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Visions of the Alfa Talakawa, from the Proletariat...Nigeria, as I see it

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thursday, March 21, 2013



Friends, foes, collective ‘twittering children of anger’, LWKMD contortionists, listen to me and listen good. This might just be the much needed antidote to your ‘sophisticated ignorance.
There is enough to depress anyone lately, that is, if you allow it. For some of us, we just lose ourselves in keypad punches and ‘finger away’ pent-up frustrations.

From the wilderness, sorry, creeks of the River Jordan (Niger, whatever) came a certain Baptist preaching the remission of sins. He had no shoes, ate wild locusts and honey (presumably so, since most of his Countrymen feed better than him). His name is Jo, the Baptist of Otuoke.

Unlike John the Baptist (his predecessor of over 2000 years), Jo the Baptist could work miracles. Like, turning a Company of Zealots (some call them Militants) into Josephs of Arimathea (so rich they can loan you a Mausoleum) of some sorts.

Although the ‘Amnesty’ miracle was birthed by his predecessor, he (Jo) it was who visited the creeks. Thousands of ‘repentant’ zealots came down by Warri River to lay down their Mark 4s to study War no more.

Alas! The Creeks still bleed and pipelines get punctured every now and then, but it is not the Ministry of Jo to end that, there cometh One after him who would baptise y’all with brimstone and fire!  Amen, Somebody, anybody!

Some Kings of the North heard the feat of Jo and pleaded for him to repeat the same Miracle with another group of zealots in the North who have held the region/religion hostage…..Alas! He could do no mighty works there because of their unbelief except a heavily guarded visit.

Bar(awo)Alams was a notorious Robber/Insurrectionist, yet Jo the Baptist a la Pontius Pilatus style, freed him  and delivered himself to be crucified in his place.

Unlike intolerant John the Baptist, Jo never called the Religious Leaders of the day Brood of Vipers! (Pauses before LWKMD contortionists decide to read the 4D into this logic).

Jo is married, and miracles run in his wife’s veins too, like: Coming to life after being dead for 7 Days, making an entire nation laugh through the power of her spoken words (English). As a matter of fact, it is the Writer’s opinion that Dame Lazarus la Stella Maria should write a book, and she should be canonized alive! (Caveat, Contortionists).

Jo has disciples, mostly sworn to do even greater works. You all probably grew up reading how Jesus fed 5000 (Five Thousand) People with 2 little fishes and 5 loaves of bread and you wondered in awe. Well, have you heard of 1 Million Naira (about $6300 /£ 4150) 'Mr Bigg's' Lunch for Six (6) Party Chairmen! Those who criticised him have no inkling what God’s Will is! (Beware, pun creators).

Jo loves the poor, probably more that the Poor Man of Assisi whom the current Pope is named after. He is frustrated about the Miracle of Subsidy which does not benefit the poor but only benefits the affluent Middleclass. But the people spoke of stoning him the last time he tried to stop the Miracle.  But then, perhaps the bigger miracle is the Palliative Miracle which only the eyes of faith can see…Dear Reader, if you can/have not see/seen this miracle, kneel down, repent and be baptised by the great Jo of Otuoke!

Jo really wants to be like Jesus, he just seems to have his own terms of aspiration. Jesus was hated by the Religious leaders of the day because he hired a Tax Collector and even dined with one. If you are not familiar with Judeo-Roman history, you just might find it hard to understand why the Jews hated Tax Collectors. They (the Tax Collectors) were the ‘Face’ of their Roman Oppressors. Worst part is that the Tax Collectors were not Roman, they were fellow Jews! Tax in those days, wasn’t anything like the modern Pay As You Earn, even though the trend is similar. Conquered territories were forced to pay their new ‘Masters’ from their toil and a Tax Collector was appointed from among the conquered tribe.

These ‘Tax Collectors’ love their Jobs and are more than eager to please their Masters. They lived under the delusion that they were a superior race to their own fellow Jews….this is not some history lesson; abegi if you still can’t figure, ever heard about the ‘House Negro’?

These Tax Collectors abound today, they are the face of an Oppressive Government that never had to clash Swords nor run Chariots to Rule. Have you forgotten so soon these very words: “We can't pander to threats of the people we RULE”? If you’ve forgotten who said that, to whom, on what occasion, then you just discovered why you sucked at Religious Knowledge and History at the Secondary School Certificate level!

Jo dines with Tax Collectors, but unlike Jesus, whose presence was enough to convict Zacchaeus about his life of extortion and make him commit to returning extorted funds. What I fail to understand about Jo is how BarAlams would be said to have shown remorse without any announcement of returned loot! But then, maybe I’m wrong, maybe I am yet to fully grasp what remorse/repentance is all about, maybe the rule is, steal, don’t get caught, if you do, Pardon is an option.

