Friday 30 October 2009

Nigeria: Lawmakers deliberate on the completely absurd

Originally written for as Lawmakers deliberate on the completely absurd.

No respect for the lawmaker

Sometimes I wonder why deliberations between lawmakers never get accorded any recognition of sophistication, erudition or plain sense.

It somehow never even gets to the level of a marketplace brawl in the heat of the day, the brutish entertainment of professional wrestling seems to have more decorum and order in its proceedings and eventual result – it is no wonder people might better watch a wrestling match than politicians politicking and preening themselves in self-absorbed discourse under the pretense of being representatives of some constituency.

That is the worrisome aspect of this line of thought, the fact that lawmakers are not seen in any good light and they then have the power to enact laws and legislation that affects our lives and livelihoods, it goes without saying that we need a better class of person first then better levels of deliberation.

A topic ready for debate

I have been reading comments to a news story in the good fatherland of Nigeria where lawmakers have deliberated the absurd, it is incredible that we end up with such representatives; these people do seriously believe they have raised serious concerns and their deliberations rather than being ridiculous are legitimate discourse.

The nEXt online newspaper carried and article with the headline Lawmakers ask robbers to declare temporary ceasefire [1], a headline like that should garner enough curiosity and interest, it did mine.

Nigeria is currently hosting the Under-17 Football World Cup, a competition that was almost pulled last year because the government could not see its obligation to follow through a commitment to host, the self-same government that is seeking a permanent seat on the UN Security Council – such is the myopia that plagues our leadership.

Appealing to the patriotism of bandits

Ogun State has one of the venues, so the lawmakers met up and first lamented that a particular location – Isheri Bridge on the border of Lagos and Ogun States had become a den of bandits.

Anyone would think once a hotspot for crime has been identified, you empower, equip and instruct the law enforcement agencies to sort it out and have a report at some future date as to how it was done and what else they need to be more effective at crime-fighting.

These politicians had a different line of thinking that could only be expressed verbatim, “there is a need for the men of the underworld to suspend their operations in the interim, because of the on-going mundial.”

Yes, our lawmakers were asking armed robbers to have a ceasefire, they should suspend their criminal activities to bolster and participate in the window dressing rebranding of Nigeria as a peaceful, crimeless and safe country.

Indeed, it is good to appeal to everyone’s sense of patriotism at a time like this, but this takes the absurd to another level crass stupidity, you cannot imagine anything worse can come after that appeal.

At the mercy of criminals

Well, it got worse, because the lawmaker went on to say, “Then they can resume thereafter, because there is nowhere in the world where robbers and robberies could be stopped from their work.

One comment read, if this were a drama sketch, it would be unbelievable, the lines would be struck out, but this really happened, those words were spoken by an elected representative that had willfully suspended every iota of intellect.

In one sentence, they threw in the towel to crime, left us at the mercy of criminals and in that defeatist thinking equated robbery to some sort of gainful pursuit or employment.

Robbers and robberies do get stopped and many do end up being nabbed by the long arm of the law if law enforcement is given the tools, responsibility and confidence to do their job. However, this lawmaker and the chamber in which his remarks received shameless hearing and debate have undermined ever establishment and institution that might at one time have been able to combat this menace with all vigour and win.

So feeble, so delusional

To rub salt in insult into injury, he concluded his plea for support with, “If foreigners witness the robbers' attacks at this point, it would send a bad signal to other nations.” In my view, nothing could be worse than having this debate where the lawmakers have put us at the mercy and goodwill of men of the underworld and given the police no particular impetus to make order, safety and security prevail.

Then the Speaker of the House feebly suggested, “I want to use the opportunity to call on the police to intensify efforts in checkmating criminals. They should please not relent in the efforts.” How the police are expected to win the war on crime where the chess analogy leaves them so powerless as pawns and the armed robbers are all elevated to queens escapes me.

Much more hot air of words but no backbone or force of parliament to arrest an untenable situation; all this constituted a debate in a house of assembly.

Scanning through the comments left, it is clear that the Nigerian populace with an opinion are less than impressed by this and attribute this to the rot that has made politics an unpalatable mix of the nastiest people holding the reigns of power but completely clueless as to what being in power represents.

