Monday, December 31, 2007

Chxta's Wall: 2007 list


Today is the last day of the year 2007. For me, this year was one of highs and lows, but on the average I can't and won't complain. Insha Allah, 2008 will be better. I'd like to extend my appreciation to the following people who helped make 2007 tick for me. I hope I haven't left anyone out of this list, if I have, no vex. I don dey old, and the cold no just rhyme at all. This is only the third Chxta's wall, the first being in 2003, the second being last year. Let's see if we can in 2008, reach for the stars...

Abimbola Salami
Aboubaker Lasabae
Abubakar Sadiq Yahaya
Ada Oriaku
Adewolu Adene
Adigwe Uraih
Afam Nnaji
Agbani Nyemoni
Agozie Eneh
Agrinya Agrinya
Aisha Nnadi
Akachi Okoro
Akin Aroko-Okon
Akin Akintayo
Akpan Utande
Alex Konidairis
Alex Pinheiro
Amaka Uraih
Amara Nwankpa
Aminu Bello
Andreia Lucca
Andrew Enenmoh
Andy Okolo
Angela Erharine
Anita Wikina
Anwuli Uchendi
Arit Erete
Austin Aghenta
Awwal Abubakar
Awele Ogeah
Ayo Bolaji
Ayo Soebi
Azubuike Emordi
Azubuike Okoye
Bade Animasaun
Bankole Lawani
Barbara Taggert
Bayo Anjorin
Beatrice Etemah
Ben Nwanze
Bhola Durosawo
Bola Odepe
Boma Uadia
Bunmi Nwanze
Bunmi Sowande
Charles Ifinedo
Charles Omoruan
Charles Oppenheim
Cherno Joaque
Chichi Uraih
Chiedu Onyido
Chiedu Uraih
Chineze Chukwumah
Chinwe Udokoro
Chippla Vandu
Chiweta Uraih
Chizoba Omenugha
Chris Legg
Chris Mearns
Chris Sadler
Chris Spinks
Christian Edigin
Chuma Uraih
Connor Cunningham
Daisy Maka
Daniela Chisolm
Daniella Smythe
Dareen Greer
David Hardy
David Legg
David Silcott
David Villa
Debe Nwanze
Dennis Ikhile
Dhawal Thakker
Dirk Furhmann
Doro Kogi
Dubem Maka
Dubem Nwanze
Dudu Nhlabathi
Ehi Uraih
Emma Nwanze
Emmanuel Taggert
Emeka Onyekonwu
Enver Ever
Eran Leon
Ese Oduyoye
Ese Onokpite
Fatema Shaikh
Fatima Waziri
Febeke Okafor
Femi Imoru
Femi Nwanze
Fern Wharmby
Fola Agoro
Francis Onaifo
Fred Adero
Fred Ighimu
Fred Katsriku
Gbenga Olukoya
Gina Uraih
Glenford Mapp
Godwin Maka
Goziem Nwanze
Hamza Olaitan
Henry Okelue
Hilary Wilson
Idemudia Abaku
Ifeanyi Okonkwo
Ifeanyi Uraih
Ifechukwude Uraih
Ijeoma Ezeokeke
Ijeoma Nwagboso
Ike Chukwumah
Ike Igboanugo
Irene Iwe
Isoken Afe
Iwedi Ojinmah
Jacques Haddad
Jennifer Fairfield
Jeremy Weate
Joan Okhiku
John Linnet
John Osadebe
Jon Clowser
Jonathan Paul
Joy Nwanze
Julian Dubar-Nichols
Julum Nwanze
Kanayo Livia
Kanayo Okoli
Karl Duzie
Karo Onowhakpo
Kayode Aruleba
Kayode Babalola
Kayode Olanipekun
Kayode Soile
Ken Nwanze
Kennedy Erharine
Kenny Chigbo
Kelvine Franklin
Khadi Joaque
Kola Munis
Kuso Uraih
Larry Ekpudu
Lynette Cox
Maero Onwah
Malik Udeme
Mark Sheridan
Martin Matsumiak
Mary Uraih
Mary-Rose Mordi
Meg Clark
Mhairi Vari
Mohammed Abubakar
Mohammed Ahmed
Mohammed Mustafa
Mummy Badmus
Muobo Egborge
Mustapha Joaque
Nabila Khan
Naomi Andrews
Naomi Mburie
Ndidi Ibeachum
Nene Ilozor
Ngozi Agwu
Ngozi Uraih
Nicky Lloyd
Nkechi Ogeah
Nkem Ifejika
Nkem Uraih
Nkiru Maka
Nkiru Uraih
Nnamdi Chukwumah
Nneka Chukwumah
Nonso Nwanze
Norah Duckett
Oah Ejakhegbe
Obinna Anyadike
Obinna Egbuniwe
Obinna Ike
Obiora Nwanze
Obiora Nwanze Jnr
Odinma Uraih
Ojiaku Uraih
Okechi Emuchay
Okey Chigbo
Olamide Akanbi
Omagbitse Ejoor
Omo Akpofure
Omo Edohen
Omo Ehigebolo
Oria Iyayi
Orhan Gemiokholi
Osahon Iyawe
Oti Samuel
Paschal Alionye
Pathum Fernando
Pedro Perreira
Pelumi Oyegbami
Peter Ikenebomeh
Premila Coomaraswamy
Prince Ugo
Raguram Venkata
Ralph Okeke
Richard Comley
Richard Reed
Ricky Salmon
Robert Lusk
Ruth Uraih
Safiya Dalhatu
Saidu Garba
Sally Brandon
Sam Wharmby
Sandra Williams
Sara Shirley
Sarki Tukur
Santosh Kumar
Seun Lawal
Shez Bhayat
Shiv Peluri
Sijuwade Salami
Singto Saro-Wiwa
Soluzo Nwanze
Somnazu Nwanze
Sola Odebunmi
Stella Uraih
Sylvester Iluore
Sylvia Saiote
Teslim Giwa
Thaddeus Ehigebolo
Thomas Momoh
Timothy Ebare
Tina Ewombi
Tonilea Morson
Tony Uraih
Tosh Pottinger
Tracey Chimwuzie
Tracy Cunningham
Tracy Lawal
Tunde Adeyemi
Ubaka Onyechi
Uche Chuta
Uche Nwagboso
Uche Obieme
Uduehi Uaifo
Udoka Obi

