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Tag: crisis

MidWeekSpecial by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed: In Quest for True Change

Isiaq 'Deji Hammed. An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed.
An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. He is a giant social media cum political commentator on matters of the Middle East and Africa, of particular interest is Nigeria. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. ahjotnaija is proud to have him guestblog for us.

Just when you think it is time to take a deep breath and hibernate, albeit temporarily, from political debates and engagements, the Nigerian breed of politicians have their ways of reminding you that your plantains and yams can just not be safe in their hands. Tie those hands. Muzzle the snouts. For where? Theirs is a special specie of rapacious goat, never satiated. Always inclined to pillage and amass tons of yams and plantains which they never need; and never will. They are poised to go to any length in the pursuit of inordinate ambitions, surpassing all imaginable benchmarks of corruption.

There is fire on the mountain. The change project we invested so much in, indeed unquantifiable resources…all for the love of the fatherland…must not be gutted! For months. For more than a year. Increasing in intensity as the historic 2015 general elections drew near. Finally, vindication came. Rightly, the Nigerian hoi polloi saw in the Buhari’s victory the triumph of the enslaved majority over the enslaving minority. The advent of Buhari considered as one of theirs was for them the breaking of a new dawn, of liberation and of life more abundant.

Perhaps still basking in the euphoria and ecstasy of hard-won victory, little did they know that in the journey to freedom, the rain that fell has caused the pigeons and fowls to intermingle. The drama oozing out, for some times now, from the two hallowed chambers and which later culminated in this free-for-all show of shame lay to bare this stark reality. The need to separate the wheat from the chaff becomes an urgent imperative.

There is no mincing words. Having Dr Bukola Saraki as Senate President in this era is a monumental disaster. Senator Ali Ndume as Senate Majority Leader is another national mishap. These folks have heavy moral and ethical burdens which in saner climes require quarantining from public positions until names are cleared. Among other lawbreakers who will make laws, perform oversight functions, approve federal budgets and Presidential appointments aside other critical national duties for the rest of us are Stella Oduah, Buruji Kashamu, David Mark etc. Too much a burden for a people so desirous of change.

One begins to wonder if the President will have enough breathing space in this kind of scenario. Too often than not the masses get carried away with presidential and gubernatorial polls that they forget about the parliamentary leg of the tripod upon which rest the affairs of governance of the state. In short, Buharism has caused strange bedfellows to share a cage. Reason things began to fall apart and everything is no longer at ease. The consequences of that mob-instinct non-discriminatory block-votes are as legion and as catastrophic. The anything-but-this-party mentality born out of the twin brothers of blind love/detest for a person/group explains partly the appalling situation the Osun State economy has plunged into.

In the 2011 general elections, the people of Osun, like most electorates in the recent elections, voted for anyone with the portrait of Ogbeni Aregbesola on his or her campaign poster (and recently for anyone with APC logo). The end result being an Assembly of yes-yes men who (fore-)see not, criticise not, scrutinise not, pre-empt not… thus the ambitious Governor became carried away with the worries of where Osun ought to be, the state began to bite more than it could chew. Among these yes-yes men was no single voice of wisdom to caution the overzealous Ogbeni; particularly on the need to create rooms for days like these! There were hardly debates on the necessity of saving up for rainy days. The consequence stares us in the face: Today Osun cannot meet its statutory financial obligations to its teeming worker. For months. The state economy remains grounded. Such is the price of mob-instinct, blind followership and polity devoid of  constructive opposition.

Back to NASS. With the emergence of these crops of lawbreakers, who are poised to hijack this victory from us, is a clear reminder to the change agents that the battle is not won yet. We have realised our electoral faux pas already. Once bitten,  twice shy.  Saraki and his accomplices must understand that it is no longer business as usual. It will be in their best interest to fall in line, become truly born-again and swim with the tide of change. Buhari’s call for an alliance between the grandparents and the children against their prodigal parents resonated very well amongst the youth demographic. It may need re-echoing here:

In recent times Nigerian leaders appear to have misread our mission. Our founding fathers, Mr Herbert Macauley, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe, Chief Obafemi Awolowo, Alhaji Ahmadu Bello, the Sardauna of Sokoto, Alhaji Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Malam Aminu Kano, Chief J.S. Tarka, Mr Eyo Ita, Chief Denis Osadeby, Chief Ladoke Akintola and their colleagues worked to establish certain standards of governance. They might have differed in their methods or tactics or details, but they were united in establishing a viable and progressive country. Some of their successors behaved like spoilt children breaking everything and bringing disorder to the house. (President Buhari’s Inaugural Speech, May 2015)

These children of anger have vowed to support anybody that embodies that hope for a changed nation where they will have access to the basic necessities for a decent living and where their future will be secured. They expressed that vow through their protest votes that humiliated the men of yesterdays out of power. And they will not rest on their oars but resist any person or group of persons that try to thwart their dreams. That resistance is palpable in their eternal vigilance and clamour for open NASS, paycuts, reduced numbers of political appointees and other waste in governance.

One step at a time. Ordinarily, it should not be hard to whip the likes of Saraki back to line. Since they have cases to answer with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). The presidential declaration “I belong to everybody and I belong to nobody” definitely excludes those that do not want to belong. Those will be the reactionary and conservative forces who excluded themselves from the fatherly open arms of Mr President and his extended hands of fellowship. The President should not hesitate in wielding the proverbial big stick against the recalcitrant who may want to rubbish his good name and frustrate the actualisation of the social contracts he entered into with the Nigerian masses.

The critical role of continued pressure and monitoring of elected representatives by the masses immediately the elections are over cannot be overemphasised. Eternal vigilance is indeed the price of freedom. The processes of impeachment and recall are not just mere clauses of embellishment in our constitution. They are potent weapons of checks and balances of the led on the excesses and arrogance of power-intoxicated leaders. They should therefore be guarded jealously and used when necessary. Needless to tolerate politicians’ rascality for another 4 years waiting for the routine election rituals. A single day in the life of a nation is too important to be wasted, not to talk of years.

Nigerian youth demographic will do well to infiltrate the ranks and files of the two main parties, namely APC and PDP, and redirect the course of things to their advantage. Since they bear the brunt of corrupt governance the most. If democracy is a game of numbers, then they have the numerical advantage in their kitty. They should decide and and not be decided for. Only youth-oriented and  ideologically-inclined parties can provide the needed third force to swing the balance in favour of the masses, especially when the politicopreneurs and gerontocrats are lost in self-serving power tussles and stalemates.

EuroSpot: It’s (not) the Greeks again!