Maybe BarAlams deserves praise instead of condemnation. Afterall, crude oil production has increased since he held his ‘Attack Dogs’ on the leash. Every Governor that seeks to loot must raise his own German Shepherds, Chihuahuas, Dobberman, call the Dogs by whatever name, Dog na Dog! You can even chose to cross-breed.  Like some did and raised a Monster in the process.

The Ginger-Cassavabread man is free to ride the back of the Sly Fox to cross the Creeks, I can only hope that Cassavabread man would not morph into Cassavadead man, slain in the midst of the Creeks by his own trusted Dogs/Foxes. (Did y’all read the Ladybird series while growing up? If you didn’t, sorry your childhood is wasted!).

Today, the Daughter of Herodias is dancing, she’s going to dance so well, Herod would make an offer….One can only hope that she’s not going to ask for the ‘Hat’ of Jo on a Wooden Platter!
Footnote: And when the Gas Flare sinks at last behind the Creeks of Old, Peace to this young militant, that comes with Bombs of Words…

-QWERTYTYRANTINO/rantingsofthetalakawa appears on Twitter as @plumbtifex

Wednesday, April 18, 2012


The search for oil in Nigeria officially started in 1903.

Two companies, Nigeria Properties (Limited) and the Nigeria and West African Development Syndicate (Limited) commenced exploration for bitumen, coal and oil in concessions covering 400 m2 in the Agbabu-Mulekangbo area in the Lekki Lagoon region of Lagos Nigeria

Geological investigations by Bernard A. Collins and A.H. Harrison confirmed the existence of vast bitumen deposits as well as the possibility of petroleum. 

Real exploration of the hydrocarbon potentials of the country commenced, however, in 1908 under the Nigerian Bitumen Corporation (NBC), a German concern (some Industry historians argue that John Simon Bergheim was a British Businessman and that the NBC was a British-registered company and its shares were traded on the West African Market of the stock exchange in London)

The efforts were stalled both by Bergheim’s death in an automobile accident in September 1912 and the outbreak of the First World War, but the ground had been paved for Shell (then known as Shell D'Arcy) a state-sponsored company of the Colonial government. In 1938, the colonial government granted Shell monopoly over exploration of all minerals and petroleum throughout the entire colony.

The Royal/Dutch Company initially got the whole of Nigeria as one huge concession, which it then narrowed to the Niger Delta where in 1956, after having drilled some 15 dry holes, beginning with the lhuo-1 NW in Owerri, the first successful well was spudded at Oloibiri (in modern Bayelsa State).
Before commercially viable Oil was discovered at all, an ordinance had been made in 1914 making any oil and mineral under Nigerian soil legal property of the Crown.

Initially a 50–50 profit sharing system was implemented between the company and the government, concessions on production and exploration was the exclusive domain of the then Shell-British Petroleum. Other firms became interested based on the success of Shell. In 1959, the sole concession right over the whole country, earlier granted to Shell, was reviewed and exploration rights were extended to other foreign companies. By the early 1960s Mobil, Texaco, and Gulf (Gulf later became Chevron and a couple of decades later, Texaco was merged into Chevron) had purchased concessions.

Mobil was awarded the Sokoto Basin, the Benue Trough and fringes of the Niger Delta to explore in 1956. Seismic and field geological surveys in the Sokoto Basin yielded no success, and Mobil withdrew from Sokoto and obtained license to explore in the Dahomey Basin. Between 1959 and 1961, Mobil had drilled four dry wells in Dahomey Basin and pulled out of the area.

It was against this backdrop that the Nigerian Civil War broke out and resulted in a significant drop in output. Oil companies were uncertain as to the future of their investments depending on who prevailed in the war. Britain’s staunch support of the Nigerian Government made Shell, a major holder of concessions in the southeast a little more inclined to the Federal Government side.  Safrap (Elf, now absorbed into Total) a French interest, was accused of favoring Biafra and enlisting the aid of France for the Biafran cause.

The Nigerian government was determined the Civil War scenario would never repeat itself. The 1969 Petroleum Decree dismantled the existing revenue allocation system that had divided revenue from oil taxes equally between federal and state government, and came up with an allocation formula in which the federal government controlled the dispensation of revenues to the States. The Eastern Region that was to constitute Biafra had been, according to General Yakubu Gowon split into: 

§          The East-Central State comprising the present Eastern Region excluding Calabar, Ogoja and Rivers Provinces.
§          The South-Eastern State comprising Calabar and Ogoja Provinces.
§          Rivers State comprising Ahoada, Brass, Degema, Ogoni and Port-Harcourt Divisions.

By May 1971 the Nigerian Oil Industry was nationalized with the creation of the Nigerian National Oil Corporation (NNOC), the predecessor of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), and the admission of Nigeria into OPEC, the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, in July 1971.

