Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Opinion: Oiling Diezani's prison wagon

Oiling the wheels of hedonism
I had previously passed commentary on Twitter about the case of the erstwhile Nigerian Minister for Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke.
In a statement released by the US Department of Justice last week, they are after the recovery and forfeiture of $144 million in assets that are proceeds of corruption and money laundering conducted within the jurisdiction of the United States of America. [DOJ]
Kolawole Akanni Aluko and Olajide Omokore, both of whose Wikipedia pages are urgently in need of an update because the colourful profiles therein are anything but, they apparently conspired with others to bribe Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke with gifts including property and furniture to win lucrative oil contracts in Nigeria.
Oiling global scrutiny
Kola Aluko for instance, owns the luxury super-yacht, Galactica Star, it is the world´s largest fast displacement yacht [Wikipedia]. It is valued at about $65 million and it gained a rather high social profile when it was hired by Jay-Z and BeyoncĂ© for her 32nd birthday. [Business Insider]
Basically, Aluko and Omokore seem to have gotten their hands on lots of money from their nefarious activities and have not been reticent about living high profile lives of acquisitive hedonistic eye-watering ostentation.
In any case, let’s look at an aspect of this matter that does not seem to be dawning on Nigerians of power and influence yet. The fact that no one has the resources to completely control the narrative anymore. The power you wield in Nigeria that could be overwhelming in that locality is paltry in global terms, Nigerian smarts do not essentially suggest you are smart about things, you might well be stupid when taken out of that setting.
Oiling the sheen of stupidity
It brings me to a few trivial, yet interesting conclusions about Mrs Diezani Alison Madueke who we deign to call Diezani.
Diezani, has been both stupid and smart, smart in her involvement with her co-conspirators in crime to have recorded conversations of their wanton thievery and yet stupid enough to allow those recordings to become key evidence for indictment, because she somehow failed to sequester the material far from reach, it’s like being caught in the act, red-handed.
Smart to express a sense of proportion in admonishing the men about their hedonism whilst stupid enough in her cant to exhibit the same characteristic in accepting $4 million worth of furniture for her many properties. [Premium Times]
Smart to find ready patrons lacking in integrity and character to probably insulate her from the corrupt enterprise she presided over, but that itself was stupid because whilst she apparently got away with it in Nigeria, she could not in the UK and the US. [Newsweek]
Oiling the arm of the law
Carrying on the previous thought, smart to have absconded Nigeria since 2015 where she has escaped the hounding of ineffectual law enforcement and prosecution, but stupid enough to think they could not only provide influence but add value to the investigations and indictments instigated abroad.
To reiterate an earlier thought, invariably, what we stupidly assume as smart in the Nigerian context could very well be exposed as stupid in the global scheme of things. Everyone forgets that in our global village, that nothing of note in a secret local grotto is entirely isolated from the global klieg lights.

Enjoy the simple things

Let us begin to appreciate,
Without letting it depreciate,
The singular moments that pass like fate,
From the many distractions, we take as bait,
We miss the beauty of nature that is great,
When on our devices we fixate,
Our sight denied a colourful slate,
And lungs that yearn to aspirate,
When we quietly sit to contemplate,
The passing of time without a date,
Not all captured on photographic plate,
Nor shot on mobile phone can inculcate,
None is significant or adequate,
To observe the wonder the natural does create,
To end all dispute or debate,
Let’s begin again to naturally communicate.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Thought Picnic: The flashes of creativity that die

