Friday 29 March 2013

Ìrírí - How our brotherly love could have blossomed

Pre-term brothers
Just a few minutes ago, I ended a conversation with my father that took us down memory lane with comparisons of realities of life that left me in surprise and shock bordering on rage.
There were many stories but the one I never knew was about my half-brother who before he received a given name experienced the misfortune of being born into an avoidable situation exacerbated by systemic failures in Nigeria.
My half-brother and I were born over 40 years apart, in literally similar circumstances but in different lands. We were both prematurely born, he arrived at just over 7 months, I arrived in 6 and a half months, somehow, we were delivered in maternity homes without facilities to cater for the prematurely born that we had to be moved to better equipped hospitals and that is where our stories begin to diverge.
Our separate lives
On the cold morning in 1965, after I was born, arrangements were made to move me to a major city hospital where as my father recounted to me, I had all the hallmarks of royal treatment – spacious, well-ventilated room, with nurses and medical personnel at my beck and call, I did not lack for care, comfort or succour – I am 47.
My half-brother, let’s call him Ìrírí (Yoruba for experience) was born in Ibadan which at one time was famed to be the largest city in Africa along with many firsts.
He was rushed to University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan the premier teaching hospital in Nigeria where a philanthropist had previously donated 6 incubators to the Paediatric Unit to cater for premature birth.
Five of six, down
Ìrírí arrived to find that five of the incubators were out of commission but was fortunate for a few hours to have the only functioning incubator temporarily vacated for him to at least have a fighting chance to lay claim on a Nigeria of our dreams.
However, alternative arrangements had to be made for Ìrírí, so when he had stabilised, the decision was made to transfer him to an incubator installed in the private practice of one of the UCH consultants, also in Ibadan.
Ìrírí made it to that practice but at the same time, he became an everyday Nigerian at the mercy of too many things out his control. The incubator was vacant and available but the public electricity supply was down and as if fate had colluded to deprive Ìrírí of an inalienable right, the backup electricity supply could not be provided because the generators will not start.
Ìrírí rests
So, Ìrírí mustered all the strength he had to survive, he wriggled and writhed, panted for breath, desperately hoped that his heart will hold out and many other organs that were not fully developed for earthly experience strained at the limits of their ability without the support they all needed – after trying so hard, they decided this earthly experience was not worth it.
There, Ìrírí drew his last breath bidding the earth farewell but leaving a most indelible mark on the lives he has touched for the short while of just about 36 hours that he was with us – over 40 years after Akin was born in England, Ìrírí could not survive similar circumstances in an independent Nigeria in its 6th decade.
Time, manner and place
Then my father drew comparisons between Ìrírí and myself; as a poor student just about to take up a job in a sorting office for Christmas, I was born just 2 days after they had moved house, my mother’s labour probably brought on by the stress of moving house, I had the best of facilities provided at no cost at the behest of the government and here I stand.
Back in our home country of Nigeria, everything had to be paid for and it made no difference to the outcome, the experience was harrowing, the prognosis was dire and either as a microcosm or snapshot of the Nigerian experience, the short life of Ìrírí exemplifies so many things that are just not right with Nigeria.
The premier teaching hospital in the country had 5 out of 6 donated incubators out of commission, this does touch the matter of pre-existing incubators or what might have caused a philanthropist to make those donations.
Murder by proxy
Then the matter of usage and maintenance that led to the failure of the incubators that none of the management thought it prudent to either seek new funding from the donor or go on a fund-raising drive which contributed to the murder-by-proxy of Ìrírí.
I do wonder what the philanthropist would have felt if he learnt that the equipment he donated to the hospital had fallen into disrepair that the purposes for which the incubators were acquired could no more be served.
Then think of the many like my dear Ìrírí whose experience of this world was truncated by a system that serves nothing but rank incompetence, mismanagement, corruption, malfeasance and worse.
It ought not to be so, but that is one of the realities of Nigeria today.
Dear Ìrírí, Rest in peace, my half-brother, Nigeria did not deserve you.

