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Friday, 30 December 2011

Thank You!!!

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As the year 2011 draws to a close, I would like to say a big thank you to all my blog followers especially all those that have remained active (you know who you are). Your comments have been invaluable and I remain ever appreciative.

Whenever the end of any year approaches, there's always an air of optimism and hope that the new year will be better than the previous. I've been truly blessed this year with a great family but I pray and hope 2012 will even be better not just for me but for you all and your families. Whatever your spiritual or religious affiliation, please do remember Nigeria in your thoughts and prayers. Also remember all those victims of various violence that befell our country in 2011.  I don't do prophecy but I imagine 2012 will be a big year for Nigeria, that will either make or mar it; I hope it's the former.

Watch out for my 'Give a book, save our future' campaign which I'll be posting about in the new year. I touched on this briefly in my education blog.

God bless and see you in 2012 :)

Sunday, 25 December 2011

All I want for Christmas is Peace

I planned to post something rather uplifting and joyful on Christmas day afterall that is what the day is all about. However, it's difficult to do so as I woke up this morning and on turning on the TV, I was greeted with the despicable news of a bomb blast outside a Catholic Church in Suleja, Niger State, killing at least 21 people. As if that wasn't enough bad news, separate bomb blasts have happened in Jos and Damaturu respectively, again killing innocent worshippers. Back in July I wrote a post about Boko Haram and the Culture of Militancy to highlight the growing insurgency in Nigeria and the need to nip in the bud what is gradually becoming a political albatross of some sort. Well since then, bombings and killings by this militant group has now come to stay with many lives and properties destroyed. These latest incidences on Christmas day, when Christians remember the birth of the saviour, Jesus Christ seems to be a step too far.

Why did they choose to cause havoc on a day that signifies joy and happiness? Why did they choose churches as their targets? What do they intend to achieve by killing innocent people whose only 'crime' was to worship their Lord on a day they believe the saviour was born? I wonder what will be going on in the minds of the victims family and friends. Christmas will forever represent sorrow and unhappiness.

Nigeria is a troubled nation and sadly we may have to contend with these mayhem and instability for a while because I do not believe we have the political leadership to deal with the situation. Unless ofcourse we Nigerians finally reclaim our country.

May the souls of the victims of the Christmas day bombings find peace in the Lord, Amen.

Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year ahead.

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Love can conquer suicide

During the last summer holidays, I took my family up to Eastbourne, in East Sussex on the east coast of England to visit a good family friend. Eastbourne is a small, peaceful and a beautiful town with lovely beaches. It can be quite busy around that time of the year and attracts a fair share of visitors. This was quite evident as we drove through the town centre overlooking its pier and coastline. I took the picture below when we went up the hills from where you can get a stunning view of the sea front.
Whilst the picture may represent some uplifting beauty of nature, sadly I was told it's also notorious for suicide in the past by victims throwing themselves off the adjoining cliff not seen on this picture. The question I kept asking myself was how can a place harbour such beauty and peace and yet has become a place where sorrow and unhappiness is hidden away. I found myself asking the same question only recently following the sudden death of Wales National Football manager and veteran footballer, Gary Speed. Like many people, I just could not comprehend how someone who looked 'happy' a day earlier after making an appearance on a TV program would take his own life the next day. This incident happened only 3 weeks ago and since then there's been at least two other incidents reported by the UK media, one in Leicestershire and another in Leeds. In each case, the father killed his family and tragically took his own life. 

When I was growing up in Nigeria, suicide was something that I hardly heard or read about or maybe it was under-reported, I don't know. In a world where social networking is gradually taking over and challenging long held perceptions, it's inevitable issues like suicide will quite possibly creep into our thought processes. I know some may argue that Nigerians love life so much they can never contemplate doing such. But we said that for suicide bombers and is no longer news that cases of suicide bombing in Nigeria have been reported and sadly may continue to happen.

In the wake of these incidents, I've heard comments that suggests people who commit suicide are selfish. It's very easy to be judgemental but the point is that these things happen and would continue to do so. I would rather look for answers as to why it happens and find ways to create awareness to combat it instead of play the blame game. In my search for answers as to causes of suicide, I found there aren't any known causes of suicide. However, there are known factors that can make people more vulnerable to suicide. The one that stands out for me is having a mental health condition. I'm not a medical expert to give an expert opinion on issues to do with mental health but it wouldn't surprise you to note that there are many people walking around the streets who appear normal but in fact are burdened by all sorts of problems.

In the current gloomy economic climate around the world and in Nigeria where the gap between the rich and the poor are getting even wider, people need to support and reach out to each other. The world needs love to combat a lot of mental and suicidal problems. I believe there's enough love to go around the world but we all need to do our own bit. There's no better time to give and share some than this season of Christmas which seems to be losing its meaning to consumerism. But that's a topic for another day.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

If Only...

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I was at Microsoft's UK headquarters with some of my students on a school trip last week. The event is part of Microsoft's way of providing useful career advise to encourage female students to consider opportunities in the IT industry. Speakers from the various departments gave speeches on various roles in IT and Microsoft in particular.

Whilst at times it came across as an exercise in self adulation but nonetheless it was intended to inspire the young audience to aspire. I have to say I was inspired and I couldn't help but thinking if only I had the same opportunity when I was in school to be given career advice by top experts in one if the biggest companies in the world. Not that a good career advice guarantees anything but it surely helps to make informed choices.

As I sat in the conference hall, at various times my thoughts often wandered about, buried in the thought if only such opportunities are possible for Nigerian children. Probably not, unless you're ofcourse the child of a 'big man'.

My experience so far working in education has further opened my eyes to the huge difference and impact early exposure and opportunities can make in young people's lives. Opportunities that are virtually non-existent to ordinary Nigeria children. Where a dysfunctional educational system continues to let them down.

