Thursday 30 September 2010

Nigeria: Our Marie Antoinette says, "Let Them Eat Rice"

It’s a rice race

On the eve of Nigeria’s Independence Golden Jubilee, I find myself writing what I in my heart of hearts would never wanted to talk about, but then the whole purpose of my writing is to address things that are too concerning to ignore.

A picture [1] they say speaks louder than a thousand words but at this time I will try to describe a picture in a thousand words.

I came across this news item on the news website [1], one man in uniform with a big sack on his head apparently of rice and another one with a shoe in his hands being jostled, maybe nothing much to read into it but another good look reveals a very disturbing situation.

Rats to the cheese

In a quest for cheap, populist and derisible publicity the 1st Lady of Nigeria, a designation that should be consigned to ignominy decided to do the charitable work of distributing 2 million bags of premium Brazilian rice to the residents of the Federal Capital Territory.

One can only wonder how the news or rumours spread but as the news reports it there was a fracas, probably a stampede, people were hurt and the security personnel found it impossible to control the crowd.

There are too many issues conflated in this incident and one was to deal with them in their minutiae.

Foreign luxuries for local bellies

Journey with me for a while and consider another head of state on a visit to Nigeria being presented with traditional Nigeria crafts like an Ife bronze statue but only for the recipient to look at the base and see the hallmark – Made in China – sacrilege would not begin to explain ones disdain, disappointment and disgrace.

Nigeria, with all its arable land and large agrarian economy was done a great disservice when nothing was done to promote Nigerian products but 2 million bags imported from Brazil of the best kind thrown like food parcels to victims of a natural disaster whose eyes are popping out with malnutrition and hunger.

This by the 1st Lady of giving foreign good credence over Nigerian, though there might well be the case that we do not produce enough for ourselves and have to import rice.

Securing his bag of rice

For whatever reason, there is no doubt that this could have been better organised such that those lead by their bellies for the lack they suffer as citizens of Nigeria did not have to come to any harm and still get of this largesse paid for by the taxpayers or resources of the people.

Tis would have been where the security forces would have been able to introduce a sense of orderliness but they are just as hungry and as impoverished as the people they were supposed to control, so they also joined in the scramble and chaos no doubt ensured.

We can safely assume the honourable officer of the law in the picture got out his truncheon and whack a few people on his way to claim the golden bag of rice and having acquired one with his colleagues decided to make away with the loot.

Meanwhile his other colleague might just have accidentally found himself in the thicket of a marauding crowd, a stamp there and a kick there and suddenly he has to feel for his shoe on the ground and because he was thronged he had to hold his shoe until he got of out the press of the crowd.

Machiavellian it is

What does this say of Nigeria @ 50, an opportunist grab of the publicity of philanthropy whose main purpose is to hold vulnerable people in gratitude in order to exact payback in the not too distant future?

As one of the lucky bag-catchers volunteered, the 1st Lady was commended for her kindness with other people’s money and property and taking the accolades under the guise of Food Outreach Programme of the First Lady.

If the rice had come from China, it would have been apt for a Chinese proverb which states by inference, “Give a man some rice you feed him a day, teach him how to farm and you feed him for his life.”

However that would be belabouring the point that our leadership have no ideas but shortcuts and gimmicks for instant gratification.

Abrogate African 1st Ladies

As for the matter of 1st Lady, it does make me wonder why political office is allowed this excess, like for instance, do I as a Systems Consultant at work sometimes have the opportunity to call in my girlfriend or boyfriend as 1st Lady or 1st Gentleman in my place to do my job, stand by me and represent me.

Indeed, to have a partner and confidant is good, but to accord the partner office, status and the opportunity to abuse to the point of lavish aggrandisement that could rival the 1st Shopper of Zimbabwe is just plain bad conduct.

Dare I say, Nigeria’s Marie Antoinette has declared, “Let them eat rice.” As for the primitive populist ploy of gaining votes through the bellies of the hungry, I have seen no dame as despicable; I cannot even mention her name.

Let us not be blindsided by the obvious philanthropy masking some more sinister ploy because what happens when the bag of rice is exhausted, it is definitely not seed for planting.

Shame on you for bringing such disgrace on Nigeria at this auspicious time. Shame!


