Wednesday, January 28, 2009

This thing called love...

"Love is the only socially acceptable form of madness"
---Oriabure Iyayi

I left Nigeria some years ago and came to the UK to further my education. Behind in Nigeria I left Mary whom I was sure would wait for me. Initially communication between us was good. I constantly wrote to her, she constantly wrote to me. I'm sure that the guys at Royal Mail and NIPOST had a lot of fun reading our missives. However as such things go, time passed and the letters between us dried to a trickle. I had gotten distracted by the easy virtues of this place and on her part in Nigeria, the wolves that populate the place had done just enough to sow the seed of doubt in her mind. Eventually communication between us ceased entirely and for my part I knew that we had grown well and truly apart.

I finished my degree and in the tradition of this place got a job. Times were good, Labour had just taken power and jobs were available. So I focused on my career and in no time putting my head down I was earning £36k per annum. Not bad for an immigrant black boy in London in the 1990s. As is the case with women everywhere I had a string of girlfriends, but I knew that I couldn't settle down with any of them as they were all white, my mother wouldn't have ever accepted that.

As I got older and my career grew, I left my modest place in Brixton and moved to better appointed surroundings in Bow. Then I began to feel the need for someone to share my success with. My mind went back to Mary, so I went back to Nigeria to look for her. Alas five years had wrecked their havoc and despite the fact that she still hadn't married, we had grown so far apart that there was no point in pursuing it. I was despondent, and it was during that bout of depression that I asked my mother to shop around for a fine young girl for me to marry. She did and into my life came Nkem.

Nkem was a looker by every stretch of the imagination. A girl whom any man would be proud to have on his arms, and I was. Our courtship went by in a breeze. She dotted all the i's and crossed all the t's. It couldn't have been better. I found myself thanking God for letting Mary go. This was the one, and I fell madly and deeply in love with her. We had a lavish wedding a great honeymoon in South Africa, and shortly after that she skipped Nigeria to join me in the UK. Life couldn't have been better.

She duly presented me with a son then a daughter to follow. My career was sky-rocketing. Then the bubble burst.

It all began innocuously enough when I asked her to go to Nigeria to oversee some projects I had been sending money back for. Like the dutiful wife that she was, she went. Then the things that didn't add up began to come in when she called me to say that the money I had given her to hand to the workmen was not nearly enough. I sent more money only to be met by yet another demand. I sent money again. Then she overstayed her trip by two weeks (I paid for the rescheduling of the flight). She claimed that she had something urgent to attend to in Lagos. I didn't complain.

Upon her return I noticed that her behaviour had changed slightly. She appeared distracted almost all the time. I put it down to the boredom associated with being a full time housewife with two kids who were now in school. At no point did anything untoward cross my mind. Then the children's school went on break and things began to unravel. I was feeling slightly ill at work one day and took the rest of the day off to go home. To my shock I discovered that my wife had left our children, ages seven and five, alone at home. I waited with the children for four hours before she returned. Just in time for when I would have come back from work on a normal day. For the first time since I met her, I lost my temper with her. She explained that a friend of hers had had an emergency and had been rushed to A&E. She gave me that beautiful smile and my heart melted. The next day I couldn't go to work and like the dutiful wife she stayed with me. However while she was having her bath the phone rang. I answered it and a man asked for my wife! I cut the call, however my suspicions had been aroused.

I called the house at a random time from work the next day and mummy wasn't home. For the first time in my marriage I had a major fight with my darling Nkem. She once again talked about her friend in A&E and I accepted the explanation at least on the surface, but my suspicions wouldn't fade away. I backed off when the next day I called again at a random time, and she picked up the phone and accused me of not trusting her. I felt ashamed of myself.

Then two months later a colleague of mine told me upon return from a meeting in Enfield informed me that he had seen my wife just that day. I couldn't take it anymore so I hired people to check up on her. The evidence was overwhelming. My darling was having an affair, and what was worse, upon further enquiry, I discovered that the other party had been her boyfriend before I even met her. She was the one who sponsored his student visa to the UK for his Masters degree. She it was who was maintaining him while I was slaving away to provide for her. The money which she had demanded from me when she was in Nigeria had gone towards providing for him. The extended time she had stayed in Lagos was spent with him. When I confronted her with overwhelming evidence of her infidelity, she didn't deny it. As a matter of fact she was defiant, and that is what drove me to hit her...

