Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Oil be damned!

Two things happened last week that made me unhappy. First my payslip was handed to me, and I noticed that there had been a slight increase in the tax that is taken from me. Note, if it were left to me I wouldn't pay, especially given that the top politicians in this country don't feel obliged to pay the bloody taxes themselves. However, one fundamental difference between here and back home is that despite the fact that their politicians are a lot more corrupt than those we have back home, they are also a lot more inclusive, so the 'common man' doesn't feel the effects of their theft in his day to day life. I had earlier discussed the effects, or non-effects of corruption on an economy, and more happens each day that convinces me of the validity of my observations...

The second thing which made me unhappy was a discussion I had on Thursday with one of the marketers that works for my employer. He told me that two potentially major clients, for whom we had completed studies, and had gotten verbal MOUs, had pulled out of the deal in the case of one, and left the deal on ice in the case of the other. The reason given for the change of heart was quite simple, and logical, given the current economic climate, and their reasons consisted of two words: credit crunch. You see, the business of both firms is financial in nature, and to be honest, it was only a matter of time before the whole subprime shabazz began to kick in. According to him one of those firms has even began to lay off some of its staff, the cute British word for laying off people is redundancy. Anyway, marketer fellow is scared. He's hoping that this credit crunch thing won't last much longer because there would be a knock off effect in other sectors especially in one like ours which depends almost directly on financial institutions. In any event, all sectors of the global (not just UK) economy would be hit by the credit crunch in one way or the other, some would take a bigger hit than others. However, there is one sector that for the moment seems immune, and that is the oil sector.

Yesterday British firms BP and Shell declared better than expected profits which totalled £7 billion for 3 months, or a little over £80 million per day! It is difficult to reconcile such obscene profits with the fact that the costs of fuel (and as a result everything else) is rising, but the truth is that is the way it is. This oil thing is getting absolutely mental. Last week oil rose to $120 a barrel for the first time ever, this is almost 90% up from a year ago. The spike was attributed to the strike at the UK's Grangemouth refinery, as well as the fact that those idiots in the Niger Delta went on the rampage again. But I think that is just simplistic analysis. True, these issues would add a few dollars to the price of the barrel of crude, but can they keep the prices high, and rising? I think not.

The issues that have been pushing fuel costs upwards relentlessly are fundamental, and unfortunately cannot be addressed. Back in the day world oil prices depended almost exclusively on two things, the Middle East, and American demand. That has changed, and there are new kids on the block who are demanding more and more oil, China and India. Other newly industrialised countries are also demanding more and more oil to drive their own growth, and as these countries get richer, and the wealth begins to percolate downwards in their societies, their people would be able to afford more, and demand more. More people would buy cars (already the consumer of more than half the world's oil production), and oil supplies are dwindling. Effect is that greater demand on increasingly scarcer resources would push the prices up, and the the oil majors would continue smiling to the banks for decades to come.

Personally I am of the belief that exploring alternative means of power, not for any altruistic reasons such as protecting the environment, but for the practical reasons of maintaining the standards of living that the 'developed world' has gotten used to, and the 'developing world' aspires to, is imperative. But then where does Nigeria fit into all of this?

Nigeria is currently classified as a next eleven country, which means that in the coming years a lot of our oil production should begin to go inward, and we might even begin to import to sustain our (hoped for) economic growth. But what happens when other markets begin to demand for our oil? We would then be faced with the question of whether to let our budding industries die and feed the rest of the world's thirst, or whether to give the rest of the world a large middle finger and develop ourselves. Given the current set of players we have in the arena in Nigerian politics, that isn't at all a tough call, but then again we aren't yet faced with that question, and probably won't be faced with it for another 30 years. The question then becomes, in 30 years, when people like my (not so humble) self are hopefully in charge of affairs in Naija, what would that question entail, and would we be willing (and more importantly) ready to face the backlash that would occur?

You see, the irony is that at the moment, there is just too much profit being made from the sale of crude, so there won't be any really serious research into alternative forms of energy even though GWB in his last State of the Union address talked about protecting the energy security of the United States. Any research done in that direction would most likely be locked 'safely' away somewhere, or shredded altogether. If in another generation alternative means are not ready to fill in the gap that would be left by dwindling oil supplies and greater demand, there would be wars over those little oil supplies, and given our strategic position in the oil supply chain, Naija would be one of the battlefields.

