Thursday 28 September 2006

A project for colourful analogy

Tautology of analogy

Somehow, I have become a master of analogies when it comes to understanding and explaining topics, ideas, issues or circumstances in my profession.

The project I am currently involved in is another classic in the many projects I have embarked upon where the salient lesson ends up being how not to do projects.

Interestingly, NaijaBlog highlighted issues with poor project management in Nigeria, but I can say that it is no better in Europe.

What is amazing is that we have professional project managers with Prince 2, Princess 3, Queen 4, King 5 and Emperor 6 project management qualifications but not an iota of genius has materialised from such great learning.

All sold on a whim

The first analogy stemmed from the situation where the project managers through their boss announced to their corporate community that they would deliver a product for live deployment in 2 weeks – no problem with that – however, if the project managers have not consulted their core resources, of which I was one, about that possibility, they would have sold a luxury car without having first seen the prototype.

I have read my CV over and over again, I have not found the words miracle or worker anywhere on the CV, in fact, this blog contains the first instance of those two words in such close proximity when talking of myself.

Then, there is the other part where it appears this project which is an activity of centralising and consolidating the business and resources to one country, there are many all around the place who have basically been deliberately sabotaging the project not to talk of the fact that there are so many chiefs in the canoe, not one space for the overworked Indian to row the boat.

Stunned at the sight of Medusa

However, this is the big picture, somehow, we all have paintbrushes with the mind that we are all together painting a figure whose name starts with M, some are expecting something serene, enduring and captivating like Mona Lisa; some are so clueless, they are making a Mess; some dare to fantasise and think it would be Marilyn Monroe with the air up her skirt, however, at the unveiling, we ended up with Medusa, such that we were shocked to stone – that is real-life project management as I have seen it in many enterprises.

My weekends are my weekends

In view of the poor project management and the atrocious impediments of staff that have thwarted every purpose we have tried to assert not to talk of the how 10-minute job have taken the best part of 10-hours with no resolution in sight, someone has the temerity to request my presence for the weekend – fat chance.

I rarely do weekends at work, not for the money not for the fun, my weekends are for myself especially if the whole week has milked 10 hour days – something has to give and what should give is a revelation of rotten project management and planning, more so, those who demand so many hours are out of the door before the clock chimes five.

Did I say that?

Twice, I have blurted out an expletive in utter exasperation bordering on apoplexy, how is it that these people just do not seem to look like the ordinary man in the street?

Joined-up thinking is just as rare as joined-up writing, though in spite of it all, I would deliver a product that is fit for purpose catering for my customer base which includes the users, the administrators and the enterprise.

I have another month of doing this stuff, the lesson would be well learnt – How not to do projects.

Friday 22 September 2006

Rotten journalism ruins obituary

Death at a great age

In Nigeria we have a seemingly mature perspective of death especially when the deceased was full of years with children, grand-children and great grand-children. In fact, I once attended the Christian wake of a prominent Nigerian who died at 89, what I noticed was that no one was mourning in black, but everyone was in a radiant blue.

Basically, we rejoice with the survivors when a full life with generations of issues predeceases their offspring – they are congratulated and the deceased is lauded.

So, I read from Ayoke’s blog that Mrs. Margaret Ekpo, one of the foremost female politicians in Nigeria has died at the age of 92.

The women who shined for us

This brings to memory the famous women of Nigeria who during the struggles for Nigerian independence ensured that the voice of hand that rocks the cradle was not silent as we determined our future. People like Mrs. Ransome-Kuti, Mrs. Oyinkan Abayomi and Lady Ademola blazed the trail in the emancipation of women in Nigeria, to them; a great debt of gratitude is owed.

The source article on ThisdayOnline does this great departed no honour; now, my blog is not perfect, I do proofread and check my spelling and grammar many times over but sometime fail to see errors.

Rotten journalism

ThisDayOnline is a newspaper of journalists who produce copy in English; it would probably have an editor that oversees all material before it is published for global viewing.

How Mrs Ekpo’s son who announced her death twice acquired the female gender in their copy is not only annoying, it is sloppy journalism, leaving much to be desired.

Mr Eddy Ekpo would have confirmed that his mother died in hospital and remains of his mother would be returned to the family home in due course. Mrs Ekpo, having passed on, would now acquire the possessive past tense of having had 12 grand-children and so many more great grand-children, regardless of the living status of the children.

Naijablog has time and again lamented the poor quality of Nigerian journalism; this example just shows there is much to be done about people who write for a profession.

Beyond all this, Mrs. Margaret Ekpo who served as representative on the Eastern House of Chiefs from 1948-1966 and was a delegate to Nigerian Constitutional Conference in the 1950s and a Nigerian delegate to international conferences in the 1960s – she was a worthy delegate – my her soul find repose as we remember her.


The offending article Courtesy of This Day Online (PDF)

Thursday 21 September 2006

Democracy - Counting the votes or Counting on judges?

Count each vote please

The kind of democracy that the United States espouses is probably not the kind of democracy that many other democratic nations would ascribe to. This is most evident in the turmoil that is about to engulf Mexico.

The Election 2000 dispute between Al Gore and George W. Bush, came down to the difference between counting each vote meticulously and the television networks making extrapolations and projections on a sampling of votes which then lead them to call an election for either party.

When the Mexican Electoral Court approved the counting of just 9% of the votes when a wider range of supposed irregularities were alleged, it was clear that resolving a suffrage through the courts rather that the count would lead to chaos.

Democratic ambivalence

Beyond this, the current American government displays a worrisome ambivalence to democracy; the ones they have supported in Afghanistan and Iraq are verging on failed states, the Palestinians popularly elected a “terrorist” organisation for which they are being punished, then Iran and Venezuela are democracies only that they are governed by anti-American figures.

