Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Repost: Is it fair to blame Nigeria for the world's fraud woes

The following article was published on this blog over a year ago. I got it from another blog, which is devoted to fighting fraud. I am republishing it because of the battle still raging on my class forums about where the blame for fraud lies. I talked about that battle yesterday. There is also an interesting opinion on Omo Ibadan's blog about this same issue...

I recently read an article, where many Nigerians were upset about a series of stories done by CNN. The reason they were upset was because they felt that the story depicted that all Nigerians were corrupt. This made me reflect that there are many of out there - who when a fraud is discovered - seem to automatically classify it as being of "Nigerian" origin.

This evening, I came across a story from the Online Journal: "New version of Nigerian phishing e-mail scam promises jobs, riches, poker and great lunches" - which is essentially calling "phishing" a Nigerian scam. After reading it, I started to understand why Nigerians might find some of this offensive. To read the article: Click Here.

This inspired me to do a little digging.

Since I've done a little research on phishing, I decided to refer to the Anti Phishing Working Group and their most recent report (May), which coincidentally reported a "all-time" record of recorded "phishing attempts."

Nigeria isn't even listed in their "top-ten."

According to the APWG:

"In May, Websense Security Labs saw a continuation of the top three countries hosing phishing websites. The United States remains the on the top of the list with 34.1%. The rest of the top 10 breakdown is as follows: China 15%, Republic of Korea 8.17%, France 3.94%, Germany 3.38%, Japan 2.65%, Malaysia 2.59%, Canada 2.37%, Italy 2.02%, and Brazil 1.7%."

If the APWG is correct - then how could phishing be called a Nigerian scam?

Advance fee - which is also referred to as 419 - has taken on many forms and is a worldwide problem. A lot of it originates in Europe, Canada and even the United States. Lottery scams - which are one form - seem to be coming from Canada, or Great Britain and Romance scams from Eastern Europe are a huge issue.

Recently one of the bogus tools, used in advance fee scams have been counterfeit, or altered money orders. People are tricked into cashing these items and wiring the money back to a "fraudster." According to the U.S. Postal Inspection Service - they are being produced (the counterfeit items) in Eastern Europe and West Africa. So far as the altered items - they seem to be produced in the U.S. Prison System and are used primarily in Romance Scams.

I did mention West Africa - but only as one source - and Nigeria is only one of the countries in West Africa. So far as the "other sources," we can look to points of origin that aren't even anywhere near Nigeria, including the United States.

Interestingly enough, what many term as "Nigerian Fraud," wasn't invented in Nigeria and can be traced back to 1588 AD - what what is known as the "Spanish Prisoner Letter."

Another fact - which many of us - fail to "recognize" is that Nigeria is doing something about their problems with fraud. In fact, some might argue that they are pursuing it more "aggresively" than in many of the other countries mentioned in this post.

In recent years, Nigeria has led a very public campaign against corruption within Nigeria. President Olusegun Obasanjo formed the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which has been extremely aggressive in fighting fraud in Nigeria. Recently, they were taken off a money laundering "blacklist" and for a list of stories - where they have made an impact - link, here.

There is little doubt that Nigeria realizes it has a fraud problem and that there are "good guys" over there fighting the "good fight."

They key to winning the war is for the "good guys" to work together and go after those who are bad.

So far as the rest of us - the next time we run across a scam on the Internet - perhaps we should take a deeper look at it's point of origin. Not only is it unfair to blame the world's fraud problem on Nigeria, but it confuses efforts to bring forth resolution.

A twist in the tale

I've told my friend Ade to write a book. He is either too lazy, or something else. He writes quite well. This arrived in my mail a few minutes ago, and has done a lot to help me relax from an otherwise hectic day. Enjoy...

My aunty lives on one of those G.R.As built in the days when Nigeria had not lost its innocence. The buildings are simple; there is no high fencing or barbed-wires…..the whole place just gives off this air of serenity that is an increasingly rare experience in the haven of bedlam that this city has become.

I spend weekends there occasionally, and one of the highlights of such visits is the walk along the roadsides on cobble-stoned kerbs under whistling pine trees….. You could walk from one end of the estate to the other and not meet a (living) soul long the way. Such was the utter serenity that enveloped the place until this last Sunday afternoon.

My attention was captured initially by the raised voices one of which was a female’s. In time the pictures caught up with the speed of sound and I saw the dramatis personae……… an otherwise decent-looking middle-aged female in a batik fabric boubou. She had the shirt-front of a rather gaunt Hausa –looking fellow in a vice-like grip (I’ve always been perplexed as to how a woman would find the nerve to grab a total stranger by the shirt-front at the least provocation, what if he has the social graces of a warthog?!)

She was raining invectives on the poor fellow, who- from the kegs of water and push-cart lying by their side, I figured was a mai ruwa. Inspite of the uber high-decibel level altercation they were having, they had not managed to attract a crowd.
As I approached them, the lady took the hand that had been resting on her hips from that position and chose to send it on a wind-assisted mission to the guy’s face with the ferocity of a tsunami-induced ocean wave crashing against a building it intended to fell!!

I knew there and then that this was going to get very ugly. Hausa/Fulani culture doesn't allow females the kind of latitude they enjoy elsewhere…..The average woman in those climes exists at the pleasure of the dominant male in her story(husband/father)who was the alpha, omega and every other thing in between .

While perhaps the water-seller had restrained hitherto himself in the face of what was ordinarily unacceptable behaviour from a female where he came from (and indeed anywhere else!) the slap was the straw that obliterated the entire spinal column of the camel!
He violently (I don’t imagine he would have succeeded otherwise!) knocked her hands off his clothes and followed up with a left and right combination that would have impressed Floyd Mayweather Jnr. and knocked Bash Ali out cold.

The combination was followed up with a flurry of vicious punches that to the head region of the woman who was struggling to stand up having been felled by the first salvo.
By this time, all her invectives and initial bravado had become shouts and cries for help.

It is pertinent to note here that this entire episode was taking place on the drive-in to an apartment which I found out was the woman’s home when a red pick-up truck emblazoned with the logo and name of one of Nigeria’s biggest generating set manufacturers screeched to a halt at the crime scene.

