Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Nigeria: The Collapse of Order

Collapse upon collapse
Like the head of the synagogue upbraided Jesus for healing the sick on the Sabbath, the contemporary head of the synagogue now threatens us with wrath, retribution and terror for asking the sensible questions. A collapse of reasonableness.
A month has passed since a building collapse claimed over a 100 lives of which more than 80 were South Africans, the many who had come on a sort of pilgrimage to Lagos to prolong their lives with the expectation of miracles bordering on magical acts for healing, peace or some particular touch of grace, mercy or favour for this man of God. A catastrophic building collapse.
The man has every right to go about his business, but it must not be at the expense of lives carelessly lost for the very likelihood that building codes were flouted and ignored. Yet, this is a collapse of institutional heft to ensure laws are adhered to.
The untenable collapses
The whole idea that some unidentified flying object hovering over the building shook it to its pulverised destruction according the head of the synagogue is as fantastic as it is risible, yet this atrocity has had no one held responsible for it. Suffice it to say, this is a collapse of reason.
Each apparent message that appears to come out from the establishment seems to put the focus on the head of the synagogue as the victim of machinations both spiritual and temporary, his own personal crisis that he intends to overcome. No doubt the collapse of accountability that is the everyday expectation of the powerful in Nigeria.
The hapless victims sacrificed to this atrocity have been labelled martyrs and surreptitiously this characterisation lends itself to exculpating the whole officialdom of the Synagogue Church of all Nations (SCOAN) from any responsibility for the deaths of these people. Besides the collapse of responsibility is the collapse of real compassion for the lost.
The inexcusable collapses
The government itself has been derelict in its responsibility too by pandering to the whims of men of God, fearful of their power and followership that the law consequently grants immunity for more impunity by these demigods. The collapse of the lien of civil authority to ensure public order is kept by holding everyone equal before the law.
The president and the governor should by rights have visited the site of the disaster, but were ill-advised to have a photo opportunity with the head of the synagogue until they had established the truth about the building collapse. The collapse of discernment and discretion on the part of people who should have known better.
Besides, the visit could have precipitated a diplomatic crisis with South Africa and soured relations with them, considering South Africa was more forthcoming about the numbers of their citizens lost than the head of the synagogue who while schmoozing with the press for favourable coverage wanted them to concentrate on mentioning survivors of the mishap. A collapse of diplomatic tact considering the number of foreigners that perished in the incident, it was utterly careless.
Avoid more collapses
Sadly, if nothing is done to bring the law to bear on this event with at the minimum indictments of manslaughter imposed on the leadership and the corporate person of the (Synagogue Church of All Nations) SCOAN, we would have lost the best opportunity to show that no one is above the law regardless of whether the person is a religious leader or not, and that someone can and should be held accountable for avoidable accidents as a result of people acting unlawfully and carelessly. A collapse of our criminal justice system resulting in the collapse of justice for the victims and of judicial process.
Nigeria needs to be delivered from the stranglehold of untouchable men of God answerable to no temporal authority and thereby are deluded into acting with untrammelled licence leave destruction in their wake and leaving God to clean up their mess. Here we risk the collapse of the primacy of the secular state that applies the law equitably, expeditiously and rightly.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Thought Picnic: Picking up the rice where the wedding has been

We are social animals
I was watching a nature programme probably on the BBC about an ape colony. The alpha male had just been beaten in a fight with an upstart and the social rules within such colonies required the vanquished leave that community.
What was so profound was how in the space of weeks the vanquished had acquired deathly pallor as he wasted away without care in loneliness and dejection.
Then I wondered about us human-beings as social animals who may decide we need our space, but we cannot be totally bereft of interaction and that to the extent of companionship, relationship and even love.
The fear of loneliness
The fear that threatens the sanity of lonely people who for all sorts of reasons live in cities and yet are hermits, secluded from the vitality of fun and banter than comes for well-developed friendships.
Many single people by choice or by situation exist sometimes without an inkling as to how to change things to develop a social life. The answer is not just getting out, there is more to getting that expression of engagement than just being out there as I noted in my last blog.
Even those of us who appear to be extroverted are probably only so when the setting is familiar, I have been at parties where until someone comes to chat to me, I probably would not do much more than try to be inconspicuous.
Change is not easy
My voice in probably stronger in my writing, it is also asynchronous, yet, in a business setting as at work, I might well have a more assertive persona, at least, and that must be why none of my managers ever recommended me for an assertiveness course.
Assertiveness however does not make up for handling the more social element of cultivating relationships of the heart. In essence, we all desire to a point, someone to be near us, to share with, to care for and to dare with, that someone I lost 5 years ago, yet, the need for someone still matters, not to forget the lost, but to appreciate again the gift of someone who can touch the heart.
If we had the choice, may we never become another Eleanor Rigby; the haunting words of a song that tells a very sad story of loneliness.
Eleanor Rigby
(John Lennon, Paul McCartney)
Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby picks up the rice in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father McKenzie writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working, darning his socks in the night when there's nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people
Ah, look at all the lonely people

