Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ajibola Robinson: The Elephant Remains In The Room

Thursday, November 27, 2014


This writer reflects on the issues arising following the August 9, 2014 shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer of the Ferguson Police Department, Missouri, United States of America, and the subsequent failure of a grand jury to commit the police officer to trial. Many of the issues he raises are peculiar to the United States, but there are striking similarities between the stereotypes in the US where you are Black or White or Yellow, and in Nigeria where you are Nupe or Itsekiri or APC or PDP. Ajibola Robinson posted this on his Google+ page as well as on his blog.

***

The elephant remains in the room.

The verdict is out, Darren Wilson walks, the streets burn, the media talks, and activists shout. The family hurts and everyone else talks and yet at the end of the day, work done will equal ZERO. 

I am watching CNN's complete coverage of the second night after the Ferguson decision covering the protests from all angles and in all cities and all I can do is shake my head. Does even the highly respectable Anderson Cooper not get it? Does Chris Cuomo not get it? Does Don Lemon not get it? I don't know, but it seems they don't.

How about the protesters? They are walking, shouting screaming, wailing to where? To do what? To vent to display their frustrations and to complain about a perceived injustice. Understandable and fair. But they also don't seem to get it.

But what is the crux of this issue?

As I write this, media reports indicate there are protests around the country in about 37 cities. Atlanta, Los Angeles, New York, Boston, Baltimore, and many more, but that is not the issue.

The young angry black youth shout for justice, the mayor of Ferguson to the president to the grieving father asks for calm and peace. The the CNN polished professional black TV pundits seems to be speaking a different language from their polished professional white TV pundits about the same incident. Close! But that is not the issue.

Everybody has a cellphone and a camera, everybody has a blog, everybody is a citizen journalist, everybody is aware and everybody is enlightened. Everybody takes videos and pictures and uses Facebook Instagram and twitter, but that is not the issue.

Was he armed or unarmed!? Was he eight feet or twenty feet away!? Were his arms raised or not raised!? Did he charge or not? Did Officer Wilson fear for his life...!? But! That is not the issue.

Guess what, in three days’ time, most of those on the streets will be in the shops looking for a great deal ahead of the Christmas holiday, but that is not the issue.

Within a few weeks, as happened as far back with Rodney King, and recently with Trayvon Martin and now to Micheal Brown, life will go on. The streets will become peaceful once more, the burnt buildings rebuilt, yet the elephant remains in the room.

The elephant will remain in the room of Black, White, Asian, Latino and other families even as they gather in two days to enjoy a fantastic meal and give thanks at Thanksgiving.

A few months or even a few years from now, it will CERTAINLY happen again, sadly, this we know for a FACT. it might be Los Angeles, or Baltimore, New York, or New Orleans, or elsewhere.

What is the elephant in the room?

Police brutality? No. Cops killing unarmed Black kids? No! Prosecutors seemingly doing a weak and biased job? No! Grand Juries coming to unpopular decisions? No. Black on black crime? No.

The elephant is...

The elephant is... Why does the white woman still clutch her purse in 2014 when the young black man gets into the elevator, and why does the highly educated black father need to warn his black son about this?

The elephant is... why does a white father teach his son to seek and trust the police when in difficult situations and why does a black or Latino father feel the need to teach his son NOT to trust the police in a difficult situation?

The elephant is... Why the young black or Latino youth man feel the need to wear pants made for the waist on the backside and expect to be taken seriously?

The elephant is... Why does a white politician get asked if he has any black friends? Any why does the politician NOT get asked about having European friends?

The elephant is... Why does an African American woman feel the need to pen an article to ask gay white men to stop acting like black women?

The elephant is... Why does an average black or Latino man feel he needs to work twice as hard for the same paycheck as his white colleague?

The elephant is... Why do African Americans asking their fellow well-spoken upper class African Americans with differing opinions to stop "acting white"?

The elephant is... why did a white gunman who shot Gaby Giffords critically wounding her, and THIRTEEN others and killing SIX people get captured but a young black man with a toy gun, mistaken to be a real gun gets shot AND killed?

The elephant is... thinking we can live our racially separate lives in our various cocoons with minimal interaction with each other outside our places of forced interaction like at work, and expect to have a full fulfilling happy and incident free lives.

Finally, the elephant is... a 6 feet 2 inches tall officer now telling us for a FACT there is no way an unarmed 6 feet 2 inch tall black male would have survived an altercation with him, BUT a white man who shot and killed two policemen flees into the woods, is a trained marksman, armed and dangerous hides for weeks but DOES survive, comes out of the situation alive and will get his day in court...?

