ajagunna

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

Month: July, 2014

World-Situation-Report Personal Perspectives (WoPP): Peace in a War-Plagued World

As of today there is conflict in virtually every region of the present-known world. This is disturbing for an astute observer of world politics. One would however not begin to wail. The reason is not far-fetched. It has nothing to do with being sadistic or possessed by any particular evil. To begin with, how many of these conflicts shall be bewailed? This is a very pertinent question to answer. Long before one sad occurrence is fully bewailed, hits another sadder and more terrible one. So many are these human-induced conflicts of catastrophic qualification, that one is absolutely at a loss as to how to correctly bewail them. Even if this could be helpful to conflict resolution or soothing those hurt in the conflicts, then pops the next question; no more on the appropriateness of bewailing, rather on how loud would one cry to have rightly *cried-out* a conflict.

Actually, a Yoruba proverb comes in very handy in this instance to help out of this obvious vicious circle. When a particular occurrence occurs, that which is so bad that crying is simply inappropriate, the only alternative is to laugh. Now, it should not be misinterpreted as though the laughing individual is glowing at the misfortune of the conflict-ridden countries/regions of the world and their people. On the contrary. The proverb underlines the complexity and radicalness of the situation. Radical, stubborn and apparently would-not-just-find-an-end occurrences in and around the world could and must be helpfully approached if possible in strange but unique ways. We live in strange times.

Talking about strange times, there is no clearer indicator of the strangeness of present times than this: everybody wants to be and believes (s)he is right. If it stopped at that, it certainly would have been strange all the same, but probably less-strange. The trouble is, those who believe they are right (namely everybody) believe every other person (or at least those) who do not share their opinion/are of a different opinion is wrong. This stance justifies therefore the approach of every dissent with zero tolerance. The problem is, since everyone believes (s)he is right and every other person is most certainly wrong, it becomes practically impossible to find who is right and wrong! Pray Goodness save us from attending disaster(s) of an irrational stance taken too far.

The world as we know it has come a long way. She survived two big wars in recent history, not to talk of other countless conflicts and wars, which are only remembered in museums, books and archives around the world. The world has always survived and would survive again if there must be yet another catastrophic conflict or war. It is only humans who live therein that need entertain fear if they might survive (in) the world. It is not all bleak though.

From ongoing crisis/conflicts/wars around the world, current world politicians show commendable determination and commitment to avoid irrational decisions of the past. Considering the fact that the Great War, later rechristened First World War, was directly triggered by the assassination of Crown-Prince Ferdinand would lend credence to how positively better the world has fared in tolerance and deep-thinking before striking/taking world-changing decisions. This is further evident in the latest plane-crash, shot down by the Ukrainian opposition, ably assisted by the Russians, or at least by a Russian-made machines. More on that later.

Many take less time to ruminate on this singular truth: The world cannot and shall never speak as one on all issues. I would give up my shirt if this claim about our world is wrong anytime soon. Positive disagreement at various fronts and on various issues should in fact be encouraged. Plurality of opinions and world-views can only better the world. It must not be forgotten that one can dissent without becoming forceful or violent. It would be strange to have been less disagreeable in a world populated with over 5 billion people!

This does not mean that the world should be left without rules or that everyone should be allowed to do as it pleases. That would throw the world into anarchy. This had certainly been envisaged in the establishment of the United Nations (UN), the world body responsible for world peace and regulation of inter-country dealings with each other to guarantee that for example no one country is too powerful to deem it fit to invade the other. This goal is yet to be fully realised as there are apparently double standards in its application. In fact, some would even talk of standards more than double! The unbiased achievement of the objectives of the UN is the paramount duty of all.

On to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Speaking as though no one is listening, many would immediately loose interest the moment this seemingly eternal conflict is mentioned. The battle for the soul of the Holy-Land is clearly far from being over! As far as I can remember, the conflict has always existed, I doubt it if it would be over in this lifetime. Having said that, the ongoing war must be condemned; it is shameful and should have never happened. It is a fact, it takes two or more parties to quarrel. It is irrelevant for now which party started/triggered the fight. In fact, a mission to point fingers in this current Israeli/Palestinian conflict is as good as chasing the wind in an attempt to resolving the war. More children and women would suffer, men would die and the conflict would still not end! Both parties involved are best advised to end this war and return to dialogue at once. The world has seen enough bloodshed. We know the demand of the sides and the I-am-not-the-aggressor-tactics of both camps! Both sides see themselves on the receiving end! We are by now so used to them that we need no more be told that Hamas is a terrorist group and that Hamas consider Israel a country that is best removed from the face of the earth! Put simply, the world wants to keep as much of her citizens alive as possible. She wants to see no more children and women, and men too, used as human shields from enemy fire! She does not want both parties crying wolf on international media while still biting as hard as anybody can imagine!