It’s (not) the Greeks again!

Lets end before we start: Greece is bankrupt! So crystal clear is this truth even a blind man sees the broke-country is finished. Think of the Nigerian Pidgin proverb: Dem no dey tell blind man say rain dey fall! It is raining thunderstorm in Greece!

A backjump. September 2006. Newspaper served. On a KLM cityshopper from Amsterdam. The title on the front-page: Greece Fiscal Misery! Same old topic; a bizarre submission that Greece had lied to the European Union Common Currency Zone (Eurozone) to gain entrance. In short, she was a cheat, the report concluded.

Greece Prime Minister Tsipras

Greece Prime Minister Tsipras

There are reasons for admitting this proverbial broke-vulture into the Eurozone. The least believable is to blame a Greek-manipulated fiscal report. Long before Greece admission, politicians in Europe were acquainted with the truth that Greece is as corrupt as any country in Sub-Sahara Africa, for example Nigeria. The political nepotism and economic irresponsibility of Greece far outweighed anybody’s imagination. So, a claim of being a cheat could not be tenable to have neglected doing the needed if Greece must be admitted into the Eurozone.

At the other end is one of the strongest aims of Greece admission, which is, the ‘Big Fishes’ of the Eurozone were out to make a ‘permanent’ financial-quickie of a country double-killed by her own potpourri of corruptible tendencies. Admission into the common currency market only catapulted a comatose country into her own abyss.

Therapies to bring back Greece to fiscal sanity long before 2008 economic meltdown had not worked; attempts by finance-czars to halt her continual fall after 2008, if it worked at all, amounted to near-killer suffocate-dosage. Greece became to Europe an economic nuisance.

The blame is not solely on the doorstep of the bigger Eurozone countries. Greece had her problems before admission. I need not remind that longthroat is a perfect character of leaders running a corrupt state. These leaders forget most times there is a singular winner in a quickie-affair; except parties involved are clear about their intention from the word-go. Anything aside this is pretense. Greece and her leaders were never smart to have hidden her financial woes because her yansh was never covered. With this action, I could only think of Greece as an ostrich hiding her head in the sand.

Trust politicians, they are always spot-on with all sorts of rhetoric to whip-in maximum gain for themselves. The ensuing fiasco as to (non-)implementation of the austerity plans is a good chance. Think of recent gain by various right-wing parties in the last European parliament election and the picture is complete; Greece’s problem was a good selling point. A comparison of Greece prime minister and his finance minister to a second-hand car dealer from whom no one would want to buy a car is the least of jabs shot at Greece in recent times. When a bigger suffering befalls a man, smaller and hitherto below-status insults will begin to show face. Such is Greece misfortune at the moment.

Prime Minister Tsipras and his Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis

Prime Minister Tsipras and his Finance Minister Mr. Varoufakis

Hurling insults at Greece will not make the problem leave us, we must discuss issues in ways that construct solutions. To begin with, Eurozone’s insistence on pulling through the hard austerity measures for which successive governments in Greece had been voted out by angry Greeks is an indicator of a failed policy. Latest protest in Athens against Tsipras Leftist-led government is an indication of what shall happen should Greece be pressed further. Reason given thus far that other countries have gone through same and returned cleaner is nothing but a hoax. European politicians know.

Reality check is a confirmation of contrary claims that financial sanity cum structural stability has returned to Italy. Spain’s (youth) unemployment rate is a clearer pointer to a looming problem waiting to explode. The Irish idyll is what it is at the moment: a sham. That Ireland and Portugal were able to payback billions as scheduled does not prove austerity measures are working. Sarah Warenknecht, German Leftist Leader in the Bundestag, said the obvious in a recent debate: The giant/stronger p(l)ayers in the Eurozone have thus far only been paying their own bills. They send money to broke-countries only to disburse/return them in installments as agreed in the austerity plans. The much needed structural reforms are not achievable (and cannot be) within a short period. The imminent collapse of the house of cards only need time to materialize. And we are confronted with the next crisis.

By the way, one cannot cease to wonder if Europe’s strongest woman-politician Germany’s Angela Merkel is this bereaved of ideas to rescue this house from collapsing. Only if in self-denial, the current austerity measures as put together will help only to postpone the next crisis to a later date. Speculation is that she wants to sit out her current/last term as German chancellor managing an European crisis she helped create with far-from-reality policies and disillusioned politics.

Talking about collapsing house of cards, a related Yoruba proverbs sheds light on the next issue. Ile ta ba fi ito ko, eri ni o wo! A house built with saliva is bound to be demolished with the first dew. That the Eurozone has only moved from one financial turbulence to the next confirms a foundation-fault. Think of the Leftist position upon the introduction of the common currency, which is that many countries outside Germany and countries with comparable strong economies and stable structures were not ready to introduce the Euro. Weaker countries may be allowed at a later date but not without having put in place crisis-proven structures and good economies.

Europe failed to listen. Many European countries, particularly the volatile members would not have listened anyway. They were bent on catching-in cheap monies. The immediate benefit of reaping now to sow later was too alluring to be ignored. Either way, Germany will always benefit from the arrangement, she too was interested in the immediate economic gains. This way, the countries with the Euro plunged themselves into spiraling crisis.

Were there intelligent political managers at the helm of affairs in countries like Greece, they would not have agreed to an all-importing economy; beyond farm produce Greece hardly exports anything tangible to/outside Europe. Same goes for Spain and Portugal. They are of course holiday paradise, a booming branch so long people come to their shores. Not to forget, Germany, Holland, France etc are also strongly represented in this branch, so the earnings are not going to the South alone. Add to that was the crazy unsustainable house market-price boom. The crash of the utopia could not have been louder anywhere than in Spain. House worth millions depreciated beyond redemption. Truth is, an economy built on market speculation and abracadabra economic theories cannot survive tomorrow. Germany’s Economy Minister summed-up the woes of these countries when he emphasized in a speech only an economy based on trade, handwork and industry is that which last the test of time, not one established on finance speculation and non-existent money/gains a la hedge-fund trickery etc!

Not only must Greece be enabled to start a new country by canceling a larger portion of her debt. If she must remain in the Eurozone without being caught in the next crisis, she must put structures in place, no doubt, but not under the scrutiny of current austerity measures. Here is the reason: Like Germany would never survive a day with a Greek-led economic package, same way can Greece never survive a Germany/Brussels-led economic package. Think of Germany’s ways and you inch a step closer to understanding the logic. Greece is not Germany, and Germany is not Greece. For instance, Germany’s Wirtschaftswunder was made possible not only for the Marshall Plan but because of Germany’s cultural understanding of the work concept. Greece will rise again within the Eurozone, if allowed to stay, but at Greece’s own pace and as acceptable within the purview of her cultural understanding of the same concept. Forcing them to work on a diet of rationed “dictatorship” from Brussels will not work; it will at best lead to successive Greek government being “toppled” at the polls even before her election!