The elephant in the room is that which is preventing us from creating a true and real society of equals for all people of all races with as minimum as possible racial bias. One where a clear and identifiable majority of the people, not law enforcement, not the justice system, not government, but the people have chosen to live equally stand side by side, have similar opinions, goals and aspirations and coexist peacefully in the same space, governed by true laws of equality and thus benefiting all of society, not just part of society based on majority race or religion, gender or anything else.

The elephant is our society, it is the imbalance and lack of mutual understanding and tolerance in our society as a whole on BOTH sides of the divide.

Does anybody really and honestly want to get along? How many want to break the stereo types and take a chance at a better society? Or are we just satisfied scoring points, getting great ratings and remaining in our various colored cocoons?

Dealing with the elephant is beyond the cops, beyond the prosecutor and beyond the justice system. The work to be done is not on the streets but behind closed doors, at the dinner table, at the club, at department store and at the game, at the elevator and on the sidewalk. It is right there in our various living rooms, our colored cocoons where the elephant resides that the solution to the issue will be found.


The question is, is ANYONE really interested in dealing with the elephant in the room? Or is it easier to continue to ignore it and deal with the incidents as they flare up periodically?

Nassos Stylianou (BBC) - How One Boy's Death Changed Our World

Thursday, November 27, 2014
This article was originally published here on Thursday, November 27, 2014 under the heading "How world's worst Ebola outbreak began with one boy's death"
Emile Ouamouno was just two years old and living in the remote Guinean village of Meliandou when he began suffering from a fever, headache and bloody diarrhoea.
In December 2013, despite his family's best efforts, the young boy died - followed within days by his three-year-old sister Philomene and their pregnant mother Sia.
This was the start of an Ebola outbreak so devastating that it would kill more than 5,000 people in a year, leave hundreds of children orphaned and affect thousands more.

Virus smoulders undetected

The village of Meliandou sits deep within the Guinean forest region, surrounded by towering reeds and oil palm cultivations - these are believed to have attracted the fruit bats carrying the virus passed onto Emile.
In a pattern that has come to characterise the spread of this deadly virus as it tears into close-knit communities, Ebola infected village health workers before spreading to nearby districts.
But the first few deaths failed to set off any alarm bells. Meliandou, located in Guinea's Gueckedou province, is isolated. It is two hours to the nearest city on a difficult road and people are accustomed to endemic diseases with early symptoms mimicking those of Ebola.
Add to that a porous land border, with many people regularly crossing into Liberia and Sierra Leone in search of markets to sell their products, and the deadly virus was able to smoulder undetected across unsuspecting communities for three months.
Early on, hospitals quickly became Ebola incubators as health workers and doctors who believed they were dealing with cholera or Lassa fever, a much less deadly haemorrhagic virus prevalent in the region, fell ill after treating patients.
Of the first 15 deaths documented in the New England Medical Journal tracing the current Ebola outbreak, four were health staff.

How the outbreak started




'Transforming tradition into transmission'

As grieving relatives gathered to bury their loved ones, one funeral turned into many.
Across the region, the ritual preparation of bodies for burial involves washing, touching and kissing, with funerals often attracting large numbers of mourners from nearby districts.
These rituals simply helped the disease to spread.
US doctor William Fischer, who worked in Guinea, said that by "transforming tradition into transmission", Ebola managed to spread by attacking the fabric of West African society.

Liberia: On the brink of collapse

Lack of resources have stymied the battle to combat Ebola in Liberia, leaving the country teetering on the brink of collapse.
The first case across the border was confirmed a few days after the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared the outbreak on 23 March.
But it was not until August that the virus really took hold in the capital Monrovia, a densely packed and notoriously poor city in the Montserrado district.
Throughout September, the county was reporting more than 200 new cases each week.
Monrovia is home to around a quarter of Liberia's total population. The majority of its residents are crammed into rubbish-strewn slums, many of which are built on low-lying swamps and are unconnected to a municipal sewage system.

Ravaged by a 14-year violent civil conflict, that ended in 2003 and saw the near-total destruction of its infrastructure, Liberia's health services struggled to deliver basic services long before the Ebola outbreak.
With only around 60 Liberian doctors before the Ebola outbreak, the death of a number of its high profile and most competent medical professionals left the country's health staff decimated and demoralised.

