Monday 30 May 2011

Editorial: FIFA cannot right itself

An opaque setting

The situation embroiling FIFA the world football association is a sad reflection on the lack of transparency and the obscure practices within that organisation.

It is disconcerting that with the swirl allegations and counter-claims going around engulfing the top hierarchy which includes the President and the Secretary-General amongst others is not answerable to anyone, any higher authority or any reputably constituted outside scrutineer to help restore that fast ebbing of reputation, integrity and probity.

There are many questions being asked and very few answers being given and the chiefs desperately want to move on with all the dirt and muck-racking following in their wake without any pang of conscience.

A bastion of the inscrutable

It is not like FIFA should have a conscience, the setup makes it a corrupt enterprise in need of thorough and radical reform, the President about to be elected unopposed is 75; he was last elected unopposed with 66 out of 207 possible votes, a demining indictment that shows that he heads a structure that is self-serving, immune to change and has everything sewn up.

Mr Sepp Blatter has been involved with FIFA since 1975 and never played, coached or run and professional football club ever.

There surely must be better qualified, experienced, able and knowledgeable people able to run FIFA but they have all defaulted to supporting a modified oligarchy that is a façade for what in nation-states would be a form of eternal incumbency propped up by a semblance of democracy to perpetrate a benevolent despotism.

Bereft of leadership

With world leaders nominally in their 40s and very few breaching 60 apart from dictators who have been there forever, everything is wrong with FIFA as it stands and it is run – if Mr. Blatter has been able to mentor, inspire and take leave after three terms at the helm, it speaks more for his amazing lack of real leadership and not about any political deftness.

The elimination of real opposition by fear, commission, omission or circumstance does not bode well for football.

The need for an overhaul

Ideally, Mr Blatter must take leave and an interim council be constituted to run FIFA until each and every claim and allegation is addressed and resolved leading to criminal prosecution if necessary.

FIFA has lost the ability and the clout to properly police itself, it needs to be answerable, accountable and responsible to a legally constituted global body that can audit, question and sanction anybody in that organisation starting with its head.

I would hope that the leaders of the world speak to ensure that this travesty and atrocity masquerading as managers of beautiful game are shook up before that mired the whole essence of the game in the politics of the despicable being run by the deplorable.

Holiday Snaps: A beam through the prism of Turkey

A pinch of Turkey

There are quite a number of observations I have made on my trip to Turkey, this is somewhat premature but it is best written as an preface of sorts to what might be covered in more detail later either concerning this journey or another visit to Turkey.

Though I was only in Marmaris [1], the South-West of Turkey in Anatolia, I cannot say it is representative of such a big country.

However, it represents a genuine difference from other places I have been to. The rarity of people of colour in these parts means I might well end up on quite a number of Turkish social media pages having appeared in innumerable pictures with the locals that have all asked to take pictures with me.

In the energy saving realm

Beyond that, I noticed that a majority of places both inside and outside had low-power light bulbs in every kind of twisted tubular design.

I could not help but notice the number of Turks that had returned home from mainland Europe, they all seem to have been quite well travelled and not just from Germany, I saw quite a few from the UK and even the Netherlands.

Literally every café, bar or restaurant had free Wireless Internet connectivity, it should put hotels that still charge for that service on mainland Europe to shame.

I should expect that eventually every hotel will that service freely available at least in their lobbies if not in all rooms. The Radisson hotel group stands apart on mainland Europe for providing free WiFi access in the rooms and for those who hold their cards, they can expect to use the service in the lobbies without having to check-in.

The push to the West

Every picture I have seen of the revered and respected 1st president of the Republic of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk [2] shows a man who having seized Turkey from the grasp and dying throes of the Ottoman Empire is 72 years after his death still striving to drag his country and countrymen to the West.

The battle to make Turkey a modern, western and secular nation-state is still being fought with fervour and passion like never before; one recognises a strong identification is Islam as a religion but a great reticence to make a public expression of that faith.

The liberal and conservative appears to clash and compromise at every turn, it makes for an interesting, vibrant, friendly and tolerant country but it would always be caught in the pulling forces of Asia, the Middle-East and Europe and there is telling where it would eventually end up.

A world without Turkey will however be bereft of history, antiquity, knowledge and a people working hard for peace in a very turbulent world.


[1] Marmaris - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Mustafa Kemal Atatürk - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Holiday Snaps: To Ephesians Long Gone

The fame of Ephesus

Turkey has much to offer in terms of history and antiquity, the basic issue of tourism that derives from good weather hardly does justice for the diverse culture of this vast land.

I had decided I would visit Ephesus [1] or what remains of it in its ruins near Selçuk in the Izmir Province of Turkey from 220km from my coastal resort and a good 3-hour drive.

At the back of my mind, I thought about the significance of this city in New Testament times, the epistle of Paul to the Ephesians in which he prayed [2] that the “eyes of their understanding be enlightened” and then the reference to the church in the Book of Revelation as one of the 7 churches in Asia to whom Jesus Christ had a message.

Ephesus gets addressed first as the church that had forsaken its first love but all the seven sites [3] or churches of Asia; Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamon, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea are located in modern-day Turkey.

In Verse 24 of Chapter 19 of the Book of the Acts of Apostles the state religion from which craftsmen derived trade and fortune was threatened by the advent of Christianity, the renown of Ephesus is expressed in these words, “Not only is our little business in danger of falling apart, but the temple of our famous goddess Artemis will certainly end up a pile of rubble as her glorious reputation fades to nothing. And this is no mere local matter--the whole world worships our Artemis!” (Message Bible Version)

The temple of Artemis was one of the 7 wonders of the world in Antiquity. Artemis was the Greek goddess referred to by the Romans as Diana.