The Year 1978 would turn out to be a watershed with the creation by the Obasanjo Military Regime, of the Land Use Act which vested control over state lands in control of military governors appointed by the federal military regime. This would eventually culminate in the Section 40(3) of the 1979 constitution which declared all minerals, oil, natural gas, and natural resources found within the bounds of Nigeria to be legal property of the Nigerian federal government  (ref. Section 315 (5) (d) of the 1999 Constitution) .


Friday, February 3, 2012

LEPRECHAUN'S POT OF BLACK GOLD I : Workers and Soldiers in the Ant Colony


Labor unions in Nigeria actually precede the 1914 amalgamation of the Northern and Southern Protectorates to form ‘Nigeria’.

As at 1912, government employees had a civil service union which became Nigerian Union of Civil Servants in 1914.

By 1931, two other major unions were founded: the Nigerian Railway Workers Union and the Nigerian Union of Teachers (which included private-school teachers).

The Unions became legal entities in 1938, and was followed by rapid labor organization during World War II as a result of passage by the British government of the Colonial Development and Welfare Act of 1940, which encouraged the establishment of unions in the colonies.

In June and July of 1945, 43,000 workers providing key services went on a strike that lasted more than forty (40) days.

This strike was provoked by the defense regulation of October 1942 (which interestingly made strikes and lockouts illegal for the duration of the World War II) denying African workers the cost-of-living allowances that European civil servants received. Wages were sparsely increased, even in the face of escalating cost of living. 

Consequent upon the strike's success, the labor movement grew steadily and by 1950 there were 144 unions with more than 144,000 members.

The Labour Unions became the only organized voice of dissent from the Military intervention of 1966, and defied Military decrees outlawing Strikes all through. However, there were several factions.

In 1974, the four central labour organisations of Nigeria were the Nigerian Trade Union Congress (NTUC) led by Wahab Goodluck, the Labour Unity Front (LUF) led by Michael Imoudu, the Nigerian Workers Council (NWC) led by Ramon and the United Labour Congress of Nigeria led by Kaltungo and Odeyemi (ULCN).

Only the ULCN was officially recognized by the Nigerian government. In that year, the four groups merged to form one central labor organisation, the Nigeria Labour Congress with Wahab Goodluck as the pioneer President. 

By 1977, the Obasanjo Military Administration had banned eleven labor leaders (including Michael Imoudu, Wahab Goodluck and Samuel Bassey) from further union activity. Under terms of a 1978 labor decree amendment, the more than 1,000 previously existing unions were reorganized into 70 registered industrial unions under the NLC, now the sole central labor organization. The Government was apparently acting on the petitions written by Pascal Bafyau and Hudson Momodu. A committed and transparent leader, Comrade Hassan Sunmonu, emerged from this crisis as head of the NLC.

Comrade Hassan Sunmonu was underrated because he was the first leader to emerge from the Senior Cadre of the Civil Service. At the time he launched ‘The Workers’ Charter of Demands’ in February 1980, and demanded a Minimum Wage of N300, insisting also that the Minimum Pension must not be lower than the Minimum Wage, not many took him serious.

Until May 11 1981.

As the World awoke to the death of the Legendary Bob Marley, Nigeria woke up to a crippling general strike!

The government resorted to intimidation at first, and the recorded goof of going after Comrade Hassan’s identical twin brother Hussein in hot pursuit in a classic case of mistaken identity ensued. Eventually the Government had to succumb to negotiations and a compromise of N125 was reached.

The return of the Military Junta in 1983 took its toll on Labour, the ‘freezing’ of Workers Wages in spite of soaring inflation, the detention of Alhaji Ali Ciroma, the then NLC President , and some other Labour leaders under the Babangida Regime during the  Subsidy Removal Protest. The Babangida administration eventually succeeded in installing a 5th columnist: Pascal Bafyau (the reader might need to go back three paragraphs if he/she is encountering this name for the first time in this article). He was the Labour leader till the dissolution of NLC in 1994 under the Abacha regime.

It was against this backdrop that PENGASSAN and NUPENG suffered a heavy blow in 1994 in the heat of the June 12 struggle (the movement to actualize the mandate given to the late Businessman/Politician, Bashorun MKO Abiola on the 12th June 1993). Unknown to most Nigerians, Pascal Bafyau was meant to be MKO Abiola’s running mate as scripted by the ‘Army Caucus’ but Abiola picked Alhaji Babagana Kingibe.

NUPENG was worst hit, with Frank Kokori (General Secretary) being detained Four (4) Years (he was released Nine (9) days after Abacha’s death on June 17th 1998. The Late Wariebi Agamene, the President of NUPENG, was released much earlier (December 31, 1995). PENGASSAN’s Milton Dabibi (General Secretary) was arrested and detained January 1996 till June 1998.

 Under Bafyau, the NLC received N50 million for the construction of NLC National Secretariat in Abuja and N100 million for the Federal Urban Mass Transit program. These monies were not accounted for.