The murky waters and cut-throat world of politics seems to be the only real attraction. No surprises there as we're all too aware our politicians (if you call them politicians) are more skilled in emptying the public purse than filling a pothole on their doorsteps.

I know things can be better or should indeed be better but if only...

I rest my case for now.



Sunday, 13 November 2011

Abandoned Children

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I watched this documentary over the weekend about children who were fathered by American naval officers during the 80s in the Philippines. The US at the time had a naval base in the country and some of their officers met up with Filipino women who worked as prostitutes. In the process many of them got pregnant for these US military officers but when they returned back to the US, they left the women and more importantly their children behind.

At the time, the Philippines Authorities made representations to the US government but their case was dismissed. According to them the individual officers were responsible not the US government and they claimed prostitution was illegal in that country at the time. Anyway, what struck me the most about the documentary were the stories of two of the Amerisians, as they were referred to in the documentary. These two (a young man of 20 years and a girl of 16) were fathered by black American officers. This meant they had darker skin and were subjected to bullying and all sorts of name calling including the N-word in school and in their neighbourhoods.

What I found very sad about the whole story was the fact these children, though mostly adults now have grown up with an identity crisis. Whilst they struggle to gain acceptance in their home country, their father's country wouldn't recognise them as US citizens and for most of them their fathers aren't interested. During filming, the 16 year old girl mentioned earlier, got pregnant and dropped out of school. I found it hypocritical for the US to refuse responsibility or at least hold their officers responsible to look after their children but are at the forefront of championing child rights issues.

The issue of abandoned children is something that struck me during my university days in Nigeria. As a member of the Rotaract club, we often embarked on charity visits to motherless babies homes. Most of the children were victims of abandonment but to be fair we were never given the full details of how and why they ended up in the homes. Nonetheless whatever the circumstances, innocent children, who never chose to come into this world were made victims of a few minutes of 'fun'.

The decision to have children comes with huge responsibility and one that shouldn't be taken lightly. Whilst I accept there'll always be the odd cases of children born in this way but what they need is love and acceptance instead of stigmatisation and ridicule.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Birthday Blues...11/11/11

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It's my birthday today and birthdays are always very special days to people and I'm no different as today means a lot to me. 11th of November every year provides me a unique opportunity to first of all say a big thankyou prayer to the Almighty God for his abundant blessings. It's a day that prompts me to look back down the years and reflect on my life's journey from where I have come from and where I am now. For someone who has spent just over three decades on earth, I wouldn't necessarily say my journey has been that long but nonetheless very eventful. If one day I decide to write a book, I'm sure it will be a very big book judging by life's ups and down which I have had to go through.

In my view, there are two most important days in anyone's life; the day you were born and the day you die. However, as much we all may want to live longer, what has become increasingly of more importance to me is what legacy do I leave behind when the inevitable day of demise arrives? As a husband, father, son, brother, cousin, friend, professional colleague and blogger to different people, the question I always ask myself is, how much contribution would I have made to other peoples' life when I'm long gone? Today is another constant reminder to ensure that I think and act in more ways than not to make positive contributions through my words, actions and thoughts to the lives of other people including the aforementioned.

My birthday will not be complete without a special tribute to my wife and two boys, their love inspires and motivates me and makes life more meaningful. And to all my blog followers, without you there will no one to blog for, you really rock :)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The Future of the Nigerian Child

Picture Source
When I wrote my first blog post on my other blog on the 29th of May this year, the same day President Jonathan was sworn into office, it was borne out of my passion for education. On that day, I was keen to hear what his plans were for education but the whole speech said little to give me any real hope and it left me feeling frustrated. But I wanted to channel that frustration into something constructive and that was where my writer's instinct kicked in. I followed my instincts and decided to express my disappointment at the same time proffer some solutions.

That was how I started my first blog, Education that works for Nigeria. Some of my followers here may have visited it but if you haven't, could I enjoin you to please visit, read my views, follow if you can and as always I welcome your thoughts on what I believe is the way forward. My focus this week is about the Nigerian child and what future awaits her. Judging by what I perceive as a lack of vision in how the sector is being managed, I fear the life chances of the Nigerian child is once again put at a disadvantage. As I wrote last week on my other blog, I want to share with you here my views on the proposed 'new' system of education in Nigeria.

I read with utter amazement that the Federal Government has apparently announced plans to ditch the new 9-3-4 system of education and revert to the old system of 6-3-3-4. However, from what I understand it will come in a slightly modified version called 1-6-3-3-4. In simple terms, the 'new' system will just have an Early years element to it. It's amazing that it's taken our politicians and technocrats over 50 years to suddenly realise that early years education should become policy. However, we never fall short of coming up with bucket loads of policies but what has always being lacking is the political will, lack of funding or should I say its misapplication.

As an educationist and teacher myself, education is a very expensive business and changes in policy even cost more in terms of planning for it to have any impact in the classroom. However, judging by our dreadful record in policy implementation, I fear this may yet become another wild-goose chase which sadly has turned our educational system into the shambles it has become over the years. There's no doubt, systems can always be improved but I do not think our current system of education is really the issue. The real issues are to do with poor infrastructure in schools, poorly trained and inadequate teachers which have grave implications for teaching and learning. And to make matters worse, they need a 30-man committee to implement this 'new' system. Educational policies are implemented by teachers via civil servants through local educational authorities and not by politicians and technocrats.

