ajagunna

I discuss Nigeria and the world at large because I strongly believe MyOpinionCounts!

Month: June, 2014

The People Voted for Their Stomach by Niyi Osundare

Prof. Niyi Osundare

Prof. Niyi Osundare

A-RICE, oh compatriots
Your stomach’s call obey
Say, A-RICE, oh compatriots
Your stomach’s call obey
Hold out your bowls for the golden grains
Pawn your pride without delay

Grab your bribe and dance in the street
To the Riceman’s drum and venal command
Yes, grab your bribe and dance in the streets
To the Riceman’s drum and venal command
Bend your back for his heavy ride
Your golden rice is your sole demand

The Riceman is here, your lord and saviour
Pawn your vote for his golden gift
Say, the Riceman is here, your lord and saviour
Pawn your vote for his golden gift
Eat your rice and belch like a bull
And give your guts the forgetful lift
The passage down the gullet
Is the fastest road to heaven
Yes, the passage down the gullet
Is the fastest road to heaven
To those held hostage by their shameless guts
There is no nirvana like the seething toilet

The people voted their stomach
And the dunghill usurped their future
Alas, the people voted their stomach
The dunghill embraced their future
The wounds from this blind affair
Defy the magic of the cleverest suture

II

The people voted their stomach
And the dunghill usurped their future
Alas, the people voted their stomach
The dunghill embraced their future
The wounds from this blind affair
Defy the magic of the cleverest suture

Cunning Riceman with bags
Full of tricks and daggers
Say, cunning Riceman with bags
Full of tricks and daggers
His first coming left us all
In ashes and fluttering rags

Brazen murders, strange disappearances:
His hands drip with unexpiated crimes
Yes, brazen murders, strange disappearances
His hands drip with unexpiated crimes
But he has an arsenal of cash and rice
Both so vital in these degenerate times

Rabble-rousing, clowning, scheming
Frightful intimations of Idi Amin’s pedigree
Yes, rabble-rousing, clowning, scheming
Frightful intimations of Idi Amin’s pedigree
Yesterday’s fruits still stir the leaves
On History’s bewildering tree

Here, once again,
The wild histrionics of a deadly actor
Say, here, once, again,
The wild histrionics of a deadly actor
Mindless applause from a captive audience
Chloroformed puppets of a wily victor

III

They sold their birth right
For a kongo* of rice
Alas, they sold their birth right
For a kongo of rice
This mindless commerce
Will come at a heavy price

Erstwhile Knowledge Fountain
Overgrown with Ignorance’s malignant weeds
Alas, erstwhile Knowledge Fountain
Overgrown with Ignorance’s malignant weeds
The Book, once robust, resurgent,
Has been voted out of our daily needs

They sold us a lemon; we emptied
Our bank of virtues to pay the price
Alas, they sold us a lemon; we emptied
Our bank of virtues to pay the price
The will powerful guns could not subdue
Now lies suborned by a spoonful of rice

Poverty so desperate, so demeaning,
It consumed our pride, our primal worth
Yes, Poverty, so desperate, so demeaning,
It consumed our pride, our primal worth
The pride we once extolled is vanishing fast
From the face of our stunned, corrupted earth

The people voted their stomach
And the dunghill usurped their future
Alas, the people voted their stomach
The dunghill embraced their future
The wounds from this blind affair
Defy the magic of the cleverest suture

*Kongo: a small tin, plastic, or calabash container used for measuring peas and grains in market sales.

IV

Too good for us, far too advanced
The reigning King is too high above our rot
Say, too good for us, far too advanced
The reigning King is too high above our rot
Too much bound to Excellence and Honour
And a public garment without a blot

He expends state funds on the road to the Future
He never paves the way to our bottomless stomach
Yes, he expends state funds on the road to the Future
He never paves the way to our bottomless stomach
Whoever doesn’t know in the eating world
That the gut is a grand, demanding monarch

We asked for rice, he gave us Reason
We asked for booty, he gave us the Book
Say, we asked for rice, he gave Reason
We asked for booty, he gave us a book
So we trooped all out to cast our lot
For the side of the dark and loaded crook

The Damaged Good has riced its way
To the top of the brand
Alas, the Damaged Good has riced its way
Right to the top of the brand
Our feet stand askew
On our dark and traitored land

Come again soon, oh brief Renaissance
This interlude forebodes a trembling twilight
I say, come again, brief Renaissance
This interlude forebodes a trembling twilight
Sow rainbow stars in our darkening sky
Divine another Dawn, new and bright

 

Niyi Osundare

Source: Copied from Saharareporters.com

 

In Quest for a World not Weakened by Wars

To an individual every problem becomes a nail, when a hammer is the only tool available to him/her. I came by this beautiful quote per chance on one of the info-screens installed at various metro-stations where I live. I could not agree more. This concise proverb sums up alot and gives very deep insight into the state of our world.

I saw a cartoon in the local newspaper recently. In it was a Middle East Sheikh. First he spoke on phone with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He needed arms, guns and more guns to combat insurgence in his country. Right after his conversation, he made another call to the ISIS militia. He referred to them as *brothers-in-faith*. He promised to supply them with more arms, guns and more guns to prosecute their faith-wars on various fronts!
While I had a good smile, the import of the message was not lost on me.

In an article published once by a guest-blogger on my blog, the writer questioned in a conference the motive behind selling arms and more arms to crisis- and war-ridden African countries when it is crystal clear that these weapons are used to fuel and prolong wars and civil unrest in these parts of Africa. The response could not be more diplomatic than evasive. The respondent only wished that these deadly instruments of war do not get into wrong hands. According to him, the EU is doing her best to ensure this wish is achieved.

Meanwhile, international diplomacy and deal-cutting continue in a quest to solving problems caused largely by arms sold/delivered to the troubled regions by various world power.

Lets leave it at that for now. I move to Ukraine. I once submitted in an article that the end and worst looser in the crisis is Ukraine. A look into the devastating civil war ongoing in Syria will give an insight into this. At the end, the country is brought down to its kneels with the aid of bombs, grenades and even deadlier weapons. War is never a joke. Ask survivors. They will confirm the sad truth.

Politically considered, a strong and West-oriented Ukraine can only be to Russia’s disadvantage. Russia would never open-eye see this come true. It is her worst nightmare. Therefore, the destabilization strategy is the singular tool available to Russia. Russia has since adopted this tool like the proverbial hammer, albeit in a far too-overt manner. One would have wished for Russia to be less confrontational.

Anyway, the country of the Tsars has never been known to be a fan of covert-diplomacy. Speaking in direct and clear-terms are her ways. In short, she would call a spade a spade. A reminder of this is a saying allegedly attributed to a former First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, angered by the US spy action on the Soviet Union while both countries sat at table in Washington to dialogue on ways of bridging the widening gaps of mistrust between both world-powers. He gave way to his anger. *You do not shit on the same table where you intend to eat thereafter!*

This directness of approach is what has been seen again in the ongoing crisis in East Ukraine. Even a blind person can see that the separatists are Russia’s own creation to destabilize the region, and indirectly the country. She has denied any direct involvement with or finance of the separatist, but we all know better.

Russia did not mince words either on making it clear that the EU and the US are directly responsible for this forced destabilization of Ukraine. That is to say, if the EU and US would keep their nose off Russia’s backyard, she certainly would have no interest in a proxy war! I am sure Russia is even more angered now than ever before because she just cannot punish Ukraine too openly or more than she is doing so far like she did years back when Georgia *foolishly* angered the sleeping lion!

