Monday, December 31, 2012

The inaugural Chxta awards

Good morning all, and happy holidays to you. I would be lying if I apologised for my absence as I've been enjoying village life. However, commitments are commitments, and this one has to be honoured. In a few short hours, 2012 will be done and dusted, and it will be on to 2013. So without wasting much time, I invite you to kick back, relax, let that chicken be, pick up that cigar and inhale a bit, in no particular order, here are the Chxta awards for 2012.

The Umaru Yar'Adua Award for Missing Officers

This one was kind of tough to come by for the panel of judges, giving that Dame Patience ran him close. However, the sitting governor of Enugu state, Sullivan Chime is the winner of this category. The 53 year old has not been seen in public for four months now leading to vicious rumours from political enemies that he had kicked a bucket. Such wicked rumours have now thankfully been laid to rest and his deputy who-was-never-governor would step aside in a few weeks.

The Lawrence Anini Award for Missing Balary

Nigeria, is a country where bar, or cash, or owo, or kudi, or ego, or (insert name here) walks away regularly. This inaugural award to be honest was INCREDIBLY difficult to decide. The nominees included a range of people from diverse walks of life including Farouk Lawan, James Ibori and the civil servants associated with the pension scam. However, and after careful consideration, the panel of judges resident in my head have decided that this year's award belongs to Ehi Okomoyon and the staff of the Nigerian Mint over the N2.1 billions that took an ill-fated stroll from the premises of the mint and has not been seen since. You have to admit that Fakrook's bar doesn't top that one.

The Mujahadeen Award for Instability

Bombings, kidnappings, assassinations, robberies, we had it all in 2012. Of all the nominees for this award, it is rather tempting to give it to Boko Haram, but even the worst critic of the federal government will admit that after an initial high at the beginning of the year, even they have kinda tailed off. Whether this is as a result of improvement in the government's surge is open to debate. However, the activity which finished the year strongly, remains kidnappers. Despite the government's refusal to pay them any ransoms, their business seems to be getting more lucrative as more unemployed youths are taking advantage of the opportunities this job stream appears to offer.

The Amelia Earhart Award for Avoiding Road Travel

Some of the more cynical of us will want to give this to the recently departed governor of Kaduna State, and former National Security Adviser. But I refuse. I'd rather not piss on the memory of the dead. A more fitting candidate for this award will be someone who is still with us. Step forward, Danbaba Suntai of Taraba state who in his zeal to avoid the bad roads in his state took to the skies, then brought his plane crashing to the ground. We wish him quick recovery, so he can be present at the awards ceremony.

P.S I saw Ebonyi state governor, Martins Elechi's convoy two nights ago. He was returning to Abakaliki from Enugu on that pothole infested road. 13 vehicles in the convoy, cruising at a speed of no less than 60km/h on a terrain that would make the Dakar Rally envious. Paddy Power has stopped taking bets on where the next road accident involving a Nigerian governor is likely to be...

The Johnny Lynch Award for Crowd Sourced Death

The overwhelming temptation is to give this one to the people of Aluu for their treatment of those four unfortunate boys, but as Oria Iyayi rightly pointed out, their case was hardly isolated, more the norm. As a result, they come a close second. This year's award goes to the killers of Gyang Dantong, former Senator from Plateau state who was killed at a mass funeral for victims of senseless violence that has engulfed his constituency since a time shortly after he became a Senator.

The Motorola Award for Miscued Speech

To be honest, there can only be one winner here in terms of speakers. No one in Nigeria comes close to our President when it comes to making statements that would be hastily withdrawn afterwards. No one comes close to him either in making statements that would need unconvincing explanations afterwards. So the challenge has been in picking which of his many miscues this year is the award winner. I mean, we had the HUGE miscue of announcing the increase in fuel prices and as a result choking most Nigerians as they were in the middle of their New Year chickens. Then there was the time he stood in front of national television and shared money in the name of flood relief committees. Then who can forget his "not giving a damn" about the state of his asset declaration form. However, after a lot of soul searching, the winner is, "and I hereby direct the name of the University of Lagos to become Moshood Abiola University". Enjoy the reaction of Kashimawo University students after that announcement.

The 53-Suitcases Award for Excess Luggage

Nigerian public officials and their proxies take a lot of undeclared currency abroad with them in order to buy houses in London, New York and Dubai. This is no secret, neither is it a surprise. What was a surprise however is the fact that the relation of one such person was caught. Step forward, Aminu Lamido. Son of Jigawa state governor, Sule Lamido, who only a few weeks ago was caught with the undeclared equivalent of N7.5millions on his person as he attempted to board a flight to Cairo. Still no word on what young Aminu does for a living...

The Arthur Nzeribe Award for Playing Both Sides

This year further strengthened the knowledge that our government does not know how much money the nation makes from oil. Thus it was that a committee (one of the myriad set up this year) was constituted to look into it. The committee, headed by former EFCC babariga, Nuhu Ribadu, set about its duties with a lot of zeal, all except two members, who thought it rather prudent to take appointments in the very organisation that their committee was tasked with investigating. Step forward Steve Oronsaye and Ben Otti for your joint award.

The Philip Osondu Award for Failure To Live Up To Potential

This one can only go to the Nigerian Olympic Team for going to London, seeing in London, being seen in London, and failing woefully to conquer. Any more on this and it will be an overkill.

There are a lot more awards that can be given out, but sadly we have to return to that manya nkwu, as well as to continue enjoying the River Niger's fresh breeze. For what it's worth, do have a fun filled cross-over this night, and may the best of your 2012 be the worst of your 2013.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The end of time

Hi,

First off, to all of you who emailed yesterday, I'm so sorry about not sending this thing. I was fetching fuel in Ojo. Also, my Etisalat internet failed to connect the whole day, and MTN was not any better. On the same day, my blackberry, which is serviced by Airtel was delivering messages in quite a delayed fashion. Yes, I have three SIM cards about my person*, and the services rendered by each of them makes me wonder about the benefits, real or imagined, of number portability. Will it work? At the very least, it will give people a shot at more efficient services while retaining the phone number they've been known with forever. However, most of our telcos, and the NCC are not so keen as deadline after deadline has elapsed with more excuses coming up. Now, following their "network upgrade", it would appear that Airtel is willing to break with the fold and give us what we want.

In terms of giving us what we want, the National Assembly yesterday passed a N4.987 trillion budget for 2013. That is N63 billion more than the President had initially requested, but the legislators are justifying the difference in the raised benchmark price of crude oil. Somehow, the maths does not add up for me, but my poor brain is winding down for next week's festivities, so I'm in no mood to figure out how a 5.33% increase in a N4.924 trillion budget translates to just N63 billion and not N228 billion. Again, maybe my budgetary mathematics is way off, but I'd rather that difference is explained to me now, and not as a N165 billion supplementary budget towards the end of 2013. But it is not just about taking. The legislators want to know whether the Vice President's residence will be made from titanium. Maybe the extra was used to pay for Nkiru Sylvanu's ransom. She's been let loose.

