Thursday, April 24, 2014

The real focus

Yesterday, Port Harcourt was named the World Book Capital. An honour if you ask me, especially when you consider that anything that will help bring a reading culture back into this land of ours is extremely needed, and thus, very welcome. Sadly, while the Prez, could understandably not attend, one was a little disappointed in his choice of representative. Molara Wood, is, in her own right an accomplished literary giant, however, that the education etibho could not deign to make it to his own home town for such a momentous occasion, speaks volumes.

To be fair to Uncle Nyesom, members of his real constituency have been active elsewhere, so maybe, just maybe, that was what was uppermost in his mind, and not the mundane issue of books. Then again, there was this rather pressing issue ofN24.3 billions to be ogled at, so hey, important security meetings could also take a hike. The Contract Sharing Committee had to sit.

That this rather vital security meeting was postponed in favour of a weekly FEC meeting that most times borders on the absurd, speaks more volumes about what we indeed take seriously around these parts. While the meeting was being postponed the following happened: some "new" Boko Haram members emerged in Taraba; Boko Haram promised to kill our missing daughters if we do not stop looking for them; the periodically hostile government in Cameroon announced that Nigerian clerics sympathetic to Boko Haram are foraging for new members in Cameroon; and a blackberry broadcast about Boko Haram, caused a major gridlock on our most important route.

All in a day's work.

Bits and Bobs
  • To prove to the world that their marriage is not working, Mr Ogbiyele exercised some of his pugilistic skills on Mrs Ogbiyele, at the Ikeja Magistrate Court.
  • Another state has decided to ask for FG intervention in its security. Expect an inciting memo from its governor whenever he wakes up from his near-vegetative state.
  • As a boss, our big gavel, David Mark, has ordered Boko Haram to release the kidnapped babes.
  • Finally, for those of us who think resource control is the way forward for this stricken land, the other side are clearly willing to get involved in fisticuffs over the issue.
  • Wednesday, April 23, 2014

    Receding activities

    So the state governors will meet with the Prez today over the deteriorating security situation in the country. What one hopes is that during the tĂȘte-a-tĂȘte, they will gist about the economic situation. Make no mistakes about it, when you have a scenario in which 48,000 souls have been added to a labour market that is already bursting at the seems, then your security situation can only go south. Our biggest national security challenge in Nigeria, is the unemployment situation and we are tired of hearing statistics about "the number of jobs created". The truth is this: if those jobs have really been created, no one will need to announce it.

    Sadly, our state governors seem to have found an easy cop out in laying everything at the feet of a hapless FG. Thus it was that when the FG a few days ago, contributed $5 millions for a study on how to restore the receding Lake Chad, it somehow passed under a lot of people's radars. It should come as no surprise that tensions in the Borno area have gone up as the lake has receded. Lake Chad, which used to provide livelihood for a good number of the denizens of the Borno area, receded by a factor of 17 in just 38 years. In that time, the idle hands around it in Niger, Chad, Cameroon, and Nigeria, have found some other use for their time. Killing people.

    The argument has been made a lot of times in the past that most of our insecurity problems in Nigeria are economic, and a lot of events bear that belief out. Thus it was that the booming economic activity of cattle rustling got a boost over the last three days as 625 cattle changed hands in often violent fashion, with, err, even more violent sounding threats made. I wonder what Comrade Nyako will say about this one when he meets with the Prez later today. Maybe he will ask the help of a famous seer...

    Bits and Bobs
  • There's a move to withdraw N285 billions of police pensions from the current, independent, administrators, to the supervision of, the police. Expect more videos of angry men-in-black hitting the airwaves.
  • Speaking of men-in-black behaving badly, an unnamed man-in-black wasn't given the memo that Anambra signed the Child's Rights Act in 2012. He "married" his pastor's daughter, and after an initial denial, offered N20,000 for upkeep, which pastor has turned down. Negotiations continue.
  • We've all seen that video of the babe who got a drink of muddy water because she forgot to give a man-in-black some fish. Turns out that the incident actually happened last year, the family reported it and were ignored, and action only commenced after the video surfaced and went viral. I need to improve my video recording skills as a matter of urgency.
  • Finally, rice millers in Ebonyi want to go on strike. They feel betrayed by the state's old chap. Will it make a difference to us? Now if rice millers in Thailand threatened a strike...
  • Tuesday, April 22, 2014

    Bull's eye

    No one in his right mind can deny that Nigeria is a very funny country. Nigeria, sadly, punishes excellence, and rewards incompetence. So it was no surprise that I woke up on Saturday morning to find my entire holiday ruined by someone who, in order to cover up the fact that he has not done an effective job as a state chief executive since he's been on that seat since 2007, decided to stick his hand in some red paint and draw a bull's eye on my back.

    Let's calm down now for a second, and take a look at Mr. Nyako's letter: in it, he used a phrase which has me in a cold sweat every evening since then: he said, "One is quite sure that if you had condemned the cold-blooded murder of political and military leaders of Northern and Western Nigerian origins in the night of 15 January, 1966 byyour sons it would not have led to the subsequent massacre of the innocent and the Nigerian Civil War". To my mind, there is no doubt who is he talking about. To my mind, and with the knowledge of my country's history that I have, there is no doubt, none absolutely, about where this can lead to. To think he has supporters! At the risk of being mistaken for an apostle of hatred, Mr. Nyako should know that he is not the only one who can name dates, neither is he the only one with a long memory. I have some dates for him: 1945, 1953, 1954, 1966, 1987, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1995, and this list is not complete!