The city of Ephesus

It was against this background that my interest was kindled to see what great monuments of man had been erected in this prosperous city that was second only to Rome.

It was built on a slope and the smart thing was for us to arrive at the top end and walk through the ruins over a period of 2 hours in the sun on at times slippery marble and there was lots of marble on columns, walls, standing structures and paving – it all took careful negotiation.

Our tour-guide who saved us the tongue-twisting dilemma of pronouncing his name helped with the simple name of Sam, he was both humorous and knowledgeable.

Apart from photo opportunities with the many who were interested and curious, I met such wonderful people on the tour and besides the side shows of a pottery and other shops, a visit to the Ephesus museum made it such an eventful day.

I suppose more blogs will be written about this visit and pictures will be published soon.


[1] Ephesus - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians, Chapter 1, Verse 18

[3] Seven churches of Asia - From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Saturday 28 May 2011

Holiday Snaps: The best price is resistance

Making friends

Sometimes, I find myself somewhere between genuine interest and intriguing curiosity with the prospect of being exploited the calibration on that meter scale.

Now, earlier I was at the Marmaris Castle, a topic to be covered in much detail later and there was a group of kids on an excursion who when they saw me wanted to take pictures.

At least two were forward enough to try out their basic knowledge of English and before you knew it, we had shook hands, my hand the less regal without gloves have made friendship bond with some 15 children who seemed to genuinely interested and all wanted to know my name and where I was from.

I asked for their names, made real pleasantness and asked if they were having fun, which I had to explain and then a chorus of yesses filled the air.

What you don’t want

There was no exploitation in the air though I was taken aback by the question from another kid about my age which simply revealed one of the basic questions in language you learn without making allowances for the fact that it is rude to ask adult strangers that as a second question of a conversation.

However, walking through Marmaris presents those opportunities, restaurateurs that offer food you are not hungry to eat and then they offer free drinks to draw you in for half-priced food, the bait is slung but resistance is key.

Politely, shake hands but don’t let it linger to the point that you are dragged into the lair, the touching should be sniffed at whilst maintaining a convincing smile and engaging in the idle banter.

What you don’t need

Through the bazaar, he asked if I remembered him in Vietnam to which I responded I had forgotten and then he said he was some captain and I noticed the leg he lost in ‘Nam had grown back.

They offered leather jackets and many to view but I could see enough from the street there was no need to go in and I was not in need of a leather jacket that was not in-laid with Kevlar. At half-price of whatever price, there was no deal for me and a lot for them – resistance had to be futile.

Turkish bangles are not what you dangle for bling, they are not necessarily Turkish though the handiwork of talented Turks but you have to be disinterested and without being uninterested, see the interesting without betraying interest or your end up with a gift that commands a price that you have to pay before you depart.

What cannot fly

Carpets and tapestries, cushions and blankets of legendary Turkish expertise but none fit my exacting specifications, beautiful as they all seem, they are not flying-carpets and so, I have nothing to buy and they have nothing to sell even if it going at half-price and less.

They do not persist for long and where one did persuade me to visit his restaurant to eat fish did did “My Way” the best he could offer was a drink and a haggle over the fish – I calmly told him to keep the fish, the long fish tales and bring the bill for the drink, friendly people who are not after what is in my pocket are probably the most likely to get some of what is in my pocket.

The best price is always resistance.

Holiday Snaps: It was crazy alright

Walking into the night

Night life in Marmaris is varied from the cosiness of restaurants to the bar and clubs that form the sea-facing facade of the probably 6km long promenade.

After dinner at the hotel, I made out to walk almost 4km towards the Eastern end of the marina that I had covered by bicycle earlier.

It probably took the best part of an hour or more, I do not walk as briskly as I once did and I had to take breaks on the way to ease the pain in my lower back, it was a case of will over ability, but that was what I wanted to do.

The journey was by no means easy as waiters called out to entice me into their restaurants or dens, you constantly had to stand your ground that you did not want a meal, a sip of any drinks or the conscience-tainting offer of a free drink that almost obliged you to go the extra bit to paying for nice but unwelcome hospitality.

There were many restaurateurs that recognised me as I walked by the docks and they all wanted to have a conversation about everything.

The crazy of Crazy Daisy

When I got to the end of the promenade, I turned left and the first street to the left was club land, a cacophony of sounds from at least 15 different bars and clubs with one so brazen that it lit up the sky with war-time searchlights and a green laser display of the club’s name on the mountains just about 1km away, I was on Bar Street.

Crazy Daisy was worth a look in, as one of the doormen was he-she, I could not really tell but it was quite likely no self-respecting lady will be dressed in a body-hugging leopard-skin leotard with a matching wide-brim hat that had one of the sides folded up into a something like a huge Napoleon Bonaparte hat.

I will err on the side of the person being male and his heels were mountain-topping though the burly bouncers turned away some they did let in others and eventually I made for the door.

The assurance that I would hit no one with my cane gave me a welcome entry into this cavernous place where the drinks were not going for tuppence.

Squeals of heels

Later the man in drag took the stage, by which time I was half-deaf, the loud speakers booming so load as if NATO was doing a night raid on Tripoli – clubs are just not healthy.

Being a disk jockey has nothing to do with disks or jockeying anymore, the man at the music stand had an Apple MacBook and probably a few cables that went into some amplification system and in between some synthesizing equipment to embellish the sounds.

