Saturday, November 22, 2008

Knock on effect

The value of the Pound in my pocket is plummeting faster than Aladdin plummeted into the sea when Jafar's goons pushed him off that cliff with him attached to a heavy stone.

That is not entirely accurate. The value of the Pound that was in my pocket before I paid my rather high taxes which went into providing party money for some greedy bankers, then lost my job, then paid my rent, then paid my latest parking ticket, then was caught by a speeding camera, then was run into by a drunken yob, then had to pay for the repairs because the insurers claim that the cost of the repairs is almost the same as the value of the car, then paid my council tax, then had the telephone company deduct money from my account, then paid my other bills, then paid my credit card debt, then paid those chuggers in front of Brixton, then submitted my tithes in Church, then bought some fuel, then had to buy some food, is plummeting faster than Aladdin plummeted into the sea when Jafar's goons pushed him off that cliff with him attached to a heavy stone.

The devaluation of the Pound is a direct consequence of the greed of the banking industry in the UK. That greed has had a direct impact on people's lives. But then again, when (and that when is a while away) the banks in the UK get well, the economy will get well also. Unlike in certain countries I know...

I almost fell out of my seat when chatting with some relatives on Facebook only a few days ago. There is a family event coming up and as is usual with such things Nigerian, we are expected to dip our hands in our pockets and wete ego. There was a comment that someone made during the discourse to the effect that those of us in the UK should quickly bring our contribution before the Pound lost anymore value as the stated aim of the CBN governor and the President of Nigeria was to bring the value of the Pound down to two Naira to one!

Okay, I know that Nigeria is one large rumour mill, so I shouldn't pay too much heed to such idle comments, but nevertheless I had to search my usual sources for anything remotely resembling those comments from official quarters. Thankfully and despite the fact that Nigerian 'big men' have such large egos and could actually say something like that, I found nothing. What I did find however, are a lot of reports about the activities of our officials with respect to the global downturn. Suffice to say, we haven't see so much by way of action from them, except the usual noise.

Despite the downturn in the global economy, Nigeria's indices are still on the rise. Only recently, Merrill Lynch ranked Nigeria as the safest place to invest on God's green earth. The chart is intriguing to say the least, but before we start shouting uhuru, let us think of the factors that brought about that conclusion, namely Forex reserves/short-term external debt ratio, exports to-GDP ratio, private credit-to-GDP ratio, private credit growth, loans-to deposits ratio and banks capital-to-assets ratio.

At present Nigeria's foreign reserves stand at approximately $63 billion, which means that in terms of cash and gold reserves we are amongst the healthiest countries in the world. Like I always say, I'm no expert at economic matters, but the value of Nigeria's reserves in gold tells me that there will be more confidence in the Nigerian economy than in the British economy as an example. One common complaint I hear from Brits is that Gordon Brown sold off a good percentage of their gold reserves back in 1999 because the price of gold had stagnated for a while at the time. It was a short sighted decision. As I tried to explain sometime back, paper (or electronic) money will always be valued against gold. The current situation proves it in a manner of speaking. China (with the world's largest gold reserves) is sitting pretty and even the Americans are borrowing from them.

Nigeria's GDP by virtue of her population is quite low. Nigeria at the same time is making a lot of money by virtue of record oil prices (until last month anyway). Nigeria hardly produces consumer goods. Oil still accounts for at least 80% of Nigeria's exports, and the demand for oil is not about to go down. Compare that with Germany for example, a country with a very high GDP whose economy is almost entirely export driven, by manufactured goods. Because of the global recession, the demand for the kinds of goods that Germany exports has and might continue to fall. People will cut back on what they consider non-essential in order to maintain their living standards, and while petroleum products don't fall into that category, the majority of manufactured goods do. Result, Germany 'suffers', Nigeria does not.