Sometimes I wonder why we choose to do things differently in Nigeria and ignoring what seems to be the obvious. Who stands to gain from this new policy? Is it the politicians or the average Nigerian child? I'm definitely sure it's not the latter but I'll leave you to make your minds up. What I do know is that sadly the Nigerian child will continue to pay the price for the incompetence, corruption, mismanagement or whatever name you choose to call it that goes on at the very top.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Miss B and the desperation for Marriage

I was saddened but not surprised by the news I heard this weekend about somebody known to both me and my wife. To protect the person's identity I will just use the pseudo name Miss B. Earlier this year, Miss B rang us to say she's getting married, which is always a positive thing to hear. However, we were taken aback by the fact she said she has never visited the suitor in question who she claimed lived in Lagos as they got to see each other whenever he came down to the east where she lives. Her description about what he did for a living was at best very vague. I found it hard to believe but it was true from what we heard by other people close to her. Things moved quickly and within two months we were informed about the traditional wedding. All along I had mixed feelings; on one hand I was happy for her but on the other hand, I knew the road to this marriage was fraught with danger. It's not as if to say you have to know someone for an awful long time to get married to them but to know very little would really worry me.

Shortly after the marriage, Miss B discovered that her husband had no job and the wedding was organised and paid for by his family. Apparently, he's the first son in the family and they've been desperately trying to get him a wife and in what did seem like Miss B's desperation to get married, she failed to ask the right questions or perhaps asked but didn't get the right answers. News reaching us just recently confirmed that the marriage has broken down and the girl's family has now repaid the dowry. All this has happened within the last 6 months, would you believe it.

The reason I wanted to share this story is to highlight what I perceive as the unfairness in our culture that continually turns our young women into this desperate frenzy to get married. Don't get me wrong, I am pro-marriage and firm believer in the institution of marriage but when the only way women can gain acceptance and respect is to get married regardless of whom they do so to then we have real problems. It always strikes me that in Nigeria, whatever you achieve as a woman, be it in business, education, politics, you name it, there's always a question mark over you as long as you don't have the prefix, Mrs before your name. In my view, this is at the heart of why desperation by some Nigerian women to get married has reached fever pitch, which makes it almost inevitable for many to settle for anyone wearing a trouser and supposedly a manhood down below.

Nigerian women also need to take some responsibility and begin to redefine what it means to be a successful woman. As much as it would be nice to have a good education and be successful in whatever career path you choose, the brutal reality is that not every woman will get married. Don't ask me why because it has always been that way and will continue to remain so. The same way I believe not every Nigerian man deserves to get married to a woman or should in fact. Being a man shouldn't just give anyone the free passage to a woman who has probably being successful in her own right but needs to crown her 'success' by getting married to man who hasn't bothered to get a life.

I hope Miss B can now rebuild her life and try to be successful with whatever she chooses and if the right man turns up whom she at least knows something about then marriage may be worth a second chance.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Good to be back...

Let me first apologise to all those who visit and read my blog. It's about a month since my last post and it wasn't intentional. Enormous work demands, a recent home move and family commitments have meant that something had to give. Sadly it was impossible to keep up with blogging but I was planning to post next weekend until I saw an email from stelzz earlier this week asking after me and nominating me for the 'One Lovely Blog Award'. Suddenly it made me realise that being a blogger makes you part of a community of people united with a common purpose of writing about issues close to their hearts which meant I had to bring this post forward by a week. I am very grateful to stelzz for the the nomination. I love blogging and any nomination or award that comes along the way I'll regard as an icing on the cake.

Let me state the rules of the 'One Lovely Blog Award'

Versatile rules:
1. Thank the person who gave you the award and link back to them in your post.. (I have already done this)
2. Share 7 things about yourself
3. Pass this award along to 15 recently discovered blogs and let them know about it.



Lovely blog rules:
I. Answer the questions below
II. Tell seven random things about yourself
III. Pass the award to 15 other bloggers




1. Favourite Colour? Blue. Perhaps because it's seen as a masculine colour which I'm not sure about but I've always liked it ever since I was a child.

2. Favourite song? I'm not too sure but what I would say is that I like songs with deep philosophical meanings. Lately, I've been listening to music by Osita Osadebe and Mike Ejeagha.

3. Favourite Dessert? I wasn't brought up eating desserts so not something I indulge in but my sister makes some very delightful rice pudding which I get to eat when I go over to visit her.

4. What puts you off? I don't like dealing with people who are unreliable or who I can't hold to their words. Trust is what I treasure most in people but sadly it's become more of a rarity these days.

5. Your favourite pet? I don't have any pet and I don't want one either. Not my thing, sorry.

6. Black or white? Black. I quite like black shirts and t-shirts. My wife thinks I look cool wearing them.

7. Your biggest fear? Believe it or not I haven't got any but I hate failure so I guess fear of failure could be my biggest fear.

8. Everyday Attitude? Staying positive and always looking at the big picture.

9. Your best feature? hmmm...I really don't know. As someone created in the image of God, I would like to think I have God-like features.

10. What is perfection? The world we live in is a product of imperfection. I would need to be in heaven to answer this one because in my view that is the only place where perfection exists.

11. Guilty pleasure? I'm happily married so I don't want to be guilty of any pleasure :)
 


Seven random things about me

1. I believe in humility in whatever you do or achieve. I also believe whatever gifts or talents we have come from God and we should be able to share without fuss to other people.

2. I'm a big sports fan and I particularly follow football, tennis and athletics. I support Arsenal football club even though they are currently not doing well in the English premiership.

3. I take great pleasure in using whatever skills or God given talent I have to help other people to succeed. Perhaps it's no surprise I ended becoming a teacher and mentor.

4. I believe what you are is what you eat. I stay away from junk food and only eat it occasionally as a treat. I've applied the same principle in bringing up my children and so far it's working.

5. The best gifts I've ever received are my two children. After a hard day's work and when you're losing the will to live, coming home to see them smiling like they always do, is the best feeling in the world.

