Tuesday 27 September 2011

Editorial: Sir, Those were dreadful analogies in an awful speech.

Professing religious raconteurs

Nigeria as we know is a country replete with religious symbolism as leaders all tend to wear their faith on their sleeves with every opportunity to speak filled with divine incursion that almost presents them as the clergy.

With the 51st Independence anniversary of Nigeria on Saturday the first of October 2011, one would expect that there would be religious services with leaders taking the pulpit, lectern, podium or rostrum depending on where such a service is held.

The President, Goodluck Jonathan is a Christian and he attended the Interdenominational service held in the weekend where he appeared to offer many biblical analogies using popular bible characters to set his place in what we should expect of the task that he has ahead of him.

The Nigerian social media had been agog with excerpts of his message to the congregation of the great and the good that attended the service but after seeing the newspaper reports of the quotes, one is left quite concerned, seriously perturbed and bemused by the irony of it all.

Foreheads of Goliath

One needs to assess each character introduced in his message to see if the analogies are apt or wanting in a fuller context and interpretation.

Chief amongst his statements was, “God will soon expose the foreheads of Nigeria’s Goliaths.” Now, Goliath of Gath was a terrifyingly huge man and warrior in the Philistine army who made all the Israelite armies cower in fear, none able to take on his challenge for a man-to-man combat.

As the story goes, David, a ruddy haired shepherd had been sent to the warfront with food supplies for his elder brothers when he heard the challenge that in his youth exuberance he offered to go up against the giant not with the customary armour or weapons of war but with a sling and five stones he picked up from the brook.

David and Goliath never met in hand-to-hand combat, rather he slung a stone and it hit Goliath in the forehead knocking him stone cold dead – much has been made of this story, the triumph of an underdog, the bravery of the inexperienced, the victory over an almost impossibly powerful enemy and so on.

Nigeria as the President suggested does have a number of Goliaths to deal with and she probably has not been blessed with people sufficiently David enough to be daring to take on the Goliath challenge, the probability of another David-Goliath moment occurring is better left to others to analyse.

No Davids to spare

Quoting liberally from the 234Next.com news report, “If you listen to some of the things people say or write in papers, some people would want the president to be a lion; some people would want the president to be a troop commander who would crush everybody on sight. Unfortunately, I am not a troop commander. I am not an army General. Some would want the president to be like David or other warriors in the Bible, unfortunately, I am not one of those.

This deluge of supposed comparisons is a bit worrisome but not beyond comprehension, we can appreciate here that the President is not a lion – one would suppose there are characteristics of bravery, courage and presence a lion has that the President is suggesting he does not have – that is no sin.

The President is a civilian so the expectation that he be a marauding troop commander is a bit far-fetched, most leaders of nations of the world do not belong in the military and they are in considerable control of their briefs.

However, “Some would want the president to be like David or other warriors in the Bible, unfortunately, I am not one of those.” This does become worrisome not so much for the other warriors that cowered but for the fact that there was no point having the forehead of Goliath exposed if there is no David available to sling a stone – the President had put himself out of the running for David leaving Goliath a seriously looming threat.

Boasting like Nebuchadnezzar

Obviously, with the President giving this speech, he had rubbished the idea that he was sequestered in a bunker suffering from siege mentality as he lamented why “some Nigerians chose to vilify us.” Despite the achievements of his government in 100 or 500 days depending on your numeracy skills drawing on the evidence that his government had recently been praised by President Barack Obama and President Jacob Zuma.

The Daily Times of Nigeria published this excerpt, “You have been praying for us; some others do not want the government to move an inch, I mean those of us who are politicians. The only prayer I need from you is for God to use me to change this country. I don’t need to be like Nebuchadnezzar, David or other great men to change this country, but with your prayer, I can change this nation; we can make the difference.”

Again, we appreciate the many obstacles to progress, we also acknowledge the need for prayer but it does not preclude the need for action, it is difficult to read what is intended if the President having been in office over 500 days appears to be unsure if he is engaged in the usage necessary to change the country – for all our prayers, which are exhortations of Godspeed, it requires a man of ability and purpose to step into the fray and demonstrate the power of divine providence.

Nebuchadnezzar II was the great king of Babylon who conquered the Jews and sent them into exile, his fame got to him boasting of his achievements that he lost his sanity for a season until he acknowledged the lordship of God. The President having boasted of the achievements of administration will hate to then end up in that king’s narrative.

Fearful examples of bad luck

Other characters that appeared in his speech included the Kings of Syria (maybe Assyria), Babylon and Egypt and particular reference was made to the Pharaoh of Egypt; however, biblical records of history show that none of these rulers who had unparalleled heights of power in their time had a successful end to their careers of leadership and no Nigeria will wish this on the President.