On property allocations

About two years ago in the suburb of Lagos known as Magodo, the resident's association learned that a plot of land which was designated as a green area had been reallocated to someone by someone else for the purpose of putting up more concrete. They pre-empted this action by fencing that plot and putting up a tennis court in it. This plot (close to the Magodo police station) was saved that way. I was recently told that in that same Magodo, that people are building houses in the gullies at the end of the Emmanuel Keshi Street, a drainage channel! A few years down the line these same people would wonder why their houses are getting flooded.

Also in Lagos, there has been a recent craze for plots of reclaimed land by the sea. These plots are bloody expensive, but sell like hot cakes because no one gives a thought as to when the sea would come back in to reclaim what is its own. People who build houses in reclaimed areas are faced with the problem of metal fixtures in their houses rusting pretty quickly, yet no one has thought that something (high salt content) which rusts metal at a much faster rate than normal, would harm humans just as easily, and even worse in the longer term. It is all about the status symbol of owning a house in Goshen Estate!

We have a terrible knack of getting our priorities so hopelessly wrong, and this is what some would have happen in Abuja simply because they want to have a house in Maitama, they wouldn't mind destroying the serenity of the green in the area to do it.

Yer Mama has an interesting article on the apparent witch hunting that is happening in Abuja at the moment. Written with the frankness of someone who knows some of the actors personally, her article brings up the big question: if people who did an otherwise good job during their tenures in Nigeria are lined up to face character assassination by the jackals who are in it for self and self alone, what hope do we really have?

It is only logical that if no one is 'allowed' to prosecute his brief to the best of his abilities for fear of inadvertently pressing the self destruct button and waiting for the sequence of events to begin after he no longer enjoys 'government protection', then the overriding attitude would become one of if you can't beat them, then join them. And that can only be terrible for our nation.

As someone who lived in Abuja during the heat of Uncle Nasir's demolition spree, I can only say that he did a good thing. Back in those days, myself and U used to hang out in various parks and live the good life basically. The kind of relaxation that green areas for example provide is infinitely better than what is provided by the beer parlours that litter the likes of Lagos and Port Harcourt. I'd hate to see Abuja become anything like Lagos, which is what these people would rather have in their quest to own land in the FCT.

Juve watch

I haven't done this bit in quite a while, not because of a lack of news, but because I haven't watched a Juve game in a while now. Quick summary anyway: la vecchia Signora is back in the Champions League. We have secured at least third position in Serie A, which books a ticket to next season's fiesta. That can only be a good thing. Forza Juve!!!

More on the BA thing...

The boycott is meant to go 'live' from tomorrow. I skimmed the following off of Jeremy's...

...seems not to be getting much press attention in the UK (except for here, here and even the very venerable Robert Fisk here - big up the Indy for picking up on the story), however its big news over here. Many Nigerians are fed up with what they perceive to be BA's poor attitude to what is one of their most lucrative markets/routes. Deciding to eject everyone from economy on the flight in question (apart from the deportee himself) does seem an extreme measure. From the Indy articles above, it looks like institutional racism at work.

As an example of the kind of outrage that has been voiced, I've pasted below an email I received last week from Chinua Asuzu, from the Assizes Law Firm (written both by Chinua and Pelumi Osundahunsi):

"Globalization has been embraced in all spheres of human endeavour, in theory if not always in practice. From cross-border professional practice to inter-racial marriages, from exchange programmes between business and academic institutions to nearly-free movement of goods and services, the Global Village is the 21st century's keynote. This has given rise to increased tolerance among peoples, cultures, and races across continents.

Antitrust laws and enhanced competition, coupled with the growing emphasis on corporate governance and corporate social responsibility, have combined to constrain business organisations of all sizes to improve their client, human and public relations.

In the United Kingdom, Margaret Thatcher the Milk Snatcher snatched the milk from giant monopolies like British Rail, British Gas, British Telecoms, and British Airways when that great Prime Minister commercialised, liberalised and privatised virtually everything, leading to the great prosperity which the UK continues to enjoy today. Speed and efficiency in the rendering of services and the supply of public utilities gradually became the order of the day. Bureaucratic red tape sagged. Competition at first sauntered, and then matched into the various business and service arenas. Quality in the production of goods and supply of services improved.