Back to the dancer, it hard enough seeing certain ladies comment on the extraordinary daring of dancing in high heels and I have seen Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Beyonce do feats the foolhardy equivalent of tight-roping walking without a pole or a safety net.

What I saw I could not appropriately put in words, I spontaneously applauded the man as I thought the slightest mishap will lead to a series of skeletal fractures that would make the putting back together of Humpty Dumpty seem like a kindergarten finger-painting class.

I longed for bed

I saw enough and then trundled back to my hotel the pain in my back as bad as it can be for I had resolved to be a glutton for my own self-inflicted punishment.

The only disturbance along the way was a dog that started barking at me before I got to it and after I had moved on, it was still barking oblivious of the fact that I had completely ignored it – such busy-body dogs can only be a representative of their masters.

The bed received me as the pain in my back eased and I fell asleep soon afterwards.

Friday 27 May 2011

Holiday Snaps: The length and the cycle

The name of that thing

Continuing on from where we left off the conservation, the last place where I was accosted included introductions that left me thinking there was something sinister and obscene about the name.

As I returned there this morning, I asked after the chaps I met earlier in the witching hour and the waiter laughed out loud, he was the most silent and detached one of the few I saw before but he recognised me.

It transpired that two African-Americans had fallen for a manhood confidence trick. A particular race is on average blessed to a mythical standard but that does mean that there are none of other races that could be exceptionally gifted.

You’ll always draw the short straw

Their mythical status got the better of them when a dare from this young chap that he had more of length and girth was taken up with money on the table, the African-Americans left with less of a tail between their legs as money went to the chap who could call anyone’s bluff and walk away with the money.

Whilst one has had no reason to complain, it has never been the most gentlemanly of stances to attempt the dare of drawing the shortest straw, there is nothing to prove and the entertainment value soon wears away in deflated egos.

In the spirit of Amsterdam

I crossed the street to get a few bottles of water and then hired a bicycle to ride around town just as the spirit of Amsterdam allows.

Mmy Englishness sometimes got the better of me as signs prohibiting riding in certain areas were first obayed and then when I realised the rules meant nothing or no one was enforcing them, I got on my bicycle and rode the whole length of the promenade to the East first and then to the West some 10km away to another little village.

The pedestrian path was unevenly laid with cobble-stones I felt I was on a bone-shaker cum penny-farthing with hardened tyres of metal and no shock absorption.

Tossed and lost

The freedom to ride can lure you into a confidence than ends in defeat; I thought I had the mountains on the right side when I tried to return via another route, in the end, it appeared the mountains were on all sides, my sense of bearing completely lost.

After marauding for some 30 minutes, I found a tourist office and in the process realised I was caught in my own version of the Israelites’ sojourn in Sinai.

I was nowhere on my way out of the village that I returned more or less to the end of the promenade where I first thought I could veer off on another route – lesson learnt; return by the way that lead you there.

Some 8km later, I was back at my hotel, not too spent, not worse for wear but really quite relieved, I have the bicycle until later, I had better get a decent map before I find myself marooned on an island just because the tide came in when I was trying to be geographically smart.

Holiday Snaps: Basting my Turkey

Pit-stop capital

The long journey from the airport to my hotel revealed some interesting things along the way. Maybe 60% of that journey was on smooth macadamised road, the rest appeared as if the road was under construction in parts.

In fact, there were earth-movers and caterpillars all working through the night as it they were on some 24-hour rolling shift pattern to get things sorted.

We had a pit-stop at the regional capital of Mugla which was some 80 kilometres into the journey where the use of free toilets and a quick snack was allowed; I even got a few minutes on the free wireless internet connection to learn that Ratko Mladic the most wanted Serbian fugitive from justice had been seized.

The shops willing priced their goods in Turkish Lira or Euro, the Euro is literally legal tender here and there is no fuss.

Earth-moving nights

We took off again for the last 51 kilometres to Marmaris when I noticed other notable resorts on the Mediterranean coast as Fethiye and Antalya were 131km and 306km away respectively. The nearest airport to Marmaris is Dalaman but that itself is 100km inland.

It took another 100 minutes to get to my hotel as we traversed the windy roads with a driver that drove with a carefulness that had me so grateful. In Gran Canaria, the buses sometimes get driven like sports cars, hair-raising does not begin to describe the sensation you feel.

The check-in was easy, I had the dreaded all-inclusive wrist-band slapped unto my right cuff like I was being arrested and then I made for my room.

I know you are not supposed to use a lift when there is a fire but there was another chilling warning too, earthquakes – that is a different kind of earth-moving than the English quip about.

Accost at no cost

I could not wait to get online, there is free wireless internet connectivity in the hotel lobby but I could find no power sources, I’ll check later.

After posting a few comments and blogs it was almost 2:00AM Turkish time, an hour ahead of my home time zone and I was hardly sleepy so I made out for a stroll.

One is going to be a kind of novelty it seems and it is not that I tried to be inconspicuous; still in day-cravat and a jacket but without the customary hat and not forgetting my cane I had not made 150 metres when I was accustomed and asked to visit for a free drink.

I got introduced to the restaurant/bar manager who was sat outside with the unusual setup of having the CCTV of activity within the bar beamed from a projector onto a mega-screen.

Like royalty, I had left my accommodation without my wallet and was served coffee on the house as interest waned over a while as I finished my coffee.

We are not weedy

I fielded as many questions as I could as the troika of allegiances to England of birth, Nigeria of ancestry and The Netherlands of residence jostled for prominence along with my unusual appearance – they were all friendly.

After coffee, I got up and continued my stroll to the main street which is the only major street before you hit the beach. I was not going to be beach combing at that hour so I walked up the street where I was accosted again and dragged in to sit and talk.