Truth is, the Israeli/Palestinian agelong conflict is a political conflict. It requires a political solution. Glaring is the obvious truth as well that the political will is lacking to resolve this endermic monstrous conflict. Possibly accepting that Israel as a country has the right to exist and that she is here to stay would help move the search for a solution forward. Meanwhile, it must be stated in clear terms that the Palestinians deserve a country to call home, a place where they can live in peace. This is very basic to moving the dialogue positively forward. Accepting this truth has never been a problem actually, the difficulty is only in the practical implementation when both parties seem bent to have it their way or no-way at all! May the God of the Middle-East whom the larger world population serve, deliver us from this vicious circle in that part of the world.

On the ongoing war in Ukraine, I once submitted that there can be immediate peace, once the bigger parties involved achieve an understanding that they shall keep their noses out of their neighbor’s backyard. This submission still holds. Peace in Ukraine is relative, really. An Ukraine with a strong course to the West is to Russia not peaceful. That way, Russia’s backyard is on fire. In light of this understanding, a destabilized Ukraine is not necessarily un-peaceful to Russia. In fact, that is the height of peace in that part of the world as far of Russia is concerned. Look at it this way: Imagine China militarily present and wooing the (poorer) North and Central American states; those countries right in US-America’s backyard! Trust the USA would not sleep with their backyard on fire! USA and the West are best advised to thread this murky path with caution.

A portrayal of Mr. Putin as the singular evil wrong with our current world is an attempt at chasing nothing. It is never the right political tactics. Of course, I understand those who seem to believe, and that strongly so, that once Mr. Putin is out of the picture, then Russia would belong to the West again, as if she had ever been. The earlier we finally realize Russia has a different world view/agenda and thus approaching the matter with the highest form of diplomatic negotiations imaginable, the better for our world. By the way, in recent times the international media is awash with the use of that dreaded word, namely MAD, i.e. Mutually Assured Destruction. Ukraine crisis must not be allowed to degenerate to MAD level. It must be nibbed in the bud. The excesses of both conflicting sides and those of their paymasters must be curbed.

Apropos nibbing a crisis in the bud, Boko Haram, the dangerous anti-human sect in Nigeria has finally gone full-haywire! By now, those who see Boko Haram as a religious sect must have realised this is not the case. This beyond-barbaric evil-group bombed over 90 Nigerians this week alone. The possibility of another strike in the coming weeks is surer than the latest bombings. Boko Haram kills indiscriminately. Boko Haram does not kill conventionally, it has moved beyond bombing alone! It slaughters people in open-day light! It slighters throats open! it clubs Nigerians to death! Most troubled is the Northern part of the country. However, all other parts suffer the inconvenience.

The latest Kaduna bombing did not kill only Nigerians of Northern origin! Kaduna is known for its metropolitan status. Those killed in that bombings are Nigerians! Lest I forget to mention, Retired General Muhammadi Buhari was almost assassinated in the bombing that led to the death of over 90 Nigerians. Underlining the assassination-attempt on the Former Head-of-State is not to say that his life is worth more than those who died, but pointing out the political implication of a Buhari-death for Nigeria, both locally and internationally. In fact with this, it is clear that anybody could be Boko Haram’s target. The dangerous sect has no particular target. That makes it more dangerous. It targets all and sundry. May we never walk on a day when the devil-in-person decided to visit an open market.

It cannot be over-said that Boko Haram is not a Nigerian problem, it is a problem for the world. The earlier the world attend to this menace practically, the better. For those who prophesied that Nigeria will disintegrate in 2015, their vision might not be far from becoming reality. I would not doubt the ability of this in-human sect to hijack an American-airline or -bound plane. That way, the road is finally leveled for the final butchering and pounding of the Nigerian state. I hope it never come that far.

Speculations are rife that Boko Haram is made-up of more components than the ordinary eyes can see. Apparently, the terror sect has (inter-)national links through which finance is channeled to fund its activities. Even a blind person knows that sophisticated bombs are not manufactured in Nigeria! Even the guns in used are definitely not made in Nigeria! To top it, the money spent by this menacing monster is not even fully-Nigerian. Directly, Northern Nigeria is on fire, but indirectly we are all in this boat, so should it sink, we sink together as a country! A word is enough for the wise.

Talking about the mourning countries, top on the list being Holland with over 100 casualties in the plane-crash. The falling of yet another Malaysian Airline Flight is another tragedy too bitter to swallow. Of course, it would have been just as bitter for any carrier to deal with, but a double tragedy within a space of 4 months is an occurrence anybody would never want. It is sad enough that the victims of the first crash are yet to be found and might probably never be found! Then came the next Job’s news from Ukraine. Word would fail anyone to comfort the world for these tragedies.