That is if we are there to celebrate the end of 2013. The world is meant to end today according to those who translated the Mayan calendar while cradling a bottle of tequila. On my part, I'm not sure that the Mayans had such a thing in mind, but I'm more interested in that drink that comes from their shores. You see, tequila, is a very interesting drink. It has the power to take all of your problems away for the moment at least, which is why itself, and its other assorted cousins such as rum are very popular with sailors. They drink them while they are depressed at sea. Nigerian sailors take such drinks while they are waiting in the ports for clearance to berth. I'm sure it will interest some of you to know that our port waiting times are some of the longest on the planet, and this speaks to the geriatric nature of our Ports Authority. Sadly, that geriatric nature has just become older as the President has appointed a certain Tony Anenih to head the NPA.

Tony Anenih!

This is a government that claims to be serious about fighting corruption? Well, it's not too bad. Today is Friday, so I may as well start with the tequila now.

Bits and bobs

A national tragedy occurred yesterday as the eyesore that styles itself as our main international airport failed to go up in smoke.

After consoling Alhaji Maigari on the death of his daughter, Senator Goje and his aides zoomed off; and crashed into Haruna Maigari, 18.

Burkina Faso, Zambia and Ethiopia in that order are rubbing their hands with relish at the prospect of beating our formerly super Eagles at the Nations Cup. The NFF has admitted that it is owing The Big Boss two months of wages. BB is yet to complain though, which means that either he's making a tidy sum elsewhere as all good Nigerian civil servants do, or the bar that is meant to be passed into his account is so tiny that he has yet to notice.

Former Kogi governor Abu Audu has been declared wanted by the EFCC. Safe from hiding, the erstwhile immune chap is trying to get the courts to prevent the EFCC from prosecuting him for ever and ever. Amen.
*I once used Globacom. Ran back to Airtel.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Divisive tendencies

Yesterday, the President took to the podium to ask us as a people to shun preachers of religious and ethnic division. "Whatever may be our differences; religious, ethnic or personal, Nigeria is more important. We must be united in rising above our differences and promoting values that bind us together," the Prez told us according to this report. True words from Mr. Prez, very true. However, the question that arises from that is, "How easy is it for people to think of unity, when all the indicators in front of them point to a failing project?"

You see, for people in Northern Nigeria, the failure of the Nigerian state is very real. The economy in that portion of our land has virtually shut down, due to years of neglect by the region's leaders. One of such leaders is lamenting the effects of that failure to the pages of a newspaper. You see, when people's livelihoods are taken away, then crackpots who promise whatever solution, will get listeners. So it is no surprise that Boko Haram is getting sympathisers given that our Senators prefer to order their cars from KwaZulu-Natal, and as a knock on effect, shut down PAN in Kaduna. Recommended reading would be Joachim Fest's Adolf Hitler. Truth is this: that monster came to power in Germany simply because the economy of the Weimar Republic collapsed. The lesson for us there is that we MUST be careful in handling our economic collapse, obvious in the North today, small signs showing in the South as I type this...

...But one of the problems that we have in this country is the penchant for our leaders to fiddle while the environment burns. Thus it was that the National Assembly yesterday discovered that the NNPC spent an excess of N48 billions in 2012.

N
48 billions!

The Senate committee found a lot of discrepancies in the company's accounts, and that word "vague" which has been used to describe this firm again and again cropped up in yesterday's discourse. Added to that, the legislators also uncovered an egg nest that the company kept away from the books. Reacting to questions posed to him about the extra N48 billions, and the egg nest, NNPC planner-in-chief, Tim Okon said, "The NNPC is a running business and it has reserves and we got the money from the reserves." Wow! Some business this is. Now let's see, this business doesn't pay taxes, expects preferential treatment, runs its accounts as the personal piggy bank for whosoever happens to be in office at the time, makes use of state resources, etc. Some business this is. What one wonders then, is why some senators are moving against the PIB. Although I don't agree with a lot of specifics in the current form of the PIB, that thing needs to be amended and passed yesterday.

Speaking of abuse of state resources, the Senate has complained about the abuse of military aircraft by civilian officials. Which brings me to a story that I have to tell. After yesterday's newsletter, I got a call from someone who was in Bayelsa. She stated that contrary to what we media types are bandying around, the helicopter which was involved in Saturday's drama did not make 15 trips. According to her, it brought a Rear Admiral for the event, and he was promptly "bullied" by the people who perished later on. What she had the grace to admit is that that bullying should not have happened. In her view that is a severe breach of protocol. Enough of the story now, what we must ask as a people is how a naval training helicopter got round to being used for a distinctly non-naval event. When you consider that General Kip Ward, the former head of AFRICOM was at the very least reprimanded for misusing travel privileges, then you realise that such indiscipline SHOULD NOT have been allowed to creep into our military. That helicopter had no business whatsoever being where it was.

Regarding the brouhaha that is happening on the internet about "not speaking ill of the dead", I think that is one of the problems we have in Nigeria. If a man committed a few misdemeanours, why can we not speak of them alive or dead? Truth remains that God-rest-his-soul, the late General Azazi was at the very least implicated in the sale of weapons to militants. He was never found guilty, but then again, no inquiry was ever set up. That question will have to be answered some day, not swept under a rug because the man is no longer n the mortal coil. Come on, what next will we hear? Don't speak about Hitler because he is dead?

Bits and bobs

In a time of increasing discontent over the cost of generator repairs, we are being told that our power generation is now at an all time high. Maybe it is true, afterall, I did not take a thermometer to Egbin, but I know that my generator had to be serviced just last week, and unlike the situation a few months ago, these days, I hear the sound of generators every night.

The National Assembly, rumoured delays in their allowances on their minds, have rejected the $75 benchmark for crude oil which was initially mooted for our 2013 budget. Problem is that even the $75 they picked might be a fail as oil sales will fall in 2013.

On Sunday, June 3, some people were relaxing in their houses in the Iju Ishaga area of Lagos, when a plane fell from the sky and onto their heads. Most of the hullabaloo that followed was all about the 153 or so people who were actually on the plane. Those on the ground, like their suburb, have been forgotten.

The Nigerian Army conductors have finally stopped the pained renditions of "Silent Night". Nearly a week after she was released unharmed, the unfortunate geezers who were picked up on suspicion of kidnapping Mummy Okonjo have regained their freedom.