The most interesting observation however is juxtaposing the American reaction to the recent Thai military coup and failed Venezuelan military coup of 2002.

Though the US has not vehemently defended the democratic cause in Thailand they have expressed their concern as “a very sad development”; this was not the case with Venezuela, they were not quick to condemn the coup and it appears they might have been culpable in the vent too.

The support the US offers to so-called liberation groups to destabilise democracies from within should be cause for concern, I would wonder how America would react if external forces intervened to perfect their not so perfect democracy.


Thai leaders ban political action

Foreign Policy In Focus Policy Report: Venezuela’s Failed Coup, the U.S.’ Role, and the Future of Hugo Chávez

The Observer | Special reports | Venezuela coup linked to Bush team

U.S. Goals Are Thwarted At Pro-Democracy Forum

Iran: Tehran Opposes U.S. Pro-Democracy Initiatives

Lady Oddjob takes no responsibility

Ministerial culpability

My silence regarding about Lady Oddjob has been shattered to smithereens as news arrives about a situation to which she should have responded, but she has ended up being affected by her inaction.

Last November, an arsonist imprisoned illegal immigrant set fire to his confinements leading to a big fire which apparently the security staff ignored assuming a recurrent altercation leading to the deaths of 11 inmates.

Long before the inquiry had been launched both the Justice Minister (Donner) and the Minister for Integration and Immigration (Mrs Verdonk [Lady Oddjob]) commended the staff of the detention centre for having done all in their power to contain the situation and save life. Covered in Dancing on their warm graves.

At a point, the Major of the locality decided to revoke the certificate of safety and worthiness of that building in order to compel the Justice Minister to assign a safer building for the function of immigrant detention centre; he was overruled with an extraordinary constitutional stature invoked by the Justice Minister.

Ministerial inertia

When an independent inquiry and investigator was appointed, he extracted a promise out of Mrs Verdonk’s ministry to keep the survivors in the Netherlands for at least the duration of the inquiry, unfortunately, some of those witnesses were shipped out of the country before he had adequate access to them, this left the inquiry a bit hamstrung and the investigator quite miffed that he went to the press.

Eventually, in an act of unusual kindness, the remaining survivors were granted leave to stay in the country and the arsonist charged for fire-raising amongst other offences.

Now, another inquiry run by the Dutch Safety Council has released its report on this fateful event with a scathing indictment of the government for not adhering to planning and safety rules, rules which would have limited or prevented the deaths of 11 hapless illegal immigrants.

Ministerial responsibility

Somehow, after the report, the Justice and Housing Ministers felt their positions were untenable, took responsibility for the failings and resigned, so did the Mayor of the locality whose officials had issued the safety permits which he tried to revoke after the event.

Mrs Verdonk whose hard-line immigrant policies makes her the most popular Dutch politician who could be found in the middle of the most embarrassing, scandalous and inhumane policies on immigration exemplified in the revocation and reinstatement of Hirsi Ayaan Ali’s Dutch citizenship and the collapse of the Balkenende II government having refused to resign for her actions, takes the spoils by becoming the Minister for Justice for two months before the elections.

We can safely assume that Mrs Verdonk would never take responsibility for any actions that have taken place under her watch.

What makes this more concerning is that she as Minister of Justice might end up receiving the report that lead to the resignation of her boss, then presiding over the means to respond to its recommendations, a situation from which she must recuse herself having not had the honourable integrity to resign in the wake of a report that from my judgement embroils her in ministerial culpability.

In the end, it appears there is no amount of damage this woman can bring to Dutch politics that can make her responsible for anything such that she can honourably resign, if the polls or political cowardice on the part of Minister-President Jan-Pieter Balkenende are responsible for this; November should give us the fresh air of bolder initiatives from a new government.

Sunday 17 September 2006

Whose apology is it anyway?

Religion of peace allowing violent protests?

An article on the Times Online site today expressed my sentiments in words I probably cannot better.

Just like we saw during the carton riots, one really has to try and reason out the paradox or irony that excites Muslim protests.

Anyone from Mars would be at pains to understand the oft held belief that Islam is a religion of peace only to see that the adherents when aggrieved about the infraction of one the bastions of their faith, take to the streets in rowdy, violent protest in a kind of mass hysteria of rage that shows nothing of the peace we have been schooled to expect.

The whole logic escapes me, in a world that is moving to a stage where conversation and dialogue should resolve disagreements and grievances; we find no intelligent debate to press those grievances rather than the blackmail of “offenders” who are forced to recant their views for the fear that the street violence would go out of hand. Imagine, protests concerning the cartoons lead to the loss of dozens of lives.

This ought not to be so.

Whose apology is it anyway?

The demand for an apology is facetious in the least, like I did say during the cartoon riots, if the name of Mohammed or some Islamic principle is besmirched, who really stands up to absolve the offender when an apology is made?

Who is the figure-head leader of Muslims around the globe who would take supplications and offerings of penance when the good name of the Prophet or the God of Islam is insensitively debased?

What really constitutes an apology, a recantation, self-flagellation or even worse and by whose standard is the offer of an apology judged to be sufficient enough to assuage and placate the offended?

Is there anyone who would lead a new civilization in Islam that would say, we have a religion of peace and rather than call people into the streets would we lead a debate that reasons out the issues and convinces the offenders of their faults?

Invest in raising literacy rates

It is time for the Mullahs, the Clerics, the Imams, the Sheiks and princes of Islam to take a commanding and leadership role to excite edifying and constructive debate on what is turning out to be a clash of civilisations.

There is no way we can reach a place of understanding if one side seeks erudite discourse and the other excites mass hysteria in street demonstrations – that results in a communication breakdown – it also means that certain sides should invest more in the education of their people rather than subduing them by allowing illiteracy to thrive such that they do not have minds to make reasonable and rational decisions.

