Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Grief


Grief is like a long, winding tunnel whose entrance is closed behind you, and the only way out is to go through it.
But to get through, you need to find that light at the end of the tunnel.
To me, that light was to free myself from those who have walked out on me, and pay more attention to the people and life I have here and now.
What I have learned is that in life, there are no endings, only new beginnings.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The irony of the matter


We do not subscribe to crime. Neither do we subscribe to making excuses for acts of criminality or any other fallouts thereof. Heck, we do not subscribe to even having a laugh at the expense of victims. However, we cannot but see the irony in the fact that the mother of the Deputy-Chairman of the House of Representative's committee on security matters has been kidnapped. It goes a very long way in pointing out just how secure our country really is. Or not. What are we going to hear next? That the mother of the Army chief has been kidnapped? Not too far-fetched when you consider that in this same country, a sitting attorney-general was killed, and as of today, no one has been brought to book.

Books, are what Solomon Barnabas ought to have been reading, rather he was too busy trafficking wash-wash. The 19-year old was caught in possession of N14k worth of the stuff during a routine police stop-and-search along the Lagos-Ibadan conundrum. He pleaded guilty yesterday, and will know how much schooling he will be getting at those schools of hardening that our prisons are by next week.

Police stop-and-search points have had a chequered history in our country. They have been used to catch budding criminals like Solomon, and they have been used to brutalise members of the citizenry, such as Alagede. You see, the motorcyclist was stopped at a check-point mounted by policemen in Alakoku yesterday. The policemen were attempting to enforce the new law in Lagos state which restricts the use of 100cc bikes for commercial purposes. Sadly, depending on whom you listen to, Alagede either resisted arrest, or attempted to make a run for it. The disparate sources to the story go on to say that in resisting arrest, he got shot, or in making a run for it, he got crushed by an on-coming trailer. What both accounts agree on, is that Alagede is dead and bikers went beserk. May he rest in peace.

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Apparently, Nigerian men are also at risk of breast cancer. The males here at Times Square just shuffled out on the way to hospital for a check up. Problem is, given the traffic chaos that now envelops Lagos, one wonders whether they will ever get there.

The FG claims that it has spent N1.1trillion on road maintenance between 1976 and now. We wonder what those who regularly do Lagos-Benin have to say about that.

Joachim is wondering why our lawmakers were silent on the disappearance of the First Lady, and other niggling issues.

Whatever floats your boat, if you're in Lagos, have a great traffic-free holiday. If you're in other places, don't drink and drive. See you on Monday.

Under the sun, or not

Good morning and how was your weekend? Restful? Certainly, we hope, better than that endured by Daily Times reporter, Godwin Akanfe who in pursuing his duties at Igbotako in Ondo state was attacked by hoodlums who didn't want their nefarious activities covered. Thankfully, he got out sans one leg of his shoes, but who cares? Shoes can be replaced, broken heads, well, at least he's still alive to make some money in future and oppress some unfortunate widows when he comes to fame and fortune.

On to less important news, and the iroko of Ondo as he is wont to be called nowadays has won a second term as governor of that state. Mimiko fended off a spirited challenge from the PDP and ACN candidates to emerge as the favourite for another bite at the cherry. Here's wishing him congratulations, and reminding him to try even harder than he did in the first four. Not that Lai Mohammed of the ACN will agree.

But probably Mr. Mohammed may just have other worries as he spies the rest of the country from his hilltop home as the Ministry of the Environment has informed us that more floods are on the way. Just in case the last batch did not get you, well, here's your chance to catch up on some of those snap swimming lessons, as well as help your state become a Category A state which will not happen if you had too much sunshine.

Sadly though, sunshine is something that the football fans in Lord Mimiko's state won't be having for a while yet as their darling football team, Sunshine Stars were comprehensively dimmed by Egypt's Al-Ahly in last night's CAF Champions League semi final. And don't let the 1-0 scoreline fool you, anyone who watched that match will tell you that Sunshine were blocked by fog for large sections of it. "It was like the Egyptians had a highway through the centre of Sunshine's midfield," whimpered a bespectacled radio presenter on his sports show this morning.

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NEPA staff, fresh from celebrating Prof. Nnaji's ejection/voluntary withdrawal, have set their sights on a new target. They have told the government that any attempt, or group of attempted attempts, to hand over the power company to its new owners will be met with stiff resistance. "How will the government raise the N500 billion to pay workers severance package? PHCN generates N300 billion annually and we want to sell it for less, it is sad," a NEPA shokoto belched as behind him, the accountants at Times Square calculated the generator bill for the month of October.