We won't be hearing any more about the failing health of the Enugu state governor. Ozioma Ubabukoh, the reporter who has been covering it for The Punch has had his laptop seized for talking too much. Time for me to go and do that back-up.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Education for all, work not for all

"I believe he has ideas about becoming a scientist; on his present showing this is quite ridiculous." --- school report about John B Gurdon during his time at Eton College. He would later go on to win the Nobel Prize for Medicine.

Depending on who you listen to, the helicopter that was involved in Saturday's tragedy was either shot down, or cursed by almajiri boys in Kaduna. What is undoubted is that a helicopter belonging to our Navy, one that is meant to be deployed in either search and rescue operations, or outright military manoeuvres, was being used as a ferry service for VIPs. Yes, let's face it, Nigeria's Navy operates a kabu-kabu service for private citizens who happen to have direct access to the corridors of power. Said helicopter was on its 15th drop of the day when it went down.

It is precisely to avoid the Office of President, Federal Republic of Nigeria from being brought to disrepute that two new luxury helicopters and a new private jet have been ordered for the President. I mean, what effrontery to have a whole President and C-in-C sitting in on a helicopter which could have been used to ferry Timi Dakolo over a few creeks. As it were, the plane is tied up in a New York court, but the helicopters are well on their way.

Not that the Minister of Trade would do anything about it if he had a say. But he claims that from next month, Nigerian MDAs would stop patronising foreign made cars. According to Don Aganga, this effort is aimed at jump starting the affairs of PAN, Anamco and Innoson Motors. Sadly, he was silent on two very salient points. First, who will stop our legislators from ordering brand new Toyota Camry cars from KwaZulu-Natal, while PAN lays off more workers. Secondly, since we are on the road to encouraging local content, maybe he should whisper in the President's ear that Dornier once had a facility in Nigeria, and they manufactured an aeroplane used by our Air Force, the Air Beetle.

Oops! The Air Beetles are probably being used as taxis.

Drivers of taxis, and other assorted vehicles can breathe a bit easier as LASTMA has chopped off 174 operatives in Lagos for corruption and indiscipline. A good thing on the surface of it, but I wonder what the 34 who were fired for overzealousness would take to their new jobs. Lethargy?

Well, maybe they would be absorbed by the police who just reduced their pool of talent. Henceforth, Third Class degree holders and SSCE holders would be barred from recruitment into the Nigeria Police. To a lot of people that might sound like a good thing, but I assure you it is not.

The only argument that can be brought forward in support of this move is that Lucky Igbinedion holds just SSCE. However, on the opposing side of the fence, it can be pointed out that Wole Soyinka had a third class while GEJ is a Ph.D holder. In any event, the quote that begain this treatise is proof that teachers can get it wrong.

In my view, what this move by the police will only do is to swell the already swollen ranks of the unemployed even further. But then again, maybe the police are just trying to tell us something about the quality of the stuff we pass off as education nowadays...

Bits and bobs

Dr. Okonjo-Iweala has said a lot and said nothing in telling us that her mummy was kidnapped for political reasons. Name and shame Ngozi, name and shame. What you have simply done is added more fuel to the fire of conspiracy theorists.

Don Aganga has completed plans to create another Dangote. In exactly 12 days, the importation of raw sugar will cease to be legal.

A high powered team has arrived in Bayelsa to probe Saturday's crash. The team is led by the Chief of Naval staff who also happens not to be an aircraft specialist.

Friday, December 14, 2012

The only way is up

It's a feel good Friday today, so greetings to those of you in Lagos, especially those who will have to enjoy the Redemption Camp traffic today. You see, the Prez will be in town. One wonders what will happen this year, given that he knelt before Daddy GO last time round. Maybe he will pick pin? Or open his mouth and suck something? You see, opening our mouths to suck something is an indignity that those of us travelling out of Nigeria from next year will have to face as the World Health Organisation has ruled that we will all be vaccinated for polio.

Polio!

There are only four countries in the world that have polio, Afghanistan, Chad and Pakistan being the others. It has been eradicated elsewhere, so you can understand when earlier this year, Nepal announced that they will stop giving us visas. They don't want us to come and infect their people. But then maybe, just maybe, eradicating polio is one of the things that will be on Mr. Prez's prayer list when he arrives in Lagos to cause traffic later today.

Traffic, being one of the huge problems of this pretender to mega-city status, used to be eased (in a manner of speaking) by motorcycle taxis, better known as okada. Without providing much by way of viable alternatives, the state's government severely restricted those okada. Granted the okada riders were a major menace, but this time around, they decided to at least try and act civilised. They took Lagos to court, and they lost. Lesson number one, when a law is making its way through the legislative process, pay attention.

Sadly, attention deficit is something that is quite common around these parts being that we spend a great deal of time queueing for petrol. To make us better citizens, our Senate yesterday approved the Prez's request for offering money. It is said that the grant will enable me to have petrol in my tank when I drive along that road that Doyin Okukpe claims to have fixed in just over a week's time. What I find amazing personally, is the alacrity with which the request was granted. For our rather lethargic Senate, two days (the Prez sent the request on Tuesday) is Usain Bolt territory...

Speed is probably the best virtue in the Ogwashi-Uku area nowadays as people must be contemplating hitch-hiking out given that the Army has gotten tired of waiting for the police in the bid to claim first prize in rescuing Prof. Okonjo, mother of our Minister of the Economy. Following Delta governor, Uduaghan's declaration 139 hours ago that Prof. Okonjo "would be released in 24 hours", it took the police 76 of those hours to arrest two people in connection with the abduction. The Army has now stepped in, and in just over 24 hours has shown the police how to do it. 63 people have been, err, abducted, and are now singing Christmas carols at an army base not too far away. Meanwhile, Prof. Okonjo is still nowhere to be found.

Bits and bobs

Fresh from abandoning them in their hour of need, Nigeria's government has suddenly remembered that our former citizens in Bakassi are being harassed by their new masters. Oh well, as the old proverb goes, better late than never.

Following the "kidnapping" of his son by errant EFCC officials, Jigawa state agbada, Sule Lamido has clarified that his son, Aminu, was not washing money for him. State parrot, Umar Jitau says that Aminu's daughter, the governor's grand daughter, has a spinal cord problem, and needed to be treated in Egypt. If only we had hospitals in Nigeria, the governor would not have been subjected to such monumental embarrassment...

Meanwhile we are officially the seventh largest money laundering nation in the world according to Transparency International, behind such nice people as the Chinese (manufacturing), Mexico (drugs), Malaysia (drugs), Saudi Arabia (oil), Russia (guns) and the Philippines (slaves). Expect a rebuttal from the Presidency by close of business today. But in my humble opinion, since there are no plans to change the way we do business, the only way up that list is up.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A sense of drama

Merry Christmas in advance. For those of you who like Chxta will be making the annual trek Eastwards for the holiday, be careful not to spend your annual salary at one of the many petrol queues that will almost definitely be in place. Unless your annual salary is getting to the US$50k mark, then you can hire a private jet.

