Tuesday 19 August 2008

Nigeria: I am a very intelligent person (Africans for Obama)

The default is Obama

I go into recluse and somehow a wind blows that shivers my timbers. It has taken time for me to warm up to the idea that Senator Barack Obama might well become the President of the United States.

That notion comes from the compelling evidence that the man has formed a movement that sits on the tide of time that calls for change and understandably, there was nothing the Clinton machine could do if she was campaigning against a movement whose time had come.

Between John McCain and Barrack Obama, despite my deepest premonitions about what the latter, he appears to represent in what he has been able to do, the world’s fate and future; the world is probably better secured in the hands of Barack Obama for the fulfilment of whatever the purposes of destiny are.

Blackening animal sameness

I have not been given to the idea that Senator Obama being darker hue of pale and sporting a similar tan to mine creates a kinship of minds, ideas, visions and ideals.

I am saddened the objectivity of many has been beclouded such that where they should find kinship through the audacity of hope and purpose, they have plumbed the depths of similarity, they have found the basest level of kinship as birds of a feather that flock together.

As elevated as the human species is, we sometimes find mutual purpose in the animal instinct of the fellowship of race and colour, just as the canine family finds kinship in the olfactory inhalation of faecal orifices – there is probably a place for all this and one is not against how people decide to express their kinship.

African busybodies for Obama

One Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, who apparently is the Director-General of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, has landed herself in a quagmire of ignominy that she for her girth might find difficult to wiggle out of.

She inaugurated the Africans for Obama Presidency in July where she opined that, “The policies of Obama will have effect for Africa, not only the world, because he believes in Africa”. [1]

She then organised an "Africans for Obama" Dinner/Concert with a poster advert of Barack Obama and his campaign slogan, Yes, we can! [2].

The naturally obsequious Nigerians seeking validation threw money into the busker's hat as she played the music praising our black brother Obama for the emancipation of the world – however, the Obama for America campaign has completely disowned the professor’s clique and her antics. [3]

We all know that it is illegal for US Presidential campaigns to receive funds from abroad, I would suppose that means from non-Americans; but the matter here is whilst the professor holds a green card and has lived in the United States for 16 years, her organisation had published an advertisement on the PunchOnline website that gave the impression that Africans for Obama was raising funds for Obama for America.

Therefore, Ms. Kendall C. Burman, a Staff Counsel with the Obama for America organisation was compelled to state [4] that Africans for Obama is no way affiliated and is in no way associated with either Obama for America, Inc. or the Democratic National Committee.

Conveying dubious intent

The paragraph of interest reads – I have stressed in bold the particular area of concern in the paragraph.

“We wanted to make clear that the event and this organization are in no way associated with Obama for America or the Democratic National Committee should this organization seek to place additional advertisements in your paper”.[4]

I think it goes without saying that whatever advertisements were placed before this letter was received by the editor of Punch Online must have conveyed even in the slightest sense that Africans for Obama was associated and affiliated to the core Obama organisation in America and the subtle hint to PunchOnline in Ms. Burman’s letter was to add a disclaimer to subsequent placements of that advertisement.

Don’t buy this sob story

Dr. Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke who is now receiving flak from all corners has come out protesting that never was her dinner/concert fundraiser aimed at raising funds for the Obama campaign but to sensitise (Nigerian English) Africans in America about the need to come out and vote for the big bird of the same feather.

With the wall-to-wall coverage of the Presidential campaign in the United States, I am quite amused that Nigerians based in Nigeria can add to the publicity rather than embarrass the man in their quest for validation.

This is the same woman who spearheaded the Corporate Nigeria campaign organisation that sought to extend Olusegun Obasanjo’s term in contravention of our constitution and fledgling democracy.

A very intelligent person

To crown it all, she protests, “I am a very intelligent person; I have a PhD that I did not buy. We were careful with our advertisements and we were transparent in all we did. I don‘t understand why Nigerians like to be negative. People have been mobilising support for Obama all over the world and they are not being castigated. I want to make it clear that I am a Nigerian and I have the right to do anything I want with my time and my money.

Calm down! Madam, you are getting a bit melodramatic there; I agree wholeheartedly with most of what you have said, I am dubious about that clause on transparency and I am sorry I do not agree at all with the first clause – A PhD does not automatically confer intelligence on the holder, no matter what else you have achieved. This time the lady is trying to be too smart.

If you for once think who can hit me on the head with your title, qualifications and office whilst trying to obfuscate your skulduggery, well, I am not intimidated, not one bit.

Democracy for the moneyed

Suffice it to say that the busker’s hat collected N100 million ($833,540) and our Madam threw N10 million on her own crap table in what is the typical hedonistic show of money that has become the hallmark of uncultured, uncouth, degenerate and reprobate Nigerians.

A country where they conducted elections that were a complete sham now offers democratic inspiration to one that has had it running for over 2 centuries and has learnt from at least 4 years ago that ever vote counts and at least most votes in America do get counted and tallied to reflect the will of the electorate.

That is done.

Taking the Punch

Oh! Before I forget, just before PunchOnline runs off smugly with their headline “Obama disowns Okereke-Onyiuke, others”. Looking at the letter that came from the Obama organisation and for the purposes of reference, I have made a copy of the picture of that letter acknowledging that it belongs to PunchOnline and should remain available for public viewing to maintain balance in this discourse.

The advertisement placed by Africans for Obama must have been before the 8th of August 2008 when the Obama organisation wrote to PunchOnline. The event took place on the 11th of August 2008 and PunchOnline releases information about the disavowal on the 19th of August 2008 – long after they have laughed their way to the bank.

Surely, PunchOnline could have for all good ethical business practice released a very prominent disclaimer to correct the impression given by the adverts placed before the 8th of August 2008, somewhere between the 8th of August and the 11th of August 2008, maybe later.

There might well be the case that this could not have been done over the weekend or that the post ran late such that it was received after the event.

Not in good faith at all

PunchOnline could still have stated the advertisements were placed in good faith and on learning of the concerns raised by the Obama organisation, it was incumbent on them to avoid a situation where the public might appear to be misled.

One asks, when should we begin to expect integrity in business?

Obviously, this would have made a good few stupid moneybags stay away from the love-in as well as have generated unwanted bad publicity for a prime event.

That would have embarrassed Professor Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, the powerful and influential Director-General of the Nigeria Stock Exchange, now, it would be disingenuous to suggest they were told to cool to story till well after the event, but the chronology of events leaves one quite suspicious.

The Ndi Rap

In the end, neither the reputation of PunchOnline nor the professor is enhanced by this farce and it would not be over till the fat lady sings, once again.

I am a very intelligent person,
I have a PhD that I did not buy,
with money, with money, with money.

I am a Nigerian, a real Nigerian person,
I have the right to do anything, everything, something,
I want with my time, my time, my time.

I am a very intelligent person,
I have the right to do anything, everything, something,
I want with my money, my money, my money


My money, my time, my PhD
I am a very intelligent person

Hit it, Ndi!

I think it all needs improving on, answers on a postcard.


[1] Guardian Newspapers: Obama's victory can leapfrog African economies, says Okereke-Onyiuke

[2] Ben Smith's Blog: Africans for Obama - Politico.com

[3] The Punch: Obama disowns Okereke-Onyiuke, others

[4] Letter from the Obama organisation as a JPEG file published with the Punch article

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