Uju Maka
Uju Uraih
Unoma Egborge
Uso Uraih
Uwa Obayuwana
Uzoma Amuta
Uzo Nwanze
Valentine Onyekweli
Victor Dongo
Victor Onyekwere
Victor Uraih
Victoria Egbe
Victoria Nwanze
Vincent Osara
Violet Okosun
Voke Egborge
Wajid Abassi
Will Cunningham
Xiaochun Cheng
Yeliz Simsek
Yemi Aliu Salami
Yonal Kirsal
Yoney Kirsal

Thanks everyone, and let's do it again next year.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Has Ribadu been removed?

"No, I was moved to the foreign affairs ministry as is the president's prerogative. Yes, there's a lot to be accomplished, but this is not about the individual. I have moved on. I resigned. It was not a humiliation. I felt that there are other ways of going about things which didn't agree with what was on the ground, so I left. Yes, it would have been nice to know before the redeployment. But the important thing is that we have created something that can be carried on. Systems have been established that would go on."
---Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

In 2003, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was established with a mandate to checkmate financial crimes especially money laundering and advance fee fraud. Former president Olusegun Obasanjo appointed Mr. Nuhu Ribadu as the chairman of this new organisation, and the man ploughed into the job with zest. It is not news that starting with Mr. Tafa Balogun, former Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force, the EFCC has had some success in its mandate.

On Christmas day, both Sahara Reporters and the Tribune reported that Mr. Ribadu was on his way out by way of a one year course at the Nigeria Institute of Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru. When I first read of the Tribune report on Grandiose Parlor, my initial reaction was scepticism, given that both these media outlets have on more than one occasion in the past not shied away from reporting stories which were later found to be rubbish. However, Imnakoya produced this story from This Day which confirmed that something rotten was indeed brewing. Again, I didn't want to believe it, and given the quality of the This Day report, I asked myself who issued the directive that Mr. Ribadu should be removed?

Yes, the report implicated Aso Rock, i.e implicated President Yar'Adua, but it wasn't expressly stated, only implied, and that is for me one of the failings of the fourth estate in Nigeria, something that we would focus on some other time as that is not the main issue here. The main issue on the ground now is why remove Ribadu at this point in time?

Like it or not, this is a crucial period in the life of Nigeria's 'anti-corruption war', a war in which the EFCC is deeply involved. Ribadu has on more than one occasion been accused of waging a fight in which there are favourites, people who are untouchable. However, there is not one person who can deny that the EFCC since its formation has affected the psyche of Nigerians. I like to think that the kind of wanton looting we had become accustomed to was well on its way to becoming a thing of the past, especially given the abject humiliation that people like Tafa Balogun, Saminu Turaki and Orji Kalu have been subjected to.

Another thing that people who accused Ribadu of selective justice never took into account is the fact that as with all such things in life you have to start from somewhere. Personally I maintain the belief that had he started investigating and arresting everyone at the same time, the turmoil that would have been generated would have been of Pakistani proportions. Leaving the EFCC to continue investigating people would have eventually created a monster that its creators didn't or don't want to reckon with. For example the ongoing investigation into the activities of Mrs. Iyabo Obasanjo-Bello, and the investigation of Mr. Funso Kupolokun would ultimately lead to only one person: Rtd. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo, and the man has a lot to account for.

Right now, probably the biggest fish in the EFCC net is James Ibori, former governor, Delta State. About two weeks back, an article appeared in the Saturday Sun which alleged that
Mr. Ibori would soon begin to sing, and that his song would bring down a lot of Naija big suits. The sudden removal of Ribadu lends credence to the allegations in that article, and more importantly call to question Mr. Yar'Adua's credibility. Again I ask, why remove Ribadu at this point in time?

Ultimately, this removal like that of Okonjo-Iweala whom I quoted at the start of this article would end up being a test of the man himself. Did he let the EFCC become his personal fiefdom? Or did he on the other hand make it into a self supporting organisation like Ngozi did in the Ministry of Finance?

Let us now look briefly at one reason why Ribadu was to a large extent successful.