On a final note, some are of the opinion the much talked-about wrong-footed take-off of the Euro is an issue we ought to be done with. I disagree. The mistake was made because political optimism was prioritized against commonsense economic choices. The current crisis is an opportunity for the Eurozone to correct these foundational faults. The fingers on the wall at the moment, particularly in Greece, point unfortunately to hurry-hurry politics that helped made the crisis possible in the first place. How else does one explain the initial no-renegotiation-stance by the Eurozone upon Tsipras’ election as Greek’s prime minister as if there was a singular correct perspective to resolving Greece fiscal problem. Think of Germany’s chancellor unwarranted meddling in Greek’s internal affairs shortly before election with soft threat that voting a party other than one which follows through on the austerity plans might spell doom for the tiny country. Few weeks after, the Bundestag voted with a resounding majority to temporarily extend Greece credit; an indication for other European countries to follow suit. Desperate moves would have been unnecessary were the package humane/good enough for any country to begin with.

Greece exit is in nobody’s interest. Of course, the Eurozone will survive with(out) Greece, but a stronger Greece in the Eurozone will benefit both Greece and the Eurozone. Like the adage goes, when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. At the moment, we must not forget the worst sufferer of the crisis is the common (wo-)man in Greece. They must be relieved.

MidWeekSpecial: Cote d’Ivoire Parallelisms in Nigeria’s Presidential Election by Isiaq ‘Deji Hammed

Isiaq Hammed An elephant does not pass by and you describe his presence with a wave of hand. Isiaq Hammed came to us READY-MADE! He is a giant contributor.

Isiaq Hammed is Nigerian and political activist. He shares his time between Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. He is a passionate believer in Nigeria and discusses Africa, particularly Nigeria and Cote d’Ivoire. He writes extensively on many international issues affecting the continent and the Middle East. He guestblogs on AhjotNaija.

Saturday, February 7, 2015 can definitely not be said to be a day like any other. It was indeed a historic day for Professor Attahiru Jega with several brainstorming sessions and negotiation with the various political actors and stakeholders in the electoral process. The INEC Chairman finally surfaced on that fateful night to the full glare of the waiting  gentlemen of the press. Millions of Nigerians and perhaps friends of Nigeria, home and abroad, were equally glued to their television sets. Those who were not lucky with the electricity distribution companies resorted to their generating sets. Others who could not access live streaming settled for the instant briefing on the social media platforms (Facebook, twitter etc.) The issue of the rumoured postponement, true or untrue, must be laid to rest. As Nigerians wait to hear directly from the horse’s mouth, the tension was palpable… Prof. Jega, using the security report from the service chiefs as a force majeure, finally officially extended the Presidential election by six weeks, during which the Nigerian military and the Federal Government vowed to crush the Boko Haram sect once and for all.

On hearing of the new March 28 and April 11 election dates, many were disappointed. For some, nothing much to worry about. As long as the May 29 handing over date remains sacrosanct. Yet some were of the opinion that the new development will allow more Nigerians who are yet to collect their permanent voters’ card (PVC) to do so.

Personally as Nigerian, I did not know what word(s) I could use to describe my feeling: betrayal, embarrassment, anger, disappointment, scepticism… It was definitely not that of relief or indifference. Indeed the stakes were and are still high. And I have a stake in the (un)becoming of my nation. Every Nigerian should in fact have. Like many others I settled for calm and vigilance. I ruminated on any similar event in history that I could remember. With historical retrospection, one can peep and permit oneself an introspection in to the future. As Providence would have it, exactly twenty four hours after, the next capital of call for the African Nations’ trophy will be Abidjan, just two years after it was in the Nigerian federal capital, Abuja. Cote d’Ivoire, a country still recovering from the vestige of a deep politico-military crisis that threatened its very existence, narrowly defeated the Black Stars of Ghana in a keenly contested penalty shoot-out at the AFCON final. A lot of political pundits will agree that Nkrumah’s Ghana has become a model of democracy in governance, albeit in a politically unstable West African sub-region, having succeeded to have civilian to civilian intra- and interparty transitions. From the likes of John Kuffour to Late John Attah Mills and then to the current President John Dramani Mahama.

As the euphoria of seeing the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire becoming the new African champions waned, the perplexing and tensed Nigerian situation reared its head again in the mind. The new itinerary of the AFCON trophy seems to pass a warning signal. Will Nigeria go the Ghanaian or Ivorian way in the days and weeks to come? Eternal vigilance is the watchword! Let me digress a little. Cote d’Ivoire used to have two political gladiators too, especially before, during and after the 2010 presidential elections. We will draw some interesting yet shocking parallels in subsequent lines. It is an axiom that those who forget history are condemned to repeat it.

Alassane Ouattara, like Muhammadu Buhari, was born in 1942 to Ivorian parents of northern extraction. After completing his primary and secondary education, he proceeded to Philadelphia in the United States where he bagged his Bachelor degree, Masters and Ph.D. in Economics. Ouattara later rose to become the Director of Africa at the International Monetary Fund before he was then nominated by President Felix Houphouet-Boigny as the Prime Minister and Head of Government in 1990. He held this position until Houphouet-Boigny’s demise in December  7, 1993… Let us also do a quick panorama on Laurent Gbagbo before going back to the crux of our analysis.

Laurent Gbagbo was born in 1945 in Gagnoa, a city in the southern part of Cote d’Ivoire. He obtained a degree in History at the University of Abidjan in 1969 and proceeded  in 1979 to complete his Ph.D from Paris Diderot University, France. He lectured at the University of Abidjan for many years before finally joining politics and forming his opposition party Front  Populaire Ivoirien (Ivorian Popular Front) in the 80s. He contested and lost to Houphouet-Boigny in the 1990 election. Gbagbo later actualized his Presidential dream in 2000 in an election which saw Ouattara disqualified on the ground of not being an Ivorian descent and hence his nationality certificate was cancelled. A legal decision that can be said to be the genesis of the country’s decade-long crisis.