Three rather burly men jumped out of the vehicle (one of them later turned out to be the woman’s husband) and they were soon followed by the driver of the truck.

The water-seller was so carried away with the “field-day” he was having with the woman that he did’nt immediately notice the rescue team advancing towards him. His glee was interrupted by the round-house form the first member of the rescue team to reach him……

Some people say Hausa/Fulani people aren't very smart. This guy must’ve been the exception to that silly rule…As he was sent reeling backwards by the force of the punch he’d just received; he had a good look at the opposition, did a quick S.W.O.T test, saw that the odds were stacked precariously against him, sent his feet an IM and took off….

It is pertinent to note that he did all of this inside of 15 seconds….IMPRESSIVE….VERY IMPRESSIVE

Unfortunately however, an enraged husband is not daunted by a fleeing malo, moreso when he has 2 or 3 heavies in tow who are not going to let up on an opportunity to display loyalty to the boss on an occasion as opportune as this.

So malo was running and hubby & co. were pursuing….As the gap between them increased, they pursuers decided to send an advance party of medium-sized stones which were hitting target with frightening accuracy.

Malo ducked into the premises of the construction firm doing some renovation work on the premises –a mostly deserted site occupied by a couple of heavy-duty machines; the pursuers ran in after him.

By now a few people had come out of their houses to find out what the harum-scarum was all about……I doubt if they’d ever witnessed that much uproar before.

Before long the pursuers emerged from the desolate site with one of them dragging someone behind him. I say someone because it definitely didn't look like malo.

This guy was essentially naked-save for a tattered pair of brown underpants trying – without success, to hide his “crown jewels”. He had deep lacerations all over his badly-bruised and sickeningly-bloodied body. His left-eye had become a muddy ping-pong ball and the right one was fighting a lost cause by way of trying to stay open………..

The grievous harm already done to this young man’s body was being exacerbated by his being dragged along the cobble-stoned kerb………..

I began 2 feel sorry 4 malo

I also began to feel a slight vibration along my thigh and an increasing ringing sensation in my head……

Shit!!…(pardon my Punjabi!) 6:50 a.m. !!! I don late today……who say make I dey watch late night movie sef!!!!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Yahoo Boys

We are having an argument on my class forum about the 419 thing, and its effects on our reputation. Myself and Maestro are about the only people saying that the blame is on both sides, a lot of others would rather we blame ourselves only. This is one of my replies...

Vik, yes I love my country, and as I have told you on so many occasions, if I find a job back home that would offer me good pay based on my qualifications, but more importantly, the right environment to practice what I love doing, I would go back in a heart beat. There would be in my opinion, nothing sweeter than being buoyant enough to travel out of Nigeria when I feel like seeing another part of the world, but living in Nigeria so I don't have to be extra careful at every step for fear of being deported. That being said, we also have to be realistic, and being realistic in my case means that the likelihood is that such a job where it exists in Nigeria, I would be taking away someone else's chances, and as a direct result saturating an already saturated labour market even more. I know for certain that neither Gateway Bank (now Intercontinental), MicroAccess or Itex would give me the kind of pay I'm earning now, hell, it is probably only in the oil sector I'll get that, and as they say, love is not blind. But that is a moot point to the topic under discussion.

As to the allegation that I am sympathetic to gee-men, that is simply not true. Tex himself knows that I actually cut off two friends of mine in BDPA for the reason that they went into 419. Why he would then allege that I'm sympathetic to that area of life is something that myself and himself would have to settle the next time we meet face to face.

I appreciate the fact that a highly intelligent person such as Tex would praise my write ups in public. Things such as that praise are the little things that enable me to carry on writing despite the abuse that I have received over some of these write ups, especially when I touch on issues that as a matter of course evoke a lot of sentiments. As some of you may know, I have been called all sorts of names in virtually every topic I write on (the only thing I desperately try to avoid is religion). You only need to read the insults I got for the article on the census as an example. All these insults are because I try to remain objective, which is something that I must admit is hard to do. Objectivity by its very definition means that one should look at issues without one's own personal feelings being part of such analysis. That is a tasking job, but let us try and look at the issue on the ground without referring to each other, and as much as it is possible, without involving our personal feelings.

It is very true, that the 419 scourge has given Nigeria, and Nigerians, a very bad image the world over. However, we would be doing ourselves the greatest injustice if we let it weigh us down, which is something that we have. Being held up at airports simply because you are Nigerian is an indignity that not even Arabs face, despite the fact that everyone agrees that they are more likely to be suicide bombers. The question then becomes why? South Africa has the highest rate of rape in the world, but South Africans aren't routinely hounded in the media as potential rapists, paedophiles and what have you, neither are they routinely held up at airports. Once again, why? Last year, a group of Nigerian academics, my father included, were held up at the O'Hare Airport in Chicago on their way to a conference in the US. The immigrations people on seeing that they are Nigerians decided to subject them to the indignity of cavity searches, this despite the fact that all of them are on diplomatic passports which would normally exclude them from the regular entry checks. The old men refused to be searched in such a manner, and were refused entry into the United States until the organisers of the conference were contacted to verify their credentials. Even at that, they were assigned a Secret Service escort for the duration of their stay, and I can assure you that that escort wasn't there to protect them. Would those officials request a cavity search from a group of Saudi academics? 419 involves electronic transfers, a potential suicide bomber is more likely to be carrying ammonia in his rectum. So why the disparity? Why is there an almost concerted effort in the media to make Arabs appear like normal people while there is almost a concerted effort to make it seem as though all Nigerians are criminals?

One of the basic laws of economics, whether it is formal economics such as legitimate trade, or the more informal economics such as crime, is that for every demand there has to be a supply. Demand fuels supply, so if the demand is stopped the supply would have no choice but to dry up. This is the reasoning in the fight against drugs. The attacks in places like Colombia have continued, but at the same time there is a realisation that if they don't get their own people off drugs, the drug barons will simply find new and probably more inventive ways of getting their goods across. If on the other hand something is done to make the trade less lucrative, or get people off drugs entirely, the trade will die a natural death. Despite all this, we don't see media reports branding every and all Colombians as the next Pablo Escobar. Those of you who have been to Miami airport can't have failed to notice the large sign there warning people about travelling to Lagos. Yet this same Miami is the gateway to Bogota - and there is no sign there warning people about travelling to Bogota! That is unjust, and that is what my own rant is about. 419 itself, and in the advance fee fraud format actually began in Spain, but we have never heard for one second a show branding all Spaniards as frauds, and this despite the fact that up until today you are more than likely to get your next lottery winning notification from a .es email address. The brand of the 'game' popularised by Nigerians is the "my father left me $1million format"...

