Sunday, 31 July 2011

My blogs are at http://akinblog.nl

It is a long farewell

It is farewell to http://akin.blog-city.com from today as I have now posted the last blog there and decided to concentrate my blogging efforts at http://akinblog.nl.

A year ago, I was informed that the blogging service at Blog-City will close on the 1st of January 2012 and it lead to a scramble to move all my material, over 1,500 blogs written in just under 7 years to a new location.

I had opened a blog at Blogger for the purposes of posting comments in early 2007 but from the end of 2009 as if I was prescient, I began publishing my blogs simultaneously on http://akin.blog-city.com and what became http://akinblog.nl.

The house move

There was no easy way of migrating my blogs that I really had to do it over about 7 months brick by heavy brick until all was done.

With my paid subscription running out at http://akin.blog-city.com I have decided to allow the blog to run in Read-Only mode, which means no new posts will published there until the blogging service expires on the 1st of January 2012.

The statistics front, I have to-date had 3,828,382 hits since 8 Dec 2003 with 1,730 blogs, it is now time to drive my readership to http://akinblog.nl

Thank you everyone for reading my blogs.

Last blog on http://akin.blog-city.com

Dear Friend, Reader, Visitor, Fan, Inquirer & Search Engine,

I will not more be updating this site after almost 8 years of posting here, I started blogging here on the 8th of December 2003; all new blogs will now be hosted on Google Blogger at http://akinblog.nl however, this blog whilst in read-only mode will remain active until the blogging service of Blog-City closes on the 1st of January 2012.

Over the last few months, I have successfully copied all my blogs to Blogger and simultaneously published in both places.

Please ensure that all references made to http://akin.blog-city.com are now changed to http://akinblog.nl, the theme of my blogs remains Akin About Things Too Concerning to Ignore.

Thank you for visiting and following my blog and writings, though I am saddened that Blog-City is closing at a time that I have consistently exceeded 100,000 page views a month, the crew at Blog-City have always be responsive, helpful, considerate and kind – I wish them the very best in their future endeavours.

You can however still support my blogging efforts by clicking on the Donate button at the top right of the blog.

For my latest blog posting, please go to http://akinblog.nl

The RSS feed for my news blog is http://www.akinblog.nl/feeds/posts/default

With the kindest regards,

Akin Akintayo

FW75X885FRJ6

Friday, 29 July 2011

Editorial: Crying for justice against child cruelty

Blood money networks

Our propensity for the macabre, the grotesque and unconscionably evil is about to be sated when one of the American networks finally wins the bid to interview Casey Anthony, the mother of a Caylee Anthony [1] who was acquitted just about a month ago of all charges of culpability including murder despite all circumstantial evidence pointing to her possible guilt.

In what the non-mean-spirited would call blood money [2] and even so on the blood of an innocent child, the going rate is topping $1.5 million with the networks pretending to vie for every seemingly unassociated right to the interview itself which they protest is not being paid for.

The fact is, there is an audience for this kind of theatre of the absurd and one can be sure that since she is protected by the double jeopardy rule, she can sail as close to the wind on this matter as she can dare and the viewers will be fed their just portion of gasping with horror along with the entertainment of reality television, untouched, unaffected and barely outraged.

Another case of childhood cruelty

As if that is not saddening enough, the truth is many children still suffer atrocious abuse and unspeakable cruelty amongst the people we naturally assume they are to find some care, comfort, security and love with.

We are told that the family unit or extended family construct presents the best atmosphere for childhood development; by extension some will even say it takes a village or a community to raise a child.

Some children however see every day through like a living hell on earth with no respite, all hands and minds mechanised in the systematic dehumanisation of child that it were better the child had never been born or for salvation the situation is so dire that death is the only escape.

So, became the case of 10-year old, Ame Deal [3] who was found dead locked up in a box much smaller than her size as punishment for having taking a popsicle without permission.

Your heart just bleeds

She lived with her grandmother, her aunt, her elder cousin and the male cousin by marriage; the latter two being the ones most culpable for locking the girl in a storage container.

Their act as we learn from the story was not isolated but the pattern of treatment that they would have found examples of in the supposedly matronly matriarchs of the household.

They had before imprisoned her in the container, exacted physical and several corporal punishments on the child probably for their pleasure, she was made to sleep in the shower after bed-wetting and was found dirty wearing soiled clothes.

They showed her not one bit of affection and if they were so revolted by her presence, nothing on this earth could have justified the kind of suffering she endured until she drew her last breath.

A cry for justice

For having taken a popsicle without permission, she had already been forced to perform exercises, such as jumping jacks, running in circles and back bends, for over an hour before being padlocked in a cage like an animal.

Where any living soul gets to assume this level of despicable treatment that excoriation cannot begin to contemn in the strongest terms is just out of this world.

Justice will not be well served until all those responsible for the death of this innocent child are made to face the full force of the law. Sadly, Casey Anthony appears to set the precedent for people who might get away with the murder of their wards.

Is there a jury in the land with a conscience, maybe one with feeling and hopefully one that might just seek justice for that tortured soul that was caged like a dog for the sake of a measly popsicle, she, Ame Deal, was above all the victim of this heinous crime against every sinew of humanity we have?

Sources

[1] Death of Caylee Anthony - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Casey Anthony's Parents -- $250,000 Doesn't Cut It!!! | TMZ.com

[3] Girl found suffocated was locked in box as punishment | Reuters

Monday, 25 July 2011

Editorial: Religion and custom that savages humanity

The Customs of the Dark Ages

This just tore at my heart, the unconscionable evil that society allows in the name of religion, custom and tradition where men in their seemingly patriarchal superiority have the ability and sometimes that amazingly absurd but inalienable right to batter their spouses and project a sense of honour at their deeds.

Certain societies are so ensconced in the Dark Ages they almost have no prospect of arriving in the age of enlightenment, knowledge or development, they are so wedded to their customs for the purpose of serving selfish virtues in the name of misplaced honour.