6. I don't watch too many movies but my most memorable movie is 'Sleeping with the Enemy' by Julia Roberts. It kept me hooked from start to finish.

7. I don't have any regret in life because I believe everything happens for a reason. There's no need worrying about things that you can't change or control but rather focus on the positives in life.

Tags

I am going to tag the following blogs as part of the rules of the nomination process and I think it's only fair I nominate all blogs that follow me in no particular order. Some of which are newly discovered and others I would describe as versatile:

Luciano (Luciano's world)

Kitkat Tales

Perfectless Girl (I'm not Perfect)

@ilola

enybees-hub

Straight from the Revolutionist's pen

Naija Mum in London

Secretlilies

Imo State Blog

Ginger

http://igbopeople.blogspot.com/

Myne Whitman

Naijalines

Muse Origins

http://backtonaija.blogspot.com/

It's nice to be back again blogging, hopefully normal blogging service will resume on this blog next week. See you then.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Let Tolerance Rule

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Last week I blogged about peace inspired by the 9/11 ten year anniversary. This week I wanted to explore how we can fight a common enemy of peace, which is intolerance. I know I have a big fight on my hands but at least I'll try. As a teacher and Form Tutor, I do sometimes have to deal with situations where I challenge my students to be tolerant to their peers and teachers. At the the start of last week, I was asking students in my Form group how they thought their first week of the new academic year had gone. I was expecting them to tell me about how well they have got on in their various subjects having now moved up a year group. But all they wanted to talk about was teacher-bashing.

Teachers do sometimes divide opinion in this part of the world as they're not always the most popular people in the world for reasons I'm not sure of. Whilst some people owe their teachers a great deal of indebtedness for help in steering them in the right direction others simply don't have any good word to say about them. Quite different from my own experience growing up in Nigeria where I held my teachers in high regard. Perhaps an experience I may have a lot to write about the day I finally give up teaching. Anyway I advised my students they don't have to like a teacher as a person but be tolerant, respectful and go into every lesson with the mindset to learn which is more important than the teacher. The bottom line of my advise was synonymous with the popular mantra 'focus on the message, not the messenger'.

The reality is that as humans we are all different; in beliefs, culture, religion etc and those differences are very much at interplay to define who we are. These inherent differences very much influences our thinking, opinions and our view of the world. Sadly the lack of recognition and respect for these differences is what often stokes up the fire of intolerance that burns deeply in the way opinions are sometimes expressed. I used to visit a popular Nigerian social website but gave up due to the fact that discussions were often times characterised by mudslinging, name calling and online behaviours bordering on bullying. I just wonder why the voice of reason is sometimes drowned by war of words with people you've never met in your life and would probably never meet. When I express opinions here, I don't expect every reader to agree with me but as long those views are not personal and deals with issues rather than emotions then that's fine by me.

I don't underestimate the power of social media which in reality I see as the real true democracy. It empowers individuals regardless of where they live or who they are with the freedom to express their views to as far an audience in a way as never been experienced before. But that freedom also comes with responsibility. The responsibility to ensure that views are kept as civil as possible and avoid using innuendos. New media also has its weakness especially with the fact that written comments and views about issues could be misconstrued and may well lead to rubbing up people the wrong way.

The blogosphere in the last week has been somewhat charged-up in a way that has left a bitter taste in my mouth. One good thing blogging has exposed me to is the new breed of intelligent Nigerians with a refreshing energy to stake their claim in cyberspace. I hope that same energy is not wasted on personality wars but rather channeled into positive attitudes that will be badly sought after if and when the intolerant ruling class may have been long gone (wishful thinking perhaps).

I wasn't born an open-minded person neither do I believe anyone was ~ I could be wrong though. However, my life's journey has taught me a great deal not to expect too much from other people because that often leads to tears. The truth is that not everyone will appreciate what you do or what you have to say. But then what does it mean to be open-minded without being tolerant to other people's views and opinions? Let me make it clear I don't claim to be a fountain of tolerance as I'm sure people have their own views about what it means to them. But I strongly believe the blogosphere will be a better place where views are diverse, which we may not always agree with but at least are respected and appreciated. One love :)

Sunday, 11 September 2011

9/11 and the Necessity of Peace

Today marks the tenth anniversary of one of the greatest tragedy in human history. On this day ten years ago then I was still back at university in Nigeria preparing for my degree exams when I watched in horror the falling of the twin towers in New York. Before this unfortunate tragedy, I always looked at the US and indeed other western countries as very secure nations - the untouchables if you like. How wrong was I judging by how vulnerable the west became with later attacks especially the Madrid train bombings in 2004 and the 2005, 7/7 tube attack in London. This has got me thinking about what it takes for peace to reign supreme in a world that is continually seeking refuge in guns and mortars. To quote Martin Luther King, "peace is not the absence of conflict but the presence of justice". What we see today is the presence of conflicts and the absence of justice.

This brings me home to the current state of affairs in Nigeria. I would never have believed that any Nigerian would be prepared to become a suicide bomber simply because of our love of life. But sadly this has now become a reality in today's Nigeria and we should be really worried. We should be worried because things could get worse before it gets better if steps are not taken to address the underlying issues that have led to the threat that we all currently face. I believe that if we continue to foster a society where inequality of opportunities that exists between the ruling class and the rest of society is as wide as the Sahara desert then we have got problems. If a society fails to recognise the ethnic and religious diversity of its people in the context of how it is politically structured, then you create even bigger fault lines.