We seek an age of enlightenment that raises not just literacy rates but creates skills meet for community is evolving in response to the juggernaut of globalisation, it is unlikely that people gainfully oiling the engines of globalisation would be on the streets burning effigies – however, that is a debatable generalisation.


Literacy rates in Islamic Countries

Integrate Modern and Islamic Education

Saturday 16 September 2006

A new Jihad for the streets of Islam

New opiates for religious fanatics

The people are agog like the mob let loose to lynch a criminal, as the pictures fill our screens with people burning effigies, protesting with interesting placards in the cities of India, Pakistan, Turkey, Egypt and Palestine.

There is no doubt that this would gain some global following before it quells down, if it ever does. I suspect there is some organisation somewhere that searches the world over for any mention of the words Islam, Mohammed, Muslim, Qur’an or Allah, then counts so many words forth and aft then forklifts that as staple to project a grievance.

In February 2006, during the Mohammedan Cartoon rows, I wrote a whole set of opinions, I think 8 in all about how certain adherences to a religion to the exclusion of reason and understanding allows for mobs to be mobilised to a cause that ends up portraying that religion in the worst light.

There is no doubt that those cartoons were offensive in general, but the reaction to those cartoons did little to win converts to the faith, however, it did unite established adherents in holy anger and violent rage.

Read that speech first

So, this morning, I printed out the whole seven pages of the Pope’s speech to a scientific community in a university where he was once a professor got out my highlighter and pored over the whole text to see what the fuss was all about.

On the whole, what I could read was a discourse about how it requires reason to appreciate the whole concept of religion, reason itself, requires elements of scholarship and within that, reason gains both creativity and self-communication when it includes and is concerned about religion and ethics.

At the beginning of his speech, in what should become the focal point of all intelligent and scholarly minds who have the power to address their people and followers, this where they may be failing in understanding the whole discourse, we should be “sharing responsibility for the right use of reason”.

Read the whole speech

This also means we should be questioning not just our motivations in reaction to issues but the consequences of those reactions when viewed in the clear light of day.

The quote that the Pope used in reference to Mohammed, the Qur’an and holy wars cannot be read out of context, it appears on the second page of a seven-page document.

It follows on from a point about scepticism and probably atheism within the university to a need to apply reason to the atheistic concept of how God cannot exist and yet the university had two faculties of theology.

The historical context

Then he related the story of a conversation between Emperor Manuel II Palaiologos and an educated Persian which occurred during the siege of Constantinople; this should be taken in the context of the fact that Ottoman Sultan Bayezid I had besieged the Byzantine capital such that the emperor travelled to Western Europe, twice in his lifetime, to seek help, this lead to the last great Crusade called the Battle of Nicopolis which was defeated.

It was also at a time when Islam was at an ascendancy moving West towards Europe and Catholicism was in decline – the import however was to highlight that fact that people should not be coerced into adopting a religion, much as wars in those times either Christian or Muslim sometimes included the spoils of forcibly converting the vanquished to the religion of the victors.

Jihads and Crusades – 21st Century

This then lead to the gem of the exchange itself – “Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats... To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death...

The today’s context there might be talk of Crusades and Jihads but both have to climb out of the primitive use of the sword to the expression of ideas, reasoning and communication – this is where the street demonstrations though dramatic and sensational to say the least never really convey with persuasion and understanding of grievance, rather, people are repelled by the fear of an expression that exhibits destruction, hate and abuse.

If we must raise a Jihad, let us go back to the Jihad that Muslim scholars of old, who during the Dark Ages in Europe, kept knowledge and light glowing in the development of mankind – there more to Jihad than the sword – it is time for a change of heart, the searching of the soul, where the tongue sues for peace the world over, where people reason as knowledgeable citizens of our current civilisation and a sense of community prevails over selfish ends.

In that sense, Christianity and Islam have a reasonable purpose, the betterment of mankind, in fact, it is religion based on strong reason, just as God did say in the Bible in the Book of Isaiah (Isa to the Muslims) – “Come now, let us reason together”, the Pope’s speech was an exhortation to all to be reasonable in pursuit of religion or in the community of mankind.

I am no papist and I do not see any reason why a well written discourse on religion, reason and science should attract such unwarranted opprobrium.

The reaction of many simply shows that they never read that speech past the second page and if they did, they did not grasp the context and the world is poorer for it.


Fresh criticism of Pope's remarks

Friday 15 September 2006

Certifying gullibility in Nigeria

Great opportunities in Nigeria

Somehow, I have always had a sixth sense about when a scam is in the offing. This goes back long way when I was a service technician in the eighties with an IT services firm in Nigeria which had very good initiation ideas but got run down by the happy-go-luck lifestyle of the owners. Quite sad.

I owe a lot in my career to the foothold IT Systems Limited gave me into IT and other interesting things I when on to do with high volume desktop publishing with Deji Sasegbon & Co Publishers who published the Nigerian Supreme Court Cases in 30-something volumes then using PCs and Xerox Ventura Publisher which put us well beyond the work Gani Fawehinmi was doing with older publishing methods.

Almost dazzled with red mercury

So, this interesting day, we got a call that from an office in a Lagos suburb of Ketu to help them fix computers. Hardly had I gotten there, another man arrived trying to get us interested in some deal that involved red mercury and turning black pieces of paper into wet 10 Naira notes.

Red mercury has always been the stuff of unbelievable myths, enough to engage and where you lose your guard you are done.

Somehow, he had 4 million of those notes that he had to pick up from the airport and he needed financial assistance to acquire more red mercury to process the notes, I was to raise 10,000 Naira and would eventually end up with 4 million Naira.