Senator Ahmed Khalifa Zanna cut a worried figure shortly after he received a text summoning him to the SSS dungeons for a tête-à-tête with the resident torturer. His impulsive response was to deny his sister's son. Nothing to worry about Sir, your fellow Senator, Ali Ndume was accused of worse, and he will be taking a look at how to increase allowances in the 2013 budget with you.

And in a case of stating the bleeding obvious, the head tracksuit at the Ministry of Sports has informed us that corruption is inimical to sports development. While we'd like to point out that his statement encompasses just about everything including sports, we'd rather sit down and await the next NFF jersey who will be outed by those pesky hacks at the Times of London.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Badly educated people

Hello on this wet and rainy morning in Lagos,

Skilled manpower is at a premium in Nigeria as anyone who has tried to build a house will tell you. The lines are never straight, and the crevices leak at the first sign of rain, and that's just scratching the surface. In this report, Godwin Akanfe examines why it is so, and comes to a stunning conclusion: our artisans are ill-educated.

We may or may not agree with the conclusions reached in that feature story, but we will almost definitely agree with anyone who concludes that some PENGASSAN suits are either ill-educated or worse still, plainly full of mischief. Sanusi Abdulkarim, a PENGASSAN babariga in Kaduna told us yesterday that the current petrol hardship, which has put some of us in long queues for hours on end, is as a result of, panic buying. He went ahead to admonish Nigerians to stop raising false alarms over what we have sufficiently in the country.

Funny enough, we agree with Alhaji Abdulkarim, and are very grateful for his honesty. This is because the ironically funny (and bitter) aspect of our petrol situations whenever they happen to occur, is that you can find petrol to buy with young, unemployed men, usually just next to petrol stations. Maybe if they were better educated, they'd be building houses with straight lines, and not be either selling fuel, or looking desperately for ways to get out of the country.

Such was the lot of seven hair dressers who were so desperate to leave Nigeria that they were quite willing to go to the Ivory Coast and brave the Laurent Gbagbo vs Alain Ouattara fiasco there. Unfortunately, the aptly named Elizabeth Love who was to provide the dryers they would work with once settled in Abidjan, turned out to be a "big pimping". The girls were instead required to service some lecherous Ivorian men. Sadly for her, happily for them, a Nigerian pastor intercepted them, and because the justice system in the Ivory Coast still works, she was not lynched, but rather sentenced to break rocks for the next ten years. How's that for a happy ending?

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A survey by Patience (not Dame Jonathan) has shown that the latest attempt by the Lagos state government to get okada off the roads is not exactly helping commuters in the state.

Tomorrow's election in Ondo state will have 7000 extra bodies to either help with either ballot box snatching, or preventing ballot box snatching. Of course depending on how well hosted they are this night. Oh, by the way, we will be providing you with live coverage of #OndoDecides tomorrow.

Fresh off from having a meal of danwake, that Hausa stuff that looks like cow dung, Mazi Nwonwu thinks that choosing a leader in Nigeria is like eating danwake. In the background, Baby Ed wonders whether Mazi's danwake was laced with a potent herb from Kwale.

Do have a great weekend, and see you on Monday.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

A moment's rest

For those of you resident in Benin City, the name Brown Atienwhen might just ring a bell. He was an actor based in the Edo state capital, and very active in the Arts and Culture scene out there. Until very recently that is. He passed away last Sunday, at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital. While one death is tragic, Mr. Atienwhen's demise was made all the more tragic by the fact that the sum of N150k could have saved his life. N150k, or in real money terms, $952! Actors in Benin, not finding the story funny,took to the streets of the ancient city two days ago to protest, and a frankly disgusting story that followed is the allegation that the commissioner responsible for Arts approved the release of money for Atienwhen's treatment, but the money was sat on by a Permanent Secretary, because Atienwhen owed her N7k ($44)!

Moving on from a tale of alleged wickedness shown towards a have-not, to the tale of a definite-have who in a round about way is a have-not. Our First Lady touched down in Abuja yesterday, fresh from her "moment's rest" in Germany. She immediately proceeded to speak with the large crowd gathered on the tarmac waiting for her conquering return, and assured us (through them), that she had never heard of that hospital in Germany where it was rumoured that she had been in. She then thanked her "staffs" and "the man on the street" for standing by her throughout her six week "moment's rest".

A moment's rest is probably what the ichafo in charge of our economy will be praying to the Almighty for. The attacks simply refuse to stop coming. First, the legislators, fresh from their latest two month "moment's rest" have made it quite clear that they are not impressed with her pegging next year's budget at $75 to the barrel of crude, she replied that $75 is quite a good figure, and now, the Fiscal Commission is placing the blame for poor implementation of the 2012 budget squarely on the laps of her ministry. "Ministry of Finance does not keep to time," moaned FRC blazer, Sylvanus Mordi to a committee of carving knife sharpening legislators. Expect cuts in the 2013 budget, right after the legislators return from their next "moment's rest".