The concept of shame is so warped and it never emanates from actions of the males and it is always considered the burden of the females who are then punished severely from actual bodily harm to heinous homicide by male relations who in their communities are automatically exculpated from guilt having restored honour to their clan through unspeakable violence.

Speaking up for against the unacceptable

As long as these communities generously called conservative but in reality are more savage than the wild uncivilised jungle of cannibal and fetish conclaves remain silent, women will continually be abused, forced to live inappropriately with domestic violence and made to take unreasonable rage from their spouses and male relations because that has always been acceptable, accepted and condoned with justice never intervening for the rights of the victims.

Rumana Monzur [1] of Bangladesh and her family have been convinced to go public and tell her story of the way a jealous husband with uncorroborated evidence attacked his professor wife, gouged out her eyes, bit off her nosed and launched into a character assassination of her trying to play victim.

These acts committed in the name of whatever belief system these nasty people adhere to must stop with the full force of criminal law visited on the perpetrators of this kind of violence – no human being’s existence is worthless enough to be sacrificed on the altar of this barbarity for the purpose of redeeming some virtue – my thoughts are with Rumana Monzur and my hope and wish is that she will find encouragement and all the support to pursue full happiness despite her tragedy.

Address men and dressing women

Which brings me to another matter of the Nigerian Minister of Aviation, Princess Stella Adaeze Ogiemwinyi who appears to have adopted a no-nonsense hands-on approach to her portfolio talking tough, eschewing unnecessary ceremony and getting down to the brass tacks.

As so she arrived in Kano, in the north of Nigeria and a one of those apparently conservative societies where her albeit practical and functional apparel [2] acceptable in so many places seems to have caught the displeasure of the keepers of community mores who have termed it “offensive to their cultural values.”

She was in a “smart dark long sleeve shirt and dark jeans trousers”, a picture would have spoken louder than words but I have none to display but if as the news story indicates, the governor of the state is a moderate Muslim, one would expect he would attend to the minister’s courtesy call without much fuss, as for the Emir of Kano, you have to wonder if the mountain would come to the 21st Century or we all have to time travel to the origins of the world where cavemen modelled exotic underwear and well, the womenfolk probably never needed what we modern folk call a brassiere.

Men should take responsibility

There are people who might be concerned about conforming to certain customs and deigning to integrate to be tolerated but the real issue is the refusal of men to take responsibility for self-control in the presence of ladies who refuse to don dowdy apparel no matter how decent, cultured, fashionable and respectable they appear.

The extrapolation of this irresponsible adherence to so-called customs is exemplified in the unfortunate castigation of victims of rape where they are get blamed for the offenses committed against their person because of their appearance and rarely because of the uncontrolled and rampaging conduct of the perpetrator.

Set alight the embers of Islamic Banking

Then the Islamic Banking debate in Nigeria has escalated beyond the angst-ridden concerns of those who were opposed to it.

Now, Nigeria has always been a combustible cauldron of anxious religious uneasiness that does not need the introduction of even a pinch of peppery religious policy of any kind before the battlements are set up and the war of words accentuate the wedges of discord within that nation.

Islamic Banking thrives in many countries, however in Nigeria, the idea has failed to appreciate its community; my advocacy has always been that Nigeria is such a country that requires probably the strictest separation of religion and state just because of the way religion excites uncontrolled passions, intemperate utterances and unreasonable conflict leading to destruction of life of property – Nigeria is just a very volatile country when it comes to religion.

Nigeria’s Pandora’s Box

The smarter idea should have been to secularise the concept of Islamic Banking, define it as Participant Banking, lay out the rules of engagement in the most expansive terms and then offered that this banking concept was compatible, similar and analogous to Islamic Banking – it would be been a master-stroke of the genius of semantics – sometimes words use matter more than their deeper meanings.

However, as usual, Nigeria’s Pandora’s Box of various items of religious import has not been completely emptied and every time we find ways to slam it shut with objective discourse and reason someone kicks it open spilling it contents with some religiously-biased initiative that just heats up the polity.

The Supreme Council for Sharia in Nigeria (SCSN) is probably a matured, reasonable and objective organisation that has decided to abort the consideration of conciliation by allaying fears or educating the ignorant whilst dealing with sometimes unwarranted suspicion and suggested that Muslims are ready to go to war if Islamic Banking does not materialise as promoted by the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Jihad lines drawn

This Jihadist tone is at best unfortunate and bordering on incitement as they declare that they are ready to “defend the implementation of the Islamic banking system (also known as non-interest banking), with the last drop of their blood.”

Sadly, this would have certain Nigerians pushed forward to be sacrificed for this cause as the instigators stand back washing their hands in the blood of fellow countrymen in the name of religion the government now doubly blackmailed caught between the fears of non-Muslims and threat of war by the Muslims.

The core lesson that remains unlearnt after all these years is that Nigeria is in no way ripe for the easy accommodation of religiously-based systems be they legal, financial, economic, social or commercial as other less volatile nations may be where Islamic Banking thrives like the United Kingdom for instance apart from purely Islamic countries.

And …

Jaiz International Bank PLC with its website having exceeded its bandwidth which was incorporated in 2003 as the vehicle for Islamic Banking once had as its chairman and one cannot say if he remains so the father of the Christmas Day pants bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, not that anything should be read into that connection at all.

This is going to be a problem that extends beyond the ructions that the introduction of Sharia Law in the North of Nigeria caused, it was avoidable and manageable, if the initiators were conscious and committed to peace and unity within Nigeria – one wonders if some are ready to break the back of Nigeria on the altar of religion with the SCSN already signifying the tyranny of the majority is ready to make insignificant the concerns of the minority.