Now, would sound incredible to anyone, but I just knew within me that nobody makes money that easily except in a lottery, the danger was that once the deal was completed, there was so much at stake that rather than flying with the mile-high club, one would steady six feet under with the inheritors being the partners in the crime.

I walked away and thankfully, I had left no details about myself with them, now, in Europe, I would have been off to the police, in Nigeria, it was best to pretend nothing had happened live your life in peace.

Same crime different medium

So, when I started getting emails pertaining to the Advanced Fee Fraud419 scams, it did not take too much to realise this was variation on my earlier experience.

Unfortunately, many are too wide-eyed with gullibility to some extent, greed in others and plain foolish having suspended reason for fantasy, they get their fingers burnt and are fleeced of the pennies and pounds they have saved up all their lives.

Nigeria now has an anti-graft agency called the EFCC, this somehow strikes fear into those who cannot account for how that have come into so much wealth. Sometimes, it is as if everyone is a Cinderella with a fairy god mother who waves the wand and the next day you are rolling in money like it is going out of fashion.

There are many who are getting hounded justly to account in much more detail about the provenance of their wealth, some have even fled the country to avoid being apprehended, but the interesting part to it is how many of the old hands on the oil tiller are getting implicated by these investigations.

An instrument for bias?

Despite all this, the agency is susceptible to accusations of bias and the possibility of being used as a political tool for people who can pull strings in the agency like to Presidency to get at political opponents.

A number of cases have arisen where Nigerian citizens nabbed for money laundering abroad and rather than the Nigerian exercise the kind of interest that would allow for those cases to be dealt with in Nigerian courts and under our justice system, our Attorney General gets carted off to argue cases to keep those culprits abroad.

That ploy has in cases backfired because sometimes foreign justice systems would rather not wade into the murky waters of explaining the intricate matters of the Nigerian constitution or do the dirty work of other vested interests.

The Emperor’s funny certificates

Anyway, what is most interesting is that another scam as a result of the work of this agency is now being perpetrated; some people are issuing corruption-free certificates very much like one might get with a credit reference.

Some people are buying these certificates which they hope would be some sort of absolution testimonial when seeking political office or engaging in some business activity.

Well, what can I say? Does having a corruption-free certificate give me the confidence to deal with someone who has been so easily fooled?

This is the stuff the Emperor’s new clothes is made of and whoever came up with that idea must be both enterprising and a nasty crook, just as we have been educated this week about pretexting with regards to the investigation of Hewlett Packard directors, the clever crooks have been pretexting as EFCC officials with the authority to issue certificates which might be about being corruption-free but that does not make the recipient incorruptible.

Like with every scam, a fool and his money are soon parted.

Brawlers with keyboards

Those rotten comments
Hardly three months ago, had I written about how the blogging world was getting infiltrated by brawlers with keyboards and now I have had to entertain some on my blog.
These are people who usually have no blogs of their own but squat in the comment areas of other people’s blogs placing comments that are strongly worded, poorly delivered and generally incoherent.
What grates me is not that they disagree with the main thrust of the blog, but rather than deal with the ideas expressed like intelligent and reasoning people they use personal attacks to try and convey they points.
Don’t get me wrong, these people probably do have good thinking heads; it is only that they lack good writing skills such that their “so-called” reasoned ideas are lost under a cloud of diatribe, vitriol, abuse and disconnected generalisations.
Such people are also fouling up the blog space that the freedom to express ideas is suffering aspects of censorship lightly called moderation; I have seen at least three blogs I visit consider moderation, two of which have already introduced it.
Communication for the globe
I can understand that language like “I respectfully disagree” or “With all due respect” may sound archaic, but even when we meet strangers we do try to present ourselves in the best light and not like riff-raff; why should that be different when you comment in other people’s blog space?
I live and work in an international community with people from all around the globe and where my language of communication is English; expression, tone and delivery play a great part in communication, persuasion and convincing people of your point of view – for me, shouting out expletives would not bull-doze walls and boulders, rather, that would close all doors and I speedily lose respect for that person.
Let us have a good time
When, months ago, Tom Peters had to introduce moderation on his blog because brawlers with keyboards were having a field day, the guide to placing comments could well become the gold standard for accepting comments on any blog space.
I quote verbatim from Tom Peters’ blog those points for clarity sake.
Are there ground rules for posting comments?
We want to have our community commenting on our posts. We like your comments. We want your comments. But we ask you to please follow a few basic rules so that we all can have a good time here.
No personal attacks, please. Disagree with ideas, but don't attack people.
Please keep the foul language to a minimum. Damn is okay. If you must be more graphic than that, please make liberal use of asterisks.
Please refrain from going on at length. Succinct is a good word to keep in mind. Please don't cut and paste posts from your or someone else's site into our comments. If you feel others would like to read something you've posted/read elsewhere, please link to it.
We will edit out comments that run afoul of these rules, though we'll let you know by email if you've done us the courtesy of leaving a valid email address. If you prefer to keep your email address private, and we support your right to do so, then, sorry, you'll be edited without notice.
Thanks for visiting our site. (We really do like having you here.)
The polite challenge
I have highlighted in bold-italics the most important part of the advisory, “so that we can all have a good time here”; it might be a challenge for some to try and place their comments in that light, but when writing for what might be a global audience, it is not too much to ask.
He does accept that foul language might manifest itself, but damn is the limit, beyond which asterisks make the point quite clearly, he has not used the word polite or temperate where people like me will find that quite important.
I generally do not receive that much comment traffic, so, I have not reached the point where moderation might yet be necessary, but NaijaBlog who introduced moderation very recently could only be commended for having endured so much before some brawlers forced his hand.
My challenge to those people is, launch your own blog and let us see if you are capable of inspired originality rather than common fare and heckling.