...the lawyers had a field day during the divorce proceedings. That I beat my wife silly proved that I was a violent person not fit to raise children. She got full custody of them and I got paltry visitation rights. That I had brought her to the UK and left her in this country for nine years jobless meant I had destroyed her chances at a future career. This despite the fact that I had paid for her education up to a Masters level. She got an alimony so generous that half my wage goes towards her maintenance. All this is minus the child support I have to pay, which I am only too happy to.

Despite all of this, I want to tell Nkem directly. Nkem I love you. I need you. Come back to me. I beg you, please come back.

Author's note: Chijioke the narrator of this sad tale has been made redundant in this credit crisis. It was coming anyway as he has not been the same man since his divorce. He now lives off benefits and still moans about Nkem all day. Olisa and Njideka, the kids Chijioke had by Nkem now stay with Nkem's mother in Enugu, Nigeria. Nkem meanwhile has married Ike her heartthrob. She is pregnant for him and they appear to be doing well.

Monday, January 26, 2009

10 percent

"MPs are like cab drivers. If you pay a cab driver he will take you wherever you want to go."
---Mohammed Al-Fayed

It may come as news to some people in places like Naija, but bribery and corruption is part and parcel of politics in the UK. I still curse the day when both Akin and Jeremy (it's almost like they planned it) introduced me to Private Eye. Since that time, my local WH Smith has seen me come every week to drop my £1.50 tithe and get angry after the fact. The shenanigans that politicians get up to around these parts. In any event, Private Eye is one of those things I'll miss on that day in the not too distant future when I shall jump out of this crashing British Airways flight with a parachute marked Naija.

I have to be very careful with the story which follows as I'm still bound by the confidentiality agreements I signed at my former job...

Sometime in July of last year, I was sent to a government establishment outside of London to install some software and train the staff. I had gone there with a colleague of mine, and my old employer used to bill us out for what I considered cut-throat prices. Upon arrival at the place, the staff refused to let us get to work because according to them they weren't properly informed as to our mission. We were faced with two options, either to drive back to London empty handed, or at least do something by way of maintenance on what our colleagues who had been there earlier had done. We opted for the latter. In the course of the maintenance, I noticed that the head honcho's office had six desktop PCs, all set up for use. The problem with that office was that there were only three desks, which meant that top man and his two PAs had two PCs each. A waste if you ask me, and I pointed it out to him. The man smiled and told me that I hadn't heard the best of it. He proceeded to ask me how much I would value each of the computers at. I responded with a range of £300 to £400 per computer. He smiled and said that that was not the case. What he told me next made my jaw ache as it hit the floor with high velocity. Yes, those computers were present on a lease of three years each from a company at £100 per computer per month! The British government was paying £3600 each for computers that would cost a maximum of £600 (and that is being ambitious) each if they had been bought outright. He asked me to do some research on the company that leased the computers to his organisation. The internet being so ubiquitous, I did, and suffice to say, the names on the board of that company have rather strong links in the British establishment. If that is not corruption, then tell me what is.

We all know the story of Derek Conway, he who employed his son and paid him inflated wages for doing absolutely nothing. If that isn't a form of money laundry I don't know what is. Now we have this story of Lords accepting large sums to change laws. I am absolutely disgusted.

What gets my goat about this and so many other stories I hear in this country nowadays is the fact that apparently these events are more the rule than the exception in this part of the world. What we would call nepotism in Nigeria is called networking here. If it occurs in our part of the world it would be called bribery, here they call it sleaze. Where it is torture in our own domain, here it becomes abuse of detainees. The double standards and herd mentality nurtured by the establishment here with the sometimes active connivance of the mainstream press is downright sickening. Please pass me the sick bucket I need to puke!

Recommended reading: Defending the indefensible

P.S: Mr. Conway is still an 'honourable' member of Parliament.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The day after...

"The only thing to fear is fear itself."
---Franklin D. Roosevelt

For the record, let me spare us all the argument and say what I believe would be Mr. Obama's final legacy. His final legacy would be 20 January 2009. That he was the first non-Caucasian to sworn in as President of the United States. If he does anything else special that would redefine his legacy after eight years, I will humbly eat my words.

This new government in the United States has come into office on the back of exceedingly high expectations, and they can either succeed glowingly, or fail woefully. There is no middle ground for them. From my own point of view there are three key areas that the Obama government has to work on, and as was so well depicted in the cartoon I linked to yesterday, each one is a major headache demanding all of Mr. Obama's attention: America's internal problems, its relationship with the rest of the world, and the global economic crisis. As a non-American, I am concerned with the latter two.