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The JTF is upping the ante against Boko Haram is that almost forgotten war in the north-east quadrant of our country. Following a shoot out yesterday (they always seem to win those), they recovered a cache of arms.

Good news for those of us who think that Nigeria does not have internet. The FG is to sell fixed-line licences next year. Expect internet services that remind us of GSM services soon.

ElNathan is back from his week abroad with various NGOs, and he has learned a lesson or two from them. He sets down those lessons on paper for us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

GEJ's house is flooded, no, not Aso Rock

Floods have been in the news a lot recently, and as a matter of fact, one analyst claims that 30% of Nigeria's total land area currently resides under water. While here at Times Square, we won't stick our heads out for this particular analyst, we doubt that the people of Otuoke, that little village in Bayelsa state that produced our current President will believe that the analyst is wrong. 100% of their lands are currently under water, and that includes the President's country home. Such a scary scenario, that the government of Lagos state has had to come out to reassure us that it is prepared for flood emergencies. "We are prepared for emergencies, we have learned from the past to prepare for the future," Dr. Oke-Osanyintolu, a LASEMA rain coat hooted, as Iya Seriki emptied her trash in the gutter behind her house...

Yes, we know that emptying trash into gutters is a huge problem, not just in Lagos, but in Abeokuta as well. However, hearing about people emptying trash into toilets is a new one. And no, we are not talking about water cistern toilets here. We are talking pit latrines. Not so for an unnamed 46 year old however, who was so disgusted at the filth coming from his wife's mouth during an altercation that he chose to empty her into a pit latrine behind their house. Sadly this story will not have a happy ending either way you look at it, as Mrs. X was shuffled off the mortal coil by her husband's stupidity, while Mr. X is now a guest of the Ogun state police.

And speaking of state guests, Coxson Lerebori Lucky is now a guest of the police in Rivers state. You see, just over a week ago, Coxson was approached by four young men over a debt he allegedly owed one of them. Rather than face up to his debt and pay up, or at worst plead for an extension of repayment time, he chose to scream the following words, "Ole, ole". Four hours later, the four young men were dead. We know them as the Aluu 4. Coxson is one of 22 people currently cooling their heels in detention over that lynching, and all we can say to the police is "good job".

Sadly though, while congratulating the police with one hand, we are going to join the ANPP in dishing them a blow with the other. Remember that a girl was shot by a policeman in Abuja last week? ANPP parrot, Emma Eneukwu has actually gone one further to give us a litany of sins of the Nigeria police.

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For those of you master bakers, cassava bread is finally here. You can find out more about how to get trained in producing the stuff by going to a branch of the Ministry of Agriculture near you.

Expect more stay at home students at some point in the future if our teachers decide to beat the well worn path of strikes. Education suit, Nyesom Wike has told us that the FG does not have the cash to pay the chalk holders an outstanding allowance of N1.44billion.

Super Eagles legend, Dodo Mayana is out of coma and is getting well. We thank God for him.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Good luck to you

Asked to clean her employer's filthy room in Abule-Egba, the housekeeper, Goodluck, 26, got luckyN960k worth of luck which promptly bolted out of the door and headed straight into a courtroom. The nursing mother will be lucky to find the N100k needed to bail her from detention, and will find out on December 3 whether luck will return to her over this issue.

Someone who can definitely count himself as worthy of the name though is our President. What with his meteoric rise to power through a series of well chronicled events that can only be described as lucky? Whether his luck will continue and keep him in power for x number of years is anyone's guess, but if it is left to PDP chief, Angus Uzoamaka, the luck should continue. For another six years. Please pass us that vial of fresh air.

You see, we will need the fresh air to breathe properly following the rather ludicrous claim by Lanre Ajanaku, a lawyer, that Prof. John Obafunwa, a pathologist of some repute, who also happens to be the top coroner in Lagos, stabbed the corpse of Titi Arowolo after the fact. The late Titi's husband, Kola is standing trial for her murder, and L.Ajanaku, being a good lawyer, is trying to get his client off. Obviously, the initial theory of suicide would not fly being that even if she were a masochist, Titi could not have stabbed herself 76 times. So while we are still choking, L.Ajanaku has to find a new scapegoat...

Hand washing has been fingered as the scapegoat in the rather high annual death rate of kids under age five in Nigeria. The UN's body for kids in a statement released yesterday said, "the very simple act of hand washing with soap can save hundreds of thousands of children who needlessly die every year ... in Nigeria, diarrhoea kills some 194,000 children under five every year ... 88 per cent of the diarrhoeal deaths are attributable to unsafe water, sanitation & hygiene world-wide." Time to reach for that bowl of water and cheer up. After all, the oil is still flowing despite an abundance of water.