Comforting the victims families and loud call for sanctions against Russia and the Ukrainian separatists seem to be the logical reaction. Here comes a proverbial question: How does one comfort enough a (wo-)man whose mother was killed and eventually eaten-up completely by a lion?! This is another Yoruba proverb which brings home the inadequacy of any form of comfort that might be offered in these difficult and trying times for the world. One can only hope that time would heal the wounds. In a time like this, our emotion must not be allowed to control our (re-)actions. So far so good, politicians and diplomats alike have shown restraint in compounding already complex problems. While the war in Ukraine continues, the Russians and other involved seem to be cooperative thus far in the inquiry and investigation into what actually went wrong with the downed civilian plane. This is a step in the right direction; another step in comforting the bereaved. We await the outcome.

On a final note, rounding-up on a positive note can be very comforting for readers and the world at large. As I posited already, it is not all bad news. The present time is not the worst-troubled since human existence. In fact, the present world inhabitants have it far better than their predecessors. Our constant quest for peace confirms this truth. Even amidst raging conflicts and wars on all fronts, the calls for peace could not have been more deafening than now. Calls and rallies for an end to the Gaza War are being held in many places around the world. Even Russia want peace in Ukraine, even if under its own terms and conditions. The Americans and their allies in the West want peace too. Israel and even Hamas talk of peace, so far their conditions are met, partly or fully. Recently, the leader of the movement for the actualization of an Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was caught on video with an expensive wristwatch from the Western world to adorn his outfit! Various internet and news platform had a good laugh. Looking at it from another viewpoint, that part of his attire is an indication that he might not be an impossible task to win over to the side of peace after all.

While accepting that the current state of the world is real disturbing, I believe that the constant hope/possibility for (quicker) resolutions on many fronts where these conflicts are being carried-out is one unique achievement of present times. That way, it confirms the present civilization/world is convinced that there cannot be a better alternative to a peaceful co-existence with and among each other. That is the better angels of our nature!

Spoken-Word Artists and Academics In Germany Demand: BringBackOurGirls!

BirngBackOurGirls

BirngBackOurGirls

0352 0353 0354 0356 0363 0365 RonAmber

It is obvious that the last is yet to be heard of our lost girls in Nigeria. Apparently, the Federal Government believes the shout and demand to bring back our stolen girls would die-out somehow, but how wrong the Federal Goverment is! The world will not keep quiet until our girls are brought back. The recent Malala visit to Nigeria on the issue of the girls testifies to this determination of world citizens to rescue our girls.

Here is the latest: Recently at the BIGSAS festival of African and African-diasporic literature/photograph Mbuguah Goro, held in Germany, poets, spoken word artists and academics lent their voices to the Bring Back our Girls’ campaign. Some of the  artists and poets that supported the campaign were the American spoken word artist, RonAmber Deloney, German poet, Temye Tesfu, Kenyan writer, Tony Mochama and some lecturers and students at the University of Bayreuth. Photography

Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): SABAT-Lagos plus 2015 General Election: Bad Market…Good Market?!

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).

Except for speaking on the recent removal of the cross-carpeted Ex-Governor of Adamawa state, Senator Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu (SABAT) has for a while been quiet in political circles. Some have said his quiescence is a ram-nesque way of retreating to fight better, others have argued that the former governor is counting his loss after the Ekiti election. Personally, I wish he would not emerge from his withdrawal and political hibernation. I do not like the political carriage and mafia-like characteristics of the man, and it is even annoying when he assumes his Messianic Toga and the deliverer of the Nigerian people pose.

Truth be said, SABAT has never been a model of administrative excellence. For example, when I was admitted into into Lagos State Model College, I was very proud to be. Understandably, things had been falling apart in the education sector. However, things fell further apart as soon as SABAT became Governor. Several industrial actions followed. Model College was in for an even freer fall, from the bad grass to a worse grass. Well, this would be a story for another day. A possible good-news might have been that SABAT repaired the Baale Animashaun-road in my area. Alas, it did not take long, in fact only weeks, before the newly constructed road was potholed.

Really no one cares any longer, our emotive parts of our brains work better that our logical. That is why it is easy to whip-up tribal and religious sentiments. Anyway, SABAT-days as Governor have been erased by his successful switch to godfatherism and though his days in the Government House were only hurtful to habitants of Lagos state, his foray as a godfather may hurt the whole country and coming generation. So much must be said.

In 2011, SABAT, it was believed, was responsible for the sweeping victory of the Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) in the South-West general elections. (Un-)fortunately, accusations soon followed, his wife replaced Mamora, his son-in-law was elected into Ekiti state Assembly, other instances of political nepotism were cited.