The true test of Mr. Obama's foreign policy success would like it has been for so many US presidents, be how well he handles the Middle Eastern question. This is the test on which every American administration has failed since 1948, and unfortunately, I can say with all confidence that this administration would fail on that too. I simply do not see Mr. Obama calling the Israelis to heel, and that (America's unflinching support for Israel) is one of the root causes of the problem.

Please, before we run off the rails here, hear me out. This article isn't about apportioning blame for who is right or wrong in the Middle East, I have come to the conclusion that trying to tell people about the historical injustices in the Mid East is a waste of everyone's time as all the parties in this conflict are pretty much entrenched in their positions for the worst of reasons - religious. Just a few days ago, someone whom I know is a lot more intelligent than what escaped from her mouth said that Israel will always win because God gave them the land when he promised Abraham that this land will belong to his descendants. I could only shake my head in wonder at this incomplete interpretation of Genesis 15. In my opinion, anyone who reads the Bible a little further would realise that shortly after (as a matter of fact in the very next chapter), Abraham climbed Hagar, his wife's maidservant, and she bore him a son. According to scholars, the descendants of that son are today's Arabs. Who are also as a result, descendants of Abraham, and thus fall under the mandate of God's promise for that land...

But let us get off the religious schematics here. Common sense simply dictates that in settling the Jews (who had been given a rough deal by a certain Adolf) in that land and forcibly evicting the Palestinians who had been tenants there for almost two millennia, the Americans created a problem that we can't just wish away. A problem which has been ignored by the force of arms. For how long is that option sustainable, and would the Obama government have the political will to do what is required to solve the problem?

There are some (including me once in a while) who feel that the solution to the crisis out there is to leave the belligerents alone and let the peace of the graveyard ultimately break out there. But how practical is that? And to the fanatically pro-Israeli crowd, how achievable is that? You see, whether we like it or not the Israeli economy can't sustain itself and fighting the Palestinians ad-infinitum. What has sustained Israel all this while is that it is the largest recipient of American aid, both economic and military. For how long this will continue in the current economic climate is anyone's guess. At the same time, American military aid to some of the Arab nations surrounding Israel has gone up in the last two decades. Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Egypt are countries that have benefited from the American 'largesse' since the end of the cold war. The Saudis especially have also used their humongous oil wealth to beef up their military. Ditto the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain. So we have all these well armed countries surrounding Israel. At the moment, they aren't going to attack Israel because they are all friendly with the United States. But, in the largest of these countries (Saudi Arabia and Egypt) the governments there are hardly democratic, and are deeply unpopular. How soon do we have to wait before a popular revolt sweeps these despots from power and replaces them with well armed governments who may just be hostile to Israel? Another issue that remains to be resolved is the fact that HAMAS like it or not is still the democratically elected representative of the Palestinian people. They can't be ignored, and wishing the problem away will not work. For the sake of a lasting peace in the region, HAMAS has to be engaged with and not shunned. Whether Mr. Obama would have the balls to do that can only be known in future.

On the economy...

This issue is actually the one that concerns most Americans, and indeed most people around the world. How would Mr. Obama and his team attempt to stem the tide of the downturn we are facing?

Everyone talks about Keynesian theory as the panacea to this credit crunch which according to the media has become a recession, which according to the same media may well be on the way to becoming a depression. For those who may not know, when the Great Depression started in 1929, most economists at the time struggled to come up with an explanation for what was happening. John Keynes came up with an explanation of economic slumps that was quite simple. He said that in a normal economy, there is a high level of employment, and everyone is spending their earnings as usual. This means there is a cyclical flow of money in the economy, i.e, what I spend is what the next man earns and what he spends becomes what I earn.

If however, something happens to shake my confidence in the economy, then I will start saving for the future or more simply put, hoarding the money, which impacts on the other man's earnings. The other man, suddenly faced with a drop in his earnings would also hoard money, and thus starts a vicious cycle of hoarding. According to Keynes, the solution to this was to increase the amount of money in circulation! That was his solution for a recession.

Keynes said that a depression was a recession in which people had fallen into a 'liquidity trap', i.e a situation in which no matter how much more money was pumped into circulation, people would continue to hoard their cash. It is at this point according to Keynes that the government should begin to spend, spend, spend, in an effort to kick start the cash flow again.

Back in 1933, Keynes' theories were eventually applied to the US economy, and by the middle of the 1940s, the US was well on the way to a massive economic boom which ended with them as the world's number one industrial power. In seven short years, under massive Keynesian spending, the U.S. went from the greatest depression it has ever known to the greatest economic boom it has ever known. A lot of economists agree that World War II helped. This is a large part of the reason why "wars are good for the economy" was a mantra successfully sold by the Bush administration.