This provides a backdrop for the controversy that greeted the N2.3-out-of-5 billion NLC/TUC China Bus deal that made the news 21-22nd October 2011, the ghost of which ‘re-emerged’ in the heat of the ‘Palliative’ debate that came up following the fuel-price-hike-fuel-subsidy-removal-whatever drama of January 1st 2012.

Years of Military incursion and unwholesome meddling morphed the Labour Union into what it is today. The Obasanjo 2005 Labour Reforms made Union Membership non-compulsory. While it empowers Union Members to pull out or threaten to, when they feel their Welfare concerns are not being attended to, it unfortunately became a powerful weapon in the hands of Employers who now compel members NOT to join Unions.  

Today, one can say categorically, that the NLC tragically falls short of its Mission Statement:

‘…………….. to organize, unionize and educate all categories of Nigerian workers; defend and advance the political, economic, social and cultural rights of Nigerian workers; emancipate and unite Nigerian workers and people from all forms of exploitation and discrimination; achieve gender justice in the work place and in NLC; strengthen and deepen the ties and connections between Nigerian workers and the mutual/natural allies in and outside Nigeria and; lead the struggle for the transformation of Nigeria into a just, humane and democratic society.’

The NLC that rose on January 29 1999 out of the ashes of the Abacha tyranny has been reduced to ‘Pump Price Negotiating Unit’ without much recourse to other areas of welfare affecting the Nigerian Workers.  Occasional Significant pickets of Multinational Companies tend to miraculously ‘miss’ the 9-10 O’ Clock News, even in an era of ‘Private Media’.

Perhaps, the onus lies significantly on Civil Society Groups, as exemplified with the Occupy Nigeria Rallies, and even such Rallies would have to device means of sustenance should NLC pull the plug.

It is this Writer’s opinion that Opposition Parties can build their strength by actively resisting State Policies that tend to be repressive on the people whose votes they seek in forth-coming elections. While the PDP led Government may try to intimidate Opposition by calling them ‘embittered losers’, it is my experience that Nigerians with time, eventually get to judge sincerity when evident.

Afterall, the Tyranny of Mugabe has only been restrained by the Opposition Parties to his ruling ZANU-PF Party.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011


 I still recall vividly, my first visit to Jos, missing the Nigeria Airways Flight WT 301 (First Flight) and having to wait for the Second Flight in company of my Mum and my Elder Sister.

While waiting for the second flight, we met a lady who was taking her younger brother to Jos for the same Command Secondary School Entrance Interview I was going for.

We lodged at TATI Hotels, sharing a luxury room with Olumide Adedoyin and his big sister. We were meeting at the Airport for the first time, yet we had no qualms about sharing hotel rooms. That was how it used to be in the ‘80s!

Command was going to lodge the Candidates for the period of the interview, leaving two adults and a Pre-teen behind in the Room. Fast forward to today, would you share Hotel Rooms with someone you’re meeting at the Airport for the first time?

We both gained admission, and at the risk of being vain, I shall disclose that I made it at an overall Seventh (7th) position. With the offer of being a day student at King’s College (which was turned down because my Mum preferred I boarded), an eventual reposting to Federal Government College (FGC), Okigwe (Imo State) with a promise I would be transferred the second year to join my cousins in FGC Port Harcourt, another offer letter for Command Day Secondary School, Ikeja, I did not hesitate to jump at the offer to go to Jos.

Going through a Nigerian Army funded School during the Babangida Administration meant a lot, for one, Unity Schools are equalizers. From the Child/Ward of an Army Private, a Lagos based Civil Servant, or of Generals like the Shagayas and Madakis of that time, we were all clad in Olive Green Shirts/blouses over UAC Green Trousers/Pinafores/Skirts. No one wore Shorts in Jos; it was too freaking cold!

This setting was also the NIFETEP/TELEFEST Television Festival era, the time a prototype Hollywood known as the TV Village in Jos was at the peak of her glory. The Mentas (Papa Bitrus, anyone?), the Amatas, Sadiq Dabas those we would have called TV gods came freely to our schools to visit their Kids, Alas! We never deemed it fit to ask for autographs.

My mid-term breaks were spent in ITF Quarters, Hilltop Estate in Miango. Mrs Okoro, God rest her soul, was my Guardian. Modele, one of her daughters, who is doing well as a Soul Artist used to taunt me because the strict regimen ensured I remained pitifully thin. I went with them to St Piran’s Anglican Church during those breaks. Schooling in a Military setting ensured you are either a Catholic, Protestant, or a Muslim. Having further Denominations was a luxury the Nigerian Army regimen couldn’t afford.

I recall how students after the first week in school were stripped, made to roll on bathroom floors with water poured on them while they were flogged with belts while they chanted ‘I am a toad, I have a long tail, cut it for me’ .