Tuesday 26 March 2013

Thought Picnic: Your Local Website is a Global Shop Window

You are out there
I fear that many businesses that have a web presence are missing out on an essential bit of public relations that is well beyond their control.
Beyond the presentation facade, there is the experience and the opinion dimension that has now become integral to the product.
If you are an airline, a hotel or an outfit that offers services, develops products or even compares things, activities and circumstances, you are now at the mercy of the real life views which can be anything from seriously positive to downright negative, the matter of honesty is a variable that is indeterminate, it is taken on trust.
You cannot choose your audience
In the first instance, except where the establishment decides to restrict viewing by filtering or challenge/response engagement, any website, no matter where uploaded and regardless of the expertise of the designer has global scrutiny.
The traffic from outside your locality might not be great, but be assured that it is viewable by all. When I look at my blog, it has a Netherlands registered URL, I am resident in the UK, I write about personal and activist issues in my locality and in relation to my heritage which is partly Nigerian but I get the largest audience from China, then the United States, followed by Norway, the United Kingdom comes 4th, the Netherlands 7th and Nigeria 10th.
I cannot explain why the greatest interest in my blog comes from those locations and I cannot control the access that this audience has to my opinions.
You local website is a global shop window
I make this point because I feel that many Nigerian websites of the government, educational institutions, businesses and much else fail to recognise that their audience is well beyond the myopic confines of who they traditionally think will visit their websites.
This morning, I found myself commenting about the website of a premier Nigerian University, the first observation was though it provided a unique service, the design was poor and the copy was full of spelling errors.
In my view, that was just unforgivable, one expects a tertiary academic institution to apply itself to rigour, correctness and exactness. For a university of that standard not to exploit the services of its languages departments and proofread copy before publication is just beyond belief.
It behoves one to ask, if out of interest in Nigeria for all the good that is known of the country some prospective student were seeking admission or some organisation wanted to bestow a chair the first view of the university being the website shoddily presented will lose the university custom long before the prospects are given the opportunity to explore further – we do not have the attention spans to maintain interest after the disappointment of avoidable sloppiness.
We assess and discriminate better
Then to hotels or other services, forums on the web all seem to come with easy access to review and critique based on experience. Between mood, fairness and honest opinion, by the time a few reviews are read you get a good idea of the product, the service, the people, the ambience and immediately come to some conclusion as to whether you want to use that service or not.
Whilst price can be a differentiator, it is hardly the main variable in the decision making process, there is no point going to an affordable place if you will be treated with contempt and levity, you want to be able to shop with a sense of security.
One discriminating factor I used in choosing a hotel recently was that for the same price point in 5 places only one offered the option to cancel with charge, some were charging up-front with the option to cancel and one even had a non-refundable no-cancellation policy – all for the same price – I chose the most flexible option for my security, safety and convenience – I will never trade those variables off if I could help it.
The reviews make all the difference
When it comes to mobile applications, we are met with choices that are never fully explained but in the experiences of others – more 5-stars than 1-stars and you think it is probably a good product, equal stars for the top and bottom rating, you try to find out why it excites such divergence passions and wonder if your experience will be for the better or the worse. Too many low ratings and you just don’t waste your time trying to be a charitable user of what everyone hates.
At the same time, you can control all the levers before you are exposed to ridicule; this requires planning, consideration, service, responsiveness and proactive remediation, this will always eventually boost rankings or ratings, leave any of these to lie fallow and your business will be pulled down by the negative – you cannot afford to have a stubborn resolve even if you are the only show in town – people will find something else to do than suffer your service for a second.
Think well about what your product is, what your service is, work on customer satisfaction and make sure your web page is an honest portrayal of what you do because nothing irks a customer more than to be lied to.

Monday 25 March 2013

Thought Picnic: Contemporary Remote Viewing

See afar
My day is upset by the irregularity of agendas and purpose. Technology has made the world a smaller place and in the process robbed us of the day cycle because centralisation means that people way outside your time zone will place demands on your services and expertise to resolve their local issues.
We have now become modern-day remote viewers from the ability to remotely access systems to divining from accumulated logs the circumstances, status and situations that brought about a failure or a success.
Divining and prophesying
Sat at our screens completely squinty-eyed we peer, we think, we dispute and we discuss the issues with peers and not so peers, all this does not include the politics of management who what to know what is going on without exactly being interested in why it all happened – they have schedules and you simply have to recall you half-serviced crystal ball from Madam Silvera the medium and come up with answers that present even more questions you don’t have answers to yet.
The follow-the-sun myth has been reworked into being in one location and using working shifts to reach to the West and to the East, taking its toll because putting a shift into the day is not really compensated for in recovery time to adjust your body clock or biorhythms.
A shifted day
The day ends late, it means there is no sense in waking up early for breakfast or any of those chores, but if you are naturally an early riser who gets by on just about 4 to 5 hours of slee,p you can to be sure to need some sort of tonic if the mundane occupies most of your day before the rush and the panic sets in from afar.
The honest truth is, there is no particular productivity gain in this arrangement apart from bending to every whim of the Project Manager who can at times be aware and readily oblivious of the issues you have to deal with from the technical which can be quite easy to the people who God bless them have to communicate what they can see and experience in languages they hardly speak – none of us here are polyglots except in the multitude of words of our mother tongues and lover’s tongues – if you have bitten on one.
For order to the wonder
Besides, the devil is in the detail and there is an ongoing obsession to bring order to the chaos, I feel like those early days of Internet chatting when we all exchange pictures of each other like new-age pen-pals only that everyone labelled their pictures ME.GIF; by the time you have got 100 ME.GIF files, you are no better than someone collecting pebbles or sea shells from the beach – fun it might seem at the time but lacking in distinction or discrimination.
The novelty soon wears off and drudgery creeps upon you like slime with a life of its own to engulf and suffocate you to death.
It isn't really that bad, you get there and at the end of the day, whatever you have achieved is fulfilment enough to make tomorrow another day, if you can find it in you to just switch off after work.