For a long time private sector credit to GDP ratios have been on the rise in the developed world. As more people struggle to enter the property market, they borrow more. And as has been pointed out in so many studies, the banks were beginning to take way too much risk in their lending. The current recession actually has its roots in this particular point, a 'failing' of the mortgage system as it is practised. In most African countries, Nigeria being referenced in particular, this is a non-issue as there is really no trust per se. Lending only began finding its way into the Nigerian economy in recent times as the issue of bad debt was almost a given. In the West, it was more a case of 'I want a loan,' 'How much do you want?' 'What is your credit history?' In Nigeria on the other hand it was a case of 'I want a loan,' and the response would be along the lines of 'What collateral do you have?' And most times, the collateral is land. Again, interest rates for loans in Nigeria are relatively high. I would never take a loan to buy a house when the APR is upwards of 19%!

Nigerian banks are apparently healthy, and according to our Central Bank are amongst the most capitalised in the world. The government has indicated that if need be it is willing to pump money into the system to shore up the banks. The CBN governor on the other hand disagrees because if that happens the government would end up owning the banks, a recipe to destroy all the 'gains' of the consolidation exercise of late 2004. All good, but is it the banks that need shoring up?

Recently the Nigerian Stock Market has not been doing so well. Six of Nigeria's biggest banks recently offered a bail out for the stock exchange. The consolidation programme gave banks a huge cash pool, and because capacity of the economy to absorb loans is still constrained by the limited nature of the private sector, the banks naturally resorted to safer avenues for lending. They lent only to people and organisations they were sure would pay back. The banks lent out large amounts to stockbrokers and individuals to buy and trade in shares. The stock market boomed and foreign investors, hedge funds poured in money to trade in shares and take their profit in rapid numbers. When the CBN began making 'funny' noises investors took a cue and fled. In seven months the Nigerian Stock Exchange lost the equivalent of $3 billion. The Nigerian stock market crash is not linked to the global financial crisis because the structure of the problems is different, and the market will surely recover. But from where I'm standing, no one is asking the real question: why is the man on the street not feeling the impact of the banks' success?

The problems of the banking sector in Nigeria exist but are 'well hidden'. You need to know where to look to find them. The extent that the Nigerian banks are declaring huge gross earnings and after tax profits means that they cannot possibly be crisis. Their assets write downs, except in few cases, do not indicate any crisis. But what is evident in the banking industry is their inability to meet the universal principles of openness and transparency in their operations. This explains the near revolt that occured when the CBN asked that they begin a uniform financial year. Rumours in some quarters indicate that the banks simply shift money between one another after declaring their profits. The fact that the CBN rescinded the decision to make the banks operate a uniform financial year is not at all a good thing.

Another potential worry is the lack of truly skilled people in the banks. Many of the trained hands were bumped off during the consolidation because their qualifications (mostly HNDs) were deemed not enough (talk about Nigerian reliance on paper qualifications). Another issue is that one man or family ownership is rife. There have been cases of too many insider loans, going beyond the minimum required by the CBN. The industry relies on too much hype and propaganda and young girls and unsuspecting boys are being put in harm's way on account of deposit chase. A friend of mine in the audit department of a bank was asked to find N70 million as deposits!

Like I said earlier, interest rate in banks are unnecessarily high, and the number of cross border branches of banks has increased with no apparent plan by the CBN to expand its ability to supervise these banks, which may go on to undermine the Nigerian banking system.

Another potential problem is the question of how tenable the CBN Governor's position really is. We all remember the fiasco that was caused by his statement about re-denominating the Naira. The fact that the president didn't agree with him after such a momentous policy statement undermined his position, and would have also affected confidence in the system.

Until these basic issues are addressed, the Nigerian economy will remain one where speculators will pour in money for a quick profit, then cut and run.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Fourth Estate

Burke said that there were Three Estates in Parliament; but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a Fourth Estate, more important far than they all.”
---Thomas Carlyle


On August 3, 2007 a child died. Tragic as it is, as indeed is the death of any person so young (he was just under a year and half), his death would have passed unnoticed by the outside world but for some sad facts. Baby P as he became known was killed as a result of abuse from his mother, her lover, and their lodger. Baby P was first admitted to hospital at the age of 9 months with injuries which the hospital staff considered to be 'non accidental'. He was subsequently put on a child protection plan and became the subject of regular visits from the social services of the Haringey Council, the council where his mother resided. Unfortunately, in over seventy visits to the house, council workers failed to spot and/or properly document the extent of the abuse the child was suffering. Babies can't complain, so eventually the child died.