Like Nasir El-Rufai at the FCT, Nuhu Ribadu is the scion of a powerful family. He shares a common ancestor (pardon me, but I'm not sure of the exact link) with the late Muhammadu Ribadu, minister of defence between 1960 and 1966, and in Naija as with everywhere else, old loyalties die hard. This gave Ribadu a 'free hand' to work almost unhindered. He didn't suffer
the kind of restraint that someone 'without pedigree' would have to endure in going about his duties, and this can only help him in doing what he has to do.

Then there is the man who is tipped to be his successor, Mr. Emmanuel Akomaye, currently Director General, EFCC. Mr. Akomaye is a lawyer with strong experience in financial crimes. He prosecuted senior bank officials at the Failed Banks Tribunal, Enugu Zone between 1995 and 1996. Mr. Akomaye was closely involved in the establishment of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) which became operational in January 2005, and has been with the EFCC from the beginning. The question now is does he have the clout that Ribadu had? Does he have the strength of character?

Benazir Bhutto (1953-2007)

By now the whole world has heard about the assassination yesterday of two time Pakistani prime minister Benazir Bhutto. It is extremely sad that my concern for all things Nigerian would relegate this momentous event to a mere footnote on this blog, but this is a footnote worth mentioning.

One thing though, I don't think that Musharraf (current military dictator, forget that he has dropped the uniform, he is what he is) had her killed. You don't become military dictator by making elementary errors like that. Even he would know that anything happening to her would put him in the situation he is now, between a rock and a very hard place, maybe another rock. If he shifts the January elections, he looses credibility and maybe some powerful friends. Worse of all, it appears that he did indeed have her killed. Yet at the same time, the situation is so charged that elections holding now would be almost a farce. The potential for a major crisis in Pakistan (a potential that has been there from day one) has just been increased exponentially, and to think that Pakistan is nuclear armed!!!

God help us all.

May she rest in peace.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Roll call

Something happened this morning that had me reaching for my December 2006 archives...

A small spark in an environment filled with volatile gases will cause a lot of deaths.

October 1998: At least 1,000 killed in Jesse, Delta State
March 2000: At least 50 killed in Abia State
July 2000: At least 300 killed in Warri
June 2003: At least 105 killed in Abia State
September 2004: At least 60 killed in Lagos
December 2004: At least 20 killed in Lagos
May 2006: At least 150 killed in Lagos

Now this: Pipeline blast in Lagos kills hundreds on Christmas day, 2006...

We have to admit, the deaths in these explosions are caused by our people's greed. This is a good example of what such individuals may do if given a government position. Poverty should not be used as an excuse for the departure of common sense.

It is right to be unhappy at the loss of life. But at the same time it is hard not to feel some sense of disgust at the actions of the victims. THEY COMMITTED SUICIDE!

Nothing much to add. Once again, brutal as it sounds, my position hasn't changed from there.

We, Nigerians, also have to learn how to question ourselves. What are we doing wrong? Why do things like this have to happen? It is not just about sitting down and blaming the government for everything that goes wrong. At the end of the day, we have to realise one immutable truth: we are the government, and as long as we sit down and pass the buck, things will always go wrong. Case point: how many of you (those resident outside Nigeria are exempt from this one) are eligible to vote in April? If you aren't then know this: even if the coming government decides to sell Nigeria, you have no right to complain. You have given away that right.

Concerning the avoidable tragedy that played out in Abule-Egba, it is pertinent to note that there are many factors involved, and all of them are/were totally avoidable. I will like to point some of these factors out and maybe ask some questions that need answers, or attempt to make some points that we need to think about.

First, there is presently a fuel shortage in Lagos, which is reportedly artificially-induced as marketers allegedly hoard fuel in anticipation of a rumoured price hike in the New Year.

Why is it that for the last few years, we always have fuel shortages during the run ins to festive periods in Nigeria. It is almost a constant now. The moment there is anticipation over something, marketers begin to hoard products. So much for the market forces that Obasanjo has unleashed on us.

Second, these pipelines run above ground in relatively accessible (and even relatively built-up) areas.

It is easy to blame the government for this, but we have to bear in mind that the pipelines were built in the era of the oil boom when a lot of these areas were unsettled. I wouldn't blame the government for the fact that the pipelines pass through settled areas, I would blame the government for the lack of planning that has led to an uncontrolled growth of our urban areas.

Third, there is almost a unanimous agreement that the pipeline was deliberately vandalized and breached.

This is getting quite silly. It should be obvious to any 'pea-brained' individual by now that there is a cartel high up in the echelons of the NNPC that is making a huge profit from pipeline vandalization. How else do you explain the fact that this has become such a regular occurence, and almost always when something is about to happen?

Fourth, the areas boys took over the control and distribution of 'products' from the pipeline and repelled all efforts from law enforcement and pipeline officials to secure the area.

We seriously need to get this 'area-boy' phenomenon under control. The answer to that is education. Why do some people (and they are almost always area-boys) feel the need to claim what is not theirs simply by virtue of the fact that it passes through a region that they are resident in? If life was like that, I may as well lay claim to every computer in Hendon. After all, I am resident there.
It is that mentality that is fuelling the indigene-settler dichotomy that is hindering our integration as a nation. It is that mentality that is fuelling the current Niger Delta 'insurrection'. And it is stupid!