Drawing from wells of nourishment
Creativity is like a flash of light, it might be a well sunk deep somewhere where the water your draw from it only comes in buckets that you sling down easily but draw up with much exertion and perspiration. At least I know that is it is not a running supply that delivers water to your sink as you turn the faucet on demand.
Yet, once you start to create, there is a zone of flow that appears to suggest you are connected to an inexhaustible pool of resources of deployment and expression, and that you must always be thankful for.
It died completely
Just under three weeks ago, I was writing a piece that was an appeal to the goodness and professionalism of someone else on behalf of my sister. I had completed the write-up and was just proofreading it when my computer died on me. I mean, died completely.
Now, for a while, I never thought of using a tablet device my main computing device, I had preferred lightweight laptops until at the end of November 2016, I went on holiday trialling a Galaxy Tab Pro S tablet device running Microsoft Windows 10.
As an entry-level low specification device with just 4GB of RAM and a 128GB Solid State Drive (SSD), I did not expect much from it that I had my laptop as a backup device, but I grew to love the tablet that it eventually became my main computing device as I eventually left the laptop untouched for months.
The voice that spoke in vain
On my last trip to Edinburgh, I had a deep premonition that I ignored, it suggested I take my laptop with me, but that required rebuilding the laptop and working on a few other things; that little voice does matter.
I had not saved the piece I wrote when my Samsung tablet died and could not be revived again. Taking it to the Samsung shop in Edinburgh, I was told it had to go for service and repairs, an arrangement I could complete in the shop and then have the courier come over to my Edinburgh office to pick it up.
For days, I monitored the service records that indicated the device was being repaired, then they were waiting for parts for another week.
The stand-in did not stand out  
Meanwhile, on the matter of creativity, it all seemed to dry up, the replacement, Samsung Tab A (2016, 7.0, Wi-Fi) was the least expensive stop-gap device I acquired in the Samsung shop because I needed to retain online communications. It fell short on one of the critical elements of transcribing the blogs that I usually write and format in Microsoft Word before pasting in the Google Blogger editor, but now on an Android device. The formatting did not keep and that was just not acceptable to me.
Recalling what I had written before I lost it was not easy. Whilst I could remember the context and the ideas, the first run that looked like it nailed all the points I wanted to express was not going to be like my second attempt, which I eventually published using my computer at work.
I pined and pained
The loss of my primary device, however, left me bereft of inspiration and without the ease of communication I was already accustomed to, I became a recluse of the mind, all dried up with a famine of ideas even if there was much to write about and there was.
On my last day at work in Edinburgh, there was much to close out, documentation, demonstrations and discussions, even that suffered from my inability to produce and excel. It bothered me so much that I had to step away from my desk a few times, in the hope that the changes in environment and engagement in other activity might trigger something.
The surprise that arrived
I arrived early and I was the last to leave because of this and then just after 2:00 PM, a phone call from the mail room informed me that I had a parcel waiting for collection. My Samsung device had returned even though I put on notice that I be informed before it was sent back, just in case I had left Edinburgh by then.
The motherboard and power port was changed per the information in the parcel, I cannot explain why the motherboard would just die like that, but I am pleased that the device was under warranty for the repairs not to cost anything, or at least the cost to me seemed invisible, apart from having to acquire a temporary device and then being unable to blog with a sense of flow.
To create again
I still struggle to get back into the rhythm of blogging and I know I would get back there because of all creative endeavours, that is the one I seem to be getting good at after 13 years of doing it.
Creativity is like a flash of light, if your eyes are closed you might not see it, if they are open and you are looking directly into the source of light, it might be blinding, else, it momentarily illuminates your surroundings and in that instance, if you can see, observe and perceive, you get a good idea of where you are and where to go from there.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Essential Snobbery 101: Simply respecting others

For all that is simply human
In this modern age where technology has become such a distraction that certain elements of human interaction are lost to engagement with electronic devices, one could be forgiven for the sense of shock that overwhelms when strangers are encountered.
By this I mean, certain generational shifts have deprived people of the richness of communication in facial expression, the art of conversation, use of language and if one were not to be too greedy the finesse of politeness.
Already, I might be considered old-fashioned, for the simple reason that I do put my electronic devices away when I am walking the streets, definitely would never be looking at a device when I am crossing the road, I never wear earphones in both ears to deprive me of the perception of my environment.
People are everything
When I meet people, I want to engage with people, my electronic device does not have to be a part of the crowd. We diminish our necessary heightened sense of perception and spatial awareness when we ignore our surroundings to concentrate on the world of our electronic devices that we become oblivious and endangered.
People forget they are standing in the way because they have not developed the communal skill of consideration and presence, the concept of knowing that a public space is, in fact, public, requiring possession and allowance in equal measure, being aware of what is in front and around you, just in case you walk into someone, a ditch or a pole.
Sadly, some have walked into harm and fatality just because they had become unaware of the dangers around them, hoping they could pass that responsibility on to others when each individual is responsible for how they access a public space.
Treat strangers politely
However, what irks me most is those who completely without greeting, introduction, conversation, or acquaintance arrogate to themselves an entitlement to ask personal and private questions expecting answers.
I would be too stunned to react in any useful way to such rudeness. Much I have excused that behaviour from the highly fed and lowly taught of recent times, who probably know no better, it is completely inexcusable of those of my generation. Maybe I am being nostalgic for an era that only existed in my imagination, but I am tempted to believe there was an age of politeness, very middle-class and conforming in many ways.
The simple old ways
You covered your mouth when you coughed or yawned and covered your nose too, hopefully with a handkerchief when you sneezed. In acknowledging those around you, even as you succumbed to the involuntary acts of nature, like belching, farting or bumping into someone your minor social violations suggest you ask for forgiveness expressing regret and you will be acknowledged with respect.
Respect, that is the due regard for the feelings, wishes, or rights of others, it has all become something of a rarity, we begin to wonder whether social graces were never taught or people just feel too entitled to be bothered about others. It is not something I understand at all.
Yet, we must remind ourselves on occasion that we are social beings and hope that the better side of our humanity would not be lost to the passing of the times.