We do have to return to the Goliath story because it set in motion a chain of events that makes President Jonathan’s analogies a bit suspect. When David killed and beheaded Goliath, he took the head to the Saul the King of Israel. The king honoured him, gave David his daughter in marriage who sadly bore him no offspring and also gave him control of a battalion of soldiers.

Jonathan’s own story

Saul’s first son was Jonathan, Jonathan struck a deep friendship with David and even though by rights Jonathan should have been heir to the throne of Israel, the acts of Saul his father and the growing popularity of David amongst the people along with other extenuating circumstances meant that Jonathan will not accede the throne.

Saul and all his heirs eventually fell in battle and thereby the lament that went up from David, “How have the mighty fallen, And the weapons of war perished!

It goes without saying that Goliath of Gath was the making of David and the undoing of Jonathan, the analogies and metaphors used by President Goodluck Jonathan may have hoped to give prominence to his talismanic name of Goodluck but on closer scrutiny, it exposes the unfortunate side of Jonathan which did not end with his death because on learning that Jonathan had died the maid nursing Mephibosheth his 5-year old son dropped him to the ground in her bid to escape crippling the child.

If the President does not cast himself in the role of David to tackle the Goliaths he has identified on the Nigerian battlefront, we might well abandon hope for a victory in the task set before him to change Nigeria.

Zoology is a better vocation

It goes without saying that the President is best advised to desist from making use of biblical analogies because none appear to bode well for him as they expose more of his weaknesses than the essential strength expected of a leader in his position. As an erudite of zoology, he might have fared better.

If a speechwriter was employed to write the speech he delivered at the service, it would not be too harsh to wish an Absalom moment on such a person – he was the 3rd son of David and in leading a revolt against his father; his long hair got caught on the branch of a tree, left hanging but alive, he was in vulnerable enough a state to be killed.

From what I have read of my Twitter timeline, the President’s speech was at best dreadful and appalling awful, it lacked opportunity or resolve and it leaves one with that sinking feeling that he is paralysed by the weight of his achievement of great office to extend, exert and effect himself in any appreciable way for Nigeria or Nigerians.

In another biblical story, Lazarus of Bethany was raised from the dead, you have wonder if there is a Lazarus in Jonathan for Goodluck to become a David and defeat the Goliaths that mock Nigeria with impunity.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Editorial: The many issues around the #ABSURape

A video gone viral

The last week saw the gathering of emotions and revulsion at the video of a lady who from reports of viewers suggested she was being gang-raped by 4, maybe 5 men.

The video had gone viral and it appeal to the humanity in many of us to sue for the apprehension and arraignment of the men involved to the point that justice will be done and seen to be done.

Apparently, the recording of this atrociously evil act was made on the 16th of August 2011 and it had been circulating within the campus of Abia State University that goes by the acronym ABSU.

Impunity and entitlement

For all the clamour for retribution and justice there seems to be a lot awry that we cannot somehow confidently expect that what we desire will be realised.

The lady, the victim might have gone to ground nursing her wounds that would range from emotional to physical and anything in between that might not find succour, comfort or respite – justice is probably the furthest thing from her mind – she might just want the event to be a haze, an unrecalled memory as if it never happened.

The video suggests that she was being punished with rape as weapon of vindictiveness and torture just because she somewhat disrespected one of the men.

That presents another problem, a society that thrives on inclination of the certain people feeling they have complete entitlement and can with impunity act criminally expecting nothing to come of it because they have the tacit approval of society to revel in lawlessness because the law is handicapped or they have the means to suborn every process that will attempt to bring them to book.

Inured for titillation

That is the possible precipitous decline into anarchy we face if these attitudes are not arrested and punitively sanctioned not only as a deterrent but as a message that society will no more brook such manners in our communities.

Beyond this there is another niggling problem, whilst watching the video might well have elicited evidence that the law could use, there are some whose intention was to derive the titillation element rather that than the social justice push – we have somewhat become inured to such violence and violation that some even thought the lady was almost too docile to have the video depicted as the recording of a gang rape.

One is left to throw up ones hands in exasperation; we have great difficulty dealing with sexual crimes in Nigeria from child sexual abuse through to rape and the denigration of women. An incipient and sinister interpretation of religious laws allows for women to be treated with disdain.

Our lawful acquiescence to injustice

In some cases, the onus is pushed on the woman to appear in a certain way in order to not to be preyed upon by rabid men with untrammelled passions redolent of the jungle. The Nigerian male is almost allowed by law to be absolved of responsibility for being unable to control themselves – it is like a somewhat “indecently” dressed lady has it coming, she is ready fodder for abuse and much more and she has no recourse for justice.

The ladies are not helped by women legislators who help perpetrate this atrocity on their fellow womenfolk with the silliest laws about dress ever to be promulgated that at a UN meeting of women they were ridiculed for their risible ideas.