Wednesday 13 September 2006

An opportunity to make friends - with Syria

Syria, the pummelled

Syria for a while had become the poster child for what is wrong and unsettling about the Middle-East from the American perspective.

Having been implicated in the gruesome and explosive assassination of the ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri leading to the reluctant but coerced withdrawal of Syria from Lebanon, then their support for Hezbollah and the brick bats they received with Iran regarding Hezbollah’s attack of Israel, they have every right to be indifferent about American issues.

Kofi Annan, the UN Secretary-General visited Syria recently and extracted a cooperation where Syria would impose an arms embargo on its Hezbollah ally and even allow troops to patrol their border with Lebanon – my point – it is good to talk.

Syria, the brave

So, some cack-handed terrorists poorly executed a plan to bomb the US Embassy in Damascus – Yes, the US is accorded diplomatic recognition in Syria though with no one at ambassadorial level, despite what they have to endure from America – the Syrian security personnel spirited foiled the attack in which one of their number was killed.

Ironically, this “supporter of terrorism”, be it the insurgency in Iraq or the Hezbollah in Lebanon is a fighter of terrorism on its own land even if it pertains to the endangerment of life and property of it chief accuser, America.

America could not but acknowledge with grudging gratitude Syria’s efforts through Condoleezza Rice though that was soured with another comment from the White House that Syria should play a more constructive role in the war against terrorism – take a deep breath of despair.

To Teheran with love

Then switch to Teheran and it is Assyrian/Persian hugs and kisses between Ahmadinejad and Al-Maliki, the Iranian President and the Iraqi Prime Minister respectively.

The Great Satan (America) would be completed miffed with this visit to a possible abode of three – Iran in the Axis-of-Evil.

Despite all the American views about Iran stirring up the Shiite insurgency in Iraq, Iran has offered to cooperate in ensuring Iraq security and stability along with other extensive cooperation deals on oil exploration and export.

With all the American lives being lost in Iraq, the government does have to chart its own way and they are showing that regional cooperation matters regardless of who America counts as friend or foe.

As far as the Middle-East is concerned, Iran and Syria after the Hezbollah skirmish in Israel are the new brokers for regional hegemony in that region with Israel now being exposed as more vulnerable than they thought they were.

Talk and communicate

It is really time to start talking rather that flinging hateful words and vitriol from the White House and State Department like intercontinental precision ballistic missiles.

It is time to try and become friends and talk though your differences, this whole idea of the guarded self-importance of the President of America precluding him from meeting with other people just in case he offers them clout, recognition or legitimacy is self-conceited to the extreme.

It would do well to engage in high-level talks according each other a modicum of respect and courtesy; that said, it is not a team that should include John Bolton even under sedation.

Monday 11 September 2006

11th of September 2006

In remembrance of those whose lives were changed irrevocably by the events of that callous attack on America.

Those in whose name, goodwill has been squandered, wars are being fought, liberties are being eroded, democracies are being stifled, freedoms are being lost and lies are being told.

In the memory of those who we would like to contemplate in silence, but that tranquillity is blotted out of our minds by the bombs that go off daily in Iraq.

Who, if they were to be resurrected would most likely forsake life and fatherland, this time, for a hegemony has been built in the quest for vengeance in their name, one they would barely recognise.

In empathy with those who lost, them who grieve, many who weep, ones who cry, day and night, because once our peace was shattered they who could have brought us succour brought more blood, more sorrow, and more bodies from lands of them with a strange tongue.

Yes, the world has changed, but if they that we lost could speak to our hearts and talk to our minds, would they justify this change that we have acquiesced to, as the War on Terror masquerading as the Great War for Democracy wages on?

If you would have forgiven, then we would be remiss of our actions, if we were to seek vengeance, have we excelled?

In all, you might have departed in such destruction but have entered into your rest, may we in your memory find rest from all the turmoil that surrounds us.

Sunday 10 September 2006

All warfare is based on deception

That fateful day

Let us really break this war on terror down into its fundamentals and understand what really happened to us after the ninth day of September 2001.

A number of foreigners mostly of Saudi origin had over months before the attack been learning how to fly planes in flying schools in America, a rather expensive hobby to have but generally inconspicuous as part of a terror plan.

The important thing was that they had already gained access to America and when they regrouped, they boarded planes that were flying inter-state in America; none were intercontinental because they wanted to wreak havoc on American soil.

On that fateful morning, they hijacked four planes, two flew into the twin towers, one into the Pentagon, the fourth which probably was on its way to the Capitol or the White House crash-landed in Pennsylvania with the convenience of the talk of heroism from passengers and crew of the plane than the possible shooting down of the same on authority of the American government.

The words leading to war

This tragedy of that day left 2,973 dead and 24 declared missing a majority of who were Americans. The President first made a broadcast to the nation that day to comfort the American People, prioritise the issues of rescue, help and succour, then stressed the need to return to normalcy in families, in the federal agencies and financial markets – This was the beginning of the making of the Bush presidency.

Nine days on, on the 20th of September 2001, the President addressed a Joint Session of Congress and the American People outlining a number of points, the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security to be run by the governor of the state where the fourth plane crash landed – Tom Ridge, he also demanded that the Taliban hand over all terrorists of the Al Qaeda clique and give Americans access to all terrorist training camps in Afghanistan to ensure they was not one terrorist left in Afghanistan. This is a thinly veiled sovereignty issue on analysis.

Picking at a the speech

The speech was a rallying call and the sounding of defiance in the light of this atrocious attack and a number of quotes stand out in the speech.

Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen”. They are still ongoing and the cost now exceeds the number of lives lost on American soil, but that does not matter, they have been lost in foreign lands fighting terror.

What is expected of us? I ask you to live your lives, and hug your children”. However, we would change your lives with the doctrine of fear and threat to emasculate your freedoms and liberties – thinking aloud.