I immediately told them, I could spend nothing but that did not deter them, I could not help but notice a number of shops, bars and even a tour booking office was open round-the-clock, something about a city that never sleeps.

The dubious reputation of The Netherlands precedes it, they all thought we did marijuana smoke for oxygen; I could not remonstrate enough that it was the stuff for tourists and residents had lives to live.

Complementing compliments

By the time I was assessed, a pocket square, cufflinks, brogues though not shining, someone thought I was a mafia boss; shining shoes would have made me out to be a dealer, I wonder what would have happened if I had my hat on too.

My knowledge of Arabic words borne of a nominally Muslim heritage and the basic research I had done about Turkey, at least I felt the Cypriot island division was well known but it had them thinking I was a British agent; no one was listening to me about my real job.

They averred many tourists are clueless about things Turkish that my presence just made them suspicious of some covert activity – yes, covert and they send a stand-out agent to investigate and gain access by exploiting the friendliness and hospitality of the Turks – even I had to tell them, it was developing into a very readable story.

Planning to get around

I had a glass of iced-tea but declined the offer of food, not that early in the morning as one of my friends on Twitter and Facebook who dwells at the end of the world in Norwich is wont to do – elves, sprites and fairies of the deepest night – yes, it does get dark like real touchable dark here.

I will eventually try an original Turkish kebab and when ordering Turkish, I should beware of using the Greek substitute words.

When I returned to my hotel at just before 4:00AM, there were some guests checking in, what a journey they must have had, I should get a map and do some exploring after I have met with the tour representative later this morning.

One thing I should never forget is to keep the Do Not Disturb sign on the door handle, I don’t want my DNA venturing out of its legal jurisdiction, you sometimes wonder where these old man get their legendary libido from, one would have thought Viagra wore off after days of overdosing on the pills.

Thursday 26 May 2011

Holiday Snaps: Wild Turkey Wattles

Beyond the norm

This is adventure for me, going off the beaten track and east of the boundary of the Central European time zone that has been the limit of my sojourns for a long time.

I am in what is in antiquity called Asia Minor, the part of Turkey that is geographically part of Asia but geopolitically aspires to be central to Europe.

The flight to Bodrum was fine apart from the severe turbulence as we left Amsterdam and the babies that cried for the problems with cabin pressure and inner ear issues; the disturbance was moderate as I whiled away my time with a number of Times Sudoku puzzles.

This country is mountainous to the extreme, much I did see from the plane especially for someone living in the Netherlands.

Another trip

I had arrived at the Ryanair equivalent of a local airport just 135 kilometres from my destination. We disembarked, got visas and baggage reclaim was within 15 minutes and then the second leg of the journey by bus to Marmaris on the Mediterranean coast and it appears it would be a journey of almost 3 hours with a 15-minute stop-o ver.

As darkness falls, I am in a country where my name is common but means something else, at least even in the Netherlands I have received letters seeking support for a mosque in Rotterdam, assumptions like that has made other expect to see a Japanese man and be utterly surprised – I like the chameleon nature of my name, a camouflage of identity that is useful and is bereft of the baggage that sometimes dogs its origins.

There is a good deal of time left of this journey and as bus jumbles and shudders on this macadamised trail and passes for a major road, I might well rock myself off to sleep, hoping I don’t suddenly grow wattles like a wild turkey due to the vibrations.

I forgot, I’m in Turkey.

Thought Picnic: Talking to Turkeys

Therapy and travel

The hope is that absence and difference will bring perspective and focus leading to direction and purpose.

In the middle of the quagmire of circumstances with not one problem solved yet, therapy has been requested to allow for a professional review of the circumstances that accompany the onset and survival of live-changing circumstances like disease.

As it went, the conversation had the advisor agreeing that this should have been offered as a matter of course but one of the self-inflicted travails of a strong personality is that it excludes you from the scrutiny and sometimes help that should readily be to hand for those less assertive and self-assured.

There are some things one cannot continue to do alone, even though the solution will be brought about through how the interactions clear the fog and offer reason, sense and objective.

Beyond the request for therapy is a break-away to the shores of the Mediterranean in Turkey where hopefully, difference and newness will inspire a new outlook and the ability to take things on with a better aim to success.

Keep me in your thoughts and prayers, I might not get a Damascene conversion but I will settle for the enlightenment of Ephesus.

Editorial: Pretentious Righteous Indignation

The Nigerian Youth

Facebook once again presents the context of this editorial where I got involved in a conversation that pertained to an invitation that soon to be inaugurated president of Nigeria extended to the youth to join him for lunch.

There are many easy angles to the story but one should attempt to concentrate on the important points.

The election season of April 2011 showed that the youth of Nigeria who make up over half the population of the country are an important constituency to whom politicians vying for office have to give some serious attention.

They represented the bulk of electoral officials as members of the National Youth Service Corps that were recruited to first register voters and then man the polling stations in what generally can be considered freer, fairer and more credible elections than many conducted before.

Recognition and participation

In a patriarchal society where the youth are usually, berated, belittled, patronised and ignored as incapable, inexperienced and neophyte, they showed they could be organised, assertive, sensible, innovative and facilitators for change.

One can say that the President has recognised as much about this pressure group to have decided that they lunch with him.

Amongst the many effusive with praise, genuflecting with nauseating annoyance and plumbing the depths of sycophancy, one spoke with deference but candour with the subtext that the president had a responsibility to clean up politics and that he was being watched.

That should have been the substance of the discourse and how to press the president and his good office into the service of Nigeria for its betterment and prosperity.