The same difficulty in tackling sexual crimes is what drove the university and the state government to deny the rape ever happened. It ploughed the depths of incredulity when the governor suggested the video was created by detractors to discredit his government.

Unable to handle the matter

The Minister for Youth Development should be commended for trying to get to the bottom of this matter, the rape did happen and whilst it might not have happened on the campus of the university, there is no doubt that certain parties to that criminality were or are students of ABSU and for that reason along both the university and the government should engage and work to uncovering all those who have brought shame on the state.

A member of the House of Representatives moved a motion on this matter and there was one who suggested there were many more pressing issues than rape to deal with.

At which point one can only say our political representation is completely oblivious of the rights of the individual and the need for social justice, besides it also shows how deeply ingrained our toleration of sexual crimes is that it is take as par for the course.

The social media devil

Social media has been agog with this story and it is probably what gave rise to the more general coverage that extended in international new sites. There are many concerns with this, in the quest for justice some have been falsely accused such that the collateral damage in resolving this case might hit a lot more people and shatter reputations.

The authorities have their share of blame for this, if they had been proactive to investigating the rape rather than defaulting to denial and had set up an incident desk for the matter, all information would have been channelled there rather than on the unfettered and unregulated forum of social media communications.

In any event the Minister for Women finally gave voice to the matter not to seek solutions but to offer another one of those political platitudes, they are concerned about welfare and well, the case just founders in inactivity and reticence because even though our huge population is a by-product of sexual activity we are still quite squeamish about sex.

A long fight in the making

There are strongholds and barriers to take down and one can only hope that it starts with the concerted efforts of every Nigerian with a heart and soul working to ensure that those men do not go unpunished and hopefully that lady can also get all the help and therapy she needs to rebuild her life.

We still have a long way to go on this matter, in fact, what it brought to light was that campus rapes happen quite frequently and nothing really gets done about it – that, my friends, is utterly, utterly untenable.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Thought Picnic: What Makes Men Attractive?

The appreciation of the art of man

For as long as one could contemplate the whole idea of beauty, slim and skinny seemed to be the thing that captured the mind’s eye.

The masculinity or femininity was almost immaterial, there was just something about being lean and it gave the reason to find more meaning in the person.

The athletic exuded bodies that made you want to spend the rest of your living days in a gym, breaking sweat like Niagara Falls until all fat fell off and Michelango’s David stepped forward in the flesh.

O, the dancers, they were in a different world, from classical ballet to contemporary dance – many older will quite easily pass for half their age, their bodies sculpted by the regimen of movement and the discipline that has kept them at peak condition.

No rule, just perception

The way people carry themselves does matter too; the fickle engagement with manner of dress goes with the detail of gait, the bearing of the face ranging from juvenile with disinterest to rugged but unruffled and uncluttered with hairs.

Tall is good, smile is heartening, speech is welcome and maybe there is a friend in the stranger that made you steal a second and almost lingering look, the glasses having lost their function for reading to assume that for closer inspection from afar.

For all the uniqueness and difference in experiences one might have had that does not gel with the norm or the usual, your heart seems to skip a beat as you ask yourself – What makes men attractive?

419 Reasons to Like Nigeria - Get Involved!

Regaining our Nigerian Pride

Imagine the many times that our Nigerian pride has been punctured with having to defend ourselves against the stereotype of being known for email scams and related crimes that lead to the promulgation of the Article 419 of the Nigerian Criminal Code.

The fight back has begun; we as a people and individuals know why we are proud to be Nigerians or to be associated with Nigeria through all sorts of relationships and interaction. Here is the background to this initiative.

419 Reasons to Like Nigeria

For Independence Day 2011, the 1st of October 2011 which is the 51st anniversary of Nigeria’s independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland we are going to town with 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria and Nigerians.

We are already halfway there with contributions from interested bloggers and social media users but there is much more to be done and hence this appeal for submissions.

The 419 Reasons To Like Nigeria initiative is being run in partnership with the 419 Positive Project which provides a multimedia portal for your views and opinions, however, this is what we want done.

Please do

  • Send an email with your reasons, we usually require 5 but you can write as many as you want, to 419reasonsnigeria@gmail.com and remember to CC: volunteer@419positive.org
  • Keep your reasons short, simple and “punchy.” [Forgive my lapse into clichés.]
  • With your submission, if you have a blog or a Facebook page, please also include that detail.

Unusual and interesting reasons

Nigerians are known for their confidence, doggedness, resourcefulness, ability, optimism, adventurousness, culture, clout and much more – try for unusual and interesting reasons, think of selling the best of Nigeria and Nigerians to the world and in the process let us convert the negative connotations of the 419 stereotype to a positive of Nigeria’s decision to be the incubator and mover for lasting change amongst ourselves and to the world at large.

There is no time to waste in putting forth your reasons, they need to be collated and processed for publication well before the 1st of October – we only have maybe 8 days at most.

