Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Suffering from this writer's block...
It's funny how power can transform otherwise secure and self-assured individuals into paranoid cravers of empty compliments and condescending attention. Reading Paul Valley's interview with Nigeria's finance minister, Mrs. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, in the Independent (UK) of May 16, 2006, one is struck by how vain and insecure the woman has become since tasting the trappings of the Abuja power game.
So Abujanized has she become that it now seems that she has created her own make-believe vision of Nigeria. In this self-absorbed world of hers, everything is going well with Nigeria and critics are either disgruntled losers in the ongoing "reform" or hateful agents of the influential losers. In this world, there can be no independent, patriotic, and principled dissent; dissenters and critics are simply jealous and self-interested hirelings out to get her or to scuttle her "reforms."
It was instructive to read the feast of redundant mutual adulation that was passed off as an interview. Mr. Paul Valley lobbed softball questions at Mrs Okonjo-Iweala, making sure to sprinkle the questions with generous amounts of highfalutin praise. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala returned the favor with giddy affirmations of the interviewer's friendly opinions disguised as questions. It was clear that Mr. Valley had been fed a diet of pro-regime claims as he laced and prefaced his leading questions with preconceived informational backgrounds. That a brilliant woman of Okonjo-Iweala's caliber allowed herself to be so patronized by such an uncouth agent of hagiography is telling.
The title of the interview, "The Woman Who Has the Power to Change Africa," gave away its intent. The notion that an individual-man or woman-has the capacity to change a whole continent is as bankrupt as it is patronizing, and if Mrs Iweala was half as modest as a recent BBC story says she is, she would not only have rejected the messianic connotations inherent in such a notion but would also have interrogated its sincerity. It is a notion steeped in the racist and reductive idea of a single, undifferentiated Africa-the notion of Africa as one simple beleaguered country needing salvation.
That an otherwise intelligent and intellectually vigilant woman would sit through, tolerate, and even reward Mr. Valley's patronizing and condescending questions and attitude indicates the extent to which she has become accustomed to the Abuja system. In this system, empty praise singing and flattery trump reasoned critique and vigorous dissent.
She comes across in the interview as politically insecure, insular, and desperately in need of Western validation. Mr. Paul Valley gave her plenty of validation but by overdoing it, he exposed her to ridicule and revealed the agenda-laden underbelly of what was presented as a neutral journalistic encounter. His questions were designed to make her look good, to give her an opportunity to toot her own horn and to lash out at the enemies of "reform."
But Mrs Okonjo-Iweala's responses were far more counterproductive than Mr. Valley's questions. They were repetitively self-congratulatory, lacking in self-critique and modest self-appraisal. It is her responses, more than Mr. Valley's patronage, that makes this interview an exercise in self-exposure. Let us examine what she had to say.
Mrs Iweala claims that the five targets of her "reform" package have either been reached or are being pursued vigorously. On each of those five points, there are grounds to doubt her confident chest-thumping. While the publishing of revenue allocations to states and local governments have promoted a measure of accountability and transparency, the anti-corruption fight has since been compromised by the political scheming of an insecure and paranoid administration. This is so well known and the laughable hypocrisies and selectivity of the anti-corruption campaign so well documented that one does not need to dwell on it.
She mentioned public expenditure and public service reforms. This is a euphemism for a policy designed to please the IMF and World Bank, which holds that African civil bureaucracies are over-bloated and that substantial savings can be made by drastically reducing them. The Nigerian government deceptively calls its satisfaction of this IMF prescription right-sizing. This policy has seen thousands of regular civil servants lose their jobs while the size of government has actually bloated. This government has more political appointees who are a drain on the public treasury than any other government in the history of the country. We are yet to be told how much money has been saved from the massive reduction of the federal civil service, but it now seems as though the thousands of low- and mid-level civil servants who lost their jobs were sacrificed to accommodate the growing expenditure associated with this government's idle army of political appointees. This type of cosmetic self-defeatism has become a hallmark of this government.
The debt repayment triumphalism is another overblown rhetoric. From information emerging about recent borrowing activities by the federal and state governments, especially the news that we have just borrowed $1 billion from China to finance the modification of our rail project when we supposedly have over $30 billion in foreign reserve, it is clear that we may simply have wiped our debt slate clean in order to borrow more to fill up more foreign private bank accounts.
Okonjo-Iweala talked about macro-economic stability. This is a fancy term which means very little in terms of quotidian improvements in the lives of Nigerians. Yes, some macro-economic indicators have improved, but this has had only a modest impact on the economic rating, investment worthiness, and credit profile of Nigeria. Under the weight of increased corruption, collapsing infrastructure, and contrived political instability, this modest impact has not translated into real benefits for the country. Besides, I am not entirely sure that it is wise to leave domestic needs unmet and to neglect deteriorating economic conditions and micro-economic problems in pursuit of largely abstract, paper prosperity in the form of healthy macro-economic statistics. A wise government does not neglect the welfare of its own people in order to meet some abstract macro-economic targets.
Her fourth point-governance and institution building-is such a clichéd slogan that it is perhaps not worthy of a lengthy response. If anything has been a victim of the political shenanigans of this administration, it is governance. As for institution-building, I wonder how Mrs Iweala could, with a straight face, proclaim this as one of her achievements when we have seen a steady subordination of institutions to personal loyalties and ideological conformity.
The last item in her "reform" package is accelerated privatization and liberalization. This is another hollow policy that has resulted, we now know, in the fleecing of the nation's strategic assets and have enriched and financially empowered a few administration insiders and friends. Its shoddy implementation, which has been characterized by cronyism, favoritism, the granting of private monopolies, and outright corruption, has resulted in the institution of what one may call clique capitalism.