British Airways did not like the trend set in by Thatcherism. And when Rebel Billionaire Richard Branson set up Virgin Airways, BA openly and shamelessly prayed for his planes to 'drop out of the sky'. BA never gave Virgin a chance. Virgin came with new ideas and new ways of doing things, friendlier staff, prettier girls, lower fares, Equal Opportunity Employment policies. BA fought Virgin with all the evil weapons in its arsenal.

Virgin, young as it is relative to BA which has been operating the Nigerian route for decades, already employs more Nigerians than BA. Without just cause or excuse, BA hates Nigerians.

It is against this briefly outlined background that we at Assizes, as human rights and immigration lawyers, view the recent maltreatment of Nigerians aboard a BA flight. The facts, briefly, are as follows:-
1. A Nigerian deportee was handcuffed unnecessarily and unlawfully aboard a BA plane late last month.
2. Compatriot Ayo Omotade complained.
3. BA crew threw the concerned Nigerian citizen, who was merely and admirably being his brother's keeper, off the plane and banned him from using their services.
4. Other Nigerian passengers on the same plane voiced their discomfiture at the mistreatment of their fellow citizens.
5. They were all shabbily removed from the plane, which then proceeded to fly the deportee home.

When confronted with the outcry of numerous Nigerians including the Federal Government, BA invoked the defence of statutory authority. They asserted that they had conducted themselves in accordance with the UK Immigration Act of 1971. This excuse is completely misleading and does not avail BA. Perhaps they assumed that Nigerians are not familiar with that statute. Well, at Assizes we have studied the legislation in detail and can find no provision in it that could justify or excuse the conduct of BA crew.

· BA's handcuffing of the deportee is insupportable by statute.
· BA's jettisoning of Ayo Omotade is insupportable by statute.
· BA's disembarking of the other Nigerian passengers is insupportable by statue.

The egregious and extravagantly aggressive and violent conduct of that BA crew was not in compliance with the UK Immigration Act of 1971, nor indeed with any provision in any UK Immigration Act or Rules, nor compatible with any law for the time being in force in any part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. BA showed off that crew of scallywags as a bunch of ineducable racists and savages.

Unfortunately for BA, the March 27 incident is not an isolated one, but merely another turn in the long history of racially-actuated ill-treatment of Nigerians in particular and Africans in general by BA, an organisation stuck in the colonial mould of its founders.

The Day of Judgment against BA in Nigeria has come!

The Assizes Law firm joins other Nigerians in calling for a total boycott of British Airways by Nigerian passengers, even when this would entail travelling by indirect routes. Nigerians can afford to be selective of the airlines we patronize if the airlines can be selective of the nationalities of the passengers deserving their respectful service and treatment.

Assizes in addition demands that the Federal Government should suspend the landing rights of British Airways at Nigerian airports until BA fully and publicly accepts responsibility for its mistreatment of Nigerians, tenders an unreserved apology and pays reasonable compensation to the deportee, to Ayo Omotade the patriotic sympathiser, and to the other Nigerian passengers initially aboard that flight, all of whom were insulted in their personal dignity, racial identity, national pride, and common humanity.

Compensation of the adversely affected Nigerian passengers would accord with Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of Europe of 11 February 2004, which established common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and of cancellation or long delay of flights. In legal effect, Ayo Omotade and the rest of the Nigerian passengers suffered at least a constructive denial of boarding and cancellation of their flights.

The despicable treatment of those Nigerian passengers also violated their human rights and passenger rights. It amounted to a blanket, prejudiced assault on their rights as stipulated under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Involving as it did a major airline of an allegedly "friendly" nation (UK) and passengers from her partner (Nigeria), the attack also entailed diplomatic implications. It would require a gesture from the British Government towards the Nigerian Government and people. For example, it has created an opportunity for the former colonial mistress to review her harsh and negative visa policy towards Nigerians and her negative immigration attitude to our people generally.

Nigerians in their private capacities contribute billions of pounds to the UK economy, and our government is a major trade partner in a grossly unequal partnership. This diplomatic incident, for it amounts to that, should give the Nigerian state pause regarding her relationship with the UK. Is it not time for us to deal less with the Brits and more with other people who show us some respect?"