Yes, we heard about the big cases of nepotism and others which flourished under SABAT-watch with attending consequences for the coffers of the state. Lets take the state House of Assembly representative from my area as example: The gentleman did nothing than to sponsor a few tens of youths on a Computer Appreciation Programme (CAP). Can someone please tell this politicians this is the second decade of the 21st century?!

During the last elections, we heard that powers from above importuned voters to re-elect our representative to forestall the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) from having a seat in the State House, lest they use their leprous legs to fall the cheese! Two years later, the astute politician who had done nothing for the area knew the importance of being in the good books of the bespectacled Lord and Godfather. So when the mother of SABAT, the Iyaloja of Lagos died, he took the pain of mounting a humongous sign-post at Oregun junction to mourn the dead! He did remember to indicate that the mourner is *Your-son-in-law*.

Other untold and unpopular stories abound of how the influential Bourdillion is in running the affairs of the defunct ACN. Some also claimed that the US-trained accountant was instrumental to the victory of President Goodluck Jonathan in the last elections. That na lie, by the way! The President rode on the gullibility of Nigerians to the highest office in the land. Nigerians willingly voted for him and if it had anything to do with the bespectacled godfather, it was only within the caucus of his political pawns he plays with.

The 2015 elections are fast approaching and SABAT body language has been that of a person bent on having his way in the scheme of things. Some have also suggested that he seems to be interested in either becoming the president or the vice-president. If this is the case, then it would be fatal for the All Progressive Congress (APC) and Nigerian democracy at large.

Handlers and lovers of SABAT argue that it is time SABAT ate of his hardwork; one of which is stamping PDP out of Lagos in 2003 and in many part of South-West in 2011. Factly speaking, SABAT did what an average political hustler would have done, he only did his with extra passion and fervor. Truth is, SABAT, is best at this singular thing, namely politicking and godfatherism. It makes perfect sense and pitches the APC as a serious political contender ready to cause changes in the political landscape. He is best advised to keep this larger-than-any-political-office-status.

Talking about the incumbent Governor of Lagos state, Babatunde Raji Fasola (BRF). APC is best-advised to field him in the forthcoming national election, for obvious reasons. The lawyer (SAN) Governor has exhibited some phantom traits of tyranny as Governor, notwithstanding this deficit, he is a potential success-candidate nationally. SABAT and his handlers need take this into consideration. BRF abstinency in the Lekki toll issue and constant clashes with the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) come to mind. However, the Governor cuts across as a well-meaning and serious minded politician. A friend once passionately argued that BRF does not *eat* money like other good-for-nothing politicians. Such is BRF appeal/acceptability, especially amongst the educated and thinking-fellows.

BRF became my favourite governor when some months into his tenure he was interviewed on a television show and he disclosed that he recorded all his plans for Lagos state on an electronic device! That already shows seriousness, commitment and focus in a country where even the President has no plan at all, where any elected official only waits to get into office to share-the-loot!

Is BRF so popular in the North, I do not think so, especially now that the North cries for the presidency to return to the region. We need remember though that notwithstanding these cries back in 2011, President Jonathan still managed some wins in the North. It is a pointer to the fact that a Southern candidate can still *corner* some winnings in the North if the campaign is rightly done.

Also, the cult-like following that General Buhari enjoys in the North should be exploited. The once-dreaded no-nonsense Head-of-State who now seems to too-willing to right some of his wrong-deeds of the past will be a good magnet in the BRF team for North.

By the way, I think BRF is presently being over-hyped in the media. This can be further exploited to his benefit. The truth of Lagos State Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) being the singular well-equipped hospital in Lagos is too obvious but the media would gladly look away, because BRF has done at least something. BRF is not perfect, but sincerely the singular worthy candidate with the magic wind for the APC, really. He is at this crucial moment the easiest-to-sell-known-good-face with few-but-concrete-evident successes to-go-along. Really, BRF seems to be the man for the APC come 2015.

The Miraculous Deliverance Of Oga Jona By Chimamanda Adichie

As soon as he opened his eyes, he felt it. A strange peace, a calm clarity. He stretched.  Even his limbs were stronger and surer. He looked at his phone. Thirty-seven new text messages – and all while he was asleep. With one click, he deleted them. The empty screen buoyed him. Then he got up to bathe, determined to fold the day into the exact shape that he wanted.

Chimamanda Adichie

Chimamanda Adichie

Those Levick people had to go. No more foreign PR firms. They should have made that article in the American newspaper sound like him, they should have known better. They had to go. And he would not pay their balance; they had not fulfilled the purpose of the contract after all.

He pressed the intercom. Man Friday came in, face set in a placidly praise-singing smile.

“Good morning, Your Excellency!”

“Good morning,” Oga Jona said. “I had a revelation from God.”

Man Friday stared at him with bulging eyes.