I like the reference to the 'Ghana must go' era. That in my opinion was a good example of one of those times when we let xenophobia rule us, and in a round about way is a good example of the issue on the ground. Questions: did driving the Ghanaians away stop the rot in our country? Did stereotyping the Ghanaians make their country worse than it already was at the time? Answers to both: NO.

On the issue of trusting Nigerians, the answer to that lies to some extent in this YouTube video. Note the point where the clip from 1987 came in. Nigeria was referred to as a place more likely to produce criminals than most. This video was made in 1987, before 419 as we know it even began! Yes, they have always stereotyped us, and that is not about to go away. This is no conspiracy theory, it is fact. For some reason, we are not liked, and the sooner we face up to that, the better. We must also realise that when someone doesn't like you, no matter how much you try to please him, he still wouldn't like you. I will come to that later.

Yes, I regularly talk about the American media's negative reporting of issues Nigerian, but I am yet to see anything that proves me wrong. I once showed an example with two reports on the issue of 419. One American, one British. No one could have failed to notice the disparity in both reports. Wheras one report made it look like absolutely nothing is being done to fight the 419 thing, the other acknowledged that something (no matter how small) is being done. Yet another fact of life is that when a system has become so bad, you can only fight it one step at a time, anything other than that would lead to anarchy. A solid example of this is Zimbabwe. Do we want that in our country? In the run in to the elections of April, the American media ran a lot of articles in which they to all intents and purposes predicted that by now there would be a civil war in Nigeria. Has the war started? There is no conspiracy theory here, simply the knowledge that the Americans are just being smart. The Middle East is in chaos. Oil prices are at their highest levels since Yom Kippur. If the impression is created that the other potential oil supply areas are half as bad as te MidEast, profits would rise beyond imaginable levels. That is Macchiavellian politics at its best, and that is something I resent because I am a Nigerian who is at the receiving end, but admire when I have to be dispassionate. Meanwhile as to the reference to the Abu Ghraib crimes, it took the Brits to break the news before CNN got in on the act. Fox even up until now still tries to water it down. Everyone tries to protect his interests, it is simply human nature, and that brings us to my next point.

Our country is bad. Our country is corrupt. Nothing works in our country. We all know that. To accuse me of overlooking all that is tantamount to calling white black because my articles are littered with numerous examples of the rot in Nigeria. However, I have reached the realisation that the world would treat Nigeria, and by extension Nigerians, the way we treat ourselves. You can't arrest an American, or a Brit, or a Spaniard, or a Frenchman, or an Arab, in Nigeria just like that. Their Foreign Ministries would go as far as summoning our ambassador to demand an explanation. Yet, Osamuyiwa was killed in Spain, and it took the efforts of Nigerian individual, not the Nigerian government to get the Spaniards to even acknowledge that something went wrong. The Nigerian embassy in the UK even initially turned back the Nigerians who went there to lodge a protest. That is the reason that there is this focus on Nigerians like we are all criminals, because the media knows that they can get away with it. Great example, let us see if the Russians will ever extradite Lugovoi. I wouldn't hold my breath that it would happen, yet no one is going to start a campaign labelling all the 150 million Russians as potential assassins.

To paraphrase Tex, I have spoken.

P.S The particular thread I replied to is left below for the sake of objectivity, there are many more replies to this topic, but not in this particular thread I responded to. Names have been removed except they be nicknames...

----- Original Message ----
From: Don Vik
To: unibeneng2003@yahoogroups.com
Sent: Sunday, 29 July, 2007 9:17:18 PM
Subject: Re: [UNIBEN Engineers 2003] Re: Yahoo boys

Cheta loves his country!

Chxta wrote:

No one ever said anything about joining them. However what we all seem to forget are certain parallels that need pointing out.

Colombia has a rebel insurgency worse than the crap happening in the Niger Delta, and that rebellion has been on for the better part of three decades. Same Colombia has a reputation for being the centre of the international drugs trade. While there is the token travel advice against travel to parts of Colombia, we don't hear stories of all Colombians being harassed at airports simply because of their nationality. We don't see Oprah Winfrey making shows in which she virtually implies that all Colombians are drug peddlers.

I have written against 419 before, and people know my stand against it. However I am also against biased coverage and stereotyping, which is what we are facing now.


Drop a line at Chxta's World


----- Original Message ----
From: Idaku
To: unibeneng2003@ yahoogroups. com
Sent: Sunday, 29 July, 2007 8:46:45 PM
Subject: [UNIBEN Engineers 2003] Re: Yahoo boys

there is truth in what you say, because there is a need, there will be
a seller, just like the international drug trade, rich countries in
the west are the markets for the drugs grown in the poor regions of
south America. But that does not give Nigerians a reason to continue
in this immoral activity. as an uncle of mine said, that someone is
behaving crazy does not mean you should join him in his mad macabre
dance.

