Friday 29 January 2016

An appeal: My sister, Feyike is fighting end stage renal disease

My sister, my daughter
One strange evening in a moment of unusual mother and child interaction and that was probably the first and the last for a long time, my mother called me into her room and told me in confidence that she was having a baby at 40.
Until that time, my youngest sibling who is now noticeably obstreperous was already 6 years old.
The arrival of Oluwafeyike was not particularly auspicious for me, I did not attend the naming ceremonies of my last two siblings, besides I was a somewhat problem teenager looking for ways to be away from home and I literally had ceased permanent residency from the age of 10, this was final by the time I was 19.
The almost 17-year gap between us, Feyike or 'our little mummy' as we nicknamed her, had her implicitly as my daughter, though I took no responsibilities at any time to act as overbearing big brother or 'father'.
Many life issues
Soon, I learnt that she had health challenges and she was in and out of hospital, something to do with her kidneys and the body's ability to rid itself of impurities. I was not taken into confidence about most of this detail, I was just expected to play some ill-defined part on fuzzy filial affinity.
With time, medicine and extreme religion on the part of my mother brought some respite, she had seasons of wellness and occasional relapses.
She as the last child and I as the first were preoccupations of my mother, God bless her, as we travelled to temples and grottos, seeing prophets and shamans, engaging in all sorts of rituals to find solutions to first my psychological health problems and then my sister's life-threatening physical health issues.
This she did, running a secondary school, trying a distribution business, raising 6 children and always as it seemed to me, fighting for her marriage from the moment I noticed I had parents.
Where we are now
As a first child, I was privileged in many ways, however, it goes without saying that Feyike as a last child with her attendant condition, was to an extent spoilt.
With a bit of discipline and common-sense actions, her condition could probably have been managed, but we are where we are now, with complications of end stage renal disease and anaemia that will require a kidney transplant.
She ideally should be on dialysis thrice a week, but we can barely afford it once a week. Without the removal of waste products and excess water from her blood, we have had a psychotic episode, difficult to understand until I read up on some of the symptoms of chronic kidney disease.
My appeal
I having once come through cancer, I can well appreciate and understand the seriousness and urgency to find a lasting medical solution to this condition.
Therefore, I am appealing to you all who read this blog in whatever way you can, to help and contribute towards the fund for treatment and kidney transplant that Feyike requires in Nigeria.
The breakdown of costs are as follows:

We have opened a GoFundMe account to receive donations towards her treatment, and your generous donations will be greatly appreciated.
She brings love, fun and joy into our lives and despite her challenges, is well in the prime of her life at 32.
Thank you for your help.
With the kindest regards,
Akin Akintayo.

The accompanying letter from her medical consultant:

Monday 25 January 2016

Thought Picnic: On a journey they cannot understand

Understanding my journey
As I was reviewing my Facebook timeline yesterday, I came a across a quote that I could relate to in every way, with respect to being afflicted and maybe not so much as it reflects on others.
I have paraphrased the quote a bit and having done a search, the providence is unknown.
Not everyone will understand your journey. That's fine. It's not their journey to make sense of. It's yours to live your own life.
My own journey
My journey as a life has been easy at the start, exciting at other times, interesting and intriguing at certain points and I dare say, difficult and challenging in the recent past.
My journey has literally and exclusively been mine even if I have walked part of the way in company or have been helped along to the way to reach the milestones that dot the road to a destination yet unknown.
Many parts of the journey some fully appreciate and other parts people are literally completely clueless, they are the secrets and recesses in life that have happened and become what I usually refer to as the story.
My hidden journey
Most interestingly, the greater part of my journey is literally unknown to my blood relations. For the affinity we might have, the truth is they cannot even begin to understand the difficult and challenging parts of my journey. Where some might have been interested in my journey, they seem to have a path they expect me to ply to a destination they have chosen and hope that I put my vehicle on that road without quibble – one such journey is the one of marriage.
I put paid to that suggestion in one clear statement in a conversation with my dad a few weeks ago, I categorically stated, it is not my life, the vehemence with which I made that statement seemed to both shocked and have effect, but it might well not be the end of that matter.
There were parts of that conversation that felt like checking if my balls had already descended into my ball sack, the ignorance of three decades of this journey will provide accommodation for disrespect and contempt, it comes with the territory.
My private journey
The truth is, the parts of the journey that they even think they know is hardly the journey that was my reality, there are elements of depression and sexual abuse that I have only better understood long after I was a victim in the care and the protection of people assigned to care for us.
However, one journey that has never been understood at all is the one where my life was almost extinguished by cancer in 2009 and the process of losing everything within three years of that.
They might have an inkling, probably an idea, but hardly the knowledge not the experience. It is not like anyone asked the questions that will elicit the responses that will intimate them of the reality of things. Yet, if this knowledge were shared unprompted, it will almost read like a pity party.
My unknown journey
Then again, in my leaving one of my homes, for my homes are many, I probably abandoned them and conversely, I should feel no hurt even when in my hour of need I felt I was somewhat abandoned. A stoicism and desire to chart my own course has always driven most of what I have sought to do and so in my rise and my fall and my rise again, I am just living my own life.
The truth is, they probably will never understand my journey, I do not expect them to understand any part of my journey, but where conflict does arise is where in their journeys which for each individual is unique and different, they forget that as long as you are not walking in the same shoes, on the same road, with the same mind and in the same person as the other, you might catch a glimpse of that journey, but you may still never make sense of that journey.