The quick summary of events in Ukraine is to underline a point, which is, the conflict in Ukraine is a conflict of interests. If the interests were met today, or at least, the wishes of those behind the various masks were largely met, absolute peace would return to Ukraine. In fact, the swiftness with which the calm will descend on Ukraine would surprise even the worst doubter of a possible permanent peace deal in Ukraine.

Moving to the Middle East and particularly to Iraq and Syria. Definitely, the emergence of the terror and militia movement Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) did not happen overnight. Although I must be quick to add that I personally only woke up one day and heard on the news of a new terror group that now trouble the already troubled Iraq and a gradually and systematically dying Syria. I missed a breathe on seeing the cruel execution in cold blood by the ISIS militia, but beyond this, I quickly adjusted to living with the latest nightmare born into our world. No doubt, ISIS is a brain-child of certain interest groups in and outside of Iraq and Syria. One would not be too wrong to talk of proxy wars and mindless/heartless adventure.

Like it would be expected, the US and various allies in the West grabbed the microphone. The airwave is bombarded with calls for the end of the barbarism ongoing in that region of the world. Expectedly, the conflict only got hotter, bigger and more cruel with each passing call for peace and reason. It reminds of a situation of a stubborn child who keeps doing exactly that same thing which angers the mother, with the singular motive of getting the mother to shout even louder!

Of particular interest is this question: Whose weapons are being used to execute the ISIS-wars, which has taken over large part of the war-torn/war-tired country? We need not speculate too far. We know Kalashnikov, bombs, grenades and other even more dangerous weapons are manufactured not in Iraq or Syria! These places are simply too war-troubled to care about manufacturing weapons.

In the light of this simple truth, one is tempted to question the sincerity behind calls to stop the barbarism being perpetrated by ISIS. Such calls are at best hypocritical. The Foreign Minister of Germany declared millions of Euro, clearly a giant sum of money, is being earmarked for the troubled region, as a result of ongoing ISIS-inflicted conflict.

Guns are meant to be used. Even before then, a gun manufacturer would certainly want to sell her market! The manufacturer is not in doubt of the fact that guns are used to snuff out lives and maim mercilessly, and that they must be sold when manufactured! The industry is a multi-billion industry, both for government, private individuals, companies and banks bankrolling the whole scheme. Earmarking *peanuts* of the profits from earning made to *mop-up* the aftermath of conflicts caused by their own making is not a *bad-loss*. Besides, the donated money is being garbed as humanitarian aids among many other brand names.

While ISIS continued its offensive like a theatrical performance full of tragic episodes, the US Secretary of State John Kerry was flown into Iraq. Apparently to show support for the collapsing and crisis-ridden Iraqi government. Unfortunately, the super-suggestion of an all-inclusive government was turned down by the Iraqi President.

Personally, I believe the Iraqi President is acting out a script. One can say he has so far acted his part well. Really, what could have been so difficult in accepting a proposition that suggested a common-sense solution to a crisis that should not have occurred in the first place. That he even waited, first for the suggestion to be made, only to reject it, is laughable. Anyone would think the President ought to have come about the idea all on his own. A country as ethnically divided as Iraq must not be told that a government that cater widely for the interests of all is a plausible and possible way out of a senseless conflict. Well, the President of Iraq opined differently!

There are speculations that going by the recent/latest conflict and what seems to be an ever un-ending state of turmoil in the region, a new map of the Middle East might be about to emerge with new countries birthed. This is not a bad idea, really. The autonomous region of predominantly Iraqis of Kurdish ethnicity has been far more peaceful than other parts of the country since after the Bush war that fell Saddam Hussein dictatorial and draconian government.

By the way, we need to constantly remember that Iraq and Syria are not the only troubled countries in the Middle East. The region is actually in a permanent state of conflict ever since I can remember. One can bet without any fear of loosing that the conflict will go on for a longer time to come. It seems that the the desires/wishes of the various interest groups in and outside the Middle East are so designed that they can never be met. This is one dividing line between Ukraine and the Middle East. Moreover, the Middle East is not in Europe. It is shameful to have to accept this truth, but that is not to be overlooked. It cannot be overlooked!

Lets move to Africa.

The African continent is another potpourri of near-war conflicts, full-blown conflicts, (proxy) wars and more wars. Insurgents are on the rise. Boko Haram, the Islamic terror sect in Northern Nigeria competes very favorably with the likes of Al-Shabbab of Somalia and Al-Qaida on national and international level. In recent times though, there seems to be more conflicts and war in and outside the African continents that conflicts on the African continents, which are only best described in the superlatives, are being over-shadowed/dwarfed by these newer wars and conflicts.

Nobody need be told that Al-Shabbab is a terror group whose threats are worth taking serious. They owned up to attacks in Somalia and Kenya. They terrorize residents in places where they control territories. Boko Haram of Northern Nigeria eventually and finally got more international attention and recognition with the abduction of over 200 girls. Prior to the kidnap, the numbers of bombings attributed to this group of nuisance mad-dogs already won them the much-craved attention. But who need be told that sadists are ever insatiable with in-flinching pain. They only crave for chance to do more damage! Boko Haram still bombed a shopping mall in the capital of Nigeria, very recently claiming over scores of lives!

The ongoing civil war in Central African Republic (CAR) is yet another being run on fuel processed in other parts of the world and with weapons *shipped* directly into the hands of both rebels and government troops alike by their foreign allies/supporters.

South Sudan is an example of a mega-failure even before the country was birthed! One would have thought that their common experience in the hands of the government-supported Janjaweed rebels would have taught them to embrace themselves, eschew self-hate, stay as one and unite even stronger! Hardly was independence declared, the political Orang-Utan who wield power in that new country decided the best place to go for is the opponents throat! The ultimate goal seem to be to already nip in the bud any sign of life/dissent from perceived competing ethnic groups- an all-out war is the way! They found means of execution in weapons of mass destruction they never invented, namely guns and more dangerous weapons! By the way, they used machetes and home-made clubs too.

What more can be said to underline the very obvious that our world is a big mess all because we adopt only the tool(s) of violence to resolving our differences. Any sincere observer of world events so far must be serious enough to accept a basic truth- war is never a way out of any crisis/differences and can never be!

To round up, here is a beautiful quote , whose origin I do not know for sure but in whose words I passionately believe and its practicability too: *It is only when a mosquito lands on your testicles that you realize there is always a way to resolve problems without using violence.*

The Ekiti Election and A New-Old Nigerian Sociology

Mr Abiola Oladimeji is a scholar resident in Germany and guest-blogs for www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com

Mr Abiola Oladimeji is a scholar resident in Germany and guest-blogs for http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com

The people of Ekiti State went to the poll last week Saturday. The outcome of the election is still a surprise to most people. People have been asking why the incumbent, Governor Fayemi lost and the challenger Mr. Fayose won. They believe, the writer too, Dr. Fayemi was a better candidate. Alas, the vast majority of Ekiti people scored the candidates differently. At this point, it became clear that the majority of Ekiti people have different criteria for rating candidates.

In the quest of trying to understand the voting behaviour of most Ekiti people, I spoke with a friend. This friend voted for Fayose- the winner of the election. He saw in Fayose a father-figure. Even though he is in no way related to the winner, he said Fayose is like a father to him. In his opinion, Fayose is a very good man; a friend of the masses.

He saw in the incumbent, namely Dr. Fayemi a fraudster! Dr. Fayemi had taken loan in the name of the state and increased tuition fee at state university, that is University of Ado-Ekiti (UNAD).

