Tuesday 30 March 2010

Favourable welfare outcomes

The re-application
Two weeks ago, I decided to avail myself of the services of my hospital’s social services department because my application for social security entitlements was stuck in the quagmire of bureaucratic indifference and basically in limbo.
I was to call the sickness benefit department last week but that was overrun with events regarding my new job so I just let things go and hoped for the best.
Two letters arrived in my post on Saturday with favourable decisions considering the lateness of my application and the complexity of the circumstances which had also suddenly changed.
All in to help
My very first formal application where I had the work coach fill in the forms at the unemployment office was in February and it became the datum for reckoning everything else.
All benefits can only go back 6 months at the maximum, so I will now be entitled to unemployment benefit at first and then sickness benefit from the day after I was admitted in hospital for treatment.
That would however end on the day I started my new employment which was last week – now one just has to wait for something to be paid into my account.
The system does work and in flexible enough if you know the system or having someone who knows the system sort things out for you.
Thanks and gratitude
I have been very fortunate that way and I have expressed thanks to all those wonderful people who contributed to making this work and I was so taken by the response when the social services expert replied saying she took great pleasure in helping me out.
The social security safety net is there for a reason and even for usually very independent people like myself, I find that anyone can need help and it is good to ask for that help, humbly but with a sense of entitlement too, if we have through our working lives contributed, it is there as a bridge through lean times to more prosperous times again.
Thanks to the system and its lifeblood of bureaucratic sustenance.

Monday 29 March 2010

Nigeria: Stand Up! For Nigeria

Not to be dignified
When that mendicant (read megalomaniac) from Libya first suggested Nigeria split up, I considered it beneath me to dignify his rant with an opinion, having never equivocated about the entity of Nigeria or the identity of Nigerian, I could not be perturbed.
However, this new atrocity of a comment from Muammar Gaddafi [1] requires a comprehensive put-down but better still it is that one opportunity for true Nigerians to stand up for their country in purpose, in unity and in truth.
Feeling the whole of Nigeria
I do wish I had lived all around Nigeria, I only lived in the North and the SouthWest, but I do speak two of the three major indigenous languages of Nigeria.
My mother was born in the SouthWest, grew up in the North before travelling out for studies and returned to the North afterwards, she however speaks the three indigenous languages even though she learnt the third without having first visited that region.
She can well pass for an indigene in any of those places for her command of the language and her understanding of nuances of those tongues.
I remember my father struggling with his Hausa lessons, he really did not need to speak Hausa but the sense of Nigerian in him lead to his desire to integrate.
The great Nigeria
But Nigeria as a whole is a wonderful place, a country of 150 million people, maybe 250 tribes and just as many nations but with a common purpose and identity of which we must all be proud and be ready to defend.
If no one has yet seen the evil, despicable and Machiavellian notion of Colonel Gaddafi, review once again his absurd suggestion.
Nigeria should split along ethnic lines, if Nigeria really had clear-cut ethnic lines there might be a second to consider it, but to then give the example of the Yugoslavian split, it sends a clear message of a deep felt hatred for everyone who boldly declares their Nigerian pride.
Working this Nigeria
I would have welcomed the peace of a Czechoslovakian split, but Yugoslavia is one of bloodshed, sectarian violence, war, genocide and backwardness in comparison to ones neighbours - a split would make our sad history of Biafra child's play.
Obviously, we have to find ways to accentuate the things that make us uniquely and wonderfully Nigerians whilst we in unity militate against those things that divide us and take us away from the common purpose and desire of a great fatherland, great to us and great also in Africa. That potential greatness threatens small minds.
There is no clamour for self-determination in our country; what we seek is equity, justice, fairness and peace - with all the abundant resources of our rich country used to the welfare and development of our people by honest, courageous and visionary leaders.
This is the time to ask yourself if you are really Nigerian or someone seeking an unviable fiefdom with speculations of Utopia that do not exist.
The country we have
For 96 years, we have had the entity called Nigeria, whilst it was handed to us by colonial masters, we have run this country for 49 of those years, very few of the countries of colonial progeny that have split up in Africa have ever done so peacefully.
Nigerians need to rise above their religiosity and primitive clannish tendencies to the promise of a worthwhile commitment to a place called Nigeria.
We inter-marry along all sorts of lines, religious, ethnic, tribal, ideological and what else, we have one pledge, one anthem and one identity – it is Nigerian.
Any division would definitely lead to abnormal divisions which is very much like a cancerous growth which eventually kills the host – you can begin to kill Nigeria by entertaining the rotten thought of division and watch it die or starve this travesty of an utterance of oxygen and make Nigeria rise by condemning the notion in its entirety.
You can however allow a Libyan dictator to take away your right to be a Nigerian, but for me, all men would have departed the earth before Nigeria is no more.
My fellow compatriots – Stand Up for Nigeria.