Laurent Gbagbo whose tenure was supposed to end by 2005 had the general elections postponed several times. He disbanded or caused to disband several electoral commissions. Mr. Youssouf Bakayoko, ‘the Ivorian Jega’, who finally organised the 2010 election was also threatened and frustrated. And when the elections finally took place and Bakayoko was set to announce Ouattara winner, Gbagbo rejected the result and refused to concede defeat. The International community (ECOWAS, AU, UN, US,  France etc.) all accepted and aligned with Ouattara as the rightful winner. In fact, Mr Soro Guillaume, the  Prime Minister under Gbagbo accepted the ballot’s verdict. Gbagbo kicked. He manipulated and managed to secure a contrary verdict from the court. Hell was let loose. The Ivorian national TV and radio stations became instruments of propaganda. Independent International news media like Rfi, TV5 were stopped from transmitting. Pro-Ouattara news media were muzzled. And that was how far Gbagbo went in his desperation to keep power at all cost. Several thousand Ivoirians and foreigners paid with their dear lives in the ensuing post-election violence which ended only after Gbagbo’s capture on April 11, 2011. And he is presently cooling his feet at the ICC in the Hague… The rest is now history.

The similarity in the opposition parties’ strategies is equally worthy of mention here. Just like Muhammadu Buhari’s Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) merged with other opposition parties to form the All Progressive Congress (APC), Alassane Ouattara also formed a coalition alliance, Rassemblement des Houphouetistes pour la Democratie et la Paix (RHDP) in order to have a common front against the incumbent and his party. This indeed proved effective as it really made the election a keen contest and not an easy walk-over that the power of incumbency always breeds. And that in fact brightened the opposition’s chances at the polls. Alassane Ouattara finally ascended to power in 2011 since his expression of interest for the Ivorian highest office as far back as 1995.

Watching current happenings in Nigeria with the various legal cases seeking to disqualify Muhammadu Buhari from contesting the 2015 Presidential election on the ground of his school certificate (remember Ouattara’s birth certificate saga), the recent postponement of the elections, rumoured plans to have the electoral umpire removed and replaced or even the outright scuttling of the Nigerian democratic processes via the search for an extension of the incumbent’s stay in power, institution of an Interim National Government or instigating a coup d’état etc. all make one to wonder if indeed we learn anything from history.

As we seem to be at the crossroads now, and yet as our nation seems to hold her breath, we can’t help but ask if  Nigeria will go the Ghanaian or Ivorian way in the days and weeks to come. And that is the sixty-four-thousand-dollar question to which the Nigerian political class must give an answer, most especially the two major political gladiators: President Goodluck Jonathan and Rtd General Muhammadu Buhari. The actions and inactions of the duo  together with those of their individual foot soldiers and sympathizers will indeed determine in what direction our national pendulum will swing. Verily, the thin line separating the two nations scenarios will be determined by how far the two Nigerian heavyweights choose to go. Alas, only our proverbial thin line separates the Hague from the West African coast. Both Charles Taylor and Laurent Gbagbo know better though, as they are both living testimonies whereas we the poor masses are living witnesses.

Our fingers are more than crossed!!!

Tanimomo’s Piece of Mind (TPoM): The Homes in His Head

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).

There are four homes in Uncle Tunde’s head. Home when Maradonna was the Military Head of State (HoS) and president at the same time. It was this home that Mr. Ajibade visited weekly because Daddy had promised to lend him some money. The government had devalued the Naira and Mr. Ajibade was unable to import the 3 printers he wanted from Germany.

His financial ruination happened in the space of three days. On Monday, he had the whole sum for three industrial printers! 50,000 Naira! On Wednesday, the money for three could only buy one! Consequently, he wasn’t able to execute the printing contract he got from a multinational!

Thereupon, the bank threatened to take his house. Mr. Ajibade died one Saturday morning. This Job’s message came to us while we breakfasted. High Blood Pressure (HBP) snatched his life! He was a man in his prime!

Uncle Tunde smiles when he remembers that home because beside the many downs of that home, they had it good a number of times. Before school, they ate good food and Milo was in granules. They could afford tin-milk. Water ran in many houses. They had light so much that they only noticed when it was taken. It was from that house and home they built and moved to our present house where I was born in 1996.

Many neighbours also moved to their houses. Life was a mélange of good and bad, a cocktail of having and not-having, but they enjoyed the excitement of riding in parks, the fun of waiting for Christmas and how they drove to school in Daddy’s car. Sometimes, they used the school bus and so did his friends.

He said: Back then, we were not rich but we were not poor. No wonder we hated so much the man that made our lives miserable and less pleasurable.

There is a second home in Uncle Tunde’s head, home when General Sani was HoS. It was in this home that everybody forgot what it meant to have a right! In fact, they forgot how to talk! They must learn to register displeasure in whispers! Political activism was noticeable only in buying Tempo or Tell Magazine or other newspapers. In them, the cruelty and idiocy of the bad government was exposed.

Visitors shrank drastically. Family members and friends had checked out. Uncle Seyi escaped to London; Uncle Kayode made it to Saudi Arabia; our neighbor, Aunty Gladys travelled to Italy. One man went as far as Azerbaijan!

In the second home in Uncle Tunde’s head, they groaned under the heavy oppression of a Monster but they could still afford something close to dignifying lifestyle, only that they lost their voices. Gani Fawehinmi, Tunde Bakare, Femi Falana, Chris Ubani and many others spoke louder and stronger like everybody had donated their voices to them.

There is a third home in his head; home when OBJ was president. It was in this home I began to talk and run around. From here Mummy took me to kindergarten. I know this house fairly well. People began to find their voices in this home. They began to gather again at news-stands to abuse our president. But beyond finding our lost voices, nothing much changed. In fact, things grew worse. For one, Daddy complained we used too much milk, Mummy removed Milo from our reach. So we needed permission to take a tablespoonful of Milo! It was in this home Daddy bought tyres infrequently. He could only afford to change them yearly. Before, he did that twice a year.

Even the number of foreigners on our street thinned out. Ghanaians, Togolese and Beninese began leaving for their countries. We heard their countries were now better. Genevieve told Uncle Tunde that Ghana had changed. They had light longer, she said.

The fourth home. Actually, two fourth-homes. In that home Baba Go-Slow was president. Upon whose demise Mr No-Shoes took over. Uncle Tunde said they were one and the same. You can’t say the root of a tree is not part of a tree. So I agree. We live here now. Many people have since moved to our home in Lagos. They are jobless. Neither Ibadan nor Abeokuta where their parents live, provide them with their needs. Lagos is no better place to get a job either. In short, finding jobs in Nigeria is like a wind-chase. The longer you chase, the faster it eludes you!