In the aftermath of his death, the immediate reaction of the council was the typical bureaucratic attitude of 'CYA'. Blame was shifted around, excuses were made, and an attempt was made to sweep the whole issue under the carpet. Such a thing was not allowed to happen. As of today the British government has initiated new laws to protect children from the kind of abuse that Baby P suffered. Also a new inquiry has been ordered to probe the failures in the system which eventually led to Baby P's death, and I would bet that Sharon Shoesmith, the Director of Children's Services at Haringey Council would be forced to quit her position by the time the dust clears.

As a Nigerian watching these events, one question comes to mind. Why did the Baby P case refuse to die? Baby P's mother is just another one of the millions of under-age mothers (she's now of age physically at least) that the system in the UK encourages. Baby P's father has no connections, he doesn't have any godfathers in the country's Parliament. Yet...

The case refused to die because unlike in my country, the people with the real power here know that they have that power, and they don't hesitate to use it. They also seem to know that with great power comes great responsibility. The power of the media in the UK is almost legendary. Talking with a typical Brit, you find that his opinions are almost entirely shaped by what he hears from the media. This kind of power in the wrong hands can be dangerous, as totalitarian states such as Stalin's Russia proved. However, when used properly, this kind of power can be a vehicle for social change. That the British media refused to let the Baby P case die has led to a change in the country's laws and that change is a good change, one that will benefit millions of children yet unborn. Unarguably (as the picture above suggests), it is because Barack Obama was a media darling (except for Fox News of course) that he won the US election. That is the power of the media.

Now compare to the media in my homeland. The place is full of people who have no idea where of their function in society. The closest we have to a true societal watchdog in Nigeria would be AIT, which is why they were constantly in trouble with the Obasanjo administration. But one thing must be made clear here, were it not for AIT, Obasanjo, not Yar'Adua would be president of Nigeria today. For those of you who may not remember, AIT, despite objections from up on high, publicly broadcast the referendum in the House of Assembly on the third term issue. Had they not broadcast it, GMGs would have changed hands shamelessly, and the Nigerian constitution would have been amended. That is a good example of the power and more importantly the responsibility of the media.

Unfortunately, the majority of the media back home are lazy bastards who can't be arsed, and would sing the praises of the first person who signs them a cheque. In my mind I can see Bisi Olatilo.

One notable failing of the Nigerian media, which I keep shouting about is the tragic case of Augustina Arebum, Ekene Isaac, Chinedu Meniru, Tony Nwokike, Paul Ogbonna and Ifeanyi Ozor. Otherwise known as the Apo Six. They were killed over three years ago by men of the Nigeria Police. What has been the outcome of the case? Where is DCP Danjuma? No one seems to know. He has 'vanished' into thin air, and the Nigerian press has moved on to other things...

Last year some pupils killed their teacher Toyin Olusase. They were using the name of Islam to cover up the fact that one of them was cheating in an exam. In the immediate aftermath of that incident, arrests were made. Was anyone brought to trial? It would be grossly unfair on both the victim, and the suspects, if they have just been left to languish in detention as has happened so many times in Nigeria. Does our press care? No. They have moved on to other things...

British Airways insulted Nigeria in the well known case earlier this year. As is usual with our media, there was an initial kick-start, then it became stale gist. Other, more fanciful things caught their attention and the case was let to die. Soon enough BA insulted no less a personality than the Sultan of Sokoto. Our media gave it fleeting coverage, then moved on to other things...

I won't even flog the case of Uzo Okere. In a few weeks if I mention it, some idiot would ask me the following, 'you no dey tire?'

That question is the mindset of the Nigerian people. That is the mindset of the Nigerian media. Because we are incapable of tenacity as a people, we will continue eating shit. Imagine if our media was filled with people like Dele Giwa, people who at great personal risk pursued the truth. Would we be where we are? Would someone like the now deposed former governor of Edo state still be walking free? He stole a mandate, he has been removed by the courts. Elsewhere in the world where the media makes sense, there would have been a demand for prosecution. For us, it is enough that he has been removed. Live and let live. The very embarrassing incident of a N40 billion pig in geostationary orbit is all too real. There is no media to demand that the people who threw tax payers money away on that piece of junk be brought to book.

