Friday, June 27, 2008

Payday

Today is the first anniversary of Gordon Brown becoming the unelected Prime Minister of the democracy that is the United Kingdom. Coincidentally, today is also payday for most people (as far as I know) who earn a monthly wage in the United Kingdom. It is quite funny that the day which is supposed to be a very happy day is one that has actually not been very happy for a lot of the British people, what with rising costs left, right and centre?

I can't help but feel some sympathy however for ol' Gordie. He is paying to some extent for the sins of his predecessor(s) in terms of hopelessly tying the UK to the US, such that while the rest of the world catches a cold when the Americans sneeze, the British have to be admitted to the hospital with pneumonia.

Interesting though that the events of the past few weeks (rising taxes as an example) have contributed to reinforce the stereotype that British people just have very loud mouths but absolutely no action in them. Historically, the royals in the UK were every inch as bad as their counterparts in France, and we all know how the French royals ended up. In the UK, we pay to maintain the fantabulous lifestyles of the rich and famous, and get screwed over so badly in the process. And yes, I am Nigerian, but I pay UK taxes so I have every right to complain. You see, I moved jobs some months back as you all know, and my pay was supposed to have gone up by a chunk healthy enough to cover my rent and give me extra pocket money. However, the recent tax increases mean that my pay (take home pay) is back at exactly the same level as it was a year ago. Yet, MPs are debating about increasing their pay, and adding new taxes to burden people like me even more…

One of my biggest gripes at the moment is the fact that the local authorities here are set up to extort as much money as they can from hapless civilians like me. Consider the following story: some time ago, my family had some distinguished guests come in from Nigeria, and I was dispatched to Heathrow to pick them up. Now, these guests were booked to stay at the Paddington Hilton. We got there, and surprise, surprise, a ‘world class’ hotel had no car park to speak of. One of the bellhops told me that I could park outside to remove my passengers’ luggage, and I did. You would not believe that within the time it took us to take the luggage up to their room, and for me to come down and move my car, a period less than 10 minutes, I had landed myself a £120 fine! What annoyed me the most about the fine thing is this: whoever the bastard was that issued the ticket more than likely watched me park, watched myself and my passengers disembark, and watched us take the luggage into the hotel, then more than likely wrote out the ticket and issued it whilst we were still in the lobby! In my opinion, the human thing to do would have been to inform me that this place had restricted parking. Instead, he had to issue the ticket. The really annoying part of it was that this ticket was issued at 2120hrs! I mean, what kind of home problems would make a man to go around issuing parking tickets at after 9 at night?

More was to come.

Having learned my lesson, the next time I had to drive to the hotel to pick my charges and take them to my Uncle’s house (talk about being a young man in our African cultures!), I simply called ahead and requested that they be outside so they’d ‘fly’ into the car when I arrived. Of course, asking elderly Nigerians to wait outside for a small boy is like asking the camel to pass through the eye of those needles. This time around however, I didn’t climb up to go and meet them, I let them know I’d arrived, and waited for them to come down. While I was waiting, I heard a lot of swearing and banging behind me. Some guy had been issued a ticket. He had come to drop his mother at the Paddington Train Station, and had helped her take her luggage into the station. The catch is this: he parked his car just behind mine when he came, i.e. I was there before him. He left his car, I didn’t leave mine. He came back and was ready to leave, I was still there. But he got a ticket, and I didn’t get one. Such was the skill of whoever placed that ticket on his windscreen that sitting in my car, I never heard a sound! The question that arises from that is this: why was I not ticketed? Is it because I was sitting in my car? This goes a long way in telling me that the councils are doing something wrong, and they know it. If they were doing what is right, they wouldn’t be afraid of letting ‘offenders’ know about it. It is all instructive that this happened only a few days after a taxi driver had informed me that the London Borough of Westminster makes more in parking fines than it does in other taxes. This is a vicious cycle that can’t stop unless something mental happens in this country, something which I’d rather not see happen. Being a foreigner (I refer to myself as an expat), it would be all too easy for some idiot (and there’re so many of them), to lay the blame of everything wrong at the door of foreigners. Hell, they’re already doing that…

MEND on the bend

Is it just me, or is something mental happening in the Niger Delta? Quick question: some thugs in speed boats cruise out 50 nautical miles to attack the Bonga offshore facility. Then the geezer at the centre finally appears to loose patience with them and tells the Army to fish them out (and we all know what an unrestrained Nigeria Army is capable of). Then suddenly the main ‘rebel’ group unilaterally declares a ceasefire?

Quick questions: if they were so confident in their oft touted abilities to win the war in the creeks, why did they suddenly ‘listen to their elders’ when the heat was turned on? If they are so true to their cause, what does Bonga have to do with the lunacy that is happening in the Delta? And again, the biggest question, what benefits has any one of these ‘rebel’ groups ever brought to the long suffering people in the Delta?