We bore the pain as Junior Students, looking forward to our ascension to ‘Boarding School god’ status the day we become Senior Students. That hope was however dashed when the then Commandant, Lt. Col Azubuike, later replaced by Lt. Col Edward Vincent (that was their rank back then) restructured the boarding system such that students were placed in Hostels based on their Classes. With the exception of the House Prefects, any Senior Student found in Junior Hostels was summoned on Assembly Grounds the next day and portrayed as ‘going to Junior Hostels to beg for food’. There we were, faced with the task of washing our Toilets while preparing for the Certificate Examinations. These things have a way of taking their toll; Command Secondary School Jos recorded an abysmal failure rate that Academic Year. ‘Protest Vandalism’ also peaked at this period.

Just like the youths trapped in the Projects of South Bronx in the ‘70s New York, the harsh conditions of the Boarding Schools in the ‘80s made us find solace in Hiphop. Neighboring schools like Naraguta Grammar School, St John, Joseph, Murumbas had seen better days. The government of the day for whatever reason was in no way friendly towards Mission Schools. They had been largely ‘taken-over’ and severely under funded. The only Mission Schools that remained at an all-time-high were Hillcrest and Kent Academy. They were American Schools that had some room for ‘Nigerian Ajebutters’ whose parents could afford the fees. Although the Nigerian Music Industry of that age was Reggae inundated, Jos remained a Hiphop territory. You did not have to be super-rich to have your Hiphop gear, Katako Market sold high quality, fairly used ones. My only disdain for Katako Market back then is that our clothes that ‘disappeared’ from the lines usually found their way to that same market. I remember a certain classmate, Odunayo Babajide who walked up to one of the School Cooks allegedly sporting his stolen Sweatshirt. All the cook said was ‘see me see trouble o! wetin I go buy for Katako Market!’ (What trouble is this?! I bought it from Katako Market!)

Power outages were few and far between (yet we complained), the school had a Power Plant, anyway. Sometimes, however, the Plant could be down or not powered on time, this was good news to us because it afforded us our Hiphop moments. Students would improvise for Strobe lights by flashing torches, while some scratched the top of wooden hostel lockers with coins in a rhythmic manner that would make a DJ Grand Wizard Theodore green with envy, others would beat lockers like drums while we took the ‘stage’ to break-dance, rap  and at times sing. Knowing lyrics to Rap hits earned you respect and I was good at it till my Elder Sister scared me that my academic performance would drop if I kept using the space in my brain meant for my Science subjects for Rap lyrics. I never stopped, but I slowed down a bit.

Black Stereo Decks showed up at the turn of the ‘90s. For a Hundred and Fifty (150) Naira, you could buy a good one; however, for some of us who were on 50-100 Naira allowance, a three worded phrase: PERISH THE THOUGHT!
Although I said the School Uniform was a leveler, having a Stereo Deck (which you had to hide from the authorities) was an exception. Even with the Uniforms, some of us took the liberty of making sure our Uniforms were made of more expensive materials and we had designer sandals to match. Unfortunately, the term I persuaded my Mum to buy ‘Basket’ designer sandals for me, the then Admin officer, Captain Abang apprehended us all and asked us to toss them in a dry Well. Billows of smoke at break time confirmed the Admin Officer meant business. Funny enough, of the next set of sandals he impounded but this time hesitated to dump in the Well, a pair belonged to a friend of mine whose father was a Navy Commander. Based on ‘orders from above, the Commandant not only reprimanded him, he was asked to return the shoes! So much for equality and ‘leveler’!

Nasco biscuits thrived at a time imported biscuits could not be bought ‘off the counter’ these biscuits were made in Jos and there were so many varieties. Our best then was the Lincoln biscuit because it afforded some ‘status symbol’. Sold at One Naira, Twenty Kobo ( N1.20), It was the financial equivalent of  a loaf, three packs of groundnut and one sweet. With a school recommended Pocket Money of Twenty Naira only, you do not get to buy that for twenty days in a Term of an average of Ninety (90) days  per term!

There was something about the Lincoln biscuit that made it taste heavenly in Jos and very ordinary when you’re eating it in Lagos, at least till the Babangida SAP (Structural Adjustment Programme) took its toll and Maize flour became a substitute for Wheat flour.

We tried hard to save money for the vacations. Those that could afford to, bought Irish Potatoes at the Heipang located Jos Airport to take home to our Parents/Guardians. Some of us were so broke even the Taxi fare from the Airports had to be paid by our folks.
I remember the Eatery revolution, when PeeJays, arguably the first Burger Joint in Jos was opened. In spite of the rumors that it was owned by the then Commandant of our school, a lot of us still scaled the school fence to buy ‘Sierra Burgers and Quarter-Pounders’.

Our most frequented spot when we sneaked out of school however, was the Farin Gada Market where we bought a particular yellow colored loaf we branded ‘FG Loaf’. Some students were die-hard entrepreneurs. They resold the loaf in the hostels at double the price, and four times the price if you are purchasing on credit. Some of these guys have risen to CEO levels both home and abroad today, if only their business rivals knew these guys ‘cut their business teeth’ right from Secondary School!