Sources

[1] Muslim ‘Honor’ Crimes: Rumana Monzur Allegedly Mauled by Her Husband - The Daily Beast

[2] allAfrica.com: Nigeria: Minister's Dress Sets Tongues Wagging in Kano

[3] The Punch: Islamic banking: Muslims ready to go to war – Sharia Council

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Sailing 101 - Prepare to get wet

Getting in

I attend C3 Amsterdam, a well-attended international and multicultural church that places quite a lot of emphasis on interaction, engagement, relationships and leadership development.

Whilst, I was one of the earlier attendees when it is a much smaller congregation, I seemed to be quite involved in a lot of activities but over time, I have withdrawn, disengaged and become more of an attendee rather than a member.

Lately, I have endeavoured to relate more and find some purpose within that community with great difficulty much of which somewhat derives from a sometimes reserved and aloof Englishness that I cannot say serves me well at all.

Perceptions of a different reality

A few weeks ago, an announcement was made inviting the men for a sailing day out, to which after much hesitation I decided to attend with somewhat interesting impressions of what to expect which was far from reality.

Now, having watched the MainSail programme on CNN, I had a good few ideas, a large boat with many sails unfurled to take about 30 men out, maybe a catamaran – in fact, what I was thinking of was probably a motored yacht with everyone having a time of fun, conversation and letting our hair down.

This outing was planned for Saturday, the 23rd of July and on Friday we were intimated of the possibility that the event might be cancelled if the weather forecast was bad, I had been thinking of pulling out too but felt I had to see it through and it offered me the opportunity to suggest to our pastor that he might have to calm the stormy waters like Jesus did if the weather did take a turn for the worse.

Arrangements dawning on us

We had a rendezvous where the planner checked off the names and all the other essentials before drove in a convoy to Loosdrecht. Now, Loosdrecht Lakes or Loosedrechtse Plassen in the vernacular used to be a peat bog centuries ago, it was mined for peat and then dredged; the sand used for construction and in the process with Dutch ingenuity of land and water management, we have a number of large lakes which are mainly used for water sports much as it is a nature reserve too.

We were to be prepared for the weather, that was cold and rain alike, but it suddenly dawned on many of us that preparing to sail was a bit less leisurely than we had imagined.

Amongst us were sailors who were to skipper boats of 6 crew, we were out sailing alright but crewing our boats, the boats were just about 4 metres long and just about 2 metres at the widest point with a mainsail and a headsail/foresail called a jib. The type of boat we were in will be called a sloop which has its etymology from Dutch sloep and by extension the French chaloupe.

The organisation is quite impressive, snacks and drinks provided beyond the lunch packs we are asked to bring along and we were all provided with life-jackets which eventually helped in keeping us quite warm.

Wet, Wet, Wet

We boarded our boats and motored out of the harbour then hoisted up our sails, our skipper quite confident and able simply instructed us on what to do and then we began to realise that the ropes meant a lot in terms of the sails, where we going and there was much to the steer of the rudder and how we catch the wind.

We were told we should expect to get wet did become especially for those who sat in the front. We had a good few precarious tilts off the wind but we are assured we will not be dumped in the water and it was comforting to know that the water was barely 2 metres deep and in the event of being caught up a creek without a paddle, besides the outboard motor there was a pole to use for punting.

The ropes controlling the jib are called sheets and the sheets can be pulled right or left of the mast of the main sail aiding steer but it was the rudder that seemed to have the greatest effect on how the boat took the water and the white-knuckle ride kind of experiences we had.

In the end, it was great fun, we all had a go at the rudder as each of us successively got more water spray and splashes on ourselves and the boat sometimes filled with water that we were soiled worse than having been bed-wetters.

Thanks for the day

We had a couple of meeting points even some got in the water for a swim and along the way we encountered strong winds, stillness that the ducks seemed to be on turbo-jets, rain and bluster but the whole setting did make for a sense of male bonding which was fun.

I might consider going out sailing again and this time for all the lessons I have learnt including one that appreciated the wonders of being of on terra-firma, rain gear for sailing is a whole lot different from regular rain gear, ropes would probably be best handled with gloves on, taking sailing lessons can be useful, even crocs for all their ugliness might well be recommended footwear but I’ll try anything but those things.

It was great fun and thanks to Timon the skipper and my crewmates, Buddy, Chris, Raymond and Levy, for all that experience, there are still some things best watched on National Geographic though I have been once tempted out of the cosy setting of my armchair, furry slippers, cup of cocoa and remote controller.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Editorial: Delegating the advice of laughter

Delegated out of sight

When Rupert and James Murdoch appeared before the House of Commons Select Committee yesterday for all the commentary about how well they acquitted themselves with their responses, what stuck out for me was that the father and son were running a hydra-headed organisation over which they have decidedly delegated the minutiae whilst plotting the complex strategies for growing the News Corp. empire and the succession plan.

One honestly felt many of the questions that pertained to deplorable and atrocious phone-hacking scandal leading to the closure of the 168-year old News of the World newspaper tried to lay the responsibility at their feet but for the fact that it constituted 1% of the global conglomerate and hardly 250 of the total global staff of 53,000.

There was every likelihood that the people at the very top just left it run like clockwork in the background but the minuscule gangrenous social opprobrium of the offence with the societal revulsion that ensued took with it a good few senior heads in the News Corp. stable and the most senior police officers in the United Kingdom.

It shows how the delegation of power and responsibility in an organisation can introduce many layers of managerial structure that the essential oversight of making the vision, mission and principles of the leaders pervasive can lose its influence as they fall prey to being accused of neglect.

Many pools with few talents

Taking that template to another setting, one sees an unhealthy development within the bureaucracies of Nigerian governance. Besides the appointment of about 40 ministers at the federal level with the immediate assessment of the brains called to service suggesting only a handful have any prospect of performing, one is left crestfallen and forlorn about Nigeria daring to attain any of its potential over the next 4 years.