--- In unibeneng2003@ yahoogroups. com, Chxta wrote:
>
> The Americans are refusing to look at that channel because it would
be an admission of guilt on their part, which they don't want. Our
people are refusing to look at that channel because we want to please
the Americans.
>
> Drop a line at Chxta's World
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Maestro
> To: unibeneng2003@ yahoogroups. com
> Sent: Saturday, 28 July, 2007 8:39:06 PM
> Subject: Re: [UNIBEN Engineers 2003] Yahoo boys
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
>
> Why are the Americans and the rest of us refusing to
look at the issue of the demand for what this yahoo yahoo boys have to
offer?.....if the greedy idiocy of the aver
> age American isnt dealt wit....all of these ABC documentaries will
be nothing but documentaries just like what U see on Discovery channel.
> Chxta wrote:
> This man sef, y u wan start to dey harass person na?
>
> Drop a line at Chxta's World
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Mooch
> To: unibeneng2003@ yahoogroups. com
> Sent: Thursday, 26 July, 2007 12:28:41 PM
> Subject: Re: [UNIBEN Engineers 2003] Yahoo boys
>
>
>
> So what are you saying in essence..... . That you have never
'chop' yahoo yahoo money?
> Dont let me talk o o o o o .......
>
> THINK BIG.. THINK SMART.. THINK
> POSITIVE.. THINK BEAUTIFUL.. THINK GREAT..
> THATZ TOO MUCH THINKING.. SO... HERE'Z A SHORTCUT.. JUST THINK
JESUS!!!
>
> EXCUSES ARE THE TOOLS OF THE INCOMPETENT, THEY ARE MONUENTS OF
NOTHINGNESS AND THOSE THAT USE THEM ARE NOT WISE!!!
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Chxta
> To: unibeneng2003@ yahoogroups. com
> Sent: Thursday, 26 July, 2007 9:32:56 AM
> Subject: Re: [UNIBEN Engineers 2003] Yahoo boys
>
>
> Don Vik my dear, you are one of the closest people to me on this
forum, so let me spell it out. I have (as you know) been harassed at
an airport because of my passport. My 'blind patriotism' isn't what
you think it is. It is simply a refusal to let some myopic idiots make
me feel dirty and humiliated because of the actions of some of my
countrymen.
>
> Drop a line at Chxta's World
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Don Vik
> To: unibeneng2003@ yahoogroups. com
> Sent: Wednesday, 25 July, 2007 10:06:55 PM
> Subject: Re: [UNIBEN Engineers 2003] Yahoo boys
>
> Cheta, if not that I know
> you, I would have vowed that you "chop" yahoo yahoo money too. I
don't envy your blind patroitism.
>
> Asterix wrote:
> Yes the americans are trying to distract thier people from
issues else where, soooo? So why did we give them the opportunity to
use us to achieve this aim? Thier using us to achieve thier aim or not
does not change the fact of the matter!!!
>
> True a majority of Nigerians are not like this idiot, but there is
a saying that goes thus.." Na small shit dey spoil yansh"...
> Not all Iraqi all Nigerian politicians are corrupt, Not all white
men during the racist era were racists, not all objects that go up
these days come down... in essence what am I trying to say???
>
> More often than not, valid examples of any issues placed in front
of us weighs heavily on our judgement. Humans tend to remember more
of what we see than what we hear. That videos showed a terrible
picture of Nigerians non of us is proud of. They say a picture is
worth a thousand words... but trust me.. a properly editted picture is
worth over a million words...That video clip was proper editted and
thus it is saying in more than a millions words unpleasant things
about Nigeria.
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Chxta
> To: unibeneng2003@ yahoogroups. com
> Sent: Wednesday, July 25, 2007 10:04:34 AM
> Subject: Re: [UNIBEN Engineers 2003] Yahoo boys
>
> Yeah right. So what would you do about it? Wallow in shame or
let your actions speak up? The harsh fact is this: bad news travels
faster than good. Another blunt fact is that the majority of Nigerians
are not like those idiots. Yet another fact is that the American media
is looking for ways to distract their peoples attention from issues
elsewhere. If we let them get away with it by wallowing in shame and
self pity, they would have achieved their aim.
>
> Direct question: Asterix, are you like that?
>
> Drop a line at Chxta's World
>
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Asterix
> To: unibeneng2003@ yahoogroups. com
> Sent: Wednesday, 25 July, 2007 3:55:29 AM
> Subject: Re: [UNIBEN Engineers 2003] Yahoo boys
>
>
> Honestly speaking have never been so ashamed...
>
> ----- Original Message ----
> From: Baba T
> To: unibeneng2003@ yahoogroups. com
> Sent: Tuesday, July 24,
> 2007 7:35:35 PM
> Subject: [UNIBEN Engineers 2003] Yahoo boys
>
> Quite interesting video.
>
>
> http://abcnews. go.com/Video/ playerIndex? id=2935397
>
> Park yourself in front of a world of choices in alternative
vehicles.
> Visit the Yahoo! Auto Green Center.
>
>
>
>
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>
>
>
>
> Yahoo! Mail is the world's favourite email. Don't settle for
less, sign up for your free account today.
>
>
>
>
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>
>
>
>
>
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>
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it now.
>
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>
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less, sign up for your free account today.
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>
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>
> Yahoo! Mail is the world's favourite email. Don't settle for
less, sign up for your free account today.
>
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> ClubMaestro
>
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> Yahoo! Answers - Got a question? Someone out there knows the answer.
Try it
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>



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Sunday, July 29, 2007

Chxta goes to the Emirates


Picture with David Villa of Valencia. More pictures of the ground breaking trip when I'm in the mood...

Juve watch

We lost today's friendly with Newcastle while I was watching Arsenal beat the bleeding Interista. They'd better shape up when I'm in Sunderland for Saturday's game...

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Let he that is without sin




Extremely powerful message that the human race seems to have forgotten...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Preventing browsers from accessing certain websites

My boss asked me to prevent some members of staff having access to the Internet. Normally that would mean creating an access list on the server and removing them from it. However what he meant was that they should be able to access the company's intranet, access their emails (official emails) and a few other things which have to be done online.

This means that one should limit the access on the individual system, for the browser only. The following is how it could be done in both Internet Explorer and Firefox. I think it would prove useful when my kids come of age...

1. Copy the text below and paste it into Notepad:

Code:
((PICS-version 1.0)
(rating-system "http://www.microsoft.com")
(rating-service "http://www.microsoft.com")
(name "Noaccess")
(description "This file will block all sites.")

(category
(transmit-as "m")
(name "Yes")
(label
(name "Level 0: No Setting")
(description "No Setting")
(value 0) )
(label
(name "Level 1: No Setting")
(description "No Setting")
(value 1) ) ))


Name this file 'noaccess.rat', and make sure that it is a normal ASCII text file. Save this file into the C:\Windows\system32 directory...