Perhaps the most self-serving claim Mrs Okonjo-Iweala makes in the interview is her argument that her "reform" has become so accepted that its rhetoric has now become the referential index against which national political conversations are conducted. She points to the recent Third Term debate as an example of this supposedly heart-warming trend.
It is true that there is a burgeoning practice of using the on-going "reforms" as a point of reference in discussions about political succession. But this trend is neither heart-warming nor indicative of the acceptance of the "reforms." If anything, it speaks to the bankruptcy of political debates among the Nigerian elite, which is a very depressing phenomenon. It is lamentable that even those who opposed the Third Term power grab attempt bought into the administration's ruse about sustaining current "reforms" instead of rejecting or transcending it. They agreed that the "reforms" needed to be sustained but insisted that someone besides Mr. Obasanjo should do this. The rhetoric of reform was in fact deployed by administration hacks to dignify the case for a Third Term for Mr. Obasanjo, and it is sad that, as commendable as their stance was, the anti-Third Term politicians could not see this for what it was.
It is disingenuous on the part of Mrs Okonjo-Iweala to claim that her "reform" has been widely accepted by Nigerians. When did she conduct a poll or a referendum on it? When did we have a national debate on whether the current economic trajectory is what we desire? Putting a populist gloss on her reforms may impress clueless and impressionable outsiders but Nigerians-the object and subjects of these "reforms-have not been impressed. Of what good is a reform if it does not lead to tangible improvements in the lives of regular Nigerians? I hope that the honorable minister has not gotten caught up in the empty sloganeering of proclaiming reform for reform's sake or of articulating reform and its supposed benefits in purely esoteric and abstract terms. The elevation of "reform" to the status of an overarching and sacrosanct doctrine of government has already insulated Mr. Obasanjo's economic team from the fact that, on the ground, standards of living are falling and costs of living are rising for most Nigerians.
Some of her claims about economic success are so downright ridiculous they should be dismissed with common economic sense. She claims, for instance, that one of the achievements of her economic team is that $3 billion is now being remitted by Nigerians living abroad. She attributes this increase in remittances to a new confidence in the Nigerian economy. Common economic reasoning tells one that if Nigerians abroad are remitting more money to their relatives in Nigeria this is irrefutable evidence that conditions are getting worse and that Nigerians are increasingly relying on the generosity of their relatives abroad to survive. How this can be advanced as an achievement beats me.
One of the off-putting moments of self-righteous haughtiness in the interview came when Mr. Valley asked the minister about the dollar salary controversy which threatened her tenure in its early days. She went through the song and dance of burdening us with the supposedly uncommon financial responsibilities she had to shoulder before becoming a minister, making sure to inform us that she and her husband did very well and had a comfortable life of luxuries and obligations. Not only should these intimate details have been kept away from uninterested others, it should not have been invoked as a defense against the charge of greed which greeted the dollar salary revelation. I am writing here as someone who, during the internet debate on the issue, actually supported her right to be paid a fair salary commensurate with her previous earning and big enough to sustain her cultivated lifestyle. I objected to her being paid in dollars, not to the amount that she was being paid.
However, reading her comments on the issue, it is quite clear to me that Mrs Okonjo-Iweala's does not deserve the sympathetic understanding that I had accorded her. As she did during the debate on the issue, she resorted, in this interview, to the rhetoric of sacrifice and self-denial as a strategy for securing public sympathy. The whinny story about her child suspending college to enable her take this low-paying job is beyond the pale. The language of sacrifice will only resonate with those who are unfamiliar with the cost-benefit calculations of a government appointment. Far from being a sacrifice, a government appointment is an investment.
In the United States, people routinely leave the private sector for government appointments. Such political appointees earn a fraction of what they used to earn in the private sector. But no one sympathizes with them on their choice to serve, nor do they solicit sympathy. The reason is that everyone knows that serving in the government boosts one's resume, enlarges one's circle of influence and connections, buys one some goodwill, and gives one a leverage to secure more lucrative private sector jobs when one's tenure expires. Taking a pay cut to serve in government is therefore a self-interested investment that will yield returns in the future. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala is therefore not making a sacrifice by serving as minister even if it appears that way. Her service will position her for bigger things in the future in the private or public sector.
Finally, the minister went to shockingly disgusting lengths to malign the critics of her "reform" and of her special dollar salary. She used terms like "hired internet bloggers" and "anti-reform elements" to describe them. They were, she tells us, out to sully her name internationally. Mrs Okonjo-Iweala has obviously assimilated into the culture of power in Abuja; she even engages in Abuja-speak. The imputation of insincere and pecuniary motives to her critics, some of whom I know to be have been motivated purely by patriotic instincts, is the typical Abuja politician's reaction to stinging criticism. Such impulsive contempt for criticism and dissent betrays an attempt to self-righteously monopolize patriotism, to demonize opponents, and to encourage the cult of personality. Far from being enemies, haters, and malicious "anti-reform people" Mrs Okonjo-Iweala's critics may be her best friends since they are the ones who tell her what should inspire in her some introspection and self-critique.
I don't understand what is so sacred about the ongoing "reform" that critics of it are regularly described in very uncharitable terms. Such defensiveness cannot be a good sales pitch for the "reform"; on the contrary, it may suggest that the "reformers" are not very secure in their "reform" hence the resort to personal attacks as a way of deflecting legitimate questions and concerns about it.
Mr. Valley's interview has done more damage to the honorable minister's reputation than she realizes. Ironically, this damage stems from the fact that the interview is too good a public relations job. And if something is too good to be true, it probably is.