And we claim there is a press in Nigeria!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Change has to come

"The Army is a broad sword, not a scalpel. Trust me, senator - you do not want the Army in an American city."
---William Deveraux (from the movie The Siege)

Dateline: June 2002
Venue: Dockyard Road, Apapa, Lagos.

Chxta and one of his closest friends Obi (UNIBEN students from a certain era will remember him as Hollywood), were headed to visit a friend in the Festac area. We had taken a bus from Ojuelegba and disembarked not too far from Anjorin Market in Apapa. While walking to the point where we expected to get into another bus and continue our journey, we saw some policemen vandalising a young man who couldn't have been much older (or younger) than we were. Hollywood muttered something ostensibly under his breath about policemen and their silly brutality. Unfortunately for Chxta and Hollywood, one of the men heard his remark and with absolutely no questions asked, Chxta and Hollywood were added to the festivities happening on that road. The erstwhile 'meat' was forgotten. There was no one to make a movie of what happened, and CNN i-Reports was a utility that was sometime in the future. Neither Chxta, Hollywood or the other 'piece of meat' had fathers in the National Assembly.

So much for the fond memories, back to the present...

About three hours ago I got a call from that most loyal of friends known to y'all as The Law. He called to inform me that Adams Oshiomhole had been declared governor of my home state. My response to that was, 'I know'. What I should have said was, 'Great news'. But forgeting the semantics of what was said and what was not said, the verdict by the Court of Appeal is historic in every sense. It once again sends out the message that the Courts are beginning to send out concerning the 'rape' of our nascent democracy. We shall not tolerate this.

However, there is something more important that is in the air, something else that we have been tolerating and which can not be allowed to coexist with our democracy. That thing is our acceptance of a rather brutal system. Of course it is no news that a few days ago, Uzoma Okere, a young Naija girl was subjected to a beating at the hands of some members of the Nigerian Navy. It is my opinion that two things contributed in making this incident front page news: the fact that someone was kind enough to record the incident on a mobile phone, but probably of greater importance than that, is the fact that her dad is of a relatively high position within our current scheme of things. I personally haven't signed any petitions about this incident, or commented about it because the truth is this: had Uzoma's dad been a nobody, we would never have heard about this even if it had been placed on a thousand CNN i-Reports.

You want an example? Does anyone still talk about Augustina Arebum, Ekene Isaac, Chinedu Meniru, Tony Nwokike, Paul Ogbonna and Ifeanyi Ozor? We have forgotten them. In a three month stretch last year the Nigerian Police killed 785 people. Most I can bet were extra judicial killings. Are any of these people less important than Miss Okere? And no one should tell me anything about high horses here, I have been a victim of police brutality on no less than four occasions, including the one I told you about earlier. I have also 'chopped a slap' from an Army Sergeant in front of the Ikeja Garrison, this despite the fact that had my mum not had her way 12 years ago now, I would probably have been receiving salutes from the same man now. So I have experienced paramilitary brutality first hand.

As is usual with her, Solomon Sydelle has a series of excellent posts concerning Ms. Okere's plight. She also has a series of excellent posts about another case of government brutality, the arrests of Jonathan Elendu and Emeka Asiwe. People aren't making as much noise about those as they are about Ms. Okere.

It is time for us to face certain hard truths here: Nigerian psyche unfortunately is one that has been brutalised for close to a century. We have put up with a lot of crap, and are going to continue putting up with a lot more. Great example is the British Airways fiasco of a few months back. BA still flies in and out of Nigeria without too much care in the world, and we still pack their planes. Yes, I have to admit that I failed woefully in convincing family members to dump that airline, and like most others who still remember, have silently embarked on my personal boycott. But would BA care less about just me (and a minimal number of good men)? I sincerely doubt that. The BA example isn't the only one. I can guarantee that in the time it took you to read this, someone, somewhere in Nigeria has been at the receiving end of a beating, and it is not necessarily from the military. It could be from people he knows. And nothing will happen. He will not report it. Over a year ago, I wrote about a kind of incident all too common in Nigeria, sexual harrasment. Yesterday, nine boys were convicted of raping a girl here in the UK. No one said anything stupid such as 'she attracted them'. They raped her, she reported. In Naija, because of the kinds of comments people would make, she would have borne her cross in silence. Then we expect things to change overnight?