“I said I had a revelation from God,” he repeated. “Find me new Public Relations people. Here in Nigeria. Is this country not full of mass communication departments and graduates?”

“Yes, Your Excellency.” Man Friday’s eyes narrowed; he was already thinking of whom he would bring, of how he would benefit.

 “I want a shortlist on my table on Wednesday,” Oga Jona said. “I don’t want any of the usual suspects. I want fresh blood. Like that student who asked that frank question during the economic summit.”

“Your Excellency… the procurement rules…we need somebody who is licensed by the agency licensed by the agency that licenses PR consultants…”

Oga Jona snorted. Man Friday used civil service restrictions as a weapon to fight off competition. Anybody who might push him out of his privileged position was suddenly not licensed, not approved, not registered. “I don’t want you to bring your own candidates, do you hear me? I said I want fresh blood, I’m not joking.”

“Yes, Your Excellency,” Man Friday said, voice now high-pitched with alarmed confusion.

“Put that DVD for me before you go,” Oga Jona said.

He watched the recording on the widescreen television, unhappy with his appearance in the footage. His trousers seemed too big and why had nobody adjusted his hat? Next to The Girl from Pakistan, he looked timid, scrunched into his seat. She was inspiring, that young girl, and he wished her well. But he saw now how bad this made him appear: he had ignored all the Nigerians asking him to go to Chibok, and now The Girl From Pakistan was telling the world that he promised her he would go. He promised me, she said. As if the abducted Nigerian girls did not truly matter until this girl said they did. As if what mattered to him was a photo-op with this girl made famous by surviving a gunshot wound. It made him look small. It made him look unpresidential. It made him look like a leader without a rudder.  Why had they advised him to do this? He pressed a button on his desk and waited.

Violence was unfamiliar to Oga Jona. Yet when Man Monday came in, his belly rounded and his shirt a size too tight as usual, Oga Jona fought the urge to hit and punch and slap. Instead, he settled for less: he threw a teacup at Man Monday.

“Why have you people been advising me not to go to Chibok? Why have you people been telling me that my enemies will exploit it?”

“Sah?” Man Monday had dodged the teacup and now stood flustered.

“I am going to Chibok tomorrow. I should have gone a long time ago. Now it will look as if I am going only because a foreigner, a small girl at that, told me to go. But I will still go. Nigerians have to see that this thing is troubling me too.”

“But Sah, you know…”

“Don’t ‘Sah you know’ me!” This was how his people always started. “Sah, you know…” Then they would bring up conspiracies, plots, enemies, evil spirits. No wonder giant snakes were always chasing him in his dreams: he had listened to too much of their nonsense. He remembered a quote from a teacher in his secondary school:  ‘The best answer to give your enemies is continued excellence.’ What he needed, he saw now, was an adviser like that teacher.

“Sah, the security situation…”

“Have you not seen Obama appear in Afghanistan or Iraq in the middle of the night to greet American troops? Is Chibok more dangerous than the war the Americans are always fighting up and down? Arrange it immediately. Keep it quiet. I want to meet the parents of the girls. Make gifts and provisions available to the families, as a small token of goodwill from the federal government.” He knew how much people liked such things. A tin of vegetable oil would soften some bitter hearts.

“Sah…”

“From Borno we go to Yobe. I want to meet the families of the boys who were killed. I want to visit the school. Fifty-nine boys! They shot those innocent boys and burnt them to ashes! Chai! There is evil in the world o!”

“Yes Sah.”

“These people are evil. That man Yusuf was evil. The policemen who killed him, we have to arrest them and parade them before the press. Make sure the world knows we are handling the case. But it is even more important that we tell the true story about Yusuf himself. Yes, the police should not have killed him. But does that mean his followers should now start shedding blood all over this country? Is there any Nigerian who does not have a bad story about the police? Was it not last year that my own cousin was nearly killed in police detention? Let us tell people why the Army caught him in the first place. He was evil. Remember that pastor in Maiduguri that he beheaded. Find that pastor’s wife. Let her tell her story. Let the world hear it. Show pictures of the pastor. Why have we not been telling the full story? Why didn’t we fight back when The Man From Borno was running around abroad, blaming me for everything when he too failed in his own responsibilities?” Oga Jona was getting angrier as he spoke, angry with his people, angry with himself. How could he have remained, for so long, in that darkness, that demon possession of ineptitude?

“Yes Sah!”

 “You can go.”

He picked up the iphone and spoke slowly. “I want to expand that Terror Victims Support Committee. Add one woman. Add two people personally affected by terrorism. How can you have a committee on terrorism victims with no diversity?”

On the other end of the phone, the voice was stilled by surprise. “Yes Sah!” Finally emerged, in a croak.

