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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Thank you and Goodbye!

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It’s never easy to say goodbye but like the saying goes, all good things come to an end. My adventure with blogging has certainly reached the point where I can no longer carry on for many reasons. I am never one to engage in an activity that I’m no longer fully committed to as my many months of absence would suggest.

My last post on here was after my return from Nigeria on a family holiday in August. Since that time, I have been back again to Nigeria only recently for my late father’s funeral. Then there are huge family commitments, work and other interests that I am currently pursuing which has made me take the decision to discontinue blogging.

I may be back one day who knows but for now I am bowing out. My sincere thanks to all those who have followed, visited and commented on my blog posts. Thanks for the memories while it lasted. My email on this blog is still active if anyone ever wanted to contact me in future.

Thanks once again, happy blogging and stay blessed.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Naija Visit

Hello people, hope all is well in blogsville. I recently visited Nigeria with my family. Enjoy some pictures of the good, the bad and the ugly.

I spent some time in Enugu and I was mightily impressed with the many stretch of roads that have either been newly constructed or repaired. It was also similar story in some rural areas I visited.

Inside Shoprite in Enugu - long bread queues!
New merry go round facility outside Shoprite

In contrast, the Enugu-Onitsha Road was in a terrible state.

Onitsha was even worse! Me and a friend drove through Onitsha on our way to Asaba to visit a relative. To describe the roads as horrendous is truly an understatement, it was really terrible.

Abuja rocks and hills povided some stunning view of nature. 

We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Nigeria especially my kids who were visiting for the first time even though they're still quite very young to fully appreciate it. Despite our many challenges, Nigeria is a country full of potentials, if only we can harness it to its maximum.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Cervical Cancer: Have you had a smear test?

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Hope all is well in the land of blogsville after some time out attending to other commitments ~ my apologies as always. During my absence, I stumbled on a recent article in an online publication about cervical cancer. I've  read about cervical cancer and how it affects women in the past but this publication was of particular interest because recent research has shown an apparent apathy towards going for smear test by women of black and ethnic minority origin in the UK. An alarming 40% of Black and ethnic minority women feel the smear test is an unnecessary health test. Well in my view, the days of labelling cancers as a 'white man's' disease is well and truly over. Changes in lifestyle, environmental factors and even genetic factors puts us as much at risks in comparison with any other ethnic group.

The story is not different in Nigeria where a poorly resourced healthcare system in addition to very low enlightenment means many of our women may or are likely to suffer from cervical cancer and its consequences now or in the future.

I encouraged my wife to go for a smear test only recently and thankfully the results came back with no issues. I am also encouraging every woman who reads this post to seriously consider going for a smear test if not already had one done. It is a painless procedure that only takes a few minutes and you should get the results back in a matter of days. If you live in the UK, it is free on the NHS, you just need to book an appointment with your GP. I would imagine that would be the case in the rest of the western world. I know it won't be that easy for those who live in Nigeria but I'm sure if we create the awareness needed, it may help bring about support from Governments at every level and NGOs to ensure as many women as possible get tested.

Please spread the message and in doing so hopefully more black women will either be vaccinated or tested for cervical cancer. We don't want to blame another 'untimely' death to 'witches and wizards' which could have been better avoided by just making a sensible choice.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

One Tragedy, too many

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Words cannot describe how deeply saddened I am with the tragic Dana Plane crash in Lagos and the suicide bombing in a church in Bauchi. My thoughts and prayers goes to the families of the dead and injured in this very traumatic and immensely difficult times.

Every country have their fair share of both human and natural disasters but the frequency and severity with which these are happening in Nigeria is very alarming. The biggest worry for me is that within a few days from now, after a 'committee' would have been set up to investigate the 'causes of the incident' everything would have being forgotten about, we carry on as normal like nothing ever happened.

I hope those we have entrusted to find the answers to the challenges we face as a nation will come up with solutions to help us navigate our way out of all these mess, most of which I believe are self inflicted. Those who fail to learn from history may one day become history themselves.

May God bless Nigeria.