Thursday 21 March 2013

Thought Picnic: Political regain from office pain

Wants and needs
It was like entering a bazaar of the bizarre. My engagement extended just a few weeks ago had someone asking if I still required the privileges I had to do what I was brought in to do.
Immediately, I replied ensuring my manager was copied in that the privileges are essential to fulfilling my role – that should have been the end of the story.
Apparently, that was not the case, as the week began, I noticed that certain ordinary things I was once able to do, I could do no more.
Lose to lost
Sometimes you ignore the little issues because at the time, the situation is not as significant as to warrant further investigation, some other things I needed to do, I could do all because I was still registered with the environment.
However, yesterday, I decided to check why exactly a restriction came into place only to find out that literally all my privileges had been revoked without notification.
This is the sort of unnecessary frustration of activity and productivity that one sometimes encounters in the workplace that it borders on an atrocity.
Find the wind
Usually, on occasions like this, you settle into forensic mode, obtain earlier requests, approved implementations and compare those with the current state of play before the matter gets escalated up the chain for a speedy resolution.
Speedy it had to be, but not before the email church of scores of meaningless power plays that fail to grasp what needs to get done until someone up there bellows and suddenly there is someone to assume responsibility to resolve the issue with alacrity.
Just two hours later, things seemed to return to normal but it would tempting fate to want to determine the how and why of the loss of my privileges apart from the apparent lack of processes to ensure that such events do not happen willy-nilly.
Room to bloom
Where you find you are about to fume and fulminate, you take 10 sharp breaths, type with consideration without letting go of the piece of your mind you desperately want to express and allow the system to adjust itself as the responsibility chain that depends on your services sorts out the politics to get the technical issues resolved.
As you drum the desk with your fingers, don’t forget that you are still charging for the time you have been made idle by forces within the organisation that should have been facilitating your greater productivity.

Monday 18 March 2013

Thought Picnic: Thoughts to Decline

Thoughts to decline
Every once in a while in the quiet of my world a thought of dissatisfaction crosses my mind. It usually comes as a bundle cracked open to reveal a dissatisfaction with where I am, what I have done, how I am doing, things I have left undone and other issues that seem to want the attention I have not yet found time to handle.
One must not let the thoughts linger giving depression the seed and ground to germinate. More often than not, I remember there is much more to be grateful for than I can ever fully fathom.
Thoughts to espouse
That is enough to banish thoughts of ingratitude and seething anger for a sense of appreciation for the blessings, good fortune, provenance and luck that has come my way even when I have been the least deserving of all of that.
Things may never be perfect, but I am always nearer a sense of fulfilment than the foreboding of catastrophe and like I have said many times before, life is for living and I had better start living it well, after cancer, you cannot afford the cancer of dissatisfaction to rob you of the will to not just to survive but to thrive too.
The first step to happiness is acceptance, contentment, thankfulness and calm – what can be taken care of will be taken care of and what if beyond me should be beyond bothering me. 

Wednesday 13 March 2013

Thought Picnic: Aborting peristalsis

A lunch-time malfunction
Suddenly caught within the travails of thought, taste, smell and food which was triggered at lunch this afternoon.
I had ordered beef stroganoff and rice, at the time of the service, it appeared the rice was hot, or maybe the plate was hot because I was getting uncomfortable as I stood at the till to pay as the till broke down.
I settled at the table and spooned the first and second mouthful at which point the mechanics of peristaltic movement seized to function, a massive paper-jam, in my throat.
Tearful choking
I took a few sips of my drink with the hope of eventually easing the blockage without much success; I could breathe but at the same time I was choking.
At which point, I had to run out unto the patio where all I could cough up was the drink, but the choke was still painfully there, I was already in great discomfort and in tears, my colleague that the table completely oblivious of what I had suffered.
Another drink of water did not help, as the time-out for regular peristalsis loomed, the process of ingestion could not be completed, I had to run out again and every that had gone in was seen again as the natural had been aborted for survival – Relief, but that was the end of lunch, I could not believe how much that experience had exhausted me, I was tempted to end the day at work.
Much, much later
Hungry as I was, the next intake I had was some tea about an hour after that, then two pygmy bananas before I returned to my hotel with the hope for supper.
The entrée of taramasalata and warm flat breads went down well but the main course after the second bite suddenly went off to my taste and with the collusion of my memory and my thinking exciting a feeling of nausea, I was in the gents the next minute and that was the end of dinner – I can only wonder what the whole problem was before I begin to worry.
Should I be bothered?
In the first instance, I could surmise that the rice was not really as hot as the plate felt and that could have the tendency of choking you but the event 8 hours after left me more concerned than it was comfortable to be.
One needs to see what tomorrow brings before panic sets in, puréed food or a liquid diet – let’s not go there yet.