What is of even greater concern is the number of Special Assistants and Advisors that the president and the state governors are appointing to their mediaeval courts with interesting, overlapping and amusing titles, it is as if there is a person per thought that the conflict of ideas might well lead to lead to a mad house king oblivious of what to do to run the kingdom.

A comedy troupe

Nowhere is this big party at the public expense so exemplified than in Imo State where Rochas Okorocha as governor has appointed 15 Senior Special Assistants, 32 Special Assistants and 47 members of various committees to help in his government and this does not touch the matter of holders of portfolios – the commissioners.

It is one thing to be elected to office; there probably is need to payback those who helped by inviting their snouts to the trough, that extended relation that never could make it anywhere can muster all the mediocrity to satisfying some advisory role as long as he is out of earshot and why not invite whole families for the gubernatorial four year sleep-over?

If anyone thought this whole arrangement was a joke, Uche Ogbuagu, the Chief Comedian of the state might never live this down as the court jester but we are laughing at the governor.

Acknowledgements

Al Jazeera English offers a graphic of the Murdoch media empire, Reuters offers a sad analysis of Nigeria's dull cabinet reflecting a compromise culture giving serious cause for concern and the Imo State Blog brings to light the debutantes to the Court of Rochas I.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Nigeria: Corporal Punishment, Step-Childhood and Marital Security

The harrowing story of a boy

Woman Arrested For Battering Son [1] read the news headline and that is just part of what is a long story which has lots of low-hanging fruit starting with the naturally expected revulsion at the pictures of the battered son, the woman, her marriage, the issue of corporal punishment and discipline in the home and many other things.

However, I see some interesting developments that must be highlighted about changes that are occurring in the Nigerian society and the hope that this might become even more widespread.

As the woman brutalised and battered her son for whatever reasons which from the reading of the story indicates were many occasions, a neighbour probably hearing the screams of the child and unable to placate the situation had the presence of mind to contact a non-governmental organisation the Esther Child Foundation.

They immediately attended the scene rescued the boy and had the woman arrested, they facilitated the admission of the child in hospital for treatment, through escalating the issue into the hands of the Ministry of Women Affairs and Poverty Alleviation where the child might get all his needs ministered to.

Corporal punishment

The debate about corporal punishment, discipline and the Biblical exhortation about sparing the rod and spoiling the child is quite a sensitive one amongst the religious; certain societies expect and exact the right of such parental control of their children that they will not brook any interference of the state.

A detention, a harsh rebuke, a spank, a smack, a slap, a beating, a whipping, a bludgeoning, a brutalisation and it is not long before we have a murder on our hands but the punisher may not be too aware of the damage being caused in expressing disappointment, displaying displeasure, venting anger or charting the course for corrective deterrence.

You come to the point that from the unvoiced threat to the physical contact occasioning actual bodily harm might well be classed as violence and that is just inexcusable – there should be a set punishment for criminality, there should be limits in time, duration and application with the lessons to be learnt from such activity – all reasons must be reasonable but most of all, the matter of child – parent discipline calls for a radical rethink – the fact that the rights of child to be safe and safe from the brutalisation of others in Nigeria is very welcome and should be commended.

The place of step-children in the family

Next is the matter of step-children and to think I was chatting about this issue not long ago seeing the difficulties presented between a child following a parent into a new relationship, the need for a child to be brought up in their closest family construct and what are the particular concerns for the acceptance of that child in a setting where it can so easily be alienated, isolated, enslaved, brutalised and at worst gotten rid of just because it interferes with an equilibrium that the parent and step-parent are developing, especially when they now have a new child of that that union.

Especially, in Nigeria, I can understand that it is hard for step-children to be accepted fully into the new family structure and treated as own children with the step-parent assuming full guardian responsibility and caring parental provision for the well-being and development of that child.

As the news story indicates, this child was 10, he was not in school and his step-father was ready to leave his mother if she did not do something about the “problem.”

Children and marital security

Her solution before the intervention of the NGO and the authorities was to inflict serious harm on the boy for every minor infraction, to be denied the comfort of a bed that he slept on the staircase, to make his life a living hell and when he did not run away, she probably chose this particular occasion to snuff the life out of him through severe battering and then seek to offer excuses for an accident.

There is such ambivalence in relationships, certain women will stay in marriages that are not working for the sake of their children and then will stoically put everything in the lives of their children when the father leaves the relationship.

There are parts of this setting that sadly predicates on the need for adequate provision for both the woman and the children which for the way our society works expects the man to be the sole-breadwinner and the woman to be the homemaker – in more pragmatic and liberal settings, both the parents work however there are still issues of equality and parity in our quite seriously patriarchal society.

Societal pressures of step-parenthood

There probably is no elixir to help a step-parent assume full and loving parental responsibility of their step-children and one must not forget that part of this heinous situation stems from the fact that the woman had been put under the unforgivable threat of losing her new relationship by her husband if she did not do something about the son from another marriage.

If that situation is proven, one would expect that a portion of the blame and hate must accrue to the account of that nasty husband.

In all, there are no easy solutions with the risk of the woman ending up being a single mother of two children of different fatherhood – that is a different story.

Supporting the rights of the child

What matters the most is that the rights of a child must not be dispensed of just to satisfy some new and comfortable construct, the child was already part of his mother’s life and she should have ensured his future was secure with hers or aborted the prospect of a love strengthen by the murder of her “past.”

One can only wish the child, Victor Emmanuel and better life leading to success in the future and organisations like the Esther Child Foundation need all the support we can give them to protect the rights of vulnerable children in hostile and life-threatening settings.

Source

[1] PM News: Woman Arrested For Battering Son

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Editorial: They got away with murder and menace

Free from grief

As Casey Anthony gains her freedom from prison after being acquitted of all charges related to the death of her daughter, we must collectively wonder about what has become of our world and sense of justice.