With gratitude to God for a life well spent, I wish to announce the passing away of a Compaq Deskpro EN named Dee-Bee. Until his untimely death on Saturday morning at the hands of a PHCN voltage surge, he belonged to Mr. Cheta Nwanze.
As a desktop computer, Dee-Bee was an extraordinarily useful tool in the hands of his owner, and for almost 3 years in the UNIBEN community. He played host to a lot of data from which a lot of young men and women acquired a lot of illegal music and movies. He also played host to quite a few websites and pictures.
He moved to Lagos, from whence he moved to Abuja and then back to Lagos, causing a lot of happiness on his travels.
Dee-Bee will be sorely missed. Rest in peace dear friend.
Thursday, May 25, 2006
The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal
and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime,
if not asked to lend money.
--Pudd'nhead Wilson's Calendar
Two years ago today a friend of mine did something for me that any good friend would do. He helped finance a project that I was trying to embark on.
He did it based on my promise that I would have repaid him in six months.
Two years later, and I am yet to repay completely. I wouldn't say that I haven't had the cash at any point in time, I think that would be a worthless excuse and a cheap escape route, no, at some points in the last 2 years I have had the cash, but I was counting on o he's my guy, he won't complain.
Now this is tearing me apart because I am afraid that I may have lost a friend.
How do I beg him?
Friday, May 19, 2006
Well, that’s that. For another season at least. I couldn’t get to write yesterday because I was locked up at the NUC for majority of the day, but anyways I ain’t complaining. I’m sure people like Henry Okelue, Otumahana Otumahana and Victor Omoruan aren’t either, they are all Barca fans, but some others I know (Akeem and Seun Lawal, Hamza Olaitan, Ayo Soebi, Andrew Enenmoh and Julum Nwanze), didn’t sleep very well on that fateful night. I can confirm that Oria didn’t.
To be fair to the Arsenal players, they are heroes - all of them. They truly won my respect. What with 10 men for 70 odd minutes against one of the top European sides and they did themselves justice beyond anything I can describe. Barca offered very little, in my view, and Henry’s comments after the game about not seeing much of Ronaldinho, or Etoo, rang true for me. Especially Ronaldinho. I’ve got to say the ref had no small part in deciding the result.
Lehmann was rightly sent off after around 20 minutes. Assuming by “rightly” you mean you want to ruin the game, which is what happened. I think that was a poor decision to send the mad German off, you see, but what has happened has happened. In my opinion, it should have been a yellow. I feel desperately sorry for Lehmann, who’s been outstanding this season.
Still, Arsenal went on to take the lead, with Campbell scoring a great header from a free kick. You need to have seen the roar that went up in the place. By the way, the hold up was of Lagos proportions, just because of Arsenal!
Back to the referee. It’s going to sound like sour grapes (hehehe), but his performance was a joke. There was a yellow card for Eboue, which was fair enough, but then he gave a yellow to Henry for an excellent tackle while Marquez was allowed to get away with murder!
That said, Arsenal had a couple of chances - even with 10 men - which they really should have converted.
But that is that, they’ve lost (you kind of saw that coming once Eto’o stuck that equalizer in the back of the net and Oria kept quiet). Now it is for them to rebuild. You see, no one is going to take them lightly again next season. And I just read that Henry has committed to them, which is good news as far as I’m concerned.
I am also happy for Vieira. At least he didn’t have to eat crow like Michael Owen did, but then that is another discussion for another day.
I am still in Abuja, and even though I prefer this place to the hell that is Lagos, I find it strangely empty. I will write about that, but I first have to get permission from a certain editor of mine…
One more thing, Sanni Yerima, governor of Zamfara state just officially declared his intention to runfor president. I am looking at his campaign people pouring out of the Musa Yar’Adua Centre. May we live in interesting times anyone?
Watching the build-up to the medals and cup presentation ceremony of last night's Champions League finals,I believe I saw a moment in time.
As players of both sides huddled together in the joy of victory and the agony of defeat(depending on their kit colours!),the camera focussed on a shot of Arsene Wenger and Kolo Toure.As the duo stood in conference probably discussing the "hows and why's",TH-14(for the uninitiated,that's a coinage of a dear friend of mine for the wonder also known as Thierry Henry)walked into view.The moment they saw him,they both turned their attention to him.The _expression on the faces of both Wenger and Toure as they turned to Henry was vintage "Kodak moment" .
It was the look on the face of a hopelessly captivated nation as they awaited in rapture an address from their deified leader.A look of "What now master?Speak for thy flock suffereth and hurt very deeply".Henry said something,but the look did not subside;and then the camera panned to less celestial moments.
Henry's footballing future is an issue on which much has been said and written.Essentially,the issue has been that of "tenure elongation" vs "joining the voltron force".Will Henry agree a new deal with Arsenal or will he move over to Spain and become the wing commander of the emerging empire of Catalonia?
A man down,a goal up and about a quarter of an hour to go;Arsenal looked to be on their way to breaking the strangle-hold of an exclusive group of clubs on the big trophy.If Arsenal were to carry the day UNDER THOSE CIRCUMCTANCES-would'nt it be demeaning for Henry to trade London for Spain?
While I pondered on what might be,Barca's persisitence eventually found a way through;cue wild celebrations from everyone who was not with the guys in yellow.
The current Barca squad have found the Holy Grail and fulfilled their destiny,attention now shifts to dominance and perpetuity.Good having become better,better must now become Bank PHB(if you don't get this,you need to ask your cousin who LIVES in Nigeria for the low-down!).Unfortunately(for the Londoners)besides Henry,there is no other human capable of adding value to a team that is already arguably peerless.