Sunday 10 March 2013

Thought Picnic: What a trip

Navigating to Jupiter
I arrived at my hotel this evening first being worried about something I might have misplaced with the hope of finding in a day or two but worse still was the 10 mile journey from Chester.
Usually, when I get a taxi, the driver has a good idea of where to go and only once before have I had to give the driver the post code because he needed the aid of the satellite navigator (SatNav) to get to our destination.
By now, I have a good idea of the route and if I keep aware of my surroundings, I can tell if we are somewhat off-course.
So, I told the driver where I was going and he asked for the post code which I had to call the hotel for, he keyed it into his SatNav as it is called for short and there began this amazing journey.
Strange turns in wild places
I noticed he took an unusual turn and then he turned back because he had missed a turn, he said he was following the shortest route according to the SatNav, I wasn’t impressed, as I said he could easily have taken the dual carriageway and turned off – I was about to grab the edge of my seat.
At a T-Junction he drove on the right to turn right and then before we knew it, we were on a dirt road, forded a stream, passed between a walled avenue with barely enough space the cab to pass through, bumpy and disconcerting, I could only wonder if I had gotten into a cab to some eerie place never to return to civilisation again.
This was not helped by the fact that it was dark, cold, remote, quiet and we were strangers, it was not one of situations where you would have shouted out to the driver, “Stop! Already, or I’ll call the police.”
Not short by half
Between the urge to panic with hysteric abandon and the adventure of navigating the Welsh back roads to oblivion and beyond, I kept my cool until the side road came out unto a road more familiar to me – I knew, that even in the broadest daylight, it wasn’t something I would have ventured.
Anyway, we arrived at the hotel and though the route might have been shorter according to the SatNav, it still came to the same price – it made no difference.
The driver came to open the door almost too aware of my unexpressed displeasure when he offered a reduction from the metered price, I was not about to take the generosity without an opinion.
Who are these people?
So, I told him, the last time I had a back road safari like that in the dark was probably too far gone in my memory to remember, my nerves frayed already as if I could do with a stiff drink, I stepped out took my bags into the hotel to be met with new faces everywhere – Hotel California?
No, Mother’s Day had more staff hired and it so happens that the regulars were away or off duty, it was not until my bags in storage were brought to my room before I saw a familiar face – if I learnt anything, you cannot live in a parallel universe, the difference will be too disconcerting to be healthy or peaceful.
I’ll rather stick to the usual route no matter how long it is and see the people I am most familiar with in a hotel that I have stayed in for the past 8 weeks.

Thought Picnic: Earning the Pryce of Revenge in England

England reveals you
Mr. Justin Bieber and his entourage that includes a management team that failed to manage the fallibilities of a pop-star turning into an adult with a fan-base that remains majorly a horde of delirious frenzied kids, might have left the country.
I have no particular dislike for the young man nor can I recognise any of his songs apart from the monotonous Baby that I could not listen to beyond the first minute before I felt like committing hari-kari.
However, England has a way of upending people, there is still a culture and expectation amongst us that foreigners fail to appreciate that they run afoul of all too quickly, Mitt Romney comes to mind.
Help this boy
Earlier, I had expressed utter disdain for the way he traipsed around London with his trousers sagging closer to his ankles than his hips, he deigned to appear literally two hours late, depending on who you believe on a school night for what was essentially a children’s party and then he had a run in with the paparazzi that Justin Bieber suddenly became Justin Bleeper for the expletives that were bleeped out in their encounter.
Walk away, he should have but his exuberance got the better of him and that became the news, that between the sympathy for collapsing on stage, going to hospital, growing older and the other issues as trying to get the under-aged into clubs for his birthday amongst many other things – one can easily suggest his management team be given the pink slip without delay.
Hell receives two new guests
As the saying goes, “Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” we have seen the intoxicating power of revenge and vindictiveness that it consumes all concerned without respite or mercy.
Chris Huhne, a successful businessman turned politician and member of the cabinet not too many moons ago, took his eyes off his wife of 26 years, Vicky Pryce and laid them on his assistant – all hell broke loose and what had been a marital secret with all the little things many will rather not get aired publicly became headline material.
Apparently, Chris has a penchant for putting his foot down hard, well, on the accelerator and cameras littering English roads seem to get excited at ordinary men playing Formula 1 games on our roads, the licence plate number is captured and a little research reveals who the car belongs to – a fine, some points on your licence and maybe a custodial sentence can slow you down to a grinding halt.
A virtuous wife
10 years ago, Chris was caught but he had accumulated enough points to lose his licence if he admitted to his folly, so out of the intricacies of marital God-knows-what, Vicky, the apparently careful driver, vicariously took the points that should have gone to Chris – a virtuous wife who laid down her honour for her husband or as she claims a wife badgered and coerced to do something against her will, her determination and resolve was raped.
So Chris announced to Vicky that he was leaving her, Vicky in her own right is a very successful economist decided all gloves were off and set out to teach her soon-to-be ex-husband a lesson by revealing this secret marital arrangement to the papers, conversations and emails on the matter are quite interesting, thereby ruining Chris’ career, livelihood, fatherly engagement and earning him a conviction that would most likely include jail time.
Oh Vicky, what have you done?
However, in revealing this Vicky had a fight on her hands too, to be able prove that she also did not pervert the course of justice – after one failed trial and another speedy trial, Vicky will most likely head for the slammer too, she might even end up serving longer than Chris in prison – two lives ruined just because one could not walk away.
The irony of this whole saga is that Vicky is now in another relationship with a politician who also had to resign his seat after admitting he submitted false expense claims. Obviously, I will not attempt to draw any conclusions as to the kind of woman Vicky is or the kind of men she attracts; though I am caught between careless and unfortunate.
Into a book of fables
This is no doubt one of the extreme cases where vengeance becomes a black hole, the vortex of which sucks everything into the pit of hell. In other cases, break-ups that have partners denying each other support, parental privileges and other unnecessarily hurtful things that make us less of the people we are or are able to be.
Sometimes you wonder about how people who sometime ago entered into the contract of holy matrimony with all the fanfare, happiness and I dare say, love - after the passage of time and drifting apart that they need to go separate ways turn out to be so bent on destroying each other – they, rather than cherish the memories of the good times they had together, they obliterate everything in the heat of the moment as if that can compensate for anything.
Many newspapers did not need much inspiration to come up with the headline – The Pryce of Revenge – this must go down in the annals of history as a fable and a lesson – If he/she don’t want you no more, walk away and live your life.
Vengeance is mine, always
As if we were not warned before, this is what the Holy Book says; “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” KJV – Romans 12:19
Much as Chris should not have stepped on it trying Formula 1 tricks on English roads, Vicky should not have attempted to step into the Lord’s big shoes.

