. Additionally, the perception will weaken the office of the presidency and place pressure on whoever becomes president to restore the credibility and respect of the office. Furthermore, the snafu between Jonathan and FIFA raises questions about the behavior of the football agency, which challenged the decision of a sovereign leader in an avoidable way. 

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Monday, July 5, 2010

Nigeria's president, Goodluck Jonathan, is rumored to be the most fortunate man in the country. A series of events saw him go from Vice President to President when late President Yar'adua died from health complications. However, in what must be an attempt to prove that he is just as intelligent as he is lucky, Jonathan decided to suspend the Nigerian football team from international play for two years. According to a spokesperson, the suspension is a direct result of the team's disappointing performance during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, where it ended up at the bottom of it's group. Unfortunately, this suspension does little for Nigerian football, now and in the future. Additionally, it will do far less for Jonathan, because the move highlights a common and distressing quality about Nigerian leadership - a lack of vision and an inability or unwillingness to address the real challenges of the Nigerian condition.

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Monday, June 28, 2010

On the most recent World Sickle Cell day, Nigeria hosted a ceremony to commemorate the day. At an event, it was announced that Nigeria has the highest rate of sickle cell sufferers in the entire world. The specifics of this statistic are even more alarming. In fact, of the 200,000 babies born with the disease on the African continent, 150,000 of them are Nigerian. Furthermore, 100,000 Nigerian children are lost to the disease annually and 8% of the nation's child mortality deaths stem from sickle cell disease.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Regular readers are aware that I enjoy hip hop and especially appreciate it when an artist I like serves something that is politically conscious.

Nigerian musician, Eldee, delivered on all counts with the gem "One Day". It is an empowering message to the populace to stand up and demand what is theirs such as consistent electricity, adequate healthcare, safe roads and schools. Considering that Nigeria's 2010 budget allocated more money to the military than it did to either education and healthcare, the message that things need to change (one I agree with) is crucial. Particularly during the pre-election season.

The song and high quality video are inspiring and a reminder that Nigerians must engage in making the country better.

Let that day be today...

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Despite many of the negative stories one reads in newspapers, online or sees on television, Nigerians are in high demand. From the UK which spends money to bring aspiring students, to Canada which sets aside scholarship money just for Nigerians, and the US military which seeks out native Igbo speakers, Nigerians are a hot commodity. But, the temperature has now risen through the roof with the announcement that the US Congress might give work visas to foreign entrepreneurs who can come to America, set up a business and live in the land of opportunity.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Those who, like myself, watched the Nigeria v. Greece match on Thursday, June 17th should know who Sani Kaita is. To Nigerians, he the much despised footballer whose emotions drew a red card during the match, effectively sabotaging the country's efforts. To Greeks, well, he was sent by their gods as the help they needed to finally score their first ever goal at a World Cup tournament.

Although Kaita apologized, with tears and all, for his error, he continues to be vilified in the Nigerian press. Average Nigerians, frustrated by the inability of the team to win a single match in the first round, also target their anger at him. Considering that I recently learned that getting onto the squad can sometimes require bribery (I hope this is not true) and not a transparent process where the best players are selected, I daresay, Kaita might not be to blame for the nation's woeful results at the World Cup. As such, it is time to forgive Kaita. This despite the fact that I advocated he receive some koboko lashes. I confess that I was in the heat of football frenzy and disappointment.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Late President Yar'Adua apportioned $62 million to be spent on celebrating Nigeria's 50th anniversary, it's 'Golden Jubilee' as many call it. Many hoped that this celebration would provide a pivot for the country to turn the country from its troubled path to a better future. However, Nigeria's Daily Trust newspaper reports that current President Goodluck Jonathan increased the Golden Jubilee budget to N10 billion, with his wife receiving at least N70 million for activities during the celebration period. In a country where contracts and budgets are inflated so as to funnel public money into private hands, many have become suspicious and highly critical of Jonathan's action. Is this inflation of the Golden Jubilee budget just one more corrupt move to ensure that politicians have the money they need to thwart their competition in the nation's upcoming elections?

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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Abuja is Nigeria's political capital and it is formally known as the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). It's Minister, who is a Senator and in charge of all affairs in the FCT, recently announced a ban on prostitution. Speaking through the FCT's Secretary for Social Development, Mrs. Blessing Onuh, all prostitutes were given

"48 hours to vacate the city and quit the job. [Because] [t]hey constitute a nuisance in the city and the FCT administration will not tolerate them."
Mrs. Onuh, who visited several locations known to be prostitution hangouts, went on to explain,
"We are also sending warnings to all those men patronising them to stop. Some of the girls are under-aged; it is child abuse. If we get you doing that we will get you arrested, lock you up and treat you like the prostitutes are treated." [sic]
prostitution 2.jpg

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Monday, June 14, 2010

Whenever I think of an adjective to describe Nigerians, the word 'ingenuity' always comes to mind. This is because despite the circumstances, Nigerians manage to survive in a country that faces incredible challenges and problems. I recall the story of Mohammed, who in 2007, used scrap metal to create a functioning helicopter as an illustration of ingenuity. Or, a news report on how some created affordable alternative electricity sources from compact disc-torches nicknamed 'African light'.

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Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) governs Nigeria's election process. It's former chairman, Maurice Iwu, was sacked on April 28th, 2010 months before elections were set to enter full swing. Since then, Nigerians have waited expectantly to learn who would replace Iwu. President Jonathan has nominated Attahiru Jega for the position and his name is now before the National Assembly for confirmation.

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