Cayley Anthony, the 2-year old daughter whose death remains a mystery apart from the fact that it was a homicide and the circumstances around her death looking unproven but with all circumstantial evidence and attitudes pointing to a most culpable mother has apparently died in vain no one to answer for whatever happened to her.

Going over the gruesome detail will not serve to benefit anyone but we all run the risk of the influence of detective and forensic dramas we watch on television where we almost believe that every commission of crime will be fully documented with witness, video-tape and Colombo, Monk, Perry Mason & Miss Marple on the case piecing together all the clues to present the perfect solution.

Reason may not be reasonable

The greater opprobrium has been heaped on the jury from which we have heard certain say that the evidence was not conclusive enough to prove that she murdered the child and on examination of that thinking it appears they had confused the reason to doubt with reasonable doubt.

As one lawyer argued, one might have a reason but a reason might not necessarily be reasonable, most of the evidence presented in murder cases will in terms be circumstantial and the rest will be left to probabilities.

If for 31 days the mother of the child did not report her missing child knowing the child was dead for whatever reason either by accident or the commission of a crime as a homicide, she must be guilty of something and definitely cannot be innocent just because the total recall of essential evidence is absent for analysis.

Casey Anthony can no more be tried for the whatever lead to the death of her daughter and for those who have been cajoled into a false reality, they have become partakers with the blood of innocent Cayley Anthony on their hands too – the cause for justice has been served, as the mother gets to live her life free of the encumbrance of a child she never grieved, if there is a conscience in America, God help us all.

A useful minister

Reading this piece of news has left me utterly crestfallen about Nigeria and the hopes of good governance in the hands of Goodluck Jonathan – it is redeemable if he has the cajones to face up to this situation and address it forthwith.

The newly sworn-in Minister of Transport was the erstwhile minister of the same department before the elections and so he got reinstated to his post.

During his first tenure, he audited the activities of departments in his ministry that included the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the then head of that department was found to have been involved in fraudulent activities and was removed from his post and charged.

His replacement apparently has close links with militants that have now been subsumed into civil society through the amnesty program but it appears they still retain elements of thuggery, brigandage and menace that they need to project to get their way.

Lost to brigands

The minister reinstated to his post obviously has the track record of rooting out corruption and will in the same vein trammel the activity of thugs who have commandeered the revenues of NIMASA for their ends with impunity.

With the minister intimidated and the militants seemingly having access to the unelected and unaccountable influence of the First Lady, the minister has been redeployed to a ministry outside his core competence whilst NIMASA appears to have been given as part of an extended amnesty package for the ex-millitants but unreconstructed criminals to run riot, that is very sad.

Remedy this situation, immediately

Nigeria deserves better and the idea that criminality, militancy, brigandage and piracy can be rewarded and the government be held to hostage as these atrocious beings run amok awash with cash that should go in the coffers of the Treasury is just to appalling to contemplate.

That fact that they can first intimidate and then wield such influence in the corridors of power can make one almost cry Nigeria has been thrown to the dogs. This situation needs immediate remedy, call their bluff and lock them up if they flout the terms of their amnesty – this is an untenable situation, it must not last another day, at best.

Acknowledgements

The BBC News website reports that Casey Anthony freed after toddler murder acquittal and the 234Next News website reports that Minister loses post in clash with former militant, a cause for serious concern.

Nigeria: Angels in road construction

Worldwide wrestling

I dare say that this borders on what I will call the superfluity of spirituality but it is probably par for the course in Nigeria where frustration, exasperation, delay, inertia, bureaucracy and corruption militates against getting things done.

With ease, when things are so muddled up, such man-made and man-caused circumstances can for those in the know be classified under categories that the Bible so clearly enunciates and is known by heart to many a praying Christian.

In Ephesians 6:12 - For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. (KJV)

In 17th Century English, I might have lost my readers so maybe the Message in contemporary English might enlighten us “This is no afternoon athletic contest that we'll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels.” Ephesians 6:12 (The Message)

A road in ruin

I do not think I am any the wiser with this attempt but it serves as the lead in to an issue in Nigeria with regards to the first toll road called the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway.

It is 105 kilometres long and it opened to traffic in 1978, though I remember people bribing military officers who stood guard at the main toll areas of the road to use it in late 1977.

In any case, it has fallen into abject disrepair from usage and neglect that the federal government adopted a novel way [1] of getting it repaired. In what is a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) contract that will span 25 years, the concessionaire will repair the road, add two lanes on either side and install gas lighting – gas lighting? Well, Dusk to dawn gas lighting down the length of the expressway with the lien to levy tolls and seek other revenue through advertisements.

The concessionaire is the Bi-Courtney Group and the project will cost upwards of NGN 90 billion ($600 million) which is quite an outlay for a local company that hopes to recoup its cost over 25 years.

An Amen waiting for a prayer

The Chairman of Bi-Courtney Highways Services Limited paid a courtesy call [2] on the General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God whose Redemption City religious meeting place and residential area is sited along the road where it became evident that the concessionaire might have bitten off more than it can chew because banking services in Nigeria do not as a matter of course provide loan terms of that kind of duration and this is hampering the necessary activity of the repairs of the road.

The widening of the road has created a whole series of legal challenges from those affected who might find their properties subject to compulsory purchase orders (Eminent Domain - US), all this from the foolishness of the concessionaire, through their hope of getting financing and the legal minefields of compulsory purchase will constitute the categories listed above as the weight of immovability might well be unearthly and beyond the work horse requirements of construction equipment put at full throttle.

It is in that context that one is left to holler the loudest Amen to the prayer of the General Overseer as the news headline indicates, “God will subdue forces against completion,” and I believe he means the completion of the project.

An unfathomable situation

Now, at face value, the Chairman, Dr Wale Babalakin (SAN) [3] is no doubt a smart lawyer having obtained both his LLM and PhD from the University of Cambridge and he has a commendable legal record, however, this project smacks of a level of Nigerian braggadocio that leaves you breathless; none of the well-heeled banks for all the legal sophistry he can muster in Nigeria seem to be ready to form a consortium to bankroll this project.