Saturday 9 March 2013

Thought Picnic: Of restaurants that upset the peace of the belly

Service matters
I am usually one to sing the praises of a restaurant if I both enjoyed my meal and the service both of which are very important to me regardless of cost.
Where the meal has been very good and the service leaving much to be desired, in fact, to be honest, the service for me is part of the meal, it is the spice, enhancing the aroma, giving the right ambience making it all worthwhile.
Paris is somewhat known for atrociously rude waiters, they have their moods but for me, many things are evident, I walked into the restaurant of my own volition and I am paying; it means I will not take aggro with my food and I can so easily drop my napkin on the table and walk out.
I once called a French waiter aside and told him, “If you are not happy with us being here, we’ll leave, we don’t take aggro with our food and honestly, I don’t care for his manner.”
I can be generous but do not create an atmosphere where the only tip you get is best for the tip, my leftovers after I could stomach no more.
Wait a bit before praise
Last weekend, we searched out a nice Brazilian restaurant in the West-End, good food, good music, an ethnic feel and amazing company, however, before I could get to my keyboard to write about it, having all decided we will all return at a later date, I was already feeling queasy and queer with the evidence of an unfortunate mishap, by the morning, everyone had a story – we know that only the bravest of the most foolhardy of us will return for second helpings of that experience.
Now, one can only imagine the glee of those who might just have secured a table at Copenhagen’s Noma which gastronomic buffs have awarded the superfluous, if not hoity-toity title of the World’s Best Restaurant for three years running.
That far North?
Denmark? It does beggar belief to me because I belong to the school of thought that the further away you are from the equator the less bright colours your local food has, something to do with nature, weather and local agriculture – but now the world is a much smaller place than when spices travelled by clipper from the East Indies, you can find global foods anywhere there is means to convey its freshness or preserved state to some other place.
In any case, having ate, drank and been merry, 67 out of 78 patrons that flaunted their bookings apparently either saw their meals again or had it run out of them with great discomfort, they had picked up the Norovirus in the world’s best restaurant, one can only think that the meal would have been as memorable as it would have been forgettable – what an experience.
What goes out came in
The Norovirus could well be unpalatably referred to as the shit-virus, at the great risk of being crude, it derives from faecal matter – perish the thought, you say – there? Yes, even best restaurants are, well...
To compound the matter, the visit of the authorities into the kitchen and the office showed a number of hygiene shortcomings and probably an apparent lack of responsiveness to complaining customers due to the hubris of status – the restaurant is too busy being the best that it conveniently delivered the worst after-dinner experience to the diners – any wise setup will quickly bake and eat humble pie and keep a very low profile on being the best at delivering strange food and not being concerned about it.
Beware that your great repute does not leave you less caring about the smallest things that can bring great grief to more than one.

