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.
Thursday, April 7, 2011
I have come to the conclusion lately that nothing locks me in the Writers’ Block more than a clueless government.
It unnerves me more than the prospect of having a Botox-made Dictator with a harem of Female virgin bodyguards.
While I would love to ‘thank’ the PDP-led Government for distinguishing itself as the Primus Inter Pares of all my ‘many inspirations’ (would I rant if they were nice?), I dare say that the same Government is the source of my protracted Writers’ Block!
Ever heard of information overload? Ever wondered why, the same water that all Living Beings need to survive (to the best of my knowledge) turns out to be their death once it exceeds the threshold of supply.
Each time I try to start another piece; another incident just succeeds in overtaking it. From the Olebode George (deliberately mis-spelt, go figure) thanksgiving service to the re-arrest of a Gubernatorial candidate who just got granted bail on the grounds that the current Inspector General of Police is either dumb, arrogant, stupid or a combination of all for not understanding the Maxim semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit (the necessity of proof always lies with the person who lays charges).
For someone being charged for Treason and Murder, as it is in the case of Senator Akpan Udoedehe, the Gubernatorial Candidate in Akwa-Ibom under the platform of ACN (Action Congress of Nigeria), which, if convicted, attracts the maximum penalty of a DEATH SENTENCE, the least you should do, Mr Dumbo, is gather false-witnesses and photoshopped pictures to at least substantiate your claim.
At least Justice Ibrahim Auta, the culprit in Ken Saro Wiwa’s Judicially-obtained-licence-to-murder case, backed up his point by attributing his sentence to a statement allegedly made by Ken (and for those of you who do not know, this Auta dude just got elevated to the post of the Acting Chief Judge of the Federal High Court).
Nigerians love pictures, perhaps more than the Chinese. A cannibal gets arrested and in a minute, emergency almanacs pop-up and sell very fast.
I guess Engineer Rauf Aregbesola was wise in not showing up when a similar incident happened in Osun State in the wake of the 2007 elections. The not-so-long-ago-sacked Governor, Olagunsoye Oyinlola had declared Aregbesola wanted following the outbreak of post-election violence; perhaps Uncle Hafiz is a tad more devoted than his predecessors; how else would you explain arresting someone who just got granted bail with the deployment of 50 Mobile Policemen citing ‘Orders from above’.
Nigeria must be a very Godly Nation…too many ‘Gods’ giving orders from ‘above’ and these ‘Gods’ are inundated with pantheons of personal Al-Nabi.
Now here’s the update: After the Federal High Court granted him bail and he was re-arrested, Udoedehe got paraded before a Magistrate Court in Uyo, where the Chief Magistrate, Edet Obot admitted he lacked jurisdiction in such matters, but would remand the accused in Prison Custody! That is based on a ‘NEW LAW’ (Criminal Procedure Amendment Law passed into law by the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly on March 31st 2011 - Note that the crime was allegedly committed on March 22nd ) on the instance of the incumbent Governor Godswill Akpabio which empowers the governor to jail anyone for up to 14 days without trial! Nigeria is indeed inundated with ‘Gods’!
As I write, there is another Federal High Court Ruling ordering the unconditional release of the accused but Brother Hafiz is still dragging his feet; by the way, how come I am sooo uncomfortable with a man whose name is RIGim???
On the day the Parliamentary elections were to hold, a PontiusPilatic (another from the Rantimus Dictionary) situation was brewing in far away Dubai. James Onanefe Ibori, who was held in Dubai over a grievous money laundering charge, and could not be extradited to the United Kingdom because of a convenient Real Estate Fraud charge which keeps him in the United Arab Emirates until it is ‘resolved’, suddenly gets released on ‘humanitarian’ grounds on account of failing health! Talk about the release of Barabbas by Pontius Pilate! I have heard people say ‘At least he’s not permitted to come back to Nigeria’; Big Deal!
Bernie Madoff must be regretting he is not Nigerian! With a projected release date of November 14, 2139 (don’t laugh) which may be commuted on account of ‘good behaviour’ , I wonder how he’d feel reading about how his ‘Nigerian counterparts’ fared.
