Thursday 29 March 2012

Nigeria: What Rape Victims Face in Court

Caught my eye
The headline was what got me as it appeared on one of my Twitter lists - Ex-Corp Member Weeps in Court When Asked to Show Her Private Part [1] – it was irresistible to my curiosity I had to view the circumstances of such an outrageous request.
A prominent traditional ruler had been accused of the rape of a 23-year old lady who was in youth service within the domain of the ruler.
The lady must have been caught in circumstances beyond her control when the lecherous ruler first attempted to gain carnal knowledge of her through the belittlement of throwing money at her which she rejected before he allegedly forced himself on her raping her.
Seeking justice
When she made a case of it, he offered her money not to make a scandal of it and considering the high thresholds of credibility needed to bring rape cases to court against quite influential members of the public, it must have been an ordeal to have gotten this far.
The story does not say when she was raped and the time that had elapsed between the alleged incident and when the case was heard in court but that is beside the point.
Beyond belief
What is quite shocking and brazen in its effrontery and insensitivity as the news story portends is that it says the monarch himself asked the victim to show her allegedly bruised private parts to confirm to the court that she had been raped.
It goes on to say the counsel for the respondent did on cross-examination of the witness demand, NOT ask, but demand that she expose her privates for the scrutiny of the judge, the present counsel and prosecution to ascertain the veracity of her claim.
Now, even if the court doubled as a gynaecological unit and the all the learned purveyors of the ways and means of the law were certified consultant gynaecologists, this request would have been utterly improper at best.
This direction of questioning after being overruled should have had the counsel sanctioned with the risk of contempt by reason of deliberately outraging public decency.
If the monarch had also spoken out in initiating this line of questioning, he should have been sternly cautioned but the news story offers no such detail.
Bad handling of a sensitive situation
In my opinion, the purpose of that line of questioning was no doubt geared towards first embarrassing the victim, then humiliating her in her quest for justice before seriously upsetting her that she might lose all her composure to the advantage of the defence.
I am concerned that the judge appeared to be a tad lackadaisical in dealing firmly with this affront to polite proceedings where the counsel should have for bringing the legal profession into disrepute risked disbarment.
However, the sadder picture exemplified in this case is the lack of courtesy and sensitivity to victims of rape in open court and the effrontery and brazenness of patriarchy at the plight of victimised women.
What victims face
Men of power and influence behave as if they have right and authority to demand and obtain sexual favours whilst being unable handle rejection or negation of their desires.
They believe if they have the physical means to overpower the woman, then they can have their way without consequence.
They expect that the shock and shame of being raped presents a barrier to prosecution as the victim has to wade through hurdles of location, situation, opportunity, motive, circumstance, believability and influence to start off the process of justice.
As society will probably first find fault with the victim before it considers the egregious criminality of the perpetrator.
What to do
There is every need to have stronger support networks for rape victims regardless of the probable cause and the availability of evidence necessary to prosecute to the fullest extent of the law, all those accused of rape.
As another human-being and sadly of the male species, I have the fullest sympathy for the victim and I hope that those involved in this contemptible show of chauvinism too vile for expression are visited with opprobrium, shame, disgrace and obloquy as a deterrent to any other counsel who might think sailing close to the wind in rude discourse can be done with impunity and without dire consequences.

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Thought Picnic: Losing the might to fight (write)

The will and its fade
I rarely have long stretches of time between blogs because the fact is there is a lot to write about in terms of personal issues and other events of concerns.
Yes, there are times when one suffers the dreaded “Writer’s Block”, a state of having much to write but being unable to start, a psychological feeling overwhelms you into thinking the tasks you have performed with ease are almost impossible.
You can agonise or just leave it be until when you can do what you normally do. However, there is the other issue of life’s turmoil that works to sap every will and inclination to be creative that you clam up completely.
Being just human, that is an experience I am also quite familiar with, I completely clam up – writing nothing, chatting to no one and avoiding places where I have to interact with people who might know me.
Find that old spark
It can go for a long length of time or just for short periods as one tries to find new equilibrium and hopefully some purpose before one is snuffed away having lost every inkling of resilience.
The battle still rages regardless and you can only stay in the tent so long before you have to return to fight those battles and win the war that wrests against all that you hold dear.
One cannot tire, even if it looks like you are about to expire, there is a something inside – a fire, if you have life, maybe you can still aspire.
Where the long writes are not forthcoming, the short ones on Twitter may not be as prolific, God forbid the suffering of “Writer’s Block” on Twitter.