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

Thought Picnic: In search of the rational mind

Winning the freedom to be
It is becoming clear that the greatest battle to fight is one for the rational mind, one that is open to ideas and engagement, one that is willing and ready to jettison orthodoxy, tradition and beliefs for a newer understanding of things.
To be able to free oneself from the norms and chart a path of individuality risks ostracism and excoriation. Unique as we are in our beings, the need to belong even if belonging is inimical to our well-being is one of the poor sacrifices we make in conformity and securing ourselves in our comfort zones.
We create insurmountable boundaries in our minds and imagination, narrow our horizons to the perfunctory and limit our expectations to things either already in our grasp or the old laurels that gather dust in a backwater of irrelevance.
Slaves of superstition
Rather than unlearn, we reinforce the subjective at the expense of the objective and idle the mind to being spoon-fed the witticisms of lesser people we have given the power, means and authority to lord it over us and abuse us in our fawning subservience.
Our minds have become the raging mob with those readily incited to the reprehensible and in our subconscious that eventually gets acted out, we diminish the greatest resource of our humanity to becoming mere humans.
We are, by terms, the slaves of superstition – the widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such a belief.
Beyond reason
In that, we lose the trail of reason, out of which we could find a reasonable purpose of exercising every latitude of reasonableness. A mind governed by superstition cannot be questioning, inquiring, challenging, inquisitive, and precocious or ever dare to be irreverent.
We accept things as they are beyond which there is no other progress but to repeat the vicious cycle of bad traditions disabling our capacity.
It has to be a conscious decision to break free, to ensure that in seeing we observe, in hearing we listen and learn, in touching we feel, in interactions we begin to understand and appreciate other views. When presented with the prism of life, every incident of light brings new perspectives, if we are seeing just one thing, it means you, the prism and the source of light are not moving, we might well be glass-eyed.
Seeking the rational mind
The beginning of rationality in plotting the course from being steeped in superstition is to read and to comprehend. Comprehension requires exposure to mechanics of language, inflexions and intentions, context and usage, there is a world of ideas that would not fall off the trees onto our heads jolting us into conscious revival.
We need to desire that sense and determination of individuality that can change not only ourselves but those around us. Nothing is sacred or sacrosanct, facts must be scrutinised constantly for flaws, data is a jumble to be made sense of and opinions are just what they are opinions.
Yet, we can dare to be original, take initiative even in a crowded field without fearing to think differently from the accepted or what has been deemed the acceptable. We have to battle our idols, our anxieties, our misgivings, our doubts, slaughter the sacred cows and barbeque the steaks for a feast of emancipation.
We war against the superstition that has held us hostage for too long and set out on an adventure into the unknown, searching for new truths, debunking old myths and laying the legends to rest where they belong, in stories, in fables and in fantasy.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Dear Sergeant Adebisi of Ajiwe Ajah Police Station, please do your job