He put down the phone. There would be no more committees. At least until he was re-elected. And no more unending consultations. He picked up the Galaxy, scrolled through the list of contacts. He called two Big Men in the Armed Forces, the ones stealing most of the money meant for the soldiers.

“I want your resignation by Friday,” He said simply.

Their shock blistered down the phone.

“But Your Excellency…”

“Or you want me to announce that I am sacking you? At least resignation will save you embarrassment.”

If those left knew he was now serious as commander-in-chief, serious about punishing misdeed and demanding performance, they would sit up. He ate some roasted groundnuts before making the next call. To another Big Man in the Armed Forces. They had to stop arresting Northerners just like that. He remembered his former gateman in Port Harcourt. Mohammed, pleasant Mohammed with his buck teeth and his radio pressed to his ear. Mohammed would not even have the liver to support any terrorist.  He told the Big Man in the Armed Forces, “You need to carry people along. Win hearts and minds. Make Nigerians feel that you are fighting for them, not against them… And when you talk to the press and say that Nigerians should do their part to fight terrorism, stop sounding as if you are accusing them. After all, let us tell the truth, what can an ordinary person do? Nothing! Even those people who check cars, if they open a boot and see a big bomb, what will they do? Will they try to subdue an armed suicide bomber? Will they pour water on the bomb to defuse it? Will they not turn and run as fast as their legs can carry them? Let’s start a mass education campaign. Get proposals on how best to do it without scaring people. When we tell Nigerians to report suspicious behavior, let’s give them examples. Suspicious behavior does not mean anybody wearing a jellabiya. After all, was the one in Lagos not done by a woman?” He paused.

“Yes, Your Excellency!”

“As for the girls, we have to go back to negotiation. Move in immediately.”

“Yes, Your Excellency.”

“I should not have listened to what they told me in that Paris summit. Why did I even agree to follow them and go to Paris, all of us looking like colonised goats?”

From the other end, came a complete and lip-sealed silence. The Big Man in the Armed Forces dared not make a sound, lest it be mistaken as agreement on the word ‘goat.’ Besides, he had been part of the entourage for that trip and had collected even more than the normal fat juicy estacode.

“I don’t want to hear about any other mutiny,” Oga Jona continued. “You will get the funds. But I want real results! Improve the conditions of your boys. I want to see results!”

The Big Man in the Armed Forces started saying something about the Americans.

Oga Jona cut him short. “Shut up! If somebody shits inside your father’s house, is it a foreigner that will come and clean the house for you? Is Sambisa on Google Maps? How much local intelligence have you gathered? Before you ask for help, you first do your best!”

“Yes Your Excellency.”

“And why is it that nobody interviewed the girls who escaped?”

There was a pause.

“By tomorrow night I want a report on the local intelligence gathered so far!”

“Yes, Your Excellency.”

Oga Jona turned on the television and briefly watched a local channel. Who even designed those ugly studio backgrounds? There was a knock on the door. It had to be Man Thursday. Nobody else could come in anyhow.

“Good afternoon, My President,” Man Thursday said.

Short and stocky, Man Thursday was the soother who always came cradling bottles of liquid peace.

This time, Oga Jona pushed away the bottle. “Not now!’

“My President, I hope you’re feeling fine.”

“I received a revelation from God. From now on, I will stop giving interviews to foreign journalists while ignoring our own journalists.”

“But My President, you know how useless our journalists are…”

“Will Obama give an interview to AIT and ignore CBS?”

“No, Your Excellency.”

“I know some of our journalists support Bourdillon, but we also have others on our side. I will beat them at their game! I want to do interviews with two journalists that support us and one journalist that supports Bourdillon. Find one that will be easy to intimidate.”

“But…”

“I want names in the next hour.”

“Yes, Your Excellency.” Man Thursday now stood still, lips parted in the slack expression of a person no longer sure what day it was.

 “Tell the Supporters Club to change their television advertisements. They should stop mentioning ‘those who are against me.’ I will no longer give power to my enemies. They should mention only the things that I am doing. I like that one with the almajiri boy. It shows Nigerians that I have helped with education in the North. They should make more advertisements like that.”

In response, Man Thursday could only nod vigorously but mutely.

Later, after eating vegetable soup with periwinkle and a plate of sliced fruits – he was determined to keep himself from looking like Man Monday – he asked Sharp Woman to meet him in the residence. Not in the main living room, but in the smaller relaxing white parlor. Sharp Woman was the only one he fully trusted. He had sometimes allowed himself to sideline her, when he had felt blown this way and that way by the small-minded pettiness of other people. She was the only one who had not allowed him to dwell too much on his own victimhood. Once, she had told him quietly, “You have real enemies. There are people in this country who do not think you should be president simply because of where you come from. Did they not say they would make the country ungovernable for you? But not everything is the fault of your enemies. If we keep on blaming the enemies then we are making them powerful. The Bourdillon people are disorganized. They don’t have a real platform. Their platform is just anti-you. They don’t even have a credible person they can field, the only major candidate they have is the one they will not select. So stop mentioning them. Face your work.”