At one point or the other, Chxta's annual salary (the money that actually hit the account after Mama Charlie collected her share), may have reached the US$50,000 mark. Not that Chxta will ever know about it, back in those days, Chxta always used to look at the "tax deductions" column of his payslip, and feel very sad. Life was just unfair. Chxta feels that it is also unfair that Chxta slaved so much and till date has never seen the sum of US$50k in cash. But then again, Chxta's father never had to foresight to become the governor of a Nigerian state.

Thus it was that yesterday, Aminu Lamido, son of Jigawa state governor, Sule was picked up by the EFCC for having US$50k (NGN7,875,038.82) on his person. He'd initially told the Customs officer that he was going on vacation in Cairo with US$10k. Chxta's guess is that his particular officer of the Customs is (i) new to the job; (ii) fearless; (iii) watches the news and knows that at the moment, Cairo cannot be a holiday destination. For whatever it's worth, shouts of "Do you know who I am?" "Do you know who my father is?" did not carry any weight as the chap was searched and the unholy amount was found on his person. Which brings us to the next questions: "What does Aminu do for a living?" "How much is his father's annual salary as governor of Jigawa state?"

The sad truth though, is that money laundry is quite a common thing among our elite in this country. It was with that in mind that the EFCC informed us not a few days ago that N50 millions which was recovered from the Ogidigbogbo of Long Lartin Prison in 2010 were wired right back to Ogidigbogbo's accounts by the Delta state government. The EFCC told the court this tale in order to prevent the court from handing US$15 millions back to same Delta state government. The Delta state government through it's mouthpiece, Uncle Chike, has stated that it won't do such a wire transfer. No mention was made in the denial, of the earlier NGN50 millions. From Chxta's point of view though, the story is rather simple: when erstwhile EFCC kaftan, Nuhu Ribadu first talked about a bribe of US$15 millions, this same Delta state government said no such monies were missing from the state account. So why the sudden review of the books?

Maybe because the books were not handed over to them in the first place by the chap whom the EFCC says helped Ogidigbogbo to, err, wash his money. Sadly though, it would appear that erstwhile Don, Wale Babalakin's version of "New Ariel" was bought from Ariaria Market rather than Shoprite. It is failing to do the cleaning job for him. And it is with that knowledge in mind that the man who a few weeks ago told us that Babalakin "is being witch-hunted by the EFCC" has decided that he wants no more part of the drama. Ebun Sofunde decided to quit the play at Act 1, Scene 3 for "personal reasons".

Regarding the Igbo boys that sold Babalakin that version of "New Ariel", Ify Umenyi, the number one ichafo at Nigeria's Consumer Protection Council has told us the bleeding obvious. In this exclusive interview with The Sun, she says that "Nigeria is littered with sub-standard products". Very true that Ify. You only need to see the quality of politicians we are producing nowadays...

Bits and bobs

Despite exchanging 73 calls in a single month with the Boko Haram parrot, Senator Ali Ndume would have the court believe that they were discussing the weather. The Judge will decide weather the quality of sandstorms in the Maiduguri necessitated that number of calls in October 2011.

Jagaban's number two for the South-South Zone, Osagie Ize-Iyamu, believes that Nigeria will improve for the better if more pastors get involved in politics. The CEOs of Airbus, Boeing, Bombardier, Embraer and Gulfstream have been alerted and are rubbing their hands with glee. Ilyushin and Tupolev will soon be opening private customer divisions.

The NCC and the mobile phone operators appear to have held secret talks to scuttle number portability. Publicly, they are blaming each other for the apparent failure of the take off. In the foreground, the Nigerian customer cries out in anguish as yet another phone call ends without him hearing anything, yet he was still billed for the call.

Paul Bebenimibo has complained that things were better for the Niger Delta under former President Umaru Yar'Adua (RIP). Don't worry, amnesty money will soon reach him and he will stop disturbing us.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Presidential blackmail

How una dey? As things are, the Presidential blackmail is on in full swing. Yesterday, the President presented a supplementary budget to the National Assembly seeking an extra N161 billions so that we will not have the pleasure of queueing up for petrol during this Christmas. Don't worry about the extra money my Prez, we are already used to queueing, or in the alternative, fulfilling our petrol addiction from those boys who sell the stuff just beside empty filling stations*. Personally, I think Mr. President should just tell us the truth, Christmas is round the corner, and money is needed to buy hampers. We won't get angry, we are Nigerians.

But then again, Nigerians are capable of getting angry, especially when we are hit in the pocket as patients in LUTH are about to discover. Annoyed over a new tax deduction which would rather than go to better roads, or hospitals, go to yet another set of Christmas hampers, doctors in that institution have withdrawn their services. I guess that this latest doctor's strike in Lagos would help accelerate the case of former Don, Wale Babalakin who had taken the liberty of checking himself into that institution with some unnamed malady.

At the very least though, the strike in LUTH will mean that the erstwhile Kogi state I-am-that-I-am will not have the option of taking up the bed next to Babalakin in LUTH's private ward the day after escaping from the EFCC by the skin of his teeth. The former governor had tried to go down the well worn route of thwarting justice, but unfortunately realised, maybe a little too late that im levels no reach. Since the Supreme Court decided that he should face trial, and LUTH (with its private wards) is on strike, Abubakar Audu decided to take another route. He jumped out of a window...

Sadly, and quite distressingly, jumping out of a window is not an option available to Prof. Kamene Okonjo, given her age. Forty eight hours after Delta state governor, Uduaghan promised that she would be recovered "within 24 hours", the kidnappers have finally gotten in touch. They have asked that her daughter, NOI, our Minister of the Economy, either bring the fuel subsidy money, or the sum of N200 millions. I guess they had not heard about the supplementary budget request as of the time of the phone call.

Bits and bobs

Despite his best efforts to have them thrown out, the Federal High Court sitting in Abuja yesterday told serving Senator, Ali Ndume, that records of phone calls and text messages between himself and Boko Haram members will be used as evidence against him. Three things that are clear, the Senator will not resign, the Senator will try and get the case adjourned for the next ten years, and if that fails, the Senator will be admitted into LUTH.

Despite the fact that there was a "partial removal of fuel subsidy" in January, the President (still on that issue) has told us that the cost of fuel subsidies have gone up even more. I admit to using more petrol in 2012. The power situation got worse in the second half of the year, so my generator was a lot more active, poor thing.