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Smarting from a rather high level of criticism over the crude oil benchmark proposed in the 2013 Budget, the Minister of Finance has sent us a statement defending the proposed amount. We have reproduced the statement in its entirety for those of you armchair critics who know nothing about how to run an economy to pick over. For the records, the stockbrokers do not need convincing.

His head still in the clouds after climbing up high to score that header on 58 seconds against Liberia, Efe Ambrose is having dreams of winning the Nations Cup next year. Expect him to be brought back down to earth when we are drawn with Ghana and Cameroon in the same group. Oops, Cameroon failed to qualify. Tee hee hee.

The Lagos state government intends to impound bad vehicles. Maybe they can do that after fixing the roads which cause us to be quite friendly with our mechanics, or fixing the lights on the bridges (thanks Joachim), which cause us to crash cars on Friday nights.

Monday, October 15, 2012

The good times are back


Good morning, 

We certainly hope your weekend was as good as Stephen Keshi's was, what, him being the first coach to qualify Nigeria for anything in the last 400 or so years. Yes, the good times are certainly back for Nigerian football, or so it seems. Following the Super Eagles' crushing humiliation of Liberia on Saturday, the Golden Eaglets took on Guinea yesterday and duly whacked them 3-0. Wonderful news for our football, let's hope that Sunshine Stars can make it a hat trick by beating Al-Ahly in Egypt this weekend. And we do hope that the N9.2 billion budget allocated to the Ministry of Sports as their share of the 2013 Budget will bring us the 2013 Nations Cup. It's almost 20 years since Nigeria stood at the top of African football, and frankly, we are tired of waiting.

But on the issue of budgets however, the ichafo in charge of our economy has pleaded with those pesky Representatives to leave the budget benchmark at US$75 per barrel of oil as proposed in the 2013 budget rather than raising it to $80 as the reps are wont to do. This she says will enable us raise $10billion for the Excess Crude Account by the end of next year. Great ideas we think, but as anyone knows, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. How exactly have our previous savings impacted on our lives?

One point where an impact is most definitely needed is in Taraba state where the state's emergency body revealed to us yesterday that the recent flooding has been responsible for up to 19 deaths. While wishing the dead a peaceful rest, we are desperate to know what contingencies are being taken to ensure that the living remain alive (and well), and more importantly, given that a University Don has raised the alarm on possible flooding in the South-West (he raised the alarm too late regarding the South-South), what plans are afoot to ensure that those of us in Lagos do not have to take forced swimming lessons in the near future.

Sadly, planning for the near, or distant future does not seem to be a strong point of ours, and despite all the nice jingles we get to hear about "Lagos beginning to work", the residents of Ikorodu and Ayobo were not too impressed. Some of them have taken to the streets to protest what they call "government abandonment". We certainly wonder what residents the Apapa-Oshodi Express way would do. Oh shoot, that's a Federal Road.

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We certainly would not want to bore you with bad news all the time, but we cannot help it. And the killers who attacked Dogo Dawa in Kaduna have done nothing to help that situation. In the early hours of yesterday, they killed up to twenty villagers. No one has been arrested. Yet.

The police may just have made some arrests in Dogo Dawa had they not been too busy hiding from irate youths in the Kaduna area. 40 year old Elisa Joseph had been killed while trying to broker peace between two law enforcement officials, and the youths felt that they had had enough of police high-handedness.

The police may do well to learn a thing or two about hostage rescue from vigilantes in Ogun state. The wife of the Osun state Assembly speaker was freed by a vigilante group in Ogun state. Quite quickly, the police have two test cases to learn their new skills. A commissioner in Delta state is still missing (the kidnappers have asked for a rather large sum), while yet another commissioner, but this time in Rivers state has been taken on a forced leave of absence from work.

From our columnists, Sylva is asking what Nigerians have become, while Mazi Chiagozie reminisces a little on his deprivations caused by his ethnicity during his childhood and questions the place of Igbo people in Nigeria.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Rich and poor

Fresh from winning the Court's backing for his victory in last year's poll, Jide Obanikoro must have assumed that getting into his stride as the chairman would be next on the agenda. Not so. First rumours floated around that the Jagaban on Lagos had given the LCDA a quit notice from their office. Being a responsible media outfit, we did not report that (there was no credibility to those tales). What is credible though is that the ACN has lodged an appeal against young Obanikoro's earlier court victory. We must commend the ACN for following due process, a precedent set by Obanikoro, and we will keep you posted on how it all pans out.