There is something about election dates that unnerves me. Let’s play with some superstition here. April 19 2003, does it ring a bell? That, as well as April 12th was the date of the Second Election season in this Fourth Republic. The Presidential/Gubernatorial elections took place on the 19th. Now, write April 19 2003 in the MM/DD/YY format, what do you get? 041903. Indeed, the election turned out to be a 419 (by now you should be used to what 419 is; it’s a steep learning curve if you don’t!) election. That was when Election Rigging in Nigeria attained a Platinum status! I call it Nigeria’s Rigging Golden Age.
Well, the 2007 was already branded do-or-die; so it was already Done-Dead-on Arrival, there is no need to be Parabolic about that.
Fast-forward to 2011 and someone decides to fix an election on the date of the April Fool’s Aftermath! What do you expect then?
I would not join those calling for Attahiru Jega’s head, but I am of the strong opinion that his head is hanging loosely on his neck. For a University Don who had risen to the post of Vice-Chancellor (I refuse to brood on the outcome of having two University Dons as President and Vice-President from 2007 till the death of one in 2010) I do not know what to make of the ‘logistics’ issue that eventually led to the April 2nd botched Parliamentary elections. Is there more to it than he is telling? Time will tell what JEGA’s not telling.
The wanton show of shame from the Judiciary calls for despair. If a man can be locked up for ‘insulting a State Governor’ over the Social media and following the outcry that necessitated his release, hounded till he and his father fled the State, if a Governor can order ‘Detention without Trial’ at the time the Specter of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay still haunts America’s soul, if the Judiciary can be used to elongate the tenures of those who stole mandates..
I wonder if this does not bring back the very words of Major Kaduna Nzeogwu the enigmatic revolutionary a lot of Nigerians love to hate: “IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO VOTE OUT A NIGERIAN MINISTER”
I still have faith in the polls. I salute the efforts of my friends who have made software applications that enable a Corporate-Vigilante approach towards election monitoring.
The question remains, in the likely circumstance that the Will of the people is subverted once more, HOW FAR ARE WE WILLING TO GO?
President Goodluck Jonathan has promised that the Nigerian youth will LOL soon; so I welcome you all to a season of LOLs and Heartbreaks!
Friday, February 11, 2011
I read the papers some days ago. Over a decade after the Zaki-Biam massacre, the then President Olusegun Obasanjo says he only responded to the then governor George Akume’s request to deploy troops.
How about the massacre in Odi, where livestock were not spared like someone was trying to outperform King Saul a la Agag (The Bible, I Samuel 15) ? Okay, the Governor was ‘punished’ for not responding on time! *insert deep sigh here*
This is where I get conveniently infuriated. Recall the 9/11 terrorist attack on the United States even the Pentagon attempt failed, but the flyers of two CIVILIAN planes rammed the planes into the twin-towers of the World Trade Centre and CIVILIANS perished!
The Generals in Rayfield, Jos are living fat and secure while civilians are dying in droves. I wonder if this same lethargy would persist if the home of one of the Generals goes down in flames with attendant causalities!
If the problem is just some ‘political machination’, why are places of worship being targeted? And if it is just religious, why go for those on the lower end of the ‘Religious Food Chain’?
How on earth would herdsmen hold down a village for Four Hours of sustained genocide? Exactly WHY DO WE STILL HAVE A GOVERNMENT? Who gave the guns (oops, my bad, BOMBS!) to the Fulani Herdsmen? Why would a Dan Fulani nomad leave his highly treasured Cattle to unleash terror on Human Beings? Would you call that ‘land-dispute’ or a grouse with Governor Jonah Jang? Since when did a nomad start giving a hoot about who governs the State?
Full blown massacres erupt from something as minuscule and equally ridiculous as ‘A Christian Woman Crossing a Barricaded Street’ and no one bothers to ask if there is more than meets the eye?