Sunday 28 March 2010

I heard no Hosannas

Ancient & Modern
Sometimes, I crave for a particular religious past, one stated, written and regimented with uniformity.
Sundays with tongue-twisting names like Sexagesimal and Quinquagesimal rather than the well known Palm Sunday where the Common Book of Prayer was opened to a particular page as you followed the vicar in the prelude and response of worship.
The sound of the pipe organ in readiness for traditional hymns in English at times or in Yoruba when I was in Nigeria; the solemnity of it all.
The loud sound of the band
The difference is a band, a keyboardist rather than an organist, two box guitars, two acoustic guitars and the percussionist - a drummer doing the drums.
Cue the music with the beating of the drumsticks and the music begins loud and ready for our voices singing to the text displayed on the screen in the front.
Even in my quiet times, I cannot maintain the consistency of a beat over time, the percussionist starts easy and before you know it, a riot of beats descends on us, I thinking surely this can go wrong but it all works out beautiful.
You are left in awe and praise of the drummer who is quite exposed, almost extrovert to a fault and basically commanding the flow of worship even though you have the lead vocalist and at least 2 backing vocals in the band, none of what might be called free-styling ever comes close to the daring-do of the drummer.
A Protestant to Pentecostalism?
As I grow older, loud is betraying the possibility that I might be able to confidently pass off as youth anymore, the jumping to the beat is almost an excess to the High Church Anglican eye.
The service was enlightening and insightful but we had left behind tradition as I knew it, the Palm Sundays of old where we sat in pews and if I had dozed off as I sometimes have done in church lately, the lovely ushers would have caressed the back of my neck with the exhilarating barbs of a palm frond leaf.
Honestly, I do miss the Hosannas; talk less of the overkill of dramatising Jesus on an ass of a colt riding into Jerusalem.
For all said and done, the journey is mine to travel and in every place, blessed still is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Spring forward, fall backward

No tick-tock clocks here
All my clocks and none with a tick-tick sound have been touched, once again we become the masters of time with those in night clubs being short-changed an hour and sleepy I finding out that I am waking up early.
It is Summer and time too – we’ve had too long a winter, too cold a season; now is the time of the sun and hopefully some warmth too.
Much as I have never really grown used to this phenomenon of shifting times by reason of my body not agreeing with this aberration of the numbered hour, I have tried to deal with it as best I can.
Bizarre adjustments
My clocks change somewhere in the afternoon on Saturday and from then on I try to believe the time is steady and no abrupt things have happened, most importantly, my microwave oven tells the time – she has been in service for 15 years and she still does my TV dinners in the statutory 5 minutes or 4 since she produces thousand watt waves – Sharp she is and a triple-act pony to boot.
The computers will do themselves and for saving almost 1,500 Euros, I have to adjust my watch manually, else it would also manage the days and dates aligned to their respective months with a leap into the longer year.
Spring leaps into Autumnal falls
The mnemonic to remember of daylight saving is so American I would really like not to remember but it is still the best way to know what to do – like a gazelle, I spring forward and like a log I fall back – more appropriately, it is, Spring forward : Fall backward.
What goes forwards and backwards is the hour, spring we all know above and below the tropics, the fall is traditionally what we know as autumn, we referring to those of us who speak English as opposed to that which needs to be qualified for differentiation.
The computers and my mobile phone automatically spring forward and you can guess, a good few people are going to be late to church with their sleepy excuses.
Meanwhile, I should exhaust my last hour of hibernation because it is really now – Summer Time.

Saturday 27 March 2010

Nigeria: As a matter of course

Things as they are
Looking at the last week in Nigerian politics, I am not sure there was much to comment about; things seemed to be taking their course as a matter of course if one might aver.
The Acting President by name but substantive President by action had dissolved the cabinet of the comatose President and presented a new list to the Nigerian Senate for confirmation – this list had some returning ministers but hardly a ringing endorsement of the deposed when less than a fifth were recalled.
One would presume the returnees were selected because they were in some way effective in their posts, they could be relied on to be loyal and probably could be considered good Nigerians.
Just good people
The new selection I was not particularly familiar with, but I would have hoped the Acting President had at least the expectations of competence, ability and patriotism; loyalty being an attribute developed over time.
There was no need to speculate with fantasy names or whip up the frenzy about who would do what as a means of being seen to be able to comment or try ones hands at punditry – there is a time when silence and patience is of greater virtue.
As far as one is concerned it is left to the Nigerian Senate to approve these persons and help the executive with getting on about the government of the realm.
Appearance or apparition
However, as usual there was that sudden interruption to proceedings and rumour mongers pretending to be newspapers or what are apologies for journalism – something along the lines of the unseen President making an appearance for the Friday Jumu’ah service at the National Mosque.
What perfidy! I could have swapped my catholic frock for an apparition – President (like it or lump it) Goodluck Jonathan is in charge, it is time to stop being scared of ghosts.
So far, the ship of state is in calmer waters – God bless Nigeria, it remains one viable entity, no further options.