Fifth, repeated pleas (severally with megaphones) to the general populace to evacuate and/or stay away from the area went unheeded.

This is the one that gets my goat, and this is the one that for me supersedes every other consideration. Given the scale and time range of the tragedies that I mentioned in my earlier post, anybody who refused to heed warnings for his own safety only has himself to blame when the event occurs. For crying out loud, there should be a limit to the abandonment of common sense. What is the matter with our people? Poverty has no business being an excuse in this issue.

Sixth, the police were logistically out of sorts and relied on the NNPC to make several trips to ferry in (inadequate) reinforcements, since the pipeline, PEGASSAN and NUPENG officials reportedly pleaded with the police not to employ tear-gas or potentially flammable material, the police were bereft of any other crowd-control ideas. The fire service were reportedly summoned at the very onset well before any fire started, but failed to show up until after the explosion.

I believe that I have severally dealt with the inadequacies of our internal security apparatus, the most recent one being in this post. As things stand, we can't count on them to help us, and for that one, the government is entirely to blame.

At the end of the day however, I still stand firmly on my position about this latest tragedy. The people who died are/were the people who refused repeated warnings to clear the area. And for that, they only have themselves to blame.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Merry Christmas

To those I have wronged, I ask for forgiveness, to those I may have helped only a little, I wish I did more. To those who helped me, I sincerely thank you and hope you do more. Merry Xmas in Advance and Prosperous New Year.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Irn Bru

Been suffering from a severe writer's block. Don't know why, maybe depression? Maybe laziness? At the moment, I don't care.

Meanwhile enjoy this:

Monday, December 17, 2007

Breaking News: Ibori denied bail

I'm just hearing the gist, nothing confirmed, and I am a touch busy at the moment. My thoughts when I can find the time...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Re: Grand slam Sunday

Here's what I gleamed from Grand Sham Sunday:

Neither game was great, especially Liverpool vs Man Utd.

Don Fabio must have shook his head at the quality of the play... and then shrugged after counting his pension money. Laughing

Dirk Kuyt is CRAP.

Gerrard and Lampard were anonymous...

Patrice Evra was MOM against Liverpool.

Fabregas is very shifty.

Liverpool remain a cup team.

Chelsea are really going to suffer when their best players go to Africa.

Boy, am I looking forward to Barca vs Real Madrid next week!

Waste of an edifice


I had a lot of happy moments there, and a lot of sad ones. Why we find it difficult to imbibe a decent maintenance culture is beyond me. But this video is indeed tragic.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Slam bunk

A crack team of immaculately-coiffed, unctuous-toned, Sky-sponsored PR goons emerged from several months up their own muck-holes to stun Biblical scholars the world over by announcing that the psalms may be classified into several categories: wisdom psalms, pilgrimage psalms and GRAND SLAMS ... the irritating cults. Sorry, the irritating cult's leaders then declared this Sunday a day of worship and hysterically advised adherents to bow down and give thanks and praise (and cash) to the divine beings that deign to walk among us, immortals such as Wes Brown, Manuel Almunia, Momo Sissoko and, of course, the Lord himself: Ashley Cole.

Diabolical rumours quickly surfaced, however, that Cole may chicken out of showing his godly head to the wretched earthlings expected to congregate at the Emirates Stadium. "What do people think I'm scared of?" spake the Lord, before raining scorn and pity down on the meek. "Fans booing me?" he snorted, expelling celestial snot from his hallowed nostrils. "It's stupid but I can't stop it but I will go there and prove I'm not scared," thundered the Lord, tellingly not making any promises about returning with three points - possibly because the all-knowing one had already heard that Cesc Fabregas, Alexander Hleb and Mathieu Flamini are tipped to be back in action for Arsenal after taking part in training this morning.

Meanwhile up north, Spanish heretic Rafa Benitez was brazenly denying the holiness of GRAND SLAM SUNDAY by insisting that failure by his side to beat Manchester United would not necessarily unleash the apocalypse. "Playing for the title in April would be more important than this match," hissed the infidel, before a flicker of hellfire forced him to partially recant: "But in terms of points we are in December and know Christmas is a vital time," he trembled, looking to the Sky for forgiveness.

---stolen from The Fiver

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Don Fabio: Benvenuto in Inghilterra

"Why should I waste my time listening to people who are clearly less intelligent than me?"
---Fabio Capello

I'd dearly love to be a fly on the wall when he is forced to have a conversation with Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand...

Some of the things needed in a great football manager are as follows:
1) He has to be tactically astute.
2) He has to be able to identify talent, and more importantly, use it at the right place and right time.
3) He has to have the ability to lift players to win difficult games.
4) He has to have a mind of his own. No one from up on high should be able to dictate to him.
5) He has to be able to tell his players to bottle it when their egos get too large.
6) Most importantly, he has to have a winning mentality, a will of iron.

Of all the managers in the wide world, there are only a scarce few who have all six mentioned above. One of them is pictured below...
Playing England for the foreseeable future is going to be an incredibly scary prospect. You see, much as I hate to admit it, the new England coach is the absolute best on the planet. Don Fabio Capello is (as far as I know) the only coach currently plying his trade that has won a title with every club he has ever coached.