Monday, April 28, 2008

More tales from work

Now because of the line of work we are in (IT Security), our own office has an access control system that is activated by the said member of staff's fingerprints, so Chxta for example would scan in his fingerprints at reception to get into the building, then again at Technical to get into the Technical Area. Chxta's fingerprints won't be accepted at the MD's office for example...

What I didn't know was that there are other security mechanisms. Thus it was that this morning I arrived at the office a little early (45 minutes), so I turned out to be the earliest person in. I scanned my fingerprints and the doors opened to let me in. Then the alarms began screeching. Then olopa dem show very sharply, and I had to explain myself. Thank God for the company branded tee shirt I was wearing, but more importantly that one of the people at reception came in shortly after. Maybe yours truly would have been in nga by now...

Forward a few hours and I'm sitting (as I type) in the board room of a major client. There is a board meeting, and I was invited. Not to the meeting, but to resync the blackberries of the six guys in their board since it would be a while before all of them are in the same place at the same time again. Problem is, I arrived before the appointed hour, and was told to wait. They left the door open during their discussions, and for the first few minutes I was dazed at the amounts being mentioned. Then I drifted off. Then a word floated to my ear that made it stand: AVRAM GRANT, and I began to pay attention to the 'minutes' of this board meeting. Guess what they've been talking about the last hour, football!

Friday, April 25, 2008

Hardy review

This is going to be very short.

The wireless card on my laptop (Presario C700) is a Broadcom wireless bcm34xx. Truth be told, even on a fresh install of Windows, any version of Windows that is, that particular card is a pain to install. However, a Windows user would find it less of a hassle simply because Broadcom provide a CD for Windows users of this particular card. For Linux (surprise surprise!!!) they don't. And the installation instructions found here will not at all appeal to a new Linux convert.

So while an old hand like me didn't mind getting my hands dirty in the terminal, I can guarantee that a newbie wouldn't be that willing, and would simply pack his bags and run back to Redmond. Now that is something that Canonical need to work as Intrepid prepares to hit us in six months time...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The new Ubuntu

Hardy Heron has been released today. Expect some stress testing from Chxta this evening, and a detailed report as soon as that is done...

...I can't help but wonder when next I'll sleep!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

We are getting noticed

Yesterday's Indy. Now if we can only sustain...

Someone on CE claimed that the day before, BA's flight 0075 to Lagos had only 5 people in economy. I can't verify that, but if it is true, that's great. Sustaining momentum has always been our weak point as a people, and if we can sustain this one, there is a bright flicker of hope somewhere...

Friday, April 18, 2008

Hope fades away...

"When they came for the communists, I was silent, because I was not a communist;
When they came for the socialists, I was silent, because I was not a socialist;
When they came for the trade unionists, I did not protest, because I was not a trade unionist;
When they came for the Jews, I did not protest, because I was not a Jew;
When they came for me, there was no one left to protest on my behalf."
---Martin Niemoeller

The fallout of the call for Nigerians to boycott British Airways has thrown up arguments and counter-arguments, whilst BA aircraft still take off for Nigeria at the rate of twice a day, and always packed to capacity. Looking at it from the view of simple Mathematics, the figures are shocking. Depending on what time of the year in which you fly, the cheapest possible fare that can be gotten on the Lagos route is north of £450. For most times in the year, the fare averages £650. Lagos is the only route plied by BA for which I have never, ever noticed an offer of price slashes advertised. As of this morning, a flight leaving London for Lagos on 3 May costs £300, while a flight leaving London for Mumbai, India (which is further away) on the same day goes for £194. A flight leaving for Sydney, Australia (which is a 21 hour flight!) comes in at £351. What is so wrong with Lagos, that it's flight costs are perpetually high, even though BA is virtually guaranteed a fully booked flight? That disparity alone is enough to call for a boycott. And we've not even begun to talk about their treatment of our people, which is the cause of my current state of relative unhappiness...

You see, on various forums, I have constantly come across people arguing in favour of British Airways, making statements about the deportee getting what he deserves and that we haven't even heard BA's side of the story. The first question that should then be asked is this: why has BA not even condescended to give us their side of the story? The answer to my mind is fucking obvious, as far as they are concerned, we are just pieces of trash that are there to be milked.