Something that appears not to have panned out too well is Robert Kiyosaki's business empire. The writer of the world famous Rich Dad, Poor Dad franchise has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in a US Court following a deal gone sour. Upon hearing that story, our resident Tarzan's monkey did a whoop, and gave out some high-fives. He doesn't like Kiyosaki much you see. However, as the old saying goes, the devil is in the detail. It turns out that Kiyosaki is filing for bankruptcy in order to avoid shelling out US$24million of the $80million he is worth. Essentially, his old company will bear all the liability of his misadventure, and a new company (which he has already set up), will continue business as usual, while the people he owes would be left holding their [snip - kids reading - DT Ed] in their hands. And you didn't think the law was an ass?

Speaking of asses, American gal Kathy Lunsford must be feeling distinctly more like the donkey part of the fabled creature than horse. You see, sometime in the course of the last three years, she handed over the sum of $9,200, or N1.4million to Nigerian Adonis, Michael Opaleye in the mistaken belief that he would cross over the pond, take her in his arms, and make her his wife. Mike never made the trip, and a broken hearted Kat reported to the EFCC. The computer science student will spend the next 18 monthsthinking about his transgressions.

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International watchdog, Human Rights Watch has announced that Islamist group, Boko Haram, has committed "crimes against humanity". Their 107 page report does not spare the Joint Task Force either.

Capital Oil chief, Ifeanyi Uba will spend the next few days cooling his heels in EFCC custody after a Magistrate Court Judge sitting in Lagos gave the EFCC leave to detain him and four of his henchmen.

And Cheluchi asks the question about whether Nigerians are happy with what we've become.

Whatever you do, do have a great weekend, don't drink and drive, and see you on Monday.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Dimeji's lesson in irony


According to the dictionary, irony is an outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected. Seems simple enough, or do we say it seemed simple enough for Funso yesterday when he went to an event that was attended by erstwhile House of Reps kaftan, Dimeji Bankole. That is, until the mic got to Mr. Bankole's grasp and the "youth" started speaking. According to Bankole, "We must seek to build a system that enables us make creative use of people, who have occupied leading positions in our national life to gain useful experience". The question then becomes, Mr. Bankole has occupied a leading position in our national life, but what useful experience has he gained? Oops! The EFCC is still trying to answer that.

The EFCC is also trying to answer the small question of what happened to the sum of N25.7billion during the reign of Francis Atuche as number one suit at BankPHB, now known as Keystone Bank. Unfortunately, the EFCC's star witness will no longer grace the presence of the court over what he claims are credible threats to his life and that of his family. "They told him that he has eaten with lions and that the lions will devour him," whimpered EFCC wig Kemi Pinheiro when telling the judge of the state of affairs concerning Bolaji Ogunsola. In his response, the judge has shifted proceedings to November 19, while we reach out for our encyclopedias to cross-check what lions usually have for dessert.

Dessert sadly, is what a lot of people in Kogi state will not be having any time soon being that swimming lessons are their highest priority nowadays. However, they should fear not as a bit of the Presidential sunshine will be hitting them soon. The Prez is even now on his way to Kogi to have a first hand assessment of what the floods did. Since the Kogi state head honcho will of course accompany Mr. Prez around, the people will have two sunshines for the price of one.

Prices is not something we are very happy with. The cost of everything is rising. The cost of yams, the cost of transport, the cost of petrol (when you see it), and the cost of debt. The last cost is what is worrying experts especially given that even with the rising cost of debt, Nigeria is accumulating more.

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(Super) Eagles tracksuit, Stephen Keshi is not worried that his most reliable defender, Joseph Yobo will be missing Saturday's 0-1 defeat to Liberia. "His club revealed that he has a torn cruciate ligament and have put him on medical examination to determine whether he could travel to Nigeria to cheer the team to victory," moaned Keshi, while in the background John Obi Mikel sauntered into camp three days late to pick his starting shirt.

We couldn't resist giving you some bad news, so here goes: 14 people were killed in an early morning attack in Jos on the same day that 2 FRSC officials were gunned down in Kano.

Still on the #JungleJustice hashtag, Oria takes a rather different view of the reaction to last Friday's tragedy in a small town called Aluu. We recommend you put your BB away before reading this one.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

2013 budget is here

Good afternoon,

First off, our apologies for this delayed newsletter. We had to wait until Emsaro got back from the National Assembly with the 2013 Budget which the President just read to the legislators punctuated by lots of back-slapping and laughter. [Phew that's a mouthful].

We want to doff our hats off to the President for giving the Education Ministry the highest proportion of the budget. The N426.5billion that that ministry will get would go some way in halting the trend of producing 39% baked graduates. We are also glad that the Ministry of Health will be receiving N279billion, an amount that if judiciously spent, will go a long way in making sure that the First Lady does not have to hop on a plane in the event, and we wish it won't happen again, that she needs an operation.