He has the reins

Goodluck Jonathan, whether we like it or not, is de facto, de jure and bona fide President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, until disputes abrogate the declared results, he has right and licence to exercise the office of President for a full term of four years.

Criticism and opprobrium might be rained upon him but in a winner-takes-all projection of power, he holds the reins and whilst many might disagree with him, nothing is gained in being disagreeable, denigrating or carping excessively with condemnation, complaint and abuse.

The least every Nigerian should hope for is to have him perform, deliver and excel, there is just no time for the politics of rancour, division and calumny when what Nigeria needs the most is for anyone, anybody, everyone, everybody, someone or somebody who has the power to do something to get on and do it – fortunately for some and unfortunately for others, that person is Goodluck Ebele Azikiwe Jonathan.

However, it goes without saying that some were annoyed with those who somehow earned the privilege to dine with the President.

The patronage system

At the end of the lunch, it transpired that a decision had been made to generously defray the travelling costs of the invitees, in the process, those who travelled from within the city of the event received a certain sum and others from outside the city received a greater sum of money.

Nigerian politics is one of patronage and it probably was to be expected that a largesse will be doled out, it does not then mean that recipients should suddenly lose nerve and become supine; receiving a generous gift does not a supporter make, those recipients should be accorded the benefit of doubt that they have not sold out or sold their souls to a cause they might in principle want to challenge long after that lunch was over.

The rights and wrongs of this are debatable, the ideal would have been for the attendees to submit an expense claim covering the costs of attending the event but that would have constituted a generally logistical headache for lazy apparatchiks, it was easier to just dole out the money.

We must not forget that the invited guests who might not have been people of means could have declined the invitation and been otherwise engaged in their professional daily activities.

Pretentious Righteous Indignation

An observer of the discourse put all the controversy generated down to righteous indignation to which one could only add the sense of pretentiousness that arrogates to the Nigerian system a set of Utopian standards of uncommon idealism.

The fact is Nigeria is a system that needs to be worked; it is a beast that isn't easily tamed; and a leviathan to be led by cunning.

The clamour for change to certain absurd practices that have become part of the Nigerian sub-culture and tradition of doing things is timely and applauded but it cannot be done by irrational protest, opportunistic challenges to authority or by ignoring the context, environment and setting to make statements meant to ostracise, castigate and deplore.

Working the system

The power distance index that is lower in the West and helped by the use of English in most cases for international communication but does not obviate the need for civility and deference – that index is still quite high in Nigeria and hence it requires wisdom and discretion to convey a rebuke to those whose office confers on them leadership, power and the sometimes the absence of humility for the greater expression of hubris.

It is in light of this that one appreciates the meeting with the youth and the offer of an allowance to those who were available to receive it without any slight to the person of the President – it was also convenient than no one was present to be ungracious to publicly reject the offer in protest.

The contrariness that became the exchange was very uncharitable and malevolent; a predilection for controversy so unbecoming of those of whom much more was desired.

Understanding the system

In all, for the many issues that face Nigeria, this was a storm in a teacup that has unreasonably developed into catastrophic natural disaster, the intention of instigators of the discourse cannot altogether be said to be altruistic, but then, one was left with analogy shared on Twitter.

You do not burn the bridge over a crocodile infested river just because the architect built a wobbly bridge – if that bridge was all you had to cross the river, you carefully negotiate it for both your safety and that of others or risk the welcoming jaws of the crocodiles below.

Even if a new bridge had to be built, that wobbly bridge might well be the inspiration for a better one, the system called Nigeria is changing but it will take some time and sadly, the impatient will fail to see the little changes taking place and eventually they will be left behind when the tide has completely turned.


Chude Jideonwo delivered the speech that should have been the focus of the interaction of the President with the youth but its importance was sadly relegated to the background of sensationalist but unhelpful opinion peddling.

It was titled We are watching you, Mr. President and published on the Y! Naija website.

Tuesday 24 May 2011

Thought Picnic: Marauding Indecisiveness

Thoughts in a flux

Everything else seems to have been put on hold because of the need of one apparently important issue, getting a job.

Thoughts unclear, pleasure restrained, health plodding along and debts mounting with risks that could be deleterious to livelihood at large.

One fundamental that suffers the most from this is a sense of decisiveness and clear direction; thoughts are rolling over in the mind like a terrestrial animal clutching at straws having fallen into a rapidly flowing stream and just a missed grip or grasp from going under without gills.

For days, it has been do or dare, make or break, decide or procrastinate, save or spend, stay or go – it has become obsessively unnerving that one might just let things flow or damn the consequences.

Life is what you live today and now, apprehensions may matter but they can paralyse you with unnecessary anxiety – a foolishness and irresponsibility once allowed might just be the impetus to be as daring as you might ever be.

This apartment is becoming stifling, the routine does not present objective focus and the ability to think outside the box is like one is really boxed in.

I cannot seem to wear the boot and kick myself up the backside to get on with it.

Monday 23 May 2011

To a very personal cause

A situation, an appeal

It has not really been clear to me how to generate income from my writing and my opinions. However, I have been happy to maintain a kind of consistency on my blog that precludes the use of advertisements and other gadgetry that might obscure its purpose.

Every once in a while, someone has left a comment saying how they have enjoyed reading my blog or found some usefulness or reference with material I have published and for that I have been very grateful.

I found that Paypal offers a means by which donations can be made with regards to my blog and writing – my cause is not some major disaster to which a massive appeal to compassion and sympathy is being made; it is for me a personal and life-changing situation that started almost two years ago.