How the Bi-Courtney Group could not have had serious backers for this job before securing the concession is just beyond belief, then the 55 legal cases which all can drag on at snail’s pace in Nigeria’s sometimes soporific judicial system you begin to realise that you need the hand of God and angels in their thousands of thousands all with trumpets and heavenly strains of praise that would make the earth tremble and melt to get things done.

Impossible human doers

The Redemption City can host over 1 million adherents at monthly religious events which somewhat makes one wonder how they have endured the decrepit state of the road with equanimity, docility and possibly resignation except for their resort to the mountain moving power of prayer.

On a human level, with the resources we have on earth to observe, to agitate, to persuade, to protest, to require and to obtain; one would have expected a pressure group of the 1 million adherents and the other plaintiffs at risk of losing their land to set forth a court action to remove the concessionaire and have the concession renegotiated to necessitate the easier financing of this project on different terms and probably by another contractor.

A miracle like no other

I for one expect a miracle, one that definitely defies every human explanation that Redemption City had better be ready to host the billion, a road all paved in gold like we were told in Sunday School of heavenly paradise, this gold being so durable and perfect, it cannot be chipped or removed, yet will survive all weather and traffic putting the autobahns of Germany in the shade.

People may use the road, it will be safe no matter how careless the driver is and those who cannot ply the road for the gleaming sensation of the gold can just look at the road with every consumption of greed and frustration until they are exhausted at the foretaste of heaven that they move on there anyhow.

Since the road is a gift of God and the answer to the prayers of the faithful, the Redemption City could charge a nominal fee for its usage whilst extolling the greatness of their mission to earth.

Judgement so sweet

As for the concessionaire; an earthquake awaits any of its representatives that dare claim anything for that road, the earth will open up like a trapdoor and swallow them in Mosaic dread.

All forces subdued, prayers answer, congregation multiplied, souls saved and God praised – there can be no better place in the world than Nigeria where even for our tourist brochures we can safely say our streets are paved with gold.

Sources

[1] At Last, Work Begins On Lagos-Ibadan Expressway | P.M. NEWS Nigeria

[2] The Nation - Lagos-Ibadan Expressway: God will subdue forces against completion, says Adeboye

[3] Babalakin & Co. Legal Practitioners - People - Bolanle Olawale Babalakin SAN

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Thought Picnic: My Google+ Concerns

Google+ the new fad

The new Social Networking craze is Google+ which a lot of people are adopting and lauding as the next big thing in the online propagation of self, interest, interaction and fun.

Whilst it is a new perspective on the social networking landscape, for more practical reasons I have not found how this contributes significantly to my social networking experience yet.

I have read many reviews of the amazingly new things you can do with Google+, the circles, the hangouts, the granularity in sharing and probably it’s Facebook-killer prospects.

Carrying your users with change

My background in Information Technology is about implementing radical change in the enterprise without disrupting the business process by quantifying risk and benefit without leaving the critical business processes and users behind.

For all the amazing IT infrastructure that can be implemented in an organisation it is usually the users that are left behind and the support department left with the escalating costs of helping the users get to grips with the new environments and systems they have been presented with the IT management somewhat satisfied that the backend systems and successfully implemented and literally oblivious of the user complaints until some senior executive walks into the CIO’s office stating that the situation is untenable.

I root for the user and the many users of the organisation that make up the engine-room of the productivity gains the organisation intends to achieve by implementing any ideas or systems and it is not an easy job at all.

Exposure over experience

For instance, I remember the visual interface changes between Microsoft Office 2003 and Microsoft office 2007, whilst the later version appeared to expose the extensive usability of the product, in the process it left behind the experienced user-base of Microsoft Office products that either had to learn new ways of doing what they always knew or buying additional software that gave them the kinds of menus they were used to in earlier versions.

Eventually, Microsoft realised this that they created a usability website that allowed experienced users to put in their old ways of doing things to learn the new ways of how things are done.

I may have digressed but this is what I realised about Google+, at the moment it does not fit in into the social networking workflow that I have developed in the use of Twitter, Facebook, Blogging and Google Buzz.

Opportunity is not continuity

It does not feed into any of these environments neatly yet, though there are applications ready for that function, it does not channel any of the existing traffic nor does it aggregate any of what I do, it for now looks like a fancy gadget of excitable distraction.

I can understand that Google+ allows for people to develop the influx and categorisations of their social networking contact anew but this is at the expense of leaving behind the audience that has been built up in the various other social networking environments that have been nurtured over the years.

Whilst the connections of Twitter are asynchronous and can be managed with lists certain Twitter applications allow for the traffic to be filtered. On Facebook, fan profiles are asynchronous whilst friend profiles are synchronous, requiring acknowledgements to interact.

Multi-dimensional circles matter

With Google+ Circles linked to the Google+ Streams you can also filter your traffic but Circles are in terms monolithic, it would have been nice to have concentric circles, hierarchical trees or over-lapping circles like Venn diagrams that signify degrees of separation or closeness in terms of who you interact with and share information with because the contacts do not necessarily fall into one circle.

I probably want to put people in different circles as I determine which group of people I want to share information with like someone who is family that I can share the craziest things with that also belongs to my close circle of friends and we have similar interests and probably non-divergent career paths – clicking on that person should immediately show those relationships and hopefully what I have already disseminated.

Hard work or ease?

Another analogy can be found in the acquiring a new mobile phone; over years you build up a contact list on your mobile phone that you might occasionally prune but you would most likely want to electronically export to your new mobile phone without losing your data and its integrity.

There are terms and conditions from the various social networking platforms that might disallow the wholesale transfer of your existing user base to Google+, you find that you are manually recreating your network on Google+ which might be good for some but for others who do not need to exclude any of the existing social networking contact for being better at filtering their user base in the first instance, it becomes a chore that needs to be simplified a lot more in terms of seeing Google+ as a feeder, conduit or aggregator.