Sunday 17 January 2016

Nigeria: Don't ignore the Dambazau shoeshiner skit

Surely, this is the past
There was a time one might have mistakenly thought that the time of egotistical megalomania had passed with the exit of the unconscionable kakistocracy that held Nigeria at the throat up until the end of May 2015, but some habits do die hard.
What has come on social media is a video of Nigeria’s Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau enthroned at some function and being waited on by possibly an armed orderly, that some suggest is an officer of Nigeria’s secret police, the State Security Service, who stoops to clean the minister's shoes.
This should never have happened
Now, there is no telling what Abdulrahman Dambazau might have stepped into whilst arriving at this function, but whatever it might have been, he could have easily have found a private place to clean his shoes. Alternatively, since one cannot put it beyond, very important pricks, sorry personalities in Nigeria, he could have travelled with a coterie of assistants that would ensure he had a second pair of everything to hand, just in case there was a need for changes.
One must not rush to judgement on the viewing of the video, yet there is a lot revealing about it that makes one very uncomfortable and rather sad.
A crude alabaster box re-enactment?
As the person approaches and lifts the shodden foot of the ‘honourable’ minister, you notice that apparent indifference of the man, literally paying no regard to the minion who had become the accidental shoeshiner and on cleaning the first shoe, the minister lifts his second foot for a dusting, unperturbed and concentrating on the distant activity that he was invited to attend.
It makes one wonder if this was some crude Nigerian version of the breaking of the alabaster box where an apparently very sinful woman visited Jesus Christ at a function and humbly anointed his feet with expensive perfume wiping his feet with her hair. Whilst some objected to the activity, Jesus fully acknowledged her and blessed her.
There is nothing in this activity to compare the status, the honour, the person or the dignity of Abdulrahman Dambazau to Jesus Christ as to warrant this level of obsequious subservience even if he is a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
Let’s speak up against abuse
Besides, it saddens one that for the fear of men and other breakdowns that lead to the abuse of staff by bosses and employers who corral their staff into activities as highly paid bag-handlers to do menial jobs to burnish their atrocious egos, no one objected and the minister in a moment lacking in empathy and character could not be bothered to show the slightest appreciation which is poor form at best and quite reprehensible, if not contemptible.
We have always had this problem in Nigeria, with people who have been given responsibility that have chosen to exert it with irresponsibility, from the kings of old who never spat to the ground but in the mouths of human spittoons through the aggrandisement and excess of the overly flamboyant Finance Minister of the First Republic, Festus Okotie-Eboh [The pictures tell the story] to politicians who have lost the ability to reflect that all positions are ephemeral when called to serve.
One hopes
It is my hope that Abdulrahman Dambazau will reflect on this episode with a sense of humility and in doing so adjust his egotistical propensity towards one of a person who acknowledges the burden of leadership, service and the example he represents for this government before we sink into another morass of unconscionable kakistocrats, and worse for him, that he be remembered for this and nothing else.
We all forget that we live in an age where nothing happens in private anymore, anything that is viewable is recordable, even by stealth and it can be easily made available to view by the whole world in seconds. It is unlikely, regardless of the backstory that people will view this with sympathy and in the end, it is causes unnecessary embarrassment for all, we are better than this.
The great deeds of men are usually written in sand and their misdeeds are mostly engraved on stone.