Friday 26 March 2010

Taking off in all senses

Look out to taking off
Looking out of my office window today reminded me of my last home in Nigeria but this was closer to the action.
The simple act of travelling by air is a beehive of activity you can never fully comprehend; lorries, trucks and odd-shaped vehicles in a secluded world, segregated from the normal world.
Then the most magnificent wonder than never ceases to amaze me, the streamlined bodies of metal that race down the tarmac and take off into the air to some destination near or far.
Even I cannot believe that I have not travelled out of the Netherlands for over 6 months, this a person who once felt 3 long weeks in Amsterdam needed a lengthier holiday abroad.
Yes, from my office window, I am in that world called air-side but I have no access to the place not that you want to caught in the traffic or deafened by the noise of all those vehicles – it just looks fascinating from the comfort of my office.
The buzz, the fuss
We were to complete a seemingly simple task today which probably should have taken 90 minutes but lasted the whole day – changes that are complicated by half-finished jobs of others that had been signed off until you find yourself lumbered with your situation and finding solutions to those discovered.
That, I think is the office excitement I missed and the making of an eventful day that I had no time to feel tired or yawn – I have just completed my second day at work and I really feel so good about that.
Like I said early in the month, after February is recovery. Lest I forget, I sent an update out to my friends, thanking them for responding and calling, one of the callers was my recruiting agent who managed my affairs some 14 years ago for 4 years in the UK.
I have a short 2-month contract, I intend to make the best of it – it is just so nice to have friends.

Thursday 25 March 2010

My first day back at work

The night before and off to work
The night passed with a bit of tossing and turning and the alarm set to 7:15 AM in preparation for my first day at work, I cannot say that I slept that well.
Here I was after I returned from the interview the day before trying hard to keep alert in the afternoon and finally succumbing to the draw of a lie down.
I got a bit concerned that I might not be able to hold out for a full day at work, almost 7 weeks after chemotherapy there was still I lot to be gained in strength, weight and ability.
When the alarm went off, I got up but I do not think I have as much as 2 hours in every stretch of sleep all night starting from about an hour before midnight.
I did the essentials and got out just a few minutes after 8:00 AM with the plan to catch the 8:29 AM from Amsterdam Central Station to Schiphol, I am working for a daughter company of a larger airline.
Arriving on time, I was picked up from reception, introduced to a number of people and then linked up with the man who would be my main colleague throughout the term of the contract.
A working man
We whizzed through that the task was to be done and the issues or risks that might arise whilst double-checking tracks and assumptions that are associated with projects like this.
As much as possible, I tried to keep from yawning as my accounts and badge were ordered, the day accumulated in hours and I felt strong and able all through to lunch.
At lunch I had a salad of eggs, ham, cheese, greens and olives as one of my colleagues grew interested in the treatments I had had over the last 6 months.
Indeed, it was 6 months ago that I was lain in hospital about to informed of some seriously life-changing news and here I was at my first day back at work.
After lunch, we went through a few more documents and tried to close the matters concerning my contract or payroll options, on reflection, using my company would be best for this role.
Soon afterwards, it is 5 O’Clock and a few minutes after, I closed down my computer and bid everyone goodbye as I returned home, quite tired, definitely happy, got some foodstuff and was home just before half six.
Thank you all for supporting and believing in me all this while.

Wednesday 24 March 2010

Taking a big chance on me

Email out – phone call in
The email went out yesterday evening and within 10 minutes I had a phone call, a job prospect from an ex-colleague who I worked with on a project almost 5 years ago.
Someone had pulled out of a contract and that opening became an offer if I was found suitable for the role.
We chatted about rates, I was looking down the barrel of up to a 40% cut from the last time I was on the market – beggars just cannot be choosers, you need to get in the race to be assured of the possibility of winning.
The project manager also happened to know me and even my eccentricities, you make impressions you never really realise you have made until you are told.
So we planned for a rendezvous at the Schiphol Airport meeting point for 10:00 AM the next morning and I visited my neighbours to share the news.
Boy! You’re slim
I got up early enough, shave and showered then got to dress up, my suit trousers left me looking like a Weight Watchers protagonist selected for a before-after photo-shoot.
I looked down the slack of my trousers to see my feet, my waistline was quite trimmed for the want of another word – I must put on some but not too much.
We met as planned, my ex-colleague, the project manager and the technical lead, exchanged pleasantries and some talk about my illness and recovery then sought a comfortable café to settle down for a chat.
A chance
I was given a basic picture of the project at hand, then more technical detail with included reading the plans laid out in Dutch – I quipped, I might well fail the interview on account of that.
The job looked deceptively easy enough but it could get complicated, nothing I could not rise to as a challenge and I do hope I can really excel at it.
The prospect looks good and the project manager intimated if I was feeling a bit exhausted by reason of the process of recuperation, I should let him know.
What can I say? They are taking a big chance on me and for that, I am both thankful and grateful with the hope that I really do well despite the possibility of yawning in the morning.
After all formalities are completed, I will be at work tomorrow morning.