Saturday, 26 May 2012

It could have been worse

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Laura Brashier is not a name that rings a bell, certainly not one I have ever heard of or read about until recently. A few days ago, whilst waiting in the reception of the garage where I went for an MOT test on my car, I found myself flipping through pages of the January edition of GLAMOUR magazine. I say that because I don't read celebrity or glamour magazines but then to fill the void of the 45minutes wait which I was told it will take meant I had to pick up one from the different magazines scattered on the side table.

I stumbled on an article written by Laura Brashier. I will spare you the details but it was a story about what she went through after being diagnosed with cervical cancer. However, after what was a successful treatment of chemotherapy, what she didn't realise was she was never going to have sex again. Doctors advised her not engage in sex which is a common side effect, apparently the extensive exposure during chemotherapy, as well as destroying the cancerous cells also narrows the vaginal wall and makes it almost impossible for any sexual activity to take place. Since that time, Laura has had 3 failed relationships. However, she refused to be defeated by this realisation and has spent her time researching how to support people with similar medical conditions that has ended their sex life.

Reading that article immediately made me to reflect and put things into perspective. Only last week I was providing encouragement to someone I know whose wife has a medical condition that is making childbirth proving difficult. In this case sex wasn't the issue but inability to conceive. I would like to imagine Laura would not mind being in this position. But then again only recently I lost a very close distant relative, who only married a year ago. I'm sure if she was giving a choice of either to live and be put in the other two situations I've just described or death, I'm sure she'll choose life.

In essence the message I'm trying to get across is that in as much as humans we do often despair and worry about our circumstances in life, things could have also been a lot worse. For every bad situation, there's always a potentially worse thing that can happen. It's about putting things into perspective, whilst not always accepting what life throws at us but at least to find the courage to put a positive spin in what can be very difficult and challenging times that will inevitably confront us.

PS: Apologies for the recent absence, as always work, family and other commitments means as much as I love blogging, it's not number one on the 'to do list' I'm afraid.
Support the Give a book campaign, it's very much alive.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Understanding Female Genital Mutilation

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I remember back in Nigeria, I heard and read bits about Female Genital Mutilation otherwise known as FGM. At the time, I must admit I didn't really understand or should I say pay too much attention to what it actually involves other than it was a procedure that was  performed on young girls to prevent them from becoming promiscuous later in life.

Only recently it came up in conversation and my wife did explain to me that it basically involves cutting out some external parts of the female genital organ. I was also made to understand there are alternative methods used instead of cutting. It involves dipping a piece of cloth into hot water which is then applied at intervals spanning days or even weeks to serve similar purpose to FGM but without having to cut anything. I know this is a taboo subject for some people but we need to talk about these issues to understand them better.

I've done a few bit of research since that time which seem to corroborate what she rightly told me. The World Health Organisation's website also provides some very useful information covering all aspects of the practice.

What worries me is that the intention of those who carry out the procedure is to limit sexual pleasure and in doing so aim to achieve their purpose of making their victims less likely to become promiscuous. I haven't read or come across any research that links female genitalia to sexual promiscuity. Even if their was any, individuals have a choice of how they choose to live their sexual lives but that is a topic for another day.

What really struck me and in fact spurred me into blogging about this issue is that just today (22/04/12), reports in the UK media seem to suggest there may well be over 100,000 victims of this practice in the UK. The practice is thought to be rife among African and some Asian communities.

Despite legislation and a possible 14 year jail term for anyone engaged or arrange to engage in the practice, it seems, it still hasn't deterred the practice in African communities in particular. If this practice is rife in our communities in the diaspora especially those of us living in the west whom you would expect should know better then you can imagine the scale of the problem in Nigeria.

More needs to be done to deal with the problem. Legislation is certainly a step in the right direction but from what I gather there are no Federal laws that directly prohibits the practice. Even though some states have laws to tackle FGM, a National approach would be more effective.

But laws alone are not enough, FGM like most social issues requires plenty of enlightenment and education to challenge long held beliefs and attitudes which in my view is at the heart of practices of this nature. This will require lots of persuasion, convincing and a paradigm shift in deeply rooted culture and traditions. It shouldn't be treated as a cultural issue anymore but as a public health matter.