However, a small highlight of the speech was where the President said, "We want to be self sufficient in rice production by 2015." Dear Prez, if that's the aim, then begging Malawi for rice is not the way to go. And that is the message being passed by farmers who want the FG to scrap the importation of rice. Expect a visit from the leader of Thailand soon.

Sadly though, in the short term it would appear that we indeed have to beg for our food, especially those of you in Lagos who love nothing else than to hunker down on pounded yam after a long day's stretch in traffic. As a result of the flooding brouhaha in 21 of our 36 states, yams are becoming scarce in the metropolis. Well, a good substitute would be that weed called cassava, who's farmers are about to get quite a chunk of money from the government. More eba for the boys ay?

Best of the rest

Funso Adesola (Ph.D.) has taken exception to yesterday's change of allegiance of quite a fair number of our citizens. He believes that we should have conducted a plebiscite, but was strangely silent about whether it should have been after the ICJ ruling we submitted to.

In more flooding news, schools in Bayelsa state have been shut down in order to protect school kids.

Pretty 'Dania Idam has gotten over her writer's block. HerselfKelvin and Zainab all chose to write on broadly the same topic. The animals that make up Nigeria...

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

A Presidential speech

My countrymen,

Yesterday, soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force, in retaliation for the killing of a member of their group, shot and killed 35 people in Maiduguri. Let me assure you that the perpetrators of this dastardly act shall not go unpunished, and no stone will be left unturned in bringing them to book.

I am happy to inform you all that this government won a great victory on the international front yesterday. The government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has buckled to Nigerian might, and citizens of our great nation who were hitherto denied entry for the annual Hajj will return to Saudi Arabia at government expense to perform their personal pilgrimages. I want to thank the Speaker of the House of Representatives for his tireless efforts in making sure that this injustice was made right.

Sadly however, it is my duty to inform you that this government will not be appealing the International Court of Justice ruling on Bakassi. In the spirit of African brotherhood and as a good big brother, Nigeria will allow Cameroon's flag to be hoisted over the Bakassi Peninsula from now and for all eternity. Let me wish my former fellow countrymen bon voyage in your new home.

Yesterday, the Senate complained over the rise in the price of fuel in various filling stations across Abuja. Let me assure our distinguished lawmakers that all hands are on deck to make fuel crises a permanent thing of the past. Even now 11 ships have arrived in Lagos with petroleum products so that your ease of movement will be guaranteed.

I want to assure you all that this government is working very hard to make life easier for the average Nigerian and we are working towards becoming an exporter of labour. Nigeria is not only my problem to fix and I enjoin all of you to join hands with us and make our great country even greater.

God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I thank you all.

Best of the rest

In case you failed to wake up in time for the President's speech this morning, you can read it here, and you can find out if you are a member of the committee that he established by clicking here.

Having failed to get Anayo to pay for the multiple rounds of sex he enjoyed until the wee hours, Rita took his phones as payment. She will spend two months in jail, one for each phone.

The carnage on our roads goes on. This time in Oyo, a brake failure meant that a trailer dispatched eleven souls to the afterlife. We wish them a peaceful rest.

Monday, October 08, 2012

We need to communicate, please


As things stand, we are tired of clogging your mail with bad news. It is truly exhausting, and that little fact makes us wonder why we bother. But sadly, if we give up, we will be abdicating in our responsibilities to inform you. You see, it is said that information is power, and people get informed when there is communication. When people fail to communicate, then people fail to get informed. And then people die.

It has emerged that in the #MubiMassacre a week ago, some of the victims might just have been saved had the communications systems been working. In this story about the ordeal suffered by some of the survivors, John Bello clearly says, "We could maybe have alerted some of those that were killed if the networks weren’t down." It is very easy for us to blame the botched networks on the incidents a few weeks ago, when telecoms masts were attacked. But hang on, Mubi was not on the list of towns that suffered from that event.

Another town/area that was not on that list would be Kogi state. However, a few of the more enterprising members of the Times Square parade are even now perfecting bids for the supply of flippers and snorkels to the good people of the state since they now have to use aquatic transportation. But never mind people of Kogi, road transport can be a very dangerous game as the Lagos-Ibadan Express Way tends to prove on a regular basis. Twenty people on the way to a wedding this weekend, left this sinful worldby way of that road. We wish them eternal rest.

Eternal rest is what we also wish the two who were killed in Zaria last night by suspected gunmen. And in the spirit of not speaking ill of the dead, this sombre paragraph will also be used to pray for the souls of 31 Boko Haram members who were killed by the military yesterday. Allah ne ke bawa, kuma ci ke doka.