2. In Control Panel, double-click to open the Internet Options icon, and then click the Content tab.



3. Click Enable.

If the Enable button is not visible, and you only see the Disable button, then Content Advisor is already enabled and you should stop now or risk losing all your existing settings. If you wish to continue, then click the Settings button in place of the Enable button.
4. On the General tab, click the Rating Systems button, and then remove all the existing rating systems entries.



5. Click Add, and then click to select noaccess.rat.
6. Click OK to close the Rating Systems window.
7. Select the Approved Sites tab.
8. Add only the sites that you want users to be able to access, and then click the Always button.



All other settings should be left at their default settings. If you have used Content Advisor before and made any changes, there are two settings that must be put back to their default values.
9. Click the General tab, and make sure that under User options, the setting Users can see sites that have no rating is not checked.
10. Click the Advanced tab. Under Ratings bureau, set the Ratings bureau list box to [None].


If you use Firefox, just download the BlockSite plugin, and you are in business.



Edit: the boys aren't happy with this new state of affairs at all.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Best sex advisors?



Is this a case of experience being the best teacher or a case of what an old man sees sitting down a young man can never see even if he climbs a mountain?

Quote:
FHM prides itself as the magazine for young men who think they know it all.

But, because it's not often that they actually do, lads' mag FHM has drafted in a bit of experience – more than 400 years' worth to be precise.

The lifestyle title has hired four centenarian agony uncles to dispense great-great-grandfatherly advice to its troubled readers.

Dubbed 'the centurians', the elderly role models will answer a range of questions through their new column, which will feature alongside FHM regulars such as High Street Honeys and Ladies' Confessions – not to mention numerous scantily clad women.

Quite what they will make of stories about impromptu lesbian endeavours and groupie confessions is hard to guess, but deputy editor Chris Bell is confident they will provide a valuable service.

He said: 'More than ever, the modern man needs guidance. Living away from parents, where does your average 18 to 30-year-old get the experience and wisdom we crave?

'Not from “role models” like Pete Doherty and Russell Brand, that's for sure. So FHM decided to find some real heroes.'

Helping today's twentysomething men navigate their way through their misspent youth will be 100-year-olds Eric Woodward, Buster Martin and Alec Holden, and Harry Patch, 109.

In their first column, the men answer questions on subjects from career problems to relationships.

But their answers show little of the fireside manner usually associated with their generation.

Asked by a man whether he should give in to his girlfriend's wish to get married – even though he's not in love with her – Buster replies: 'If you don't like her, then why the hell are you with her?

'You want shooting for that attitude.'

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Post goes down

"As Boso and Anonymous pointed out, the list is old however that doesn't remove the fact that people should have known. The important thing Chxta is that you shouldn't have named the schools involved. That would hurt the innocent students still studying there who have no say in the 'mismanagement' of their schools."

That comment made by Em informs this decision to delete the offending post. It is too true.

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Adeniji and Iweala fiasco

This morning on the train to work, we were in a closed carriage (don’t know why they failed to open the windows), and someone took it upon himself (or herself) to change the constitution of the air. I am still gasping for breath…


Last Friday we all ran off relatively early from work when the news came in that a lot of the transport services were down because of the rains. These were rains that to my mind weren’t heavy, when you consider some of the
scheisse we are used to back home. It took me an undue amount of time to get home, and I must say that transport services were indeed disrupted. One of my colleagues just confirmed that his house was flooded, and on my way to work this morning, I noticed that the Thames’s water level was much higher than I’ve ever seen it. As far as listening to LBC this morning told me, there are still disruptions to transport in some parts of the city. Maybe we are too harsh on ourselves back home? But then again, since torrential rain is the exception here, rather than the rule, it is only logical to expect that their normal systems should be overwhelmed when nature goes berserk. In Naija, torrential rain is more often than not the rule, and we have expert town planners and weather men scattered all over the world, and if one silly court ruling is not overturned, we won’t be able to call on their services in future.

This thing is paining me, probably even more than it is paining either of Iweala or Adeniji. I won’t lie about that, especially about Iweala. These are people who left comfortable jobs in order to serve their country, signed a contract, were paid according to the initial terms of the contract in dollars, succumbed to the hullabaloo about that, accepted to be paid in Naira, took a pay cut on top of that. Then some idiots are arguing in favour of an archaic law which to all intents and purposes simply encourages more corruption, and who’s end product is to perpetuate the vicious cycle of poverty.

Let’s get our facts right here: Adeniji and Iweala were hired in 2003, from ‘plum’ jobs in International organisations. They were signed to a contract, and in that contract it was stipulated that they would be paid salaries matching that which they were already receiving. When it came to light early in 2004 that they were not being paid in Naira, but in US Dollars, there was an understandable uproar, directed especially at Iweala. Understandable if you look at it from the view that if she wants to be the Minister of Finance in charge of the economic destiny of the country, the least she could have done would be to show some confidence in the currency of said country. The lady understood, accepted to be paid in Naira, and also accepted a pay cut since her salary when converted to Naira was 2000% of the president’s official salary, and was an amount deemed too obscene for the Nigerian psyche. That aside, it is an accepted fact that she did an excellent job which in my opinion, justifies the reason for bringing her in the first place.

We all want to argue about the law, which granted states that:

84. (1) There shall be paid to the holders of the offices mentioned in this section such remuneration, salaries and allowances as may be prescribed by the National Assembly, but not exceeding the amount as shall have been determined by the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission.

Now, let us look at the Constitution itself. The prescribed amount (N794,085.00) is not mentioned anywhere in the document. The offending part is an amendment that was made in 2002, presumably because of the furniture allowances and all that rubbish that happened in 1999, and it is something that can be amended now, and backdated. This is where the National Assembly comes in now. We must allow common sense to prevail. You can’t expect to get the best brains to come and do a good job for you, and then expect to pay them peanuts. For crying out loud even a university professor in Naija earns a lot more than that amount!

Take myself as an example, I earn a certain amount in remuneration now, and I will not expect to be paid anything less than what I earn at whatever point in time I decide that I’ve had enough of the weather here and want to move back home. Neither would any one of the people calling for the heads of Iweala and Adeniji. Neither would any of you reading this.