It became clear that he prefers Fayose’s populism and rejects elitism as represented by the incumbent and the looser of the Saturday’s election.

In an interview conducted by Tolu Ogunlesi, Dr. Fayemi did not deny being an elite because he holds a doctorate degree from the prestigious King’s College, University of London. But he emphasized his style of governance as people oriented.

Since last week, I have raised a lot of questions, which I think we should address together.
(i) Is being an elite a political suicide and is Fayose not an elite? (ii) What is at stake for the people of the state in Dr. Fayemi’s *confession* to being an elite while Fayose presented himself as an *ordinary* man?

Most interesting is that nobody accused Dr. Fayemi of non-performance. His Achilles’ heel is that he is perceived to be disconnected from the masses. Analysts agree that he improved the conditions of roads and education. He introduced social welfare scheme. He provided infrastructure. Permit me asking rhetorically: Are these achievements meant for animals and not the common people of Ekiti state?

Here is a twit of Fayose, the Governor-Elect on election day: *I do not speak Latin but I know *salus populi, suprema lex*; the welfare of the people is the supreme law! So shall it be with us in Ekiti*.

One might ask what Fayose meant by the welfare of the people. For his argument to be logical, he must have other means of providing welfare to the people of Ekiti, which is different from Dr. Fayemi’s understanding of welfare.

Fayose was said to hang out with young people. He visited restaurants to eat with the common people. Some even say he went to joints where young people drank ogogoro- the local gin. Based on my understanding of joints, these young people certainly drank on Fayose’s bill. Such gestures are very much appreciated among the young.

Lest we forget, Fayose was reported to have given out a bag of rice plus 2000 Naira to every interested person during campaigns. Dr. Fayemi offered rice too, but it was cooked and restricted to at least a plate not a bag!

It is clear that Fayose is the better candidate, if we go by this understanding of welfarism.

In Dr. Fayemi’s concession speech, he stated that a new sociology of the Ekiti people might have emerged. I agree with him, but I see it beyond being a new phenomenon or particularly specific to Ekiti state.

Weeks before that election, I had argued that my greatest fear is not even the Nigerian politicians but Nigerians themselves! They have a different understanding of good governance. Providing infrastructures and creating a system where citizens create wealth for themselves is very unpopular in Nigeria. They rather expect you to give them fish, but do not teach them how to fish!

However, we should not blame the populace alone. Some Head of States promoted this culture starting from the 1970s. The Ekiti election is a result directly connected to this. The new sociology, upon which the Governor-Elect clearly rode to victory in Ekiti, almost had its way in Oyo State in 2011. Despite the failures of Alao Akala, he narrowly lost the election. It must be emphatically stated that Aloa Akala got votes from human beings! Not ghosts!

I am scared of these crops of Nigerians, who do not care if you raise the standard of education! fix infrastructures and institutionalized equitable wealth sharing!

Upcoming politicians study this prevailing dynamics. Those who want power at all cost would definitely structure the style of governance to suit this expectation of money-sharing on the streets! They might forget absolutely the main purpose of governance.
The Governor-Elect promised to perform. I hope he would be able to combine governance with eating roasted corn with the masses on the street of Ekiti state and riding on motorcycles as a sign of identification with the masses as he did during electoral campaigns!

By the way, we probably need ask why Dr. Fayemi could not hang out with the masses on the street like his opponent did! Was he too proud or he did not have the luxury of time? Anyway, let us wait and see how Fayose’s tenure would advance developments in the state. Until then, I keep my fingers crossed.

On the Death of Aare Arisekola! Shall we mourn! by Oladapo Ajayi

Mr. Oladapo Ajayi is Nigerian and Master student resident in Germany. He is the initiator of the TACTProject, a NGO practically committed to giving poor children a fair chance at education in Nigeria. He is an activist and a grassroot political and community organiser

Mr. Oladapo Ajayi is Nigerian and Master student resident in Germany. He is the initiator of the TACTProject, a NGO practically committed to giving poor children a fair chance at education in Nigeria. He is an activist and a grassroot political and community organiser

Aare Arisekola.
Indeed an elephant has fallen!
An elephant whose head I dare not lift!
Especially as a young man like me.
The head of this fallen elephant is for the elders to lift,
It is the elders who qualify to describe successfully the content of the fallen giant.
Arisekola- The Arogidigba that a child cannot covertly take care of!

Aare Arisekola.
A theme on the lips of musicians
I mean musicians of many generation.
A business mogul, father to his children,
Husband of his wives.
Friend of kings and dignitaries.

Aare Arisekola.
A renowned philanthropist for a class of people.
So if I approach the subject of Aare Arisekola with caution,
Please bear with me.

The elders say- Atari Ajanaku, ki s’eru omode!
But having acknowledged that the elephant’s head is bigger
Than what my bone that feeds on Sushi and Broccoli
On Mc donnalds burger with homemade ice cream can handle;
I will rely on the saying of the elders again-
A site of a fallen elephant becomes a confluence for all sorts of knife!

Read the rest after the cut….

God forbid that I call Aare Arisekola an animal!
God forbid he had the bitter part that contaminated the taste of any good part.
Especially when you hear the tales and testimonies of the late chief
Since he joined his ancestors few days ago.
Some wished him good rest. Some wished he never died!
So many people are telling how sweet their part of the meat was –
He got them job,
He fixed their marriage cost,
He provided resources for their first building, second or third!

The great musician called him *aso d’abora Ibadan*.

Really, the late Ibadan chief was larger than life. As a child I grew up to know that there are some rich Ibadan citizens. From Mufu Lanihun, Olowo- ti n f’owo saanu; to Adedibu and Aare Arisekola. Arisekola stood out among his peers. He cut the image of a serious personality that is only business minded. I only want to see beyond his success as a businessman and a philanthropist, to see him as a potential criminal that contributed immensely to the under-development of our society.

For few that may be confused, I will like to say that I was old enough to know that the late Aare Arisekola was almost lynched at the University of Ibadan in the 90’s due to his closeness to the late Nigerian dictator, General Sanni Abacha. He was not meant to be hated for just being a friend with the late dictator but for his betrayal of a noble cause for a selfish one. The noble cause I mean here was the June 12 mandate stolen from MKO Abiola. Aare Arisekola like Adedibu and other Nigerians sold their conscience for money and betrayed the populace, the consequence we all still live with today.

A friend wrote about the late chief’s scandalous contract with the Nigerian military during the ECOMOG war, he was the supplier of the soldiers protective kit. Rumour has it that Aare supplied inferior materials so as to maximize profit.

At least, part of the recent incidences of Aare as one of Nigeria’s problem was the revelation after the sack of Nigerian bank chiefs by the Emir of Kano HRH Sanusi. Aare Arisekola received billions of naira without collateral!

Culturally I know I am not qualified to write on Aare Arisekola and his legacies. This is clearly seen in proverb like this: Atari Ajanaku ni, won ni ki se eru omode! A child is not in the league of the bearers of an elephant’s head! It is still interesting though that my culture which excludes me on the one hand not to carry the loads of the elder on my head, will also make excuse for me if I came with a pocket knife to cut my chunk of meat, especially when the Elephant has just fallen.

It is never out of place to liken Aare Arisekola to an Elephant. He was an elephant by his height of achievements He was an elephant by the size of life he lived. He was indeed a big elephant if we check his impact on the environment he used while around.