But then, listening to our reaction thus far, or lack of it, only confirms the cynicism expressed by the commentators on my earlier article about this incident (myself included). We don't seem to have any sense of self worth, and unity as a people. And that is a problem. I will quote what I asked a friend of mine only yesterday when he made comments about this same incident, I was reacting to his statement concerning the deportee on the plane when he said, "Sorry man, I cant feel pity for a deportee..."

"Guy, to be honest if I didn't know you well enough (but then maybe you have changed) I'd call you an arsehole for that statement. You know one of our problems as a people is that we don't even have compassion for our own. Can you imagine an American deportee being shackled and treated like a dog? Even if the guy is as guilty as fuck the State Department will bring the house down and will threaten all kinds of fire and brimstone. Same applies for a Brit. Look at what happened last year when some French people went to steal children from Chad. It was headline news and the French government squarely stood by their people even through they knew that they were wrong. Look at the situation in Naija recently when four Americans were arrested in the Niger Delta. The very first thing that happened is that someone from the American Embassy went to visit them. The attitude you have just shown in this treatise you typed is sadly typical of the people in our government, people who you have criticised on more than one occasion. As long as I am okay, then what happens to others is their business."

What makes me so sad thinking about that particular thread of conversation is the fact that this fellow belongs to my age group, people who in my opinion should know better! The basic tenet established in Herr Niemoeller's statement which I quoted at the start of this article is that a house divided against itself can never, ever stand. And therein lies one of our major problems, if not our biggest problem bar none as a people, our selfishness.

Back in May 2004, the Nigerian Labour Congress under the leadership of Adams Oshiomhole declared a general strike. The cause of that strike was the fact that our government at the time kept insulting us by arbitrarily increasing the cost of fuel. In the preceding four months fuel costs had gone up at various times by a combined total of more than 250%. So the NLC felt the need to call a general strike. There was a serious campaign by Labour for at least a month before the May 3, 2004 start date for the strike. The campaign informed us that there would be a strike to force the government to bring down fuel prices back to their pre-October 2003 levels (I don't remember the exact prices, and I can't be arsed to search for them). The campaign went further to inform us that this would be the mother of all strikes, so that Nigerians should prepare for it, stock their houses up with provisions in preparation for a long sit at home. Then the strike started.

For the first time since 1956, the oil actually stopped flowing from Nigeria, and almost immediately, the world markets began to feel the heat, and duly put pressure on Rtd. Gen. Obasanjo to negotiate with the strikers. The man called for negotiations from a position of weakness (something that he was wont not to do), then stalled and was eventually able to negotiate from a position of relative strength. How were the odds evened in Obasanjo's favour? The very people on who's behalf a strike was being organised began to complain a mere three days after the strike began, that they were suffering and wanted to go back to work. Obj simply had to bide his time. He didn't need the police to beat anyone up or try to break the strike for him, the cattle called his people would do it themselves, and they promptly did. The final result? Today fuel in Nigeria sells for much higher than what Oshiomhole et al were fighting against. Compare that to the Orange Revolution in the Ukraine only a few months later where people braved temperatures of average -26 Celsius in order to make their point, and eventually got what they were asking for. In our own case, as far as we were concerned as a people, our immediate comfort was a lot more important than the overall good. And we are still paying for it today. Then we would later turn around and complain!

Fela the Great got it so perfectly right in his excellent Sorrow, Tears and Blood, when he said: We no wan die, We no wan quench, Mama dey for house, Papa dey for house, I get one wife, I get one car, I get one house, I just build house, I wan enjoy...

With all due respect, there are people who in our history gave up on 'life's little pleasures' in order to fight for the betterment of their/our people, and when I make this statement I have the following in mind: Aminu Kano, Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Wole Soyinka, Ken Saro-Wiwa, Adams Oshiomhole and Olisa Agbakoba. In my mind, these men for all their flaws, and like any other human they had flaws, did a lot (and those of them still alive are doing a lot) to further the cause. But I am slowly and almost inexorably coming to the opinion that they are/were wasting their time. For the cause of Nigeria and Nigerians, hope fades quickly.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Cross my heart and hope to die

Three of the engineers in my office (myself and two others) are in the office today, which is a rarity, so we are having some fun working on some servers when the phone rings. It is a worker at a rather high paying customer (aren't they all?). She wants someone to come to her office and see what the problem is. Her computer isn't coming on. After taking her step by step on the phone (no need going over there), guess what the problem is?

Her monitor is turned off.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Nigerians please boycott BA!