Tuesday 23 March 2010

Tapping my network for work

Tapping my network
Over 20 years of work experience, I have done many things and worked with people. Today, I decided to tap on the network of people I have met in my working life and ask for their assistance in finding a job.
Some of them I have not spoken to in a very long time, but somehow, I felt seeing my message might remind them of their experiences of my expertise, work ethic and abilities and hopefully, they might just rekindle that with offering me a job or recommending me to other recruiters in their network.
The text of the letter follows and I just thought, if I could not use my professional contacts, my blog, my social networks and any other connections to find work too, what are those networks for if they are not also part of life itself?
The letter
I have overcome adversity and now I seek opportunity, opportunities I hope and believe you all as ex-colleagues at work or at school, who I have worked for, worked with or helped at work can offer – I address you all.
I do have an extensive curriculum vitae but that only contains some basic truths of my work experience and maybe what I have achieved before, I definitely cannot put in another section talking about how I fought cancer or how you liked or hated working with me, those are life experiences of a different significance.
However, having come out of that situation, I need to get back to work and want to get back to work – I am speculating and hoping that with the recall of experiences you have had working with me you can help me with assignments or know people who have assignments that you believe I can tackle with the ability, expertise and professionalism you remember me for.
I know this is an unusual message to send to you all but if I cannot tap on the wonderful experiences and network I have had in the last 20 years in this critical but necessary time, then I might have failed to have any impact in all the workplaces where I have been given the opportunity to work, serve and maybe change for the better, all with your help.
I have attached my resume [My LinkedIn Profile here] for your perusal and hope that very soon occasion will warrant being at your service again, I can also be contacted on number provided.
Thank you and the very kindest of regards,
Yours faithfully,
Akin Akintayo
So, all I have to do now is wait and I will keep you posted as to how it all turned out.

Monday 22 March 2010

Are you ready for Facebook?

Afraid to suck
For years, I had a public presence on the Internet in professional forums and through a blog that has been running for over 6 years.
In fact, I dabbled at creating a personal homepage which went online with Compuserve in 1994 but in the process of designing the page I came across a website which was titled “Web pages that suck” with the byline of teaching you good page design from looking at bad examples.
It did not take long for me to realise that I was not some quintessential artist and my dabbling was on for a great mockery – I pulled down everything despite my long acquaintance with professional desktop publishing.
Facing the book
In all that time, I heard of the social networking sites as they evolved, but never thought much of those connections, I dared to join Twitter early last year as a micro-blogging forum but Facebook was off my radar.
It was one of my ex-colleagues who persuaded me to look into Facebook in December and since then it has been an experience.
Memories are recalled, histories replayed and long lost contacts and relationships are getting restored, some too sudden and others just about comfortable with the rush of emotions it entails.
The past revived
At the risk of becoming an emotional wreck, just one message came through and one link lead to another and my life 20 years ago was being reconstructed with ever brick falling in place, every aspiration rekindled anew, every old thought almost becoming a haunting and every smell recreating the atmosphere that had almost become a fossil of memory.
There is no telling that the kids of those days are now well into parenting whilst the parents might soon be great-grandparents – time changes, time transforms, time ages and the observer of time appears to stand still looking through the hub to the circle of timely and untimely milestones.
Are you ready?
Facebook becomes more than facing the book, you are facing the facts, facing the truths, facing the lies, facing the realities and facing the mirages – castles with moats and castles in the air – can one really assimilate all that information and remain anything like sane?
Has anyone really stopped to consider where their Facebook will take them today and are they ready to go on that journey of undiscovered connections which might well unearth things that should have been left buried if we dared to resist the peer pressure of having the book thrown in our faces?
Mixed emotions all, happy and sad, grateful and rueful, considered and inconsiderate, glad and envious – a turmoil of butterflies in the stomach and excited anticipation – you really do wonder – are you really ready for the force of Facebook?

Sunday 21 March 2010

Nigeria: Enough Is Enough - Looking back

Some opinions looking in
First of all and from the beginning I was quite heartened by the Enough Is Enough project which gathered the youth of Nigeria on a march on the National Assembly.
However, I was not particularly taken by the demands they made or the questions they asked because none of them looked like they could be answered and to say the least I felt they were a bit timid.
If I were in Nigeria, I probably would have taken part in the march and with the other people I have chatted to about the rally who are outside the country we probably are far from the cauldron but we do not lack insight and hopefully there are ways in which we might be able to contribute and get more involved in future rallies.
Good 1st step
The achievements of the rally on the face of it are the ability to muster support for certain goals and when confronted by the usually obsequious to power and unaccountable security personnel they were able to withstand their menace and break through the barricades.
I believe the goals of that rally not only involved giving politicians notice that a youth constituency exists that has a voice, but to deliver a letter to the leaders of the National Assembly declaring their purpose.
From what I read, the leaders of the National Assembly were not available to give them an audience and certain of the security apparatus had already ruffled the feathers of some of the organisers but without success before the rally – the fact is the leadership knew but decided to disregard the import of the rally or acknowledge the discontent they represented.
However, it did transpire that some representative did come out to speak to them and they refused to engage him and in the process the letter taken to the National Assembly was not submitted.
Forcing the issue effectively
Seeing that the rally did include some somewhat influential Nigerians, I am disappointed that those people did not find ways of engaging some senior National Assembly person to take the letter to the leadership whilst at the same time have that letter published in national newspapers to ensure that the authorities cannot duck the issue with that common Nigerian cop-out of not being briefed.
At the time of the rally, it appeared the Twitter social networking site had the #EnoughIsEnough tag trending at number 3, an achievement you might say until you saw the content that I was compelled to post a tweet.
forakin Can this #enoughisenough campaign return to its purpose? Truth, direction, purpose and leadership - Suppose that is what it is. 4 days ago from Power Twitter.
It had to, every kind of triviality was posted, the popularity and trending was not a focused voice on the object and there was no quality to the postings even though it made the news.
A qualified success
Anyway, the rally in my view was a qualified success, some of my more youthful contacts have considered getting involved in any new plans for rallies with the hope that the ideas and demands would put them ahead of the curve.
I want to be blown away by the vision of those who come after me with whatever contribution I make being just a moderating influence, if needed – I will be so glad for our youth be so ahead of me in the promise of a place called Nigeria, I am sorry to say, the last time whilst I was happy, I was not altogether impressed.