No Jose, they won't. Soldiers would beat up another young lady quite soon. And it is the fault of all of us.

The Nigerian military is the relic of a colonial era when its main purpose was to keep the citizenry in check. Of all our armed services (including the Police) only the Air Force was formed post Independence, the rest simply wore new uniforms, and have been used by our various governments including civilian governments to keep the population in check. This attitude has yet to be eradicated. But placing the blame on the colonists (or the military) is splitting hairs. The British Army of today is the same one which carried out the Peterloo Massacre almost two centuries ago. The US Army is the same one that violently put down the New York Draft Riots. Some of you might wonder why I'm digging up 'ancient' examples, so I'll throw in two fairly recent ones: the French Army's behaviour towards its own citizens in Algeria even after de Gaulle had declared, 'Algerie Francaisse'. Then we all know about the shenanigans that the Americans have pulled off in Gitmo, albeit not against their own citizens.

In more advanced countries of the world, the military is housed away from cities. In remote locations where they can't come into contact with 'bloody civilians'. There is a reason for this, and that reason is obvious to anyone who is thinking straight. By their very training, military men are volatile. They shouldn't be seen parading through Nigerian streets.

Recommended reading: Confronting A Culture Of Brutality & Injustice

Friday, November 07, 2008

Delete this rubbish

"As a black man in America you have to look at America a little differently. Think of America as the uncle who paid your way through school, but molested you."
---Chris Rock

There is one little detail, which a lot of people in the West may want to deny, but which deep down in their hearts they know to be true. Initially since 1919, but definitely since 1945, where America leads, the West follows, and the rest of the world at least looks in that direction.

Thus it is that I can say with some form of confidence that the glass ceiling which has for a long time existed in Western society for people of African descent was well and truly shattered three days ago when the Americans made the right decision. Within a generation we should be expecting to have a black man as the leader of another major Western power, maybe even that most quietly racist of countries, the UK.

Now what is the implication of this for African countries such as Nigeria? For a very long time we have lived in the belief that our 'children' would always find their way home. That illusion has now been taken away. For the first time my cousins who were born in the West can truly aspire to the highest offices in the respective countries whose passports they hold. I suddenly know that if I have children here in the West that they can for the first time truly aspire to the highest positions in the land as equals.

Being an ethnic Igbo man who likes to say he is from Edo state in Nigeria, I have to ask that question honestly, can I aspire to the highest position in my own country?

Two years ago, I wrote an article pointing at one of the major failings in Nigerian politics. The day after the American elections, The Law highlighted the same failing in his excellent piece. I think it is rather instructive that all media reports about Barack Obama insist that Chicago is his home town. He wasn't born there, his father didn't come from there, he didn't set foot into Chicago until sometime after he finished his own University education, yet it is his home town. Until two days ago, he represented them in the US senate. Can that happen in Nigeria?

Sadly the answer is no.

I cannot even aspire to be a local councillor in Oredo Local Government Area, the part of Benin, Edo State where I was born. Some idiot would open his mouth and claim that I'm not a son of the soil. The sheer ignorance of it!

In 1979 Ambrose Alli was elected governor of the then Bendel State. By the time he was removed from office by the 1983 coup, he had had enough grief from the indigent population of the state capital Benin. Why is that? Because even though he was an indigene of Bendel State, he wasn't an ethnic Bini man. He was ethnic Ishan. Forward the hands of the clock a few years, and we had Lucky Igbinedion, a genuine 'son of the soil' from Benin getting into the position. He has ruined that state, and simply because he is our brother, people only grumble in the silence of their homes. All the stories available to me indicate that the current governor of Edo state, Ose Osunbor (a non ethnic Bini) is getting some grief. Examples abound in Edo state, such as the fight to succeed Patrick Ekpu as the Catholic archbishop of the Benin Diocese. These ethnic interest groups had succeeded in replacing the Anglican bishop with an ethnic Bini man, and felt that they could do the same with the Catholics. They had apparently not counted on the fact that central authority in the Catholic church is paramount, so it didn't work, and Edmund Burke, the most senior of the bishops under Ekpu, succeeded him as is the tradition amongst Catholics.