Although the infection rate has now declined, the country remains in a precarious position.
Fear of Ebola still prevails and many of those infected continue to stay home
"People are hesitant and fearful as they don't know what happens in a treatment unit and have heard lots of negative stories," says Darin Portnoy, a medical doctor treating patients at a Medicines Sans Frontieres unit in Monrovia.
"That's where we lose the battle - when people hesitate to come in. We can't get on top of the disease when people turn up four, five days into their illness."
Liberia's health ministry has also urged people to stop burying their loved ones secretly at night.
Even as knowledge of best practices to protect from the virus infiltrates the entire region, this will perhaps be the hardest thing to stamp out.
"To die of Ebola is one thing, but to be deprived of an afterlife is quite another," writes Prof James Fairhead, an anthropologist based at Sussex University and an expert on West Africa.
It was one unsafe burial that ended up leading directly to Sierra Leone's explosion of Ebola cases.

Sierra Leone: One funeral - 365 deaths

The country's first diagnosed case, when a pregnant woman was admitted to a hospital in the Kenema district following a miscarriage on 24 May, infected no-one else.
Identifying the source of her infection, however, illustrates how the virus entered the country.
The woman had attended the recent funeral of a well-known traditional healer. The healer had treated Ebola patients flocking to seek her care across the border from Guinea's Gueckedou region, before dying herself.
Health teams working in the region identified a further 13 women who caught the virus attending the same burial, starting a chain reaction of infections, deaths and more funerals.
According to the WHO, "quick investigations by local health authorities suggested that participation in that funeral could be linked to as many as 365 Ebola deaths".
From there Ebola spread to Sierra Leone's capital Freetown where overcrowded living conditions and fluid population movements helped it to spiral further out of control.
A tragic footnote at the end of the study produced by doctors and scientists tracing the outbreak into Sierra Leone highlights the ultimate price some health workers have paid.
Five of the report's co-authors, including Sierra Leone's leading physician spearheading the fight against haemorrhagic illnesses in West Africa, contracted Ebola and died before the report was published.

Nigeria: A success story

The tale of another act of true human sacrifice explains how Nigeria has managed to beat Ebola and pull off what the WHO has called a "spectacular success story".
A country home to 170 million, Nigeria has almost seven times the combined population of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
A rapid response and effective tracing of almost 1,000 individuals who may have been exposed to the virus meant the number of Ebola deaths in Nigeria was limited to eight.
At the heart of the fight against Ebola in Nigeria was Dr Ameyo Stella Adadevoh.
Dr Adadevoh diagnosed American-Liberian Patrick Sawyer with Ebola when he was hospitalised in Lagos.
The doctor and her staff physically intervened when Mr Sawyer tried to leave the treatment centre. This action cost Dr Adadevoh and three medical staff their lives when they too contracted the disease.

A New Phase

Almost a year from two-year-old Emile's death, at least 5,500 people are estimated to have died from Ebola.
Many more deaths have gone unrecorded.
Efforts to tackle Ebola have been hindered by fierce resistance from local communities with a history of suspicion towards any outside intervention.
This has enabled new chains of transmission to pop up and threaten to spiral out of control.

Over the last few weeks, health officials admit that the disease is now entering a new phase, with a marked slowing down in the some of the affected areas in the three countries, especially Guinea and Liberia.
But the battle is far from over, as WHO's Dr Christopher Dye acknowledges.
"Even if we are able to say the exponential phase is over, our goal is complete elimination in the human population and we clearly have a long way to go on that."


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

ALARM!!! The President is Missing!!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

President Goodluck Jonathan of Nigeria


Our president is missing. Call out the search party. Release the hunting dogs and give them his shoes to pick his scent. Yes indeed, for the President now has shoes, and the President has gone missing.

It is several days now since the police, ostensibly acting on the orders of their Inspector General, laid ambush to legislators who were convening to deliberate on the security situation in the North East at the request of the President. It is several days since those who we pay to protect us fired tear-gas canisters at legislators within the legislative complex; several days since some men in uniform raised their weapons against one of the icons of our democracy.

The Presidency has made some noises – Doyin Okupe has released his usual hee-haws. But nothing public has come from the President. And the President is the most visible physical icon of our democracy. And our democracy was very publicly assaulted by a public institution that we call the Police (Force).

It was the President’s letter that triggered the attempt by legislators to hold a plenary. In other words, the plenary was going to hold at the President’s invitation. And those he invited to hold a deliberation on the state of emergency in the North East were waylaid by uniformed men, whose duties include protecting our democracy.