[1] | Commotion at Independence rice distribution venue

[2] The Nation - Scramble for First Lady’s rice

Wednesday 29 September 2010

Nigeria: Reviewing the Nigeria @ 50 website

The Nigeria @ 50 website is live

Having made such an issue of the absence of a website celebrating Nigeria’s 50th Independence anniversary, the website finally made an appearance yesterday, only 3 days to the celebrations itself.

When I wrote in July about the unpreparedness of the government for celebrations we all knew for years would be in October 2010, I noted that Ghana had revealed their own Ghana @ 50 website a good 5 months before the event.

Though the logo for the occasion had been unveiled since the 9th of June 2010, it was the most elusive brand as if it was kept under wraps only to be seen by freemasonry and starved of the oxygen of publicity despite the fact that we have had a rebranding Nigeria exercise going for over a year.

No excuses would suffice

Some might blame the tardiness and unpreparedness on the seeming interregnum that typified the sickness of the erstwhile President Yar’Adua as he vegetated in Saudi Arabia from November 2009 and haunted the corridors of power from February 2010 until he passed on to the great beyond in May 2010.

It did not stop the incessant politicking in the corridors of power so by inference someone should still have been manning the project regardless of whether the President was present or absent – it was business as usual and to state otherwise would be a lame excuse.

Wanting and unfinished

In any case, the Nigeria @ 50 website has come online and whilst it might be aesthetically pleasing to the eye on the rudiments of adhering to the green and white colours of the flag and other symbols of the country the content was wanting in the essential qualities of worldwide web publishing.

Errors borne from the lack of proofreading, poor checking of facts, suspect references and outright lack of finesse simply made to reinforce the idea that Nigerians are no good at exactness, correctness, rigour and meticulousness – it is a shame that what was worth doing well was done so badly.

Websites are sandboxes?

As to what was paid to create the website, I would suppose someone forgot to separate the cost of hosting from the need for talent, artistry and professionalism in creating a possible global reference for Nigeria in its hour and time of revelation in celebrating its Golden Jubilee of independence.

There seems to be a dismissive view to creating a web presence forgetting the fact that a website presence is probably now the first impression you can give of who you are, what you do, how you project whilst giving the visitor to your website an opinion of whether they can do business with you in the broadest terms.

The fact that some people can comment saying their 10-year old nephews or nieces can do better is as much a damning statement as a disgrace to those who awarded that contract without appreciating what it entails and those who commissioned the Go-live of that site without scrutiny of its contents.

My views in Tweets

To say I am disappointed does not begin to express my views, but throughout yesterday night as I reviewed the website I think the Tweets I posted give a general idea of how exasperated I became.

On finding the logo and then realising I had seen it before but never cottoned on the fact that it was the official logo.

forakin Akin Akintayo

Thanks to @fowora The #nigeria50 logo has been found with pictures of old leaders to boot. Thanks!

The first thing that jumped out at me as I read the brief history of Nigeria.

forakin Akin Akintayo I am sorry to say, Emeka Ojukwu was a Colonel when Biafra seceded, it is within Biafra that he became General.

The House of Fun where the legislators earn perks that make the eyes water – no job in the world offers such benefits as being a Nigerian legislator, but as a tourist attraction or the Nigerian English version called “Toursim”? I am speechless.

forakin Akin Akintayo The Nigerian National Assembly is apparently a tourist attraction but pray what is Toursim?

An aside as to how every little hamlet became a state of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which in my view offers many pools but few talents to select from those pools.

forakin Akin Akintayo

Wikipedia States of #Nigeria A nice graphic of how every hamlet became a state.

This shook me a bit because all the references came from Wikipedia; it begs the question whether Nigeria has a national archive of authoritative facts of history beyond the crowd-sourced data on Wikipedia. If we do have archives, they should be online and must be the first points of reference by our government.

forakin Akin Akintayo

Going through the brief history of Nigeria All references are from Wikipedia, don't we have a national archive of events?

The fact that Nigerians live in a patriarchal society without the due recognition of women is exemplified in our having only founding fathers and God knows women were just as involved in the independence process.

forakin Akin Akintayo

Nigeria @ 50 website Surely there were women in the struggle for our independence not just Founding Fathers.