Saturday 17 March 2012

Nigeria: Reviewing Ms. Arunma Oteh's Allegations

Speaking up and loud
This is the stuff great people are made of, fearlessness in the face of persecution and boldness to speak truth to power.
I have many a time been perturbed by the cost of our democracy and the stranglehold corruption seems to have on every facet of life in Nigeria.
Yesterday brought in a number of interesting revelations, whilst many sanctimoniously concentrated on the sensational, the bigger issue was the insight into the workings of our legislature, the committee system and the bottom-feeding frenzy of rent-seeking legislators steeped in despicable malfeasance playing to the gallery pretending to unimpeachable conduct.
Sensational allegations
The Director General of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Ms. Arunma Oteh was appearing before the House Committee on Capital Markets chaired by “Honourable” Herman Hembe – the title must be in quotes until it is regained by a fair assessment of the allegations made and the man is proven completely innocent of the claims.
During the day we were regaled with tales of the profligate excesses of the Ms. Oteh, that she had stayed in  5-star hotel accommodation for 8 months instead of the regulatory one month, that she has spent NGN 850,000 ($5,391) on dinner and everyone ran to town with it. There some dispute as to whether it was NGN 850,000 or NGN 85,000 ($539.10), in either case, this was piffle, almost of no consequence in the scheme of things, the way the country is bilked and milked by all those in political office.
She stoops to conquer
Nigerian politicians are given to bluster and grandiloquence arrogating to themselves privileges, emoluments and untrammelled fiat to bludgeon people who appear before their committees without due courtesies and respect to the attendees.
Ms. Oteh ran the gauntlet of being questioned about her qualifications to fill her position and her ability to perform, it was an inquisition so disgraceful and unbecoming of anyone who deigns to be recognised in polite society but that was Day One.
When Ms. Oteh appeared on Day Two, she was battle-axe ready, fuming, agitated and shooting all guns with deathly accuracy in what might become the biggest political earthquake of our democratic experiment, I should expect aftershocks of similar magnitude to follow.
Explosive political bombshells
She alleged with dates that the Committee Chairman had received moneys to attend a conference that he eventually did not attend and did not refund the expense. She also alleged that he had asked the SEC to fund the activities of the committee to the tune of NGN 39,000,000 ($247,376) and then another demand was made for NGN 5,000,000 ($31,714.80).
She questioned the integrity of the chairman and his credibility to sit in judgement with unclean hands and his maturity in commenting on issues related to the SEC without first verifying the facts possibly with the view to undermine, discredit and contemn Ms. Oteh.
More importantly, she pointedly accused the chairman of corruption and in the court of public opinion challenged the chairman to defend himself against the claims whilst making the case for fairness and better adherence to democratic principles. The raw emotion was palpable as she trembled and her voice quavered with each forceful statement, the discomfiture of the committee was quite evident.
Noisy body talk
The body language of the chairman was like an open book screaming out the words as he swivelled in his chair in pendulumic consonance squirming with embarrassment as he tried to fend off the allegations, twisting Ms. Oteh’s words and playfully making light of the situation but before the whole world, this was a most uncomfortable moment.
In a display of braggadocio he mandated the anti-corruption agencies to investigate the claims, but we Nigerians have very little confidence in the ability of these institutions to follow through to conclusion any allegations, charges or indictments made on senior politicians in Nigeria – it was both a dare and a moot point, if anything comes of it, we will be in for an unusual surprise.
He was obviously rattled that he forgot his manners when he told and not asked Ms. Oteh to turn off her microphone. In a society where character, reputation and integrity matters, where a senior official is besmirched with allegations of corruption, one would expect him to recuse himself and not bring the activities of the committee and the House of Representatives into disrepute, but impunity without consequence is the name of the game in Nigeria, he reasserted his questionable authority and banged the gavel – the seal of authoritative corruption and obvious indifference.
Ms. Oteh – the big spender?
So many things stand out from the events of that day which I will attempt to address one at a time.