I do not subscribe to the opinion that the President sent the police on that dishonorable mission that made our honorable legislators scale their own gates in less than honorable ways. But I am amazed that there is, up to this time, no public condemnation from the President. Knowing the President to be an honorable man, a man who believes that his ambition is not worth the blood of any Nigerian, a man under whose presidency no one will have to be exiled for stating his opinion no matter how freely, … knowing all this, the only conclusion I can draw from his silence is that the President is not aware that such a calamitous event happened. To conclude otherwise would mean I question my President's claim to honor. And I very certainly do not. I am sure he is not aware of those unfortunate scenes whose attendant shame we had to endure.

With all the advances we have got in Information and Communications Technology, by means of which we know that there are protests happening in Ferguson, United States of America, over the non-indictment of a white police officer who shot an 18-year-old black kid; by means of which we watch the astronauts on the International Space Station as they use an espresso machine for the first time in the history of human space exploration; by means of which we see the little nothings that happen from Russia to Rwanda; … yes, with that kind of ICT, the only way the President of Nigeria does not know that his legislators came under Nigerian police attack is if he is missing, held somewhere incommunicado against his will, or is in another universe, taken by aliens to a planet billions of light years away from ours.

Because I am unwilling to believe in aliens even if they exist, because I cannot believe that someone can hold our president incommunicado against his will, I can only conclude that our president has gone missing.

And he needs to be found.

Like yesterday.

Where is that search party?


Bring back our president!

Monday, November 24, 2014

FROM THE BBC: Study Finds Women Bosses 'More Depressed' Than Male Counterparts

Monday, November 24, 2014

Women are more likely than men to display symptoms of depression when in a position of authority at work, according to US scientists.

In men, authority, such as the ability to hire and fire people, decreases depressive symptoms, the study said.

The study, published in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, looked at 2,800 middle-aged men and women.

Scientists said women bosses were more likely to experience prejudice and social isolation at work

One expert said the study showed the need for more women in authority and more varied female role models.

Scientists at the University of Texas at Austin interviewed 1,300 male and 1,500 female graduates from Wisconsin high schools over the phone in 1993 and 2004, when they were aged about 54 and 64.

Flexibility for men

Researchers asked participants about job authority and about the number of days in the past week they felt depressive symptoms, such as feeling sad and thinking one's life is a failure.

When the job included hiring, firing and influencing pay, women were predicted to have a 9% increased rate of depressive symptoms than women without authority.

Meanwhile, men had a 10% decreased rate of depressive symptoms.

The study said it controlled for other factors that could cause depression, such as hours worked per week, whether people had flexible hours and how often workers were checked by a supervisor.

Scientists also said men were more likely to decide when to start and finish work than women and were less frequently monitored by their advisers.

Lead researcher Tetyana Pudrovska said: "These women have more education, higher incomes, more prestigious occupations, and higher levels of job satisfaction and autonomy than women without job authority.

"Yet they have worse mental health than lower status women."

When women adopted masculine behaviours as leaders they were criticised for being unfeminine, said one scientist

Natural female leadership

Ms Pudrovska said female bosses had to deal with interpersonal tension, negative social interactions and stereotypes, prejudice, social isolation, as well as resistance from subordinates, colleagues and superiors.

Dr Ruth Sealy at City University in London said women were often "trapped" by the gendered notion of a good leader.

When women adopted traditionally masculine behaviours as leaders they were criticised for being unfeminine, yet colleagues would not believe the women were good leaders if they saw only their feminine characteristics, she added.

Dr Sealy said: "Because we assume men's 'natural' competence as leaders, women often have had to work much harder to get to those positions, only to find that even when they get there, their 'right' to that status is continuously questioned."

She said female leadership needed to be made as natural as male leadership.

Dr Gijsbert Stoet at the University of Glasgow said the study was strong from a psychological and social science perspective.

He said: "The scientists have used the data from a large longitudinal study and it is very valuable to answer these sorts of questions."

Companies should question what they can do to help their workers manage stress, such as providing a staff counsellor, he said.




NOTA BENE
The appearance of an article on my blog does not necessarily imply an endorsement on my part of all of its contents. The only implication of any such appearance is that the piece in question is a stimulus to further thought on the subject matter. - Naijaman

Saturday, November 22, 2014

GOD IS ANGRY (Edited) - by Amakeze Michael Chigozie

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Editor's Note: I think it is time to take a break from the political commentary and share this great piece written by one of my friends and posted on his Facebook Wall. I found it interesting but also very thought-provoking. Happy reading.
For other articles by Amakeze, Michael Chigozie, please click here.