Nigeria earns billions of dollars in oil revenue and yet the vast majority of its citizens live in poverty. Is that justice? Certain past leaders have been known to set up private schools and universities whilst still in office in contrast to millions of Nigerian children without access to good quality education. Is that justice? Many past and present leaders have a vast property portfolio both in and outside Nigeria but yet millions of people still live in shanties which they call house. Is that justice? I could write a whole book about how in many unjustifiable ways than not our people have become non-partakers in our common wealth.

The reality remains that Nigeria is not at peace with itself. I do fear though whether the establishment understands this angle to the problem. I doubt they do because they live in this little bubble where everything is fine and all is well. The only way I believe they will understand is for ordinary Nigerians to poke that bubble so that the ruling class will gain an insight as to how life can be a struggle. Expecting our leaders to do what is right is never going to happen I'm afraid - that is my view anyway. All sorts of ways to achieve this has been proferred in the past; whether you call it sovereign national conference or a peoples' uprising. The reality is that Nigerians need to take the gauntlet if we will ever achieve equity in the social, economic and political stakes. If we fail to do so, peace may elude us for a long, long time.

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Sunny side of Marriage


Image Source: Click here
I decided to post something rather light hearted this week. The piece below was forwarded to me about two years ago by my wife and each time I read it I still find it very funny but true in some respects.   
 
You may have seen it elsewhere but all the same I hope you enjoy reading it. I will be interested to read your comments. 




A desperate woman writes to the Technical support Guy,
Dear Tech Support,
Subject: Installing a new Husband Software

Last year I upgraded from
Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0 and I noticed a distinct slowdown in the overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewellery applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition,
Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as
Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as  NEWS 5.0,   MONEY 3.0  and FOOTBALL 4.1.

Conversation 8.0
no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.

Please note that I have tried running
Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail.

What can I do?

Signed,

Desperate Woman

DEAR DESPERATE Madam,


First, keep in mind,
Boyfriend 5.0 is an Entertainment Package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system.

Please enter command:
ithoughtyoulovedme.html and try to download Tears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update.
If that application works as designed,
Husband1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewellery 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause
Husband 1.0 to default to Silence 2.5, Happy Hour 7..0 or Beer 6.1.
Please note that
Beer 6. 1 is a very bad program that will download the Farting and Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do,
DO NOT under any circumstances install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please do not attempt to reinstall the
Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary,
Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly.
You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance.
We recommend:  Cooking 3.0 and  Hot Looks 7.7.

Good Luck Madam!

Tech Support

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Lessons from Libya


Early on Sunday morning August 21, I was glued to my tv set watching with mixed feelings the unfolding war in Tripoli, which brought a climax to the 5-months conflict to oust Col. Gaddafi after 42 years in power. I have followed the Libyan conflict that started as a protest as part of what we now know as the Arab spring which started in Tunisia. On one hand part of me was happy for the Libyan people achieving their quest for freedom and on the other hand sad to see killings of people and destruction of their country.

I drew some contrasts between what was happening in Libya and what Nigeria needs. Nigeria is similar to Libya in some respects. Libya has been ruled by a dictator for over 4 decades, while Nigeria has been ruled by different dictators for the best part of 30 years since independence. Libya and Nigeria are multi-tribal like there are in many African countries. Both countries have oil in abundance but both have only succeeded in using it to enrich a few. Both countries have fought a civil war; whilst Nigeria's civil war was based on perceived injustice by one section of the country, Libya's ideology was based on removing one man and his family from the power of political and economic oppression.

Freedom comes at a cost and sadly human cost is a huge price they are paying to 'liberate' their people from the shackles of dictatorship. However, most of the country, judging by the events of the last few weeks seem to have kept their tribal differences aside to fight what they see as a common cause. Interestingly, this is where the similarities between both countries end. Whilst I accept we have our fair share of tribal differences but our biggest enemy is corruption perpetrated by the ruling class over the years. The perpetrators cuts across all tribes in Nigeria and you wonder why we have yet to galvanise into a potent force to fight this common enemy. I'm not advocating for people taking up arms and killing innocent people like we have witnessed with the wicked bombing of the UN building in Abuja by the Boko Haram group and similar atrocities committed recently.

What I advocate is a popular peoples' uprising similar to the Arab spring, demanding an end to corruption, respect for the rule of law, job creation and massive infrastructural development that our country lacks. Hanna Azare, the Indian anti-corruption campaigner recently drew lots of nationwide support and in the process drew the world's attention to the endemic corruption in that country. Where is Nigeria's Hanna Azare? When will our Arab spring moment arrive? Maybe I'm being naive or just living in my little bubble but I believe the road to Nigeria's future is littered with great danger as long these questions remain unanswered.

I worry for Nigeria, I really do, with the senseless killings and the lack of leadership response that is expected in times of crisis. Yes, people will say talk is cheap especially when I'm writing this in the comfort of my living room in the west. But let us not forget the power of social media that is increasingly becoming a driving force for change. Let us not forget people power that is driving changes we see around the world. That drive needs to start in earnest in Nigeria unless future generations are doomed to a life of poverty and hopelessness in the midst of plenty.

Image source: click here

Monday, 22 August 2011

Virtues, Values, & Morals


The words values, virtues and morals are fast becoming endangered aspects of our changing society that seem to have more time for what my wife would describe as 'bread and butter', a euphemism for material things. I was having one of those weekend with a bit of a writer's block having being busy working on a research work, but then I took time off to read some of my favourites blogs, with no particular preference I went on to NIL and it didn't disappoint to reawaken my writer's instinct to reflect. Without repeating the story that generated a lot of interest on the blog, it exposed the fading values of contentment which made me to also reflect about the message of the sermon in church on Sunday. The priest reminded us about having a moral compass that is based on faith.