I remember looking at the Hills, the Younger Granites that form the bulk of the Jos Plateau while longing for home. The gently sloping landscape afforded an opportunity to have an ‘aerial view’ of the city without being air-borne. At that point in my life, I never knew I would end up a Geologist, studying rocks and learning about the same Plateau I only had the opportunity to climb during my admission interview.
Unknown to me, those Six Years would turn out to be enough to bind my heart to the City that schooled me.

Vultures hovered around our School Chimney and perched on our dustbins, they were so common place in my school that they lent some credence to the Urban Legend that the school is located in an ancient burial site. We were also suspicious of Chicken Barbeque out of fear that the ‘chicken’ is actually Angulu (Vulture)…If only we knew there were other ‘Vultures’ we should worry about. The same Jos that became a refuge for those fleeing the Maitatsine riots of the ‘80s would later be engulfed by infernal vultures, leaving us with sorrowful Memoirs of a Cremated City.

PS: Visit the following Sites, download the Not Jos A Song Track and leave your comments on the Blog:

Monday, August 1, 2011


I do apologize for the protracted delay in chronicling my Rants in recent times.

If, like me, you have been sucked into the Centrifuge called the Nigerian Debacle, you will more than empathize with my situation.

Foresight is a Gift and a Curse. The same way you are privileged to see what others can’t see, you are condemned to be the only one seeing it.

I personally am amazed at the outcry coming on the heels of the Term Limit/Tenure Elongation bid as proposed by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Why is anyone surprised?

Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (Ph. D), May 26th, 2011, Pre-Inauguration Lecture, Quote:

“Four years is too short for a President or a Governor to embark on any meaningful programme because it takes about a year or two before the administration settles down even with the right set of Ministers or Commissioners. Then, if the latter turn out “not to be good”, after one year or two, the President or Governor is compelled to reshuffle his cabinet and by the time the new cabinet settles down, it is time for another election, and everyone is busy trying to win an election”

What amazes me is that this same Administration promised to ‘Hit the ground running’; indeed, the President is hitting the ground running; FROM REAL ISSSUES!

Visualize the President’s desk: Boko-Haram, Electricity, Security, Decaying/Decayed Infrastructure, Rising Ocean Tides and Consequent Flooding, and Corruption, among the several priority clutters and B-A-N-G! The only file that Lights a Mega-Watt Bulb in the head of this Ph. D holder is ‘Tenure Elongation to Discourage Do-Or-Die Politics’! I hear he does not plan to benefit from the Proposed amendment; Bravo! How Altruistic!

Since Mr. President is interested in ‘using Paracetamol for another man’s headache’, I have a whole lot of Altruistic proposals that we’d all thank him for, like splitting his allowance in half and ‘blessing’ me with it.

Poser: What happens to the Governors who are currently on First Term? Are they automatically disqualified? And if they are free to run again, does that automatically make them entitled to the prospect of a cumulative 10 (Ten) Year Term? How about the 10 (ten) other States running different electoral calendars due to the mess created by the 2007 elections a la Maurice Iwu? Governor Obi of Anambra, would have served his two terms by 2014; will the 2015 effective date be retroactive? In the case of the notorious tenure extension obtained by the Governors of Adamawa, Sokoto, Cross River, Kogi and Bayelsa States, if a new Governor comes in, will he be synced-by-force into the 2015 timeline or the Calendars continue to vary like the time zones of the United States?

Let’s look a tad away from that. What bars Goodluck Jonathan Constitutionally from seeking another Term in 2015? His Words??!! Are you freaking kidding me? The same words that ‘Hits the ground running’, right?

Let’s push that to the side, I have this eerie feeling we are being entertained again.

I see, if care is not taken, a long drawn debate over this term-limit. This will amount to waste of time, money and probably bring the dimension of the theatrics we witnessed in 1999-2007 where fisticuffs and furniture throwing became the norm.

Let’s assume the Lawmakers all nod their ‘Ayes’ like zombies. What do we get?

Let’s see all that has been touted as the ‘Pros’ of this Term-Limit.

  • Seven year tenure will mean that election will be held every six years instead of four years which means less money will be spent on elections.

Politicians spend, and will always spend, regardless. Less money on elections does not guarantee less money on colossal wastage. If the president wants to save money, there are lots of candidates for ‘Expenditure Trimming’

  • Seven year single term may encourage some presidents or governors to take bold steps with regard to the economic, political or social policies they think will benefit the country in the short and long-run without fear of negative backlash when they seek re-election.

Nigerian Politicians do not think that way, in my own opinion. Besides, it’s a two-edged sword, the same way; presidents/governors could do a lot of things that are detrimental to the Electorate without the fear of any backlash whatsoever.

  • Zoning will be easier to implement across the six geo-political zones in a seven year single term compared to what we have now.