To prove that point Sokari Ekine had written a blog on women and the nation for the Nigeria @ 50 celebrations.

forakin Akin Akintayo

@Blacklooks wrote a Nigeria @ 50 piece on Women and the Nation Shame on the male chauvinists forgetting the worthy women.

It gets to a point that only sarcasm can help you through viewing this stuff, especially, if you have no hairs to pull out. A lack of consistency in the product, I wonder why we lack of sense of precision and uniformity in many things.

forakin Akin Akintayo

Founding Fathers of Nigeria page leaves Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa without beginning or end, a Melchizedek of sorts.

A critical point in the discussions of Nigerian independence, the meetings were held at Lancaster House, but rather than check and verify the facts, someone put in Lancester twice as captions of photographs. It is unbelievable.

forakin Akin Akintayo

I think I have had it with the errors on this Nigeria @ 50 website - The London Conference was at Lancaster House.

Whilst indeed Lord Lugard was in West Africa in the late 19th Century, the key point of the historical event being portrayed which was the naming of Nigeria by his beau Miss Fiona Shaw was done in the early 20th Century – getting this wrong is just beyond the pale.

forakin Akin Akintayo

Nigeria @ 50 Fact Sheet says Baron Lugard was Colonial Administrator in late 19th Century, no it was early 20th Century.

How much?

Which brought the last question and an answer in response to my Tweet.

forakin Akin Akintayo

How much did we pay for this Nigeria @ 50 website?

From @fowora Too much.

At the same time, after seeing the first two errors I visited the “Contact Us” page and left a message which I published on Facebook.

As so after going through a few pages and I would the rest of the Nigeria @ 50 website I found the "Contact Us" page and decided I'll send a short message.

Hello,Whilst this website is good in general the attention to detail is wanting.
1. Emeka Ojokwu was a Colonel when Biafra seceded.
2. Each Tourism page has the title Toursim.
I believe you should take time to review and proofread the content - this is a showcase of Nigeria, for once let us show that we can be meticulous to a fault, if necessary.

I wonder if I am asking for too much, it would appear this website suddenly came alive just 3 days to the 50th Anniversary, I wonder what else is there to nit-pick at.

To crown it all, the Welcome to Nigeria page is Coming Soon, it is like being welcomed as a guest at the end of your stay, which is at variance to the supposed culture of Nigerians as the page states, “The most common greeting is a handshake with a warm, welcoming smile.” I suppose we have not found the website equivalent of Nigerian welcome yet.

‘Nuff said.

Sunday 26 September 2010

Thought Picnic: Me and Mr Long

Did he do it?

It could almost be mischievous if it was not true or it had the semblance of truth just as we are made to understand that there is no smoke without fire.

The countless children that had fun at Neverland Ranch which turned out to be either a lifetime experience of glee for some and a ruinous assault on the person of others left us reeling with incredulity.

The power of means to attract the young into the enclave of mentoring or support and then use that influence to procure sexual gratification still shocks beyond words.

In those cases, settlements were reached but nothing proven beyond reasonable doubt that the events our imaginations had carried well beyond the incredible really happened.

The accusations could die out but the truth might never materialise because beyond having confused the sexuality of the “victims”, their characters will be assailed to the point that they might become suicidal if they are not already so from their supposed ordeal.

Me and Mr Long

Me and Mr Long seems to be the chorus from four young men who were groomed, feted, lavished and kept by the pastor of a mega-church whose pulpit and activism against homosexuality is publicly strident, fundamentalist, intolerant and persuasive.

There might well be enough resources to make this all go away but it would not go away easy, if what they have stated did not happen it must make one wonder what act so despicable Bishop Eddie Long might have committed or abetted for these men to concoct these long tales.

On the balance of probability one might be swayed to point fingers but let us put that aside and deal with a more pertinent issue, the merciless, heartless and dispassionate assault on homosexuality from the pulpit.

In black churches there seems to be this idea that homosexuality is a white man’s thing, where black men appear to exhibit this “trait” it is viewed as an affront to masculinity which is most expressed with machismo and a lascivious heterosexual sexual appetite with overflowing testosterone apparently curtailed by religious instruction.

Accommodation and intolerance

Adultery and fornication even though abominations by fundamentalist appropriation find better expression and tolerance in the church than homosexuality could ever dare to dream of.