What makes the whole thing scarier is that unlike Sven Eriksson, he is not going to be intimidated by any large egos in the England dressing room, so if Fat Frank and $tevie Mbe continue to allow their rather large egos to get the better of them, they will no longer have those auto shirts that they've pretty much sashayed their ways to in the last few years. They will be dropped.

For those who make the claim that Capello (Roma and Juve fans united for once tend to call him Crapello) plays boring football, they couldn't be further away from the truth. Don Fabio Capello is not a boring coach a la Jose Mourinho, some of his teams have actually played very interesting football, and in that I will love to remind everyone of you about that 4-0 bashing of possibly the best ever Barcelona squad. Truth is that under Capello, that Milan team was sweet to watch, that is until van Basten took the injury walk. Under Capello, Roma was sweet to watch in that season which brought them their first Scudetto in donkey years. It was nice watching Batistuta, Totti and Montella in a tridente. It was fun watching Juve during that first season before we became absolutely boring in the second. To be fair to the man, he has played good football when conditions permitted. Problem is that bad news travels faster than good, and the Spanish media's obsession with their belief that all things Italian are bad for football is what has cemented his reputation as a boring coach...

One thing is certain anyway, I wouldn't want Naija to be drawn in England's group for the next World Cup when we both get there. It would be a slaughter.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Gutted!

People had been informed. Appetites had been whetted. Flight had been booked since September. Sadly, due to circumstances beyond my control, I will not be in Naija for the Xmas.

Now I know the meaning of bitter disappointment.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Things fall apart

Soundbite: International Thief Thief

"The white man is very clever. He came quietly and peaceably with his religion. We were amused at his foolishness and allowed him to stay. Now he has won our brothers, and our clan can no longer act like one. He has put a knife on the things that held us together and we have fallen apart."
---Obierika (Things Fall Apart, Chapter 20)

That quote from a book which from me is unarguably the greatest book ever written by a Nigerian sums up the methods that the Europeans (and to a smaller extent the rest of the world) have always used in keeping Africans in check, and up till date it has been brutally effective. Offer concessions to some Africans, then you buy them. Make them 'big men', then you don't need to do your dirty work for you. We've seen so many of such stories in Naija as an example, and Fela's 1979 classic International Thief Thief tells one of such stories in a humorous fashion.

'Mother' Europe

In recent times however, European condescension towards Africans has been a lot more subtle, with issues like human rights coming to the fore. And thus it was that at the Africa-EU 'summit' of the weekend past, the 'mother' of Europe (see Polish magazine picture above) went on the offensive immediately, her target, Zimbabwe's hapless president Robert Mugabe. While on the one hand, I agree with Merkel that Mugabe is a disgrace especially given the apparent economic collapse that has dogged his country in the last few years, on the other hand, the West has through their own actions fuelled the suffering of the Zimbabweans. My main grouse as is usual, is the double standards, where some are allowed to do shyte, and others are harangued for almost 'no reason'.

The Queen of England, her Prime Minister and her son the Prince of Wales were in Uganda a couple of weeks ago for the Commonwealth (a useless organisation if I ever heard of one) summit. We must not forget that Yoweri Museveni has been in power for 21 years now. He runs a virtual one party state, and each time there is an election round the corner, strange things happen to his opponents. In the last presidential elections, his opponent was slapped with a rape charge and thrown in jail during the election campaign. When a judge considered the case against him and ruled that he should be released, police stormed the court, re-arrested the presidential candidate, and beat up the judges and lawyers in the courtroom. Museveni "won"the election.

There have been no cries for human rights and democracy. No matter how flawed, elections in Zimbabwe may be more credible that those in Uganda. At least, opposition candidates are allowed to stand and the MDC has deputies in the parliament. By allowing Uganda to host the Commonwealth summit, and by the topmost personalities in the British hierarchy visiting, they have in very clear terms endorsed Museveni and all his methods. So what moral right do they have to condemn Mugabe?

The Ogaden region of Ethiopia is currently witnessing something that may yet develop into another Darfur. No one has mentioned it on the BBC, Sky or CNN, and the Ethiopian government of Meles Zenawi has been guilty of the kind of election violence that makes Obasanjo's government look saintly, but aside from the token mention, he has gotten off with a pat on the back. Compared with Ethiopia, Zimbabwe is a model of democracy.

We also have countries like Egypt, Libya and Equatorial Guinea where no one even bothers to hold elections, yet we hear nothing because the interests of Western countries are not at stake here. Libya has opened its oil taps, so all complaints have been dropped. As we speak, Gadaffi is having a drink with Sakorzy...

Despite this, Zimbabwe is seen as so bad that crippling economic sanctions have been imposed. The United States and Britain have blocked the country's access to all international capital markets and institutions (they claim that they imposed sanctions only on Mugabe, but this is a lie)...

In 2001, four years after Britain withdrew its support for the Zimbabwean land reform programme, the US congress passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (ZIDERA). The act specifically orders US officials to block Zimbabwe's access to funds from the following agencies: International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Development Association, International Finance Corporation, Inter-American Development Bank, Asian Development Bank, Inter-American Investment Corporation, African Development Bank, African Development Fund, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the Multilateral Investment Guaranty Agency.