To be honest, I may be pissing in the wind on this one as Nigerians are a difficult group to mobilise for a cause. However the treatment that we get from foreign airlines is humiliating, and BA takes the cake. I don't fly BA as they once ate my money and refused to refund, but I think that if many of us deprive them of the lucrative Lagos route, others would take notice and begin to treat us better. At the end of the day though, the ultimate solution would be for us to get our own proper flag carrier, and run it well.

Following the humiliating treatment meted out to 136 of our nationals as reported in the Daily Mirror we the undersigned resolve to put pressure on all Nigerians to boycott the British Airways. We shall also do as much as is in our power to pressure our own government to float a proper flag carrier for the Federal Republic of Nigeria in order to put an end to the shabby treatment that Nigerians have to endure on international routes in and out of Lagos.

Sign here

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Talking about bans

As I have grown older, I have found that in general terms I have become more conservative than liberal. The do all, attempt all persona of those years between 1998 and 2002 has long since gone. In his place is a rather cautious person who would weigh the merits and demerits of any little thing, take his time, and probably end up doing whatever it is that would not rock the boat too much (okay, I know I am lying on that one).

In any event, my stance in the last article on this 'ere blog is a testimony to that conservatism. Same as my stance on some other issues is testament to the fact that I can be liberal when there is a need to be. You see, at the end of the day, we all have to understand that change is probably the most important thing in life, and without some form of being liberal, there can be no change. Again, some change is good, and some others are bad. For me, the change that allows people undergo such madness as sex change is bad. While the inertia that characterises certain other actions is equally bad, if not worse on some issues.

You see, I am not the most religious of people. There is a church just a stone's throw from my front door, and it happens to be Catholic. I am Catholic, so I really don't have any excuse not to attend Sunday Mass, and I do grace the walls of that place with my presence. In my time, people have tried to convert me from Catholicism, but as we speak, they have all failed woefully. And for quite a simple reason too, not one of them has ever managed to win me over with superior logic. You see, I was an altar boy during my teenage years, and even back then I had a propensity to ask questions which other people would rather not ask. Sometime in 1995, I asked a lot of hard questions about Catholicism, and luckily for me, there was Fr. Robert William Dundon, a Jesuit priest in our Parish to answer most of those questions with a deep understanding of his faith. The result of this is that there are a lot of things I know about why certain things happen in the Catholic Church, and for that reason I haven't left. In the intervening years (and because of personal experience), I have dabbled with atheism, I have dabbled with agnosticism, I have read up on Islam, and I have dabbled with Pentecostalism. I'll be honest and admit that part of the reason I used to attend Christ Embassy was that there was this rather handsome female. Those who knew me back in 2002-2003 would know what I am talking about. Nevertheless, their pastor(s) never for one second managed to convince me that they had anything resembling authenticity. Up until now however, I still have questions concerning Christianity, especially on apparent inconsistencies, but these are things that insha Allah would be answered in due course.

My main gripe with Christianity, and religion in general it must be said, is the propensity of its leaders to try and impose some form of mind control on its adherents. That is one thing I am absolutely against is mind control. The Catholic Church is guilty of this, not on just one occasion, but on so many. Good case point is the recent declaration of seven new deadly sins by Holy Mother Church. I mean, what exactly constitutes environmental pollution? Is it the stuff that I fail to recycle? Or is it one of my dearest pleasures, taking a leak outdoors? The line of genetic manipulation is ambiguous to say the least because some of the most recent life saving advances in medicine arrived as a result of studying the genes of humans and animals. Inflicting poverty is one that I kinda agree with, but to some extent that goes against some of my own natural instincts. You see, I get angry when I come out of my house everyday on my way to go to work and I see all the layabouts with 'nowhere' to go. In my opinion, they deserve to starve, and not eat out of tax accrued from my hard earned sweat. As far as I am concerned, if you don't want to work, you shouldn't eat. I have nothing against drug trafficking and consumption. In short I think that the penalties that so many of them in the UK get are way too light. Can someone please define morally debatable experiments for me? It has been rather tough defining that one. Accumulating excessive wealth has got to be the ambition of just about every youngster out there, and with this one we are running the risk of going the way of the British government and criminalising everyone and everything. In any case, the Church can and should set an example on that one and give away the vast majority of Her wealth. As it is, Holy Mother Church is excessively wealthy!