The mantra of loving the sinner and hating the sin usually gets conflated into hating the person and closing the doors to the church to them except where they subscribe to gruelling psychological-reorientation called counselling which is a kind of aversion therapy to make albeit homosexuals apparently heterosexual.

It creates another more complex person, a secret homosexual and a public heterosexual, someone on the down-low whose appetite for homosexual copulation is sated whilst pretending to be a devoted and committed husband with loving wife and kids.

One expression with another lifestyle

It is well for some to have nothing against homosexuals but to rail against their lifestyle when no one asks about a heterosexual having to live a heterosexual lifestyle – maybe Bishop Eddie Long knows seeing that the documents entered in court show he was about to use scripture to sow his wild oats in strange fields.

At the end, the advocacy against gay marriage is interesting because it is not gay marriage that affects the institution of marriage but the infidelity and untruthfulness of people in the traditional institution of marriage that undermines its foundations, principles and sacramental values – all that gay marriage is seeking is just the right for partners in those relationships to find significance in the face of the law.

The words of Bishop Long’s predecessor Reverend Kenneth L. Samuel are foreboding as they are insightful on this matter as he said, “Whether it’s true or not, the church has an issue of duplicity, hypocrisy and denial in terms of human sexuality that the church has to deal with. Unfortunately, I think Bishop Long is emblematic of a culture ... that causes pastors and parishioners to preach and testify one thing and practice something else.”

Me and Mr Long – the refrain

Bishop Eddie Long would no doubt fight this to the bitter end but I cannot help but hear the song ringing incessantly in my head.

Me and Mr Long
We got a thing going on
We both know it is wrong [At least Mr Long should if the boys don’t]
But it’s much too strong to let it go now.

References and other reading

Men allege sexual coercion by prominent Atlanta pastor - (Includes PDFs of lawsuits filed)

Fourth lawsuit filed against Georgia pastor -

Bishop Eddie Long | Powerful pastor’s ministry put to test |

Why black church culture rejects homosexuality -

Me and Mrs. Jones: Lyrics from

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Preparing for a neighbourly dispute

Parking to the letter

I never get to write letters like this that often though sometimes one just has to be polite, firm and resolute about protecting one’s property from abuse.

My apartment comes with a car parking space and they cost a premium in Amsterdam, as the last year turned difficult I attempted divesting myself of that asset without success and so the hardship that followed.

Thankfully, things have begun to turnaround and it is still part of my property as it sometimes gets used by neighbours or other apartment block residents that have the courtesy of asking to use the parking space.

Though, I do remember a birthday celebrant coming over to ask to use the space years ago at least that was the reason she gave for wanting usage but whilst I am not complaining the offer of a piece of birthday cake would definitely not have been snuffed at – there’s gratitude for you.

Taking liberties

So, by happenstance I took my bicycle into the garage to get air in the tyres and saw a car in my parking space, it did not belong to my neighbours or my friends so I called the Residents’ Committee about the problem that I have now learnt is rife in the apartment block.

There have even been instances when the illegal activity have involved the miscreants moving non-vehicular property of the spots to park their cars, how annoying.

The Residents’ committee got back to me today and offered a few suggestions including getting a vehicle removal firm to shift the car, meanwhile, I have be taking pictures of the “criminal” activity for actionable process.

Stretching the meaning of theft

One analogy I was given was I do not expect when I am away from my home on holiday to see others occupy my property without my consent, that would be burglary. Without extensive extrapolation to occupy a parking spot without permission is an inconvenience if needed and an affront to polite society even it is empty, it might not be burglary but its value gives it a context of an element of theft.

I have given the miscreant till tomorrow morning to move that car before I am compelled to take drastic action.

The responsibility is not mine

It would be interesting to note that as I placed the letter under the windscreen wiper there was an envelope just on the dashboard without an address but a mobile phone number, probably from the abuser expecting me to call and then using that occasion to ask for permission to use my parking space.

Well, honestly, after three days of my noticing the car on the spot, there is no reason for me to seek out the culprit and then be bounced into doing the person a favour. It is incumbent on that person to seek me out and do that, so there we are.

Without Prejudice

I do not know if Dutch law allows for the usage of “Without prejudice” letters, but in English law I am informed that it grants the sender certain privileges of protection of expression that the receiver cannot take advantage of in law.