Circulate this to as many as you can get to read and respond – in the worst case scenario, post your reasons as comments to this blog and they will be forwarded with full acknowledgement – this means you should provide a name as part of the text of your comment.

There are surely more than 419 Reasons to Like Nigeria and Nigerians.

Saturday 17 September 2011

Childhood: Ghosts and ghouls of my past

Seed thoughts of evil

I had an impressionable young mind, ripe and fertile for imagination and the imagining of things that take fear to another level.

I alluded to this in Childhood: Shocked into adolescence the two paragraphs appear below and I’ll continue from there.

I had a very terrifying experience when I returned home after 4 months down South when my aunt and our houseboy were chatting about appearances of evil and to the mind of an impressionable 10-year old there was fertile land for imaginations that could produce untold realities.

That night as my parents entertained guests, our kitchen was detached from the main building and as I went to place the dishes out at the washing area, I saw what I believed to be the devil and my life changed completely from then on, I knew fear, I knew terror, I found out that having my parents present did not save me from what my imagination could conjure for my seeing.

Ghouls and ghosts

In my first term at secondary school as a boarder, I arrived late enough to take the top bed of a bunk bed, the chap below lived to regret it, that, I wrote about in Childhood: Atòólé.

However, there was a bigger problem, we slept in pitch-darkness and the experience I had at home after a while followed me to school, my sleep interrupted one night and as I opened my eyes, I thought I saw something white fall from the high ceiling to the floor and that set me off.

I recited Psalm 23 out loud incessantly until I fell asleep out of exhaustion; it was a nuisance to others because it meant no one else could have sound sleep.

There were times I woke up and I thought I could hear things being dragged across the floor, all sorts of remedies were tried to no avail though bunking with others did seem to help, the nocturnal enuresis was intolerable.

Dark jungles of the unspeakable

I ended up with all sorts of nicknames from holy ghost to pastor, it was the latter that stuck. When the term break came, I was sent home and my parents were told I could not return to the boarding house until they had sorted the problem out.

This time between my aunt and grand-parents every kind of animist remedy was tried, baths in the strangest places, potions of suspect concoctions, an amulet belt and chewing razor blades – a story for another blog.

It was a deep dark world of all sorts of trials by anyone and everyone not to talk of the different incisions with things rubbed in on the chest, on the scalp, on my cheeks – all because a seed thought was planted in the mind of a child with a very vivid imagination.

The power of the mind

Now, one can reflect and wonder if the best thing to do was to tell better stories of triumphalism to wipe out those thoughts rather than what we all went through – the problem was my mind, my imagination and the grip it had on my reality.

There is very little you can do externally to arrest that and for all they everyone tried, the answer could have been a lot easier if we had a religion that was not steeped in superstition and fear but one that espoused a bold all-conquering Jesus.

I returned to the boarding house for the second-half of the second term, not as fearful but the mattress needing sunrays every few days.

Nigeria: Fact Check: Hyundai Heavy Industries Building $7bn Shipyard - False

They met

It goes without saying that Nigeria essentially needs a serious fact-checking outfit, one that can review critical and important news items for truth, data and congruence with reality.

In a statement purported from the office of the President of Nigeria late on Thursday; it appears the President met with the CEO of Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. of South Korea, Jai-Seong Lee in Abuja, what transpired between them has now become a subject of speculation.

Twists and turns

My involvement in this story started with a Twitter posting by @stanleyazuakola to @renoomokri the Special Assistant to the Nigerian President on New Media on a news story in the Washington Post titled South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy says not building Nigerian shipyard where the company denied the statement released from the “Nigeria’s presidential office that it plans to build a multibillion dollar shipyard in the country.”

The day before, the Washington Post had posted this - Nigeria president promises multibillion-dollar shipyard in oil-rich delta built by Hyundai where the statement from the President’s office suggested a shipyard will be built and completed but 2012 in Brass, Bayelsa State employing about 2,000 Nigerians.

@renoomokri responded with to the enquiry with a news story that appeared in Reuters Africa - Hyundai Heavy to build $7 bln shipyard in Nigeria where apparently, the CEO had in first person terms with reporters said, “My company is going to $7 billion in Nigeria in the building of a shipyard,” strangely, one reads the statement and it makes no sense; it mentions money and building a shipyard but I think it is missing the word – “INVEST”.

Fact Check run

Now, a search on Google at 2:25AM (Dutch Time on the 17th of September 2011) for Jai-Seong Lee with relevance to this release by the President’s office or statement by the mouth of the CEO whichever is true yielded 7 results whose links appear below.

Nigeria president promises multibillion-dollar shipyard in oil-rich delta built by Hyundai – Washington Post – Sep 15, 2011 [Attributed to the President.]