In this home, Uncle Tunde and friends argue every day. He is now a philosopher, he has stopped going to church. His reason: religion is our problem! Religious leaders are crooks. I don’t know for him. When my other brothers argue, he faults their argument for generalizing. But now he generalizes and blankets all religious leaders! How many does he know sef?!

Anyway apart from his problems with the religious leaders, I like Uncle Tunde because he says the truth almost all the time. For example, yesterday he said: Our country is bad because of President No-Shoes. No reasonable person pushes for the renewal of MEGALOMANIAC EPITOMIC CLUELESSNESS.

I suspect he was right. The big English confirms my suspicion 🙂

Talking Point: 2015 General Elections in Nigeria

It is less than 50 days to General Elections in Nigeria. It needs no saying that the best jingles right now are from various political parties and contesting politicians. Most paramount on the list of contested offices is the office of the president. With the attention the incumbent and his handlers give the APC candidate, President Jonathan has signaled the presidential election shall be between him and General Buhari. For the first time, he seems to have taken a right decision, albeit in his own interest. If only he had done same in issues that concern the country by acting this decisively on matters that matter, the electorate will need no firing up this tense to get him a re-election.

The presidential election shall be a very close contest. It shall very likely be a near close-loss for General Buhari, if he lost. And a very thin-win for the incumbent if he eventually won. The possibility of a re-run is high, going by tension not only in and around social media, but in prime states with real high number of eligible voters, e.g. talk of Kano many bombings and too many unrest in the Northern states. A geopolitical zone is practically presently ungovernable, i.e. the North-East. We need remember that a two-third-win of total vote-cast is still in place to win a presidential election. So, with Kano on fire and the North-East as a death-trap for Nigerians, General Buhari’s clear win or President Jonathan’s outright loss will require a genius abracadabra to realize. Plus this: Vote in Lagos shall be shared between PDP and APC! Lets wait and see.

Talking social media, it seems as though some media houses have sold themselves as mouthpieces to different camps, particularly to APC and PDP. SaharaReporters’ attempts to be a non-biased outfit is unsuccessful. An astute follower will know that that reports from her kitchen is clearly not Pro-President Jonathan. I understand SaharaReporters’ bias. Notwithstanding, I expect excellent journalism from her yard. I hope SaharaReporters adjust her reporting.

Vanguard Newspaper shamefully reports controversial and unconfirmed sturves. No doubt, the goal is simply to get unconfirmed lies and half-truths into the market. There are enough gullible voters to swallow the thing completely. I am sure even Sun Newspaper, best-known for her Boulevard Status, will be jealous of Vanguard new status as yellow-news-plus-propaganda-outlet. In short, Vanguard Newspaper has not done well at all.

I can only hope PremiumTimes will do well this time around to feed us with balanced and researched reporting. So far, I noticed her reporting tilts towards the incumbent, but not with unfounded reports like Vanguard.

At the rate things are going, it is likely too late to tell people to watch out for what they consume. It seems as though the more they are being told to watch-out, the faster they swallow and believe the bias, lies and half-truths. It is safe to conclude that majority already decided who the candidate of choice shall be come election day. Not to be hasty though, there are still many undecided voters to sway this or that way. The shock this time around is likely to be that the best campaigner and spender may not win. In the past twelve years, it is clear that Nigeria’s elections at presidential level go beyond campaigns, it is deal-cutting. The best deal-cutter is likely to carry the day.

Asiwaju Tinubu will not betray General Buhari this time around by cutting a-last minute-deal with President Jonathan. That much is certain. I am but sure the President will not relent on his oars until he has enough heavyweight behind him. On his visit to Minna, General Babangida urged anyone who loved Nigeria to vote President Jonathan. I am afraid the body language of General Maradona is more important than his words. If I were President Jonathan, I will take General Babaginda’s words only with a half-pinch or no salt at all. In fact, it is best to throw them real hard to the wind upon leaving the Minna Mansion.

Reverend Father Mbaka finally made a U-Turn with his sermon which has since gone viral on YouTube. He even demanded the incumbent step-aside for the People’s General. Men of God hardly surprise me. I suppose the president has either not given him enough money or the Man of God does not want to fall out of grace in case the president lost in February. Whatever the outcome of this election is, an important lesson politicians will learn is this: The lesser the number of Imams and Priests in their entourage, the more success they are likely to record in six years in office.

Truth be told, President Jonathan’s choice to carry his religion into Aso-Rock is not new, only that he probably went a step further by including arm-dealers cum gangster jet-flying money-changer-priests in his list of serving ministers. I would have been less-pained if he employed poverty-stricken Imams and Pastors in the rank and file of his spiritual swindlers.

Notwithstanding the poor performance the incumbent has to show for his six years in office, the number of eligible voters who have seemingly vowed to vote for him must not be underestimated. There are many factors responsible. One of them being the choice of APC presidential candidate, namely General Buhari.

Going by the fear of these people, they see the retired General as a liability too big even for himself. They see him as a mere figure-head and a sheer marionette, whose indebtedness shall simply be too much to Asiwaju Tinubu, APC is best advised to *kukuma* declare that a vote for the former is a vote for the latter. Therefore, instead of a pretending presidential candidate, General Buhari should come out to declare to his supporters who truly shall rule if he won!

He is simply not the awaited messiah. Add to that, many said the alliances that threw him up into our face as the singular and viable alternative to failed Jonathan is a far too compromised potpourri of criminals, one is safe to bet on the side of Jonathan’s siddon-look plus loot-us-tire kind of politics and tactics. Paraphrasing Ikhide, it is like leaving one pit-latrine for another pit-latrine. The stinking shit will/can only get more terribly piercing, thorough and thorough. More shit shall be shat on the people! So stay put with PDP?!

Many claim that APC is not PDP. They went further. They said the PDP-ers in APC are really the good-performers in the party they left behind. As such, their cross-carpeting to the APC portends something good for the country. I hope I understand the logic. There are many disgruntled APGA and PDP elements in the conglomeration which finally birthed the APC, in fact, there are so many of these politicians cum born-again commonwealth-thieves in the pretend party of change, namely the APC. The anger of those who have chosen to vote anything but APC is thus not unfounded.

Talking about voting anything but APC, this reminds of the voice of those on the side of change at all cost. They simply want to demolish a monstrous PDP. Their choice of demolition is by voting-out PDP at the center. Even Prof. Adesanmi belongs in this group. In a post, he seemed to submit that APC, being a party that is yet to be tried at the center, deserves a benefit of doubt. One could deduce that Prof. Adesanmi wanted anything but the incumbent, who is the greatest embarrassment Nigeria has ever had to lead her affairs.