Like I have said before, you can’t expect a nanotechnology scholar to return to Nigeria. Which means that he would be stuck in Havard for quite a while. But a time would come when he may be required to come home and share his expertise. If he is coming home of his own accord, then no problems, he may even do the job pro bono. If on the other hand he is being invited to come for a fixed term contract, then he has to be paid an amount commiserate to his expertise. For better or worse, Nigeria has some of her sons and daughters in highly skilled positions all over the world, and she needs those children. Driving them even further with faux pas like this one will not help, but seriously hamper our development.

Enough is enough of this exercise in chasing shadows, and if Mr. Fawehinmi wants to bring lawsuits, can he kindly ask Rtd. Gen. Olu Obasanjo what happened to the BPE, and why a lot of Nigeria’s public assets were sold not to the preferred bidders. That should keep him busy, and in the public eye for a long time to come.

There, I've let it out!


Juve watch

So we deyed the Chinese Olympic team in yesterday's friendly. Meanwhile, Gianichedda has taken Tacchinardi's lead and cancelled his contract. Stated clearly that at his age, and with the kind of midfield talent we have, he knows that he has to look for first team football elsewhere...

Meanwhile Cassano has been axed from Madrid's training tour of Austria, maybe Juve should get him. He would come cheap, and I think his behaviour would improve now that he knows that whatever club he moves to now would be his absolute last chance at becoming a successful footballer.

Mancini has started the mind games already... The fool!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

A rebuttal

"It is better to have a lame duck president than an illegitimate go-slow Yardy's govt."

This was the
comment made by Nigerian Politricks on my last article. He goes on to say that Nigeria has never gone on a spending spree to ease the lives of the people.

Frankly my guy, I believe in having a nice tete-a-tete, and I know (and understand) that people can't always have the same views, life would be dead boring if everyone agreed with everyone else. But when those opposing views begin to appear irrational, one has to wonder, and then put a stop to that rubbish.

For the sake of clarity, Nigeria did indeed go on a spending spree that was on paper at least targeted at easing the lives of the people back in the 1970s. That was what Gowon's development plans (1971, 1973) were all about. That was what Obasanjo's Operation Feed the Nation (1977) was all about. No one has ever denied that Nigerian government officials didn't use the opportunities to corruptly enrich themselves, and at the same time, no one should deny that at least on the surface nothing happened. As I pointed out, Lagos was seriously upgraded during that period. Maybe I should also point out that almost all the state capitals of the then 19 states were built up then. Majority of our current road network was planned, designed and constructed in that era, and more than any other Nigerian government before or since, the Gowon government handed out scholarships on merit to deserving Nigerian students. Something that is rather difficult to come by nowadays unless in most cases you are going to study something related to the oil industry...

As to your other point, I guess your assertion that you eat the Oxford Dictionary for breakfast is faulty at best. You have failed to answer Anon's question: "Why is a lame duck government better than what we have now?"

To pre-empt you, let me throw down some definitions:
Lame duck can simply be defined as someone who is disabled, helpless, ineffective or inefficient. Slow he may be, but the jury is still out on Yar'Adua being defined as any of these. And when you have a lame duck in the highest position in the land, the result is just one thing: chaos.
Illegitimate (a word you love bandying about) simply means not sanctioned by law. Unlike any of our past military head of states, Yar'Adua was sworn in by no less a personality than the Chief Justice of the Federation, and the CJ did it voluntarily, not at the point of a gun. By definition, that makes this government quite legitimate.

We are still waiting for the source of your list of Yar'Adua's 1999 assets. You are yet to get back to us on that one...

Another thing: Please why the disparity between your current stand and your earlier article praising Yar'Adua's asset declaration?

Thank you.

Chasing our best away

What is Gani Fawehinmi's problem? Is he going after Iweala and Adeniji because they are 'easy' targets? Or is he envious? Or is he plain senile?

The brutal reality is this: they were head-hunted from their places of work, and it is only fair that they had to receive wages equivalent at the very least to what they were earning in those places. For starters that was the agreement that brought them in in the first place, so this lawsuit (and the accompanying judgement) is misplaced in my opinion.

It is time that Nigerians also face up to another brutal truth of the 21st century, the age of blind patriotism died with the cold war. People are interested in the bottom line now, and you would be hard pressed to find anyone on the planet who would give his all to his country for peanuts (charity work is a different ball game). People give their expertise for a healthy compensation, and minimum risk if possible. Classic example, recruitment in the US Army is down, and has been going down since that article, but recruitment by multinationals has gone up.

This judgement is going to be appealed, and that is what I will be watching closely, because if the final verdict (if it gets as far as the Supreme Court) is the same as this one, we can confidently say that we have just thrown away the services of highly qualified Nigerians in the diaspora...

By the way, if we can pay Vogts $50k per month, why can't we pay Iweala $20k per month? Or is it colonial mentality that is worrying these people?

Harry Potter

I've read the stuff, good book I admit, but I don't see the hype. Wasted 12 hours of my life...

Mourinho making some sense, sorry, lots of sense



He makes sense, especially when he points out that our players have improved because European clubs buy them.

Having said that, we can't ignore the fact that in most of the continent, what is summer in Europe is a rainy season of the kind that Europeans aren't used to. Also we have to consider this solid point about what the players are likely to do, especially given that the Nations Cup is now the most regular of the continental competitions. Those players will disappear and be out of shape by the time the games are played. Most claiming they are tired and need a rest. Quality will go down (think Kaka and Ronaldinho in the Copa America). It will become another CONCACAF Gold Cup with mostly local players on show, which is what the fans don't want. Plus World Cup qualifying would now have to have a different schedule...

I think the solution may lie in possibly pushing the Nations Cup in its entirety into January, changing its frequency from 2 to 4 years and implementing a winter break in England. That way, the African players are in camp during the Xmas holiday (once every four years), and would be playing the Nations Cup before the resumption of hostilities at their clubs.


Juve watch

We are playing the Chinese Olympic team today. In the meanwhile, Tacchinardi terminated his contract with the club. Don't know why, there was apparently no acrimony in the deal, and everyone seems okay with it. Wish him the best for the future.