Then again how much more(beyond aesthetic value)can Henry add to the Barca side that we have seen over the last two seasons?They won(and successfully defended) the Spanish league title without him,they beat HIS team to the Champions League trophy and already play the most eye-catching and breath-taking brand of football el mundo without him.What exactly is the NEED for Henry at the Nou camp?
Barcelona ARE a great team without Henry and while his genius would certainly not be out of place amongst kindred spirits at Barcelona,isn't he more of a want than a need?
Arsenal on the other hand would be lost without him.That was the look in Toure and Wenger's eyes as they looked to Henry.Yes they sold Vieira and soldiered on,got through the most of the Champions league group stages without Henry,nobody is indispensable....... blah blah blah.Behind all the bravado however lies the inescapable truth that Henry is an integral component of what is emerging in the red part of North London.Beyond his painfully obvious genius,he-to my mind;gives the team an identity and confidence without which the greatness that beckons might elude them.In Spain he'd be yet another star in the galaxy,In London,he's the lodestar for an emerging generation.
I'm not an Arsenal fan.Au contraire,very few things give me greater pleasure than riling Arsenal fans and revelling in their misfortune.However,on this issue;I find myself pleading their cause(uugh!!).
The new stadium,a bunch of young and extremely promising players(God bless Emmanuel Eboue's progenitors!),an accomplished manager who is devoted to them......... Arsenal are on the verge of something and the last thing they need now is to lose their totem.Barcelona want Henry but Arsenal NEED him.
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Watching the AIT live telecast of the death of the third term bill was a thing of joy for me, and I am sure any well meaning Nigerian. We are proud to be citizens of Naija, and it has been shown that we have people in the right places who know how to do the right things.
The battle has been won, but not the war. If I know someone like Anenih well enough, he may still try something in the stipulated six months. Be that as it may, now that we have proven to the world - and to ourselves that all is not rotten in the State of Denmark, it is time to throw down the gauntlet.
A vacancy will open up in Aso Rock in the next few weeks. Who would fill it?
This question is the major question that should be in our minds over the coming weeks.
Stories abound that IBB is interested. To him I would throw the question he threw at OBJ: What did you forget there that you want to recover?
The truth is this: their generation failed Nigeria. They almost killed our country. We don't need any geriatrics in our corridors of power. People like MT Mbu and Arthur Nzeribe should join OBJ and fade into history. You've had your time. Let the younger ones take over.
We have all seen what can happen in Naija when vibrant minds with fresh ideas are in the right positions. This is an article in today's Independent about Okonjo-Iweala. For the first time in our history, we all have access to the figures of the Federation Account. What El-Rufai is doing here in Abuja even if not nice is what is needed. Soludo has put the banking sector on its feet. Akunyuli has saved only-God-knows-how-many lives.
These people's acheivements are just a tip of the iceberg as concerns what can be done in Naija if we give the right people the right tools to do their jobs. We don't want a scenario where you put a Ciroma who isn't a trained Economist to be Minister of Finance.
Obasanjo has done a relatively good job when you consider the situation the country was in when he came into office. Personally I don't think Falae or Buhari could have done better. But now, the time has come to go, and go he must.
Thank you senate. I think I need a drink! Champagne perhaps?
Monday, May 15, 2006
I’ve had it up to my ears with people like Uche Anidobi, Aminu Bello, Ike Chukwumah and Akachi Okoro talking about how Juve paid bribes to win lo scudetto. All of you (and that includes people, newspapers, sports shows and websites) have succeeded in ruining what was once a credible sport. I love Serie A but the lure you have all helped create around the league has reduced it to a joke. No one made this much noise when when Robert Hoyzner brought German football to its knees. Before I go further though, I have to make it clear that I would have preferred the Champions League to lo scudetto, but having collected it on the last day of the season with Milan huffing and puffing against Roma and with all the scandals, this title (our 29th scudetto) is suddenly very sweet!
Ch€£$k¥ are dominating in England and no one is complaining. Bayern have won two straight in Germany, and no one coughed. Lyon have won five straight in France, and it is normal to all. The Old Firm have dominated Scotland uninterrupted since 1981, and nobody bats an eyelid! In other sports, the Yankees dominate baseball, yet no one blames the umpires. The Chicago Bulls were a dynasty in the NBA, and no one talked. Pete Sampras and Tiger Woods swept all before them in their sports, and was there a complaint?
Juve on the other hand take two scudetti in a row and suddenly blame needs to be placed somewhere...anywhere! Y'all have tried the referee talk, the steroid attempt, the little clubs are even lending a hand, now Moggi selecting refs? Why not just accept that Juventus are Italy’s strongest squad? This has become almost too childish to discredit...almost.
And yes, I am biased towards Juve. They've been my team since 1984!
This year however, I needed to satisfy my own curiosity. You can do the counting yourself as well... Here is a great starting point.
Is Juve really that dominant or is there some truth to the non-stop accusations? So I analyzed, and I wish you guys would too before making these accusations. I wondered if there were differences in disciplinary action between the big clubs. So I counted them. I counted 1 for every yellow and 2 for every red. I saw Inter had 70, Milan had 52, and Juve fell between the two with 61. In my opinion, over 38 games 9 cards don’t make a team win or loose the title!
So it definitely wasn’t a “bookings” thing. “Maybe Juve was getting a lot more penalties than the others”. So let's count. Juve scored a whopping 3 penalties all season, Inter 5, and Milan 9! These differences could alter the standings somewhat. Can we still say that Juve is being favoured though? We had the least; remarkably Milan is again in the best position. So let's ask ourselves “Is it possible that Juve has faced far fewer penalties than the others?” seeing as we have heard this claim in the past. So we count... Juve faced 3, Inter and Milan both faced 2. No real significant difference here but it certainly can’t be said that Juve are favoured seeing as their position is once again less favourable than Milan’s or Inter’s.
