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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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

No matter where in the world, being a politician is expensive business. In Nigeria, politicians are expected to not just explain their campaign pledges and commit to addressing issues, but to feed potential voters as well. For this reason, politicians spend a lot of money, some of it public funds at times, wining and dining those they hope will vote on their behalf. Some say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. But, Nigerian politicians understand that the way to a voter's heart and mind is through his or her stomach.

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Friday, June 4, 2010

On June 1st, 2010, the Acting Chairman of Nigeria's electoral body, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), announced that the body is not ready for the upcoming 2011 elections. For a country like Nigeria, such a pronouncement is damning, particularly as Nigeria's last elections in 2007 were characterized by heavy rigging and irregularities. Furthermore, given the recent dramatic political changes that occurred in the wake of former President Yar'Adua's absence and death, the 2011 polling season was gearing up to be arguably the most important political event of all time for Nigerians. Unfortunately, this confession from INEC is not surprising considering recent events affecting the Commission. But while INEC might avoid the blame for its lack of preparedness, this announcement could spell serious trouble not just for the Nigerian electorate, but for the Jonathan administration and a possible candidacy, if he were to seek the Presidency. The circumstances that forced this announcement could lead to a coup d'etat of the sort Nigerians have never seen and must not be allowed to happen if a truly representative Nigerian democracy is ever to take root.

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Thursday, June 3, 2010

I received an email 2 weeks before the airing of The 'New Kings of Nigeria' informing me that the program was set to air. Here is part of the email I received,

It’s the story of the great grandson of King Jaja of Opobo.

Jaja was a nineteenth century slave who rose up to become a legendary King, before being kidnapped by the British.

140 years later, Jaja’s western-educated great grandson Walter, heir to the throne, returns to Lagos – and becomes the voice of ‘Big Brother Nigeria’.

The New Kings of Nigeria sees Walter transformed in his understanding of what it means to be a King. He comes to the realisation that “being a King is not something you are born into. It is something you do, make happen”. He increasingly identifies with the spirit of the swelling numbers of Nigerians he sees hustling on the street, trying to make it.

Given your interest in cinema, cultural subjects and diverse readership we’d be delighted if you’d consider writing an article about the film. Your site has linked to 'Welcome To Lagos' and we feel that our film shares the same viewpoints. The New Kings of Nigera [sic] documentary shows the country in a positive light, highlighting the technologically developing aspects of the country. We feel it would be of great interest your readers. There is also the possibility of interviewing the main character, Walter.

I informed the producers that I could not review the documentary until I had seen it. Now, you and I can watch it and offer an opinion. So, what do you think? Do you think the description above squares with the footage you just saw? What similarities do you see to the 'Welcome To Lagos' documentary of some weeks ago?

Hattip to @Ehi_remen and @OluSimeon for all their help in getting this video to me. Much appreciated.

From the Archives:
- 'Welcome To Lagos' Part 1
- 'Welcome To Lagos' Part 2
- 'Welcome To Lagos' Part 3

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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

In an interview on Straight Talk Africa, Nigeria's former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, explained why he selected the recently deceased Umar Musa Yar'Adua to become his successor. The interview, touched on various subjects but Obasanjo's revelations on why he chose Yar'Adua and what he knew about the late President's health, raises concerns about the nature of Nigerian democracy and what that means for the upcoming Presidential elections in 2011.

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