Wednesday 6 March 2013

Bisi Alimi: Please Vote for 2013 People's Choice Winner: Asylum - Bisi

The emotion is palpable
I am literally moved to tears with great emotion anytime I watch this short film, the episode of New Dawn with Funmi in 2004 on Nigerian television where a young man Bisi Alimi came out as a gay man during a daytime live broadcast.
The event changed the lives of these people, Funmi Iyanda’s show was taken off-air the next day and Bisi Alimi came within inches of being murdered in Nigeria.
Things ought not to be so, but that is the kind of society that led Bisi Alimi to flee Nigeria and gain asylum for himself in the United Kingdom.
A man of great conviction
Since then, Bisi Alimi has been a vocal and efficacious activist for the rights of gay black men, their access to services and treatments and finding a platform from which gay black men can be proud to be who they are and live without fear or threat to their lives, contributing to society as any good citizen.
Bisi Alimi is in great demand to speak around the world not only on his experiences but on policy, advocacy, human rights and other socio-economic factors that affect gay men of colour all around the world.
He has met representatives and heads of government in Europe, Africa and the Americas challenging people to think different, get involved and speak up for rights, fairness and justice – he is an amazing, jovial, friendly and wonderful human-being – you cannot but be touched by his force of personality which is for good and for right.
Please Vote
This story is told in a documentary entered for the PBS Online Film Festival - Episode: 2013 Festival | Asylum - Bisi
I ask you to watch the film and vote for it here to become the 2013 People’s Choice Winner.
Thank you.

Tuesday 5 March 2013

Nigeria: MegaNet Resource Limited isn't getting better at this

Address the improper tithe
The MegaNet Resource Limited (MRL) saga continues as changes are made to their website and more emails come into my possession with atrocious grammar and excuses that still do not address some of the fundamental questions I asked in my first blog.
For all that MegaNet Resource Limited has written to date; they have not touched on this particular portion of their original letter.
Note that, there will be a reduction of 10% of your salary for the first month which will be in a written agreement between you and MegaNet Resource Limited, after that you will have no business with us.
A justification cannot be found
I am yet to understand the reason and justification for filching the tithe of the applicant’s first month’s salary and whether the clients that have presumably engaged MRL are aware of this arrangement made as part of the contractual process of engaging new employees.
This arrangement is not only improper, it is reprehensible and no organisation should be party to having recruitment agents dip into the salaries of new recruits as the compensation for recruitment services.
A strange medical
I am still not happy with the idea that applicants need to pay up front for a medical before consideration when what should happen is that applicants first get a provisional offer subject to passing a medical examination wherein the offer becomes substantive leading to a probationary period of work that might include inductions and training.
As for the latest letter to come into my possession I will suggest MegaNet Resource Limited find another language for business in which they can be grammatically correct and plausibly coherent, this is a shame.
An “English” letter?
From: MegaNet Resource Ltd
Date: Sat, 2 Mar 2013 06:50:55 +0100
Subject: Chat Rescheduleing
Dear Applicant,
Your recent chat invitation with the HRM of MegaNet Resources Limited has been rescheduled to 5th March 2013 (Tuesday) as a result of the questions and answers that arouse from the invited applicants that was were selected for a CHAT with the HRM in other order to verify the credibility of the company/job due to the FACT that a N2, 200 (Medical Fee) was imposed on them.
We are a Human Resources Consulting Organization with RC 1523321. Our head office is located at 26, Church Rd [Which I note is once again different from 26, Alagomeji Street, Church Rd. And different from the address that was there yesterday – can these people get anything right?], Ikorodu Lagos State. We recruits for banks and Industries Nation Wide, but right now we are recruiting for Unilever Nigeria Plc.
A questionable ploy, still
The reason why the N2, 200 Medical fee was imposed on you is for a Medical Test that is compulsory we carried out on every qualified Applicant we are to post to Unilever Nigeria Plc. and the money can’t be paid at the venue because Unilever does send an investigative panel to monitor the recruitment exercise and we wouldn't like a situation whereby they will think we are extorting money from applicants. The purpose of this chat is to screen the original copyies of your credentials before being posted.
Under normal circumstances, you are supposed to be given a written test then an interview follows, but due to the urgency of the request of for staff from Unilever Nigeria Plc we couldn’t achieve this that is why your CV/NYSC certificate was randomly screen regionally and an invitation was sent to 40 qualified 40 applicant Nation Wide knowing full well that as a Nigerian Graduate you will be able to cope with since an in house training that will be giving given to you.
Therefore, if you are one of those that was selected I will advise you to pay your medical fee and follow all instructions been giving being given to you oin the previous invitation letter to enable us to complete the recruitment process. It’s for your good and ours.
Yours Faithfully,
Dorcas Bode
Sec. [Now the secretary has upended the Human Resources Manager?]
Bunglers beyond belief
After all the blogs I have written about MegaNet Resource Limited and the actions they have taken to-date, we can safely say they are bunglers of the first order, unprofessional to a fault and incapable of paying attention to meticulous and essential detail.
We met here with a situation where a company that may well be genuine has operated on the fringes of legality that it is almost impossible not to consider their speciality scamming.
When I compare they are doing to the activities of a similar but better organised recruitment activity by TrippleLink Global Solutions Limited who are organisers of the National Recruitment Fair 2013, MegaNet Resource Limited plays charlatan without dispute.
Pages, charges and videos
That is not to say I do not have some issues with the TrippleLink enterprise considering they have a website that has no detail of their business especially no indication of their Upcoming Events.
If you are going to put a webpage up as a business, make sure it promotes what you do rather than show your business practices as sloppy, uninspired and amateurish.
They will also be charging N3000 for applicants to attend, however, that would be for conference materials and other needs at the fair.
Then as we pay tribute to the inferiority complex that so easily impresses us of foreign things, they published a YouTube video that includes a Text-to-Speech voiceover with an American accent. Shame on them.
The MegaNet Blogs