The major cornerstones to full recovery and ability are still being laid and this presents the most basic opportunity for anyone if so persuaded to contribute through the Donate button at the top-right hand corner of my blog. [The button now supports International access in English.]

Every little helps and each contribution is greatly appreciated, I might even eventually make a living out of my writing.

Thank you.

Sunday 22 May 2011

Editorial: The morning after the world ended

A rugged earth

And so the earth is reborn as morning broke very much like the first morning, you wonder what happened to the scientifically predicted end of the world that seems to have passed without event.

The earth itself has seen many destructions and renovations, the earth at the beginning in Genesis did pre-exist, but it was without form and void, the backstory told later on informs that it was the domain of Lucifer’s rule before he rebelled and in one instant all life was wiped off the earth for an indeterminate period of time.

The life-forms of that bygone age are what we see as fossils of dinosaurs and the measure of time is an eternity that stretches from millions into billions of years ago.

Flood for a new beginning

Creationism gives the context to a post-Adamite destruction of all life that breathes air with the floods of Noah who with his ark saved both his family and all species of breathing animals.

Another destruction is pending, the one that was to be preceded by a rapture, yesterday, a tribulation, a destruction and the creation of a new heaven and new earth.

What our dear scientist missed was the fact that he had no clue about that scheduling. The omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience of God can be explained in natural terms.

Hubs, wheels and spheres of time

The dimension of time in which God dwells is like the hub of a wheel that extends out to the circumference where we find ourselves in a sector of a greater and mightier purpose than we can fathom, but that is the concept of eternity, it has no beginning or end because it is at the centre of all things and we calibrate our three-dimensional sector of this in units of measurable time.

The analogy of the wheel is probably what we can fully understand because we can create movement when it is properly attached, the mind-blowing dimension to this is a wheel in the form of a perfect sphere, multidirectional and self-propelling – in that situation you cannot have a hub as you would for a wheel but astronomers would probably appreciate the contexts of gravity, centrifugal and centripetal forces and much more.

The folly of man

What our scientist tried to do was have a peek into a point on the surface of a hub of hubs of spheres of dimensions of time and pinpoint with accuracy an event that even Jesus Christ said neither He nor the angels knew apart from God the Father.

It is hard enough predicting the weather, the markets ebb and flow with forces that are almost indeterminate, we cannot predict our own demise or even with any certainty the course of our lives and yet somebody wants to predict the end of the world. Amuse me.

Once again, his dimensions were out of sorts, his measurements in earth-bound units of finite time and he expected to offer a perspective of eternal purpose – what folly – for that again, his credibility has been questioned and we should expect another excuse and the world will continue until that expected but unknown date.

Good morning, world.

Saturday 21 May 2011

Thought Picnic: The fog of depression

Clouds and mists

The warning signs are so easily missed as the rut one finds oneself in beclouds every opportunity to find sense of purpose or direction.

Things are immediate and swirling as the need to put the best foot forward is scuppered by circumstances that seem to be overbearing.

You realise you need a breather of sorts, some escape from the environment that has become a kind of routine, a place to think and break-out.

Mid-life crisis some people call it, it does happen, in other cases the roots are deeper in what has become a long-tail of disease.

Groping for freedom

Beneath it all, the force of hope beats like a heart doing its best to keep the blood flowing in a body that is suffering from hypothermia, the extremities are numb and only time will tell if the rescue is soon enough to prevent demise.

The breather is given in a number of choices; a pill, the chemical means of bringing some balance to help see things better; a break, to somewhere far away and new like doing the seriously irresponsible in a gamble to capture a semblance of responsibility the gathered midst having cleared to see beyond your nose.

Professionals might even do a better job, the fear of therapy needs to be consigned to agnostic oblivion, there are many things that need talking about with coaches that can help assess the patterns and discard the dross.

Light and poor visibility

What is worse is not realising that you might well be deep in depression and not know it; it takes an observer to notice and hopefully lend you a hand to pull you out the pit.

The light will never die but in the fog of distress and adversity, you may not see enough to feel your way out. There are things that need sorting out, a real sorting out.

Friday 20 May 2011

Editorial: Shedding no tears for INEC staff

Working with bad tools

If anything, one can only commend Professor Attahiru Jega the chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission for presiding over the April elections the best he could despite the constraints he had.

He was bequeathed a rotten and corrupt organisation he never had the opportunity to overhaul considering the short time he had to prepare and conduct the elections.

However, the subtle but radical ideas he implemented made for elections that were quite free, generally fair and acceptably credible from the deployment of members of the National Youth Service Corps as ad-hoc staff, the voters’ registration exercise requiring fingerprint identification to eliminate multiple registrations and the use of eminent Nigerians as chief collation officers to spread the burden of responsibility and integrity.

Working the imperfect

The whole process was almost totally sabotaged by incumbent INEC staff that he inherited because they were denied the scope to operate and suborn the system; many times he had to redeploy or even sack staff to ensure that the process was not compromised.

Now, on the whole it was not perfect but it would be unfair to berate the chief in the circumstances he found himself in.

It is however interesting to read that INEC staff are unhappy with their boss for not giving them opportunities to perform their duties which they should have been allowed to do if they did have a track record of honest and impeachable service in the conduct of previous elections.

Given the chance, they messed up

When they did get an opportunity to do all the work in the states where the elections were postponed, it was a debacle celebrating a farce which made the work of the ad-hoc and amateur staff employed before seem both professional and sterling.

Besides the news story, all the comments numbering almost 70 did not find any scope for sympathy for the INEC staff, their actions have done Nigeria down, put us to shame and left many pessimistic of the possibility of credible elections until Professor Jega found ways to side-track and tame their malevolence.