The trouble with morality based on faith is the church itself is becoming morally bankrupt and you wonder how it can continue to be a custodian of a moral code. I'll shed more light on how I think the church seem to be losing the plot ~ it is common knowledge that some churches are in the vanguard of promoting 'prosperity' to a level that has never been seen before. I have nothing against anyone seeking or doing things to have a 'better' life but I have an issue when it is not done in a way that puts things into perspective. I have difficulty reconciling the fact that a man will live in affluence at the expense of some of his followers who live in poverty. Is there not a danger that the messages of values, virtues and morality could well be diluted to promote a more populist message of get-rich or die-hard trying? Sometimes it reminds me of Guyana Tragedy, a movie I watched many years ago based on the November 1978 mass suicide of 913 people at the South American religious "colony" of Jonestown. Perhaps a topic for another day but the point I'm trying to make is that if a part of society that is supposed to be a beacon for moral compass is itself fast losing ground then we do have a problem.

It would be unfair and simplistic to lay on the door steps of the church all of society's problem which is clearly not what I'm doing or intend doing been a christian myself. This is where family and individual responsibility becomes very important. Unfortunately the challenges of modern times leading to increasing breakdown in family values; schools that have been stripped of any power of discipline and good behaviour; and society, both western and Nigeria, I have to say that celebrates mediocrity, have meant that personal responsibility is sadly a commodity that is in very short supply these days.

But I'm hopeful ~ hopeful that we are gradually reaching a tipping point where we need to undo the many wrongs that has led us to where we are. I say this as a father of two young children and also for every child out there, for whom I constantly worry about the world they will grow into. A world on one hand that preaches hardwork and education as pre-requisite for success and on the other hand turns a blind eye to ill-gotten wealth, reinforcing the mantra 'the end justifies the means'. The words of the holy scripture which states  "Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it." (Pr22:6) are very much still there as a starting point to act as a springboard in restoring values, virtues and morals but ofcourse only if we are prepared to use them.

image source: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-therapist-is-in/200811/virtue-therapy-right-actions-create-right-feelings/comments

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Consumerism: Friend or Foe?


The London riots or what is now known as the UK riots has come and gone but it has left behind more questions than answers for commentators, politicians, pundits and society in general to ponder. A lot has been said and written on the aftermath of the four days of madness that lit up the streets of London with flames of violence.

The focus of this piece is not to repeat what has already been blogged or commented about in various media. However, I want to take a look more deeply into the issue of a consumer culture that was a constant recurrence in most of the debate I watched and listened to. A culture that over time has led to a consciousness to demand and foster an undying desire to purchase goods and services in ever greater quantities. This in turn has created a society where people are increasingly being judged by what they can consume and own. I watched one particular debate where a pundit raised what I consider a valid point; he asked, why wasn't a bookshop raided? Well we now live in a society where what you know is not so important as to whether you own an iPad or the latest 3D large flat screen TV.

In Nigeria, this consumer culture which we often describe as materialistic culture has been around for a while now. There's now the blackberry craze, whereby owning a 'bb' today in Nigeria has now become some sort of status symbol. In fact there was a Nollywood movie made this year I think to reflect this blackberry culture and in stereotypical fashion, women where cast as the villains. Despite my self-imposed protest about what I consider a movie industry that has refused to grow up, I managed to watch this film and couldn't stop laughing. But seriously, I haven't got an issue with new technology, fashion, cars and all the goods and services that are driving this push in a way perhaps we have never seen before, at least in my lifetime.

I have an issue with society's response to the behaviour of people in the way they embrace the sorts of lifestyle that are fanning the embers of consumerism. Like always, I'm more concerned about what we teach our young people and the moral values we set them. I find it hard to understand why some parents are buying very expensive gadgets for children as young as 11, something I see around me all the time. Don't get me wrong, I'm not trying to be judgemental or educate people on what they should or should not buy for their children. The point I'm trying to make is that if we keep giving young people the wrong idea that they can be given whatever they want, what happens when mum or dad are no longer able to do so? Your guess is as good as mine.

We could use these life's luxuries to motivate our young people, making them understand that if they work hard they could stand a chance to own those goods they crave for. I remember sometime last term some of my students saw me using an iPhone and they were like 'sir, how come you own an iPhone?' and I was like, 'I own one because I work hard to able to save up and buy one'. I understand young people are now born into a generation where more than ever before they are constantly bombarded with consumer goods but I think society has a responsibility to make them understand they cannot get something for nothing.

Whilst there is nothing wrong in my view for people to look forward to enjoy these luxuries of life, we should never fail to let the values of hardwork and contentment to get lost in the scramble for what modern day consumer culture seems to be throwing at us all the time.

Consumerism, no matter what side of the fence we sit, is here to stay. It can be our friend but at the same time could be our foe depending on what we make of it.