To all feet big and long

The matter of size
I was in no ape suit nor was I traipsing around some out back, a request revealed that I needed size 46 slippers and there I was under threat of probing analysis.
Jokes and laughter followed as I was told the National Geographic will be called to take me away - I could only wonder why.
There is no saying that there is some sensitivity attached to feet being big rather than long and I do protest almost too vehemently that my feet are long rather than big.
Somehow, people cannot resist the urge to say Bigfoot, thankfully no one has yet said Sasquatch or else it might well be my “big” foot in their mouths and worse.
The little-endian part of this big-endian story is that each of my feet is exactly a foot long leading one to aver that I do really have 2 feet in every truth you can muster apart from the stability such feet give me for my average height of 6 feet or 1.83 meters.
That is not to say those with feet short of feet do not have two feet but stumps, I suppose if you can twiddle your toes you are standing on something and adaptation or evolution allows for the stability you have.
Foot in back
I will not be found foot loose on this matter where I have to do much foot work to ensure my foot does not end in my mouth just because someone somewhere has acquired a foot fetish from knowing my foot size.
Rather than have my foot the butt of silly jokes, I should really put my foot in the backside of the joker and ensure the boot is studded.
The question then is what are long feet good for, if you cannot swim? Answers on a foot stool – Thanks!

Saturday 20 March 2010

A hermit in Amsterdam

The other day, just before I woke up, I was dreaming I had a guest, he rang my bell – we have a main entrance video call system, I observed who it was and heard him say – Hello Akin; I let him in but I do not remember opening the door to my apartment to him.
All the while I was thinking it was Dick, but I do not remember seeing anyone looking like him and thankfully the voice I heard on the entry-phone was not as distinct as his.
However, somewhere within me, I was glad I had a guest – I didn’t, I somehow live like a hermit whose connection to the world is maintained by the Internet, telephony and television.
This morning again, I thought about calling up someone to visit and then I realised I did not really have anyone to call, the person I would have called had long gone, a memory only – he remains.
Then you wonder …

Friday 19 March 2010

Nigeria: Don't ever let them back

The entitlement complex
As was to be expected, I talked about the entitlement complex that drives certain political jobbers in Nigeria who have nothing to offer apart from having their snouts in the trough bilking Nigeria of its resources to the detriment of the populace.
Also, there was no doubt that there would be lobbying and jockeying for positions by sycophants and their so-called godfathers [1] who think their influence on powers that be helps boost their egos which is an outward expression of malevolence.
It would however appear the Acting President would not be true to type, he is making decisions outside the ambit of the ruling party and all those who think their input into the polity should be considered, some are already running scared.
Ruling party ruled out
I would also expect that the ruling party having withdrawn any support for the 2011 election from the Acting President even if his tenure produces the best leadership we have had in a long time will be learning a few good lesson in objective loyalties in turbulent times.
What is most irksome is the sacked ministers who it appears are begging [2] to return to post but not to service – these washed-out jobbers who cannot make a life out of anything but wheeling and dealing for personal benefit and corrupt enterprise need to be back blood-sucking Nigeria dry as they have grown accustomed to for a lifetime.
These spineless, gutless, feckless, ball-less nonentities who were grossly derelict in their duties as ministers and when Nigeria faced a critical crisis of leadership now want to return as sycophants of Acting President Jonathan.
Country before self
One would hope they will never get another opportunity to do anything in the name of Nigerians; they should be consigned to the scrapheap of history and ignominy, hopefully investigated for impropriety leading to indictment and disgrace.
I do not think the Acting President needs “Yes-men”, men without backbone who have no idea of their brief and are fearful to have initiative, insight, ideas and beneficial concepts for the sake of Nigeria.
We want people who would put country before self, those who understand duty and service, especially those who have worked in other fields of beneficial endeavour apart for chronic influence peddling and grease-pole climbing.
Outside the normal channels
There might have been a time when the input of the governors might have been useful, but surely the Acting President can use a broader spectrum of input to select the right people to create a talent pool of respectable ministers who can be role models of service to Nigerians, one and all.
I hope we do not adopt the “wait and see” default that has characterised new regimes in Nigeria but offer the support and views that would help the government seek better goals, aims and purposes for the good of Nigeria – this starts with nominating qualified and able ministers.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Nigeria: We need public servants not politicians