At this point, a call for caution to the vanguards of change at all cost becomes necessary. Campaigning for four more years of phantom-change is clearly not what they wish for Nigeria. If their wish is measured in that proverbial standard of recognizing a man’s character by his company of friends, people bankrolling General Buhari’s election will not pass this sacred test.

Someone said if General Buhari had campaigned on a different theme other than change or corruption, he probably would have been taken serious. APC is after all a new PDP. The pillars and moneybags in APC are corruption personified. So, why lie to us? The fear is, voting in General Buhari under a renewed and reformatted PDP is more disastrous. The people argue it is safer and better to keep the PDP in power, that being the quickest pathway to allow the PDP a selfkill and for Nigeria to achieve a true and revolutionary change.

I am for a change with caution. True change is what Nigeria needs. The rate at which we demand for change in this election must be upheld even after the election. For instance, these vanguards who demand for change at all cost must be ready and willing among other demand to not turn a blind eye should the new president choose to not supply us uninterrupted electricity for two straight years! This is certainly not asking for too much!

All in all, the country must go to polls. Nigeria has once again been presented with two giant difficult choices. It is upon eligible voters to decide which of these two they shall cast for. I sincerely do not envy their predicament. Kamaparo oropesije!

Patrick Sawyer’s Plague and the Panic-Marabouts’ Solution

At least, now we know that some Nigerians actually bathed with saltwater solution in an attempt to save/rescue their skin from the fast and wide spreading killer Ebola virus. In a country where ignorance is strongly present, things like this are come place. Besides, it is a known fact that the epidemic has presently no known cure. Thus, any rumored solution or near-efficacious medication shall be a welcome idea, news of which would run faster than wildfire would in a terribly hot summer. Panicking would then become the order of the day. The people are desperately in search of a viable savior in the face of a deadlier than HIV infection. One has no choice than to resort to the most-called-on being in Africa, namely God to come to the rescue of his faithful children. I hope he would.

In what seemed to be a coordinating effort by the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) to combat this terrible virus, the President put together a research team and earmarked over a billion naira for research purpose. Truth be told, this effort is as good as medicine after death. The FGN is known for this lazy and near-populistic approach to matters of high importance. Definitely, the virus was not discovered yesterday nor since the recent outbreak. It has been in the West African subregion since the 1970s. It needs no telling that the decision of the FGN is a move too late. Lest I forget, the renowned Professor Maurice Iwu is on the team of appointed researchers! On reading the breaking news, I could only scream: God save your people!

It need no reminding that Professor Maurice Iwu is a political tool in the hands of the People Democratic Party (PDP). Nigeria is yet to fully recover from the elections conducted by Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) under Professor Iwu’s supervision as chairman. Just like the presence of a he-goat cannot be unnoticed, hardly was the research team announced that we heard of a possible kolanut-therapy for the raging Ebola virus. Professor Iwu was credited with this therapeutic abracadabra. It is very sad that anyone would be ready to con his own people as always! It needs no soothe-telling that the fund allocated is a booty already shared among the faithful researchers!

I read on a Facebook wall where it was jovially asked if the so-called wonder serum, which *healed* the two US-Americans and which is probably being applied on the infected Spanish priest is not good for *Negroes*! Can anyone blame USA or Spain for caring for their citizens? As usual, the only place Africa, and particularly the West Africa subregion look to right now is the West- the developed world for solution to a virus that is said to have originated from Africa!

Well, I understand the panic caused by the terrifyingly dangerous Ebola virus as it kills almost assuredly once contacted. With no cure in sight, anybody would panic just as bad. Allow me to ask though, if Africa is not already being hit by a more catastrophic epidemic and crisis of catastrophic heights. Talk of malaria and tuberculosis. They kill in millions! Talk of child mortality and women death during childbirth! The numbers are alarming! Talk of lack of edible water and food for starving children! Talk of anything bad, it can be found on that continent!

I must be swift to add at this point that this is not self-hate or wanting to show only the bad-side of Africa. This is the naked truth. Besides, if there is any good-side to show, then certainly not good enough so long there are hungry children with no shelter over their head. Mind you, hungry children are even the least Africa’s problems. The list of our woes is endless!

African leaders have always abandoned the continent to her fate. The people suffer thus very greatly when there is a health crisis of this capacity. Beyond usual rhetorics, announcements and setting-up of research teams, there is no serious moves from the African continent to finding a solution. I oftentimes wonder when Africans shall turn on their true-oppressors- the African leaders! If not now, then probably when there is a plague as terrible as the Black Death! One can only hope the USA or any other country in the West finds a viable cure on time. Of course, a cure shall never be found by the research teams put together by various African countries.

Talking about saltwater solution again, only anyone who is un-sincere would be surprised that there are those who fell for it. There are posts making round on Facebook on how stupid any educated person is, who actually bathed with the farce of a cure. To say the truth, it is not shocking that the farcical cure was proposed and believed by many Nigerians (West Africans). After all, we must not forget too quickly we live on a continent where people were told to eat grass and they did. I recently watched a television report where people bathed in a dirty and muddy river because it is believed it can cure them of their infirmities! Really, the saltwater solution is the least of terribly unfathomable fables that we fell for as Africans. We might have fallen too far to be saved! I terribly hope it is not too late though!

About Patrick Sawyer, the Liberian who successfully transported the virus to Nigeria. For once, I would agree with President Jonathan. He called it madness and pure craziness on the part of Patrick Sawyer to have chosen to fly to Nigeria of all places! The Liberian President was sorry he escaped surveillance. Of course, according to her, Liberia would never have wanted him to escape! There are those who believe Sawyer was an agent of evil. I do not subscribe to this opinion, but the people who hold it, might not be absolutely wrong in their belief. So many questions begged for answers, really. Anyway, I think it is best left at that. It makes no sense crying over spilled milk. Either way, the virus would still have reached Nigeria, by flight, by foot or any other means. Our borders and various control posts are as good as non-existent in the eye of corruption! Even death-in-person himself would have found a way through them if it can pay!

The issue is now this: a reasonable government would have, for precautionary purpose, wanted all those on that particular flight from Liberia be tested and quarantined until certified they are Ebola-free. I doubt it if the passengers’ list can be provided. Beyond a passengers’ list that will not surface, in a saner society, those on the flight would have turned-up willingly for a check-up. This is a matter of life and death and the possibility of killing more people with infection! Come to think of it, the poor nurse who attended to the Liberian is long dead! To run into hiding is the stupidest thing to do. Yet, I am almost sure none of these passengers have shown up, whereas they are not unaware that it is already too late once Ebola symptoms are visible. One cannot but ask this troubling question: what exactly is wrong with us Africans?