Could Ms. Oteh have spent $539 on dinner? Very likely, it would probably have covered a meal with friends and considering the cost of living in Nigeria especially in luxury settings, the prices are unbelievably steep for what we would get at a reasonable cost in Europe. It is quite doubtful that she spent $5,391 at one sitting, it reads like a very tall tale exposed to ridicule and embarrass her РThe SEC has asserted the lower figure but why let the truth get in the way of a sensational expos̩?
That Ms. Oteh stayed in 5-star accommodation for a whole 8 months is quite beyond the pale but then one can understand that enjoying luxury at the expense of others can be a difficult and herculean task to wean yourself of off, in some ways she was being both a chancer and human – people have done worse, she has been in her position for over two years now, which means alternative lodgings have been arranged for at least 16 months.
Report or proclaim?
Certain people have wondered why Ms. Oteh did not take her allegations of corruption to the anti-corruption agencies. For reasons I have stated before, they have not excelled in their briefs, literally everyone of political clout in Nigerian has gummed up the system and deftly used the judiciary to extricate themselves from the clutches of due process of investigation and administration of justice.
In my view, that public forum was the best place to make those allegations and with it in the open, force many more voices to demand action be taken. If the chairman feels he has been besmirched and libelled he can easily seek redress in the courts but I doubt he has the courage to be exposed to the scrutiny of his cupboard of rampaging skeletons. Compromised legislators grandstanding in public will from now on have to thread carefully.
Estacode abuse
One area of patronage and source of corruption that needs to be reviewed reformed and better regulated is the use and abuse of estacode - funds intended to cover traveling costs by public servants and politicians. Politicians, especially in Nigeria are quite handsomely remunerated; they should not be receiving hand-outs before they have completed whatever missions they embark on.
In the private sector, a modicum of control is exercised on spending because the money first comes out of the pocket and the person is later reimbursed on the presentation of receipts and audited review of the expenses.
Though that process can also be abused, with the presentation of false documents or through collusion, it will not result in profligacy and excessive pre-compensation and the person will be more accountable for their spend. That the chairman received moneys and did not use it for the intended purpose is at best dishonest, if not fraudulent.
Conflicts of interest
The operation of committees needs to be reviewed, the independence of a committee will always be compromised and the perception of its ability to function transparently and fairly will be suspect if the committee and its members receive favours from the institutions they have oversight of. It is befuddling that the concept of conflict of interest has not become part of the framework of the fabric of our democracy.
The legislature has its budget and it must operate within its means without seeking emoluments and sponsorship of external organisations that can exact influence on the probity, transparency and integrity of the committees in some quid pro quo arrangement – this must be deemed illegal, corrupt and outlawed. Perceptions matter, always.
A new breed of public servant
One other interesting point is that Ms. Oteh appeared to be quite combative and it is interesting that on Day One the proceedings were not given a public hearing and then the damaging allegations of living large seemed to set the stage for the committee to embarrass the lady for not playing ball with a live and televised hearing which now seems to have back-fired on the legislators.
If you are called to public service in Nigeria - Do not be assimilated and do not be intimidated. Arunma Oteh is a class act.
There is no doubt that our legislature would prefer Nigerians were not privy to the machinations of corruption, pay-for-play, bribery and other despicable practices that have been rumoured about but never verified. With Ms. Oteh’s very public assailing of these rent-seekers there is very little damage limitation that can be done to restore the public’s confidence in our democracy.
We need to put the feet of these people to the fire and apply more pressure on the system to change, to reform and to root out the atrocious wolves in sheep’s clothing who are selfish, self-conceited and greedily feeding on the system with ravenously gluttonous appetites.
If we are to learn anything from Ms. Oteh, our democracy is in need of an urgent reset.
Nigeria: Ministries banned from funding National Assembly – Written in 2008 about conflicts of interested between the legislature and executive.