Best of the rest

Rihanna and Chris Brown are back together. At least until the next boxing match.

The Lagos state government will be working with Nollywood to do a home video that will encourage those of us in this city to stop eating Gala in traffic.

Nigeria's Sunshine Stars will have to somehow prevent legendary Egyptian side, Al-Ahly from scoring when they play in Cairo in a fortnight. Is it legal to bribe the ref?

The FG wants to take advantage of the floods in 21 states to introduce flood resistant rice. Maybe this will make the President think twice about begging Malawi for rice when he returns from visiting the First Lady. She's getting better by the way...

Friday, October 05, 2012

Bringing our kids home


As things stand, Nigeria's education system is a mess. What, with kids recording a 39% pass rate in their final exams, falling standards, kids getting woken up from their beds in the middle of the night and being slaughtered, there is not enough incentive for you to send your child to school in Nigeria if you have the means to pay for something, anything else. For a long time, our public officials have paid heed to this, and have indeed sent their kids to the Oxfords and Harvards of this world, while the Kashimawo Universities have been allowed to suffer through name change induced riots. But suffer no more they will if the Bill currently on the floor of the Senate sails through. Senator Mohammed Basheer from Kano has taken it upon himself to sponsor a Bill seeking to compel public office holders, including himself, from sending their kids abroad for their studies. We can only applaud this initiative as it should, all things being equal, force our public officers to take a long, hard look at the schools their kids go to.

But then again, maybe, just maybe their 29-year old daughters can opt to play football. You see, it is one thing to send kids to school, and quite another to find jobs for the kids in an economy that is shrinking faster than vegetables immersed in water. You see, yesterday, a group of girls purporting to be less than the age of seventeen were kicked out of FIFA's age grade female footie tournie. They were representing Nigeria, and the girls that kicked them out, really age seventeen and below, were representing France. In real football, one of these countries has won the World Cup, the other has not. To be fair to the girls, if the rumours about their ages are correct, then one has to look into these stories that always follow our age-grade sports teams. Is the cause of the "constant cheating" economic? Or is there something pathologically wrong with us? 
While we are extending our greetings to Philip Osondu, our Sports crew have put together something about these girls, but we will keep you at the edge of your seats until Monday.

Someone who is definitely no longer at the edge of his seat is new Ikoyi/Obalende LCDA oga patapata in Lagos. Like many before him, Ibrahim Obanikoro schooled outside the country. Like few of those, he came back to the country. Like fewer still, he decided to dip his hands in the cesspool that constitutes our public service. Like even fewer still, he chose to run his business with an opposition party. Like most people who make such ludicrous choices, he was "beaten soundly" at the polls. Unlike most, he expressed faith in our judiciary, and cried to the courts. His faith was rewarded yesterday. Ibrahim Obanikoro, opposition party candidate, will be the Chairman of Ikoyi/Obalende LCDA in Lagos state. It's not often that you hear that the PDP is in opposition, but we must give kudos to the court for reviving the will of the people. This same paper had had cause to declare young Ibrahim(and others) winner of the elections a year ago when projecting the results after the vote, and like most people were shocked when the results were announced. Unsubstantiated rumours claim that young Ibrahim has been given a quit notice, but we don't deal in beer parlour gossip around these parts.

Best of the rest

Our Minister of Justice has shown a proper regard for constituted authority by (for the umpteenth time) failing to turn up to a summons. To be fair to the man, this time he did write asking for the event to be postponed. Our only grouse is that he is developing a habit for missing such tasty events. You know as journalists, we love drama.

The number two man in Taraba is no longer the number two man. Sanni Danladi was found to be diverting stuff meant for government for personal use. In swift retribution, the state House of Assembly decided that they wanted no part of such. Here in Times Square, we have at least four members of staff begging to be relocated to that model of an ideal Nigeria that is Taraba.

We are trying our possible best to keep the #MubiMassacre in the news. Deji in his weekly piece tells us the obvious. Nigeria eats up its inhabitants. We beg you to have a great weekend, and try to avoid being eaten by the Nigerian monster. We'll see you on the other side. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Nigeria needs leaders


In the wee hours of yesterday, a posse of gunmen walked into a students' quarters in Mubi, Adamawa state, woke dozens of sleeping students up, marched them out of their hostels, asked each person his name, separated them based on the given names, then opened fire on one group. Depending on who you are listening to, between 20 and 48 students died that night, and up until now, there has been nary a sentence from official quarters. For the sake of accuracy, David Mark (Senate President) and Doyin Okukpe (Media something to Mr. President) mumbled a few words in response to questions, yet no one has gone to visit the institution.