I can only remember as far back as my imagination can reach that you only need to enter the taxi and hear the unique voice of the late Sikiru Ayinde Barrister or any of his contemporaries sing praises of Aare Arisekola. If you are not a Fuji fan, there is no way King sunny Ade’s praises of Aare Arisekola won’t hit your listening faculty, not to talk of Odolaye Aremu to mention a few.

Aare Arisekola was indeed a first-class elite our society produced. I am aware that Aare has been a successful business man since the 60’s. Maybe even earlier than that.

With the many testimonies of the late businessman’s life and time, I am forced to question my opinion of who a philanthropist is. Truth be told, we cannot take away generosity from Aare’s story but can we relate his double-sided life; that side that got bank loans without collateral, and makes his son a beneficiary in the largesse of the oil subsidy the entire Nigeria still battles with.

How do we relate this dubious side to the side that is generous to young and old, friend and foes? Should we pretend not to know that Aare is not only a business man but a godfather that practically approved whoever he wished to be Governor in Oyo state. It is interestingly ironic to remember Aare as a pro-Sanni Abacha presidency.

As a matter of fact, Aare’s last spiriphilan-monument was commissioned before he died. I mean the mosque in Old-Bodija in Ibadan. The parcel of land which now house the mosque was meant to be for recreational activity in the neighbourhood. It was said that the mosque acclaimed to be built by Aare Arisekola in Iwo road was suppose to be be located in Iwo township!

Really, we need to see through the touted and medially publicised philanthropist personality in Aare Arisekola. If Aare Arisekola had chosen to live differently with the enormous political and business power he had, he definitely would not have needed to die in a foreign hospital. In fact, he would not have even needed to give so heavily to the poor because there would have been no poor to give to in the first place!

Brazil 2014: Personal Preliminary Perspectives (BPPP)

Professor Adesanmi rightfully declared the ongoing World Cup in Brazil as the tournament of the underdogs. I would not have made a different preliminary conclusion. Countries that one would not have reckoned with to come thus far were surprisingly instrumental to the early exit of football powerhouses. Mexico held Brazil to a draw! Even Iran nearly held Argentina to a draw and played out more chances than the Argentine side! Wonder shall never end!

Understandably, the Netherlands Experience the Spanish side were treated to might not be un-instrumental to their eventual woeful loss and extremely shabby display in the match against Chile. However, one cannot assuredly say that the Chilean national team had not in the real sense of the word taken-out/dismantled manual-wise Spain. The better side rightfully deserved to win. The Chileans were dominantly present throughout the match. The Spanish national team was beyond overwhelmed. In short, they were overpowered by a clearly better side.

Even the FIFA induced unprecedented additional time of six minutes could not safe the sinking Spaniards. They eventually sank. Thus, it would be only an attempt at seeking a justifiable excuse to graciously and honorably explain the Spanish woeful losses, first to Netherlands, and then to Chile. I need not remind readers that the era of Tikitaka football as we know it was successfully given a boot-out with the Spanish group stage exit.

Moving on to Portugal, one can attempt an explanation of their defeat in the hands of the German machines to a shameful and un-football-like bodily outburst from Pepe, a man who was expected to be a prickle in the skin of the German machines eventually leveled the ground for a historical defeat suffered by his own national side, namely Portugal.

There need be a name for this man’s unwarranted getting physical with the German striker-Müller; I call it Pepe-Curse or Pepeism. The necessity for a christening is not far-fetched. A similar display by the Cameroonian player, namely Song can by mythically explained as the aftertaste or a wash-off of the Pepe-Curse on the Cameroonians. The god of loose-your-head-when-it-matter-most (Pepe-Curse/Pepeism) transferred its bad air all the way from the Portugal to Cameroon! Song fell for the Pepe-Curse. He was a victim of Pepeism.

Up until the Cameroonian loss, the Indomitable Lions were touted to be one of the teams to watch on the list of African participants. They disappointed beyond words could measure! Did I even need remind that two African brothers finally turned on each other! These two rascals wanted to show the world the Orang-Utan-debris in them! Thank goodness a fellow player was smart enough to separate the two fighting cocks. In short, Cameroon exited the tournament like Spain and England.

The English exit was not much of an unexpected loss. Saving a handful of real-good English players to watch-out for in future tournaments, they did not really come to the World Cup with a quality worthy of going beyond the first round. They lost and I did not as much as felt a team deserving of anything lost! In that group, the deserving national teams came through. Pure and simple.

By the way, the English media is awash with news of roles played by certain players in the team; of particular interest is Rooney. A Player whose role in the English national team was thus far seen as untouchable is no more sacred. The English media is gradually tackling issues rather than beating about the bush in unnecessarily hyping a team that had nothing unusual to offer the football world.

Apropos undeserved and uncritical hype of the English national team, the opposite is the case for the Nigerian counterparts. Nigerians would (and never will!) shy away from bashing a national team that disgrace them. Once the signs of a disastrous outing become visible, Nigerians go all out to tell the players what the English media had only reluctantly begun in the past few weeks- tell them they perform woefully when this is the only truth that can be said. And if they do well, we tell them too! No more, no less.

This was the fate of the Nigerian national teams when they drew against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Less we forget too quickly, the Iranian national team was until then considered an underdog team. In fact, many had questioned their participation in the World Cup. They never would come far anyway. Besides, they are just going to be another undeserved distraction and an under-task for well-prepared teams. The Iranians proved critics wrong. They gave their best. As a matter of defending national honour, the players did Iran proud. They tactically and overall won the game against Argentina. If not for the Almighty Messi! One could only wish for a different outcome, but alas, the Almighty Messi played!

Returning to the perceived poor performance of the Nigerian national team in the match against Iran and the national outrage that came with it, retrospectively speaking, the Nigerian team had not done that badly. The perceived underdog Iran indeed deserved the draw. They were a team much stronger than we all had thought. The match against Argentina was an eye-opener.

Talking about undeserved distraction in the World Cup, a good example is the Honduras national team in the match against their French counterparts. The French won deservingly, but with the un-football-like tackle and play-style of the Hondurans, one could only wish they never qualified for the tournament in the first place.

Clearly, the Hondurans were lanky, well-built and strong, but football is not about these physical features alone. They are necessary, no doubt, but not all. Football is science- it is common-sense and result-oriented tactics too! The Hondurans clearly missed their way. They are best useful in traditional brutal American Football. That is exactly where their place is!

The yesterday win of the Nigerian side was a well-deserved win. The Nigerian side that showed up for yesterday’s match against Bosnia and Herzegovina (BH) was a renewed and revitalized side! The true African spirit was resurrected in those Nigerians we saw yesterday on the pitch. They did not disappoint the country.

As it stands now, the Ghanaian and Nigerian national teams are the only hope-bearers for the African continent. Calls from various quarters to reduce the African slot can finally be nibbed in the bud. After all, two out of five is not a poor end result. These two teams justified that the African continent is thus far not poorly represented on the world stage. Really, I personally think the call to cut-down on the African slot is uncalled for and self-derogatory. Coming from Africans made it even a real bitter pill to swallow. It borders on self-crucifixion on the alter of self-hate!

After all, the woeful performance of Spain and the undoubtedly below-par performance of the English national side did not result in a clamour for a cut-down in allocated slot for the Europeans. BH and Croatia lost too. They will go home soon. Greece will likely go home too! These are all European representatives and they obviously represent the European slot very badly, no mincing words!

Thus far, only Germany and Netherlands have done the continent proud. Portugal was terribly beaten and Spain was irredeemably out-ted! I want to assume these callers were merely carried away or understand little of the consequences of self-hate in the politics of world football. Their personal disappointment did not justify their irrational demand.