It was a sea of heads, mainly women’s heads, each head mounted atop a body draped in flowing white robes, whose flailing in the wind was diminished somewhat by a girdle around each waist. They were standing on a holy land which forbade the wearing of any footwear. So they were all barefoot. But no one seemed to mind. In the sanctuary of the spiritual, such things are but vanity of vanities…they are only but desperately mundane...

The atmosphere was charged, the music fast-paced, loud; the clapping emphatic; the dancing energetic. The spirit of God was moving powerfully. The congregation was thrown into a holy hysteria.

Prophet Amaziah sauntered in from the back. He has dreadlocks and sported the full complement of a moustache and a beard; with all the dignity of a seraph, he carried an ornamented bronze staff in his right hand and a bell in his left. 

As soon as he was sighted, the rhythm changed. Even the light-bulbs which were lit and were hanging at the end of long loops of wire which came down from the ceiling began to sway. In the presence of the Holy Man of God, even the elements shuddered. 

There was a surge as people tried to touch the hem of his garment in the hopes of getting a healing. Was it not reported that that woman who had been barren for 12 years had become pregnant with triplets after touching the hem of his garment 6 weeks ago? Never mind that she was yet to put to bed; the Spirit had revealed that she was going to be the mother of triplets. Two boys, one girl. The Spirit had said so. The Spirit cannot lie.

Some others did not join the surge to touch him; but if they did not use their arms and legs, they did use their voices, frenziedly praising him as the mouthpiece of God. He did not respond to the praises. He did not have to. He merited all of it and more. Oh, if only these people had eyes…if only they could see what he saw…

But he had to get to the altar to talk to his people…the people who God had sent him to deliver. They could touch his garments some other time. For now, he had a message that had to be given to these people of God from the altar. And quickly too.

The altar was an elevated platform at the other end of the building. Immediately the Prophet mounted the altar, the frenzied pitch and rhythm of the music moved up several notches. There was wild excitement and outpouring of emotions, too deep for words. 

The anointing was multiplied. People fell to the ground in ecstasy as his shadow fell on them. His gaze sent evildoers spinning as their lips poured forth confessions of misdeeds past. The lit bulbs which had been swaying earlier, were now dancing wildly, overcome, as it were, by the power of his presence.

And then he rang the bell twice and all was quiet.

He silently surveyed his flock from behind that blank inscrutable stare that he almost always had. As his eyes moved from aisle to aisle, the eeriness of the silence became more and more apparent. More tangible. More magical.

And then, without preamble, he dropped the message he had been sent to give to these people:

“God is angry”

The very foundations of the auditorium resonated with the sound of his voice. The people remained still. His gaze, now accusing, penetrated the captive crowd. Then he stabbed a finger at the crowd. The tails of his cloak fluttered agitatedly in the stifling silence. The bleary weather contributed to the apocalyptic feeling amongst the crowd. It just felt like the quiet before a storm. Maybe it was.

"You have offended God with your sins", he declared. 

And then came the avalanche. Tears were let loose. People moaned and cried for offending so good a God and his mighty Prophet.

"Quiet!", he shouted. 

And quiet returned.

He closed his eyes and then started making some ooohs and aaaahs, all the while turning his head like a freshly beheaded chicken. It was indeed as if, on account of their sins, he was experiencing a sharp pain in his loving heart.

"Yes Lord, yes Lord", he muttered under his breath. It was a message coming in from God.

That was another thing about this particular Man of God, to the exclusion of all others – the frequency with which the Lord talked to Him; he was always in communication with God; they were such good friends. It was the Lord indeed who had changed his name from John to Prophet Amaziah when He first called him. 

And now the rest of the message from the Lord was delivered to his people:

"God has directed that you give offerings to appease His righteous anger and escape the impending doom".

Immediately, the band, which had been as dead, came to life and switched straight into high gear with another round of music. Offering boxes were taken round. People gave and gave. It was a little sacrifice compared to their sins. 

"Blessed be the Lord God of hosts and his holy Prophet Amaziah", they chanted.

Prophet Amaziah left the stage quietly. He needed to be with God for more messages.



Thursday, November 20, 2014

THE NIGERIA POLICE AND ITS UNIQUE BRAND OF TERRORISM

Thursday, November 20, 2014




I have never had any love for the police. I think the very worst of Nigerian police officers – the so-called “good ones” among them are the exception, not the rule.