From a detached viewpoint, I think that actually we should look more closely at the war/disaster/catastrophe 'solution'. Regardless of the bollocks being churned out in the media, and at the risk of sounding like a prophet of doom, I dare-say that we are already in depression. If Keynes is to be believed, then the liquidity trap started a long time ago. And considering that it took the respective governments of Europe/Japan/America months after the fact to admit that their economies were already in recession, why should anyone believe them now that they are insisting that they are still in recession not in depression? Look at the signs: money is being thrown at the banks in a bid to get them lending again, yet bank shares are falling faster than at any point since the Great Depression itself. Companies are closing down, unemployment rates are sky-rocketing, employment schemes are being scrapped (I have three letters in which promising employment prospects with Toyota, Nissan and NATS have all been called off for the same reason - the economic downturn).

The British government has already led the way in employing Keynesian principles to shore up its flagging economy. Other governments are on the way to doing that, in many cases they already are. Even the United States government is doing that in many forms (the bank bail-outs, the auto bail-outs). Mr. Obama has proposed massive spending on infrastructure projects in order to create jobs for the mass of unemployed in the US, yet not even he with all the good intentions he may have, and all the good will he has definitely come into office with can stop what I see to be the tide of history. The rot has eaten in too deep and the whole rotten structure which was the Western economic system has to come crashing down in order to be rebuilt. Capitalism as we know it is dead. The question now has to be whether this rebuilding can be done with minimal pain, or whether there would be a lot of bloodshed in doing it.

Ultimately what is unpalatable to talk about, but what remains true is this: World War II solved the Great Depression in the simplest of manners. The war started in Europe in 1939. By the time the guns fell silent in 1945, 70 million people lay dead, much of Europe, Russia and the Far East lay in ruins. That is a great number of potentially unemployed people wiped off the books, and an even greater number of infrastructure projects to keep the remaining unemployed busy for a long time. Is that what the world needs now? Maybe, but from the bottom of my heart I hope not.

Unfortunately, money doesn't grow on trees. Continually throwing money at this problem will not solve it but will only mortgage the future of children just being born. Bank bail outs have to stop or else the greedy bankers will simply keep coming for more where there is none. There is a large pool of unemployed people, more are joining in and many of the signs of frustration are creeping in. Xenophobia is on the rise in the rich world. When xenophobia rises, people are more willing to listen to megalomaniacs like Hitler. Would that be the case? Only time will tell.

P.S: How does all this affect Naija? That is a topic for another day...

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

...

So Obama will be sworn in in just under three hours. Then tomorrow the euphoria will wear off, and we will have to face the realities on the ground. The cartoon below which appeared in The Economist this week says it all.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

British inefficiency

So Chxta is back to inhuman temperatures after the warmth of Naija.

Chxta's return was marked by a rather interesting tiff between the passengers of Arik flight W3101 from Lagos and the authorities of BAA at Heathrow Terminal 2. To my limited knowledge of airports, it is not the airlines that are responsible for handling bags at airports but the local authorities, thus in Naija it is NAHCO that are to be called to order if something goes wrong with your bags while in the UK (most airports anyway) it is BAA.

Chxta's return flight was smooth, Chxta sat beside a rather matronly lady who urged Chxta not to chase white girls! The landing was smooth, and the walk to Immigrations was smooth. The problems began when we got to the Immigration queue. Sorry, Immigration market as that place was chaos, I mean bedlam. For starters, there were only two (2) Immigration officers at the desks when there were 22 desks, that means 20 empty desks! It meant that one person had to handle the EU line, while the other had to handle the non-EU line. No problems except for the small fact that Chxta's flight landed at 1520 hours BST, which is peak period buttressed by the fact that 5 other flights landed at the same time! By the time Chxta got to his turn well over two hours after landing, the poor Immigrations officer simply took a cursory glance at Chxta's passport before passing Chxta in. Then the wahala started...

The bags from Chxta's flight were meant to have emerged from was Carousel 4. Chxta went there, and saw bags emerging from Hamburg. No Lagos. That was when Chxta noticed that there were bags all over the place. One fellow from Lagos had seen only one of his four bags and was quite visibly agitated. As for Chxta, a stroll around the terminal revealed - no bags. Chxta walked back to Carousel 4 to see bags coming in from Rome, then Barcelona. But no new bags from Lagos. Suddenly the announcement came over the PAS, 'Customers from Arik Air please report to the Global Baggage Service desk, there is a problem with your bags.' We all went.