Determined not to be outdone by Paul Biya, fellow countryman Isa Hayatou has schemed his challenger out of the way. The 66 year old is apparently the only person in a continent of over a billion souls that has the vision to run our football. It's too early in the day, but permit me to go and get drunk.
*I once bought petrol at a black market in Abuja behind the Presidential Villa.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Security concerns

Sad news yesterday, the mother of the coordinating minister for our economy has been kidnapped. This is no time to by cynical. Mrs. Okonjo is an 82 year old woman, and being whisked away from home by eight gunmen is not something that even a man in his prime should face, let alone someone who is at an age where all she needs is her rest. Here is hoping that she is returned soon.

Also hoping for the return of Lanre Fashesin, kidnapped in Edo state four months ago. If you have by any chance a word or any bit of information that could lead to finding him, please call 08069439240. Thank you.

Hans-Rudolf Hodel has apparently been in Nigeria for too long. The Swiss envoy has imbibed the habit of making promises that he cannot keep. He's telling us that the country, known for protecting assorted criminals from the Nazis to Mobutu all the way to al-Qaeda, will reveal the names of those who have looted the treasury. Suddenly I'm quite sure that when I die, I'll be standing beside Adolf Hitler in the queue for heaven. Although at the moment, I stand a better chance of being kidnapped.

The rise of kidnapping in our country has so many causative factors. Trying to list them all, and take a look at each is the stuff of a Ph.D. thesis, but some of those probable causes rear their heads in our day to day lives. One of those causes is frustration.

Imagine as a young, unemployed, person in Nigeria, you waltz past one of the many "free readers club" that we have in the country, and the first headline you see has to do with someone on the run from justice, who simply because he has the means, can afford to lie down in hospital and the hospital goes the further step of covering for him? The questions that arise from erstwhile Don, Babalakin's sudden "illness" are legion. First of which must remain WHY he conveniently fell ill when the bailiffs were about to get him...

...The funny thing is that Mr. Babalakin did not actually need to go into hiding within the confines of LUTH. All he needed to do was to arrange a "suspension", and in just a short while all would have been forgiven and forgotten as a "family matter" usually is around these parts. You see, in Nigeria, Madam Justice is not blind, and she favours those with fat pockets, so when you oversee the disappearance of the little sum of NGN2.1billions in a bid to make your pockets fat, all that happens will be a suspension, which also gives you the right to write down the actual disappeared sum.

You see, it's all about the money, and 28 people who were refused access to free money will be taking INEC to court soon. Scratch that, and make that number 53 as the stubborn babariga at Zambezi Crescent, Maitama has decided that another 25 political parties will be de-registered to join the 28 who are already screaming blue murder and reaching for their law books. INEC pays all of our political parties a stipend apparently, and some political parties are set up as scams with the sole intention of collecting money.

Scams being in the news, the ICPC has summoned Suraj Adekunbi, who happens to be the speaker of the Ogun state House, and a few others over a N168 millions scam. "Yes, the speaker and others have been invited, but I don't have the details," sang ICPC canary, Folu Olamiti, while a few miles away, Adekunbi wondered what hospital he would check into.

Bits and bobs

Despite a distinct lack of power to turn on the computers where they may exist in primary and secondary schools across the country, some egghead has decided to make ICT based exams compulsory for matriculation exams in Nigeria. Expect someone to make away like a bandit after the contract has been awarded.

Air traffic controllers are rather belatedly complaining about the safety of our nation's airspace. They should look into a mirror let us know why flights never depart on time.

Delta state won the National Sports Festival. However, the devil in the detail is to be seen in the medals table. Our second most populated state, Kano, could only muster up seven gold medals. When you consider that Kano was the best performing state from the north, then it tells you that northern Nigeria's problems go way beyond just economic and political.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Youths obey...

In Ghana, the Ghananese are queueing up early for their elections, voting materials are arriving on time and the late arrival of an EC official in the Volta Region caused outrage. He was 30 minutes late. You see, the reason he was late is that he is a youth. Of the Nigerian kind.

As it was, back home in Nigeria, youth leader, Bode George has been nominated for the African Leadership Award by Nigerian students under the aegis of NANS. Now that's a solid example of what Nigeria's young aspires to be. Forgive me while I throw up. Just as a moot point, he won the award.

It comes as no surprise then that fresh from clearing (more or less) the disgraced Fakrook, our House of Reps has resolved to wade into the "family dispute" between another yoot, and someone who in other climes would be described as almost geriatric. Given our peculiar proclivities in Nigeria though, we can safely refer to both of them as "yoots". What is the moral of both stories? Does anyone remember that song by African China? "Poor man wey tif maggi omo dem go show im face for crime fighter..."

One of the reasons that people like Bode and Farouk get away more or less (Bode was put away for a two year holiday), is that we have all sorts of nebulous groups who rather than look at issues, prefer to scream either ethnic or religious rubbish. Thus it was that the Nigerian Army has been forced to deny that it is discriminating against Muslims because it removed the two Generals who were in command when two suicide bombers waltzed into Jaji and did their business. Permit me to swear!!! These guys were removed for gross incompetence, and someone is saying that it is because they are Muslims?

Maybe it is because they are Muslims that we have high ranking officials who have been linked with the Boko Haram movement still sashaying around freely and hobnobbing with the rich and famous. Now the Chief Security Officer of Borno state, under who's watch the Boko Haram nonsense has gone from bad to worse, is rather than just shutting up and enjoying his security vote, looking to deflect the blame to others. Don't worry Uncle Kashim, in Nigeria, we are very forgiving.

Given our readiness to tell people to "go and sin no more", rapists in Ekiti state have decided to up their game. This is according to the state branch of FIDA. The group's lead crooner also commended the state police for arresting 85 year old Sam Oladipupo who decided to feel young again by mounting a 12 year old...

Bits and bobs

Years after failing, both SGBN and Savannah Bank will soon be back to the business of collecting customer deposits and dashing them to wealthy geezers who have no intentions of paying back. To do this however, they will be needing a loan from the CBN. The apex bank has graciously obliged.

Still smarting from the (rumoured) lateness of allowee, the Senate has screamed at the cost of the reconstruction of the VP's hut.

The chaps at The Punch have brought out their calculators to inform us that N3.3 billions have been spent on Bros GEJ's foreign jamborees this year. Wetin dey do una? Una no know say Prezo suppose fly in style? It is increasingly looking like Punch is being sponsored by "political enemies" of the transformation agenda.

The Vanguard is showing a huge sense of drama. They've aggregated all the Dim stories in one page. Since today is a feel good Friday, enjoy reading.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Justice comes, at last!

They say the wheels of justice grind slowly but surely. I used to dispute that with regards this country that I call home, but I am sure that John Eremi Azuma, Pastor Bassey Eyo Bassey, Eze Bassey Enya, Sunday Enya Egbe, Okorie John Odah, Joseph Odu Arreh, Henry Ofewa, Sunday Bassey Okpa, Bassey Anthony Aroke, Joe Anthony Aroke, Ekwor Riman Ekor, Benjamin Okorie, Douglas Egbe Ego and Aja Francis are in a better position to tell me how wrong I am. Apparently, they are going to get locked away for failing to comply with a court judgement issued in 1959!