In my mind this action has more than Mugabe's antics contributed to the hyper-inflation which is so gleefully advertised on BBC and Sky as evidence of Mugabe's 'ineptitude'. It is a poignant advertisement of their hypocrisy when they maintain friendships with some of the worst of the worst still left on the continent...

Meanwhile, official British goverment policy is that Zimbabwe is 'safe' and that people face no danger, so black Zimbabweans seeking asylum in Britain are deported to Zimbabwe. It is a shame that Merkel has allowed Gordon Brown to use her to fight his battle with Mugabe while he himself cowardly remained in London and refused to go to Lisbon for that summit.

You see, Europe has traditionally been Africa's biggest trading partner. Sadly, that trade has been heavily skewered in favour of the Europeans. This was one of the effects of colonialism, and 'preferential' trade agreements drawn up between African nations and their erstwhile colonial masters. This state of affairs has been maintained more or less for the better part of a century. However, in recent times a new kid has emerged on the block. He is slick, suave, apparently a nouveau riche, and is actually attempting to 'treat Africans fairly'. His name is China, and his presence is making the traditional powers of the western world scamper for new deals. The US has reacted with Africom (recommended reading: the debate on African loft), while the EU is reacting with Economic Partnership Agreements.

According to Wikipedia, EPAs are a scheme to create a free trade area between the European Union and the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries. They are being drawn up in response to continuing criticism about the discriminatory preferential trade agreements offered by the EU which are incompatible with WTO rules. The WTO set a deadline of January 1, 2008 for all EPAs to take effect, and the EU has been feverishly working to get African countries to sign on. However, their approach has left the door wide open for suspicion.

On the face of it, the Europeans appear to be good guys as their offers come with conditions for adherence to human rights and good governance, while Chinese money on the other hand comes with no strings attached. In Sudan for example, the Chinese are pumping in money without a care as to what is happening in Darfur. But the truth is if we look beyond the veil, the Europeans have done that for years (examples of double standards given above, and in a lot of previous articles). In my mind what raised suspicion was the initial method of trying to get individual African nations to sign on to the EPAs as individual countries. This was as opposed to the EU which came as a single bloc. Twelve of the 16 member Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa have already signed up to tentative agreements because those agreements would grant them preferential trade status, another clause which has probably aroused suspicion. I also believe that the whole Mugabe brouhaha in Lisbon was just a ruse to make African nations look the other way, and one must be thankful that on the continent a new breed of leaders (or is it their advisers who for the most part are ironically Western educated) are emerging who know the score.

The EPAs as currently written would spell the death kneel of any budding African enterprise as truth be told they simply would be unable to compete with their state subsidized EU counterparts. Classic examples can be seen on the numerous Oxfam adverts of which this one is just one example. Producers of goods in Western Europe and America have since the 1950s been subsidised by their governments. These subsidies have reached the $1 billion a day mark. The result of this is that when European producers export their products to ACP countries (whose governments evidently don't subsidise anything), those imported products are cheaper than what is produced in the importing country, and like Chxta at his local Sainsbury's the citizens of the importing country shun their own produce in favour of the cheap imports. Knock off effect? Local produce is rendered worthless, local producers ask themselves what the point is of producing anything, down tools, head to Lagos, and go to live in Makoko. We've already seen such things happen in the Nigerian textile industry which has practically shut down as a result of cheaper clothes from Europe flooding the market (and to be fair, we must mention high costs pf production due to factors such as NEPA).

The EU is keen to inject fresh impetus into its trade with Africa before the Chinese corner the entire market, and this promise of a more equal partnership is one of the carrots that will be dangled. There will be a lot more. However, they know the score, and they know the damage that the EPAs would do to us, which is why the initial approach was one of getting countries to sign up one by one. Classic divide and rule. It was very heartening to see African leaders led by Senegal's Wade refusing to be side tracked by the Merkel-Mugabe show. We have to learn to force the outside world to treat us with real equality and respect. Let us make no mistakes, the world is oiled by self interest above all else, and Africa's best friend Europe is definitely not.

Juve watch


Saturday, December 08, 2007

Sunscreen



This was originally published as an essay titled "Advice, like youth, probably just wasted on the young" written by Mary Schmich in 1997. The musical is attributed to Baz Luhrmann, released in 1999, it is sometimes credited as being the soundtrack of the movie The Big Kahuna. I draw a lot of inspiration from this whenever I listen to it...

Sunday, December 02, 2007

The rise of Mikel


Almost two months ago when I wrote this about John Mikel Obi the reactions on CyberEagles (can't be arsed to find the link sorry) were either supportive or in opposition. There was simply no middle ground. Again, the reactions were vicious. Those of us who felt that Mikel was improving used vicious language to get our point across, while those who felt he was wasting away used even more vicious language to get their point across. I guess that is the CE way...

In any event, I think that yesterday's Chelsea game against West Ham has vindicated those of us pleading patience (same as I strongly believe that events will eventually vindicate my patience with Yar'Adua). The stats for yesterday's game (shown below) bear me out as concerns his influence...

Again, it is also interesting to note that the press has begun to take notice. The Telegraph named Mikel their man of the match, while the Times concluded that Manchester United certainly lost out.