I ask you to uphold the values of America, and remember why so many have come here. We are in a fight for our principles, and our first responsibility is to live by them”. Does this cover Guantanamo Bay, Extraordinary Rendition and CIA Secret Prisons or Unwarranted Surveillance? – Thinking aloud, again.

“But this country will define our times, not be defined by them. As long as the United States of America is determined and strong, this will not be an age of terror”. Speak volumes without need for additional commentary.

A date in Kabul

It was obvious when the Taliban at first did not respond to the President’s demands on religious grounds and then vacillated about giving up Osama bin Laden and even offered to extradite him to some neutral state, they sincerity was suspect and there was no further recourse than to go to war to capture the leaders of Al Qaeda and punish the Taliban.

In general, global opinion was on the side of America to seek the annihilation of Al Qaeda and consummate regime change where the Taliban had become a totalitarian theocracy without any of the trappings of 20th Century civilisation and a handbook of rules that would have made the Spanish Inquisition look like a kindergarten finger-painting class.

That war ended without the capture of Osama bin Laden of Al Qaeda or Mullah Mohammed Omar of the Taliban, they are still at large 5 years on, they are definitely America’s most wanted fugitives, and we have more problems in the world than to confer on them the epithet of the World’s most wanted fugitives.

Now that we’ve done Afghanistan

The main success of the war in Afghanistan is the uprooting of the Taliban regime who recently have been in insurgency leading to a call from NATO for more troops and equipment.

A fragile democracy exists in Afghanistan but that regime hardly has full control of its territorial limits and in many areas warlords run autonomous and tyrannical leadership over their local citizenry – it can hardly be called a roaring success.

Besides, the war dispersed both Taliban and Al Qaeda personnel who could have crossed into the tribal lands of Waziristan in Pakistan.

The prime objective of the Bush administration from the onset was to prevent another attack on American soil at all costs and this is how that was executed.

The American People would have required that the Taliban be defeated in Afghanistan that was accomplished, however, to be able to fight terrorists overseas rather than in America, a staging ground is required to concentrate terrorist manpower and resources.

Seeking a new terrorist haven

Afghanistan could no more be engaged as a host to that scenario, Pakistan had aligned with America in their war on terror so they were exempt, Iran had a kind of reformist regime and engaging them would have been inflammatory. However, there was unfinished business in Iraq, as it transpired the decision to attack Iraq was probably made within 2 days of 9/11.

In principle, if America were to attack Iraq on the basis of the pre-emptive war doctrine, or under the supporters of terrorism collective blanket and the weapons of mass destruction pretext, they would have carte blanche to run over the country, however, one unforeseen consequence is that it has now become a cauldron of terrorism with Americans engaged to dealing with an Iraqi insurgency and a thriving Al Qaeda murder machine.

It should then not be surprising that American soil has not been attacked since 9/11, there is no need to; the terrorists are still killing Americans as well as innocent Iraqis in Iraq. Iraqis have paid a larger price moving from the tyranny of Saddam Hussein to a pseudo-civil war where probably over 40,000 lives have been lost.

The supposed sham of a democracy that they have would require the strong arm of coalition support for years to come, the jury is out on if this experiment of democratising the Middle East would work, at least Vladimir Putin pointed said in the presence of Mr Bush in July, Russia does not want that kind of democracy. No country should aspire to that kind of democracy either.

What lies did for Iraq

Three and a half years into the war in Iraq the death toll continues to rise and this situation did not temper the resolve of America and Britain to restrain Israel from another loss of 1,000 Lebanese and 150 Israeli people due to American policies over the 5 years.

We now learn like we all knew before that Saddam Hussein had no links with Al Qaeda, no Al Qaeda operative met with any Iraqi official, there were no weapons of mass destruction, Iraq was not building a nuclear bomb and neither had they ordered yellow cake from Niger.

Mr Bush contends that Saddam Hussein was aiding suiciders (sic), let us review that issue again, suicide bombers having committed their atrocities in Israeli towns were identified, then Israel instituted a collective punishment policy of destroying the homes of property of the suicide bomber’s survivors.

In some cases, these suicide bombers owned nothing, but this punishment as a result of their act brought loss, anguish and destitution on their family and relations. There probably is a case for considering this act a deterrent, but conversely it can also be an effective recruitment tool for a new terrorist.

What Saddam Hussein did was to compensate those who had suffered loss for the actions of others and probably they were not in anyway culpable and were entirely innocent, whilst some might twist that into sponsoring terrorism, it could be argued that this was preventing the suffering of innocent people and the creation of a vengeance syndrome.

The premise of war

As Sun Tzu, the Chinese mathematician says in The Art of War on military strategy – “All warfare is based on deception” – Iraq is no less an example of how we have been lied to, cajoled, hoodwinked, robbed and disposed by evidence that turns out to be false at best and fabricated at worst.

Mr Bush and Mr Blair already have their places in history; it is unlikely they would be treated kindly when we look at the big picture of the New World Order in the 21st Century.

References - Senators: CIA dismissed Saddam-al Qaeda ties before war

Saddam 'had no link to al-Qaeda'

Senate: Saddam saw al-Qaida as threat

A dossier of lies to pursue the Iraqi war

Saturday 9 September 2006

Your greed will serve you badly

What is prosperity?

When a good friend sent me this piece of news, I smiled and as he noted, it might interest me, it does.

I have always heard of the Prosperity Gospel, a message delivered in certain Christian congregations of the Pentecostal persuasion, I, for one have not fully appreciated the content or context, but I know what living the good life is all about.

In my perspective it is not about women, wanton living, bling and hedonism, rather, it is about having enough to be liberal in giving, being ready and resourceful to tackle issues and being able to see a way out of whatever situation as well as understanding contentment.