Nigeria: MegaNet Resource Limited and Flights of Fancy

If what we end up doing with regards to MegaNet Resources Ltd (MRL) is force it to stop operating like a scam outfit that it polishes up its act to start operating like a professional recruitment services company, then we would have achieved something for the business landscape in Nigeria.
Besides that, it will become a greater benefit for MRL in the long run and we who have scrutinised, criticised and excoriated their practices can come to a point where we might deign to praise it as the most improved Nigerian recruitment firm by reason of social media activism, but we are a long, long way from that prospect.
What I find interesting is that since we published our misgivings about MRL, they have begun to put up a web presence and started to answer some questions, many of which I say are quite unsatisfactory, but these are early days yet. I have time for this matter and I will devote time to it.
Meganet Resource(s) Limited
In the 3rd of March 2013, a week after my blog, they launched a website, a blog where they have attempted to present a professional front that looks like props of a desperate outfit fighting for some respectability.
Apparently, as they claim, they have been in business since 2009 and are involved in Staff Management, Professional Resourcing, Talent Management and Fleet Management services.
Herein is my confusion, is it MegaNet Resource Limited (singular) which appeared 4 times in the original email that brought on my first blog about this outfit being a scam or MegaNet Resources Limited (plural) which now appears on the website and it makes you wonder how the Human Resources Manager (HRM) could have gotten the name of his company wrong 4 times in addressing applicants.

Then, I only had two comments to my original blog which were addressed in a following blog, however, agents and/or clients of MRL have been more active on this blog, claiming MRL is a genuine business concern and threatening the writer of that blog for making them lose an opportunity for a job prospect.
Address to no place
My second problem is with the Contact Details – They claim to have this address –
MegaNet Resources Limited.
Church Rd. Alagomeji Street,
Ikorodu, Lagos.
P.O Box 67430,
Lagos State.

According to comments in the other blog, MRL is based in Ikorodu town which is to the East of the Lagos metropolis but I have a problem getting my head round “Church Road, Alagomeji Street”, a road on a street, anyway, let us not belabour a point, I can only find Church Street, Ikorodu on Google Maps, all the other permutations of Church, Alagomeji, Road and Street do not seem to have been documented by Google Maps for Ikorodu town.
Then they claim to have a Post Office Box, but no letter will arrive here because a letter has to arrive at a post office box at a particular locality, the way that address is written, it is not referring to a post office box in Ikorodu town or in the sprawling metropolis of Lagos but in Lagos State.
You have to ask if they hired idiots to do this. How can a business not be able to present its visiting address and postal address in a sensible coherent fashion that does not make it look suspicious? These are charlatans whose every attempt at gaining respectability exposes them as worse, they should have kept their peace.
Who is touching you up?
Next, they provide a reason for why they are charging for the medical examination which they say is compulsory. Their words: “The N2,200 is for a Medical Examination that is compulsory we carried out on every qualified Applicant we are to post to our client company and the money can’t be paid at the venue because some of our client company do send an investigative panel to monitor the recruitment exercise and we wouldn't want a situation whereby they will think we are extorting money from applicant. The purpose of this chat is to screen the original copy of your credentials before being posted.”
I will not bother myself with grammatical corrections but if their client checks to ensure they are not extorting money from the applicant, does the client known that the applicant signs away 10% of their first month’s salary as part of the chat where original copies of credentials are examined? Whose account is that 10% paid into?
MD, we need you now
The moneys are paid into the HRM’s account because, “Is for easy access of fund to pay our medical expert because the MD is not around at the moment to sign a cheque for withdrawal of fund from the company's A/C and the request of staff from our client company is very urgent.
This is interesting because it makes you wonder of the medical expert who might well not be a qualified medical doctor will be touching up people as if to give them a clean bill of health or even fail them and still walk away handsomely rewarded.
This should be a business to business transaction; the reputation of MRL should be such that the medical expert knows they will get their money from the company because whenever the Managing Director returns, all bills will be made good.
The more I look at it; even charlatans running an outfit on a shoestring will probably do a better job. Should there not be signatories to the company account and why does it not involve the accountant? Too many questions arise as to how MRL is run and by whom.
Again, from what I said at the beginning, Meganet Resources Limited has a long way to go for its activities to be viewed as professional, their rather limp effort leaves much to be desired. I am not out to get MRL but an organisation that fails to get its house in order will be a subject of public ridicule.
Do I think MegaNet Resource(s) Limited is a scam? – It looks like one, it operates like one and I have not been convinced it isn’t one. 