Thursday 15 March 2012

Social Engineering: Crooks preying on our parents

A menacing problem
I think this is becoming an emergency in Nigeria and it requires we begin to focus on the menace of unconscionable, unscrupulous and merciless confidence tricksters preying on the vulnerable sectors of our society.
Last year, somebody called my mother informing her of my being in trouble abroad and convincingly persuaded her to part with some money. Having tricked her the first time, they applied more pressure at which time she chatted to my siblings who were able to break her out of the spell she had fallen under and stop the criminal activity.
Using my blog, I tried to create a storm and though we never apprehended the nasty piece of work, the bank at least got involved enough for about 3 weeks trying to get hold of the person who for the pressure and bad publicity that had gone out regarding his identity was forced to go to ground.
My mother’s situation was not an exception, the fact is our once strong, able parents are now older and less agile in terms of things in their daily lives, there are people out there ready to create situations of distress, panic, anxiety or fear and by doing so getting our now vulnerable and sometimes lonely parents to part with their life’s savings.
Abductions and hypnoses
I heard today of another case where a fine and wonderful lady in her 70s had gone to withdraw some cash from a bank and as she left the bank, she was accosted by persons who abducted her and took her to some place she can no more recollect.
It is very possible she was hypnotised because she gave them the money she had withdrawn and then she was dropped off at home where the next day under some sort of influence she returned to the bank to withdraw 5 times what she withdrew before and handed it over to the gang.
At the end of the second day, she apparently came to and informed her daughter of what had happened but swore her daughter to secrecy about informing other siblings. Meanwhile the gang was trying again to get her to withdraw more money for them and thankfully to no avail.
Tackling the issue
At first one has to be thankful that she came to no physical harm but the mental anguish and scars of such an encounter will no doubt be more lasting. She is not as chatty as she used to be and she rarely leave her home; this is a lady who has travelled the world has been fiercely independent apart from the fact that she had been widowed for over 3 decades.
I do not think the case of my mother and that of this amazing lady are unique, I have the feeling it is happening a lot but the victims are not talking or telling anyone for the embarrassment, the shame or the realisation that they are a lot more vulnerable than they are ready to let on.
Banks must profile
Banks are usually the centres of this corrupt enterprise because that is where the money is with people being cajoled, blackmail, shaken-down or rustled. They need to be aware that people are targeting their customers usually gaining information about accounts or other pertinent details that will not draw suspicion to criminal activity preying on the vulnerability of the elderly.
Besides, I think banks have a greater duty of care and concern towards these vulnerable sections of society and it is important that they adopt measures that are sympathetic and cognisant of withdrawal patterns of these people – such as alerts to successive withdrawals of large sums of money, facilitation of wired transfers rather than the handling of large sums of cash and advising that senior citizens for their good be better accompanied to and from the banks.
They need to create better profiles of their customers of a certain age, install triggers to alert to unusual activity and have better levels of customer care and challenge/response scenarios to help their customers safeguard their wealth especially when things are somewhat out of the person’s control.
Any other ideas you might have towards helping our parents evade these crooks will be welcome and please post them as comments.
Thank you.
Related posts