However, all this could not happen if people do not sit back and let it all happen without speaking out. It is like our Muslim brothers. A lot of rubbish gets done in the name of Islam, because so many Muslims do not want to be seen as 'not being Muslim enough', so they sit back and let the fundamentalists in their midst to do crap. Like Islam, Christianity has its fair share of fundamentalists, just that unlike their Islamic counterparts of nowadays, they tend to appear less willing to take up arms. It would be an interesting experiment if the Muslim fundamentalists of the 20th/21st century can be teleported to the 15th/16th century so as to lock horns with the Christian fundamentalists of then...

However, one common trait amongst fundamentalists, Christian, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Sikh is that their 'action' arms are more often than not to be found in people who are dirt poor, or people who have just come into money. Hence you are less likely to see someone from Connecticut being violent about his Christianity, but you are very likely to see someone from Nkpor who is willing to take up arms in 'support' of his beliefs.

Now we must understand that taking up arms is not necessarily about going into physical battle, it can also be the battle in the mind, and that is the more dangerous battle. Killing people physically doesn't kill what they stand for, and what they stand for can crop up 200 years after they are gone, unless you have found a way to kill the idea, by influencing the way that they think. Organised religion, has to a large extent been the most successful at doing this throughout history. There is no more effective way to control a people's mindset than to tell them that 'God says this, so do it since it is His will'. Witness the killing (or maiming) of children in parts of Akwa Ibom because 'God said that they are witches', or the periodic outbursts of sectarian violence in Northern Nigeria because 'they are infidels', or the refusal to allow for abortions 'because it would weaken the moral fabric of Nigeria', now this!

Like me, Mr. Peter Obi, governor Anambra State, is a Catholic, and I can see the hand of Bishop Simon Okafor of the Awka Diocese in this since both of them are buddy buddies. But the question that should then arise should be this: should the protection of people's morals be the concern of the Commissioner for Health? That in itself begets more questions such as: Where would he be when there is a rise in birth rate for a state that is already stretched thin with the highest population density in Nigeria bar Lagos? What contingencies does he have in place if the reportedly high AIDS percentage goes up even more? When did he become a priest? What the fuck is he doing making moral pronouncements like 'The use of condoms has greatly encouraged immorality'?

For all the fact that we like to act all pious and moral in Nigeria, there is one fundamental truth that we are all avoiding, or worse, ignoring: Nigeria has a population in Nigeria of 150 millions. We also have one of the highest population growth rates of any country in the world, why in little under 30 years our population is expected to double! That should tell any discerning human being that Nigerians are fucking. And we are fucking like rabbits. Yet, the average Nigerian girl in her mid twenties would tell you that she is still a virgin. I don't blame her, it is the society that pressures her to hide like that. Even rape victims would never speak up for fear of being exposed to eternal ridicule. Pretending that all this does not exist (like we pretend on so many other issues) is probably our worst crime as a nation. We lie to ourselves all the time.

Juve watch

So Chxta's ticket to again grace the Emirates Stadium with Chxta's presence after a year's absence has just been confirmed. La vecchia Signora would be coming in August to receive homage from the lesser outfits representing North London, Madrid and Hamburg.

This is great!

Monday, April 07, 2008

Diversity or pervesity?

For some people, diversity is the code word for perversity. I’m not opposed to changes. But, not all changes are good either, at least in my opinion. Some changes are so 'shocking', they turn some of the basic fabric of society (and family) upside down. May be, this is my conservative side talking.

Western societies and their liberal thinking always tend to test the limits of fine thin line between diversity and perversity. Gay marriages, lowering the age of consensual sex, broken marriages, multiple sex partners, transgender…!! Oh! Why abuse your bodies in the name of freedom, choice and pleasure - I ask myself. How much 'experimentation' is acceptable - I ponder. Here is the story of pregnant man. Yes – if it is true, this man is six months pregnant!

Sometimes I wonder about the future generations and the kind of world they are going to live. How about ‘Lisa has two daddies at home’? Or…imagine your coworker John with a big beard applying for maternity leave because he is 'pregnant' ?
I know - I am not supposed to ask these questions in this politically correct world because I might 'hurt' the feelings of others! Oh well, who cares?