A quick look at the the French national team will give a glimpse into what the African teams can do if well and better motivated. I still do not understand what the French team trained on and how they trained. This is a team made up largely of French citizens with African-roots- Benzema, Pagbo, Sissoko, Evra among other Africans the team! Referencing Professor Adesanmi, the French should have informed (…) they were coming to play Switzerland with the African Union! This is just the truth. Yet, these French players put up world-class performance and played world-class football. The African national teams have many things to learn from the French team. If they can discover the recipe of French success and motivation, I can bet that the next winner in 2018 is an African national team.

The Ghanaian players displayed yesterday a comparable spirit of a contender who can be taken seriously if they qualify. They forced the German machines to a 2:2 draw! Undoubtedly, the motivation of the Ghanaian players was really at its peak yesterday, even stronger and more prominent than that displayed by the Nigerian players. They equally translated this mountainous inspiration into action. If only the Portuguese would complete their mess, so that USA would qualify top the group, then the second from the group will be left for Germany or Ghana.

Personally, I am torn between two difficult choices. I want Germany to qualify out of the group stages, Ghana is however part of me too. I cannot afford to loose any of both. For now, I can only wait and wish for the best. A possible escape for both Germany and Ghana is when Portugal won the next match and still go ahead to loose woefully against Ghana so that Ghana and Germany can come through in the group. In any case, a Portuguese disastrous follow-up is predictable and desirable. After all, we all could not agree more that this World Cup has thus far favored countries that had hitherto being ruled out even before the competition started- the so-called underdogs. So if Portugal went the way of Spain and England, it would shock only a few.

The day is still young, so that a prediction of a possible winner would be assuming too much than reasonably predictable. I can already tip country like Netherlands. Their strong performance so far with Argen Robben, a machine-like striker, swift as wind, a great footballer, et al is a good pointer to follow. The case of Netherlands is however not a surprise. They were runners-up in South Africa.

The Chilean performance so far is a surprise. The undeniably tactically superior Iranians against Argentina is also a surprise, and a pleasant one at that. The strong come-back of the Nigerians against BH is. Even France is not necessarily a favourite for the trophy going by their shameful exit four year ago in South Africa. Ghana’s display is highly commendable. The Mexicans are on top of their game. The Brazilians are yet to arrive. That much must be said. Lest I forget, Cote d’Ivoire is still very much in the game! Three African hope-bearers! What a good feeling!

Well, so much being said, it can be summed thus: The tournament so far has been an interesting potpourri of (un-)pleasant surprises. One is best advised to stay tuned because there is still more to come. I keep hope alive for the Ghanaian and Nigerian national teams. They are the hope of the African continent at the moment. I wish Ghana all the best and strongly wish that Nigeria defeat Argentina. That will be another achievement worth celebrating on this blog.

The Politics of Rice and Beans by Oladimeji Abiola

Mr Abiola Oladimeji is a scholar resident in Germany and guest-blogs for www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com

Mr Abiola Oladimeji is a scholar resident in Germany and guest-blogs for http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com

I often tried to avoid writing about this, but as it is now, I have to address it. I have observed thus far electoral campaigns in both Osun and Ekiti States with non-chalance until yesterday, when I was tagged in a Facebook picture of two images side by side.

They both have something in common: A young man in Ekiti who appears to be an undergraduate student poses with a customised bag of rice, apparently from Ayo Fayose’s campaign group. Mr. Ayo Fayose is the PDP governorship candidate for Ekiti state.

The other image is that of a sachet-water- a gift from Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola. He is the incumbent and aspiring second-term candidate for the same seat in a different state. He is from the leading opposition party in Nigeria, namely APC.

It is justifiable and debateable to ask if it is bad politic for politicians to dole out gifts during election campaigns. I do not intend to answer this question, at least not for now. By the way, I got a branded pen from a political party in Bayreuth days before elections into the city council.

In the same vein, something happened yesterday. Chief Arisekola, a business mogul from the ancient city of Ibadan, a very influential personality and heavy-weight in the politics of Oyo state, passed away. Accolades and tributes have not ceased to come-in, commending the memory of the deceased. Oyo State Government declared days o mourning in honour of the late philanthropist. Many see him in this good light.

A friend broke the news to me. We discussed this personality in a different light. We talked about Chief Arisekola`s open support for the regime of late tyrant General Sani Abacha, the late dictator whose hobby included flagrant abuse of human rights, corruption and assassination of dissidents. There are even speculations that Chief Arisekola is one of those who supported the arrest of the late Moshood Kashimawo Olawale Abiola (MKO), the winner of the freest and fairest election in the history of Nigeria and eventual incarceration.

We dwelled more on these aspects of Chief Arisekola. It must be said that Chief Arisekola only fed the masses in Ibadan from the crumbs of his own part of the national cake, that is illegal profits from the wealth of the country. This man means different things to different people. Chief Arisekola is at best a politically controversial personality with too many negative benefits for the country. It cannot be denied that he fed fat on the people’s wealth. At least that much is true about this controversial person. At large, he is a no-good for Nigeria and her politics.

Chief Arisekola’s politics is the politics of rice and beans; a politics of no purpose, as is the case in electoral campaigns in the two states mentioned earlier. Generally speaking, this is the sum-total of Nigeria’s politics at its best.

The difference between this patented Nigerian style of politics and the pen-gift I got in Bayreuth is good governance. Politicians like Mr. Fayose are only interested in winning- by crook means or more-crook! They only come out at the next election to share more rice, more beans, and more lies! In contrast, the electoral promises of political parties in Bayreuth are easily noticeable in the society.

Juxtaposing the two brands of politics, it seems doing election campaigns with gifts is part of modern politics. This is but only modern so long the gifts shared are not directly equated to the only dividends of office accruable to the masses!

Ibadan has another example of this brand of shameful politics. The late Lamidi Adedib, popularly called the strong man of Ibadan-politics. Chief Adedibu did not only feed the masses in Ibadan, he terrorised anybody he felt deserved punishment.
Some analysts argued that this man became politically eminent because he was generous. He shared political booties immediately with followers! Chief Adedibu was also very controversial. He was to some a hero, to others the worst political example any country could throw up. Nigeria seem to have them in abundance.

Bertold Brecht was definitely right when he said first comes a full stomach, then comes ethics. We can hardly blame the masses for patronising controversial leaders in the society. They are not always much-concerned about probing the source of the wealth of such leaders. Many ignore too quickly the implication of these soft-bribes from politicians.

There is no shying away from the fact that sharing bags of rice and beans etc cost money. Same goes for other less expensive gifts. Pens or confectionaries are affordable and reasonable gifts. Dolling out gifts during election campaigns is not a bad idea, the problem is rather about what is appropriate.

Supplying foodstuffs as electoral gifts is complicated and requires heavy spending. This is bad for the Nigerian masses and politics at large. Nigerian politicians are such that want to get back *invested-money* once they win election. They never cared anyway. Such gifts only give them another bad-good reason to suck the treasury drier than they would have if they shared no gifts to woe the electorates!

Unfortunately, the Nigerian society is simply extremely materialistic to understand this truth. We celebrate just anybody, be it dictators, terrorists or unscrupulous elements in as much as they dole out gifts and favours in abundance!

That agelong saying warning that man shall not live by bread alone is very instructive and cannot be more relevant than now in and for the Nigerian context. We can only wish and hope Nigerians and their politicians will during elections look beyond their stomach in the interest of the country.

Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): My tight-fisted Uncle!