Ethnic Binis are of course not the only people in Nigeria guilty of such behaviours. If you are not ethnic Igbo for example, you cannot seriously expect to conduct trade in Onitsha Main Market. If you are not ethnic Yoruba you cannot expect to rise to a position of academic prominence at the Obafemi Awolowo University. Ahmadu Bello openly stated that his government would rather a Briton hold position within it, than a Southerner, and of course, being ethnic Ijaw gives you a license to steal all the money in Bayelsa state, escape justice in the United Kingdom, then return to a hero's welcome from the very people you robbed without anyone asking you to account for the stolen funds. Whenever are we going to make progress?

It has not always been like that in Nigerian politics however, and we can indeed turn the hands of the clock back. Back in the day, Nnamdi Azikiwe was able to go and run for, and win office in Western Nigeria. Murtala Mohammed, and ethnic Etsako man (from Auchi in today's Edo state) was Nigerian Head of State, accepted by the North as one of their own. These incidents were not accidents, and we can return to that state of affairs.

We need to however, take the bold step of making the necessary change to truly unite the country. I don't see any reason whatsoever why any one should ask me what state I am from after I have informed the person (and proved to the person) that I am Nigerian. I should be able to go to any point in my country and settle down and feel like I have a stake in this place. I should be able to go to any point in my country and run for elective office. For that to happen, people need to stop asking me about my father and where he is from. People need to stop asking for my state of origin. Nigeria, please delete the state of origin.

What can I say?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Spread the news!!!

The Law has spoken, and I agree!!!

History has just been made

'I'm not worried about winning, what gives me sleepless nights is governing.'
---Barack Obama

It happened in our time. History has just been made. Put it in this context, the first 16 Presidents of the United States could have owned this man, now the shackles have been removed forever. North Carolina of all places has been won by a nigger!?! Woodrow Wilson bust be doing belly flops in his grave.

John McCain's concession speech has to be one of the best speeches I've ever heard. Speaks volumes about the man. Nigerian politicians should learn.

Meanwhile let me tune to Fox News and hear what they have to say. That should make up for my lost sleep.

Now that the first part of history has been made, it is time for us to look at the next step. Let us not make any mistakes about this, President Obama is earning a poisoned chalice. The presidency that George Bush is giving him makes this a daunting challenge that even the best of men would struggle to deal with. What, a deeply divided nation, a war that he would find that he can't pull out of, and a recession that if handled wrongly would turn into a full scale depression despite all the in-built protections.

Meanwhile once again, I would miss George Bush. Obama is too serious minded for us to poke cheap shots at.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

My fear

I've been accused by a dear friend of mine on a number of occasions of being a 'closet conservative' because I have implied that John McCain may win the US Elections. For the sake of clarity, I am not a closet conservative, I am conservative in my political inclinations. Being conservative is not necessarily a bad thing, same way that being liberal is not necessarily a good thing. Anecdotally I can point to the many examples of lax (or is it non-existent) morals of British youth culture and quite accurately say that that is a solid example of liberalism gone wrong.

Now (and yet again), I must make it clear, as I did months ago that Barack Obama is the best of the candidates who vied for the US presidency this time around. However, there are little issues that make me frightened:
FACT: The Obama campaign has outperformed the McCain campaign in every facet.
FACT: Obama has raised almost $3 for every $1 McCain has raised.
FACT: McCain has been endorsed by arguably the worst president the US has been saddled with since Andrew Johnson, that kind of endorsement alone should be enough to kill off all his chances.
FACT: McCain's running mate belongs to the category of humans that hearing them speak makes you want to deny your humanity.
FACT: Obama is vastly superior to McCain on an intellectual level, and evidently has a better grasp of how to handle America's waning global influence.
FACT: Everyone and their mother can see that McCain would continue with the confrontational policies of Bush which can only lead America (and the world) to the brink...