Just over a year ago, some of them in Awkuzu, a rural town in Anambra state, terrorized a certain Mr Justin Nwankwo to the very limits of his sanity as they tried to coerce him into making a confession to a crime he did not commit. It is perhaps an injustice on the part of the human language that I can summarize in one sentence the several nights of torture that Mr Nwankwo had to undergo; all of this simply because the police (whose salaries are paid with money realized from tax payments made by Justin, by you, by me) wanted him to sign a prepared statement that would indict him of a crime he was innocent of, and absolve them of their obligation to carry out a proper investigation.

If I was shocked by their treatment of Justin, I was bewildered by the terrorist attack they mounted on lawmakers within the grounds of the National Assembly today.

I fail to comprehend whence the police draws the authority to fire tear-gas canisters at lawmakers that we, the generality of Nigerians elected (or selected) to make laws for us. I cannot understand that the Inspector General of Police is yet to resign, hours after the shameful police action that resulted in legislators scaling the gates of the National Assembly complex in order to perform their constitutionally prescribed duties. I cannot understand that the President is yet to make a statement condemning this rape of our Constitution and democracy. I will never understand any logic that allows security officials deploy weapons against lawmakers and thereafter justify their action as having been taken against miscreants.

In my opinion, the terrorists that besiege Nigeria are camped not only in Sambisa, but also in every police station and at every police checkpoint in this country. The only difference is that one group of terrorists have a uniform or two, and a chain of command that is recognized by the Constitution.

And just like all those people who suffer every day in Borno, Yobe, and Adamawa, the rest of us in the rest of the country are victims of the special brand of terrorism that only the Nigerian police officer can unleash.

My Letter to APC Chair Chief John Odigie Oyegun




Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dear Chief John Odigie Oyegun,

I read a report floated by The Punch today about comments you are said to have made at a rally in Abuja, wherein you blamed the re-election bid of President Jonathan for the rising insurgency in Nigeria.

I do not have a copy of the full text of your speech; nor do I have a video clipping of your address during the rally. My comments therefore are based on the assumption that the report by JOHN AMEH in the Punch of November 20 is factual, down to the last period.

When you implied that the National Assembly might support the President in a move that could deliberately disenfranchise Nigerians in Adamawa, Borno, and Yobe, did you do so in the full knowledge that the National Assembly comprises representatives from those states in both chambers? Or are you implying that those states will have legislative and gubernatorial elections but not presidential elections? Or that no elections will hold in those states but that members of the National Assembly from those states will get automatic tickets for another 4 years in exchange for their support for the disenfranchisement of the five million people (according to you) they were elected (or selected) to represent?

You are said to have “blasted the administration” for declaring austerity measures after mismanaging the economy. You forgot to tell us how the mismanagement of the economy by this administration has led to global falling oil prices. You forgot to itemize what an APC government will specifically do differently to shore up our economy. You forgot to tell us why exactly austerity measures are not the way to follow and to state in the same sentence what exactly would be your alternative path.

I agreed with Governor Amaechi’s statement that “stomach infrastructure” politics is an insult to the generality of Nigerians. Unreservedly. But he forgot to tell us what alternative “infrastructure” roadmap the APC has that will assure the social security of the 80-year-old woman in the remote hills of Northern Cross River, that will ensure that the local blacksmith in the slums of Bida will be able to send his 2 sons and 4 daughters to school, at least up to SSCE level, and still be entitled to comprehensive and effective medical treatment in a hospital in his locality, were he to fall ill. In short, the governor forgot to give us an alternative that would compel the ordinary Nigerian – who is actually capable of thinking when the circumstances are right – to see the “stomach infrastructure” jingle for the ridicule that it actually is.

I find it hard to agree with General Buhari’s argument at that rally that the PDP-led administration had shown itself since 1999 to be inept, corrupt, and undisciplined, except he is also willing to admit that he has no scruples collaborating with inept, corrupt, and undisciplined people in order to achieve his presidential ambition. Most of the people around him today have flown the PDP flag at least once – some more than once – since 1999. That makes his comrades believers in ineptitude, corruption, and indiscipline. And if he is ready to collude with them because he wants to be president, I can only wonder how far down this same road - of ineptitude, corruption, and indiscipline - four years of his presidency will take us. But I also hope that I will only have to wonder, and not actually have to experience it.

In summary sir, you and everyone else were eloquent enough about the failings of this government and of the leadership failure of the PDP. Your silence on what you would do differently and how you intend to do those things differently – that silence was deafening.