He should have listened then, despite the many choruses that drowned her voice.

It was she who, a few days later, and after the four rubbish candidates stage-managed by Man Friday, brought the new PR people, Kikelola Obi, Bola Usman and Chinwe Adeniyi – when he first saw their names, he thought: and some crazy people are saying we should divide Nigeria. They were in their early thirties, with rough faces and no make up; they looked too serious, as if they attended Deeper Life church and disapproved of laughter. They started their presentation, all three taking turns to speak. They stood straight and fearless. Their directness and confidence unnerved him.

“Sir, we voted for you the first time. We felt that you would do well if you had the mandate of the people instead of just an inherited throne. We liked you because you had no shoes. We really liked you. We had hope in you. You seemed humble and different. But with all due respect sir, we will not vote for you again unless something changes.”

He nearly jumped up from his seat. Small girls of nowadays! They had no respect! As if to make it worse, one of them added that if the election were held today, the only person she could vote for was The Man From Lagos. Oga Jona bristled. That annoying man. Even if a mosquito bit him in his state, he would find a way to blame the president for it. Still, Oga Jona could see why these foolish small girls were saying they would vote for him. The man had tried in Lagos. But their mentioning The Man From Lagos was now a challenge. He would rise to the challenge.

“Sir, the good news is that Nigerians forgive easily and Nigerians forget even more easily. You have to change strategy. Be more visible. Stop politicizing everything. Stop blaming your enemies for everything. You have to be, and seem to be, a strong, uniting leader. Make sure to keep repeating that this is not a Muslim vs. Christian thing.”

Oga Jona cut in, pleased to be able to challenge these over-sabi girls. “You think Nigerians don’t know that it is mostly Christian areas that they are targeting in Borno? And what about all those church bombings?”

The three shook their heads, uniformly, like robots. They were sipping water; they had declined everything else.

“With all due respect sir, if you look at the names of bombing victims, they are Muslims and Christians. If God forbid another terror attack occurs, you have to come out yourself and talk to Nigerians. Stop releasing wooden statements saying you condemn the attacks. We will prep you before each public appearance. You have a tendency to ramble. That’s the most important thing to watch out for. Be alert when you answer each question. Keep your answers short. You don’t have to elaborate if there is nothing to elaborate. Stick to the point. If they ask you something negative, be willing to admit past mistakes but always give the answer a positive spin. Something like ‘yes, I could have handled it better and I regret that but I am now doing better, and am determined to do even more because Nigerians want and deserve results.’ You have to start reaching out beyond your comfort zone. Nigeria has talent. Look for the best Nigerians on any subject at hand, wherever they may be, and persuade them to come and contribute on their area of expertise. Especially the ones who have no interest in government work. Even one or two who don’t completely agree with you. Think of Lincoln’s Team of Rivals.”

“What?”

“Don’t worry, sir. The important thing is to reach out beyond your circle. Oga Segi was not a calm person like you. He even used to threaten to flog people. But he had a good network. Jimmy Carter is his friend. If he needed expertise from a university in Zaria or Edinburgh or Boston, he would pick up his phone and know somebody who knew or somebody who knew somebody who knew. But with all due respect, sir, you don’t have that. Bayelsa is a small place.”

These girls really had no respect o! He glared at Sharp Woman, who shrugged and muttered, “You said you wanted people who would tell you the truth.”

But he listened.

In his first interview, the words rolled off his tongue. Those girls had made him repeat himself so many times. “I want to apologize to the Nigerian people for some actions of my government. We could have done better. No country fighting terrorism can let everything be open. But we owe our country men and women honest, clear assurance that we are taking decisive action, with enough details to be convincing. I ask for your prayers and support. I have directed the security services to set up a website that will give Nigerians accurate and up-to-date information about our war against terrorism. I have also hired specialists to manage the flow and presentation of the information.”

And the words came easily when he shook hands with the parents in Chibok, simple polite people who clutched his hand with both of theirs. He should have done this much earlier; it was so touching. “Sorry,” he said, over and over again. “Sorry. Please keep strong. We will rescue them.”

The words were more reluctant when he wore a red shirt and asked to be taken to the gathering of The People in Red at the park. But he cleared his throat and urged himself to speak, particularly because, as he emerged from within his circle of security men, the People in Red all stopped and stared. Silence reigned.

“I came to salute you,” Oga Jona started. “We are on the same side. My government has made mistakes. We are learning from them and correcting them. Please work with us. Together, we will defeat this evil.”