It is this faith in the persistence of the legal system that is probably leading aggrieved persons within the Kogi state PDP to keep on in their dogged determination to unseat the sitting governor. Yesterday, Yunusa Omagada brought another such suit against Idris Wada who promptly responded using words such as locus standi to inform Mr. Omagada that he shouldn't even contemplate it. As if to prove just how long it takes to find justice, the next scene of this drama will occur in 76 days time.

Time, appears to be what Bukola Alli, a trado-ruler in Ijesa is playing for in his trial over the rape of Helen Okpara, going on three years now. Mr. Alli has not denied having carnal knowledge of Ms. Opara, but the problem is that he insists that she enjoyed the act as well. He's failed to tell us whether she agreed to the games before they commenced, but is instead trying to make himself sound like "the man" by repeatedly telling us that she actually enjoyed it. Alli's lawyer on the other hand, would rather go down the well worn path of playing for time, since in the interim apparently, his client is still enjoying the monthly allocations due to a "monarch" in our rather interesting form of democracy. The case has been adjourned to an undisclosed date when the alignment of the stars are just right.

In the meantime, and still on the legal theme, the EFCC have evidently consulted their astrologers who informed them that erstwhile big boy, Wale Babalakin's star is fading. So despite a court order that he should be left alone, our rather lazy corruption fighters have brought out the siege equipment, battering rams and all, and surrounded the Lagos University Teaching Hospital ward where Don Babalakin (is he still worthy of the title "Don"?) currently lies. But wait o, what kind of big boy goes to LUTH? He should be in Germany...

Maybe the German hospitals are sick of receiving Nigerian patients, but on the evidence of things, more may be on the way. However, before we begin to entertain any morbid thoughts of private jets, tummy tucks, cloak-and-dagger hospital escapades et al, we are duty bound to give a thumbs up to medical personnel at the ongoing National Sports Festival for rescuing Oyo state boxers, Rashidat Ganiyu and Tunde Yusuf. Rashidat was beaten up by Benue state's Amina Amusat, and collapsed after the fight, while Tunde was brushed aside by elephant Fred Adejoh from Abia. Both are okay, and responding to treatment, we thank God.

Bits and bobs

Feeling left out from the current sharing arrangements, failed northern politicians, Jack Gowon, Atiku Abubakar and Ibrahim Shekarau are forming an unholy alliance in order to "win" the Presidency "for the North" in 2015. Conveniently forgotten is the fact that under the watch of Abubakar (as VP) and Shekarau (as Kano governor), living standards in the north plummeted while the country's economy grew overall.

In yet another knee-jerk reaction to SLS's comments about the civil service, Lagos based wig, Femi Falana has launched into a long-winded tirade about the person of SLS and well, some of his policies. No mention though, of the fact that our civil service is actually, and quite hopelessly, a lumbering beast that really needs to be trimmed down. Has Mr. Falana ever tried getting a Certificate of Occupancy?

For playing numerous sideways and backwards passes, Chelsea FC have seen it fit to reward Obi Wan Kenobi with a new 5 year contract. Eat your hearts out haters. In his years at Ch€£$ky, Mikel has won just about every medal that club football has to offer, and will soon be adding the Club World Cup to that collection. Oh, and he earns as at the last time of checking, the tidy sum of N20,239,654.26 each week!

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

We are number 35!

Okay, so it is official. We are the 35th most corrupt country in the world. At least that's what those nosey parkers in Berlin will have us believe as opposed to our President's declaration that "No other government has fought corruption as much as this one". True, there is something rotten in the state of Nigeria, but the debate now is whether there is actually a genuine fight against this disease, or whether we are waiting for God to fight it for us as we watch from afar in the comforts of our private jets.

In my, not-so-humble opinion however, the Executive arm of our government cannot be serious about fighting corruption when they still interfere in the independence of the Judicial arm of our government on a very regular basis as the ongoing Ayo Salami saga shows. Yesterday, the President asked a court to throw out a suit brought by some ne'er do wells challenging the continued suspension of the former(?) president of the Court of Appeal. The question then becomes, since the Executive still plays so much of a role in determining who rises within the Judiciary, is it not only logical that the Judiciary will have a bent towards the will of the Executive? Now consider that many ichafos and etibos within the Executive are accused of not-so-straight-and-narrow dealings, it is no wonder why we have adjournments ad infinitum...

One of said ichafos was in the news yesterday (not a new thing). She was telling participants at the National Economic Jamboree that the new PIB will be the best thing since sliced bread. No, better than sliced bread it appears. Apparently, host communities will be encouraged to participate in the protection of oil and gas infrastructure within their zones. No word of improved schools, hospitals and roads for those host communities. It would appear that the host communities have pre-empted DAM's thesis and have already decided that although potentially less risky, protection is less valuable than busting the pipes and participating in trade. So we come to the age old question, which is more profitable? A protection racket or import/export? Who can answer? Is it Don Soprano or Don Ohakim?

Import/Export used to be, or still is a good business, but one that is capital intensive. The age-old belief is that you don't start such businesses with your own money. Remember the movie Other People's Money? That was a lesson well taken to heart by former Red Cap Number One in Imo state, Don Ikedi Ohakim, who according to his successor "borrowed" N6.4 billions from the state's treasury a few days before he shuffled out of office. Problem is, he has forgotten to pay back. It's the economy Rochas, interest never pure. But maybe, just maybe Rochas should stop moaning on the pages of newspapers, and actually complain to the police.

Nigeria's top olopa is swearing that heads will roll over the attack on the SARS office in Abuja ten days ago. I'm not quite sure of the heads rolling considering that this guy did not know that there was already a law under which Boko Haram terrorists can be prosecuted. Word of advice Mo, talk less. I'd recommend you look out your window towards DHQ on how to handle such situations. The guys in charge in Jaji just the day before were rolled over in double quick time.

In any event, there's some work for Mr. Abubakar as the wife of an Ogun state lawmaker, fresh from the US where he went to learn more about the noble art of lawmaking, was nabbed. Ostensibly by a few of the 67 million unemployed Nigerian youths.

Bits and bobs

For those who have been having power issues (just about every one of you I guess), there is good news. Egbin is set to come back on board. "Total collapse of our system last week caused the drop in power generation, but we are making efforts to stabilise and generate power at our peak," harrumphed the chief screwdriver, Mike Uzoigwe while a generator quietly purred away as background vocals.

I was looking for a story about the National Sports Festival on Complete Football, sorry, Complete Sports, but it would appear that the jamboree is not important enough to them, so content yourself with this one about the National Sports Commission*, and the defence of the N6.8 billion that will be used for the next round of estacode collection.