Maybe the Presidency and the Adamawa state government failed to notice the Mubi massacre because they were too busy visiting the victims of floods which have rendered 64,000 people homeless in various states of the Federation. But hang on, the only visit by a federal official regarding the floods in Kogi happened to be a fly-by helicopter tour, then a courtesy call to a governor whom to the best of our knowledge has not been to see a village that disappeared from the map. Could it be that the issue is a security one?

Perfectly understandable because armed robbers are on the rampage in various parts of the country. Why, the DG of NEMA was attacked by robbers on his way to visit the scene of a flooding only a few days ago, and armed robbers did operate unhindered in a busy part of our commercial capital yesterday. Maybe, just maybe the security forces were just too busy squeezing the breasts of Nollywood actresses.
Whatever it is, Nigeria needs the people in high office to take matters seriously. Prayer is not enough to change things in our country. The blood of the victims of the Mubi Massacre is crying out for action from the State. Nigeria needs statesmen.

Best of the rest

Godwin Akanfe leads today's paper with an analysis of the police. In his view, the Nigeria Police is the best assessment of our government. We agree. Incompetent.
A court has given the CBN 72 hours (48 by the time you are reading this newsletter) to furnish Boniface Okezie with details of the assets purportedly recovered from former Oceanic Bank scarf, Cecilia Ibru. This is a pivotal test for the Freedom of Information Act.
Feeling some pity for a lonely donkey in an abattoir in Enugu, Anayo decided to give her a final thrill. Eyewitnesses were not amused, and Anayo is explaining himself as we speak.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Independent reflections


How are you? Did you enjoy the Independence holiday? We certainly did not here at Times Square as NEPA (or PHCN depending on your state of mind) took the opportunity of the occasion to remind us that they still exist. But we are taking solace in the fact thatin his independence broadcast, the Prez reminded us that power supply has improved dramatically. Well, as the old Nigerian saying goes, "God dey." We will be praying, with encouragement from Mr. Prez, for a better country. 

Yesterday, the President spoke to us for seventeen minutes. In that seventeen minute period, we got to find out that somehow, and despite all the odds, that Nigeria has managed to attract N6.8trillion in foreign direct investment in the last 9 months. This was more or less confirmed by the Federal Accounts and Allocations Committee who also yesterday told us that the country earnedN5.5trillion in 8 months. However, there is a little bit of confusion in our mind as to whether the FDI which the President spoke about could be the result of sales of crude to foreigners. What does it matter? The money has come in and there will be no need to probe it.

Unlike the N141billion that was 'repaid' by billionaire businessman Femi Otedola to the Asset Management Company. You see, the House of Reps, like a lot of other people found themselves swooning when the announcement was made last Thursday that Mr. Otedola had dropped that hefty amount. Like a lot of other people, the venerable Reps wondered why the repayment plan had to be secret. The more cynical among the Reps must have wondered what exactly made Don Femi to change his mind about paying after he had pointedly refused to service the debt. House kaftan, Zakary Mohammed was quoted as asking why the transaction was done in secrecy given that AMCON is a public company. Never mind all the wondering, the House will soon return from its one week oversight tour, constitute a committee (yes another one), to look into this matter and produce a white paper that will share the same shelf as the Farouk Lawan and Herman Hembe white papers.

Speaking of people who's papers have been whitened, DSP Alams, has finally come full circle. After the little incident of seven years ago where he was transformed into a buba and iro wearing athlete, the ex-governor of Bayelsa state will receive an honour for his commitment to the Ijaw struggle. A hall will be named after him in a building in Yenagoa which he started. Bayelsa lead hat, Seriake Dickson made this announcement on the occasion of Bayelsa's sweet sixteen, an occasion in which he also took the time out to honour the dark goggled one, remember him? In this season of honours, we can only quote our President from his speech yesterday and note that Nigeria is the second most improved country in the effort to curb corruption.

Best of the rest

On Sunday, the Shell confirmed that it had shut down some 150,000 barrels of oil per day as a result of a sabotage incident. While the company mobilises to "fight the fire, investigate and carry out repairs", we can only wonder what the damage will be to our oil dependent economy when roughly 8% of our daily output is turned off. Would the mathematicians and economists make themselves useful please?
Delta state's commissioner for Higher Education, was taken away from the public eye by force over the weekend. We are praying for his peaceful return.

Eugene Juwah, an NCC blazer has told us to take advantage of the Consumer Affairs Bureau and protect our rights with regards the not too solid quality of phone calls that we make in this country. Right Eugene, we'll speak with you when the call connects.

Former NFF babariga, Ibrahim Galadima swears that Nigeria will qualify for the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa. Of course we have no doubt that our once Super Eagles will pull that rabbit out of the hat. After all, winning in a Nigerian stadium is meant to be an easy task. Just ask Samson Siasia.