Google may not want Google+ to perform any of those functions but just like change can be a difficult process in well-established organisational structures, people might well stick with what they can use and use well retaining their user base that working in multi-various social-networking platforms that have not been usefully integrated for the user.

Hardly where it should be for the users

Google+ might well become the dominant social networking platform over time but the bridge to that seamless integration with existing social networking expression is for now a shaky rope-bridge over a river of very hungry crocodiles a la Indiana Jones.

Google Search might take the context of Google+ as a word rather than an advanced search function that concatenates the next word, I am not convinced it is the best name for this platform as it is or as words, it reminds me of software applications as Act, Clarify, Remedy, AIMS etc which were difficult to search for just because they had more predominant contexts in language than for their use as application names.

I can understand that many may not agree with my views as expressed here but I do not believe this is a concern to be dismissed out of hand, you might well want to leave your old use base behind, but if you a simple thought to your existing social networking contacts; if they are not as geeky as you are, do they want to lose contact with you and really cannot you afford to lose them just because you now have a new toy?

User-driven or developer-driven?

It is incumbent of Google to make Google+ work for you as you adapt it to your purposes with ease, it is time that the user really has a say in what software and applications should deliver rather than what the developer force feeds you just because they think they can read you mind.

Obviously, any new thinking about how to normalise the various data sets on Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, LinkedIn and other platforms is useful, maybe a good disruption to our monolithic considerations, it is left to the user to determine how high the price they want to pay for change in cost, time, process and usefulness.

You can join my Google+ network here.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Editorial: Pressing for legal correctness in Nigeria

The Press or the Law?

This calls for a blog because it does beggar belief that matters of serious legal import in Nigeria are probably poorly researched but even more damning is how the press have not bothered to check the detail and correct the information received.

The presidential election results of the April 16th 2011 are being disputed by the opposition party and its principals at the Presidential Election Petition Tribunal sitting in Abuja and I think that is a healthy development because it would either affirm the free, fair and credible elections or highlight the failings that might lead to a rebuke or even nullification of those elections.

The presiding judge has however decided that the ruling party has a case to answer [1] on the charges of election rigging and election irregularities putting aside the technicalities and making way for arguing the substantive case.

Sunday laws of business

One of the technicalities that ruling party attempted to have the case dismissed on was that the opposition party filed their petition on a Sunday which for all intents and purposes is not a working day in Nigeria.

However, the justice averred that the life-span of the tribunal allowed for its registry to conduct business on Sunday in order to expedite the petitioning process.

As with any legal argument, the use of precedent case law or acts of parliament does help buttress an argument put forward by a lawyer and one would hope that whatever is cited is correct so that it can be referenced for the sake of agreement, challenge or dispute, especially when such case law or acts might have been cited again in other proceedings and the judges have help different views of interpretation or the referenced view has been superseded by event, purpose, thinking, case law or legislation.

Wole Olanipekun (SAN) [2] is a senior advocate of Nigeria, the equivalent of which is Queen’s Counsel in the United Kingdom and he is counsel for the ruling party and the act he cited with regards to conducting no business on a Sunday was as reported by at least 6 Nigerian newspapers is the “Sunday of Servant Act of 1677.”

No such Act

That obviously piqued my curiosity, the phrase just looked too legalese to be passed off as real legalese so I conducted a Google Search [3] which left me less informed of what it really referred to and so I felt something was wrong.

There was a possibility that the court reporter heard him wrong, because there is an act that pertains to not doing business on Sundays but it is the Sunday Observance Act of 1677, in fact, there are 10 Sunday Observance Acts [4], the latest being in 1932 and there are other related Acts that amend or modify the Sunday shopping and business laws of which the counsel opportunistically chose one that would send everyone riffling through dusty legal tomes to ascertain the facts.

The earliest excerpt of the Act I can find is the Sunday Observance Act 1780 [5], the online legislative archive of the UK Parliament does reach as far back as 1267 only selected laws are documented until the 17th Century and hence the documented laws of 1677 do not include this Act.

Who was wrong?

The issue here has to be one of many from a legal heavyweight using obscure and rare legislation bamboozle the judicial process is laudable enough because it might suggest his chamber’s library is quite extensive and the chambers are given to research.

It the counsel put forth an incorrectly cited case law or Act, then that would be sacrilegious and it is unfortunate that neither the bench nor the reporters determined the citation was valid and applicable.

I however reserve the greater excoriation for the Nigerian press who on hearing the legal arguments did not bother to check the facts before publication if that was what was said at tribunal or if the court reporter did not seek clarification the newspapers either use one source or they plagiarise each other, none of which augurs well for Nigerian journalism.

Demand for improvement

The standards of journalism are just so appalling from the poor spelling, the lack of proofreading, the incorrect use of clich├ęs and the absence of fact checking.

Nigeria deserves a better standard of press media and journalism for its democracy to thrive but it starts with the fundamentals of good copy that demands good writing, information and hopefully a modicum of education.

In the end, one would hope there is a transcript of the tribunal proceedings to correctly apportion blame.

Sources

[1] 234Next.com | Jonathan and PDP must answer allegation of rigging, says Tribunal

[2] The Nation | Chief Wole Olanipekun, SAN The dovish courtroom firebrand

[3] Google Search on Sunday of Servant Act of 1677

[4] UK Parliament Laws - Sunday Observance Acts

[5] Sunday Observance Act 1780

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Editorial: Israel's legislative nadir

A rotten law

The passing of a law by the Israeli Knesset giving the right of vexatious civil prosecution to petitioners from parts of the Israeli State who have suffered boycotts marks a nadir in the democratic life of Israel.

There might be very little objective reason to boycott the substantive and legally constituted state of Israel; however, there is every reason by conscience, law and legality to boycott the settlements which are viewed by international law to be illegal.