The Boko Haram remains a constant threat, from the September 7, 2010 Bauchi Prison Break, where 721 Prisoners were unleashed on the society, including 150 members of the Boko-Haram, pockets of sustained attack from alleged members of this sect has spiked in the North and if care is not taken, it is only a question of time before these ‘pockets of violence’ cross the River Niger to become infernal bags that would engulf the entire nation.
Kidnappers had a field day in Lagos during the 2010 yuletide; you don’t know any of the victims, so you can’t be bothered. A couple of days ago, a man was cut down by suspected kidnappers and after taking the pains of rushing him to the hospital, the hospital refused to treat him because ‘it’s a gunshot wound and they need Police Report’ seriously, WHAT HAVE WE BECOME?
The Boko Haram is offering a truce to the Federal Government under its own terms, how magnanimous!
Even our Government is under hostage and no one wants to admit it. Making deals with ‘Militants’, negotiating with Arsonists and planning to ‘rescue’ the South-West from Rascals.
Honestly, the current Powers do not insult our intelligence in any way, not at all; THEY DO NOT EVEN BELIEVE WE HAVE ANY!
A country that did not hesitate to bring back her citizens caught in the uprising in Egypt but do not even bother that people are dying in droves on the home-front. The man mentioned earlier bled to death because the hospitals needed a ‘Police Report’. Since we pay the Police for vehicle tint permits, won’t Nigerians start seriously considering an ‘Advance Police Permit’ in anticipation of gunshot wounds? Just leave the date column for someone to fill on your behalf!
A pregnant lady was shot dead by the Police in the Mpape suburb of Abuja and all we hear is the cliché ‘accidental discharge’ , same line that has been in use since the mass elimination of Igbo officers far back 1966 in retaliation for the Northern causalities of the January 1966 revo-hijacked-coup-d’etat. Pardon my ignorance, please, HAS THE SAFETY LOCK IN GUNS BEEN REMOVED? Apart from the tantrums of the mob, the razed Bank and cars in the Bank (which most likely would be covered by insurance), is there anything still on-going to stem this tide?!!!
The 2011 elections happen to be just a couple of months away; I do not intend to be a killjoy, but the fact that the younger crop of Nigerian voters had to wait for slogans like ‘Cool to Vote’ and offers like ‘Get-registered-and-have-a-chance-to-walk-with-a –celebrity- to- the- polling- booth’ , ‘show-your-freaking-voters-card-and-get-my-freaking-CD-and-attend-my-freaking-free-show’ makes me feel nothing less than 10 Mega-Barrels of bile out of sheer helplessness and frustration of how lost this generation apparently is.
Hordes of hypocrites who on one hand pay tribute to Chuck D of the Public Enemy fame but remain part of the system that ‘rested’ their careers. To these people, the legendary Fela Anikulapo Kuti is just a franchise. If you are in doubt, tell me why his son, Femi, who continued as a social critic hardly gets airplays on radio!
It’s my blog, innit? So I can say what I want. My video was turned down by ………(fill the blanks) for having a ‘Political Theme’ if you can connect the dots, filling the blank space would not be difficult at all.
I wish a lot of times, that I could crack skulls to get some brains open, (not literally, I dare warn) but then, it’s a numb generation, SPAWNS OF LOTUS EATERS!
Thursday, January 20, 2011
“…It is, therefore, with a brave heart, with confident hope, and with
faith in my unalterable destiny, that I go from this twilight into
the darkness, unshaken in my trust in the Providence of God that a
glorious dawn will come on the morrow…”
-Chief Obafemi Awolowo before the High Court before
Being sentenced for Treasonable Felony in September
If in the words of the Late Chief Awolowo, 1963 was a shift from twilight to darkness, I really wonder what I would describe some Forty-Seven years after.
The Pogrom in Jos, the graduation from Bows, Arrows and Daggers to guns and bombs that conveniently miss out a particular group, the irrepressible Hydra Headed Boko Haram whose strength, contrary to the norm spiked since their leader Ustaz Mohammed Yusuf was allegedly killed-in-transit, the emergence and spread of ransom demanding kidnappers all over the Country all serve as portent of even darker days to come.