Seeing beyond the sacking
It is important that we do not become blinded by the euphoria around the presumed acquisition of balls by President Goodluck Jonathan in the dissolution of the Federal Executive Council comprising of ministers, advisers and aides.
For long many have vociferously expected some typically Nigerian political posturing from Dr. Jonathan who quietly had tried to exert authority and found that entrenched positions left him with no other option to be dissolve a deeply divided council.
Let us however review the actions of the ministers after they were told they no more have some official duty to perform in the name of Nigerians even though they remain Nigerians with a stake in what happens to the country.
Sullen and bitter people
It is said [1] that many of the ministers could not muster the dignity to depart the council chambers through the usual exit route but stealthily disappeared to collect their personal effects from their offices and in the process they might well handover to the permanent secretaries in their respective ministries.
One minister who did make an appearance was the now ex-Minister of Information, Professor Dora Akunyili who apparently rocked the boat within the timeliness that offered the National Assembly the impetus to offer the substantive leadership of the country in an acting capacity to the vice president.
Whilst she announced that the Acting President had dissolved the council, she had not further information about why apart from indicating all ministers were to handover their portfolios to the leading civil servants in their ministries.
No appreciation or thanks
What we all missed in the briefing which was her last was a note of thanks and gratitude for the opportunity to serve Nigeria and Nigerian, the seeming sullen atmosphere around the ministers conveyed a sense of personal loss and bitterness even though they have belonged to a privileged few that are ever called upon to serve.
I would suppose the staff in their ministries will not be lining up to see them off, rather, in what seems like the loss of clout that feed the megalomania of office their underlings might well be saying good riddance.
The other minister from whom we heard words, sums it all up and it needs to be remembered well, he was the Minister of Labour, Alhaji Ibrahim Kazaure and he said, “I used to be the Minister of Labour but now I am no more.” How very ominous, no more the minister or no more in a position to be an ungracious public servant of worth and exemplary conduct?
On being asked what he intended doing after holding that post, not one word of appreciation and gratitude was offered for his tenure, rather we heard him say, “I am a politician and I will continue to be one until I die.
Public servants not politicians
One would think we have enough politicians in Nigeria who get paid for politicking serving their own selfish interests acquiring for themselves influence and patronage with impunity, one really wonders when we would every get public servants as ministers, people of honour with just a tinge of humility and perspective who recognise that it is privilege out of 150 million Nigerians to be called to serve in whatever capacity.
If anything, this is what I seek in the crop of new ministers to be presented to the Nigerian Senate, honourable and humble people who have a sense of duty whilst appreciating they have been called to service of a great nation and people – the fact that we pay them should even impress that knowledge the more.
We cannot afford to continue to pay political leeches whose personal interests and ambitions matter more than the Nigeria that gives them the platform from which to project the worse of ability and talent that Nigerians in general have.
I do remember writing [2] in May 2008 another blog on this matter where some politician thought he was entitled to demand where to serve, it is a shame we still have that kind of entitlement mindset amongst our politicians.