We all know there is more to this, so let’s at least try to count the times that points have been acquired dubiously. This is difficult to quantify since it is somewhat opinion based, but it comes up too often to be ignored. Remember that Del Piero goal that was offside against Udinese? That was a win for Juve that should have been a tie, I can admit it. That means Juve got an extra 2 points undeservingly that game. I also notice the tie against Cagliari that has been deemed corrupt because of the “questionable” 5 minutes of injury time needed to draw. Frankly, even Cagliari fans understood the 5 minutes. There were penalties (against Juve) and red cards that day that pushed the game farther into injury time, it happens. Let’s count it though, just to humour all the anti-Juventino. So we got an unjust point for a total of 3 extra points. Now to be fair, we have to mention the obvious penalty on Zlatan that the referee “didn’t see” at Chievo costing Juve a possible win. That day we took home 1 point and left 2 on the field. Milan scored two penalties against Roma on Sunday just so they could win and possibly
get the title if we slipped up. In the end our point surplus was a staggering 1 after 38 games.
Not a single refereeing decision all year cost either Inter or Milan points. Go ahead, try to bring up an example and I’m sure FIFA regulations will disagree. I did however, find a few occasions where the opposite occurred. Remember Milan’s dubious 5 minutes of injury time resulting in an Inzaghi goal? It was favouritism for Juve, why not Milan then? Chock up a 2 point surplus for Milan. Inter though is far worse. There are a number of questionable goals/penalties, and wrongfully called back goals which earned them wins against Lecce, Cagliari, and Treviso and a draw against Lazio for a surplus of 7 points. Disagree? Go ahead but good luck proving Juve were more favoured than either of these two clubs.
Not too long ago the doping issue arose. All Juve’s coaches were arrested and embarrassed. The media was all over it. Then an Italian court of law found each of the accused not guilty and the media didn’t find it interesting enough to write about. So that attempt didn’t work. Then we got a new accusation. Italy’s “minnows” are letting themselves be beaten by Juve and playing their hearts off against Milan to “give” the scudetto to Juve. This one is by far my favourite.
“Why did Messina play so hard?”, maybe to avoid relegation, genius. Why did Treviso play so hard against Juve? Why did Cagliari do the same? Why do teams like Roma, Lazio, Chievo and Fiorentina always seem to have the game of their season against Juve? Juve are public enemy number 1 in Italy because they are Italy’s most successful team and every team that faces them brings their A game. Yet somehow it’s these very squads who have given Juve an edge? This one is beyond stupid.
I suggest you think back to the days when Miccoli played for Perugia under Juve ownership. Perugia managed to eliminate Juve from the Coppa Italia and draw us in the Serie A. Guess who scored? Miccoli did in an attempt to get called up to the big squad. The little guys always try to impress against the big guns and no one is bigger than Juventus.
Now no one seems to be pointing out the fact that the scandal rocking Italian football has been expanded to include Lazio, Fiorentina, and of course Milan.
Nice try people, but you’ll need a more credible story next time. I’m sure we’ll all hear it soon enough. It is too hard for any fan to digest that their team is not the best.
A Cagliari fan was honest enough to do that. And it is from him that I got a lot of the material for this one before doing my own research. He said: "I’ll be the guy that leads by example. My team is in the relegation battle. They rarely finish a game with 11 players on the pitch and as a result have the most bookings in Serie A with 105, and have the most booked player in the league (Daniele Conti). If they wind up relegated you won’t hear me crying about officials though, I guarantee it. But then I’m a man."
Some people say life is black
Some people say life is white
We all know it is black and white
Campionne Italia 2005/2006
Friday, May 12, 2006
What on earth were they thinking?
That they could push it down our throats? That after the endless "transition" of the late eighties, June 12, the Abacha ride, and the "miracle from heaven" of 1998, they could shift the goal posts of democracy and still play ball with us?
What were they thinking?
That 150 million Nigerians could put their faith in only one man? That reform can only be carried out by one man? That power need not shift to a younger generation that's more in touch with the world but must remain with a generation at work since independence?
What on earth were they thinking?
That the answer to the mess in the Niger Delta, the solution to the pogroms up north between settlers and "indigenes" is simply to heat things up even more? That millions of dollars could amend a constitution—as if we're all up for sale?
What were they thinking?
Their delusions clouded their judgement. They forgot that though we're still divided in just about every way, though we're still corrupt, though we haven't mastered the art of the rule of law, we darn well know what's right.
The Nigerian people know what's fair. They really do. And in the past few weeks, from what we've seen from the Afro barometer polls, from what we've heard in mai shayi spots, beer parlours and market women, from what we've read everyday in our newspapers, and from what we have seen in the National Assembly—the Nigerian people know democracy and they believe in it.
The message coming out of Nigeria is loud and clear: "we may be crazy, we're probably simmering, but we know that eight years means eight years. You don't just decide to rewrite the rules simply because you don't want to leave."
This was a fight that was a good fight. Not because it had Ibrahim the election annular, Wole Soyinka the democracy protector and Adams Oshiomole all on the same side. Not because it had the PDP malcontents, the die hard AD democrats, the Niger Delta militants, and the northern power shifters all on the same side too. We know what's right! Everyone in this fight has his motive to be sure, but this fight was a good fight because the winner in the fight was our democracy.
But the battle is now over. The debate is now beyond Obasanjo. He's fought his fight, done his part, and now will gracefully fade away. The focus is now the future. What kind of elections do we want to have in 2007? Real elections or a big charade? How are we going to make sure that every one's vote is counted, that INEC remains impartial and that the campaign is about ideas and not personalities, hope and not religion, the 21st century and not the politics of 1966?