Jonathan hails Hyundai decision to build multi-billion dollar shipyard at Brass - The Nation Newspaper - Vincent Ikuomola - Sep 15, 2011 [Attributed to the President but no cost assigned to the project.]

S.Korean company to build shipyard in Nigeria - AFP - Sep 15, 2011 [Attributed to a statement released by the President with numbers to be employed but no cost.]

Hyundai Heavy to build $7 bln shipyard in Nigeria - Reuters Africa - Sep 15, 2011 [Apparently quoting the CEO but on closer scrutiny of the updated story, (Reporting by Felix Onuah; Writing by Joe Brock; Editing by Dan Lalor) it had changed hands twice and we are no closer to the facts.]

South Korea's Hyundai Heavy says not building Nigerian shipyard - Washington Post - 13 hours ago (Indicating a publication on Sep 16, 2011) [“Hyundai Heavy spokesman Kim Moon-ju said Friday that the company has no such plan.” However, “Kim said the company is building a small pipe-manufacturing factory in Bayelsa.”]

You have to wonder if it was a pipe-dream to build a $7 billion shipyard, the truth is out there somewhere.

Hyundai Heavy: No Plan To Build Shipyard In Nigeria Fox Business - Kyong-Ae Choi - 21 hours ago (Indicating a publication on Sep 16, 2011) [Here, the statement from Hyundai is categorical, using the phrase, “flatly denying reports” to Dow Jones Newswires. However, “Hyundai Heavy signed a memorandum of understanding with the government to construct a gas-plant equipment factory in June. Site work began in mid-September,” the spokesman said. The investment size is yet to be determined.]

Misrepresented Truth

From the foregoing stories and links, we can agree that President Goodluck Jonathan did meet with Mr Jai-Seong Lee, the CEO of Hyundai Heavy Industries Co. of South Korea and the company is building a small pipe-manufacturing factory in Bayelsa State which might be related to gas-plant equipment, beyond that, the rest looks like a fable manufactured by someone in the President’s office in cahoots with the reporter from Reuters Africa.

Whilst I am not suggesting there is a nexus between Presidential Assistants, the President’s propaganda machinery and Felix Onuah in Abuja, reporting to Reuters Africa, one should be careful about the impressions created by the release of statements that appear to embellish the truth and paint pictures far from the reality.

On the Fact Check Scale one can say it is Misrepresented Truth – A meeting took place but no promises were made and no one spoke to the press about it.

Note: I will update this if any new developments arise. If indeed Jai-Seong Lee did talk to reporters, you have to wonder why only the reporter from Reuters Africa heard and saw him, surely, there will be pictures and recordings of his statement, so far, the President's men only have that story to support their claims.

Friday 16 September 2011

Editorial: Unravelling our inscrutable government processes

Hoarding essential information

Nigeria in terms is an obscure and inscrutable country especially when it comes to the government and the democracy we run.

Every once in a while we happen upon some gem of information about process, procedure or mostly the abuse of process and power of those who have assumed responsibility by hard work, graft, hook or crook but it is never freely obtainable.

The government media organs are so beholden to the powers that be that they have become propaganda tools of political potentates and their cohorts rather than disseminators of cogent information that is due the citizenry of the country.

Distracted by constitutional sleight

A case in point was when the UN Building was bombed in Abuja last month as every international media outlet was reporting in the matter, the National Television Authority was broadcasting the animist Osun festival and never got to reporting the national tragedy for hours.

The Nigerian Constitution which in terms should be the rulebook or maybe the guidebook of government and governance is as ambiguous as any interpretation will allow, where issues end up in the courts, the players obtain justice by SAN intimidation – SAN being Senior Advocate of Nigeria – any side can easily take up to 6 SANs to court as representatives, it is utterly absurd.

The cynical ploy employed by the disruptive element of the Presidential Special Adviser on New Media presenting reading the constitution as the panacea to democratic representation on Twitter is devious, disingenuous and without doubt knowingly a distraction.

We have had the Freedom of Information Act promulgated and signed but I have not seen people pick it up and use it with a vengeance, it is like once we got the Act signed that was the end as opposed to the means to an end.

No matter whose ox is gored

There are very few bold politicians or public figures who can put their heads above the parapet and simply speak out without dissimulation, from the erstwhile President Olusegun Obasanjo whose brutish expression is in need of a modicum of finesse to Sanusi Lamido Sanusi whose candour puts the frights in many especially the legislature when he exposed the atrocious cost of that lackadaisical cabal of blowhards.

Beyond the occasional exposé in the newpapers and the guerrilla press where proprietors risk running the gauntlet of the supine security services and thin-skinned megalomaniacs, the only other insight we have had into how we are governed has come from the US diplomatic cables leaked by WikiLeaks.