There we were given forms in which we were meant to indicate our names, addresses in the UK, phone numbers and bag numbers. At first most of us took the forms, Chxta had already filled in Chxta's form when the lady made a fatal error. She claimed that Arik had left our bags in Lagos!

'Na lie', shouted one lady, and another fellow informed us that he personally saw the bags being loaded on the plane in Lagos. If the poor lady had thought that the situation at Immigrations was chaotic, she was quite unprepared for a plane load of Nigerians screaming, some tearing their forms, and all insisting that they were not leaving until their bags were found. Someone brought up the issue which always embarrases white people, 'If we were white, you would have found the bags a long time ago.'

In all of this, the one thing I am unhappy with Arik about, their Customer Services person did not show up until the riot became damn well uncontrollable. When he finally showed up, the poor BAA operative slunk away and the Arik guy bore the brunt of the attacks. Unfortunately for him, he was Indian, and that made it worse. The whole thing was ugly!

Ugly or not, they finally managed to locate our bags and after three hours of stand-off in which Chxta frankly thought the police would get involved, Chxta stepped out into a glorious -2 Celsius, wondering why Nigerians can be so vocal and have a firm knowledge of their rights when the issues concern them on a personal level, but mute and accepting when they don't think they stand to gain from the fight.

Recommended reading: The Law's take on the theft in the National Assembly.

If your are interested in pictures Chxta took at Terminal 2, hop on to Facebook.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Rats

Qui tacet consentit
---Sir Thomas Moore

For the first time in years I celebrated the turn of year with prayers, and not with alcohol. Now that we have begun the new year and the celebrations are hopefully subsiding, it is time for us to take a look at what this year portends. I'm sorry, but from where I'm sitting, the forecast isn't great, especially as a Nigerian. It even makes it worse being that I'm seriously considering jumping ship from HMS Britannia back to NNS Naija. I have to wonder whether this rat is contemplating leaving one fast sinking ship for another...

On the day I arrived in the country for the holiday the headlines announced that erstwhile Minister of the FCT, Mr. El-Rufai had been declared wanted by the EFCC in connection with fraud involving a rather hefty sum of money. Around the same period, erstwhile head of the EFCC Mr. Nuhu Ribadu was dismissed from the Nigeria Police Force. Around the same period, the list of new ministers and their portfolios was published, and to my chagrin, Mrs. Dora Akunyili of NAFDAC fame was assigned the 'coveted' portfolio of the information ministry. Within this same less than two week period in which I've been in Naija, the National Assembly have accepted the budget proposal that was sent forward by our rather lame duck of a president.

I don't know which of these incidents annoys me the most, as they all make my blood boil, and as I told The Law when we hung out yesterday, I'd rather not discuss Nigeria as that particular topic of discourse leaves me feeling rather insert negative term of reference here.

I would be the first person to admit that Nuhu Ribadu's EFCC crusade from back during the Obasanjo administration was skewered. All the people whom his EFCC went after were people who one way or the other had ticked off Obasanjo the wrong way. But that is what I will describe as an irrelevant part of the tale. Let us look at the names of the biggest fish to fry under Ribadu's EFCC: Tafa Balogun, milked the NPF dry; Depriye Alams (can't be arsed to spell his name), milked Bayelsa state so dry that it is a wonder the creeks there still have water in them. To add to his thievery, he embarrassed us by escaping from custody in London, and his people embarrassed us further by welcoming him back as a hero. Yet they didn't have running water! It goes without saying that Peter Odili would probably have been president now had Ribadu not been in position, and there's no gain saying what the effect of that on Nigeria's much vaunted foriegn reserves would have been...

I mean, this is a man who was almost single handedly responsible for cleaning up Nigeria's image such that for the first time in over a decade, Nigeria's corruption ranking actually went down. Since the new regime took over at the EFCC, we have not heard one story such as this! Now what is happening? He is being hounded about like a common criminal for trivialities. Look what he has had to go through since this administration (if we can call it that) took over: he was removed from office before the end of his tenure for no just cause (we've forgotten that for an organisation to become effective it might need the force of someone's personality to run the place for a long time), he was unceremoniously demoted (the reason given was that he was pushed ahead of his contemporaries, whilst forgetting the maxim of primus inter pares), the was sent to school (for a course that he didn't need), he was embarrassed on graduation day (how petty can they get), now he has been dismissed from the Police. I mean who is in charge here? Evidently, the bad old days are back. The message being sent out by this government given its treatment of Nuhu Ribadu is a rather simple one: don't do your best because when you are no longer in office, the bad guys will come for you. To put it more simply; if you can't beat them, you join them.