Wednesday 14 March 2012

Opinion: Invisible Children & Joseph Kony

This is an opinion piece unlike my usual blogs, I have simply expressed a whole range of views and posted no links within the text. Thank you.
The numbers are big
Nine days on, the legendary #Kony2012 video has had over 78,000,000 views, 1,329,774 likes, 95,942 dislikes – that statistic alone shows the interest, the passion and impressions conveyed – I expect the numbers to retain this basic ratio.
Now, I will not attempt to rehash the issues here, a simple Google search will reveal opposing arguments for and against the video apart from the attacks that Invisible Children has suffered in the last week.
A striker without a team
In my view Invisible Children must feel like a striker in a home football match that got the ball, dribbled the visiting team until he was left with just the goalkeeper, kicking the ball right into the net scoring a goal.
Meanwhile, his team mates stayed on their side of field, retreating towards their own goal in disgust that the striker had scored, the prospect of winning the game being so repulsive that neither the striker nor the team could celebrate, the referee being on the verge of disallowing the goal for the fact it looked like there were three teams instead of two on the football pitch.
That is a somewhat extreme analogy but it so clearly represents the state of affairs today.
It’s not unusual
Invisible Children is an advocacy group that mainly informs and engages people in the work towards helping communities that have been destroyed by the menacing antics of Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).
Their fund-raising activities are not so entirely unique; for decades we have had pop concerts staged for the enjoyment and entertainment of more comfortable parts of the globe to help disadvantaged groups and countries buckling under the weight of all sorts of disasters. Tickets, T-shirts, bracelets, bangles, packs are all means of exchange with the hope that the profits will end up helping the unfortunate.
Another interesting narrative was that of the White Saviour Industrial Complex where the white man comes from afar as Messiah to helpless and hapless ethnic populations. I cannot subscribe to this notion with regards to Invisible Children, the principals could easily have been happy-go-lucky filmmakers travelling around the globe taking snapshots of poverty and suffering but they got involved, got engaged and developed strong relationships in the spirit of compassion and humanity.
It may not have been obvious to some, but the 6-year old son had knowledge though maybe not fully understanding what his father did in Africa, he recognised the people his father had brought to their home and for his little mind had a clear sense of the need for justice.
That White Saviour Crap
A better and extreme example of the White Saviour Industrial Complex is illustrated in the recent game-hunting trip of Donald Trump’s sons to Zimbabwe. Having killed a bull, an elephant and a crocodile they justified their actions by saying they donated the meat of the dead animals to apparently very grateful villagers who could be fed for up to a month.
There is no need to go into the detail of whether the locals were allowed to shoot wildlife that is under threat of extinction in their neighbourhoods but white men could come from afar shoot for thrills and rather than skin the animals for trophies, the meat is given to the hungry savage natives – even one can only be in praise of such uncommon kindness.
Making complex issues simple
Invisible Children gets accused of over-simplification, there probably is just cause in that view but this is a very complex problem and complicated problems do not get solved by relating to the problem as complex or cmplicated but by breaking the problem down into componential parts then resolving each of the simplified tasks until all the simplified tasks of that complex problem are solved, thereby, solving the problem.
In the case of the film, the complex situation had to be simplified for the consumption of a global and varied audience, situations like this will go for the lowest common denominator – simplicity – this simplicity allows for the very basic information to be conveyed and easily assimilated.
It is however incumbent on the viewer to conduct additional research if more detail is required in better understanding the problem.
As in football
Returning to football analogy, more often than not, if one has not had the opportunity to watch a match what the person needs to know is who won. One can then delve into detail as to who scored, when, how the teams played, what strategies were used, the controversies of refereeing, who the substitutes were, the number of fans in the stadium, who the commentators were and where on the league table the teams have ended up.
In other words, football is a complex interaction of commerce and sport, skill and application, conditions and aspirations, 90 minutes or more, goals, personalities, fans, moods, permutations, statistics and whatever else to raucous, volatile armchair analysis – depending on the audience you package the information to suit the ease of consumption.
Just the facts
I do not think Invisible Children is war-mongering by associating with the Ugandan army in the pursuit of Joseph Kony and the splintered remnants of the LRA scattered beyond the borders of Northern Uganda. The fact is if Joseph Kony is to be apprehended Uganda is the only country in that region with the means to go after him.
We must not forget even though there may not be recently recorded LRA atrocities that Joseph Kony is an evil man who needs to be brought to justice for his crimes against children – recruiting boys in an army with the options of death of killing one of their own and girls being co-opted into sexual slavery – there is no authority or length of time that can exculpate this absolutely rotten and despicable man.
For reconciliation
That is not to say the Ugandan regime does not have its faults, it simply calls for a kind of Truth and Reconciliation model that will allow the children who were once abused and are entering adulthood to find their places back in society as able and prosperous members of their communities and worthy ambassadors of their country against these acts. All parties involved should also be made to confess to their complicity in allowing for this untenable situation to fester for so long.
It is a hydra-headed conundrum and Invisible Children has only gone after one of the many heads, I would have hoped the momentum generated despite the other apparent failings would have had others tackle the other heads of the hydra but in ferociously attacking Invisible Children we have ended up within the context of the first football analogy of my blog.
If Invisible Children is guilty of anything, it is at worst naivety; a case of not fully understanding the problem but nevertheless doing something in the context of what they do understand and from the clamour that has ensued it has become evident that they appear to have done a lot more than those who know and understand the problem too well but have failed to act.