Somehow, the US Envoy to Nigeria engaged many of the political class whose inferiority complex in being invited to dialogue was evident in their inability to keep their counsel or be discreet – never have such a mob in aggrandising themselves with a foreign ambassador skirted what would be the boundaries of treasonable felony in other countries, it is a shame but for those of us who have sifted through the WikiLeaks troves we find some interesting anomalies in how we are misgoverned and the brokers that make Nigerian literally ungovernable.

An insider giving insight

Lastly, there is Nasir El-Rufai who at one time was the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory with a seat at the cabinet and for all intents and purposes an insider, a key figure in the inner sanctum of Nigerian politics.

Today, he is a member of the opposition, a somewhat strident opponent of the government with sheaves of information that the government would rather the citizenry had no inkling of and if they did, it would first have been processed by the propaganda mill that embellishes intention, misrepresents it as fact and spews out what is closer to fantastic fables.

Now, Mallam El-Rufai may not be the friend of many and there are some that are implacably opposed to the man, whatever he has to say – I for one cannot vouch for how he managed his tenure of service, I just know he was counted worthy to be asked to serve and he did his bit.

The verdict however will be down to a spectrum of perceptions from commendably excellent through rank hypocrisy to atrociously corrupt, none of which particular bothers me.

A service we should treasure

Where Mallam El-Rufai comes into his own is the incontrovertible data he is able to produce to support his opinions which could be objective, subjective or pandering to some ulterior motive.

One can so easily be distracted by all that and miss out the gems of information provided in the data and analysis – I for one think Mallam El-Rufai is providing an essential service in putting necessary data in the public domain until such a time that we can more easily find empirical data to answer questions we might have about our government structures.

It goes without saying that Nigeria does need a fact-checking service that assesses government policy and announcements for impact, truth, corroboration, propaganda peddling, vested interest, bias and so on.

Until then, we have to deal with snippets of information, tales, rumour and the crumbs of lax controls of classified material along with a few “good” men to unravel the beast of our democracy.

Thursday 15 September 2011

Thought Picnic: How would you like to have one?

One question and the answer

You might think there is no clear thinking about what god is; how would you like to have one?

You might believe there is no god, how would you like to have one?

You might believe there are many gods, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god and you were in a desperate situation that you needed a miracle and one that could guarantee one, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god, one who can wipe out your past and history, giving you the reality of a new and changed life, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god and he fully understands you by taking on every situation and experience you have ever encountered, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god that says with him nothing shall be impossible, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god of enormous possibility that he could die for you and beyond that rise again from the dead to guarantee everything he died for, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god of the amazingly incredible that it just blows your mind, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god whose expression of love for you is his grace, his mercy, his forgiveness, his righteousness, his kindness and so much more, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god who offers to live in you and work in you, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god to whom you can express you fears, your anxieties, your hopes and your desires freely, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god that can you pour your heart out to him and know he listens, hears and helps, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god who has done all the hard work of relationship building that all he requires is that you just believe in what he has already done, how would you like to have one?

If you had one god that you can speak to freely in any language and yet so quietly or powerfully, how would you like to have one?

If you once had a tug on your heart strings, somewhere deep inside you about the possibilities, you probably want to have one.

One such does exist, the maker of all things; so great and mighty and yet so personal too; whose love is boundless, who offers ability, vision and provision beyond what your mind is able to comprehend, who takes you from the earthly limitations of the natural to the supernatural in an instant that changes your life forever.

Taking your faults to give you faultlessness, your inadequacies to give to you ability, your weaknesses to give you strength, your poverty to give you prosperity, your questions to give you answers, your anxieties to give you peace, your sicknesses to give you health, your sentence to give you an unconditional pardon – an expression of love that no other god has the capacity or ability to provide all as close to you as your breath; if you just dared say God I need you.

He will reveal himself and his wondrous being just as he did and still does through Jesus Christ for the first step, now, into the eternity of amazing love and power that begins with that one desire, how would you like to have one?

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Triple O - MOBO Awards Best Gospel Act Nominee

Triple O - The talent

One must not miss the opportunity to talk about one’s own by expressing both pride and praise because it is just proper, right and good.

Triple O as he is known to his fans by reason of the fact that all his names start with O signifying original, one and only with individuality, genius, ability and intellect is the gospel artiste son of my “sister”, strictly my closest first cousin but relationships make for associations closer than that kind of formality; he is essentially my nephew.

He specialises in a genre called Gospel Grime - a blend of hip-hop and rap music with strong gospel inspired lyrics to which for generational reasons on my part requires I listen with subtitles but it is growing on me and I am getting better attuned to it, certain musical forms are acquired tastes over time.

MOBO - Best Gospel Act nomination

Performing for the past 8 or so years, he has a YouTube Channel of his music and more concerning his activities where you can get a general idea and good feel of his music.

He released his album Flatline on the 11th of July 2011 and it is available on iTunes and Amazon – where you can sample tracks on the album and you should not forget to buy the album too. Thank you.