@ Anonymous 1:19 from yesterday, yes, I have sadly had to forgo large portions of Euro 2008. It doesn’t pay the bills you see…

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Back from the wilderness

Been gallivanting in the last two weeks, all work related. Finally back to a place that there's a steady Internet connection. Lots to talk about, no idea of how to go about it. Let me relax first, then we can talk.

P.S: with all due respect to Jeremy, Hull is a glorified Hamlet.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

That we may not forget: June 12

"What is history but a fable agreed upon?"
---Napoleon Bonaparte

On this day 15 years ago, Nigerians came out in their millions and regardless of any ethno-religious considerations conducted what is up until today acknowledged as the freest and fairest elections in our history. As at the next day, the results began to seep through to the newspapers and victory was going the way of one of the candidates, Bashorun Moshood Kashimawo Olawole Abiola.

On June 14, 1993, a shady organisation known as the Association for a Better Nigeria obtained a court injunction to stop further release of the results of the elections. This same group, headed by Francis Arthur Nzeribe, had earlier tried, and failed, to stop the elections from even happening at all. Nigerians began to fear the worst when the NEC as it was then called said that they would respect the decision of the court. However, and to his eternal credit, the chairman of NEC at the time, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu is alleged to have leaked the results, so by the 16th of June, all of Nigeria already knew who the winner of the elections was. However, on June 23, Nigeria's military dictator at the time, Ibrahim Babangida annulled the elections.

The rest as they say, is history.

People died in the subsequent upheaval that plagued the country, and by the time the smoke cleared, all the principal actors in the drama save Nzeribe, had left the stage one way or the other, and Nigeria was saddled with Sani Abacha who went on to be the most brutal ruler Nigeria has ever had. Eventually, MKO himself died, in prison, and without fulfilling his mandate. He also lost one of his wives in the process. Personally, Chxta is of the opinion that MKO was partly responsible for saddling us with Abacha. That is a story for another day. What we should be considering today is the fact that this is the anniversary of a momentous event in our history. Whether Abiola would have been a good president for the country or not is irrelevant at this point because we would never know.

What we should do now is take courage to learn from that event, and in my opinion, the biggest lesson that can be learned from June 12, 1993 is that Nigerians are indeed capable of putting their differences aside for the common good. That is the lesson from June 12 that we must not forget.

Recommended reading:
Why I kept quiet
What if Abiola had become president?
June 12 1993, just like yesterday.

Obituary

The end finally came for the self styled strongman of Ibadan politics yesterday. He kicked the bucket. I was told that a lot of shops and businesses in Ibadan closed hurridely yesterday as the news filtered through that the man had died. Reason? Fear of reprisals and of violence!

Reprisals and violence over the death of an 80 year old?

Some people have tried to point out that the man opened the gates of his Molete home to the poor and needy and fed them. For me, that is all bollocks, and again keeping with that Nigerian 'thing' of covering up a man's sins under the veneer of not speaking ill of the dead. The reaction of the residents of the city upon hearing of his death has confirmed his legacy. Fear and violence. That is the legacy of Lamidi Ariyibi Adedibu.

Not speaking ill of the dead!!!

A few days ago, on the 10th anniversary of the death of our former dictator Sani Abacha, some of our erstwhile military dictators praised his memory, then went on to attempt to rewrite history by telling us that he was the 'most honest' ruler Nigeria ever had!

I'd rather not write about it for two reasons: i) I'm not the most honest of people, so I'm not in a position to pontificate; ii) In a rather interesting paradox, just thinking about the whole incident disgusts me to a level such that I can't think straight.

I mean, who do these men think that they are?

Back in the days of Napoleon it was easy for rulers, and those with access to power to rewrite the history books to suit them. Not any more. For crying out loud we are in the age of Youtube, when any attempt or group of attempted attempts (thanks Sani) to rewrite history would be spotted and should be killed off immediately. This attempt to glorify the memory of Abacha tells us a lot about the mindset of our 'leaders'. They think we are cattle.

Recommended reading:
Akin's take on the issue
Solomon Sydelle's take on the issue

Personally, the person I am disappointed with concerning this whole story is Buhari. So much for being an honest man.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

First Naija Astronaut

This is terrible. They should at least try to make it sound believable. Thanks to Olly for this one...

I am Dr. Bakare Tunde, the cousin of Nigerian Astronaut, Air Force
Major Abacha Tunde. He was the first African in space when he made a
secret flight to the Salyut 6 space station in 1979. He was on a later
Soviet spaceflight, Soyuz T-16Z to the secret Soviet military space
station Salyut 8T in 1989. He was stranded there in 1990 when the
Soviet Union was dissolved. His other Soviet crew members returned to
earth on the Soyuz T-16Z, but his place was taken up by return cargo.
There have been occasional Progrez supply flights to keep him going
since that time. He is in good humor, but wants to come home.