In the news, a 51-year old Romanian turned himself in when he suspected on returning from West Africa he might have contacted the dreaded virus. He was tested and placed under observation. That would have been a major case on the European continent after the Spanish priest who was moved home. The case of a West African who was suspected in Hamburg has been cleared. He is not infected. Canada and Hong-Kong tested two suspected cases of Ebola, both negative. Many countries are now very alert. This is a good thing to do pending the discovery of a viable anti-Ebola drug. We await the result of a German student in Rwanda who is being quarantined on suspicion he might have contacted the virus. Until his blood-test result is received, fingers are still crossed. If confirmed, that would be the first case in the East African subregion. We hope it is not. Tonight at the Lagos Airport in Nigeria, panic almost took over when a passenger slumped and died. Of course, the first suspicion was Ebola. According to report, those around the passenger fled. Thank Goodness he tested negative.

With reports like this in and around the world, it clearly shows that the deadly virus might be mainly present for now in Africa, it takes no time however for its effects to be felt around the world with dire consequences. It is no more an African problem, it is an international problem. The world will certainly win the battle against this deadly virus, but at what cost. This cost implication remains presently uncertain.

True that so far, people in the West African subregion live in constant fear and near-resignation, but it must be said that if the heaven must fall, then it is no more the problem of a single person; therefore the whole world must prevent this heaven from collapsing on us all!

In the meantime, West Africans and certainly the wider world keep hope alive that an effective cure/therapy is found soon enough.

on a final note, I must not but salute the many doctors, nurses, aid-workers and many volunteers, who are diligently committed in their chosen field of saving lives even at risk of loosing their own lives! Respect! Many thanks to them for doing a real great job in this trying period particularly for West Africa and the world at large. Your selfless service makes the world a better place with each passing day. We love you!

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.*

Mr. Putin’s Russia, The West and Ukraine: A Fight of Two and a Half!

Let us be clear: The agitation of the West/Western powers, that is the European Union (EU), the United States (US) and their NATO-allies, for the soul of Ukraine, which is garbed as being their support for the wishes and yearning of the people of Ukraine for freedom is not without self-interest(s). Understandably, nobody would gladly wish to do a bad business under any circumstances, be it political, economy or any other adventure. The question to ask thus is this: What do the West stand to gain in the quest to conquer (or better politically put- to gain) Ukraine for itself? And yet another question: Why does the West need to gain Ukraine for itself? Many questions can and need be asked, but let us stay put on these two for now while I turn to talk about Mr. Putin.

Better put, let me say I want to talk about Russia. Actually, the line of differentiation between Mr. Putin and Russia as a country is very thin so that one can as well talk of Russia as if one is talking of Mr. Putin. Overtime, it has come to be that it does not matter in any order one talks about either of both parties mentioned, the one can be (and in fact is to be taken) for the other. Simply put, since the emergence of Mr. Putin into power in Russia, Russia is as good as Mr. Putin, and Mr. Putin is as good as Russia. When he speaks, the world in and around Russia listens, and that very attentively. This could be perceived either ways, positively or negatively. In recent times, it must be said though, that the latter seems to be the dominant effect being deduced when Mr. Putin (Russia) speaks.

Now, let me be clear about another matter: Being in the West could make it very difficult to objectively see beyond one’s nose when talking about issues which affect relations between Russia and the West. Most especially, as in recent times, Western media have succeeded in their propaganda-like portrayal of Russia as being against the rest of the world. Even if this is the case, an objective reader or viewer would be careful not to take in these reports hook, line and sinker without looking beyond the peripherals. I am one of such critical and objective consumer of Western media. Understandably, being dwellers in this hemispherical part of the world i.e in the West, we can practically do very little to influence what we consume from the media world. Let us leave that aside for a while, lest I loose focus on the key matter being addressed here. This is the truth: Russia is not against the world. The present provocation is a conflict situation between Russia and the West for the soul of Ukraine.

Of course, one can say this: Because Russia is against the West in this matter, it is also indirectly in conflict with all other countries, who, in case of unavoidable escalation or even war, will support the West. We should however not be easily carried away by the numbers of countries who are likely to support the Western powers. Russia is also not alone. There are hundreds of countries who do not support the West. There are those who are strong supporters of Russia and there are those who neither support Russia nor are against her. We should not forget too that decision-making and side-taking can be very fluid in international politics, particularly in conflict situations. These are unsure times; a seemingly trustworthy ally/agent can become an enemy overnight: Think of Mr. Snowden and you will understand better!

Having made clear that Mr. Putin, namely Russia, is not in conflict with the whole world, I will move on to the next item. By the way, the same questions as posed to the West can be posed to Mr. Putin: What does Mr. Putin stand to gain in his quest to win Ukraine to his side? Why does he want Ukraine on his side and is apparently ready to militarily march into Ukraine if he is “forced” to do so/left with no choice?

There have been many speculations so far as to Western interest in the region. Clearly, the expansionist motive of the EU cannot be mistaken; this has been explained as a historical prerogative in order to keep Europe together and avoid the mistake(s) of the past. The unity of Europe has thus made the expansion towards Eastern Europe a must apart from economic interests which is accruable from the adventure to the powers that be in the EU.

The EU is not the only bloc that made up the West/Western powers. The US cannot be left out of the equation. One can even say that this is more worrisome for Mr. Putin’s Russia. Mr. Putin has never been too friendly with the EU. In fairness however, it cannot be said that he was too hostile either. His dealings with the EU has made a Mr. Putin, who cannot be said to be democratic in the Western-sense of the word (and this is not to be understood negatively), practically into what he is not- he is gradually and practically being garbed in a Westernized system that he normally would not be ready to partake in. Russia and her territories have not been known to subscribe to democracy as practiced by the West. They have their ways of doing democracy- Think of the Russia of Lenin and the Russia of Stalin! After the death of Stalin, the succeeding governments can as well be referred to as regimes close to a “totalitarian state” saving that of Mr. Gorbachov’s government. I need not emphasize that Mr. Gorbachov is seen in Russia as a puppet of the West and as a traitor because they believe Mr. Gorbachov’s self-imposed weakened position in dealing with the West led to the collapse and eventual death of the Soviet Union. Mr. Putin is not different from past regimes who had reigned in Russia before him.