It is an insult to all of us Nigerians to expect us not to want to know what alternatives you are bringing to the table; it is an insult to ask us to blindly approve an APC presidency and then experience the difference.

Manifestoes detail a political party’s thinking about the direction in which the country should go. Your manifesto should be a dictionary of ways in which you can make things right, not a catalog of ways in which the PDP has made things wrong. It is an insult to your leadership, sir, if your minions simply choose whether to support or reject a policy based on the political party affiliation of the person initiating or implementing it.

Best regards.


Hugo Naijaman

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

A Song For The Army - Ose Oyamendan

Wednesday, November 19, 2014



I never really liked Soldiers. They were always too clean. Their uniforms were always too immaculate. Their boots were often so spotless you could make up your face while staring at them. For some people in the days of the dictatorship, those boots sometimes kicked their butts because some soldiers felt like stretching their legs.
It didn’t help that, as kids, even the baby soldiers kicked our collective butts at Independence Day and Children Day’s parades. We used to spend hours over several weeks practising our marching steps and, even at our best: we knew we were competing for second best.
Those brats from Army Children School in Mokola in Ibadan always seem to move like robots. It was never a fair competition. I remember the first time another primary school won, the whole of Liberty Stadium erupted in cheers. We had beaten the common enemy. Until the next parade.
Growing up, I associated the army with everything that was wrong with life and Nigeria. All you had to do sometimes was step out of the house and you will some military men flogging motorists or asking hapless citizens to frog jump as if it was an Olympic sport trial. If you flipped through the newspapers, you were likely to read of military combats in distant lands with frightening casualty figures.
It didn’t help that in school you read about how the army killed your heroes in the first Republic and proceeded to engineer a civil war that killed hundred of thousands of Nigerians. It didn’t help that one of your earliest memories was of a certain General Muhammadu Buhari took over as Head of State and the sign of progress were long queues of people trying to buy rice and sugar because of some weird economic policy that only soldiers can dream up.
Then one day while working as a staffer on Capitol Hill, I happened to be at a Veterans Day event where I met a war veteran that looked like my age mate. He had lost a limb in the Gulf War and, apart from his stern mien, he didn’t show any bitterness. When you work in politics, you have to show a heart and that starts with knowing the people you serve. So, I got talking to the kid.
I wanted to know why he would do such a silly thing as joining a fighting force and going to war. He didn’t even blink or stutter when he responded that it was an honor to fight for his country and he would do it again. He melted my heart. It occurred to me that this kid was ready to lose his life so that liberal, anti-war, skirt-chasing, hard-partying propagandists like me can be safe in our cozy beds at home.
That day, I started looking at the rank and file of the military in a different light. I didn’t feel I owe them my life but I know they deserve my gratitude.
When I think of the military these days, I think a lot of the Nigerian army as they battle for the soul of the country. It must be a dire situation for an army that never expected to fight a war within Nigeria.
Yet, some Nigerians seem to revel in the advance of the insurgents, thinking it’s a cloud over Goodluck Jonathan’s presidency. It may be. But, this is not Jonathan’s Nigeria. It is our Nigeria. And, the only winners when we’re this divided are the enemies, namely Boko Haram.
The army deserves our praise, not condemnation. Yes, they run from the insurgents sometimes. But, they also do die keeping us together. Yes, they lack the wherewithal to fight an effective battle. But, do we know that when the Generals were in power they decided to strip the military of infrastructure, weapons and training so as to keep a tight leash on political power? Do our politicians know that every loss of life and acreage is not the President’s loss but Nigeria’s? Do we realize that one day Jonathan will cease to be President but we will still have Nigeria?
The Boko Haram warlords probably go to bed at night with the sounds of a section of the Nigerian media as lullaby. The media seem too eager to up one another in glorifying the dastardly act of the insurgents whose only contribution to Nigeria is mayhem. When you flip through the newspapers after another attack, you get a feeling that Boko Haram must have written paragraphs of the report. It’s worse on the social media. It feels like we celebrate the death of compatriots.
In all these, we seem to forget that the army is dying for the country. They put their lives on the line for a country that does not seem to appreciate them, a military command that doesn’t seem to have prepared them adequately for battle and a political leadership that sends mixed signals to the battlefield.
One day very soon, these long suffering men of the Nigerian army will win all of Nigeria again. We shouldn’t wait until that day to show them our gratitude. We should start now and everyday. They may be soldiers but they are Nigerian soldiers, fighting for Nigeria.