Again, I would reiterate that Mikel, a player with great talent and passing ability found himself playing a game not really suited to his talents under Mourinho. Under Mourinho's stifling tactics he became a latter-day Jamie Redknapp -- square passes and very little else; and was being moulded into a Claude Makelele's successor. It's a pity that Mourinho limited him in that way.

Anyone who saw him play at the World Youth Championships in 2005 would have seen a young man displaying his full array of talents. He was the Flying Eagle's play maker, certainly not a holding midfielder, that role fell to Sani Kaita who is no unfortunately a bench warmer at Spart Rotterdam in the lower reaches of the Dutch Eredivisie.

Mikel's talent is such that he can adapt and play the holding role at a leading club in the Premiership but I still maintain that it's a waste of his talent. Hopefully, we'll see the best of him for Nigeria at the African Nations Cup in January if his creative instincts can be re-awakened. At least out there he will have Ayila Yusuf to cover him up much like Kaita did two years ago.


Juve watch

So yesterday we played the Milanista at the San Siro, and came away with a point.

Well, I wasn't nearly as disappointed as some of my fellow Juventino who felt that if Empoli could come away from the San Siro with all three, then why can't we? Maybe I should be disappointed, but I still see this club as the Cadetti champions, and Milan is good as any a test to see how we measure up. It's about gauging ourselves to the competition, not winning the Scudetto. By next season, I would be baying for the Scudetto, but as I said months ago, a Champions League place would do for me, and at the moment, we are well on course for that.

Milan may not have won at home so far, but they're also the reigning champions of Europe and do know how to raise their game if the need presents itself, something they did yesterday. I mean, Nesta was absolutely imposing in their defence, and Kaka was personally responsible for all the yellow cards that were dished out in the game. But given some of our past encounters in the San Siro where we had to fight tooth and nail for any points, we came away with points from the San Siro yesterday, and earned them. That's a far cry improvement over recent Juve squads that hung on for dear life and a few favourable ref calls to achieve a 0-0 draw versus Milan at the delle Alpi under Capello.

We played and honestly looked like we had all the parts to match up well with Milan on their home turf. I mean, sure we could have won. But we could have lost too. Any points taken in the San Siro is good in my book for just about any season.

Juve didn't do well enough in finishing the few chances we had that really threatened. However, what did us in from scoring were the mid-length and longer passes. Intercepted almost all the time. Every time we had momentum and relied on a pass longer than a close-range short pass, we seemed to turn the ball over. That's what hurt us most as far as I am concerned.

And I hate to say it, but that's precisely the sort of thing I would have loved to have seen Tiago on the pitch for and given a chance to help resolve for us. The team also did not move enough to meet balls in motion and sat back too much hoping the ball would come to them first.

The defence was solid, though. A few blunders, but we weren't intimidated. Even if Pippo Inzaghi more and more with age is coming off as a poor man's Van Nistelrooy whose food is to capitalize on referee mistakes. But what I loved about the defense, including the midfield, was our aggressiveness -- exemplified by Chiellini. Chiellini always had to have the "last word" in defense -- he never let balls go uncontested.

Sure, Inter remain 2 points ahead at the moment (they play Fiorentian later today), but away draws against Fiorentina and Milan are two minor victories for this la vecchia Signora.

Ratings.
Buffon - 8 - Great sense of positioning. Some great saves. Did what we needed -- and that was a bit more than usual. I'll have to give him my MOM, since he perhaps made the biggest difference, especially on that point blank save off Inzaghi.

Zebina - 6.5 - No crazy bad fouls always means a good game for Zebina. Didn't do anything terribly well, but did what we needed in defence and added just a little in attack.

Molinaro - 6.5 - There were a lot of people bashing this guy during the game, but I wouldn't be so hard on him. I like the improvement I have seen in him recently. He still makes the occasional cross that heads for the Turin town centre now and then. But he doesn't lose the ball on the wings anymore, he controlled his defensive positions rather well, he closed down opposing crosses very well, he maintained a lot of ball control, and he engaged a lot in attack.

If we can get some tuning in his offensive work up front, we could maybe have something. Because he's getting his positioning and ball control skills down much more than before, and he's causing defenders to pay attention to him. That in itself is a significant improvement.

Legrottaglie - 7 - Pretty solid. He gets burned with too many lame yellow cards, though -- not entirely his fault. I was hoping he would have gotten a game winner by connecting on a header from a corner, but it wasn't to be. This was the match for it.

Chiellini - 8 - My runner-up for MOM. Monstrous in defence. He was not intimidated by anyone, and as I said above he always made sure he had the last word. He almost never let a ball go out or by him without poking in a foot for a great deflection or challenge. Some beautiful stuff that I haven't seen from a Juve defender at that level since the days of Cannavaro. As it also creates more upfield with the ball redirection... something we need to work on.

I also liked seeing his camaraderie with the likes of Gattuso. He's starting to act like he belongs in the world champion Azzurri squad, and shows mutual respect among his peers. I think that will go a long way to helping him develop further. Fortunately, no hot-head moments this match for him.

Nocerino - 7.5 - Great at short-range in stopping balls, keeping his feet moving, and manoeuvring the ball away from and around his opponents. I just wish he was able to break some of the errant passing and turnovers that plagued us on mid-range passes and longer. In any event, he is becoming a midfield god, and the fact that he was able to keep both Gatusso and Pirlo on check says a lot.