image source: http://www.papermasters.com/domestic_violence.html

Saturday, 6 August 2011

On Domestic Violence and Failed Relationships


I don’t normally write about things to do with relationships and marriage but after watching a recent edition of Insideout by Agatha this morning, I was compelled to do so. They showed a video clip of a woman with severe burns because her husband threw a burning stove on her following an argument.
My heart goes out to this lady and I hope she recovers and get the justice that she deserves. But I want to look at the underlying issues that are challenging relationships and marriages in Nigeria today. I will try as much as possible to avoid viewing it from the prism of one gender or from the blame game that normally characterises discussions of this nature. Where has it all gone wrong for us that after all the fanfare of a colourful wedding what seems to follow is emotional and physical abuse on both sides; perhaps more on the women than men.
My take on this very thorny issue is that we need to look at it from the cultural perspective. Let me make it clear that this is not an attempt to blame culture for where we find ourselves but we can no longer be in denial and continue maintaining our myopic view on an issue that threatens the future of our children’s future relationships. In most Nigerian cultures (if not all), children are raised to think that there is a particular role for the female child usually to do with domestic chores like cooking, cleaning etc while the male child does so called masculine chores like washing the car, mowing the lawn etc. So from an early age we are raising children with the psychological notion that they are different with an emphasis that the female child is subservient. That may have been ok 50 years ago but we now live in a changing world. In a world where we want to embrace western culture whilst keeping hold of the part of our culture that suits us. Unfortunately, that would always going to lead to conflicts and horrible stories like the one at the start of this piece.
We need to change our attitudes if we are ever going to make progress and that needs to start at an early age in the way we raise our children and what we teach them in school. There is no point getting very hysterical or hypocritical when we hear news of domestic violence when it is happening everywhere around us.
A lot of work needs to be done in families. Top on my list is communication. Do we as parents talk to our children about their relationships? How many mothers talk to their young daughters about their boyfriends? Or do we pretend that they don't have one? Even if they don't have one they will eventually do so. How many fathers talk to their young sons about girlfriends? Or are male children given the impression they can do what they want and get away with it?
Our young girls need to be taught that they don't need to look up to a man to shower them with gifts, because in my view that is not the essence of relationships. Relationships are built on love, trust and respect for each other. But sadly, there are far too many young women in Nigeria who are growing up in a society that makes them believe it is a man's responsibility to look after them. Self-worth is lost when individuals are made to believe it is somebody else's responsibility to buy them body cream for example when they need one, I don't think so.
Our young men on the other needs to be taught early on that a woman should be treated with respect and dignity. They should be made aware that a woman is a symbol of love not sex like seems to be the case these days. These messages need to be reinforced in schools, it shouldn't stop in the home. Let us not underestimate the value of schools as a force for social change. To achieve this, I will advocate for teaching of relationship education in our schools. One that is based on a curriculum whose core input are made by parents in its formulation to ensure that the good works that is started in the home is not undone in school.
What is happening today is that some people are under this wrong illusion that when they get married, marriage will change them, no it won't. If your would-be husband is a cheater or abuser, chances are he will continue to do so even in marriage unless ofcourse you are prepared to put up with it. If your would-be wife is a nag or the type that expects you to foot every bill, chances are she won't change any time soon when you marry her.
We need education not blame on both men and women if we are ever to succeed and halt this disturbing but nonetheless growing trend of domestic violence. Women need to be empowered but empowerment doesn't need to start and end at giving them opportunities and education alone. They need social empowerment to  understand they can look after themselves when in a relationship with a man; a point I cannot stress enough. Men also need social empowerment to understand women cannot only be seen but heard and it doesn't make them any less a man if their views are challenged.
The time has come when we need to have an open and honest debate about how we can move forward in our marriages and relationships. The endless blame, accusations and counter-accusations has led us nowhere. Waiting until people get into marriages is a no-no because by that time it is too late. We need to target our young whose future relationships will also be in great danger if we fail to act now.

image source: http://www.papermasters.com/domestic_violence.html

Saturday, 30 July 2011

Putting the Cart before the Horse


What started as a rumour has finally become reality with the news that President Jonathan has sent a bill to the National for a single tenure of six years for the President and Governors. I was not shocked by the news but certainly surprised especially when we are only two months into a 4-year mandate. A mandate that promised so much but now in danger of losing focus on the issues that really matter.

Tenure elongation is a phenomenon that has sadly become synonymous with African leaders and Nigerian leaders, past and present are major culprits. This has led me to ask what goes on in the mind of the black man, especially African leaders? Do they recognise they occupy a position that could transform lives rather than worry about the small matter of tenure? Do they really understand that the greatness of a leader is about how well and not how long they stay in office? Do they read history books, especially the legacy left by our very own Nelson Mandela? You would have imagined lessons would have been learnt judging by the fact it was not long ago former President Obasanjo failed in his attempt to get himself an illegal third term. But no, despite the fact there is a mountain of developmental issues to deal with, what seems to be more important is how long should politicians stay in office. However, we are now down this path once again, putting the cart before the horse. We have been told by the Presidential spokesman, Dr Reuben Abati, that if successful, this will take effect from 2015 and would not in any way benefit the president. Well if it won't benefit the president then surely it should not be a priority for us when there are more pressing issues to deal with, not least the current insecurity situation made worse by the Boko Haram crisis. The worry is that this will run and run for the life of this administration and rather than focus on developmental issues we will once again be bugged down discussing tenure elongation.

image source: http://openeuropeblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/cart-before-horse.html

I am not a lawyer but I know that the tenure of the president and governors is a constitutional provision which can only be changed by amending the constitution. So why send a bill to the National Assembly instead of request for a constitutional amendment? Or am I missing something here? Anyway, focus will now turn to the National Assembly and this will be the first real test for an assembly with two-thirds of whose members are new. I hope they do not waste too much time debating an issue which in my view serves only as an unwelcome distraction at a time when they should be carrying out their oversight functions of bringing sustainable development to a country that has stagnated for too long.

What this goes to show is that once again we have failed to learn from history and you wonder how we can make progress when we keep failing to look back to our past to inform our future. Nigerians are yet to know the policy thrust of the current government. Where do their immediate priorities lie? Is it in Education? Health? Public infrastructure, a combination of two or more? Nigerians have waited for too long for basic human needs and we need our leaders to get on with the difficult tasks ahead but a distraction like tenure elongation certainly won't help.

Image source: http://openeuropeblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/cart-before-horse.html

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Minimum Wage or Minimum Disgrace?