I know that I wanted a Castillo to sign for Juve. Apparently we've gotten one, but not the one I wanted. Have to reach out to find out just who the hell is Segundo Castillo, and why the fuck I haven't noticed him before...

By next week, Juve would be in England. I won't go to Newcastle to watch because frankly, Newcastle are a shit team, and because I don't have a Juve away jersey. I don't want to wear black and white to go and be mistaken for a Geordie, heaven forbid. At least wearing my normal black and white in Sunderland in two weeks, there will be absolutely no mistaking my allegiance. FORZA JUVE!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Sweet



D bobo fit dey abyuz mai papa as im dey croon so, but ai no send...

Wonderful music I wanted to share with you guys: Tive Raz√£o by Seu Jorge.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Where do we go from here?

Okay, so Atiku has filed a petition against the conduct of the last elections and the court has asked Yar’Adua to respond to those allegations within fourteen days. I think it is a rather good thing that the court has asked the man Yar’Adua to respond to the challenge, we must remember that no man is meant to be above the law, but at the same time we must be careful to remember that it is the man, Yar’Adua who is under examination here, and not the President, Federal Republic of Nigeria. This is why back in April I insisted that it was important that the petitions be concluded before the handover. The question now becomes this: in the unlikely event that the court concludes that the elections were so bad that it needs to be done again, the sitting president would effectively become a lame duck, and given the amount of time (and resources) that would be needed to go through with the entire exercise, we would be facing an unacceptable period of ‘transition’, essentially an intolerable vacuum that would hamper economic growth.


Having said all that though, I must spare a word for Atiku Abubakar. Despite the fact that I don’t trust the man, and what he represents, I must say that I admire his doggedness, and more importantly, his determination to take his fight through the appropriate channels. There is an extremely important lesson for the rest of the country to learn from him in how to do things the right way, and for that I doff my hat to him.

The Economy: Where do we go from here?

A few months ago, I referred to Charles Soludo and his fight against the Nigerian mentality of ‘if it’s there let us spend it’. I find it extremely interesting that Shamsuddeen Usman, the person tipped to be the next Finance Minister seems to corroborate my views. At least it tells me that Nigeria is indeed albeit slowly, heading in the right direction.

Let me explain.

In the early 1970s, Nigeria experienced a period of increased revenue generation because of quite a few factors. A lot of our oil fields which had been marked as potentials before that time were found to indeed contain oil in large, commercial quantities. Not only did the country have significant deposits of crude, that crude was found to be of very high quality, amongst the very best in the world in terms of quality. To make for a very sweet mix, these discoveries came in just at the period when the super powers of the time, the United States and the Soviet Union were looking for an alternative source of oil because of the tensions in the Middle East: Yom Kippur, Black September, just to name two.

Nigeria suddenly became a very beautiful bride (U anyone?), and the world took notice. Our country which was just recovering from a particularly destructive (for the Eastern part of the country), and divisive (for all of us) civil war, suddenly had a lot of money to spend, and spend we did, in no small measure.

Nigeria embarked on a lot of capital projects, and it is unarguable that the overwhelming majority of the infrastructure in Lagos today was built or started with the money made from that period which is fondly referred to as the oil boom. Aside from the fact that Lagos was being built up, we began the construction of a brand new capital called Abuja. We also became a ‘Father Christmas’ nation, lending money to all who asked, and for a period of three months (or was it four), we actually took it upon ourselves to pay the salaries of civil servants in Haiti. During the period, Nigerians were truly ‘giants’ everywhere they went, and owambe really became entrenched in our way of doing things. No one planned for the future, and why would they when the black stuff flowing from the ground in the Delta pretty much guaranteed the present? The result, our Head of State at the beginning of the boom era, Maj. Gen. Jack Gowon made the infamous statement, ‘Nigeria has so much money, she doesn’t know what to do with it.’

Then came the oil gloom. You see, during the heady days of the oil boom, Nigerians who are traditionally a hard working people had become very lazy. All the other sectors of the country’s economy had been criminally neglected and we had become a dependent consumer nation. Our only form of earning a living was waiting for the oil to bring in revenue, and blowing the entire cash on grandiose white elephants to massage our egos. Global oil prices tumbled, and a lot of the Middle Eastern nations became friendly with the dominant super power. Nigeria was no longer rich. The money that we could have saved for such a time had been frittered away, we had become a debtor nation as our oil guarantees could no longer offset loans we had taken, and lots of the ‘projects’ that were stared with so much aplomb, the most significant in my opinion being the Ajaokuta Steel Mill, were left abandoned.

Fast forward two decades and Nigeria has experienced another, ongoing, oil boom. This one was brought about by the American led invasion of Iraq (who said Bush Jr. wasn’t useful for something?). Driven by the rise in oil prices, the instability in the Middle East (part fuelled by the Americans) and that American need to have ‘oil security’ in the future, Nigeria has again become a beautiful bride, and thank God for the quarrel between erstwhile President Obasanjo and his vice, we got a team of excellent economists led by Dr. Okonjo-Iweala and Prof. Soludo who between them managed to clear our debts which had been accumulating since the late 1970s, save us a hefty foreign reserve, and most importantly, turn our financial system around.

Now Iweala is gone, but Soludo is still there, and it is my humble opinion that it would be a great thing if someone who was part of his economic team, Usman, becomes the Minister of Finance so that the policies would continue unhindered.

I am no economics scholar, but I can tell you that one of the lessons we ought to have learnt from the fate of the two super powers during the post second World War II era is this: governments are inefficient when it comes to running enterprises, while profit driven private businesses backed by profit driven financial muscle are efficient. The Soviet Union was a country in which the government exercised tight control on everything, and where are they now? Non-existent. The United States on the other hand is a country in which the government is, on paper at least, just a regulator, and an impartial arbiter in business issues. Development is spurred by mega corporations with loans from mega banks, and those loans are paid back over a long period while the owners of the project make a healthy profit. That way everyone is happy. The government is happy because it collects a lot from taxes, the people are happy because they get efficient services, the banks are happy, because they make more profit, and business is happy, because they make profit too. This is a lesson that even the Chinese who on the face of it are a communist country have taken to heart and are applying. This is a lesson we need to learn in Nigeria: government’s role should be restricted to providing an enabling environment, and an enabling environment means putting the right policies in place and making sure that they are faithfully implemented.