Tuesday 12 January 2016

Nigeria: Our drool of flaws

A fantasy at best
Late last night I posted a cryptic tweet about a perception of the rule of law in Nigeria.
In the Presidential Media Chat conducted recently, President Muhammad Buhari appeared to express strident and incalcitrant views towards the continued detention of Nnamdi Kanu and Sambo Dasuki against presumed rulings of the courts.
Suddenly, we all became constitutional experts on the matter of the 'rule of law' and implicitly the 'separation of powers'. Follow the links for definitions.
The executive in the person of the president could not be seen to be sacrilegiously disobeying court orders infringing on the rights of citizens and thereby arbitrarily instituting a seemingly extrajudicial process.
The underlying issue
President Buhari having been at the head of the armed forces and of the generation that fought to defend the integrity and entity of Nigeria could not have concealed his anger and the sense of betrayal if as a foot soldier he was sent into battle ill-equipped as the actions of Sambo Dasuki portrayed when he diverted moneys for arms to fight Boko Haram to currying political favours for the ruling party or the sense of duty he had when Nigeria faced secession in the Civil War and we had Nnamdi Kanu soliciting weapons to fight a war for a new Biafra in Nigeria.
As an ex-soldier what Sambo Dasuki did was beyond a civil infraction, it was criminal in the extreme and if he were still in the military, a court martial will have been instigated and guilt will have led to execution.
If at any time Dasuki would have wanted a reckoning of his military service regardless of government dispensation, it goes without saying that the one of his disservice to the military must be addressed with equal vehemence.
A martyr to stupidity
Nnamdi Kanu could well have advocated for a Biafra movement by civil and democratic means, but once he started soliciting for weapons for his cause to buttress his telegraphed incitements by radio, he had crossed the line from having a civil case to threatening the integrity of Nigeria.
His effrontery of leaving his vituperative armchair of comfort in the UK to visit Nigeria for whatever purpose was as much the stupidity of sticking your head in the gaping mouth of a hungry lion. He was not going to sashay around Nigeria with his propaganda given free rein and the means to equip his followers with arms to create a new front beside what we face in the north east with Boko Haram.
If he seeks martyrdom, he will assuredly die for nothing, but having cast himself as a seeming enemy combatant and a possible threat to Nigeria's peaceful existence, he invariably forfeited his rights to roam free. His UK citizenship is by naturalisation, it does not excuse him from sanction if he has violated Nigerian law and he consequently entered Nigerian territory.
If either man is aggrieved by their treatment, they must exhaust the judicial process and I have as yet not seen a Supreme Court ruling that the executive has ignored.
No law on which to rule
On the matter of the fight against corruption, despite having the EFCC and the heft of the state behind it, most of the highest profile indicted have literally run rings round the system.
The EFCC has never been able to land any big whales, only small fry have seen the full force of the law.
Money is so awash in the system and most big fish have been able to buy the justice they want rather than face the justice that is right, just and fair.
They troop an embarrassment of SANs into court and either by intimidation or unbelievable sophistry obtain the most incredibly atrocious rulings that leaves everyone stunned.
Case in point is Peter Odili's perpetual injunction where the defendant had not even conclusively proven his case. John Yakubu Yusuf who stole NGN 32.8 billion from the police pension fund and was handed a two year sentence or the option of a NGN 250,000 fine. James Ibori who resisted arrest with a militia in Nigeria and only came a cropper in Dubai at the behest of the British, it is like we have no law on which to rule that the prospect of a rule of law in Nigeria is a fallacy. We have institutionalised the immunity for impunity, if you have the means to buy it.
An egregious judiciary run amok
There is no doubt that our judiciary is in need of radical reform, much as the process of legal redress needs scrutiny, whether by purge or by re-education, the criminal justice system in Nigeria is crippled by procedure and maimed by excess of influence of power and money.
There is a need to win battles within the greater wars and somehow, the Dasuki impasse is yielding interesting dividends, a method to the madness of the tail wagging the dog, because people who took money are fessing up without prompting.
It would appear an extrajudicial process of denying Dasuki bail and freedom is putting the fear of God and a semblance of conscience into the heart of thieves, it is a better result than we have ever been able to get without international assistance or from our courts.
Maybe there is hope
Fix the system and then use and test the system, however, before we get bogged down with a messed up system and a moribund war against corruption towards our aspirations of a Utopian rule of law, the burden of responsibility is on the government to pursue its aims to a satisfactory conclusion.
Those who have sinned, be prepared to far unusual justice and rue the law, those who haven't have nothing to fear, the expectation of the rule of law and they must continue to pursue their Nigerian dreams in hope, in peace and in all the determination they have to hand and heart.