Culled from here.

6 Management Lessons That Everyone Should Know - from Tickld.com

Wednesday, November 19, 2014












Monday, November 17, 2014

Four Legs Good...Two Legs Bad

Monday, November 17, 2014

NOTA BENE
IF YOU NEVER READ "ANIMAL FARM" BY GEORGE ORWELL, YOU MAY FIND THIS PIECE RATHER PUZZLING.



Four legs good, two legs bad…Four legs good, two legs bad…

Doesn’t that phrase sound just a tad familiar?

If you ever read that 1945 satire called “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, then you probably came across a point in Chapter 3 where Snowball provided a condensation of the Seven Commandments of Animalism – commandments which were themselves a summary of the highlights of the rousing call to animal unity given by Old Major. The condensation offered by Snowball was the slogan "Four legs good, two legs bad". That slogan helped simplify the Principles of Animalism because it taught the most simple-minded of animals the basic lesson that Animalism was founded on resistance to anything human; because humans walked on two legs whereas animals walked on all fours, it was easy to classify those beings that walked on two legs (and by extension, the values that they stood for) as bad ... Of course a clarification had to be supplied at some point that exempted pigeons and other birds from the stigma of being two-legged…

Four legs good, two legs bad…

That phrase is also familiar for another reason – it appears to form the foundational principle on which the statements and activities of the PDP and the APC are based.

The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressives Congress (APC) are two major political parties in Nigeria as of November 2014. The former group is most popularly represented by an umbrella, whereas for the latter group, a broom fulfils a similar role.

For the people of the Broom, those who carry the Umbrella are thieves. For the people of the Umbrella, those who carry the Broom are brigands.

When the umbrella keeps out the rain and keeps the people dry, the people of the Broom condemn the umbrella for denying the people an opportunity for a good rainwater bath.

When the broom removes the cobwebs in the office, the Umbrella wielders condemn the broom for destroying such a sophisticated example of arthropod artistry, by so doing, depriving the world of the beauties of Nature.

Because each of the two political platforms seems to have a manifesto defined by indiscriminate opposition to whatever the other stands for, their knee-jerk reaction to any announcements or activities by the opposing party seems to conform to the principle of Four legs good, Two legs bad... The legs are bad not because they are legs but because they are two in number - and the same legs that are bad when they are two, become good when they are four.

Besides, because in my opinion, the track record of the APC for tolerating and encouraging impunity and corruption exactly mirrors that of the PDP, I, as an ordinary Nigerian cannot even determine whether it is the four legs that are the problem or whether it is the two legs. In many ways, I find myself in the same position as the animals did towards the end of "Animal Farm". This is the point where Napoleon and other pigs were at a table, playing a card game with Pilkington and other humans who were visiting in the farm, (the name of the farm had by now reverted to Manor Farm from the revolutionary Animal Farm). As the animal onlookers at the window watched the players play and quarrel, they suddenly realized, looking from Napoleon to Pilkington and then back to Napoleon, that they could no longer distinguish which was man and which was pig.


Four legs good, two legs better

Friday, November 14, 2014

Don’t type Amen. Just roll your sleeves and get to work.

Friday, November 14, 2014



Although some people refer to South Africa as the rainbow nation, it is in Nigeria that one can find the best example yet of a coat of many colors. Here, I am not talking about our cultural diversity. I am not referring to the multitude of ethnic nationalities, the plethora of autonomous communities, and the plurality of linguistic groups that form a breath-taking mosaic in the space that we occupy south of the Sahara. 

No.

I am referring to our socio-religious mix. Our mix of a core of ancient superstitions coated with a veneer of Christian religiosity which has - unfortunately - produced in many of us an unstable psychological amalgam wherein we are content to hands-off, sit back, and “wait on the Lord” like He is some kind of magician who rewards laziness with miracles.

This is why I was thrilled when this morning, I saw a post on Facebook (pictured) by a friend from high school days. This post is quite inspirational, as inspirational as the life of the writer Kainene himself – this Kainene is no biological relation to Chimamanda Adichie’s Kainene in Half Of A Yellow Sun, but the similarities exist in other departments.

Beyond the inspiration that the meat of his piece provides, it closes with an admonition summarized in two sentences that I find quite instructive for all Nigerians today:

Don’t type Amen. Just roll your sleeves and get to work.

And the Holy Book agrees in James 2:17, where it says:

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.


In other news, Thank God it’s Friday. Now looking at the clock and waiting till it’s 17:59.