*this article was shown to me by Kulutempa about 3 weeks back. I forgot to talk about it until I saw Vittal's article this morning, a post I entirely agree with...

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Quick question

Why is it that when countries like China are hosting an event, all the 'protesters' come out to act all concerned about 'human rights', but when countries like the United States are hosting events, everyone seems to 'forget' places like Gitmo?

Friday, April 04, 2008

Book or Film?

Back in my place after a hectic week which despite a major disappointment was ultimately fulfilling. Now I am faced with a tough choice: read my newest acquisition literary wise, David Baldacci's Hour Game, or watch my latest acquisition movie wise, The Orphanage?

Tough choice isn't it?

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Na wa o

I am having a terrible headache right now. Was meant to conduct a training in Wolverhampton, the people who I was meant to train postponed, they aren't ready, they claim, and this after making me travel all the way. As soon as I arrived in London, a text came from my boss to proceed to Hull and now I am sitting in a train that has developed engine trouble.

Thank God for National Express wi-fi...

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Poverty in Zimbabwe, the causes

"You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!"
---Oliver Cromwell to the English Parliament.

Someone needs to say that to a certain Robert Mugabe (and a lot of our African 'rulers' who don't seem to know that when you stay too long, even if you are good, people would get sick of you). How can an 84 year old who has been in office 28 years possibly have anything more to offer? The current fiasco is positively disgraceful. What is with this tactic of releasing the results of the vote piecemeal?

I feel very bad on behalf of the black Zimbabweans as they are between a rock and an incredibly hard place. You see, the Western governments (and media) who at the moment appear to be crying more than the bereaved, hardly have the interests of the common Zimbabwean at heart. They are in this for their own selfish reasons. Afterall, Museveni in Uganda is a friend of the west, and even the Queen of England has endorsed his 22 year looting of Uganda by gracing him with a state visit!

Up until today, the Zimbabwean economy is based mainly on agriculture, like large swathes of Africa, and this is due to deliberate policies of underdevelopment during the colonial era, and deliberate policies to cause confusion after political independence. Please note that the vast majority of former colonies the world over were granted political independence, but were left seriously dependent economically. Even at that, the erstwhile colonial masters put structures in place to ensure that these countries would not find their feet politically, and as a result would remain economically dependent. India for example only began finding her feet as an emerging economy sometime in the last decade and a half, a full four decades after 'independence'!

Mugabe was a friend of the West, and all was nice and dandy until the late 1990s when he began taking land from white Zimbabwean farmers to 'redistribute it to poorer black Zimbabweans' (whether the land actually got redistributed is another matter).

Before the land seizures in Zimbabwe, little over 4000 farmers (who were all white) controlled at least 70% of the most arable lands. Most black Zimbabweans were reduced to being serfs in relationship to the land. Others existed in barren, desert-like conditions.

Black Zimbabweans despite the fact that Canaan Banana and Robert Mugabe were 'figure heads' didn't hold the reins of the real power--they neither owned the major means of production (wherever those could be found) nor controlled how the economy was run. The Zimbabwean people were dispossessed not only of their lands but of their economy as a whole.

The life of black workers on these white farms was very similar to slave plantations in the old U.S. South. The average wage for black workers working 13-hour days was Z$1, 500 per month. The Zim dollar back then exchanged for Z$300 to the US$1. So these guys were breaking their backs for next to nothing!

Again no one talks about the fact that a lot of the white farmers burnt their crops when they were leaving, and destroyed their equipment. Those aren't the actions of a peaceful people who the government just wants to destroy.

The land reform programme initially began with a pay-off to these white farmers until Tony Blair's government stopped funding it in 1997. In 2001, four years later, the US congress passed the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act of 2001 (ZIDERA). This piece of legislation 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. These are the little sound bytes that the BBC and CNN would not want us to hear.

At the end of the day, Mugabe, like Saddam Hussein in Iraq before him, is someone that the Western 'democracies' used once upon a time, and have now dumped because he refused to play ball at a point. If Morgan Tsvangirai wins the current elections, pressure would be brought to bear on him almost immediately to give all the land back to the white farmers (yes, even those who were paid off), and if he refuses, the sanctions would continue. All this noise is not about democracy, it is about profitability. White farmers who themselves are the descendants of Westerners would fit the billing for the Western governments and markets. Black farmers may just decide to sell their crops to China. That, the West does not want.