That is assuming PDP remains the ruling Party forever. Besides, the twists introduced in Nigerian scripts by some force majeure in recent times should make even the staunchest supporter of ‘zoning’ wary of high expectations.

Nigerians have not yet devised means to hold elected officers accountable. As a matter of fact, the closest the Electorate gets to justice is by ‘voting out’ underachievers. Denying them of this last resort is extremely frustrating. Recent turn of events has left some bile on the tongues of those who voted for ‘the man and not his Party’ in the last elections. If a product can be separated outright from its brand, there will be no reason for anyone to prefer Coke to Pepsi or vise versa.

That brings me to the incumbency factor. Would this Term-Limit stop the incumbent from imposing his own Stooge?

With the PDP Board of Trustees (BOT) headship seat being the exclusive privilege of an Elected/Selected President who has served his full term, the Obasanjo (OBJ) Third-Term agenda was only defeated in principle, not in practice. While the myth pervading the South-West currently assumes a decline in OBJ’s influence, his fingerprints are so ‘everywhere’ you don’t need a forensic expert to pick them.

Should Goodluck Jonathan graciously step down in 2015 as promised, he becomes the only contender (against OBJ) for that BOT headship seat. Win or lose, should the PDP win in 2015 again, the incoming President would only be an OBJ-GEJ (and possibly UMY (Umar Musa Yar Adua’s ghost’s) appendage.

How does that put paid, then, to Do-or-Die Politics?

Was the then incumbent Governor of Lagos State, Bola Ahmed Tinubu seeking re-election when Funsho Williams was gruesomely murdered? Was there any known attempt on the same Funsho Williams’ life when he contended against Tinubu in 2003?

The unfortunate Post-Election violence of 2011 appears to be the one with massive carnage in recent times, for Goodluck Jonathan to say the desire of the incumbent to perpetuate himself in power is responsible for do-or-die politics….I will only advise it does not amount to an unwitting self-indictment.

I found something really interesting from the recent remarks of Lt.-General Jeremiah Useni (rtd) at the emergency meeting held with the President on Boko Haram. He claims the sect was originally set up by politicians to rig elections in Borno State but had gone out of hand. Question: Does that put Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf on the same pedestal as Asari Dokubo? The average Nigerian militant groups; are they mere rag-tag teams who seek seasonal recruitments and some largesse from the Federal Government? Does the Term-Limit, consequently, hold the innate ability to put paid every form of Pre-Syn-Post-Electoral Violence?

I personally think Dr Goodluck Jonathan should focus his energy on delivering his campaign promises, including the ‘Domestic Airports in every State in Nigeria with Jigawa as the focal point’ (whatever that means to that man on the Street) instead of providing us with so much Entertainment. His investment in the Entertainment Industry should take good care of that.

*Slots in a Bob Marley CD, singing along…Ahn Ahn..Ahn Ahn Ahn..Johnny was a good man!*

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


I took a break of some sorts out of a deliberate intent. The Nigerian Pre-Post-Election violence and the attendant loss of lives and property is still fresh in our memories and it will be outrightly insensitive to hold to one side of perceived truth at a time we are inundated with propaganda.

The first Casualty in a war is truth and we don’t need to hear the drones of warships to know we are in one.

In my first post, THE CAP FITS, I casually described the Al Majiri as destitute in defining the Talakawa concept, so I come today to probe a bit further.

What does Al-Majiri mean?

Ask the average Southerner who has been inundated with Newspapers of the South for the South and by the South, all he sees is a set of ‘miscreants’ who kill Southern Christians in the North.

Some questions however continue to linger: If the Al-Majiri are guilty as charged, why do we not have a massive clampdown and outright proscription a la Boko Haram style? as for Boko Haram, why were Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf and Alhaji Buji Foi dispatched in haste before confessional statements could be extracted? Why has the activities of this group peaked since then, unlike that of the Maitatsine sect when Mohammed Marwa Maitatsine was killed? (it is noteworthy that the Boko Haram leaders were killed in cold blood, unlike Maitatsine who was killed in action)

You know, it’s easy to grow up on Ted Turner’s CNN; Rupert Murdoch’s Fox and miss out the fact that there is a huge media gap between the North and the Southern part of Nigeria. Major Newspapers which are printed in down South Lagos State do not get to the North till the next day, the average ‘Northerner’ believes strongly in the Gospel according to BBC because BBC has full Hausa service broadcast!

While the Arab world decided to build up Al Jazeera to tell their own side of the story, we sit down on our lazy butts and prefer the cyber-militant approach.

Who is the Al-Majiri ?

Let me start by stating that a good number of words used in Hausa parlance were derived from Arabic roots. Al-Majiri is derived from Al-Muhajirin/Al-Muhajirun (the emigrants) and the concept began from the early, initial Muslims who followed Prophet Muhammad on his Hijra (withdrawal from Mecca to Medina). If you are a lover of syntax, you would notice the root similarity between Hajirun, Hijra and the word El-Hajj/Alhaji.