YET OBAMA ISN'T LEADING BY A LANDSLIDE IN THE POLLS, AND I HAVE ACTUALLY WATCHED HIS LEAD BEING CUT SLIGHTLY IN THE LAST FEW DAYS.

Is that not more than enough reason to be afraid?

By the way, kudos to McCain for running as clean a campaign as he possibly could...

P.S For those who say that the world is showing undue interest in the US elections all because of Obama's skin colour, y'all are getting it wrong. The US leader has practically been the world leader for the better part of three generations now. Whoever gets in there would make decisions that would have an effect on our day to day lives. Good example, the credit crunch.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Chukwu ma...

..na a choro ka Obama nwe yabu oche no na uno ocha. Ihe ne tu mu egwu bu na ndi ocha no yabu Amerika nwe ike i tinye nma na azu ndi oji. A choro i kwa akwa oge yabu ihene ge me. Obu na Obama weri ya bu oche, anyi ga e te egwu. Mana obu na McCain weri ya, anyi e fiche anya miri je uno...


Sunday, November 02, 2008

On how life is...

Dateline August 2002
Venue: UNIBEN Faculty of Social Sciences Complex

A dear friend of Chxta is confiding in Chxta about his first ever rejection by a girl. You see, up until that point, the guy in question had never asked a girl out despite his twenty six years of age. He always maintained that he wanted to remain a virgin until his wedding day, a laudable goal, but one that earned him a lot of derision from his friends, Chxta included. 'Luckily' he had met a girl and she had turned his world around. He had to possess her, and so with tutelage from seasoned professionals like Chxta and a few other good men (Dre I hail o), the guy (let's call him Eddy) had begun to see more and more of this girl (let's call her Elise).

Time went on and Chxta informed Eddy that he would have to formalise things with Elise, as in ask her out and all that, and Eddy saw the wisdom in what Chxta said, so he did ask Elise out. What Chxta had forgotten to tell Eddy about however was the fact that the vast majority of Nigerian girls (not just Nigerian) would never accept to be your girl the first time you asked. So Eddy asked Elise out. She said no.

Eddy did the right thing and confided in Chxta about the pain he felt at this rejection. Chxta did the wrong thing and ribbed Eddy about his rejection (and the manner of his asking Elise out) in front of not a few friends. Eddy didn't find it funny, and till this day not up to ten sentences have been exchanged between Eddy and Chxta. Chxta regrets that action, it was stupid, silly and childish, and Chxta wishes that Chxta could turn back the hands of the clock...

Dateline October 2008
Venue: somewhere in Atlanta, Georgia

Chxta was picked up by a dear childhood friend of Chxta's at the Greyhound station in Atlanta. They proceeded straight to his friend's place (let's call this friend Bob). Now Bob and his brother Junior share a flat in Atlanta. On arriving at the flat, the first thing Chxta says on opening the door and seeing who is inside the house is 'Elise yayade?' (She speaks Hausa).

Chxta finds it funny that the last time Chxta saw Elise was shortly before Chxta and Eddy fell out. Elise proved a fine hostess for Chxta during Chxta's all too brief stay in Atlanta. She is married to Junior and they now have a son, so all has ended well for her (of course the story of life is on-going). But this makes Chxta to wonder, how is Eddy doing? Chxta has not heard a word from or of Eddy since they both finished Youth Service almost half a decade ago.

Friendships aren't meant to be pissed on like that, and Chxta is not at all happy that this one was pissed on, but such is life. As has everyone else, Chxta has lost friends in life, some worth loosing (so long suckers), some not worth loosing (Chxta is sorry). Eddy wasn't a friend worth loosing, and when events such as last months' occur, they provide Chxta an opportunity to reflect on what could have been. Chxta would really like to know where Eddy is and what he is doing. But the lesson that Chxta has taken from the meeting with Elise is this: sometime in the future, Chxta is going to walk into a room (it could be the other way around), and bam, there Eddy will be on a seat, and hopefully the two of us can catch up on the lost times. Insha Allah.