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Hospital: All indicators looking good

Unsure and sanguine
[All the links go to YouTube videos]
As I contemplated my visit to the hospital this evening, I was not sure of how to feel, though I was expectant of better results than the last time.
The appointment was originally scheduled for the morning but soon after I returned from India I received a mail in the post asking to change it the appointment to the evening or that I phone to reschedule the meeting for my convenience.
However, before going, I was meditating about the so many things I have come through over the years and the continued resolve that my best days are still ahead of me.
The anthems of life
Then I considered life anthems and their seasons that might determine one’s outlook in the midst of a tumultuous world and circumstances that are in flux.
Many will start off with Gloria Gaynor’s I will survive, it is sung with defiant against all odds as you realise that she goes on to sing I am what I am, you have to confident in yourself and be sure of who you are and where you are going.
This morning, it was Labi Siffre’s Something inside so strong that had the greatest resonance, it told me that I know I can make it and nothing will crush me amidst the trials and tribulations with God on my side and friends reaching out as the Wind beneath my wings, I am ready to soar with all that surround me to sing in continuous refrain We are the champions.
Beyond the will to survive is the joy of life when you thrive, thrive in every aspect of life and endeavour, it was that sense of being that accompanied my cycling to the hospital.
Measurements and opinions
The registration began with a measurement of the blood pressure and pulse all of which were in the very good regions, my weight close to where I would like to be though much less than where my consultant will prefer it was.
So, when we met, after exchanging pleasantries and filling him in on all the things I had done since we last met, I noticed he did not have an understudy for the first time in the 9 times we have met up.
Besides, everything is now computerised, and read off the screen though the paper laden hospital file still exists, the matter of weight came up again and off the top of his head he calculated my Body-Mass Index opining that it was in the somewhat ideal range; not much was written down, rather it was the screen, a keyboard, a mouse, menus, scrollbars, buttons, check boxes, dialog boxes and text boxes our takeaways are now having laser printers of various sizes churning out paper and inkjet printers coughing out labels.
All looking good
The tale of the bloods showed consistent improvements over a range of time, I also take it upon myself to ask for at least the last three test results to see how things have changed – you begin to realise that you need to be quite knowledgeable of what is going on in your body and how things are changing – even I was happy about the noticeable improvements as we scheduled our next meeting for almost 5 months hence.
I am happy, I am thankful, let’s live this life and thrive.

New Blogs on Akin Consults

Blogs on Akin Consults
As I indicated over a week ago, I am now blogging in two different places. This blog will cover the general issues I have written about over the last 8 years and I hope to be as prolific as I have always been.
My new blog is Akin Consults, this will have a slightly professional bent and the topics will range from life in the workplace and my general experiences over a working life that goes back almost 30 years, a fascination with all sorts of tools and toys to more technical insights about software, hardware and social engineering.
Since I launched the blog I have posted new articles as well as copied over related articles that suit that forum.
Rather than publish the articles simultaneously in two blogs, I will regularly aggregate them into a blog posted here. Please feel free to visit my new blog and post comments.
Thank you.
The new blogs are:
My Professional Life: A Synopsis – Many of the things I have done before.
Windows 8 Customer Preview - Not on your old laptop – My experience of trying to install Windows 8.
My Droid - Restoring the sounds to wake up to – I could not hear the ringtone for incoming calls.

Sunday 11 March 2012

Nigeria: Tackling the Northern Complex

It is not elementary
Nigeria is a complex conundrum and for all the facets of life that come up for discussion it is easy to end up with a series of single stories which might skew the issues but they all add up to the narrative called Nigeria, its history, its problems, the solutions, the criticisms from nasty to constructive to the outlook to the future.
One typical example of the jumbled narratives is the North, taken as a homogenous entity in terms of religion, ethnicity and economy for simplicity sake and packaged as such for media consumption but it has probably the most diverse and heterogeneous demography of Nigeria.
Child Hunger of the Almajiri
Recently, I clamoured about [1] the fate of the Almajiri from the perspective of human and child rights, suggesting that certain controls and inspection regimes need to be put in place to arrest the unconscionable and despicable case of children and adolescents being in boarding schools of a certain persuasion but having to be beg for food.
The more heart-rending aspect was the case of a boy ill with malaria and typhoid fever that was not in hospital and had not eaten since the night before; to suggest the head of that school was criminal and irresponsible would have been a heartless understatement – it is a pervasive problem.
The Borno State Government has taken the first step towards addressing this problem by supporting 10,000 Tsangaya schools [2] to tackle the problems of feeding and to take the Almajiri off the streets thereby curtailing the begging menace.
If government money is going into such institutions it should then translate into gaining control to regulate their activities, inspect their facilities and introduce a curriculum that will allow the Almajiri who in that setting will now be pupils and students to learn a trade or some vocational skill along with their religious schooling. If successful, one will hope that this concept will spread out to other states pulling Tsangaya schools into a structured educational regime that upholds child rights preparing them for viable and productive careers.
Talking Poverty Alleviation
In the Nigeria Poverty Profile released by the National Bureau of Statistics, we are presented with the stark detail that relative poverty has increased between 2004 and 2010 with the North-Central, North-Eastern and North-Western zones revealing increasing levels of poverty compared to the three zones in the South.
Courtesy of the National Bureau of Statistics - Nigeria Poverty Profile, Page 17 [3]