Buy, listen and vote

For the album, he has received deserved recognition and has been nominated for the MOBO AwardsBest Gospel Act 2011- and what is required to come tops is to vote for Triple O on the MOBO Awards Best Gospel Act page, this requires a simple registration exercise before voting, and here you can listen to the radio advert for his MOBO nomination.

Review: UKGospel.com - Music Review: Triple O - 24 - Flatline (Album - July, 2011)

I am exceedingly proud of my nephew and after listening to his music I am sure you need no further persuasion to cast your vote for his nomination towards winning the prize.

Vote on the MOBO Awards Best Gospel Act page – Thank you.

Some other background - Triple O Interview on UKGospel.com in 2007

Editorial: Governor Jang personifies vain jangling

Hands clapping or hands lifted up

There have been many times I have wanted to throw up my hands, rarely in resignation or under duress but in ululation and praise, it is a sign of adoration that is on a higher level of adulation than clapping in applause of activity or people.

More and more, I am coming to the idea than clapping for Jesus is the lowest form of appreciation that gets given to almost anyone, however, the lifting up of hands is different, rarely can that be in the praise of man for the boosting of their egos.

However, I seem to have digressed long before I have entered into the reason why I am blogging, it is about the throwing up of hands; this time in resignation, exasperation, cluelessness and rank incompetence.

This sometimes is figurative but it can also be seen in the gesticulations of the people concerned or expressed in the words of their mouths.

The Jos of my childhood gone

I have childhood memories of Jos in Nigeria; they are wonderful and as idyllic as one can ever get about a place in Nigerian in terms of weather, people, landscape, culture and much more.

Over the last decade it has been overrun with crises of religious and inter-tribal conflict leaving many dead and bringing back into common parlance the language of savagery; cannibalism has been mentioned; that is just a new low that is beyond comprehension that men could feast literally on other men and boast about it.

Plateau State of which Jos is the capital is not necessarily a state in anarchy, it has an executive governor and institutions of government that one would hope have the wherewithal to address the pressing issues of the people and bring pressure and mediation to bear on all concerned that peace might reign again in the state.

In the most recent outbreak of violence, Governor Jonah Jang was abroad literally indifferent and oblivious of his backyard in turmoil, then yesterday he had a meeting with the President to as it were brief the President on the issues concerning his state – one wonders if he had anything to share if he was not there to witness the problems.

Vain jangling and incomprehensibility

Meanwhile, the President had sent the military into Jos to quell the problems and after the meeting; Governor Jang was accosted by the press and asked a number of questions regarding the problems in Jos and it went thus.

Press: “Don’t you think the presidential directive was a subtle way of imposing the state of emergency?”

Governor Jang: “Well, go and read your constitution. I am not God to end Jos crisis.”

Press: “Was it not an indication that you have failed?”

Governor Jang: “Already the task force has been under the command of the president, therefore it is not an indication that the security has been taken over from the state. We hope to end the crisis.

Press: “People are saying that the crisis is out of control.”

Governor Jang: “Is Plateau the only place that has security problem? Security situation is all over the country, so why are you so particular about Plateau state.”

Press: “Do you trust him?”

Governor Jang: “Yes I trust him.”

The height of ungodly irresponsibility

This is a revelation if not a microcosm of what is wrong with wrong with those conferred with the honour of leadership in Nigeria, their inability to take on the responsibilities they have and make the best of their talents and resources to bring about change.

To the first question, by implication, the Governor who has executive responsibility for the state in terms said only God can end the crisis. This is a man who has been in power since 2007 who should by now know what the real problems are and if he were a tad competent should have been putting plans in place to resolve this recurrent crisis and make it history.

Now, there is a need for God in any situation depending on your religious persuasion but God uses people, people who are ready to assume the responsibilities they have and lead as they are supposed to bring to bear wisdom, knowledge, insight and ideas to solve thorny problems.

It would be absurd for a driver of a car on a seemingly dangerous road to expect God to take over the steering whilst he sits on his hands. It is more likely the driver with have a good grip on the steering and mutter a prayer to God to help ensure that he safely negotiates that road and is delivered safely to the end of that journey.

Pointedly a failure

To the second question, it probably should have been read has a statement because there is no doubt that Governor Jang has failed to grapple with the problem and basically he is completely out of his depth and he is probably standing in the way of more progressive people who probably are much more clever and able to address the problems Jos is facing.

In answering the third question, the governor went on the defensive; the perception by many is that the Jos crisis is out of control and beyond the control of the bench-warmers who sit in office but are powerless and overcome with paralysis of thought and reason.

Plateau State might not be the only place with security problems in Nigeria, in fact, it is not the only place with security problems but the press cannot be asking the Plateau State governor about problems in other places when he is the first citizen and the person in charge of the state under focus from whom one would expect answers that portray a man in his element with the ability to perform.