The killings in Jos conveniently took a new dimension few months to the polls, about the time voters’ registration is set to commence, and up till now, there is a criminal silence on the part of the Government. Backtrack to February 1999, where the PDP convention took place in Jos, would such a thing have happened? The thanks that Jos gets for playing a significant role in the formation of Nigerian Democracy (however flawed it is) is the incessant deliberate attempt to wipe out its populace!
Jos is not a stranger to hosting Political Conventions, as a matter of fact. A brief read into Nigerian archives (the few ones you can find) points clearly that conventions have been held in this town since Nigerian Independence; that is actually beside the point.
What hurts is the pervading numbness of Nigerians in the face of an imminent implosion that threatens to consume everything in its way!
The problem with Jos is not the Jasawan (Hausa settlers) nor the native Anaguta, Berom and Afizere, it is not the Dan Fulanis nor of those giving guns to the Dan Fulani; APATHY is the problem!
Apathy on the part of the Islamic Clerics who go on air to condemn the violence, but do NOTHING to identify with the people in distress, apathy on the part of even the Christian Association of Nigeria who are ‘afraid to say anything to heat up the polity’ but leave gory pictures for website circulation, apathy on the people who never follow up the trial of the arrested culprits to ensure a thorough investigation is done. We don’t care, do we?
I had my Secondary education in Jos and I recall one incident out of many. Being a first timer in a Boarding School, an older relative, who was a class ahead of me, was placed in charge of my finances by my Mum. The ‘friend’ squandered my allowance and by the time the Term was over, I had nothing left. Either the School Authorities envisaged it or something; Junior Secondary I students were meant to go with the first Flight from Jos to Lagos.
By the time we got to the airport, both my flight ticket (which we usually submitted to the School Authorities upon resumption) and my boarding pass were ready, and I was good to go, but for one snag: I had to pay a Five (5) Naira airport tax (those were the days a Los-Jos-Los Return Ticket cost only Ninety Six (96) Naira)! I had no money left, but a combination of ego and stupidity made me tender my ticket for screening (not as if I really had a choice), the dude placed the Five Naira stamp on my ticket and I turned mute when I was meant to pay. Eventually someone advised I talk to the authorities and I walked up to the Station Manager of the Jos Airport who in turn referred me to the Commercial Manager.
Over two decades after, I still recall the man’s name and I am quite certain I’d pick him from a crowd till date. Mr. Sidi Abani (that’s his name) just took one look at me and the first word that came out of his mouth is ‘You are hungry’ he took me to the Staff Canteen, made sure I had a plate of pounded yam, left me in his office while he goes out to sort the problem, and ensured I got the free Airforce C-130 Plane which had limited slots for Command Secondary School Students and involved a lot of scramble.
He assigned an office assistant to carry my heavy box and I did not have to scramble. I never got to thank him enough, but I am so sure there are countless others this man went out on a limb for.
What’s the point of the story? I just painted a picture of what Jos used to be. All the man saw was a poor pre-teen in need of help, not some ‘ngbati-ngbati infidel’ (Ngbati-ngbati is a derisive term used to address those of Yoruba extraction; adapted from the penchant of the Yoruba for starting sentences with ‘It was when (Nigbati)….’ ).
Fast forward to today; If Soldiers deployed to protect citizens could look on in the face of carnage, it is about time to realize how low we have stooped as a people.
According to Wikipedia, In Greek mythology, the lotus-eaters were a race of people from an island near North Africa dominated by lotus plants. These plants provided the primary food of the island and were narcotic, causing the people to sleep in peaceful apathy.
It unnerves me that Africa was mentioned in the myth; equally unnerving is the mention of ‘narcotic’ and ‘apathy’ in one sentence.
I look at the Nigerian situation and many times, I wonder if there isn’t some Voodoo expert who has his pins stuck in Nigerian (i)dol(l)s.
Pray, tell, what is your reaction when you hear reports of the incessant wastage of lives all across the nation? I have a maxim ‘A Corpse is a Corpse till that Corpse was your Pops’ .
At the just concluded PDP Primaries, a moment of silence was held for ‘Members of our great Party’ and there was not a single mention of Jos! Except as a subliminal.............To Be Continued