Monday 11 January 2016

Nigeria: A view on #DasukiGate

Talk of the day
Nothing has elicited as much comment on social media in Nigeria recently as the interestingly discussed #DasukiGate.
Sambo Dasuki was Nigeria’s National Security Adviser from June 2012 to July 2015. Considering the security challenges Nigeria has had with the Niger Delta unrest and the Boko Haram insurgency in Northeast, particularly the terrorist activities that made Boko Haram the most dangerous terrorist brigandage in the world, by reason of the high number of fatalities, an adviser to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria will be in the position of confidante and counsellor to arrest what had become a deteriorating situation.
Plunder and blunder
The PBS NewsHour show turned the spotlight on Nigeria at the end of November into the beginning of December with a series of programmes under the title Nigeria: Pain and Promise which dealt with a range of socio-economic and political issues.
One of the shows contained the revelation that a demand for $47 million was made by Dasuki’s office from the Central Bank of Nigeria which was delivered in cash in the dead of the night. Another document apparently implicating the former Minister of Petroleum Resources facilitated the payment of $289 million to the National Intelligence Agency, where the budgetary allocation for the agency was only $160 million.
Whatever the case, either by urgency or unction, the said moneys were supposed to obtain military hardware to prosecute the battle against the Boko Haram insurgency which was increasingly troublesome with raids, bombings, massacres and other heinous activity.
Snouts in innocent blood
It transpired that the money obtained never went to the procurement of hardware, but Sambo Dasuki became the bag man of either the President, the Presidency or the ruling party organisation to use the money to buy, seduce, suborn, acquire or frustrate in the quest for favours and allegiance from whoever did not have the moral rectitude to resist the temptation to be lured with filthy lucre.
The fact that seemingly once respectable elders or statesmen of Nigeria never questioned the provenance of the good fortunes that brought this largesse into their bosoms is a moral indictment of a religious country where adherents have neither conscience nor virtue.
However, one cannot fail to notice how the spectre of President Muhammadu Buhari’s pall of stoicism and integrity has influenced events. With the arrest of Sambo Dasuki and though yet to be arraigned before the courts, everyone who appears to have dipped their snouts in the blood of soldiers sent to battle with staves against a well-equipped guerrilla outfit is now singing like a canary about how much came their way by the hand of Dasuki or through his network.
Now, I say ‘dipped their snouts in the blood of soldiers sent to battle’ because the money collected under false pretences to give a well-regulated militia the upper hand against Boko Haram was frittered away in currying favour and gaining support for the re-election of Goodluck Jonathan.
Before we idealise
It should therefore not surprise any right-thinking person if personnel of the Nigerian armed forces at times refused to go into battle or at other times had their bases sacked by Boko Haram because they were ill-equipped to fight or defend their positions, going from the fact that their hardware budget was being dispensed for pecuniary and political aims without any care or concern for the duty to which we had called men to defend the honour and integrity of Nigeria.
We may argue the legalese around the arraignment of Sambo Dasuki and genuflect with the idealism about the protection of human rights regarding this case, but what Sambo Dasuki was involved in is unforgivable.
Unforgivable with regards to the many lives lost to his atrocious activities and with regards to the high privilege to service to which he as a military man was called to and how he let men and people down by his conduct.
Such disgraceful behaviour calls for the stiffest sanctions and considering how money in the wrong hands in Nigeria is used to gum up the works of justice and accountability, the mere allowance of any freedom will almost make him as elusive as the constantly disappearing El Chapo Guzmán of Mexico. That is something, I am afraid we cannot risk in the face of the gravity of the alleged crimes of Sambo Dasuki.
Pay back with interest
It is interesting that some of the people who shared in this ill-gotten wealth distribution enterprise of wickedness are offering to return what they got, most likely in the hope that they will be forgiven and they can live to exploit the system and peddle influence again. I do not think this is excusable.
If anyone got money and lacked the gumption to ask where the money came from, they should not only return the money with interest, they should face justice as handlers of stolen goods either in the know or out of ignorance.
Never an exemplary leader
It would not be surprising if Goodluck Jonathan in ceding power having lost the Presidential election in March 2015, had smartly negotiated an immunity deal from being implicated in any of the outrageous raids on the Nigerian commonwealth perpetrated in his name or with his consent.
As leader, he never really was an example of morality or integrity having adopted a parseltongue of sophistry by suggesting stealing was not corruption, to me that was as epic making as splitting the atom, to separate stealing from corruption and in view of that, not give a damn about the need for good conduct in public office. His advisers and ministers simply followed his leadership.
However, the culmination of the #DasukiGate must be to get all that money back and make a cautionary example of everyone who shared in the loot, high and low, that the blood of the innocent would not have been shed in vain and that when you are called to serve, it is to serve the fatherland not to serve ourselves and our greed. It goes without saying that in a place like Nigeria, Sambo Dasuki is probably the tip of the iceberg in relation to the brutal and unconscionable rape of Nigeria under the 'saintly' Goodluck Jonathan.