Mr. Tanimomo is a scholar resident in Germany. He guest-blogs on http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com He is author of the popular bi-weekly: Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM).

Mr. Tanimomo is a scholar resident in Germany. He guest-blogs on http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com He is author of the popular bi-weekly: Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM).

Everybody in our village now says Baba Abeokuta is tight-fisted. They even say his mother only forced his father to accept him as his son. Nobody wanted to be the first to call him what they thought he is, namely a bastard.

They say his real father is from Ilowa, two villages away from our village, Alapako. Personally, I am of a different opinion. I do not think Baba Abeokuta is stingy and I do not think his father is not Baba Agba. Baba Agba is my grandfather.

In fact, the similarities are too obvious, one might think Baba Agba had spurted him right from his own very mouth into this world. Baba Abeokuta has small beautiful cowrie eyes. Just like Baba Agba! He is as just as terrifyingly black as Baba Agba! The black is so black it is blacker than Amala Dudu! What more do I need to establish my opinion!

Toyosi, my cousin swears that Baba Abeokuta looks so much like Baba Agba because Iya Agba and Baba Agba made him at night. He suspected Baba Agba must have drunk dregs of palm-wine. This was responsible for the dominant gene of father in son.

How did Baba Abeokuta, my uncle become a tight-fisted man? Until two years ago, nobody saw him in this light neither was he considered to be a bastard. Baba Abeokuta was at the time just a civil servant in the Ministry of Agriculture. He rose from rank to rank. Fate meant it well with him! Baba Abeokuta came to the village with sweets for the children. He brought rice for our parents.

Two years ago, when I turned ten, he bought me a pair of shoes! The shoes were beautiful. I still love Baba Abeokuta for this beautiful gift.

Then, it happened! The state governor announced his choice of Baba Abeokuta as the commissioner for Agriculture. Boda Kola, my old cousin, who attend Party meetings brought to our hearing the governor chose Baba Abeokuta because of the ethnic quota thing. Besides, another factor that spoke for Baba Abeokuta’s choice was that once he returned bags of seedlings, fertilizers and feeds to the government instead of selling them! Like Mr. Adebanjo, our neighbour that visits home twice a year in different cars had once and once again done!

So, when we heard that Baba Abeokuta was made the Commissioner of Agriculture, we were happy. Actually, we were very very happy! We were happy because we knew things would not remain the same for us in our village. My father said Dejo would buy us a car! Father calls Baba Abeokuta by his real name. Iya Ireti, father’s step-sister said he would re-build her house for her! Baba Ile-loun, that wicked Baba who lives behind our house and calls us Egbere- gnome each time our ball got shot into his terrace, said Baba Abeokuta would dig a borehole for him! Plenty people said plenty things!

With all of the plenty things said, I wondered if our state had that much money for one to give away. Come to think of it, Baba Abeokuta is not even the governor! If Baba Abeokuta had that much money, then the governor had much more!

Our radio mentioned 900 billion. So much money the governor has! My teacher, Mr. Tolurunlase said one is very rich if one has a million and that a billion is far more than a million! In my head I thought: In that case the governor must have plenty money! Plenty enough to buy books in my school library! Plenty enough to change the roofs of my class! Plenty enough to repair the road from Ilowa to Ogunmakin! Plenty enough to do plenty things!

We had a party, a big party! Baba Abeokuta’s appointment as commissioner made us proud! We called musicians. We killed 10 cows or more! At least I counted ten cows. Toyosi counted 13! We danced to the fine music of Ogbeni Jeje, the most popular musician in our state. For me, I am very sure I enjoyed myself!

The matter that a child hardly sees even while he stands on the tip of his toes and stretches his neck to add to his height, an elder will see far beyond this matter without as much as standing up!

For once, this age-old wisdom did not hold. Through the party which lasted the weekend I observed the old people could not see that Baba Abeokuta was unhappy. He asked my father why the family and the village wanted to do a Thanksgiving Service on Sunday! After all, his appointment is to serve the people! What is so special that a Thanksgiving Service was necessary? Was he not going to serve the people?

Father reminded him that as a commissioner, he would get a fatter salary. That was a good reason to thank God. Baba Abeokuta nodded in agreement.

It was Aunty Mayowa, father’s sister that first called Baba Abeokuta a stingy man. He did not give her all the money she demanded to open a restaurant. She wanted 100 thousand Naira. Baba Abeokuta gave 20 thousand Naira. That was all he could afford from his salary.

Then, Baba Ilelohun joined. Then everybody joined them. Only father and mom did not join the bandwagon of stingy-callers. They said he was eating government but he did not spread it to everybody! They said he had bought ten cars but he did not others to buy one! They said he had houses in America and London!

When father asked Baba Ilelohun where he heard about Baba Abeokuta’s many cars and many houses, he only answered that he heard commissioners like Baba Abeokuta always have these things!

Father told Baba Ilelohun Baba Abeokuta had only two cars; he had two houses because the government gave him the second when he became a commissioner.

To cut the long story short, this was how Baba Abeokuta became a tight-fisted man and a bastard, too.

As I write this piece, father says the Ministry of Agriculture has the information of the farmers in the state on one big computer! Father says fish farmers get feeds for their fishes and land farmers get fertilizers and seedlings for their farms! He says the government now buys proceeds from the various farms! Farmers are richer and happier! State money has increased by 20 percent! I actually believed father when he said these few good things happened because Baba Abeokuta is the Commissioner for Agriculture in the state.

Clarion Call: Newer Wind of Change in Nigeria’s Politics Now! by Ides Mildred Aziegbe

Mildred Aziegbe is a Nigerian youth and a very strong advocate for political tolerance, women and minority rights among many other issues. She comments and writes on many issues, particularly Nigerian and the world at large. She can be connected/followed on Facebook and other social media.

Mildred Aziegbe is a Nigerian youth and a very strong advocate for political tolerance, women and minority rights among many other issues. She comments and writes on many issues, particularly Nigerian and the world at large. She can be connected/followed on Facebook and other social media.

I graduated from Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife in 2008 after spending 6 years for a four year course. We, the alumni usually like to call it Great Ife, for that, I reserve my comments because this is not the point of my post. In 2004, after about six months stay at home strike caused by rioting students, I accompanied one of my friends to the Student Union Assembly in the Amphi Theater to witness one of their sessions. The session was so violent that students and leaders were hurling stones, pure water sachet and whatever they could lay their hands on, at one another. The bone of contention was that some leaders had embezzled funds and they had to be impeached. In all my life, I had never seen such an unruly crowd. I was lucky that day that I escaped unhurt and I made up my mind never to attend any of their sessions again. That day, almost all the leaders of the Union were impeached including the President.

The same year was an election year. Amongst the contestants was a very fine and intelligent young chap from Computer science. He was never among the crop of so called Union leaders who were part of the old political parties. He was fresh and not politically inclined like the others we used to know. In short, he was a fine boy. Many “ordinary” students were drawn to him. Students who were not usually part of the electoral process were interested including myself. I wanted him to win. With my usual self, I campaigned hard for him although he never knew my name or knew if I existed. I went to all his rallies and encouraged my friends to vote for him. At last he won. That year was the most peaceful year in my six years in that school. However, the old dogs could not stand him. He did not bend to their will neither did he go the way of the formal leaders. Luckily, he escaped unhurt and graduated in flying colours. This was a turning point in OAU because the political consciousness had been awakened especially among females who were instrumental to his win. For the first time, females came out en mass to vote.