Nigeria: Arise O Compatriots

Arise O Compatriots
If there was ever a time for Nigerians to come out and demonstrate for the good and progress of the country, the time is now.
It is not a time to wait and observe hoping things would turn out right, for months the executive has been incapacitated until the legislature was literally embarrassed into creating precedent whilst the judiciary doled out periods of grace that offered no foreseeable closures.
This time, the battle lines are clear, we have to accept that President Yar’Adua is really history as far as his position is concerned; the need for him to resign or be impeached would just be an energy-sapping exercise of no beneficial value to the country.
Nigeria must be run
The ship of state must run and we now have someone at the helm, with the nominal title of Acting President, but there is no doubt that he is substantive President and the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
He himself should know that he has the opportunity to do something for Nigeria, either for the good or the bad, one cannot say, but to know that he has the support of the nation in this interesting circumstances would be useful and hopeful persuade him of the better nature of using power with wisdom, honesty, fairness, justice and modesty.
President Goodluck Jonathan dissolved the Federal Executive Council yesterday, we might well speculate on why he did and what he wanted to achieve, I think it is clear that he found them hostile and probably uncommitted to whatever agenda he had for Nigeria such that change was necessary.
Surely, he must have considered the cost of redeployments with that council he had over creating a new one and decided it was better that he have one shaped according the ideas he has for the country.
Get the Senate working for their pay
As usual, some have already defaulted to type and considered the Nigerian Senate the most insurmountable obstacle to progress on selecting a new council in that they would have to be bribed, cajoled, railroaded or more.
Let us look at it from a different perspective, the members of the Nigerian Senate are probably the most well paid public servants in the country with the most lucrative perks that very successful global entrepreneurs would dream of having, it is time for them to earn their keep.
That is where Nigerian pressure should now be exerted for compel the Nigerian Senate not to hinder and obstruct the smooth running of the ship of state for personal aggrandisement, the quest for influence and opportunity and corrupt merchandising.
The placards, the protests, the demonstrations, the commentaries, the news, the blogs, the activism should be targeted that the non-objective special interests that have held Nigeria back for decades – no more business as usual, this is no time for largesse and filling pockets, this is the time for Nigeria and for the good.
Get the Senate working overtime
Once the names as submitted and the people are considered satisfactory they should be approved and allowed to get on with the job and all this should be done within a month not drawn out incessantly for show and disruption.
It is time for the Nigerian Senate to earn their keep, if they have to have 16-hour days and no holidays or recesses until the ministers are fully vetted and approved, then so be it.
Block the gates of the National Assembly and prevent them from going home until they have done their work before they return to their cosy palaces paid for by the sweat and toil of longsuffering Nigerians who have endured so much indifferent abuse of power without accountability.
Get everyone who has a voice speaking up for the ship of the state to be well oiled with all hands on deck and everyone who has something to do diligently pushing for the good, break the monopoly of power held by unreasonable and unconscionable influences especially that of the PDP and its perverse constitution or gentleman’s agreement.
The new council may not have saints
I would presume the Presidential Advisory Council was already well at work at choosing suitable ministers, the council is comprised for some quite eminent Nigerians, well that is the sort we have, they are not saints – the good thing is that the ruling party did not have too much influence in that selection and hopefully would not have that influence in this case.
The so-called forum of governors have no business interfering with federal matters and it is time the people in the states reacted to get the governors to concentrate on the managing their states than meddling in extra-constitutional matters – they have not of the influence they portend to exert apart from that for the ill of the country.
Support the leader
President Jonathan is the man in charge, we have no alternatives, he would rule or lead as the office he holds confers, and the least he can ask for is support and prayers of the great people of Nigeria he has by circumstance found himself in front of.
I think that is goal to march for and I do hope that we can all rally round our President to wish him well and good luck in this accidental job, he has a year, let us give him a good year and let history judge if he used it well.
In the words of our national anthem – Arise O compatriots, Nigeria’s call obey.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Nigeria: Can Jonathan have your support now?

Jonathan in charge

Let me review the things I have written about the political situation in over the last month leading to the conclusion in the news today that the Acting President has dissolved the cabinet [1] and will be presenting new names to the Nigerian Senate soon.

February the ninth - Nigeria: After 78 days of buffoonery, progress as the Nigerian legislature creates a precedent allowing for Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan to act as President.

February the tenth - Nigeria: Good Job! Jonathan his first act is to remove the most interfering nuisance in the government, the flawed Attorney General.

February the eleventh - Nigeria: The hope for an FEC with backbone one hoped with his act the day before the FEC would fall in line to the new dispensation but I suppose that was wishful thinking, the positions were both entrenched and compromised to act with any conviction or initiative.

February the twelfth - Nigeria: Goodluck left the PDP out appears the President has an independent streak of making tough decisions preventing interference in crucial matters, but no one gives him credit.

Yar’Adua not coming back

February the thirteenth - Nigeria: The "success" of the Jeddah delegation it now appears the President is too incapacitated to be seen, allowing for well-meaning Nigerians to bolster Acting President with needed support to move decisively on more substantive issues, but people are still obsessed with seeing the comatose President.

February the eighteenth - Thought Picnic: Giving the benefit of doubt, indeed, the popular view is to be cynical and be caught in the wave of sensationalist speculation.

February the twenty-fourth - Nigeria: Yar'Adua returns unfit to be seen, apparently, the return of the President intended to upset the grasp the Acting President has on power fails to rock the boat, but the opinion pool is agog with hysteria whilst is simply confirms Jonathan is in charge.

Jonathan is quiet but at work

February the twenty-sixth - Nigeria: In the hands of a good doctor, methinks, the Acting President seems to have an education that prepares him for the bear-pit of Nigerian politics.

February the twenty-seventh - Nigeria: Logical conclusions require no intrigue, the facts are clear but why let them get in the way of fantasies and stories that are yarns to sell papers – meanwhile, the audience is captivated with the Acting President still needing support from the impatient pundits proffering interesting opinions on all forums.

March the fourth - Nigeria: The need for a Nigerian leader, whilst the ruling party schemes on how to section leadership in the next election, the Acting President finds his inherited cabinet is inimical to the plans he might have for the probably 1 year tenure he has.

There are too many people who think Nigeria should be split up more into states or countries whilst the right thing is to move towards greater amalgamation to generate better talent pools – it is a position I continue to maintain, splitting Nigeria would never follow a Czechoslovakian agreement, it will suffer a Yugoslavian skirmish that would make Biafra childsplay, but they fantasise for the dangerously debilitating with idealist panache.

Jonathan needs support

March the ninth - Nigeria: Enough is Enough, my new appeal to give Jonathan support to make Yar’Adua insignificant fails because of the obsession on a situation that would never produce the expected result – the demands were behind the curve, the only big deal was they had the mien to gather not a consensus of great ideas for the future.

March the tenth - Nigeria: Yar'Adua cannot resign because of 2015, once again, the call to give Jonathan the support he needs to act with all the executive authority he needs without having to bother about the spectre of a comatose President in the background is ignored.