There is hope my friends, if the energy we've spent fighting the third term should now be used generating ideas for tomorrow.
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
That bad day however, set the tone for today. I think I woke up on the wrong side of the bed on this my birthday. Funny how close some major birthdays are to me. Yesterday was Uju's birthday (she had a nice time, a little to my detriment), today is my birthday, today is also my sister's birthday (we are twins what do you expect!), tomorrow's Kayode's birthday (he was the one who dropped the bombshell), Saturday's my Uncle Ify's birthday, Saturday's also my mum's birthday (she turns 60 that day), next week has Nkiru, Godwin and Nosa. Wow!
Anyways, lest I deviate too much, I didn't sleep all that good because of Kayode's scud missile (something that I am itching to talk about, but I have to be patient until I have made confirmations), got up when PHCN (Problem Has Changed Name for those who didn't know) exercised their constitutional right at exactly 0354, then left for work at 0530. See, Lanre's car chose yesterday to develop a leak, Uche's car also chose yesterday to lock its gear (see what I am talking about when I say yesterday was horrible?). I got into a fight with some area boys at Ajah bus stop when they decided that they liked the look of my laptop bag. Some kind soul put a stop to that rubbish when it seemed they might have their way, then I got to work at 0601 (why is there no hold up when you need one?). I was the one who opened the office. Something I hate doing, and there I was all alone with my thoughts until Ami Okodugha walked in 32 minutes later...
First things first before going any further, I'd like to state here that based on the way things have gone for me in the last 18 hours or therabouts, I am pissed off with God. Bite me if you like for that, but it is the truth. It is frustrating when you put in so much prayer and try to stay on the straight and narrow, then you see other people who are not concerned about cutting a few corners getting ahead. Then some geezer comes and tells you that 'God's time is the best.' Cut me some slack. I have had a bad year on the average, and it just got worse. Thinking seriously of returning to my evil days...
Lest I sound like an ungrateful wretch, which maybe I am, I think I have to thank the following humans who have made life interesting in the last one year... Uche Anidobi (guy, try to like women), Lanre Badmus (for putting up with my kicking every evening), Aminu Bello (words of encouragement), Doro Bosini (wish you a happy married life), Tochukwu Ezeokafor (nice one man), Charles Ifinedo (be guided), Peter Ikenebomeh (thank God those Warri youths haven't gotten you), Oria Iyayi (best and most loyal pal a man can have), Seun Lawal (fixed me up when I was down), Ijeoma Nwagboso (for getting me addicted to Paloma), Bunmi Nwanze (provides me with a clear head and is extremely caring) , Nkechi Ogeah (ManU messed up against Ch€£$k¥), Akachi Okoro (I have disappointed him, but I will make it up), Kayode Olanipekun (not the Kayode with the scuds), Emeka Onyekonwu (try to learn the art of patience), Chiedu Onyido (my guy for life), Onyechi Ubaka (Forza Juve) Godwin Umoru (thanks for everything sir), Akpan Utande (vital intelligence provider), and Chippla Vandu (great read) . If there is anyone I forgot, it was inadvertent, my mind is in such a messed up state right now that I can't even think that straight.
Now my birthday is something that I never really celebrated, and over the years, I got used to people just ignoring me and celebrating with my sister, and that includes my friends. So Iwas pleasantly surprised when in my depression the texts started coming in... Ade Adene, Julum Nwanze, Nonso Nwanze, Oghale Ariawhorai, Mama, Obla Ogar, Andrew Enenmoh, Pearl Ezeokeke, Stella Hugbo, Ify Uraih, Chiedu Uraih, Emeka Onyekonwu, Boma Uadia (two people whose numbers I don't have: 08056513098, 08050351875), Nkiru Maka, Chiedu Onyido, Stephan from Juventuz (Stephan), Aaron from Juventuz (Enron), Tahir from Juventuz (Ze Tahir) and Kayode Babalola (yes, he is the one who dropped the scud, but he still found time to wish me a happy birthday, how nice of him). Thanks for remembering me y'all. I wish you all what you wish yourselves.
Please note, in much the same way I tend to forget my birthday, I also tend to forget other people's birthdays. Don't be offended people.
Meantime, since it's my birthday, I am demanding a new mobile. My phone has become a landline. The battery's all messed up! Over to you all...
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma is the former Deputy President of South Africa, and is still Deputy President of the ANC. A once popular figure even across political divides, he gained notoriety after his financial advisor, Mr Schabir Shaik, was convicted of corruption and fraud. This led to Zuma's dismissal as Deputy President of South Africa in June 2005. Zuma was formally charged with corruption soon after that.
In December 2005, he was also charged with rape in a Johannesburg High Court. During this trial, Zuma made a statement that I consider to be the most ignorant I have ever heard in my life! He suggested that taking a shower after sex would cut the risk of HIV transmission! Can you beat that? Of course attracted consternation and condemnation among health experts. He also said that there were no condoms available, but he that since he had to have sex with the woman (because when he was growing up, he was taught that it is wrong to arouse a woman and then leave her splayed on the bed without finishing the job).
Yesterday, the Court dismissed the charges against Mr Zuma, agreeing with Zuma that the sexual act in question was consensual.
What I am concerned about however is this kind of ignorance which perpetuates the spread of HIV is quite common among a lot of people. We have 'chairmen' in Naija who go about participating in orgies because AIDS na poor man sickness! People rape infants in South Africa, because of local myths that having sex with a virgin would cure HIV. The spread of HIV should not be as fast as it is today. According to the UN, one in five South African's are HIV-positive, one in twenty Nigerians (that would turn out to be a whooping 7.5 million souls) have the virus. In the West on the other hand, HIV is more or less relegated to drug users sharing needles (at least that is what their media would have us believe). Such imbalance if it is true, is too great. Having a person like Zuma spouting such nonsense doesn't help.