Eleanor Rigby died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved

All the lonely people (Ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people (Ah, look at all the lonely people)
Where do they all belong?

Monday, 13 October 2014

Thought Picnic: By chance, for choice, to certainty

The chance unsure
Chance is very unpredictable being the harbinger of luck or disappointment, the effect which can presage significant life-changing situations, it is the precursor of uncertainty.
Yet, we leave a lot to chance with the hope that things would yield a result we have no certainty we would get. Even if we are not certain, it probably cannot be planned to ensure the outcome we desire.
The choice-less chance
In a lottery and many other areas of life, we get hopeful, raise our expectations and sometimes begin to daydream, building castles in the air, even daring to create kingdom and empires in our minds, drifting away from our reality and almost succumbing to delirium.
Sometimes we think that abundance offers options and take the chance that we might find suitable choices, yet having many choices does not mean we would find a suitable match.
Know your chance from your choice
This is evident in trying to start relationships and finding out that we might be in vast populations and yet be alone and lonely, not finding a partner we can choose from the chances we have to meet many who come into and leave our lives.
Sometimes, we might find that chance in life for happiness that sometimes eludes many, but we cannot live by chance and hope that choice would create certainty.
Use chance sparingly, take choice with wisdom and celebrate certainty as a blessing, they are gifts to life.

London: Making light of irksome sights

A small centre
London still remains a place of new discovery for me in many ways just as I never knew that I did not need to change at Leicester Square for Charing Cross to get to Trafalgar Square almost 25 years ago, or that if I got off at Liverpool Street, I did not have change trains to get to my office between Liverpool Street and Moorgate.
I have taken to walking as much as I can within London having realise that the London Underground, known as the Tube sometimes makes central London feel a lot bigger than it really is.
For instance, London Euston Station to London Waterloo Station is just 2.1 miles or 3.36 kilometres, it is literally one straight road down and over the Thames – give it about 50 minutes of a brisk walk. It is better to do this than get on the Tube.
The bastards of Westminster
Then, I have walked from London Euston Station, through Old Street to Liverpool Street and then London Bridge before walking the south embankment of the Thames called the Queen’s Walk all the way to Vauxhall.
As I pass Westminster Bridge, I see the mother of parliaments, the Palace of Westminster and lament the whoring that has given her bastards for children.
The many politicians who have never had a life outside politics, rent seekers who are leveranciers of the poverty they portend as policy. Looking upon them from the tower is Big Ben that I pray when next she tolls at the point we are asked to find new leaders would toll for this lot.
Dressed to ostracise
Yet, London presents fascination from mundane observation, like walking into a T. M. Levin shop full of seemingly formal wear to find that the shop attendant does not know what a cravat is. I could not muster the strength to be aghast, I was beyond that. What training do these label readers and payment till get to man these shops? Perish that thought.
Further along the road was a family out for the day, the man proudly strutting along with his wife and two children. Well, I am not sure of the kind of pride in a man that would have his wife all covered up except for the slit in the garb made for her eyes to peer through.
If the lady were walking alone, maybe it might ward off interest, but with her husband and family, it is more about the man than the woman. The concept of dressing to cultural and religiously defined codes in a very secular society does sometimes make one wonder about societal cohesion and integration – this applies to all, by it Muslims, Jews or even Sikhs – these being the ones that come easily to mind about men, women and their dress sense.
I paid for better than this
Off clubbing we paid to use the coat check and were given numbered tickets to identify our things. At the end of our revelling, we presented our tickets and told them the initials as a security safeguard against them giving our bags to others.
Unusually, we were ask what our bags or jackets looked like and 10 minutes on they were still looking for my bag just as the mess in the coat check storage had become too chaotic for words, it was disheartening and annoying in the same measure.
I remonstrated and I was asked to calm down at which point I smacked the counter with an open palm loudly stating I paid for the service beyond which it was just unacceptable to have to wait this long to find my things.
The supervisor then came forward to take control of the situation, but it was not before one of the team took exception and offence to my attitude. I was having none of it, we celebrate incompetence to the point of excusing atrocious customer service, even apologising for poor customer service that we have paid for, not if I could help it.
Eventually, after a third time of describing my rucksack, they found it, I was not effusive with thanks, I was infuriated. Am I supposed to demand for the service I paid for or allow people act without responsibility for the jobs they have been hired for? I think I am just getting too old-fashioned for the lack of attention to order or detail, but I would not tolerate it.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