There are no health benefits for subjecting young girls to undergo this procedure and as such more should be done to put an end to it. We can certainly do our bit through talking and educating our relatives, friends, supporting NGOs and raising awareness. It's not too late to start now otherwise we'll be storing up huge social and psychological problems for future generations.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Potential Pitfalls of Social Media

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Whenever the term social media is used, what usually springs to mind is Facebook, twitter and Youtube. In reality, all forms of Web based applications are an integral part of social media which undoubtedly has changed the landscape of how we communicate.

I still remember towards the turn of the new millenium when the only way I could contact my sister in London was through a NITEL phonebooth. Mobile phones and other forms of instant communication where few and far between. Then came yahoo messenger, msn and fast forward to a decade later, we have witnessed an explosion of different platforms that facilitates easy communication. The benefits that have followed as a result are enormous and there are many more technologies of this kind that I'm sure will follow suit.

As social media continues to grow and expand with its attendant benefits, our lives and rules of social engagement will continually be shaped by how we use them. I'm a big fan of modern technology and social media certainly falls into that category.

However, the use of pseudo names on social media platforms seems to give some people a false idea that what they type behind their computers or mobile devices in the comfort of their home is anonymous. A visit to a popular Nigerian web forum (which I'll prefer not to mention) seems to reinforce this argument. The use of vitriol and abusive words seems to be the norm and the sad part of it is that it does appear to be acceptable. Most debates seem to quickly turn into a tribal war for no apparent reason.

What people who use abusive and inappropriate language on social media platforms fail to understand is that whatever you put on the web remains forever. Deleting something from a website or web application doesn't necessarily gets rid of it from the web. Websites and social media contents are stored on servers and likely to remain long after you may have forgotten about them or think you've deleted them. We cannot predict where we'll be or what we'll do in say 10 or 20 years from now and you never know in what ways things you've put out on social media platforms may haunt you later in life.

Sometimes we may come across a topic or opinion we don't necessarily agree with, my top tip is not to respond to such issues when emotions are running high. Chances are that you're more likely to write something that you may rue later - try and do so when you're in a better frame of mind.

Recently a UK university student was jailed for aiming racists abuse on twitter at a footballer (Fabrice Muamba) who collapsed during a football match. There have been similar cases of this nature in recent times. What it shows is that what you say on social media is far from being anonymous. I know some people may say they are in Nigeria and it will be difficult to get them but believe me modern tracking technologies can make it very easy in the event your ISP is unable to provide information about you.

The next time you go for a job interview, chances are an Internet search about you may have been carried out. In the US, some employers have gone a step further. I read recently about the practice by some employers asking job applicants their Facebook passwords as part of their job application process. Whilst most social media platforms have security settings to protect our privacy, including our dear blogger, in reality they are all vulnerable to hackers and people with a different agenda. Only few days ago, an anonymous group made the UK Home Office website inaccessible, reinforcing how vulnerable the web can be.

As we blog and enjoy the thrills of using social media platforms, please be measured in what you say. Whatever content you want to share online, photos, video etc, be sure it's something you won't look back later and regret. Whilst I would like to dismiss any perceived perception of scaremongering, it would benefit us to know that each time we use the web, we leave an audit trail of who we are and what we've been up to but let it be for the right reasons.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Easter Blessings

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I hope all is well in blogsville, I can’t believe I haven’t visited my blog or any other blog for that matter for a whole month!

Thanks to all those who left goodwill comments/messages in my last post when I announced I was taking a short break. High-five to Ginger, for your recent email checking up on me. 

I must admit that being away from blogging for a few weeks did made me realise how time consuming it can be joggling it with work, family, etc. I wonder if I would be able to cope if I was also on Facebook and twitter. I don’t know how people who manage to keep up with all these social media do it – they must have better time management skills than I do. J
But I do enjoy writing and reading other peoples’ blogs/writings, so I won’t be quitting any time soon but perhaps will be more sensible about it without biting more than I can chew.

I’m sure you’re all enjoying the Easer holiday and what it symbolises. Anyway I shall be doing blog rounds to catch up with what I must have missed these past weeks. I'll hopefully do a proper blog post in the coming days.