Personally, I am disappointed with the jury for letting him go. I'd have locked him up just because of that statement!
Monday, May 08, 2006
Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke believes so much in the president and his economic reform programmes that she usually does not hesitate in taking on those who attempt criticism of the reforms. This was evident at a recent presentation of facts behind the Figures on the floor of Nigerian Stock Exchange by Access Bank plc.
One of those in attendance at the event stood up and asked Aigboje Aig-Imokhuede, CEO of Access Bank, if Nigerian banks were not again threading the old path which led to distress in the sector with the huge loans they are granting to some customers.
The questioner said he needed to say this in view of the perilous business environment of the country. The description of Nigerian business environment as perilous immediately brought back to life Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke who was by then dozing.
Rather than allow the CEO of Access Bank to answer the question, she seized the microphone and lectured the questioner about the excellent performance of the Nigerian economy and the capital market.
She castigated those who, in her words, seek to dress down Nigeria and her economic progress, saying those who don't want Nigeria to be great will never be great in Jesus name.
She is unarguably the most influential woman in Nigeria's corporate world today. Perhaps, there is no better way of measuring her influence than the role she has been playing in Transnational Corporation of Nigeria, Transcorp, a mega firm with a target N66 billion capital base formed last year with the strategic intent of pooling resources from some of Nigeria's richest businesses for investment in four core areas: oil and gas, agriculture, power, and information. With personalities like Festus Odimegwu, CEO, NB plc; Femi Otedola, president, Zenon Oil; Alhaji Aliko Dangote, Chairman, Dangote Industries; Jim Ovia and Tony Elumelu, CEOs of Zenith Bank and the UBA Group respectively as the moving spirit behind the mega corporation, Transcorp can be rightly described as the club of Nigeria's richest businessmen.
But like an Amazon, Ndi Okereke-Onyiuke, Director-General of Nigerian Stock Exchange, bosses them all! It's therefore not a surprise that the onus of defending Transcorp and indeed, Corporate Nigeria, against allegations of surreptitiously funding campaign for the extension of tenure of President Olusegun Obasanjo fell on her.
Indeed, starting from 1993 when she rallied members of Corporate Nigeria to raise funds for Chief M.K.O. Abiola, the late President of NSE and Presidential candidate of the Social Democratic Party, SDP, in the presidential election of that year, Okereke-Onyiuke has gradually become an important player in national politics. True, the NSE DG is not a politician, as she affirmed at the Transcorp's press conference last Wednesday, but as she demonstrated during the 2003 elections, her ability to rally the support of Corporate Nigeria for any candidate can bring in billions of naira in campaign funds.
She is also one of the few who have the ears of the President and is a firm supporter of the economic reform program of the present administration. As the boss of NSE, her influence is as huge as her physical frame. Stockbrokers stridently avoid incurring her wrath. She's also not one to shy away from a fight, even if it's against the Securities & Exchange Commission, SEC, which by statutory provision should be the supervisor of the NSE. This was the case in 2004 when the then Director-General of SEC, Suleiman Ndanusa attempted to rein-in the NSE boss over her behavior at the Facts Behind The Figures of NB plc held on the floor of the Exchange. Apart from her generally cavalier attitude to what should ordinarily be a very serious event on the part of Festus Odimegwu, CEO, NB plc, the NSE DG was shown on television advising prospective investors to go and borrow money to invest in the breweries' stock if need be because of the potential yield. I don't think a regular should do that. This should be left for analysts and stockbrokers. A regular, according to Ndanusa, is not expected to canvass for companies. This further intensified the cold war that had been on between the bosses of the two organizations. SEC under Ndamusa had, earlier in 2002, indicted the NSE over the illegal sale of about N300 million worth of shares of some blue chip companies by some fraudulent stockbrokers on the floor of the Stock Exchange. SEC's Administrative Proceedings Committee chaired by Ndanusa, which investigated the fraud, indicted the NSE leadership for lack of proper monitoring of happenings in the Exchange and accused the NSE of allowing individual operators to transact business on its floor without valid registration, contrary to the provisions of ISA in 1999 and the Rules and Regulations there under.
Onyiuke was obviously not comfortable with Ndamusa as a supervisor. So, when the SEC helmsman failed to get his tenure renewed at the expiration of his first term in 2004, many easily accused the NSE boss of pulling the strings in high places to ensure the former SEC DG vacated his post.
It is also believed that Musa Al-Faki,a stockbroker who succeeded Ndanusa, was appointed on the recommendation of Onyiuke. Observers of the Stock Exchange said this was why the SEC helmsman failed to intervene in the controversy between the Stock Exchange and Chartered Institute Stockbrokers, CIS, over the introduction of the Trade Alert system by the Exchange last year. The Trade Alert, a system in which shareholders are alerted through their mobile phones whenever there is any transaction on their shares, was launched with pomp on 24 March 2005.
Trade Alert, according to the NSE, was designed to prevent illegal transactions in the accounts of shareholders. The NSE initially made subscription to the system compulsory for all shareholders. But CIS opposed this, arguing that the annual subscription fee of N7, 500 would be too much for investors with small shareholdings. This forced the NSE to exempt investors with shares worth N50, 000 and below from the scheme. But CIS argued that even some investors with shares of over N50,000 in their portfolios do not realize as much as N7,500 as returns on their investment and would rather want the scheme to be made optional.