The Northern Governors then thought to redress this imbalance by demanding a review of the revenue allocation [4] from the centre; this threatens to draw a dangerous fault-line giving credence to that age-old North-South divide that has become the basis for analysing problems in Nigeria.
Looking at the numbers, there probably is a case for a review but the problems are more fundamental than that. The Niger Delta oil-producing area probably has the highest per-capita allocation but the governors have not been judicious in the use of the funds for the development of their states. Most of the communities are poor, their lands polluted, infrastructure lacking and the travesty gave rise first to activism and then militancy without much improvement towards tackling the environmental disasters or the future prospects of the masses.
Likewise, governorship in the North has not taken up the responsibility to create enabling environments and offer the essential impetus for development that can pull their people up from abject poverty and it is unlikely that throwing more money at the region with yield the results required but that is a subject for negotiation and debate between all affected parties.
Stilling a brewing storm
The demand however called for cool and wise heads to comment from the Presidency. Until recently on matters of security, power or policy, the President has been handed speeches that has left a good many readers and listeners in despair, complete forlorn as to where the country might be going that clueless had become the description of President Goodluck Jonathan’s grasp of issues.
One can only suppose the President had sacked his uninspiring speechwriter and acquired one that could capture the mood and set out a range of opinions that make sense and give people, especially the governors a sense of responsibility and purpose, though we still have to wait and see what comes of it.
However, in response to this demand, the President in a speech recently given [5] on a visit to Makurdi had this to say.
"We have resources in all parts of the country to sell. All states of the federation have products they can export. The governors should work with private sector operators to produce and sell what they have not only to Nigerians but also to export."
"Nigeria is an agro-based economy even before the civil war and that is why they did not borrow money to prosecute the war. We should be able to revive this process like it happened in those periods when oil was not an issue."
"If we create the enabling environment and liaise with the private sector, people will not need to steal or go into 419 before they can make it."
Making governors more accountable
In other words, state governors should work better at realising potential in their states and seek to exploit such as if there were no oil revenues to rely on.
The national cake is no more big enough to go round effectively, the states that to generate more income internally by doing the best with the resources they have and seek markets for their goods for their states to prosper.
One interesting element of history that we seem to forget about Nigeria that the President alluded to in his speech is that Nigeria might well be that only country in the world to have prosecuted a civil war without running into debt, it harks back to a can-do spirit of fiscal prudence that Nigeria apparently once had, which means it can be rediscovered again.
In all, all governors have serious work to do having escaped the fury of the people during the #OccupyNigeria protests and deep scrutiny of their policies until after their tenures the President has laid down the modalities on which governance accountability will be based, this should be the first of many to get them to sit up and start delivering solutions to their people.
Other references

Friday 9 March 2012

Editorial: How do we capture the desire we all have for Nigeria?