Shirking responsibility hoping for respite

What this exchange reveals is the usual cynical ploy of politicians to call on God’s name in vain and when out of their depth rather than own up to their inadequacies they foist the responsibilities for which they get paid handsomely unto God hoping to deflect further inquiry with the thinking that the mention of God will scare people into deference and a vague dread of the supernatural.

Well, it is just not good enough, there is a need for God to be completely removed from the Nigerian political space so we can clearly identify people who have the innate ability essential to be used by God or maybe we can have people who have the ability to use intellect and reason to approach seemingly insurmountable problems and begin to offer solutions that dissolve conflict and begins the path to reconciliation.

The unfortunate extension to this saga might well be the many other Nigerian politicians who like Governor Jang have resigned, are out of their depth being completely clueless and readily defensive using God as the bogeyman whilst the responsibilities they have been given are left without action and application but they shamelessly draw overly generous remuneration for doing nothing.

We cannot continue to tolerate such people in leadership, enough is really enough of these atrocious idiots in office.

This acknowledges that the Nigerian Vanguard Online published the news story of this interview with the title - Only God can end Jos crises – Gov Jang.

Friday 9 September 2011

Thought Picnic: Come to my Virtual Church

The example is Jesus

When it comes to matters of religion, I have essentially been stridently against unreasonable things that put people in peril where traditions, creeds, tenets, rules or laws appear to be altars on which to sacrifice humanity.

My compass has always been Jesus Christ, the man and God at the same time with my constant reflection in the gospels.

He, as a man upturned the traditional way of doing things and He was most at conflict with the religious leaders of the day that had more concern for adherence to the laws than in the welfare of people.

Disease doesn’t do Sabbath

The friction always occurred when people were healed on the Sabbath, the religious leaders in their hardness of heart and hypocrisy even in one case clearly remonstrated that people should only seek to be healed on all days but the Sabbath.

That would have been sensible if diseases and illnesses took a holiday too on holy days but the fact it they don’t. He rebuked them with sound doctrine where he said the Sabbath was made for man and not man for Sabbath.

Breaking the mould

The Jesus Christ brand of Christianity basically turned the world upside-down and I am of the belief that it should continue to be case – for instance Jesus healed lepers many times and took almost over 1900 years for antibiotics to be discovered in the natural world to manage that ailment.

In my opinion, it is time for Christians to not only race ahead of the natural world again but give a renewed hope to humanity again, answering the difficult questions and touching lives well beyond what intellect and rote has helped define as professions today.

Walking the gospel streets

For the gospels, I find ways to relive the times of Jesus by listening to audio bibles, a free version of the King James (Authorised) Version can be found at AudioTreasure, a premium version of the Message Bible can be found at eStudySource.

The times I have listened to the gospels and allowed my imagination to put me amongst the crowd that throng Jesus as He spoke and then performed miracles has begun to give live to the kind of radical world-changing Christianity I desire to see in myself and about me.

Obviously, you probably have to do some MP3 tagging to ensure the books and chapters are in proper alignment from renaming the titles, creating books as albums and prefixing the books with the ordinal book number from 01 to 66, the chapters of the books should be numbered as tracks – this makes for the easy management of tracks on your MP3 device.

Evidence of the unexplainable

Christianity is supposed to be awesome and beyond the comprehension of natural analysis just as healings and the raising of the dead defy explanation but the evidence is there. Sadly, there are crooks that have crept into the stable and have all the paraphernalia of Christianity but are frauds, through and through.

As this text shows:

(2Ti 3:1 NKJV) But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:

(2Ti 3:2 NKJV) For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,

(2Ti 3:3 NKJV) unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,

(2Ti 3:4 NKJV) traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,

(2Ti 3:5 NKJV) having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!

The scary part of this message is found in the fact that they have a form of godliness but deny the power that comes with it.

There is going to be a whole lot of shaking and those who have thrived in the unconscionably reprehensible will soon be caught out.

The virtual church

Meanwhile apart from my church in Amsterdam, the C3 Church; I find myself by reason of Internet technologies a member of a virtual church too. I sometimes attend online or I listen to messages uploaded at the Eagle Mountain International Church of the Kenneth Copeland Ministries.

Now, Kenneth Copeland and many of his persuasion and calling do not preach easy-listening, but the Christianity of the gospel was never about easy-listening; in fact, the evidence in the gospels show that many could not abide what Jesus Christ had to say apart from his disciples – there will always be things hard to hear and whilst many might be pre-occupied with disputing, the ministry thrives providing solutions and impacting lives whilst critics do what they are good at - not helping people.

A good deal of what you hear will probably blow your mind, miracles do and you have to ask yourself whether you will not like to have one too – Let God speak to your heart and change your life.

You can find the EMIC media page here.

There is much more but let us start with this first.