Monday 4 January 2016

Barcelona is the pickpocket

Back to life
Finally, my year has begun being flung straight into work and emails flying out in typical Akin fashion, long, detailed, particular and quite particular indeed.
I cannot fail to note that I have only spent five nights at home since the 17th of November that has had me in South Africa, in London and I have just returned from Barcelona.
I had considered going much further afield after my birthday, the choices, at first, were the Thailand (Bangkok or Phuket), Canada (Toronto) and the United States (Miami), all places I had never been before, but with so little time to plan for these I defaulted to either Berlin or Barcelona. The latter won for slightly warmer weather.
Of Barcelona again
Now, the last time I was in Barcelona was in November 2008 when I attended the now defunct Microsoft TechEd Europe conference, before that it was December 2006 and my first time in some 18 years ago.
Then, whilst Barcelona was an exciting place to visit, the tourism elements had not been overly commercialised as they are now. I note that Palau Güell and Casa Batlló were not accessible to the public.
This time, I availed myself of the opportunity to visit these masterpieces of Antoni Gaudi’s genius, which if you know anything about Barcelona are a draw for tourists from the world over. The fact that Barcelona has beauty, treasure, culture, architecture, history and nationalism cannot be debated, there are lots to see and do.
It’s all about money
However, for all the tourist things I did, from the bus tours to all the buildings, things I did and the souvenirs purchased, no one can fail to notice how pricey all these places and things are, it is a case of over-exploiting the World Heritage status for outrageous price gouging and profit advantage. The whole idea that what we pay maintains and supports these sites should not excuse the atrocious profit motive of the custodians of these places.
Even the taxi drivers in Barcelona agree that this is the only motive, profiteering. We tourists pay top prices for accommodation, eat in the restaurants, shop in the fancy stores, visit all the places of significance paying full whack and to add insult to injury, as we leave we are charged as city tax. Then for what I paid from city centre to the airport, the thievery continued to the end of my visit.
You gotta pick a pocket or two
They say Barcelona is full of pickpockets, that might be true, but the real pickpocket is Barcelona and all the great beauty of this place is in the process of being marred by the inordinate quest for filthy lucre. I loved visiting Barcelona, but this is not the kind of Barcelona I would like to return to, already, in an honest survey at the hotel where I spent 11 nights, I categorically said I will not return to stay there.
If you are spending more than 5 nights in a hotel and they cannot attempt to make it feel as a home away from home, they neither deserve my custom again nor a recommendation to others. Barcelona can do better, but this time, it was a shame.