Err, this newsletter these days would not be complete without another instalment of the ongoing Ojukwu Will drama. Dim's second son, Emeka, says that he does not need a will to take over his father's house. A bit of gist for you, the most senior son, Chukwudebe, the one who wasn't in the will, was acknowledged in life by the late Dim. Problem is that prolific Dim didn't know him until after he (Dim) returned to Nigeria from exile. One day a man came up to him to call him "Nna". Shocked as he was, he'd have inquired from the mother, but she was quite conveniently dead.

So much for the amebo. See you tomorrow.
*The relevant law approving the National Sports Commission has yet to be passed by the National Assembly, so in technical terms, the NSC is an illegal body.

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Nigerians only have sex

One thing that I will have to give to our forefathers is that sexually, they were out of control. Forget all those rumours those days being days of "decency", "purity" and all that, those guys had game! Why, the figures speak for themselves. Consider that our very first census in 1952 told us that there are 31.6 million Nigerians. 10 years later, we had 55.6 million people, a national growth rate of 5.8%! The implication of that is that that generation of Nigerians spent ten years doing only one thing...

Forward the hands of the clock 50 years, and our population has exploded like the phoenix rising from the ashes (remember we had a war that bumped off at least 2 million people) to a whooping 170 million souls. In other words, in half a century, Nigeria has almost trebled it's size. Thus it was that I almost fell off my seat when I read that we will soon overtake a country like Brazil on the population charts to become the fifth most populated country in the world!

Sad fact: Brazilians are actually productive, Nigerians only have sex.*

It is no surprise then that despite all the noise about Vision 20-20-20, our real economy is simply not growing. You see, it is one thing for abstract figures such as GDP to rise, but another thing for people on the ground to feel that rise. You see, if we take the IMF's 2011 figures, Nigeria has the world's 40th largest economy. But by the time you calculate the GDP per capita (divide by our population), we suddenly find that we are number 138. Meanwhile I strongly disagree with Prof. Omoniyi Adetiloye's thesis on why our economy will not grow. It is not foreigners that are impregnating our women at an alarming rate. Oh, even the Nigerian Economic Summit Group agrees that the whole Vision 20-20-20 parade belongs in dreamland.

Dreamland is where our legislators seem to be returning from with a rude shock. It would appear that the rumoured delay in the payment of their juicy allowances was the koboko that woke them up from their slumber and accounts for their sudden tenacity in looking at budget figures from various MDAs in the 2013 Budget. One good thing that has come out of that is that they are realising precisely what some of us screamed about 11 months ago on very sunny days in Ojota. SURE-P for example is a national waste, and it turns out that SURE-P spent N27 billions in four months! There was a youth employment scheme that spent N3.5 billions in 2012, a year where the National Bureau of Statistics informed us that there are 67 million Nigerian youths roaming the streets...

It is not all bad news though, and I hate to spoil your morning akamu (for those outside Lagos), or your morning gala (for those of you stuck in Lagos traffic). PM News tells us that the FG has recovered N29 billions from the N232 billions that were pilfered in the name of oil subsidy payments. Although PM News failed to tell us precisely whom the money was recovered from, Sahara Reporters safe from their base in New York tell us that N2.7 billion of that rather gigantic total ended up in the pockets of the current Labour Minister, yes, the same man who is charged with generating employment for the 67 million youths in whose heads the devil has set up workshop.

"The President should immediately sack Chief Wogu if he fails to resign," whimpered erstwhile lawmaker, Dino Melaye while in the background someone took an axe to a grinding machine...

Bits and bobs

For those of you who want to feel closer to the Lord, Catholicism's numero uno has finally joined the 21st Century. Pope Benedict's Twitter account has gathered more than 300k followers in less than 24 hours of existence, with zero tweets! "Bless me Holy Father for I have sinned, it's been 30 years since my last confession..."

Yesterday, the Punch newspaper had a rather scathing editorial on the performance of the sitting President. It is well worth the read. As for me, I have framed it in a corner of my wall. That's how an editorial should be written.

Ondo swimmer at the National Sports Festival Ibukun Adamolekun, provided some mild drama as she won gold in the 200m butterfly, then promptly collapsed back into the pool. Luckily she was revived on the spot some minutes later, or we'd have had to fly her to Germany for treatment. Congratulations on your gold Ibukun.

However, Ibukun's drama lasted just five minutes. For real drama, you can follow the continuing saga of Dim Ojukwu's will. There are so many angles to it, so you can just entertain yourself and read them all. I wonder why his son is complaining though. Dim didn't leave anything for his children at MASSOB either. I still can't get over the fact that he left something for his Northerner daughter...

*According to the IMF, Brazil's economy is the 7th largest in the world, divide the size of their economy by population, and they are number 54 on the list. Nigeria is number 40 and number 138 respectively.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Up NEPA! and some other gist...

A few minutes before I settled down to type this morning tonic, my neighbour's generator choked, spluttered, coughed, and then gave up the ghost. The poor generator died from overuse. Simply put, the light situation, which was vastly improved back in those days when a certain Prof sat atop the Power Ministry, has slid from bad to worse to worst, most noticably since Prof was shuffled out. Not that it matters much, but 3,716MW have been shunted off the nation's power supply in recent weeks.

Well, as such stories go, e go better. At least that is what the top dogs would have us believe, that things will improve once the magic wand PIB is passed. However, if the foreign oil companies have their evil way, this magic pill will never get passed, so prepare for ever longer queues at the petrol stations as more Nigerians take their gas guzzling jalopies and generators for the juice of life.

Life, that thing which all of us possess, and can be snuffed out in an instant as has become a Sunday-Sunday ritual in parts of the country north of the River Niger. Yesterday, some "unknown gunmen" ended the lives of at least 10 people in Borno state. As of this morning, the speech writers at the Rock have yet to find their phrase books, so we have not heard the usual platitudes, "the perpetrators of this dastardly act..."

Unlike the eggheads at the Rock though, the brass in charge of the Armed Forces seem to still retain a sense of shame. As soon as a pair of suicide bombers made their way into Jaji, nominally one of Nigeria's most secure environments, and did their business, a board of inquiry was set up (without an announcement), and the board has with immediate alacrity, concluded its inquiry. In yet another example of lessons that can be learned from the soja boys, the two berets that were in charge at the time of the embarrassing breach have been removed and replaced. Expect a court martial in the next few days. Now how is that for military discipline? No talk of another board of inquiry to look into the report of the first board of inquiry...

Bits and bobs

Oyo state's number one buba ati iro danced to the altar over the weekend to thank the Lord for shaming her enemies. Remember that it was reported a few weeks back that she was picked up in London by the Met. Expect more dancing when the judge in the ensuing libel case grants herself and hubby the billion Nairas they are asking from PM News to add to this month's security vote.