If the INEC staff feel so aggrieved, they should resign, they deserve no sympathy whatsoever.

Acknowledgements ran the story about INEC staff being unhappy with Jega.

Thursday 19 May 2011

Editorial: Friends of Nigeria are welcome

The security risk of ambassadors

A United States Ambassador to any country is in essence a security risk and in some cases a national security threat to the countries to which they are posted as envoys to protect American interests and elicit the workings of the system in which they find themselves.

The WikiLeaks diplomatic cables showed how ambassadors with their status gained access to the powers that be and teased out state secrets, modes of operation and details of governmental activity which they relayed back home for analysis and processing by the State Department.

The each cable does not in and of itself spell the complete truth but taken together forms a perspective from which the government of the United States could be ahead of the curve in their dealings with any counterpart state.

Getting their quarry

In Nigeria, Ambassador Robin Sanders appeared to have credentials that made for a smiling ruthless interrogator that served you tea and walked away with the brains of her guests fully informed of everything she wanted to know.

In the early 90s, it was Ambassador John Campbell who as a fellow of the Council for Foreign Relations projects himself as an expert on Nigerian issues.

Now, there is nothing to besmirch his esteemed scholarship and analytical skills, Nigeria has had no end of problem analysts, the fact is we know the problems and the issue is no more about identifying problems but the need for solutions that are well thought through, maybe radical, maybe visionary or maybe just insightful.

Nigeria is too big a behemoth for the radical but step-changes and tweaking in different areas of the polity might begin to seed the clouds for a torrential downpour that starts the sweeping away of many of the issues that plague Nigeria.

A foe almost vile

Unfortunately, Ambassador John Campbell for all the knowledge and insight he gained about Nigeria has not put himself within the solution seeking school of thought, rather he has become the herald of its problems, its failings, its catastrophes and its impossibilities.

In essence, his well-constructed and authoritative analyses are hostile, damaging, unfairly critical and can be used to instigate the prophecies of turmoil, discord, carnage, division and hopelessness that has become his core narrative.

Nigeria needs helpers not lepers, it needs friends not skeptics, it needs solutions not reminders of our problems and the role John Campbell plays to the world about Nigeria is patently unhelpful as he has refused to use his expertise accentuate the positive about Nigeria.

Within rights

That is not to say that there are no problems and we are reluctant to brook criticism but his actions have become inimical to Nigeria’s possible progress that the decision of the Federal Government not grant him a visa to visit the country and find a platform at the university founded by the president’s bitter rival to spew his vituperations is apt and acceptable even if generally uncalled for and possibly reprehensible.

Nigeria has simply exercised a right that other countries like the UK or the US exercises when they are worried that some personality with contrary and atrocious views might create a public nuisance and a security situation.

If anything, Nigeria’s friends are welcome, so are those who bring solutions to many of the problems we have found insolvable and insurmountable; those who seek to weaken the already fragile state of affairs cannot be considered friendly – at first the refusal of a visa might be a warning but they are on the slippery slope to being cited as persona non grata.


I wrote an analysis of WikiLeaks pertaining to Nigeria which was termed NaijaLeaks on my blog. Robin Sanders biography speaks for itself as for John Campbell his biography to the point he became ambassador is hosted on the embassy website.

His views as the Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations are aggregated here.

A columnist called him out on his views with a write-up for Business Day Online titled Between John Campbell and Goodluck Jonathan (2) and the news about the government’s refusal to grant him a visa appeared on many news outlets and reference the on offered by CBS News.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

Editorial: Children in the wringer of extreme parenting


Once again it can be so easy for people to be swept away with a news story and its sensationalist import or the public outcry that accompanies it as it relates to morals, values, standards, traditions or trends.

One such case was the report about a mother who administered Botox injections to her 8-year old daughter to help manage the wrinkles and a better chance at beauty pageants.

It is almost beyond belief that a child would have such an early introduction to cosmetic augmentation for beauty and vanity purposes other than for medical reasons.

The child has now been taken into care but this public and singular issue hardly addresses a more fundamental issue.

I first saw this when the news first broke but only decided to comment on it when the custodial situation arose through a posting on Facebook.

Unhealthy competition

Pageants are more than a rite of passage within the American hinterland, there has been many cases of children being provocatively dressed up and made up almost as adults.

In essence, there might be the desire for the child to compete, participate and maybe win, but it gets sinister when one notices the kind of competitiveness that children are thrust into by parents wanting to compensate for their failures through the forced and aggressive pursuit of the success of their wards.

However, this not only a malaise of as it were failed parents, even successful ones appear to demand even much more of their children as characterised by another mother, Amy Chua who wrote “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” which depicts how she pressed her children to excellence with grueling hours of study, practice and unspeakable punishments.

Affected children

That story is then contrasted by the experiences of children who have been through such parental grilling for excellence in a long article written for the New York Magazine titled Paper Tigers - What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?

Showing that a life of constant competition in academics, sport or the arts does not necessarily produce a well-rounded social being even though they might be high-flyers after a fashion.

Handling life

The real issue is a lot deeper than Botox injections and the earlier this kind of unhealthy competitive spirit is curtailed for children to just grow and act at their own pace within their own natural capabilities; the world would become more cut-throat and those at the risk of losing will dare to kill to win.

Success should be celebrated but failure should not precipitate into the termination of hope or opportunity, the variety of life should allow for both the humility of victory and the ability to concede loss without bitterness or the vilification of those that have excelled us.