A desire we all have for Nigeria
Great is the wish and desire for better topics than what I am about to write about Nigeria. This is a great country with amazingly unrealised potential that appears to be continually rundown by those who we have elected to represent us at all levels.
The problem is however not just that of leadership, it includes the people too and sadly an inability to grasp the fundamental truths of a situation, an idea or a conversation if there is something emotive to offer upon which they can gorge their sentiments on.
Nigeria cannot be doomed, there is prospect and promise beyond compare and ability that needs to be nurtured to wrestle power from the malefactors in charge and command the heights whilst mentoring those coming up to occupy and take Nigeria to where it rightly belongs – a prosperous thriving country with people willing and able to pursue their goals in happiness with all opportunity and ability at their disposal to succeed.
Those who hold us back
Things need to be uprooted, overturned, jettisoned, condemned and completely excoriated. These things are exemplified and personified in people – men and women who present no glowing future for the entity Nigeria or the identity Nigerian. They clog the corridors of power and need to be bulldozed out of the way, swept into ignominy as light gets shone on their opinions, activities and alliances.
Today, it was the turn of the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory to be readied for the scrapheap of odium so vile that it cannot be countenanced by rats cavorting in a metropolitan sewer.
“May I suggest to the Executive Secretary of FCDA, who has the Abuja Master Plan and the Coordinator of Abuja Metropolitan Management Council to rename this place as Goodluck Jonathan District.” He started [1].
“This is because we have not named any district after any president in the past. The president I know is President Goodluck Jonathan and the president I know that is bringing good luck to me and to Nigerians is President Goodluck Jonathan.” He then said.
“Therefore, by the powers conferred on me, I change the name of this district to Goodluck Jonathan District.” He concluded.
Is there just cause?
Now, there is nothing wrong with naming places after past leaders of Nigeria, we have universities, airports, roads and buildings named after many of our heroes past, many long gone but with places in the history of Nigeria.
In most cases, these naming acts though unilaterally done by those in leadership do have popular appeal and support with many Nigerians knowing why.
It is quite strange to rename a district in the Federal Capital after a sitting President who has only been in office for two years and yet to prove himself as an effective master of his brief, talk less of being an all-embracing and inspiring leader of all Nigerians.
Maybe I am being harsh with my assessment so let us hear the citation the Minister gives to make the President worthy of such an honour.
Of the many deserving
"A district has never been named after a President ..." – that is a valid point but we have had many, 14 in all [2], starting with Nnamdi Azikiwe, the 1st Governor General and the President of Nigeria; Johnson Aguiyi-Ironsi, the 1st Military Head of State or Murtala Mohammed, the 4th leader of Nigeria assassinated in 1976. Sani Abacha for his despotic reign is not offered a podium of honour but he is one of the 4 who once ruled Nigeria and have since died.
Other leaders of distinction, I use distinction with a bit of levity are Yakubu Gowon who lead the country through a civil war, ruling for 9 years or Olusegun Obasanjo who ruled the country twice, first as a military ruler and then as a civilian president altogether for 11½ years.
Only last week with full military honours and all the state accoutrements, Emeka Odumegwu Ojukwu was buried, he led the civil war for the secession of Biafra and had long been revered as the leader of the Igbo tribe, it would appear he was the next for the synonymous and eponymous but you cannot curry the favour of the dead. – Surely, there is much to be said for these people.
The Minister goes on to say, “The president I know is President Goodluck Jonathan …” This could mean the Minister is completely oblivious of Nigerian history or cynically one might be persuaded to suggest this was blatantly currying favour since he is minister at the pleasure of the President.
He concludes the citation by saying, “… and the president I know that is bringing good luck to me and to Nigerians is President Goodluck Jonathan.” Is that all? You ask.
The President is honoured in a shameless display of sickening sycophancy as a fawning minister is innocuously 'bribing' the President to maintain his post by flattering the President and appealing to his ego, building graven images of district renaming like we have returned to the Babylonian times of King Nebuchadnezzar.
The Court of Goodluck I
We sometimes forget we are in a democracy and we operate like an absolute monarchy because it can only be the reason why a Shaykh kanti Aiki Ibrahim Zuru has a calling card with the title Loyalist to His Excellency, Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan (GCFR).
Obtained from a tweet by @Seedorf with thanks.

This whole charade of leadership in Nigeria is playing out like the Court of Goodluck I where patronage is rife and obsequiousness that can provoke extreme emesis is the norm, as for corruption, that is the currency of the gaining audience with the potentate whose name might soon be emblazoned on anything that can be named or renamed just before our prayer beads are replaced with the mini-busts of Goodluck Jonathan.
Impunity without a care
To crown it all, the Nigerian Senators who receive 350% of their annual basic salaries as car loans payable over 6 years at the annual interest rate of 4% were given cars [3] all same at additional cost of N1.3 billion to the public purse on the premise that they will be used for committee activities. It is illegal and criminal but impunity is the name of the game and accountability is as unAfrican as let’s say homosexuality.
We cannot be sentenced to this travesty of a democracy which is in fact fawning kleptocrats at the head of an unconscionable kakistocracy – Nigeria deserves a lot better than all this.
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