It is no wonder that they cannot even get a local government official to appear before them.

The danger is that this kind of deliberation is probably not an exception, but the norm in many other state assemblies, providing for chaos, drift and misgovernment – Nigerians need to talk about this kind of representation and deliberation, it should never become commonplace.


[1] | Lawmakers ask robbers to declare temporary ceasefire

Thursday 29 October 2009

Nigeria: Otunba Daniel - A governing example of hubris

A time to be forgotten

There was a time when this was a mere Mr., who had been given the title of Head of Department in a fledgling college of science and technology that was the sin bin for all who could not get into a more prestigious higher institution that year, the year was 1981.

I am of the opinion that the rate of attrition was high after the first year when the higher percentage of students made it into other schools that made you proud to say you were now amongst the learning and becoming one of the learned.

Lagos State College of Science and Technology was just that, I spent more time playing Scrabble and Chess than being in class where the perfunctory lecturer marked time nonchalantly; in one chemical engineering class the lecturer used German names for the compounds – this was a suburb in Lagos not Dusseldorf.

He was just Mister

The only course that seemed to be up to anything worthwhile was the architecture class where modeling took up all their time, all our practical engineering classes were conducted at the better equipped and famous Yaba College of Technology.

Within this melee of listless students and happy-go-lucky lecturers; young, handsome and bestowed with titles by reason of their being available rather than being all that capable was a Mr. Gbenga Daniel; things are a lot different now.

The difference is exemplified in an episode that happened in a church two Sundays ago [1] and it reads as both interesting and deplorable.

The once Mr. Gbenga Daniel is now Otunba Gbenga Daniel, a 2nd term executive governor of Ogun State in Western Nigeria, who by the time he was running for governor literally had a chieftaincy title in every city, village, hamlet and hut in Ogun State, I counted 53 then.

Prayer for harmony or discord

At a church thanksgiving after the marriage of the Lisa (Prime Minister to the King) of Egbaland's daughter, Chief Bisi Macgregor (Probably of Scottish Descent), the pastor at the Redeemed Church of God, Peculiar People’s Parish, Onikolobo, Abeokuta had just finished praying “that God should intercede immediately in the crisis in the state and engender the return of peace and harmony.”

Now the ruling political party of Nigeria is a cesspit of garrulous uncouth egos in interminable conflict and discord, Ogun State simply mirrors the chaos of misgovernment, anarchy and the hell that the ill-disciplined and categorically reprobate party represents.

It would appear the Executive Governor has not been able to bring the order of mechanical engineering which was his specialty to the affairs of state, querulous factions abound and every public opportunity they find is used to up the ante to the most despicable conduct with reckless abandon.

No sooner than the pastor had finished his prayer of conciliation, the Executive Governor who enjoys some elements of constitutional immunity and wields great power seized the microphone from pastor and proceeded to negate the prayer of the pastor by raining curses on his supposed enemies to the chagrin of the families of the newlywed couple who were in church for entirely different business than this political calumny.

The burden of patronage

But then, you should expect this because the Nigerian society is so patronage, nepotism and influence-peddling driven, important but rather obnoxious people have to be invited to your functions lest they get slighted and you end up in the crosshairs of their villainy. In any case, the family of the Lisa of Egbaland would have acquired a pall of shame and well, that is par for the course considering the bridegroom’s family is of another tribe.

The audacity and effrontery that allowed the governor to think it was right and proper to disrupt an august occasion for his own ends in a church is breathtaking but Nigerian politicians would put themselves above God in the quest for recognition if they could; hubris, pride and megalomania is personified in these people with characteristics that brought the downfall of Lucifer of old.

Be titled or un-entitled

Beyond that, it was interesting to read about the entourage of the governor, he himself as Otunba (Right-arm of the king) in many towns, then his wife who has the title of Yeye (King-mother), had Akogun (War logistician), Are (War general), Aremo (High Chief of war), Prince, Architect, Comrade along with the common Chief.