The concept later evolved to include anyone who forsakes material comfort in quest for Islamic knowledge. The great reformer, Usman Dan Fodio (whose words ‘Conscience is an open wound, only truth can heal it’ ironically graces the Editorial column of The Guardian) would fit in perfectly into this.

It is however sad that fast-forward to this present day, calling anyone Al-Majiri sounds extremely insultive.

Usman Dan Fodio had no ‘Western Education’ but he wrote about 480 poems in Arabic, Fulfulde and Hausa; what is the modern Al Majiri in the North taught today?

For a man from a family of affluence to leave all the comfort behind for ‘spiritual’ purposes is not unique to Islam. There are Buddhist Monks the same way there are Convents in the Catholic Church. As at 1204, the man later revered as The Poor Man of Assisi (Father Francis) who was the son of a wealthy cloth merchant, left all the affluence for a life of poverty and service.

Unfortunately, itinerancy is no longer necessarily synonymous with the quest for knowledge (if you will ignore the increasing rate Nigerians are sending their wards abroad for Tertiary/Post-Tertiary education), even worse, the circumstances have changed.

The new trend has it that the Quranic instructor migrates to the city, recruits Al Majiris from nearby villages; preferably ages Seven to Fifteen, these recruits are laden with the burden of fending for themselves and bringing ‘returns’ to their instructor. I still recall the drama in 1998 at the Fidau prayers for the late General Sanni Abacha when a ‘Mallam’ set his Al Majiri on the food meant for guests because he was not ‘attended to properly’!

Anyone familiar with Western flicks will have a clear understanding that the easiest way to create a brute is alienation. Separate a child from his parents and make him hunt for the bare necessities of life and you have in your hands a potential ruthless murderer.

We are quick to mock those who kill ‘infidels’ with the hope of having a harem of ‘wide-eyed houris’ in the afterlife but we never bother to wonder what makes this present life so unappealing that the afterlife beckons with so much promises. Why would the average ‘Southerner’ prefer to hang on to the vicissitudes of this life instead of the promise of a better hereafter? To answer that, I’d quote Sam Cooke in his song ‘A change’s gonna come’

It's been too hard living but I'm afraid to die
Cuz I don't know what's up there beyond the sky

How ironic it is then that Sam Cooke tragically was killed at the age of 33 and the same song became the anthem of the courageous American Civil-Rights Movement of the 1960s.

A man who has lost everything is someone no one should trifle with; ditto a man with nothing to lose. The Northern Nigeria has suffered years of neglect which benefited the Masu Sarauta to the detriment of their own people, the high-point of which was the clinical trial of the ‘Trovan trojan’ vaccine which left several children dead or maimed in the wake. Pfizer’s complicity in the issue still remains a big knot in the throat of our collective history as Nigerians.

That is what amuses me about the ‘Zoning’ arrangement. The average man from the South will say ‘The North’ has ruled Nigeria for long, really?!! When we say ‘North’, are we referring to geography or demography?

Chief Obafemi Awolowo was only a Premier/ Opposition leader when he revolutionized the South-West. The Cocoa house (first skyscraper in tropical Africa), the first TV Station in Africa, the Liberty Stadium (first of its kind in Africa) Oduduwa group, Free Education and Healthcare are the legacies he left behind and he was never the President. The whole nation pays lip-service to Awolowo today; ironically, he was rejected at the polls for two clear dispensations!

In contrast, and I do not intend to be insultive, the Northern ‘leadership’ had nothing to do with Northern interest. The closest the North ever had was with Mallam Aminu Kano, and unfortunately, his vision for the emancipation of the Talakawa is far from being nurtured to fruition since his demise.

One huge problem I see militating against the ideologies of Mallam Aminu Kano is the faulty reasoning prevalent in the North and at times propagated in the South that poverty and riches lie solely at the prerogative of destiny. Rabonka in Hausa, Kadara/Ayanmo in Yoruba and Akala-aka in Igbo. That exactly is the bane of the Al Majiri.

With no hope for a better life in the now, a man promised a better after-life if he can kill a perceived enemy that has kept him entrapped in that system would not hesitate to do so.

If the 2006 census puts the Al Majiri population in Kano alone at a whopping 1.2 million, it is only a question of time before we are compelled to stop playing the Ostrich.

I for one do not necessarily hold the view that Western Education is Superior, having been exposed to deeper Poetry than I ever found in English Language in the Yoruba dialect for instance, while witnessing the advancement of the Asian tigers in the field of medicine. Mathematics, I have mentioned in a previous post is far developed in the Arabic world.

My grouse is, the education of the Al Majiri should go beyond ‘Alif-ba-ta-ta-gim-ha’, horsewhips and Street-begging to advanced education where they can aspire to become someone in this life.

Leaving them in this current state is an invitation to imminent anarchy…and Yes, I SAID IT.