#LindaGate: It was mainly about Plagiarism

Plagiarism is the copying or paraphrasing of other people’s work or ideas without full acknowledgement. Intentional plagiarism may incur severe penalties, including failure of your degree.” University of Oxford. [1]
Conflicts of lessons not learnt
As one predicted on Monday, enough evidence was presented to Google to have the gossip blog pulled down.
There is no doubt that the lady would regroup and re-launch, however, it is unlikely that the hard lesson of life and experience has been learnt going by the rebuttal she posted yesterday.
Unfortunately, many were quite conflicted and confused, abandoning the objective for the subjective, she played victim and we were suckered.
Nigeria in a big world
We must recognise that anything we do online today is no more confined to Nigeria, we are part of a global village, and there are rules and standards to play by. We are constantly put up to global scrutiny in terms of our attitudes and conduct.
The many things people got away with on the Nigerian streets would find sanction and excoriation when given a global review on the Internet. It behoves us to know how those rules work so as not to be caught out by them to the extent that we might suffer dire consequences.
Breaking the rules
The Linda Ikeji Blog, broke the rules with impunity and the blogger was deluded into thinking the small fry that accused her of infringements could do nothing to have the blog taken down. Now, she knows better.
What we must never lose sight of is the reason why the blog was taken down - PLAGIARISM - and the blogger was an unrepentant plagiarist, we should not be confused or conflicted about this fact and truth.
Plagiarism is wrong and it is worse when material you did not originally produce is falsely passed off as yours on the one hand and you use that material directly or indirectly for financial gain.
Measuring character over success
We also have to check our values and appreciate that success mainly measured by wealth, power, influence or following without character or virtue is fleeting. Our measure of respect for a person which might include position should really be of a higher standard of being seen and known to do the honourable thing, having integrity and a modicum of humility.
A person of integrity has no need of things to express that innate virtue and it can be learnt if we have a teachable spirit.
We need to understand how the seemingly grey areas can blacken and besmirch what we have painstakingly built and invariably bring ruinous reputational loss.
Know the bad behaviour
Moral equivalences are no excuse for bad behaviour, we need to declare conflicts of interest and maintain the transparent standard of full disclosure so as to avoid being labelled hypocrites and worse still, dishonest or frauds.
If whatever we publish is not originally ours, we must, acknowledge, attribute and reference or we are plagiarists. If we need to seek permission and we receive no expressed consent, we risk being labelled thieves.
In all truth
Plagiarism however is no trivial matter; students have been rusticated and indicted criminally for cheating, journalists and politicians have lost their jobs for being plagiarists, it is dishonest and reprehensible; careers and reputations have been ruined because of it.
Plagiarism is the "wrongful appropriation" and "stealing and publication" of another author's "language, thoughts, ideas, or expressions" and the representation of them as one's own original work.Wikipedia. [2]
It is the greatest slight to be proven a plagiarist and there is no badge of honour in copying and pasting the work of others and passing it off as yours. What is wrong is wrong, and nothing can excuse plagiarism nor should it be tolerated when exposed.
Finally, lest we forget, the Linda Ikeji Blog was taken down on proven evidence of serial unrepentant PLAGIARISM whether people had a hateful, jealous or envious agenda is beside the point. Google acted on evidence of misappropriation of material, intellectual property abuse and infringement, not on sentimentality.
Read up on plagiarism.
I acknowledge to my observation that the first use of #LindaGate was by Funmi Iyanda.