Dear Sergeant Adebisi,
I am writing to you to appeal to your good nature, your sense of duty, and your commitment as a police officer to public service to rise to the challenge of doing your job.
On the night of the 23rd of May 2017, my sister and brother-in-law were burgled, or to use an Americanism, they were burglarized by armed robbers. My brother-in-law in the encounter received head wounds that needed immediate hospital treatment and amongst the things stolen were electronic goods, phones and wallets containing bank cards. I reference the crime in the link below:
This would have been the standard-issue armed robbery in Nigeria that rarely takes up police resources, but we have something to work on here. In the morning of the 24th of May 2017, between 5:57 AM and 7:47 AM, 5 money transactions were made from my brother-in-law’s account with the Guaranty Trust Bank (GT Bank) to a recipient account with the Fidelity Bank; that recipient account belonged to Izuka Chukwuemeka Onyema.
This is where your duty as a policeman begins to matter to matter to Nigerians along with the training you received and the experience that has elevated you to the rank of sergeant with the opportunity for more laurels.
  • Who is Izuka Chukwuemeka Onyema?
  • How did Izuka Chukwuemeka Onyema’s account come to be the recipient of unauthorised fund transfers a few hours after an armed robbery?
  • Could Izuka Chukwuemeka Onyema be in cahoots with the armed robbers or is he under duress to have his account used for laundering proceeds of crime?
  • Why is Izuka Chukwuemeka Onyema not being apprehended for questioning, maybe interrogation and possibly held for conspiracy in committing an armed robbery?
  • Izuka Chukwuemeka Onyema is the only link to the armed robbers and at the very least should be made to return the sums of money transferred to his account back to my brother-in-law’s account.
  • Izuka Chukwuemeka Onyema should be eliminated from being a person of interest with regards to the armed robbery, but that requires he be questioned and the stolen money returned at the very least.

As you can see, this is all police work, not what you or anyone would expect civilians to do. This matter is complicated by the fact that my sister after much agitation was able to get GT Bank to correspond with Fidelity Bank, the result being Izuka Chukwuemeka Onyema’s account was restricted, but the funds have not yet been transferred back to my brother-in-law’s account.
When Izuka Chukwuemeka Onyema’s account was restricted, the armed robbers returned to terrorise my sister, my brother-in-law and their neighbours. We were lucky no one came to any harm because as the armed robbers were trying to gain access to their building, everyone was alerted and so my people escaped harm.
Not only have my people (my sister and brother-in-law) lost things, he was wounded and had to be operated on twice, they have their money stolen and locked away in an account owing to inertia on your part and that of the banks and they have been so terrified of reprisal attacks from the armed robbers that they have been rendered homeless, just 8 months into their marriage.
I have it on good authority that you had to be persuaded by more senior officers to be interested in investigating this crime, yet for one reason or another 5 weeks after the armed robbery, we are nowhere near any resolution, in apprehending the link person Izuka Chukwuemeka Onyema, in returning the stolen money or even retrieving the stolen goods.
The devastating impact on the lives of my sister, my brother-in-law and their neighbours is one that every reasonable person would expect that you are the senior police officer in their locality to be concerned about, but you have been scolding them for seeking justice and going above your head to encourage you to do your job. It is an unfortunate reading of events that are within your power to remediate.
I would think you want an easy life and this looks like an easy crime to resolve if you can rise to that challenge.
So, Sergeant Adebisi of Nigeria Police Force Office in Area A, Ajiwe Ajah Road, Lekki Expressway, I appeal to you once again, please for the sake of your reputation and the reputation of the Nigeria Police Force, get engaged, get involved and help resolve this matter. You have the details, you have the evidence of a crime having been committed, perish the thought that an inducement is required to do your job from the victims of crimes or worse still that anyone in your office is in cahoots with Izuka Chukwuemeka Onyema or the armed robbers.
Obviously, there is an alternative, if you are not interested in being a policeman, you can offer your resignation and allow others with a bit more enthusiasm in police work and bringing a sense of professionalism to the police force to take your place. Any well-meaning Nigerian would applaud the solving of crimes, most especially ones where the evidence is handed to the police on a plate.
Sergeant Adebisi, the ball is in your court.
Thank you for your kind consideration of my appeal and I look forward to the opportunity to celebrate your work as a policeman.
Yours sincerely,
Akin Akintayo (Brother and brother-in-law of the victims of crime in your area of influence.)