Now, Nasir El Rufai is no saint. As a matter of fact, in the eyes of some he is an arch-demon, especially given the amount of misery he caused whilst the was in position. But, he did his job well, and when you consider the fact that Modibbo after him could only watch as Abuja began to deteriorate, then it is a wonder that people still have the guts to be calling for El-Rufai's head. Like I never tire of saying, I lived in Abuja during the heat of El-Rufai's reforms, and while I admit that some of his demolition programmes were downright nasty, the cold, calculating part of me accepts that they were necessary. Unlike Modibbo who felt that we 'should not be slaves to the Abuja masterplan', El-Rufai felt that we should be, and rightly so. Progress can only be made when there is a plan which is adhered to.

But then that is besides the point in this whole story. He has been accused of defrauding the government of the sum of N32 billion, no small amount. The day after he was declared wanted, an advert appeared in major newspapers from his legal representative stating the man's position, and defending him. As of today, I'm yet to see a rebuttal by the EFCC. Let's get it straight here, I'm not saying that the man is innocent of the allegations made against him, but the EFCC had practically declared him guilty, tainted his name in the media, and then when he came out to declare his position, they slunk away. Same way his accusers in the Senate slunk away when he came out to defend himself in front of the kangaroo panel investigating land allocations some months back. The EFCC's silence in the face of Mr. El-Rufai's defence of himself is deafening.

Nigeria recently suffered the humiliation of tax payer's money being thrown to waste on a piece of junk in orbit. The EFCC hasn't made as much as a sound in the pursuit of that cash, but is instead focused on harassing those who gave their all whilst in office. In the meanwhile no one has been able to bring me out of the shock I fell into on hearing that my former state governor Igbinedion was let off with a 5 million Naira slap on the wrist. Jesus of Nazareth! They should have let him off on a technicality rather than insulting us with that sentence. I mean, his youngest niece probably gave them the cash in the court room, and without batting an eyelid too. That is the message being passed across...

On Edo Broadcasting Service's 1330 news bulletin yesterday, it was announced that the National Assembly had approved Mr. Yar'Adua's budget, a budget based on the assumption that the price of crude oil would not go below $45 a barrel. All well and good in the last few years when the price of crude has averaged above $60 a barrel which would have given the country an extra $15 per barrel to play with (and we do play with such moneys don't we?). But given that as at the very first day of the new year, the price of crude is $43 and is predicted to fall even further in the coming year, you have to wonder what brand of marijuana these guys are on. I would love to take a sniff as well, it must be some damned good stuff...

But then again, the fact that our National Assembly couldn't be bothered to sit down and look through the proposed budget only highlights the kind of characters we have sitting in the Three Arms Zone (I would have called them more colourful names, but my New Year's Resolution is to wash my mouth clean). I mean, a Senate which passed only 8 out of 120 bills that were placed in front of it cannot be described in any thing less than abject terms. And then how can such a Senate be expected to properly look through the budget when all they are interested in is how to cater for themselves and their great-grandchildren?

Point of correction, the Senate passed 9 out of 121 bills presented to them. I included the budget.

Now that I have poured out all the other aches of my heart, I think that the appointment of Mrs. Akunyili as Information Minister is the least of my worries. Sad though, very sad. Along with Nuhu Ribadu, this woman was the acceptable face of the new Nigeria under Obasanjo. The Nigeria that was willing and able to damn the fight back of the bad guys and do what is right. I had expected her to be appointed as Minister of Health so she could continue her excellent work at NAFDAC from an even better position. Unfortunately that was not to be, and she's been placed in a position where she has effectively become the government's mouthpiece, someone who is going to attempt to beautify whatever faux pas Aaondakaa comes up with next. What a waste of talent, something we are past masters at in Naija. Depressing isn't it?

O well, one of our number was just announced as the 49th most influential person on the planet. That's good. If he is as unselfish as they tell me he is, when it gets to his turn on the queue in front of the Most High, he would ask the Fellow Upstairs to sort our problems for us, since we are so silent in the face of all these and thus acquiese to the rubbish that is playing out in our country. We only have to wait for the prayers of the 48 people before him are answered. How long that takes is anyone's guess, but I won't cross my fingers. Nigeria will only improve the day we take our destiny in our hands, something we are doing a piss-poor job of at the moment...