Zanetti - 7 - Generally good. Nice midfield control and good defensive support. Offensively, he's a liability lately, though. I really wish he would lay off more or find his team-mates better than he has. Still, a solid effort.

Nedved - 7.5 - Not quite as strong as his MOM run last weekend, but still more of the Neddy of old out there. Kept the distribution going. Generally sure with his feet.

Salihamidzic - 7 - One of the best matches for us in a while. Nice shot on goal that forced a great fingertip Dida save. But needs to cross better to play more on the midfield wing.

Trezeguet - 6 - His rating is higher for his help in ball distribution and involvement. But his finishing was off today. A wayward header, an nice opportunity in the first half that he lined right at the closed-down near post -- both things he needed to do better with for us to win this one.

Iaquinta - 5 - Didn't add much in either ball control nor distribution today.

Subs :

Del Piero - 5 - Added little on the pitch today.

Palladino - 5 - Added little on the pitch today.

Marchionni - 5 - Added little on the pitch today.

Coach:

Ranieri - 6 - Taking on the reigning Champions League winners on their home turf is no small task, especially after an ego-inflating 5-0 win. The team maintained their level of professionalism and teamwork for the most part. But his subs were all pretty much flops -- and all were pretty much made too late. And Tiago still grows cobwebs on the bench in a match where we were sorely lacking just his sort of speciality.

Thanks to Greg for the ratings.

Full match report here.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

On monsters

Interesting question was posed last night on Cybereagles: Who do you think was the most evil person ever?
That is, had this person been killed at the "right" time or never been born in the first place, mankind had been saved from the worst atrocities.

And who is the worst person alive today?
Also, would you kill that person if you got the chance and a) no one would ever find out it was you or b) if you had to sacrifice your own life to do so?


Of course there have been all sorts of replies ranging from the intelligent (Stalin and Hitler feature prominently in those responses, as well as a certain Walker Bush), to the outright stupid (response from one of the resident Biafra separatists). My response is as follows:

This question is actually a tough one to be honest. One has to take into account the age in which the organisers were living and their actual participation in the atrocities.

If we take 20th century monsters such as King Leopold, Iosef Stalin, Adolf Hitler, Pol Pot, Joseph Mobutu, Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein as examples, one would find that Stalin, Hitler and Hussein were more removed from the actual atrocities, and even more in Hitler's case it was 'mechanised'. All that was needed in all three cases was a 'carelessly' uttered word, or a sweep of the pen, and people would die. In Amin and Pot's cases however, they were personally involved in some of the most brutal acts of inhumanity. With that in perspective, I think both Idi Amin and Pol Pot were bigger monsters than any other on the list...

Then you take into account that some of the monsters of antiquity such as Timur Lenk and Vlad Dracula wholeheartedly and directly partook in the massacres of whole populations, something that not even the meanest 20th century monster (save Pol Pot) dared to do. With that in mind, my nominee for the worst ever would be Pol Pot.


As to who is the worst alive today? Undoubtedly George W. Bush. The world was at relative peace when he ascended the American throne, and now the world is polarised in a way unimaginable even before the decline of the Soviet Union.

What says you?


Juve watch

Forget the envious noises made by the Interista, this is the it fixture in Serie A, coming to a stream near you this evening for the first time in two years and with both teams on the ascendancy it is a mouth-watering prospect. This evening, we have the match up between the undoubted masters of football Italiana, Juventus and Milan.

In the past twenty five years these two teams have traditionally dominated the Scudetto race, but have found life tough after last year's Calciopoli scandal. While we were demoted to Serie B, the Rossoneri were ruled out of last year’s title challenge with an eight-point penalty and have had a shaky start to this season. They are still looking for their first home victory of this season but have picked up an astonishing 77 per cent of their points on their travels. Their record against la vecchia Signora in the San Siro is not particularly positive either, winning only two of their last five meetings. The most decisive was a 1-0 sealed by David Trezeguet’s early header that handed Juve the Scudetto in May 2005 (bless!).

Milan are showing signs of improvement though, and last week Ronaldo made his return after six months out with a mystery injury, earning a penalty and hitting the woodwork in the 2-1 win at Cagliari. He is out of today's game though with another injury. That guy's made of egg I'm beginning to think... Gilardino would have been a certainty to start upfront for the Rosaneri, but there is this little problem: all five of his Serie A goals this season have been scored outside San Siro. Milan coach Ancelotti is a Juve old boy, having been given a reputation as a ‘lovable loser’ while in Turin only to win every trophy at Milan. Emerson and Jankulovski are injured, while Seedorf’s return could restore the Christmas Tree formation.

La vecchia Signora are flying high after last week's 5-0 demolition job on Palermo and have done very well against the other Scudetto contenders so far, earning draws with Inter, Roma and Fiorentina. Andrade, Camo and Boumsong are sidelined, but Chiellini returns from a ban to bolster the defence, while Grygera faces a late fitness test. ADP netted twice last week and set up a third after coming off the bench for the final 20 minutes, and in my opinion should remain in that super sub role. Trezeguet’s place up front is secure, the current Capocannoniere on 11 goals in 13 games. This is set up to be one sweet match. FORZA JUVE!!!