These are supposed to be leaders of society in Ogun State, respectable, honourable, demurred, cultured, agreeable, virtuous, patient, honest, longsuffering and diligent in fostering peace, harmony and community spirit – I am deluded, I think.

Woe betide anyone who bears rudimentary address of Mr., Mrs., Miss or Ms. In fact, I am now of the opinion that being plain Mr. in Nigeria might just show you have either not yet been contaminated by the system or you cannot afford to pay to be awarded a chieftaincy of a hamlet in some non-descript forest where people wear no clothes.

More curses rained

Having seeded that church with commotion, he moved on to the annual Tarborrah campmeeting of the African-Initiated Church – Aladura sect, which I once attended in 1980, where again, his enemies were subjected to the threat of God’s wrath.

To have moved so deftly from a Pentecostal church setting to an Aladura setting where apparently his father is an Archbishop is quite amazing to say the least.

Now, the question is what if his so-called enemies are praying the same prayers to assumedly the same God in their own religious settings?

Nothing would be as peacefully rewarding as to see the ground open and swallow all of them up, in the re-enactment of a dreadful Pentateuch (Mosiac books) quake so that the better people of Ogun State might just breathe a big sigh of relief and praise the Most High God.

Can we rise and pray?


[1] The PM News - Nigeria’s leading evening newspaper » SHOCKING: Daniel Curses Opponents In Church

Monday 26 October 2009

A primer on cancer and chemotherapy

Knowing more about it all

I have decided to provide a basic primer on cancer and some detail as to what lead to the diagnosis and treatment recommended for me.

This might help you answer some questions and in other cases leave you with even more questions. Please bear with me; I may not be able to address some more personal aspects of the information until a future date.

The important thing is; we know what it is, it can be treated, it is being treated, I am responding to the treatment, I believe I would be completely healed and any support leading to the goal of full recovery from affliction through survival to thriving is well appreciated.

Thank you friends, well-wishers and readers for your understanding. I also appreciate that connections and allusions can be made with the information offered – the cardinal thought and driving credo I have had for a very long time is – I will never live as if I am dying, I do NOT intend to start doing that now. I live to live well.

A primer on cancer and chemotherapy

The beginning

A basic primer on cancer, the cancer I was diagnosed with was Kaposi’s Sarcoma (KS) [1] and there are many variations of it, but due to a pre-existing condition, this manifested first as if it was athlete’s foot [2] and was localised to my toes and my soles.

The regular athlete’s foot treatments that cleared up the infection every summer before did not seem to catch on that I started using foot baths of Dead Sea salts; this aggravated the situation because it softened my skin to the point that lots of it rubbed off and came off allowing for other bacterial infections.

I should have had this checked around this time but a culture of self-medication along with an apparent shyness of doctors did not help – you learn, you change, you live.

Initial ideas and treatments

The infection became deep-seated and painful requiring medical attention and consequently the diagnosis that involves the treatment I am having now. The lesions that appeared under my feet first made them suspect a diabetes-related issue but my blood pressure in my extremities read as normal, that was eliminated along with results from the blood tests and the gathering consensus was KS, which was confirmed after the deep biopsies.

Because of the strong smell coming from the lesions, the infection had a bacterial component which was treated with a number of antibiotics as Metronidazole [3] used to treat fungating tumours but was not entirely effect and Flucloxacillin [4] which is a narrow-spectrum antibiotic.

Whilst these both seemed to reduce the smell and the pain, the lesions which had dried up in a manner under the sole but had become a bit less so under the toes meant a more aggressive course of treatment was needed.

Chemotherapy as a course of treatment

The agreed best course was chemotherapy [5]. Chemotherapy is in the broadest sense the treatment of disease by chemicals. These chemicals may have properties that inhibit the rapid multiplication of cells which is an attribute of cancer as well as work on aspects of the characteristics of cancers, their location in the body and the way it spreads.

The course recommended for me is Liposomal Doxorubicin [6] – liposomal meaning encapsulated in some fatty molecule and Doxorubicin is a very strong antibiotic. What happens is the liposomes allow for a slow release of the disease fighting chemical into the body after intravenous introduction which just takes an hour and this is not fully excreted from the body for up to six days.