Each time I turn on my computer to blog or comment about issues in Nigeria, it's always with a deep sense of frustration because you know the issues are to do with things that you would imagine will be easy to sort out. Unfortunately in Nigeria we tend to make things look more complex than they really are; we don't do things the easy way, do we? The 18,000 Naira minimum wage controversy came to almost an anti-climax with the calling off or suspension of the strike action proposed by the Nigeria Labour Congress last week. Whilst some states Governments have agreed and signed up to implement the payment, some are still insisting they can't afford it, something I struggle to believe and understand. First, let's try and put the 18,000 Naira into some sort of perspective. If you break down 18,000 monthly minimum wage in weekly terms it works out as 4,000/week and daily wage of 900 Naira. If you go further to calculate the wage in hourly terms, that gives just under 130 Naira per hour. This gives an equivalent to 50pence or about 30cents. How politicians  lay claim not to have the capacity to pay an average worker, a man presumably with a wife and two children 130/hour is simply astonishing and completely beyond me. Nigeria is rated as the second largest producer of oil by OPEC in its latest Annnual Statistical Bullentin (even though Iran currently disputes this) add to the soaring oil prices and excess oil revenue and yet we say we cannot pay a paltry amount of 18,000 Naira.

In contrast, we pay or our politicians pay themselves huge sums running into hundreds of millions of naira, not to mention those that are disguised as security votes, estacodes, constituency allowance and all manner of allowances. In my view, I wonder how anyone in Nigeria could survive on the pittance they call minimum wage especially in a country where people have to generate their own electricity; provide their own water supply; pay for their children to be privately educated because government schools have been left to decay and what is being served is nothing close to an education.

So why do our political leaders find it that difficult to pay and incentify our public servants? I think the politicians themselves would be the ones well placed to come up with a better and more credible argument other than the hard-to-sell position of their inability to pay. What this goes to show is the way we seem to prioritise what is more important for us in our society. Do we want to have a motivated public service that will be at the heart of driving government policies? Or do we want to continue to have an overbloated political structure with a retinue of political appointees and advisers of all manner of names who end up taking up a chunk of the government revenue in allowances/salaries.

Whilst I strongly believe the current 18,000 Naira minimum wage that is currently haggled over is nothing short of a disgrace, in fact I think it should be more than that figure if we take into account the astronomical cost of living in Nigeria. However, I am of the view that it's high time we took a step back and also look at the professionalism of our public/civil servants. It is no secret that a trip to most government offices in Nigeria is not a always a very pleasant one judging by poor customer service, lack of courtsey and the notion you have to 'grease' someone's palm to get want you want. These sorts of behaviours and attitudes has no place in a modern workforce that is key in driving reforms and policies of government. Government at all levels need to invest in training of public sector workers especially in the area of ethics, professionalism and policies. They also need to look at the code of conduct for their workers, if they have one, make it available and highlight the significance and importance of sticking to its provisions.


source: Google images
Time is overdue for us to start getting our priorities right; we've been left behind by the rest of the world and we run the danger of drifting further behind if we fail to take steps to pay a basic wage that is simply not beyond us to do. Afterall, we're supposed to be a rich nation so therefore let us start putting our money where our mouth is.


image source: Google images

Friday, 15 July 2011

Boko Haram & The Culture of Militancy


With the spate of bomb blasts now becoming common place in different parts of Nigeria, I am left wondering how did we get here. Militancy is nothing new in Nigeria; we have seen them in different names and modus operandi; OPC, MASSOB, MEND and the latest in the line, Boko Haram. By whatever name they go by, militancy is always driven by an ideology rightly or wrongly. It seems to me that we have lived as a nation over the last 50 years pretending like all was well but in reality we are a nation of many nations. I am not in any way advocating for the break up of Nigeria but what we can no longer deny is that we need to sit round a table and discuss the basis of our unity, whether you want to call it sovereign national conference is irrelevant, what is imperative is that Nigeria is at a crossroad. The same reasons why we fought a bitter civil war are still hanging over us and I see no difference between with what is being agitated for now or back then in 1967. However, what is baffling is that the political leadership in our country still cannot see the handwriting on the wall. If we keep avoiding what has now become inevitable we will only be postponing the evil day.

On the interim, we cannot allow a small group of people to hold a whole nation to ransom with the senseless killings of innocent people who are mostly poor and has nothing to do with the failure of the state to look after its own. Human life as always has been made to remain cheap but how cheap can it get before we start taking the security of lives as the most important job of the state. You do not fight militancy with guns and bombs but with dialogue and education.

Boko Haram remains a symptom of a very deeper problem which highlights the complexities of the failing arrangement called Nigeria. Without resorting to a lecture on how the 1914 amalgamation created the entity called Nigeria, this relationship nonetheless led to the coming together of nations within nations. Whilst there is nothing wrong in this arrangement, there is something unworkable with the current arrangement that is partly responsible to the rise and rise of mlitant groups that pose a great threat to the survival of our country. We need to also look at how despite billions of dollars of revenue from oil, Nigeria remains a poor country. In a country where two thirds of its citizens live on less than $1.25 per day and more than four fifths less than $2 per day, then its not much of a surprise when young abled bodied men carry guns and bombs on a killing rampage. They have nothing to do because society has abandoned them with limited opportunities and an unispiring education that has failed to empower them.

The time has come when as a country we need to finally accept that the current political and economic arrangement is just not working. We are made to believe that there are over 250 ethnic nationalities in the Nigerian project; it is high time those different nationalities gathered in whatever name you want to call it and discuss the basis of their unity and economic well-being. The discussions need to be frank and open with compromise where necessary. The outcome of those discussions which would no doubt be long and drawn-out, should form the basis of a new constitution.

The days of foot-dragging and pussyfooting are well and truly over if we want history to be kind to us otherwise if we fail to learn from history, we will one day become history ourselves.

Image source: http://allafrica.com/stories/200908140646.html

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