Russia is a world-power. At least many Russians believe they are, according to a survey conducted. The US believe Russia is a seriously weakened world-power. Although the US have been very careful not to negotiate with Russia from this point of view, Mr. Putin believes, and that very strongly, that the US do not often take Russia serious. He wanted a Russia that is seen to be at par with the US when negotiating. On the other hand, the US often believe they have always conceded too much when Russia is in play. Mr. Putin does not want a Russia being treated with hand-shoes on, as though it is a sick fellow, who is gradually recovering from a bout of life-threatening fever. In short, the atmosphere can be said to be that of a complexly challenged Russia whose complex is not unnoticed by the US. This often makes relations between both powers strained.

Recently, I read in a newspaper of Russia finally letting go of the believe that she is being surrounded by friends. The expansionist moves of the EU towards Eastern Europe, and the recent flirts with Ukraine finally confirmed his feelings of a Russia that his being pursued/pushed even farther into a corner. Like the proverbial snake or goat that is finally being pursued into a corner, it is left with no other choice than to turn and face its pursuer(s) for a fight-out or an escape route from the pursuers’ end! Mr. Putin’s feeling is that of a Russia that is being asked to give away too much of her perceived territories and areas of influence. We should not forget too quickly the bone of contention between Mr. Putin and the US during Bush administration. The presence of US military know-how and equipment, be it those of NATO or directly from the US is a direct threat to Russia’s interest in the region in Mr. Putin’s opinion. Let us remember that in recent conflict over the soul of Ukraine, many of Mr. Putin’s government officials have never stopped to underline the fact that monies given by the US to support protest in Ukraine and other activities are meant to drive forward the quest of the US for a regime change in Ukraine.

Moving beyond speculation, I positioned yesterday while I talked to friend that Russia’s interests in Ukraine explains in no unclear terms those of the US in Ukraine. It does not matter how we choose to see it, Russia, being a power in that axis is right to want to ascertain and expand her influence in the area. The US is however not wrong in their attempt to win/gain Ukraine into their nest. The EU’s intrusion into the area in the name of expanding eastward is thus one intruder too much for Russia to live with! Come to think of it: The EU is the most trustworthy ally to the US. Therefore, Mr. Putin’s Russia is now being confronted with two of her most-feared “enemy” in the quest for influence. Besides, the fact that this fight for the soul of Russia is right at the door of Russia makes Russia’s reactions more volatile and perhaps even more irrational than they might have been if the dispute was somewhere else.

Before I return to talk about my opinion over Mr. Putin’s handling of the crisis in Ukraine, I will first talk about the US crisis management strategy in recent times. The US have always been known to present themselves as the non-aggressor if we are to look away from many conspiration theories which think otherwise. Moving forward, the non-aggressor often wants to make us understand that he is being “forced” to respond like the proverbial snake/goat, and most of the times, to protect the basic rights of every human, to support the yearnings of all for freedom and for humanity’s sake among many other reasons for intervention in a conflict. Let me state that I absolutely support these grounds. They are legitimate reasons. There are clearly those from whom the common people must be protected because left to these monsters they do not give a damn. All they want is to have their way at whatever cost. The US are thus right to intervene very forcefully in the interest of the people. There are accusations though of double standard in this regard. The US have been known to support some repressive regimes whose peoples also desire to be as free as residents of those countries where the US have been “forced” to come-in in the people’s interest. Beyond the problem of double standard, in recent times onlookers and many observers seem to be less-impressed/convinced with the non-aggressor-but-compulsory-intervention-theory. Therefore, it is pertinent for the US to rethink this particular strategy. We need a new approach established on a better theory. To understand the demand for a new approach, a good question to ask is this: Must the non-aggressive US often be “forced” constantly to intervene in a conflict? The truth is this: When one has to give the same reason for doing the same thing over and over again, the outcome of which is more often than not worse than the initial position/problem, then an objective observer must realize it is time to rethink and re-strategize.

I will move on now to Mr. Putin’s strategy in the crisis in Ukraine. Germany’s Finance Minister in a talk referred to Mr. Putin’s approach as very akin to those of Adolf Hitler. Hitler wanted to “protect” the ethnic Germans outside the territories of the German Reich before the outbreak of the Second World War just like Mr. Putin. He made this clear in the annexation of the Crimea. Mr. Putin also made it clear if he is compelled to do so, he will not hesitate to militarily march into East Ukraine to protect Russia’s interests and those of ethnic Russians. His support for the pro-Russian militias and separatists is unwavering.

Of course, the West is not less guilty of mobilizing her military mights in the region, it must be said though that this is a precautionary move in response to the martial display of Mr. Putin’s Russia. Right from the onset of the crisis in Ukraine, Mr. Putin has never stopped to wield his military might. It can even be said that his body language is such that places military solution above dialogue and international agreement. Come to think of it: The Geneva Agreement is yet to receive his blessing. This is not unexpected because throughout the negotiations, it was Mr. Putin’s Foreign Minister who was prominent in the deal-cutting. That he thus far ignored the commitments in the agreements is not unconnected with his preference for military solution. It need not be repeated that Mr. Putin mistrusts the West. In fact, it could be said that his mistrust of the West is one contributive factor that has made his grip on power last this long. Also, it must not be left unmentioned that Mr. Putin started his career in the Russia of the Soviet Union as a spy- a job that is best-survived when one learns to trust nobody, not even his own instincts!

A good question to ask is this: Does the world need another war with the numbers of catastrophic and war-like conflicts raging already? I do not think so, especially when this might involve too directly three major world powers, namely The US, Russia, and the EU. In my opinion, I strongly believe Mr. Putin can explore many avenues to drive home his points and achieve his aims without a head-long collision with other parties concerned. His approach so far is such that one might be made to believe Mr. Putin had from the onset chosen to exclude any form of solution that might want to include non-military negotiations and dialogues!

The talk of de-escalation and easing tension has been very loud from every corner of the globe in the past weeks. It remains only to be seen if there are serious moves from both sides, particularly from Russia, towards the realization of a peaceful/war-free solutions. The fact is this: This crisis can be resolved without the use of more force than we have seen so far in display in Ukraine; further escalation is in nobody’s interest. In order of loss, Ukraine will most-likely loose the most because she is at the heart of the crisis. However, Russia will not be left without a great loss nor will the other parties, namely the EU and the US be left out. At the end, we all loose and our world will not be made safer for it, in fact we might end up mutually assuredly destroying each other in the fight for self-interest and -realization! This is not desirable and must be stopped in a way that exclude the use of (military) force of any kind.

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