Many a time, when I was in the UK, it came in handy when dealing with difficult situations. English just happens to be my mother tongue even whilst living in the Netherlands, my shame but then, it has its effective uses.

The purpose is to ensure I am not unnecessarily inconvenienced if I do decide to have the vehicle removed and rightly so. The letter appears below.

Without prejudice

To whom it may concern,

I have noticed over the last few days that you have parked your car in my parking space without my permission.

Whilst the space is empty it does not make it a free parking space; it is a matter of common courtesy to request permission to put your vehicle in a place that you do not own.

I have for actionable purposes taken pictures of your vehicle on the space and reported the matter to the Residents’ Committee.

I would kindly suggest you remove your vehicle by dawn of the 23rd of September 2010 before I seek redress for this illegal activity.

I hope with this note you are duly notified without prejudice and with the utmost consideration on my part.

With the kindest regards,

Signed with contact number.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

Nigeria: Give INEC all she needs to do well

Reason coming to the fore

It is with interest if not encouragement that I now hear that the political parties are in favour of going for a more realistic timeframe [1] towards the 2011 elections in Nigeria.

For a long while, I have been sceptical about the timetable [2], provisions, preparedness and viability of any of the projections.

It was too easy to pooh-pooh the voter registration exercise which was to register, certify and confirm about 70 million votes from the about 150 million population of Nigeria within 20 calendar days.

Organisation is not our forte

Going from the disputing that arose from the census of 2006 [3], there is no way the voters register numbers would not have been impeded in courts and all sorts of debate and rancour as Nigerians are wont to exercise themselves about and mostly without facts or figures to justify their claims.

The unpalatable truth is that Nigeria does not have the track record for competence in logistics and the ability to conduct this function with any professionalism, expertise or sense of exactness regardless of who has been put in charge of the Independent National Electoral Commission [4] (INEC).

Parachute leadership

For me, the issue of the leadership of INEC was also important, this is an organisation that has failed to manage the electoral system efficiently that results were bogged down in courts and tribunals, some yet to be settled since 2007.

The erstwhile chairman had become the byword for spectacular bungling but was only relieved of his post at the end of his tenure in June 2010 when he should have been sacked ignominiously the day after those atrocious presidential results were announced in 2007; most especially for the incompetence that had ballot papers for a nationwide election being flown in from South Africa just 24 hours before the vote.

Hypocrisy of the highest order

The Nigerian legislature which is comprised of the political parties that are now acquiescing to the need for a postponement or rescheduling of the calendar are the ones who voted to have the elections hold in January 2011 instead of April 2011; giving the new chairman hardly any time to stamp his authority on the organisation he has sworn to make deliver free and fair elections.

The logic was wrong, flawed and self-serving, it is better to conduct free and fair elections late which put aside the need for dispute if the elections were conducted properly than to conduct them early to allow for disputes to be resolved before the declared winners or their aggrieved opponents are satisfied and sworn into office.

A commendable legislative duty

The legislature that has grown fat on a largesse of emoluments and benefits without much to show for their activity towards improving the well-being of Nigerians were careless by not realising that the former is of more value than the latter.

It is now time for the legislative arm of government to review the wretched law that has hamstrung INEC with the possibility of delivering another set of bad democratic returns and allow this, as it were, independent body, to set its timetable within reason, with a sense of reality and a clear idea of the goals they can achieve to ensure that everyone elected has legitimacy and the credibility of an almost flawless exercise of suffrage.

Nigerians deserve this review more than INEC or the politicians do and for once, let the people we pay to represent us show that they understand the responsibility they are called to in service of the nation and its people.

The incumbent politicians do not have to be returned and they should not view their seats with a sense of eternal occupancy allowing for the do-or-die mentality that governs the quest for political office in Nigeria; the electorate should be allowed to make the decision of who represents them and see their decisions duly acknowledged in a clean electoral contest leading to fair elections.

Please give INEC time, space, latitude and means. Thank you.


[1] Nigeria: Parties Back INEC's Request for Extension

[2] Timetable for Nigeria’s 2011 General Elections « #EnoughisEnough Nigeria

[3] Akin: Gauging the Nigerian 2006 Census

[4] INEC Nigeria