Nevertheless, the old goons struck back. In the next election, they supported a candidate who had been suspended several times and was part of the old dogs. A new chap also came on board. He campaigned and behaved like the outgoing president but this time, he was unable the overcome them. The old dogs fought back and fought dirty. On election day, some girls were stopped from voting in some faculties. Ballot boxes were hijacked and stuffed with fake thumb printed electoral voters. These so called student leaders who always fought the school authorities and claimed to stand for social injustice massively rigged the school elections in favour of their candidate. I was gob-smacked at the hypocrisy of the highest order. How could they? I thought they were clean young chaps in school politics. The future leaders of our generation in Nigeria. They claimed to fight for good education, standard facilities, injustice from the school and government. If they could not tolerate losing political power at that stage of politics and their lives, how could they tolerate opposition when they get to the helm of power in Nigeria, I thought. Then it dawned on me that my generation was as guilty as the past. They don’t behave any different. They are not tolerant neither are they uncompromising. I was disappointed. I made up my mind then and there never to trust anyone fighting against established authorities in any name they choose to call it.

Recently during the 2011 elections, I supported GEJ. I openly campaigned for him. Some of my friends were unhappy. I never expect anyone to support or endorse my views. In short, that is why we are different. We see things in different light. The day all of my friends begin to agree with every and anything I say will be the day I re-evaluate their friendship. However, I got to know some people’s true colours. All in the name of political candidacy, a friend called me all sort of names. One deleted me from BBM. Another deleted me from facebook. I was overwhelmingly shocked. Even friends???? If they cannot tolerate another friend with a different opinion without losing the friendship or resorting to name calling, how can they tolerate opposition if they ever get to power. It means they can kill if they have the opportunity to. Hmmm, this democracy and freedom of speech is not an easy thing.

In 2014, I see the same trend. That I openly support GEJ is not news. What is news is that friends continue to delete me off facebook. One recently did that again. Another one set up a fictitious account to say all sorts about me. Kai, on top Nigerian matter when dem no dey even pay us sef? Na wa!!!!! Now, if we as young people cannot tolerate other views and opinions when we are not wielding power, how can we do that when the authority eventually falls on us. And we claim to be the leaders of tomorrow. In a democracy, opposition is crucial. Without it, the government easily falls into dictatorship. Why then can we not tolerate? Why do we always resort to violence, insults or use of demeaning words when people don’t hold the same views as ours? Is it a Nigerian thing? Someone told me that it is because of the years of military rule. Our senses have been bastardized and what we understand is force, that even a past leader continue to be praised for introducing a program that flogs people publicly in the name of discipline. I as a grown woman, do I need to be flogged or slapped before I do the right thing? Is that form of punishment the only way to correct a people or a nation? Maybe it is true. We have been so tormented that we do not even know how to tolerate again. We have been so dehumanized that we only understand violence and force. When students dissent with authorities or decide to protest, the first thing they do is to burn cars and destroy properties. In OAU, some even went as far as beating the vice chancellor. What is wrong with us? I thought as young people, we will be different but we are worse.

To conclude, 2015 elections are around the corner. I only pray that it does not resort to violence. I pray we learn to tolerate. I do not have to like every body but I can tolerate people and learn to live with them peacefully even if I don’t buy their ideas. Young people in Nigeria should be different but it is unfortunate that we decide to tow this path. We need enlightenment and re-education of our minds. Civilised people have learned to co-exist peacefully because the wilderness is for people of unrefined minds who think that the only way to solve their problems with fellow inhabitants is to exterminate them. I only hope I do not live with such animals in Nigeria or have them as friends.

Attention: This piece is a Facebook update. http://www.ahjotnaija.wordpress.com believes very strongly in the public relevance and interest of the issues addressed therein. The opinion and view expressed are those of the writer.

SLS vs. Society: The Challenges of Ambitions

LamidoBBOG

The reality that Mallam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi (SLS) is the authentic and latest Emir of Kano is gradually settling in on us all. The shocker of a lifetime, which his carrier and political detractors suffered, is hopefully now being halved with passing days. I am fortunate to be one of those who was positively surprised. In fact, I can say I was fulfilled that SLS finally realised his ambition to ascend the throne of his forefathers with his installation as the 16th Fulani Emir of Kano. It is like the mythical triumph of right over wrong, and good over evil. In short, the rented crowd of protesters must by now have dispersed into their various hiding holes waiting to be rented by another troublemaker. Their disgraceful outburst of anger in the name of mass protest against the choice of the Kingmakers must finally find a resting place because they had no justified cause to be angered in the first instance.

A closer consideration of the actions of the protesters and particularly of their paid vanguards sheds light on the ills of a society, in which the reward of a deservingly achieved ambition is seen to be abnormal. There is no other way to put it. It needs no repeating that in the larger society, namely Nigeria, mediocrity is quicker fatly rewarded than meritocracy. This was the case when the ruling party, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) had already congratulated the son of the late Emir of Kano, although the choice of the new Emir was yet to be made public. The political permutation of the PDP would understandably prefer the installation of a mis-choice rather than the person of SLS. Thus, the hurriedly mal-conceived congratulatory message. Although, this was later withdrawn, but the weighty message intended for the populace had been disseminated.

The Nigeria Government would certainly not want to feign ignorance on the protocol for the selection of the Emir of Kano. In any case, if she did/ still does, the Governor of Kano gave a lead on how this is usually done. In what can be said to be a reprimand for ignoramus, who felt/still feels the choice of SLS was wrong, he said the name of SLS was not only among the nominated names, SLS’s name was in fact on top the list of candidates for the Emirship stool. What more is there to haggle over since the people have un-mistakenly spoken through the Kingmakers. Saying that SLS is primus inter-peres would matter-of-fact be an understatement. No other candidate on the list beat his qualification! What on earth would anyone have against the choice of a man who is, putting it humbly, overqualified to be Emir? Well, only in Nigeria would one find angry protesters who are mad because the right choice for the new Emir of Kano was made.

Let’s go a step further in critically considering events in the course of SLS emergence as the latest Emir of Kano. From various Facebook comments and posts, the mood of the people is divided into camps. There are those are pleasantly surprised/pleased on SLS appointment. I belong to this camp. There are those who are mildly/highly disappointed his appointment came about. Among this latter group were anti-SLS elements, who would have preferred to have him jailed for perceived fraudulent activities and corruptible tendencies while he was Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). One can only thank goodness while having a good laugh that the expectation of these curious types were put to shame.

One must however not loose sight of the fact that the expectation of these elements and their subsequent reactions are not un-Nigerian, really. They are offspring of a country whose yardstick of meritocracy is highly blurred, distorted and ultra-corrupt. To be fair, there is sincerely none. Nigeria is a society where largely speaking anything is allowed in its public space and conscience so long it is not done correctly. In fact, one can and in many instances must be punished/made a scapegoat if one decidedly chose to swim against the torrent of the societal norms and values, as was the case in the suspension and eventual replacement of SLS as the Governor of CBN. Only in rare cases can one be punished for actually been on the wrong side of the law in Nigeria, say for instance, for wrongful accumulation of wealth or diversion of public funds for personal use. And it needs be underlined even that this form of punitive step is highly selective and can be a very good political punitive measure- a tool in the hand of a political punisher wield against perceived and real political opponents (enemies).