Parenting reviewed

Every parent should encourage their children to be the best they can be in a healthy and properly nurtured environment of example, inspiration, mentoring and most of all interactive communication – the line must be drawn where the child become an externalisation of the parent rather than a uniquely able person with a clearly defined personality with goals defined by an outlook that is not constrained the singularity of the parent’s particular purpose.

One would hope that this makes parents realise the difference between gentle persuasion and shoving their wards into any situation as proxies of their personal aspirations – that is the broader issue with Botox simply being symptom.


The Parent Dish website broke the story - Eight-year-old beauty pageant Botox girl taken into care, a review of , Amy Chua’s “Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother,” appeared in the New York Times – Books section in January 2011 and the riposte to such an upbringing by children who had been through the wringer of extreme parenting appeared in the New York Magazine under the title Paper Tigers - What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends? In May 2011.

Tuesday 17 May 2011

Editorial: Cancer of the mind

Lazy newspapers

The editorial today is derived from a number of health scares that made the Nigerian social networking headlines within the last 24 hours all to do with how the big C – cancer can be contracted.

From Twitter with a URL that linked to a online newspaper story the eye-catching title was ‘Grilled meat can cause cancer' and then through Facebook to a news story on The Nation Online Nigeria it was ‘Beware! Oral sex causes mouth cancer, Fed Govt warns.’

I will not contest the fact that the function of the newspapers is to inform, but when it comes to health scares, they might well be literate but they are far from numerate, their copy fails to apply reason and the thinking that informs their dissemination of that news story lacks objectivity as they plumb the depths of sensationalist incomprehensibility to produce unbelievable headlines.

Undeserving experts

The blame however cannot be placed entirely on the newspapers even though they are probably best advised to give health scares a wide berth just as readers are supposed to resist the urge to charge as bulls to the matador; propagating these stories until they go viral for the want of an appropriate term and an urban legend is born.

On the matter of grilled meat which is a delicacy called suya in Nigeria the medical expert on the occasion of World Cancer Day proffered that “Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment,” and with that seemingly categorical statement suggested, “A beef based diet is acidic, especially when burnt, so avoid suya and processed meats.”

The assertion about cancer cells was quite quickly debunked by doing a search on the most outlandish statement on Google which lead to the website that pricks urban legends and provides incontrovertible fact over fiction, fable and fallacy.

Facts off course

The statement was false, it was attributed to Johns Hopkins University and circulated via email to the many gullible readers who passed it on without verifying the claims, it was so serious that Johns Hopkins University released a comprehensive email completely rubbishing each one of the claims including the one the medical expert with all the authority of a forum made for public consumption.

Now, indeed there are dangers in practicing oral sex and there is medical or scientific study that suggests the presence of the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) might well make people susceptible to types of oral cancer.

Experts at quackery

That piece of information coming from the Chief Dental Officer of the Federal Ministry of Health was welcome and useful, however, when the expert veered off into the moralisation and societal consequences of the use of the mouth, she had tangentially departed the commonsense bounds of scientific rigour and defaulted to a quackery of the most impressionable kind reminiscent of snake-oil merchants and street-corner confidence tricksters.

The greater concern is if on the one hand medical experts cannot be trusted to properly validate studies through basic research and verifiable facts and on the other hand they fail to appreciate their limits of the expertise before delving into social commentary that has no basis in incontrovertible truth, fact and unimpeachable scientific data, we find ourselves at the mercy of seemingly esteemed professionals operating as quacks.

The cancer of the mind

In essence, not only do we face the danger of cancer in whatever form attacking the body; a cancer of the mind even leaves us more vulnerable to risk-prone, hardly meticulous and assuming people whose guesswork and absence of logic in the process of medical diagnosis might be more fatal than a double tap.

It is then no wonder that Nigeria suffers a serious health crisis if those with ultimate responsibility cannot ensure they get their facts right before they scare us witless with laughable fables.

Blacks after slavery

On a more educational note, I came across a link to a PBS documentary about Black in Latin America narrated by the esteemed Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. who finds global fame in being the black man who on identifying himself as the owner of his own residence still ran afoul of the law in God’s own America.

He expounded on how slavery took Africans to Hispaniola, Brazil, Mexico, Peru and Cuba and where the black race after slavery stands today and in comparison to the United States of America. The whole series makes really compelling viewing as it draws you in and the shocks you.

One rather interesting refrain suggested that long-term relationships were rarely formed in many cases between races but somehow sex appeared to be colour-blind. One should take the time to carefully view every single episode and if well-disposed a contribution to the service would also be welcome. You can find the homepage at Black in Latin America | PBS


The 234Next Newspaper piece titled ‘Grilled meat can cause cancer’ appeared in February and the news story published yesterday by The Nation Online Nigeria it was ‘Beware! Oral sex causes mouth cancer, Fed Govt warns.’

The Time Magazine did publish information about the study Oral Sex Can Add to HPV Cancer Risk in April 2007 and so did the BBC with the title Oral sex linked to mouth cancer as far back as February 2004; with a BBC3 documentary aired in January 2011 that stuck with the substance of the report.

The findings of the study itself were published in the New England Journal of Medicine with the title Case–Control Study of Human Papillomavirus and Oropharyngeal Cancer downloadable as a PDF file in May 2007.

The Snopes website debunked the “Cancer cells thrive in an acid environment” assertion by publishing the full false email attributed to Johns Hopkins University and the each point in that email for further rubbished by the university in a publication titled - Cancer Update Email -- It's a Hoax! And this as far back as April 2009.

The Henry Louis Gates arrest controversy as documented by Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia is just what it is.