In the 14-years since he has been on the station, he has accumulated
flight pay and interest amounting to almost $ 15,000,000 American
Dollars. This is held in a trust at the Lagos National Savings and
Trust Association. If we can obtain access to this money, we can place
a down payment with the Russian Space Authorities for a Soyuz return
flight to bring him back to Earth. I am told this will cost $
3,000,000 American Dollars. In order to access the his trust fund we
need your assistance.

Consequently, my colleagues and I are willing to transfer the total
amount to your account for subsequent disbursement, since we as civil
servants are prohibited by the Code of Conduct Bureau (Civil Service
Laws) from opening and/ or operating foreign accounts in our names.

Needless to say, the trust reposed on you at this juncture is
enormous. In return, we have agreed to offer you 20 percent of the
transferred sum, while 10 percent shall be set aside for incidental
expenses (internal and external) between the parties in the course of
the transaction. You will be mandated to remit the balance 70 percent
to other accounts in due course.

Kindly expedite action as we are behind schedule to enable us include
downpayment in this financial quarter.

Please acknowledge the receipt of this message via my direct number
234 (0) 9-234-2220 only.

Yours Sincerely,

Dr. Bakare Tunde
Astronautics Project Manager
mailto:tip@nasrda.gov.ng

Monday, June 09, 2008

Don Corleone

I've lost my voice as a result of the flu. Can't say anything in a sound louder than a hoarse whisper, and suddenly everyone in my office has become Marlon Brando's Don Corleone...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Now that he has made history...

...anyway one looks at it, Barack Obama has made history. He is the first non-white individual ever to compete directly for the position of POTUS, and that in itself is something. What irks me at the moment though is that his obviously defeated opponent has as of the moment of writing refused to concede defeat. Even more worrisome are the stories making the rounds that she's angling for a spot as Mr. Obama's running mate. For crying out loud!

No matter the angle you choose to look at things from, Hillary cannot and will not be a good running mate for Barry. For starters she slung an unbelievable amount of mud at him during the race for the ticket, a favour which to his credit (and to Chxta's disappointment) he refused to return. Again there is the question of her husband. Bill's shadow is one that would overshadow any Democratic Party nominee who is stupid enough to pick Hillary as a running mate, and unfortunately, that shadow is tainted as it is. The Clintons come across as people who have tasted that ultimate aphrodisiac, power, and want some more. Having someone in office who is interested just in power in itself can never be good for anyone. In any event, Barry picking Hillary would send across the message that he would be willing to compromise with Satan himself if it would get him what he wants, and that can only be bad.

Recommended reading: Vittal's prediction.

Friday, June 06, 2008

What has happened?

I am currently sitting at my desk and feeling quite sick. Picked up a bit of the flu during my travels in the week just ending. Was in Ireland, Northern for a job. The details of why I went on this particular trip are so silly, that I don't know how to write them down. Let's just say that it fits perfectly into what I wrote earlier about image being everything. A purported SysAdmin couldn't handle a task as simple as restricting internet access for certain users, so yours truly had to fly down to clean up the mess he made. Now, that particular fellow fits into the stereotype of the uber geek. People who see him would immediately know that he is into computers, which is probably why and how he got the job in the first place. O well, I've learned something new...

This was my third trip to Belfast since I joined my current employer, and I have to say that that place is beautiful. And growing too. It's a place I must go to explore on my own one of these days. There was only one niggle when I arrived at the Belfast International Airport, on presenting my passport, I was politely asked to step aside by the police and then the usual silly questions began.
'What brings you to Ireland?' I came to see your mother. 'I came to work.'
'What kind of work do you do?' I'm a jigolo. 'I'm a computer engineer.'
'For how long do you intend to remain here?' When I've satisfied your mum. 'Until the job is done.'
What address are you going to?' Where was that place your mum told me over the phone? '...'

And after that, they left me in the waiting room for almost an hour while they went to run some checks. I was so pissed off. I've been here before, so what's with all this new 'security'?

In any event, the taxi ride to the city was a charm. Once again, my belief that taxi drivers are amongst the most informed people on God's green earth was confirmed. On discovering that I'm Nigerian, the taxi driver wanted to know how far the BA boycott has gone. I was embarrassed when I had to admit that I had lost interest. Then he said something about that being the problem with so many people. According to him, when you want something badly, you go for it even if you have to climb every mountain and ford every sea. He dropped me off with the words ringing in my ears, 'Winners don't quit, and quitters don't win'.

So my fellow Nigerians, what is happening with the BA boycott?

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Shoot Berti Vogts!!!

How in the name of all that is good and holy did that man take Olofinjana over Ayila Yusuf to the last Nations Cup? I mean the difference was so glaring in today's win over South Africa. The moment Olofinjana came on to replace Yusuf, the Bafana Bafana began to get some pressure on. This is such a piss off!