Whilst money is important, wisdom is the principal thing, one has to be smart about the use of time, resources, people, opportunities and trials.

The pastor was a bigamist

The piece of news I am concerned about is that of a Pentecostal priest who apparently died in an air crash in Nigeria intestate.

At death, he was eulogised, praised and lauded as a patriotic and selfless Nigerian, well, the truth has erupted like a long dormant volcano that has returned with vigour.

He had a second wife, so he was a bigamist, that secret became front page news when the first and second wife entered into a tussle about the pastor’s estate as it transpired that he was worth about $55 million.

One can imagine the shock when the first wife realised that she had a rival and surely, she would have wanted to prove that the other woman was an impostor.

But once she had ascertained that this woman was who she said she was, any level-headed arrangement would have allowed for them to come to some sort of amicable settlement and split the loot in two.

All for me and none for you

Well, they did not, because one who have felt deserving of more than the other and their lives flash before them about a life of grandeur with $55 million rather than $27.5 million as hedonistic insurance.

If, these women had listened the beautiful preaching of their late husband rather than sought to practise the acts of the self-same man, they probably would have been wiser and smarter about the corruption of great riches in the hands of those who have worked for nothing.

23 things to accounts for

The legacy of the man has already been destroyed as the evil men do does tend to live after them.

Anyway, their altercation on how to split this largesse came to the notice of the anti-graft and anti-corruption organisation in Nigeria and they waded in and impounded the whole inheritance because not proof could be found of how a pastor and electoral officer came into such great fortune stashed away in hydra-headed bank accounts numbering 23. Short intake of breath.

How is it that in this case too, two fools and their late husband’s ill-gotten money are soon parted? Because your greed would eventually serve you badly.

Friday 8 September 2006

Somehow, strange sexualities excite Africans

Using Homosexuality as a damaging tool

Having dealt with a number of topics on sexuality on NaijaBlog in the last few days, one concerning homophobia and other a lovers’ spat, it is strange that there are still issues around sex that tend to hammer the dark into the continent of Africa.

In Malaysia years ago, the accusation of sodomy was used to depose the vice president and persecute him into incarceration and ill health, but he survived.

The first black president of Zimbabwe had his legacy completely rubbished as the tyrannical Mugabe allowed charges of homosexuality to thrive to the disgrace of Canaan Banana.

Whilst the accusation of homosexuality in Africa can create a level of revulsion, some have concentrated that response by alluding to the acts rather than just the life. Some people’s lives could be affected by being named homosexuals, but definitely destroyed by being called a Sodomite.

Publish and be damned

In the light of this, it is first interesting to read that a newspaper in Uganda has decided to publish the first names and professions of alleged homosexuals; this atrocious act is defended as exposing people who are cheating on their partners.

One wonders when it became the duty of newspapers to publish private infidelities, if that be their goal, why single out those who have cheated on their partners with a deviation into same-sex liaisons? It really cannot be justified.

Harking back to Victorian times when sodomy was criminalized, it was said that Queen Victoria did not believe there was anything like lesbianism, this paper has not published names of lesbians for so many reasons, but one can really be that men are quite titillated by lesbian sex, it cannot be said that women find pleasure in the converse.

The law should rise to protect

When a publication of names happened in Cameroon earlier in the year, the courts came down heavily on the editor that he did prison time where he might have learnt to pick up the soap; I cannot muster any sympathy for such people.

I would surmise that the publication of full names might attract litigation that could really do more damage to the paper and editor than the aggrieved.

One voice of reason in that news write up does say this is the time for the government to protect rather than persecute and prosecute – unfortunately, the railing against homosexuality has a way of congregating people to a mob of bigots but does nothing to address everyday issues of life and wellbeing – it is a useful primitive political smokescreen that gets abused by any unscrupulous politician in the West and anywhere else.

Read my story

Then a defrauded Nigerian railing against cronyism and nepotism that has allowed the criminals to abscond from justice has labelled the Minister of Federal Capital Territory a homosexual; this smokescreen reveals a more compelling catalogue of woes and corrupt practices.

We might just say, if you want your story to gain maximum interest in Nigeria, accuse the principals of homosexuality and see your story become a best seller, however, it does not guarantee you will get justice, especially if the big man decides to accord you the courtesy of suing the big pants off your backside.

The medicine man

I remember that the most feared medicine man in the town when I went to secondary school had a name in Yoruba that translated to Sodomite. If you really did have a problem you wanted sorted out in the animist traditions, you went to see him – he had not other name than that, and it drummed fear into those who as much as whispered his name.

I cannot say if the name was supposed to be literal or figurative, but whatever it meant, people must have thought he drew more magical strength from the seemingly abominable and bizarre practice – anyone who might have been done by him would definitely not dare go to the press.

A dowry for a goat

And so a house owner in Sudan wakes up in the middle of the night to sort out a kafuffle in his compound only to catch that a man in the act of using “a goat as his wife”. The shame and guilt of it all paralyses the culprit that he gets tied up and reported to the elders.

The smart grey heads decide there is no point involving the police in this, but impose a dowry on the culprit who is then allowed to take the goat home for a wife.

It is strange that the act of bestiality can attract so smart a remediation, but one of sodomy is a beheading if Sharia has a peek into that case.

Sex in Africa though common in terms of population growth, horrible in terms of rape and abuse and also paternalistic in terms of the rights of women, is still a very difficult topic of ambivalent values of traditions, religion and simple village wisdom – somehow, those in the village seem to understand the issues better.

It may also be that some even knew that sodomy long before condoms and pills was a form of contraception as long as it is practised between man and woman.