Happy Easter and remain blessed.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

On a short break...

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I am taking a short break from blogging and I should be back in April as part of my season of Lent commitment. If you don't see me leave comments on your blog, please don't think I'm ignoring you.

The break will also enable me put some more focus on the 'Give A Book, Save our Future' campaign. Please feel free to still email me about it like a few people have done recently. Email is

Stay blessed and see you soon. :-)

Sunday, 19 February 2012

On Giving and Charity

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"I would rather pay my tithes by giving it to people who need them instead of paying it to fund a pastors luxurious lifestyle". These were the transcribed words of one of many people who have phoned to either encourage me, donate a book(s) or keen to become part of the 'Give a book, save our future' campaign since last Tuesday when I made a live TV appearance on BenTv to promote it. I will talk about that particular media appearance in due course.

Now this post is not about tithing or pastors but the more I recollected those words the more I began to do some soul searching about our attitudes to giving and charitable work. Let me first put things into perspective of some sort. In the UK, there are over 160,000 charities according to the Charity Commission, that gives about 1 charity serving about 372 people. The list is growing all the time as charities of all sorts spring up all the time to cater for vast range of needs in their society. In Nigeria there is no record from a simple Google search about the number of charities in Nigeria, not even from the website of the Corporate Affairs Commission, the official government body responsible for registering them. I know there are some International charities in Nigeria like the Red Cross, Steppingstones, Save the children etc. However, I don't know of too many charities by Nigerians for Nigerians, maybe somebody reading this post might point me to the direction of many I do not know of. It doesn't help when official figures are difficult to come by which leaves us to dig up the ones we know or seek the help of our friend Google. A few that springs to mind are the Kanu heart foundation and the usual Motherless babies home and orphanages.

I'm not in the business of comparing the UK and Nigeria but what I do know is that a lot of people in privileged positions, even ordinary citizens and corporate bodies do a lot to support charities in the UK. Then there is The Children in Needs day, RedNose Day and other nationwide events that raise millions of pounds for many good causes. I'm sure there are many people who do a lot to support charity in Nigeria but can more still be done? Of course there is an awful lot more that can be done to make it a national obsession.

The charity that I'm advocating for is not just about helping family members and friends. Yes charity needs to begin at home but it doesn't need to end there. Charity and giving for me is more to do with the ability of the human spirit to show love beyond the boundaries of family and friends. It's about the common good.

We do often criticise bad governance in Nigeria (that includes me) and in most cases rightly so but I believe we all have a moral responsibility to act by way of charitable work to help make a difference in the lives of those in desperate and varying needs. Please let me make it clear that I'm not trying to patronise anyone or make people feel bad about themselves, far from it. This post is about highlighting an issue that doesn't get a lot of press and publicity. I'm very lucky that I had an upbringing that sowed the seeds of giving and charity in me from an early age. It helped me to play an active role as director of Community services in my university days at Rotaract club. That role was an eye opener as it gave me an opportunity together with my colleagues at the time to do lots of charity work visiting and donating food items/money to motherless babies' homes, disabled peoples' homes and orphanages. The smiles on the faces of those children lit up my world and has stayed with me ever since then. I am pleased we had an opportunity to make a small difference in their lives.

If you're reading this post and you feel the need to get involved in charitable work, then you can either find one whose work interests you or even set up one yourself in an area you feel passionate about.  Charities can be local, they don't necessarily have to be big. It doesn't always involve lots of money, sometimes it can be as simple as volunteering or even mentoring young people who need some direction in their lives. We can never have too many charities because ours is a country that for over 50 years has failed its citizens but we certainly cannot fail ourselves. Even if the Nigerian state eventually wakes up from its slumber and begins to function and operate as we expect it to, there'll always be those who will remain on the bottom spectrum of society and in my conviction, we as citizens have a moral responsibility to intervene in their life chances.

The more our people begin to engage in charitable ventures, I believe we'll reap the rewards in a gradual change in attitudes. The problems of Nigeria in my view are not just about corruption and bad governance. We desperately need a paradigm shift in attitudes and selflessness to begin to think more about what we can do to benefit others and not necessarily looking for what's in it to be gained. If there's anything to be gained then it should be taking huge satisfaction from doing good.