They were still silent and still staring; they were disarmed. He thanked them and, before they could marshal their old distrust, he turned and left. That night, as he sank to his knees in prayer, he heard the muted singing of angels.

Chimamanda Adichie is an award winning writer and author of bestsellers including Purple Hibiscus, Half of a Yellow Sun, The Thing Around Your Neck and Americanah.

Source: Saharareporters

Brazil 2014: Personal Perspectives (BPP): Historical Semi-Final Match!

There is no beating about the bush, Germany deserved the hard-fought victory over Brazil. To say the blanket truth, this defeated Brazilian team had not been very impressive since the beginning of this tournament. I knew long before the encounter that Germany would take her opponent asunder. The German team confirmed it with the world-class performance. One thing can be said at the end of this first semi-final match, and that is, football is calculated tactic, football is best-played emotion-free, football has a winning-recipe, football is science!

The truth is, with the first goal the Brazilian conceded, the defense of the loosing side broke-down altogether. Many commentators talked of the first-goal-shock. Apparently, the Brazilians had expected themselves to shoot the first goal! What a joke if this was truly their mindset! Normally, a world-class footballing country like Brazil should not be quickly overtaken by surprise with a first goal against them. In fact, such a goal would have spurned a similar country to a counter-goal and a possible eventual victory. Brazil lost already with the first conceded goal. So much must be said.

As the host-country, the players had alot to bear, so much expectations to realize. Clearly, the boys were not in the best of hands to help them work-out this psychological state/condition. The team would probably have best been set-aside, like quarantined from contact with the emotion-laden Brazilian fans. Of course, every country, most especially the host-country, would want to carry the golden trophy home! The team had probably looked too much farther beyond the German semi-final so that they probably had thought it was going to be a walk-over. A walk-over it was indeed, but against them. It favored the better-side.

Actually, one can say that the mythical god of football was on the German side today, although I would rather submit that this wonderful figure practically died with the unbelievable exit of Spain among other giant footballing countries during this tournament. The German-win tonight is best attributed to the excellent German players and an over-confident Brazilian team.

Moreover, the Germans showed a far superior excellence in tactics. Brazil undoubtedly started and finished the match on the wrong foot; there was no single display of anything worth calling classy football tactic that one would have expected from a team like Brazil.

And that brings me to another very important point. Football is a team game. It is not an individual affair. No doubt, a match can be won by an individual, take for example by the Almighty Messi, but we must not be too quick to forget that such an individualistic rescue operation is often in indirect work-out with other players. The team must have worked so hard, so that the stronger side just had to win.

The tactical failure of Scolari, the Brazil coach became prominent with the Neymar injury. A team built around a particular individual need pray that the Neymar in the team be not injured! To be fair on the winners, Neymar would have been rendered useless even if he was not injured. So, the Neymar-curse can be forgotten in this encounter with Germany. Germany would have won all the same. The Germans knew when and how to convert their chances.

We need also be reminded that these are also world-class players with world-class football skills. A Khedira is anyday a player to fear. His control of balls and accurate passes among other tactical work-outs are such that any opposing team would fear. Özil is in a class of his own! He is world-class. Shall we talk of Lahm and Schweinsteinger or the Ever-goal-and-ball-conscious-Müller! Miroslav Klose broke a world-record by setting up another with his historical goal on Brazilian soil! Even a bencher in the person a Adre Schürle scored in this encounter! At a point, the Brazilian supporters cheered the German side!

In short, Germany won this game because she deserves to win! No more, no less!

With this performance in a semi-final, one can already call the final game on Sunday for Germany. There are times football can be unpredictable, but so far the current world-cup showed that the better side had always won, irrespective of dissenting opinions anyone held.

The Netherlands cannot be overlooked however. I can bet my shirt that Argentina would be beaten to a third-place so that an all European final shall be what to be seen on Sunday, just like it was four years ago in South Africa. The reason is very obvious. Arge Robben of the Oranje Boys has been so far restless and a strong pillar in the royal team. He does not play alone. He has so far played and blended well into the team spirit. An Argentina almost forced to a draw by the Islamic Republic of Iran could as well be said to have survived so far on luck. Luck can unfortunately not bring one beyond certain situation in football. Argentina will meet her waterloo in the Netherlands. Like Brazil, the Almighty Messi is always the joker of the Argentines. He shall not be enough to safe his national side. Netherlands would be sure to give them a very good surprise!

Being a Germany fan, I would call the final for Germany. A Germany versus Netherlands final would be a confrontation of two giant teams with superior tactility and footballing-logic. In a situation like this, one would simply wait for the game to be played! I can only wish the German boys a Brazilian-like experience with their opponents.

See you on Sunday virtually in Maracana stadium!

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