An admission in remission

The end does not justify the means

When President Bush yesterday admitted to the existence of CIA secret prisons along with the consideration that information obtained from certain of the imprisoned has since prevented terrorism attacks, I thought I could see in the background Niccolò Machiavelli being introduced as Press Secretary (Minister of Propaganda would be too 1930s to contemplate.).

The thought that hardened terrorists would voluntarily divulge information to Americans about plans they might have painstakingly arranged to bring ill to America does take a bit of imagination.

The Gitmo Workbook

In fact, the Abu Ghraib abuse which appeared routine as a means of warped entertainment and in reality blatant torture appears to have come of the Guantanamo Bay workbook since the man-in-charge there was brought in to toughen up the regime at Abu Ghraib.

Somehow, we just have found it difficult to believe protestations of Americans about not torturing their prisoners; caught in the web of the broad terror principle and this Machiavellian notion that subscribes to extraordinary rendition, the existence of Guantanamo Bay, the military tribunals and the unwarranted eavesdropping on Americans.

Immoral grounds

One by one, each of these has been completely discredited if not declared illegal, but we have torturously drawn water from stone as this admission now comes into the light of day.

One more admission is required, by whose authority was the CIA agents shopped to the press?

In all, everything that allows America to maintain the high moral ground in this war on terror has been lost to hubris and bluster, the former is the delusional confidence in the projection of American power and the other can easily be championed by Donald Rumsfeld.

Where truly we have been saved from some terrorist attack we are grateful for those mercies, however using the fear of terror to justify actions and activities that would not stand the scrutiny of basic terms of justice and fairness whilst we are continually stripped of our liberties for the sake of our supposed safety is nasty, unconscionable and Machiavellian – the end will never justify the means.

We have become our own terrorists

Why? Because we become the terrorists we are trying to fight, we deny ourselves the power of our democracies just as the terrorists would have liked to do and our so-called freedoms are rolled back into the bondage of a police state, worse than where those terrorists came from.

As it stands, the only leadership quality America now serves is in having funds and having guns, it is left to others to play the deft hand of real diplomacy in the New World Order.

Thursday 7 September 2006

The Day of the Toothpicks

Piffle at Westminster

In politics, the Night of Long Knives has resonance, be it, 1934 when Hitler purged Germany of his opponents or 1962 when Harold Macmillan sacked 7 members of his cabinet, 2006 brings us the Day of the Toothpicks, people at the bottom rung of the ministerial ladder act to impose a resignation on the Prime Minister.

So, seven junior ministers resigned from the Blair government yesterday saying they had lost confidence in the leadership of Tony Blair to take the party forward and in readiness for the next election.

It is clear that since Mr Blair the Prime Minister had announced that he would not run in the next election which at the earliest would be 2009 or very latest 2010, a good few impatient people would be on his case to abdicate from the day after he won a third successive victory for the Labour Party.

The restless press and Labour Party have been on the verge of apoplexy trying to read when the Prime Minister would depart, we cannot entirely discount the machinations of an organ grinder who lives next door and who has played second fiddle to Tony so long, the tune is sounding like – Now is my time, get out of the way.

Chancellor of the executor

Gordon Brown cannot be blameless in what has lead to Tony Blair’s accusation of disloyalty and discourteousness from the most senior of those who resigned; it would make one wonder if Gordon Brown is the right man for Prime Minister of Great Britain in this dispensation of the New World Order.

Mr Watson who was a junior Defence Minister might have managed a pen knife as opposed to the toothpicks that the other Parliamentary Private Secretaries lanced into Mr Blair’s back. It would appear the only damage caused would be to the material of the PM’s suit, none of those people have a patch of Caesar’s Brutus even if Mr Blair accorded a polite – Et tu, Brute? – to Mr Watson.

And so, it appears Mr Blair would make an announcement today to clear up the air about when he is leaving, it might gladden Mr Brown’s heart, but it may not be as smooth sailing as everyone would want it to be.

Saturday 2 September 2006

The raid on Peking, London

Duck but not in Peking

Having just ordered Peking Duck in the local Chinese restaurant on a night out with friends and family, one would really have been put out that the only duck that became the highlight of that outing would have been the act of ducking under the table as rioting and terrifying terror police raided the restaurant to nab suspected, wait for it, logistical support to terrorism.

Somehow, through intelligence and surveillance, rather that raid the homes and other more private meeting points of these people, they went for the spectacular, hit them with their guard let down at a vulnerable but very public social meeting place, this no doubt saves a lot of money, rather than concerted raids all over the place.

It is however nice to know that so-called terrorism suspects have an international palate.

Probably not that smart

It might however be that the raid was conducted to establish association amongst groups of people and alliances, something discrete photography would have done, since they are still going to visit the homes of the arrested persons to dig for evidence.

Now, I have no problems with the need to put as many resources as possible into ensuring that we do not have another terrorist mishap like we did on July the 7th 2006, but, the way this is barging into our way of life with the premise that the little discomfiture of the few helps the convenience of the many is flawed logic.

What is to say, another vulnerable public gathering place like a mosque, church, bowling alley, ice rink or lido is not on the list of some smart aggregating detective in cahoots with the police bean counter?

Worst still, some social activities like weddings and burials are going to lose their veneers of solemnity as we all suspect everyone around us who attempts to show any signs of life.

Suffer for the offer

So, when British Airways launched a television advertisement for World Offers, their seemingly cheap air travel offers, I thought, for all the fuss of not being able to carry my lipstick or having to dangle my tampons at Heathrow before boarding my flight and considering a decent sized paperback might have to be split in 2 to fit into those sizing contraptions, the deal must be so good to assuage the pain of the customs/security check.

As the fifth anniversary of September the 11th approaches, expect the bizarre, the atrocious and the scandalously unacceptable as we fight our fear of the fear of the fear of terror without discerning the link between what we do and how that sometimes feeds into the causes of terrorism.