    For the records, and just to be clear, when some people tell me that Mr. Nyako's letter has "merits", I want to scream. You see, I have read Mein Kampf. In that book, Adolf Hitler made a few arguments, which in the context of the time he lived in, had merit. But given his incitement to hate, we have all agreed to discard that book in the junk bin. When someone preaches hate, which Mr. Nyako has done, do not tell me to look at "the merit of his argument". He could have made the same case without passing coded signals to people to kill their fellow countrymen.

    In all of this, one must be cool, calm, and truthful. In Nigeria, we have a huge problem. And the only way we can understand, and solve this problem, and the problems it brings along with it, is to understand one another. This piece, by Mark Amaza, from Borno state, is a start. There is no "north" as demagogues like Mr. Nyako will have us believe. "North", was a colonial creation, and it is time to move on from that. Indeed, in my three decades plus on the planet, I'm yet to hear anyone from David Mark's Benue state describe himself as a "Northerner".

    Bits and Bobs
  • The army is seeking an extension of the emergency rule in the Boko Haram stricken states. I support that move. And being that Murtala Nyako has not deigned it fit to visit the town of Mubi almost two years after an attack there killed 40 students, I recommend that the emergency rule be implemented properly, with the governor being relieved of office until peace is restored.
  • Sadly, even our army sometimes appear unable to count. Thus it was that fresh from celebrating their "heroic rescue" of kidnapped girls, we were embarrassed by the news that not only were said girls not rescued, but that apparently, even more than we previously thought, were taken.
  • In more humiliating news, Pakistan's Prez decided that Nigeria was too hot for him to handle, and has put off a scheduled junket. This, coming from the country that, err, played host to Osama bin Laden...
  • I had improved power over the break. I know that someone else, somewhere paid with his power for my own improved power. I am selfishly praying that this continues. And the DISCOs are confirming my fears.
  • Last time I checked, a disease control centre involves hosting some of the most virulent bugs known to man. So it's a scary thought, Nigeria, hosting such a centre. Why do we want to give Boko Haram access to potential biological weapons?
  • Thursday, April 17, 2014

    Some good news

    Waking up to good news around these parts is something rare, and to be cherished whenever it happens. So it is with some pleasure that above the din of the generator symphony, I read about the rescue of all but eight of the young ladies who were forcefully taken from their school the day before yesterday. It indeed gladdens the heart to say the least, that something is being done, and high fives all round, to everyone involved in the rescue, and a quick prayer for the recovery of the remaining eight.

    Still on the good news train, new power plants are on the way, courtesy of Transcorp. According to a NERC suit, that will deliver maybe 700 MW, in a few years time. We need 200 times that in generation and 400 times in transmission, distribution and fuel supply capital investment just to meet today's demand. But, and this is crucial, it is a start.

    Still on the good news train, and assorted APC agbadas have provided the right kind of guiding light for their PDP contemporaries, who still insist on being very naughty. Straight from swaying into the hospitals to visit the victims, the APC honchos announced the setting up of a fund, to take care of those left behind. Let's give another high five, this time to the APC.

    Bits and bobs
  • "The nature of promises is that they ought to remain immune to changing circumstances." Can someone kindly tell that to the governors of the northern states?
  • At the Happy Day Hotel in Orile, the only way Tosin, 18, could make Ebuka, Chimudi, Williams, Victor, Joshua and Kojo happy was by dying.
  • N30,000. Mr Onwuka, 37, will pay this fine and hopefully be discouraged from raping more 13-year-old girls in Abuja.
  • Wednesday, April 16, 2014

    Our women and girls

    "To educate a man, is to educate an individual. To educate a woman, is to educate, and liberate a nation." - Malcolm X

    I'll have to admit that this daily diet of not-so-palatable news was not the idea one had when this morning tonic started two years ago now. But the land we live in has forced that on us, and to be honest, some of the, frankly, rubbish, going on, are not the kind of things we, as a people can afford to ignore. For those of us in Abuja, the rubbish that has been happening 900 odd kilometres away in Maiduguri and environs hit home on Monday with the Nyanya Bomb Blast. For those of you in Lagos, a further 700 km away, do not think that things are rosy and dandy. The truth is that when more than a hundred young Nigerian maidens are kidnapped, very possibly to go and serve as comfort women, and the state thinks it is better to make accusations at an opposition babariga for whatever perceived slight, then, you begin to feel really apprehensive about our future.

    Meanwhile two boys were kidnapped yesterday. They happen to be the kids of Kogi state's gavel. I pray for their safe return. To Lagosians, I want to stress that Lokoja is 210 kilometres south of Abuja.

    Bits and bobs
  • Some people believe that the problems of the manufacturers at Aba started with the issues of power that we currently experience. Some others know better. It all started when Nigerians branded those products as Igbo-made, and refused to patronise them.
  • For those of you who have been queuing for petrol like good Nigerians, worry no more. The petrol subsidy has gone out the window with immediate effect.
  • Someone mentioned the word "bomb" in our hallowed chambers yesterday, cue, pandemonium.