Sunday 3 March 2013

Thought Picnic: Of Justin Bieber in London with that look

Now, apparently, a Mr Justin Bieber has been on a UK tour, having been in Manchester the week before when I was up there and then in London as the weekend rolled in.
I do not particularly care for his kind of music but I have seen the female folk swoon and squeal with glee at his appearance and performance that I can quite patently say I do not want whatever they are on to make them see whatever they are seeing or hear whatever they are hearing.
Then again, for the kind of music the young man purveys, he has become rather financially successful and some credit for his upbringing should go to his tenacious mum, Pattie Mallette whose intrusion into the public sphere has now included her sententiously religious opinions about abortion.
He turned 19 on the 1st of March and he allegedly was staying at The Langham London which along with its luxurious opulence will not be lacking in the class and grace of a decent gourmet restaurant, however, the dear boy thought he might have a kebab instead, we cannot for now vouch for what kind of meat might be on the skewer with the food industry horsing around on pigs and cows that we might just be racing camels at the Grand National if all the horses enter the food chain.
One should not begrudge the man the need for something less exquisite, the presence of means does suddenly accrue to good bearing and exemplary mien, these things cannot be brought and only so much can be taught.
It turns out that he left the hotel topless and what a body he appears to have but the low-hanging trousers exposing the full complement of his underwear must be the lowest expression of oafish conduct I have seen since I last told some boys on an Amsterdam shopping street to pull up their trousers and stop assaulting and outraging public decency with cack-ridden slips.
Every picture captured of the boy, because it does not become a man to be in such a state of undignified exposure, rankles with revulsion that makes one give up the hope of rescuing a fashion victim that has no doubt become a fashion suicide.
The worst bit of this display of gaol fashion that was attributed to men in prison who allowed themselves this demonstration to suggest they were available to be used as sex objects is the many others who will model their slouching gait and backside exposure tendencies after this Justin Bieber enterprise which should attract much excoriation and opprobrium.
If my life had taken another course, a 19-year old kid would probably have been a 3rd or 4th child and I cannot see how regardless of situation, circumstance or peer pressure where any of my children would have been allowed to walk the streets inappropriately dressed to fit in with a nominally uncouth culture and appearance.
Being proper and properly attired is a matter of breeding, class and comportment without having to be dependent on means.
At this point, if there were occasion to warrant a cacophonous imposition on my aural faculties of this man’s crooning croaks my estimation of this very successful man who William Shakespeare would have effusively praised by saying, “You show yourself highly fed and lowly taught,” would not move one to find the slightest respect for his standing.
You only have to see the pictures to understand where I am coming from.

Saturday 2 March 2013

Thought Picnic: How Do They Launder Demons?

You cannot make this up
Pat Robertson the American Televangelist says the darndest things that makes people think he had been quaffing psychedelic drugs in place of breathing air for oxygen.
It is then not surprising that he then attracts even the most unspeakably bizarre questions to his 700 Club show, his responses are sometimes impossible to watch creating a cringe-worthy sense of unease and queasiness that leaves you all so queer.
Recently, he had to answer a question about second-hand clothes being possibly inhabited by demons, of course, the idea was not originally his, but by the time he provided anecdotal evidence and the additional commentary, he as good as said clothes can be the residual habitation of demons and something to the effect that demons can reside in inanimate objects.
Get me a Demons for Dummies manual
Now, I am no expert in demonology or the exegesis of exorcism, nor would I suggest that I fully appreciate the manifestations or fantasy of the paranormal that excites the Pentecostal folk to the point that they handle spiritual matters with unusually physical vigour that a typical WWF fixture will not have as much movement or entertainment value.
However, the problem arises when agnosticism takes the place of disbelief; the seed of the questionable has been sown in a mind that conjures much vivid imagination and imagery.
As I was checking out of my hotel yesterday, I usually leave some of my stuff at the hotel over the weekend which means one has to pack wisely.
Demon reproduction
I use the laundry services of the hotel and so imagine my surprise when it looked like I had another suit in the wardrobe that had returned with my clothes some 3 days before.
Yes, a small-sized Burton’s suit had mistakenly been carted back to me and had dissipated its life amongst my clothes for days unbeknownst to me because my laundry is usually returned to my room when I am out. I just assumed everything was fine.
Back to Pat Robertson’s drug-addled theory of demonology and demon estate management you begin to wonder whose demons are cavorting with other demons and whether those I tolerate have been copulating with those of the stranger’s suit – I can’t go on, but you get the drift.
Some people need to be taken off television with immediate effect, I can’t remember if I said my prayers – over the clothes.