What makes the law egregious, very bad and a departure from common-sense and reason is that petitioner does not even have to prove “economic, cultural or academic damage” was caused, as long as the petitioner can suggest, assume or imply that a boycott can be reasonably expected to cause damage no matter how contrived.

This law as much as it abridges the freedom of expression and choice of the Israelis by inference confers undue legitimacy on these outposts of the law where already too much is squandered in maintaining an uneasy calm on illegally annexed lands of the Palestinians.

Israel wants no peace

Religionists might for their ulterior purposes suggest that modern Israel which is a fraction of the promised Canaan of antiquity to Abraham and his seed is the ancestral land of the Jews; it is without doubt that the imposition of ancient literality over what must for global interests of today be figurative at best is unfortunate.

However, the biggest signal from the leaning of the current Israeli parliament and government of Israel is not of a state seeking peace with its neighbours but one of a belligerent hegemony whose concept of peace is really that of security borne of being superiorly equipped as a threat and menace whilst depriving its closest neighbour of any means of its own defence and military projection if that course of action becomes necessary.

One can so easily conclude that Israel probably enjoys its continual projection of pseudo-victim within a hostile Middle-Eastern neighbourhood; and as long as we are always distracted and confronted with the spectre of an existential threat to Israel the need to force the issue for peace never assumes the needed priority because any useful peace settlement might well make Israel pale into relative regional insignificance.

Justice needs to prevail

It goes without saying that codifying such atrocious laws into their statute books and by so doing conferring legality on an illegality does make the reasonable, fair and just begin to question the legitimacy of Israel – for whilst representative democracy might well be purposeful, it can yet be abused by the tyranny of ideology.

One would hope that the legality of this law gets tested in the highest courts of the land and the bench will with boldness contemn the intent, purpose, process and enactment of this law whilst striking it down with a stinging rebuke to all those who gave support to this travesty.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Meet the Adebanjo's - A British-Nigerian Sitcom

Hilarious! She said

Somehow, there are certain trends I do not react to or acknowledge until it catches the eye of certain members of my social network at which point my curiosity might be engaged to have a look just to appreciate what might have piqued their interest.

This topic had been around for over a week until it came up on the status of a Facebook friend with the text “Hilarious!!!” so I clicked on it.

The first minute presented jocular hilarity and elicited my comment - Hilarious indeed but looks like the over-acting I see on Turkish soaps.

Usually, after such a comment, I would have looked for other activity to engage myself but there was something familiar about the plot, the characters, the script and the setting, I was drawn in.

A British-Nigerian sitcom

Meet The Adebanjo’s [1] according to its website is a feel-good upbeat scripted sitcom, in reality whilst it seemed to be written in similar context as Desmond’s [2] which had a mainly West-Indian influence depicting the life and struggles of immigrants and their children, it was difficult to claim any real affinity with that situation comedy apart from the fact that it shared an immigrant subculture.

In Meet The Adebanjos, it is essentially Nigerian and quite particularly representative of the Yoruba predominantly from Western Nigeria but with the standard fare of one generation of parents who were born in Nigeria that have settled in Britain who now have teenaged children who are essentially British and the traditional, cultural, societal, religious and economic ructions that break-out as the family unit attempts to thrive with extended relations who take liberties and the parents maintain a semblance of harmony and success to the wider community.

The stereotypes are obvious in the roles and the attitudes of the cast; the father whose notion of headship of the family has hardly shifted from one-time traditional expectations that he is unschooled in contemporary romantic engagement of his long-suffering wife who now demands “All I want is one day when you will quality (sic) me.”

A familiar subculture

That is a quintessentially Nigerian line and usage where a noun or adjective can become a verb carrying its meaning with it when there is a more appropriate word, such malapropisms to the facetious are accepted usage within the community that everyone fully understands the context – in this case quality is used for appreciate with emphasis.

The children are caught between the cultures of home, school and the street, the domineering influence of the parents almost always becoming a source of familial conflict until they become wily enough to work around the sometimes absurd restrictions.

However, the genuineness of these depictions must not be lost and needs to be discussed because this British-Nigerian construct is a subculture that is neither fully representative of the Nigeria the parents left decades before nor fully integrated in the Britain where their children were born and buffeted by nostalgia, aspiration and circumstance to the point that it appears ghettoised.

Typically Nigerian

As objective decision-making and reasoning succumbs to subjective community ties that trust is misplaced and taken advantage of as it extends to relations, friends, religious circles, fellow countrymen and other cohesive forces; you have the makings of what can be termed “typically Nigerian” that could be set up anywhere in the world but in Nigeria itself.

I digressed; this is a nicely written script with usefully engaging plots all addressing serious matters with humour and hilarity that it is certainly and definitely more watchable than Nollywood at its pretentious best.

The 1st episode is built around the man forgetting and at loss at what to do for their wedding anniversary, it aired on the 26th of June 2011, the 2nd will air on the 10th of July 2011 and the last on the 24th of July 2011.

Altogether funny

There will be 8 episodes in all available for purchase as a DVD box set at some later date.

From what I have seen of the published episodes, the team behind this venture are talented, creative, interesting and fun, I would expect that this sitcom would find a good primetime slot on television or at the least with a cable or satellite channel with an ethnic audience - a few tweaks and less over-acting can make it mainstream enough to put the Channel 4 reality TV Series 3 of The Family [3] featuring the Adesina’s playing to the gallery in the shade.

Episode 1 is required viewing and if you surf the website or follow them on Twitter or Facebook, you might get to watch parts of Episode 2, which at the time of this review was password protected but compulsive viewing, I got to see it.

I do not know what else I should write to get you having a belly full of laughs. One line I cannot forget. “Will you insult the Lord?”

Sources

[1] Meet The Adebanjo’s

[2] Desmond's - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] The Family – Series 3 – Channel 4