This chemotherapy is widely used for many cancers and is very tolerable without most of the side effects associated with other chemotherapy treatments, I am glad about that, but one has been provided with medication against nausea, I prayed about it all.


[1] Kaposi's sarcoma - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Athlete's foot - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] Metronidazole - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[4] Flucloxacillin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[5] Chemotherapy - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[6] Doxorubicin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A second course of chemotherapy

The busy insomniac

The neighbourhood nurse arrived a lot earlier than expected; alright I needed an early dressing of my feet because I was to visit hospital today for a second course of chemotherapy.

This disrupted my morning naps which seem to come after drug-induced nocturnal insomnia that I have had since I was in hospital.

Rather than toss and turn in bed, I productively feed my spirit with inspirational and edifying teachings, music or listen to either of the Elizabethan English version of the Bible of the Message Bible in contemporary English.

The most important result of this is to keep ones faith in the ascendancy such that one does not end up hopeless or in despair, in fact, it is impossible to take on that kind of mindset where what you hear and meditate on is encouraging, inspiring and strengthening the will to not just survive but thrive.

The battle is in your mind and if you cannot begin to create new realities with a vivid and thriving imagination, you can easily be swallowed up in your circumstances and never see a way out. I thank God, I have an anchor that keeps my soul from drift – The Psalmist had a lot to say about encouraging oneself out of desperate situations to a winning spirit and mindset.

Excess baggage for the night?

Anyway, beyond the chemotherapy for today, I was also to see the wounds nurse after many consultants observed the condition of the lesions but could not determine what best to do.

When I finally left home for the hospital, I was a bit rushed for time and riding my bicycle took a bit out of me. I was at least prepared for a night of observation at the hospital, if need be, that my rucksack weighed a tonne.

A change of clothes, my mobile phone, the charger, my net book, its power supply, drinks, sweets, medicines and so on, especially considering I had no chaperone. It is one of those times that your sincerely wish you had a companion of sorts – trying to get my clothes out of the washing machine to the drying rack yesterday was such a herculean task on crutches, I never really completed the activity to my satisfaction.

Be reclined rather than seated

The out-patient oncology department was a maze to get to, up the lifts, doors, corridors, signs and a foreboding of getting lost.

The nurse there was in charge when I took my first course as an in-patient on another floor, it is nice to see familiar faces considering, I have literally gone through the pool of neighbourhood nurses, I cannot remember any names anymore.

The seats were setup in such a way that it had a movable back, a movable seat portion and a movable leg portion with foot rests. It could well have been a tumble drier with the tumbling action cut out.

Needles, pricks, tweezers and scalpel blades

The intravenous saline solution was first setup, I seem to prefer all the needles and pricks on my left arm, and it is easier to look away towards the right than to the left for me.

The chemotherapy trademarked Caelyx is wrapped in aluminium foil because it is sensitive to light and attached to the drip mechanism, you can see the red fluid mix up with the saline solution as it enters the body.

I completely reclined and literally fell asleep when the wounds nurse came. Despite what all the specialists had seen and said, she was the first to suggest that she would attack the lesions directly.

Apparently, there was a lot of necrosis or necrotised tissue on the lesions – necro means dead – this was dried up but rotten tissue that needed to be pulled off with tweezers but a good deal was still attached to good tissue and had to be cut off with a scalpel blade. No small pain, all that, but now I know it all has to come off eventually.

New dressings

As a wounds nurse she really knew what had to be done, it was her specialisation and I note that all specialists were ready to defer to the wounds nurse for her opinion.

She is now changing the dressing gauze from the fat-based covering to an algae-based microbial padding which has silver particles that bond with bacteria, killing it and making it ineffective, thereby helping the healing process and removing the smell.

She called my local pharmacy, had an order put in that would be delivered to my home tomorrow. That is one thing I like about our health care system here, the doctor, nurse or hospital can pull up your details, link to your local pharmacy, send the prescriptions and the pharmacy delivers.

I had completed the chemotherapy course by the time all that was done and I now had to contemplate getting back home on my bicycle on rain-drenched roads. I tried laughing through the pain, I did.

I went straight to bed and that was how it was.