I love Usman’s statement to the Senate during his confirmation hearing: "We need to learn how to save money. Oil has been a curse and a blessing to Nigeria. In terms of economic management it has been more of a curse, if it were left to me the money should have been left for capital expenditure only. The tiers of government should be left to generate revenue, at least for their recurrent expenditure."

Brutal as it may sound, the hard truth is this: NIGERIA SHOULD NOT GO ON A SPENDING SPREE IN ORDER TO ‘EASE’ THE LIVES OF THE PEOPLE. We have to learn to save for the future. We also have to get our private sector up and running. Left to me, the only capital intensive projects I’d want Nigeria to get involved in now would involve sorting out the power problem, and revitalizing then expanding the rail network. Any other thing would be a repeat of the past. It would be an exercise in extreme stupidity for us to repeat the cycle of the last thirty years if and when world oil prices take a plunge.

Celebrity Culture

Am I the only person that is now extremely irritated about what I see on the news nowadays? It has become so boring and dimwitted. For the past week it has been all about the Beckham family and heir ‘triumphant’ entry into the US. Jeez!

Then on the front page of more than one newspaper yesterday, what did we see? Shilpa is bagging an honorary degree from Leeds Metropolitan. Why? Because she won Celebrity Big Brother! This is sickening. It makes people who work hard for their achievements look like idiots.

Small wonder you ask the average British child nowadays what he wants to do in future and the response you get is that he wants to be a celebrity. Talk about heading for the abyss…


Juve watch

Okay so the preseason friendlies have begun and we bashed Mezzocorona the day before yesterday.

I got a text from Ade. He says he saw Birindelli at the Concorde Hotel in Owerri. It would be very very wonderful if Juve signs one of the talents from Enyimba perhaps. Meanwhile my trip to the North East to watch us spar with
Sunderland is fast approaching…

FORZA JUVE!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Excellent web resources

In honor of one of my favourite websites How-To Geek, I'm putting up a list of web resources that I've gotten from the team during the time that I've been visiting:

Lifehacker
One of the best, Lifehacker has featured their articles on numerous occasions.

ArsGeek
This is just a great all-around site for random geek news. An essential subscription for anyone.

Of Zen and Computing
Zen Bliss is one of the best writers I've come across… and he's got a knack for explaining things so that anybody can understand.

CodeJacked
Whoever this guy is, he comes up with some very unique tips.

WindVis
This site has articles mostly geared at beginners, but I've found a few gems there myself.

Shell Extension City
Bob at ShellCity features new freeware applications every day.

IntelliAdmin
Got some great tips on Windows and related topics.

Daily Cup of Tech
Another great geek site that covers a wide range of geek topics.

Nerdica
This site is just starting out, but judging from the quality of some of the stuff I've read so far, I've got high hopes that this will turn into something great.

tuxmachines
Their slogan reminds me of Fish from Ally McBeal… but they also find the best linux content.

Tweako
This is pretty much the best aggregator of how-to articles that I've found, covering almost every area.

Free Software Daily
This is a digg-style news site that focuses solely on open source software.


Juve watch

This is not official by any means. I just found it on the internet and thought you guys might like to know. This shirt is set to be unveiled on August 22nd. In the mean time we are using a white shirt to symbolize our homecoming. It seems kind of simple and I guess I'd have to reach for the wallet pretty soon...


Sunday, July 15, 2007

I'm depressed

Edit [2345]: At least it is not only Nigerians that won't sleep well tonight, the Argies join us...

I've made this promise to myself time and time again to stop watching any Nigerian national team but to no avail. Thus it was that this evening I sat down to watch the quarter final match of the World Youth Cup versus Chile, and I have been left with an extremely bitter taste in my mouth.
I always get depressed when a Naija team is beaten.

Why is it that we've been getting short changed by referees in tournaments, and no, I am not talking from the view point of a fan. Maybe if I can bring myself to do it later I'll find a YouTube video of Chile's first two goals. In the first goal, the guy who tapped the ball back to the goal scorer was very offside, but the goal was allowed to stand. For the second goal the man who was brought down, and indeed he was clipped from behind was very offside, but the referee allowed play to go on. In the entire course of the game every 50:50 decisions went the way of the Chileans, and it became obvious in the way they began going to ground at the slightest touch as the game wore on, earning us 6 yellow cards in the course of the match...

For me the positive from this team however is that we have someone for the future who can help patch that hole in our central midfield, that boy Dapo Olufemi who wore jersey number four is one to watch. Meanwhile Ezekiel Bala is just not up to standard, and the coach didn't do well to leave him on the field for so long, ditto Brown Ideye. Given the form of Vincent Enyeama and Austin Ejide, we are beginning to get spoiled for choice in the goal keeping department as I was in the end impressed by Ike Ezenwa. He only needs to work on his positioning, but his reflexes, anticipation, first touch and agility are very good. Another person who was slightly impressive was Suraj Sodiq. Pity his tournament ended with an unfair red, but as far as I can see, with a bit of training he could be the solution to the seeming lack of a right back in the full side. I would recommend that these three players be taken along for the ride in Ghana next year.

As for Howard Webb, yes, the same stupid idiot that mistakenly sent Adebayor off in the Carling Cup final, he has only confirmed what I wrote about him then, he is absolutely stupid.

Meanwhile, Arsenal fans eat your hearts out. The Beast's goal against Argentina was excellent!


Juve watch

A friend of mine, Kayode, asked me why I still do this column. Well Kay Baba, I would like to point out what I wrote in the very first Juve watch: "But rest assured that Juve watch would become a permanent fixture on this little blog until the day we win our next Scudetto." So that is it basically, we haven't yet regained what is rightfully ours, so this part of the blog remains.

It was incredibly heart warming reading Neddy saying it in explicit terms, "I am not Inter material." That is talking of a player who loves the club. He took a pay cut to stay with us in Serie B, and it is only right that he gets paid something other footballers call a wage (I think I'm in the wrong profession).

Meanwhile, I have to point out that Mino Raiola is also Zlatan's (that cunt!) agent. Loyalty is not just some people's virtue...