For those of you who love a good drama (roll over Tinsel), you can follow the ongoing saga of Dim Ikemba's Will. Fresh from rejecting the contents of the Will which granted almost everything to his step mother (who happens to be younger than him), Debe Ojukwu has revealed that his prolific daddy mentioned his dalliance to him, a dalliance which resulted in a pikin. But the sweet gist in the story is this: de mama of de pikin na northerner! Ewo!

Moral of the story: it doesn't matter if her people are killing your people, as long as she's a fine girl, and you are a functioning male, you can occupy her*.

When the Malian under 17 coach read the fixture list and realised that he was playing Nigeria, he decided to borrow a leaf from our book and make use of over-aged players. At least that's what the NFF would have us believe, despite the fact that our "spring chickens" comfortably roasted Mali's young, over-aged, Eagles home and away.

*In the middle ages, "to occupy a woman" meant to have sexual relations with her.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

These United States


First published in 234Next in 2009. I had the foresightedness of retrieving all of my articles from the site before it was taken down. I shall republish them on this blog one after the other as the need arises.

If there is any lesson that Nigerians can take from the exercise that was Nigeria 2009, especially when contrasted with Nigeria 99, it is that for our country to make progress, we have to come apart. For the sake of clarity, I have to define come apart, and I can think of no better way to do it in this context than to use the example of another country that is stronger in diversity, the United States.

Taking a drive through different states in the US is always very instructive about unity in diversity. The country is made up of 50 different states, and what applies in the state of New York is almost definitely not what applies next door in Delaware. By the time you get to Virginia, you can smoke in a public building, but in Maryland just next door, it would be no dice. In Florida, you can drive about without a number plate in front of your car, and the same applies next door in Georgia, but in North Carolina and Maryland, you must have on both sides, while in Wyoming, it has to be in front. The federal government in the US controls quite a lot of the important apparatus that go into making the union, but the finer day-to-day running of people's lives is left to the state governments, and this is probably the biggest lesson that we can draw from Nigeria 2009 and Nigeria 99.

In Nigeria 99, the organisation was done entirely at the level of the Local Organising Committee, which was an organ of the federal government, and that competition is on record as being probably the worst ever FIFA competition (it led to loads of changes in the way FIFA 'helps' host countries). In Nigeria 2009, when it became evident that the LOC was not interested in working, state governments in some centres stepped in, and the competition ended up being more successful in some areas than it was in others. In Lagos, Kano, Ijebu Ode and Calabar, the organisation of the competition was quite well done (except for a few minor details as it seems to be with all things Nigerian). In Enugu, Kaduna and Abuja, things were not quite what they should have been...

This disparity in organisational success shows us that for parts of Nigeria (and eventually the whole) to make real progress, there has to be competition among the constituent parts of the country. A return if you may, to the arrangement that obtained in our post-independence democracy where the regions were in direct competition with one another, and each was allowed to develop at its own pace. You see, Nigeria is in a catch 22 situation. We have this obscenely large federal government that essentially belongs to no one, and as a result so many people could not give a toss as to how things are being run. On the other hand, you have state governments who are small enough to allow each individual feel a part of what is happening, but the hands of these state governments are tied because they are almost inextricably bound to the federal government. The federal government dictates what is happening, and at which pace a state should develop, which is a self defeating situation because in our real life situation, life in Zamfara is idyllic, while life in Lagos is fast paced and frenetic. Kaduna wants to jump ahead while Ebonyi is content to take things nwayo nwayo. Kwara and Akwa Ibom want to generate their own power, but federal orders coming from Osun essentially mean that whatever power they generate cannot serve their people. And therein lies the paradox.

For Nigeria to make progress, we have to come up with a solution that is workable for the people, and coming up with such a solution requires making tough decisions. Once again, we have to look West to the United States. In looking at the Americans, we must realise that we do not have to swallow their model hook, line and sinker like we did with the 1979 Constitution, but we have to take what works for us, then discard the rest.

The whole concept of State of Origin must be expunged from the Nigerian Constitution. Chxta must be able to move from Abia state to Zamfara state and feel at home in any part of Nigeria that he chooses to call home. Chxta must also be able to aspire to the highest office in whatever state he calls home so that he can help make a real difference in the lives of the people of that state. Each state in Nigeria has its own uniqueness, and the laws that apply in one state may be viewed as strange in another. A very good example of this is the application of the Sha'ria law in certain parts of northern Nigeria. In all honesty, there is no reason why a majority Moslem state cannot have Sha'ria existing side by side with Nigerian federal law, provided of course that Sha'ria is the junior partner in such a relationship. But the process of getting a Maryland driver's license is very different, and a lot more tedious, than the process of getting a North Carolina driver's license. If Chxta wants to move from Anambra to Yobe, Chxta must be willing to live according to the traditions of the majority population in Yobe, and the people of Yobe must in turn be willing to accept Chxta as one of their own and give him a right to a decent living and to aspire to the best the state can offer. That way, the state and the individual both profit.

The stranglehold of the federal government must be loosened.

There are certain kinds of organisations that are run better when they have a loose command structure, and one of these is internal security. The police. I do not see any reason why the states of the Nigerian federation are not allowed to have their own police forces. It would help to drastically reduce crime. Each state must also be allowed to build and maintain its own interlink roads without interference from the federal government, and charge people using those roads whatever amounts the state deems necessary to keep those roads in good conditions. Tax should not be paid to the federal government, but to state governments.

Resource control remains a testy issue. However, it is fundamentally unfair to use resources from Oloibiri to build Abuja from ground up while Oloibiri remains in the sixteenth century. The culture of remitting all moneys from natural resources to the federal government then asking the states to come and collect money each month is plain wrong. Again there is no reason why our states should feel the need to collect funds like beggars from the federal government once a month. I do not understand why federal allocations are necessary to run state specific problems. This culture of collecting monthly allocations from the federal government has essentially reduced the Nigerian people to laziness and condemned us to penury. Nigerians are not concerned about what happens to federal money because it is basically pumped out of the ground and goes straight into private pockets. If on the other hand Nigerians were forced to work and pay taxes, there would be better scrutiny of our government on how public money is spent.

There are some people who would say that allowing each state control of its resources would confer some states with an advantage over others. I would say no. First, not one of the 36 states is strong enough to challenge the rest of the union. Second, and probably more important, because we are used to getting something for nothing, we have not explored other possibilities of making ourselves useful and developed. After all, Japan, which is the world's leading industrial nation is a resource poor country, but is almost entirely self sufficient. Norway has loads of oil wealth, but uses the proceeds thereof for one thing, and one thing only, education. So why can we not?