At the heat of the controversy, the CIS circulated documents in which various allegations were leveled against the leadership of the Exchange. The NSE DG was accused by the CIS of having interest in Adonai-Net, the South Africa-based company which is managing the scheme. Okereke-Onyiuke was enraged by the accusation. She ordered the CIS to vacate the floor it had been occupying free of charge in the Stock Exchange building for being ungrateful. Some officers of the CIS who were at the vanguard of the protest against the Trade Alert scheme were barred from trading on the floor of the stock exchange. Journalists covering the capital market who had been reporting the arguments of the CIS against the scheme were also not spared. The NSE boss called a press conference in which she took the pressmen to the cleaners for being ungrateful to the NSE, which, she said, had over the years been gracious in sponsoring them to free workshops and seminars.
Friday, May 05, 2006
It's only been about two years since Linux started becoming a significant factor in mobile phones, an arena that has been dominated by Symbian, Microsoft, and proprietary operating systems. With the growing complexity of mobile phones, feature phones, and smart phones -- plus increasing time-to-market pressures -- there's a clear movement toward off-the-shelf, third-party operating systems based on industry standards, and Linux figures to be a major beneficiary of that trend.
How rosy is the mobile communications picture for Linux? Early indications in just the first two months of this year are that it will be very positive indeed. Consider Motorola, for example, one of the big three in mobile handsets, which brought its first Linux phone (pictured) to market in 2003.
Today, smartphones running Linux represent over ten percent of Motorola's mobile phone sales in China, where it enjoys the number one market position. And China, of course, is the biggest market for mobile phones today. Motorola sources its Linux from MontaVista, as do two other major mobile phone vendors: NEC and Panasonic.
Yet Linux has had virtually no impact on the mobile phones being sold in the US. Nevertheless, with the Model E680, a heavily multimedia-oriented device, Motorola recently bowed its first Linux phone for the US market, which may presage more to come.
Trolltech certainly thinks so. That company is the provider of the Qtopia development environment and graphical user interface (pictured) used by many Linux mobile phone makers. Trolltech CEO Haavard Nord told LinuxDevices.com that 2005 would be a "breakout" year for Linux mobile phones and predicted that over twenty new devices were on the way, representing a new market "surge" for Linux handsets. Notable among these will be the first Linux phone from Ningbo Bird, the largest Chinese mobile phone manufacturer and exporter, expected to be launched by the middle of this year.
Early 2005 also saw the completion of PalmSource's acquisition of China MobileSoft and the adoption of several of its software products, including a Linux software stack for smartphones. Previously, in December of 2004, PalmSource had announced its plans to migrate to Linux in pursuit of the feature phone and smart phone markets, as well as its intention to soon offer the PalmOS as a middleware and application stack for Linux mobile phones.
Elsewhere during early 2005, Texas Instruments bowed a mobile phone reference design that includes an embedded Linux software stack, and Sky MobileMedia Inc. announced the integration of its SKY-MAP software platform with MontaVista's embedded Linux operating system. According to Sky CEO Richard Sfeir, Linux is becoming "the operating platform of choice for handset manufacturers requiring a robust and high performing operating system." Many feature-phone makers are "migrating to Linux for higher performance products," he said.
Moreover, there was one other bit of news in early 2005 that bodes well for the future of Linux in mobile phones: the revelation at the 3GSM conference in February that a second of the big three mobile phone makers, Samsung Electronics, has collaborated on a reference design for a 3G Linux smartphone (pictured) with Infineon Technologies, Trolltech, and Emuzed. That design includes not just a Samsung application processor and camera module, but a Samsung optimized Linux kernel as well.
As for Nokia, it is the only one of the leading trio of mobile phone makers that has made no noise about Linux. That's not very surprising, however, since Nokia holds a major stake in Symbian, a vendor that Linux interests are trying to displace. 2006 and beyond are going to be very interesting...
Thursday, May 04, 2006
If I am unaware of the conditions that we Nigerians are in, I still realize daily - and how ! - our misery. We suffer terribly, there is such a misery in this country that it's necessary for someone to talk about it. I am devoting myself to speak about it. The truth must be said, before death comes to us. Some may just 'want to live their lives' and as a result, ask people like me to shut the hell up. One day perhaps, such people will approve of my philosophy, but while they wait, I ask you all to open your ears well and listen to the truth I say.
Back in the 1970s, a financial scandal leaked in the press, making statement of the existence of secret public funds abroad. Feeling a threat come up, Obasanjo ordered the arrest of supposed perpetrators. While they are condemned to fifteen years of prison, they hardly spent a year in detention when they were given freedom and declared innocent. That's how 2.8 billion naira disappeared. I think that while they are fattened with such money, the rest of us suffer of hunger. If I, Fela, challenge Obasanjo at the presidential elections, once again he will operate to weasel me out of the race. He can still throw me in prison, I am ready !
It's a wayo government which directs us, help !!
This is my translation of the song Army Arrangement. This song was released sometime in the 80s (1985 I think).
At the time 1 naira was worth 1 US dollar
The head of the military junta at the time of the story the song refers to, enemy number 1 of Fela. Olusegun Obasanjo. He was the one who ordered the ransack of the house of the singer in 1977 which Fela sings about in Unknown Soldier. He returned thanks to the democratic elections of 1999, he is the current president of Nigeria.
We expressed faith and trust in him (and some pity as well, thanks to Abacha), by letting him rule us once again. He has done a relatively good job it must be said, given the circumstances. I personally don't think that either Falae or Buhari would have done better. But the fact remains that even in today's Naija as in the 70s, soldiers still shoot protesters dead. The fact remains that there is no light in our houses.
Some people (always unfailingly) bring up the issue of GSM. And I ask who initially granted GSM licenses?
Why is the president routinely avoiding talking about the third term thing when it is tearing the country apart?
I am tired of all this. I truly am.