More on the lack of a meritocratic standards in the country, as in appropriate yardsticks on who deserves what, when, how and why. Nigerians certainly know this situation exists and that it is a threat to common-sense and a development of a humane society, but I am not really unsure that they do give a damn of the resulting jungular consequences. After all, they have lived/still live in the system that daily confirms they are worth far less than an European dog or an American dairy-cow, yet the system is preferably maintained than see it forcibly crumble to give birth to a new and acceptable one. This explains why a Nigerian would get for example a job which s/he deserved after all (in fact in most cases s/he is overqualified for the job by Nigerian standard!), but all the way through to getting the job he would never be sure he would get it or that someone as qualified as her-/himself would get the job. Actually, s/he never believed he could get it in the first place. He had only applied by “faith”! I mean, one can be happy/grateful for getting a job, even if one deserves/ is going to get the said job all the same, but the level of uncertainly that exist in the Nigeria labour market in view of non-existent jobs and a collapsed/collapsing societal structure would beat the imagination of anyone. This is a country that works only for politician, political bigwigs, their educated and uneducated thugs and dubious paid agents.

Understanding the wind of protest, bad talks on many social media and whines of a disappointed many over the appointment of SLS to his new office as Emir goes further to confirm the long-imbibed implicit culture of mediocrity and the conscious promotion of a life-by-jungular-standards. Undoubtedly, the protesting young and old adults alike are the obvious consequence(s) of what is/must be expected in a country like Nigeria. In a saner atmosphere, no one would ever have wanted a different person to occupy the stool of the Emir other than SLS. He has not only fulfilled the most important selection criterion, namely being a Prince of Kano, he is simply the best one can ever wish for in the moment!

Still on same issue, I spoke with a friend who was just as appalled as I was over comments emanating from certain quarters that SLS was simply too ambitious. In fact, one PhD student even accused him of pride. She was of the opinion that he was not humble enough in that his had never for once hidden his desire to become Emir! I gave in to my holy-anger so much I almost got a heart attack! Since when did it become a crime to be ambitious? Ambition in any form, so far it does no harm, first, to public/general interest, and secondly, to personal goals/choices/interests of others, is legitimate. In short, there can be nothing illegal, too much or over-exaggerated in the pursuit of a positive ambition. SLS’s ambition to be Emir is praiseworthy and good. This is a man who knew what he wanted and went for it; all his life. He is a role-model. In fact, one should and must promote this positive culture of self-confident citizenry and ambitious populace in Nigeria. A people that is not frightened to dream positively and pursue it with all might available to them, legally, personally and possibly humanely! The society must as a matter of duty ensure this is also possible. Nigeria is far away from being a society worthy of this qualification in view of how she manages her affair. This is unfortunate but true.

In the light of the emulation-worthy character of SLS and the sharp contrast the Nigerian state represents when placed against the former, one cannot but talk about the Nigerian President, who is, putting it fairly, a stark opposite of what SLS embodies. Really, the Nigerian President is at this point in time a very good example of an unfortunate offshoot of the Nigerian state. However, one must be very careful not to end up ostracising too quickly this extremely very unfortunate example. It must be said that President Jonathan is only unlucky to be a prominent figure, and being the President of the country, a vanguard-figure in the pack of millions of self-confident-/ambition-challenged citizens. Mildly put, these citizens can be said to be ambitious, but not fired-up enough to realize them. They have given in to this implicit culture of disgraceful humility/mediocrity because they wanted to be society and norm-conform. They do not want to be seen to be too ambitious.

It will be very helpful to pursue further the case of President Jonathan and his eventual ascension to power at national level. His campaign narrative is a very good example of how depraved our value culture has become. Nobody would feign ignorance that the country believed at large that President Jonathan had to be a God-ordained candidate for him to have been so lucky all his life. He was never ambitious or too ambitious to be anything, yet all these things fell upon him per chance, certainly by divine chance! Particularly when he was about to reach the peak of his political career, i.e. becoming the President of Nigeria, there could be no further confirmation/explanation of his extremely lucky personality other than a divine one. He campaigned on the theme of luck and sentiments, he cashed in on the elusive dreams of many Nigerians waiting to be favoured by fate/luck/undeserved chance (just name it!) and he won! His near big victory in the last presidential election is s stark confirmation of a country whose value system is jsut a little short of a disaster! Of course, it needs no repeating that many religious leaders, particularly the prominent ones, gave their consent/blessing to this unfortunate narrative. One would not have expected a different message from them though. They have always catched in on the people’s gullibility!

That being said, worthy of mention is another possible consequence for ambitious and upright citizens in a country represented in the picture above, namely Nigeria. Such people find themselves standing before an impossible task achieving whatever they set their heart to do. They confront a hinderance in what is a society’s criminalization of ambition! In fact, if not well equipped, a country like Nigeria would not shy away from openly devouring these people. The country and her valueless norms see such people as threat to laid-down order/rule-of-the-game. In a sane society, this is wrong. Only the opposite is justified and the case in an insane atmosphere. Nigeria is not totally insane, but definitely cannot be referenced as a sane one altogether.

The political machination of the past days which eventually culminated in the choice of SLS as the latest Emir of Kano cannot be left unmentioned. Fortunately, it played out to his favour. A different outcome is imaginable, and that would the case if the son of the late Emir had emerged Emir. There were rumours the leading opposition party, namely the All Progressive Congress (APC) swayed in heavily, so that the political pressure did not allow a different outcome. This is not incredible/implausible going by the premature/ill-advised congratulatory message from the ruling party’s camp to the wrong candidate. A quick allusion to how the choice of the PDP vice-presidential candidate emerged less than twelve years ago might refresh our memory of the workings of politics in the Nigeria contest. One must always be ready for the unexpected; even the vice-presidential candidate at the time never imagined he could be chosen! He was the incumbent’s joker and shocker for the stronger, most-touted and nearly-larger-than-life choices Nigerians had expected! In this matter too, i.e. in the choice of the new Emir of Kano on the demise of the the old, the choice of the PDP was glaringly different from that of the APC. It might be indeed correct that the Kingmakers had the name of SLS on top of the list, but leaving it at that alone, those of us who were pleasantly surprised with the choice of SLS might have been given the shocker of a lifetime in the emergence of a different, and undoubtedly far less worthy/qualified choice. One can only thank goodness for a choice well-made despite the politicking. It had not always worked out to favour the right/qualified candidates.

On a final note, there has been speculation on the implications/consequences of an SLS Emirship on the forthcoming presidential election in 2015. This cannot be ignored in view of the despicable role played by the presidency in SLS recent persecution as CBN Governor into his emergence as king of the city with the highest number of votes in the country. Moreover, it is an open secret that the occupant of that stool prides himself as being heir to a tradition which far outdates the presidency of Nigeria, thus more relevant and important than the latter. One is best advised to keep fingers crossed while this interesting epic-like development nears an equally interesting end. The end is really still far from near!

The 2014 Caine Prize: Stories in the age of social media

Pa Ikhide

As the world knows, the 2014 Caine Prize shortlist is out. The shortlisted stories are: Phosphorescence by Diane Awerbuck of South Africa; Chicken by Efemia Chela of Ghana/Zambia; The Intervention by Tendai Huchu of Zimbabwe; The Gorilla’s Apprentice by Billy Kahora of Kenya; and My Father’s Head by Okwiri Oduor of Kenya. No Nigerian made the shortlist. Which begs the question, is it an authentic Caine Prize if no Nigerian is on the shortlist? The answer is, YES. Nigerians, get over yourselves, abeg. There is a short biography of each of the five writers here. Reading the stories wasn’t a waste of my time, but compared to the fun I am having on social media, it was a collective near-yawn. I was not overly impressed by any of the stories, well that is not entirely correct, a couple of the stories held my interest quite a bit.

What are the stories about?…

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