The evidence of actions of the ruling party point to a stitch-up lurking in the year 2015 not the closer election of 2011, but we are too occupied with circumstances to look up from the melee.

Yar’Adua is history, forget him

March the fifteenth - Nigeria: General T. Y. Danjuma - a very influential Nigerian, the subtext is really how Jonathan installed an influential General in the background to ward off the snagging at his heels. That Presidential Advisory Council might well have come up with the new list of ministers to help Jonathan carry out his agenda for a new Nigeria.

March the fifteenth - Nigeria: Enough is Enough! March, the marched, they brought down barricades but never got to submit their official letter to anyone in authority, some progress indeed, but not really a result – we can only hope for better, in my opinion, it was a missed opportunity to give Jonathan the support he needs, he is in charge now, not Yar’Adua – if we can stop obsessing ourselves with him.

Are you convinced about Jonathan, yet?

Today, the Acting President dissolves the cabinet and far be it from me to suggest Jonathan has the balls and everyone is cock-a-hoop [2] and suddenly throwing some support to Jonathan.

But then, before you know it, they will all be suggesting who should be appointed to what post, where the person should come from and become interfering advisors hoping to appear prescient and ahead of the game.

I believe Acting President Jonathan will do the right thing and it is not the first time the ruling party has ditched its vice-President for someone else, but in the one year he has now, I just hope we would give him the support he needs and consign President Yar’Adua to history.

Case closed.


[1] BBC News - Nigeria leader Goodluck Jonathan dissolves cabinet

[2] Jonathan dissolves cabinet | Next – Review the comments, now well over a hundred and compared to others before today … well …

Tuesday 16 March 2010

White and African and belonging too

My Economist
This morning, I picked up a tweet from the Economist, somehow, I seem to go through the weekly newspaper online long before I have physically flipped the pages of my print edition.
Suffice it to say, I am usually behind on catching up with the topics covered, it had to have been a case of prescience that I took out a two-year subscription in January 2009 to end somewhere in May 2011 without realizing I would experience a brief famine of opportunity and means not long afterwards.
The tweet - @TheEconomist: The short sad life of whites in Africa http://econ.st/9Aj5GZ - To which I added the comment - A story that also must be heard and seen.
Africans – black & white
Considering how Black Africans have “suffered” at one time under whites, one might tend to not consider the plight of presumably white Africans – but without too much controversy, it is arguable that independent sovereign black Africans are suffering badly under their own African leaders.
This is not to stir up any controversy but to assert the fact that there are white Africans who have claim and affinity to Africa than some of us who are African by reason of race, birth, custom or residence.
Putting aside the squabbles of land and resources, in a world where documentary evidence might well count for eligibility and entitlement, some whites in some African lands might be able to verifiably trace their lineage back many more generations than our black oral histories can muster – I fortunately, had a great grandmother into my 20s, she had a narrative that allowed a plot back of 6 generations from mine.
More African than I
The other day, some 15 years ago in an office in Kingston-upon-Thames, South-West of London, I heard my name called with a Yoruba perfect accent, the “N” is a bit nasalised but rarely emulated by non-Nigerians.
I turned around and was startled to see the lovely white girl who had a deeper Nigerian accent than I could ever attempt to jest with who was born in Nigeria, spoke Yoruba fluently – she said proudly, she was Nigerian by birth just as I would have said I was English – beyond the many white schoolmates I had in primary school who were Nigerian it was nice to recognise the kinship across races.
Then again, I remember another instance where a white colleague said he was more African than the 4 other black Britons of Nigerian heritage – I promptly concurred whilst the others took umbrage, considering hardly any of them could speak an African language nor had they experienced much of anything Nigerian in their lives.
Well, he was born in Kenya, he had lived in at least 3 African countries, visited 9 in addition to that, spoke Swahili, managed a bit of passable Yoruba and Hausa and bantered with corrupt African terms that made me almost too colonial to appreciate – I was beaten on that track, he was more African, period.
Loving Africa by choice
Going back to the Economist story, it is not the first time that the presumed Messianic white person has tried to do something in Africa and come to grieve at the hands of the natives – to excite passions flippantly – just as Dian Fossey comes to mind, she chose to make Africa home in the course of her research.
Another in the commendable class is Susan Wenger who became the custodian of the animist grottos of Osun in Nigeria, being one who for all intents and purposes has helped maintain those customs against the onslaught of religions that portend to declare our traditions inherently evil.
They belong as we do
We have to accept that we have ordinary white Africans who are just like you and I, who have every right to freedoms, justice, due process and consideration, just as we who proclaim for those of the black race in Africa.
They should not only be looked at in terms of colonialism, land-grabs or foils for feigned liberation struggles masking rotten leadership and corrupt – they also belong in Africa and like everyone would fight for their little piece of Africa than gives them a history and heritage.
In the end, it does not matter what colour you are or if you are in a minority, if you have a claim to be African, as anyone elsewhere might well have a claim to be who they aver they are, then you are welcome as an African brother and fellow citizen of our amazing global village.