Let me make a distinction that the charity I've been harping on about is not some of the numerous NGOs we have of questionable motives being mindful not to generalise or the First lady this and First lady that 'pet projects'. I joined an NGO shortly before I left Nigeria whose aim was to promote youth involvement in good governance, democracy and raise political consciousness among young people. However, it later turned into an opportunity for some individuals to cosy up to the political aspirations of the then senate president. It soon became clear that either I towed the line or make way, I felt betrayed and misled and I had no choice but to say au revoir.

There's also a need for the values of charity and giving to be promoted in our schools. Only recently me and a few of my students organised a charity cancer appeal for a cancer charity and in just one day we raised a reasonable amount. What struck me the most was the passion and enthusiasm of young people to engage in charitable work. Something I'm very keen we replicate in Nigerian schools. If we are to raise leaders for the future, who we expect to become selfless in their actions and think more about the greater good and less of personal and financial rewards, then we have to invest in moulding and shaping their attitudes. Giving and charitable attitudes is not all that they need but is certainly something that we cannot allow to elude them.

Please do something for charity, don't leave it till tomorrow, you can start today, right now. God bless.

NB: The 'Give a Book, Save our Future' campaign had a successful media outing (more on that soon) and support is growing steadily and gradually all the time. What are you waiting for? Please join the campaign and make a difference. The campaign will be moving to its own independent platform soon, watch this space!!!

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

Update on Give a Book campaign

Hello everyone and lots of love to you all on Valentine's day. As we share our love to our other halfs, friends and families, please spare a thought to those who suffer deprivation in different forms.

I just wanted to update you all that the Give a book, save our future campaign is very much alive. For those of you reading about it for the first time, its aim is to collect book donations from kind hearted people and donate same to some schools in Nigeria. This we believe will help to support the educational and future life chances of young people who desperately need them.

If you are new to this blog, you can go to the Give a book post and read up to find more details about the campaign.

I'll be making a live appearance on BenTv tonight (Tuesday Feb 14) at 7pm (UK time) to create more awareness and publicity. Thank you to Tunde Alabi at BenTv and all the crew there for giving this campaign an opportunity at no cost, very much appreciated.

Thank you to all bloggers who have already published a post about this campaign on their blogs: Myne Whitman, The Relentless Builder, A-9JA-Greatayabaodusote, and Nollywood Rave. I also remember Naijalines, for your positive comments and also promise to donate. Thanks too to Toyin Ibrahim who has agreed to become a co-facilitator and to Ginger, @ilola, Stelzz, Muse Origins for your kind words. And to anyone that I unintentinally missed out, my sincere apologies but be rest assured your contribution is greatly appreciated. Special thanks too to my lovely wife for your unrelenting support and the Almighty God, on whose strength I constantly rely on.

NB: Please if you promised to donate, let me know when you intend to send your book donations and I'll provide you with the address where it needs to be sent.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Love, Marriage and Science

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A couple of days ago I woke up at about 4am, two and a half hours earlier than normal. This time not by the usual cry of our 10-month old baby but just one of those days where the human brain decides to operate differently.

As I laid awake, different thoughts criss-crossed my mind, from the politics at work the previous day, to family and friends in general. One particular thought refused to fade away regarding the phone conversation I had with a distant female relative a couple of days earlier. I will just refer to her as Di. We talked about family, kids, work etc. Her husband was away from the house at the time so she talked openly about how she enjoyed her marriage despite occasional hiccups you would expect from any marriage. Reading between the lines, I could tell she wasn't just making it up. The enthusiasm and spark in her voice did not betray her happiness.

Back then in our teenage years, I could recollect she was very adamant she wasn't going to marry a politician or a man with a relatively big age gap. Just after graduation, her first suitor came calling. A tall, young, handsome medical practitioner based in the States. This was her dream man. But as it panned out she seemed keen than the man did. After a year of occasional phone calls, she read the hand writing on the wall and reluctantly considered him as the one that got away.

But 'luckily 'she didn't have to wait too long as another suitor came calling months later. This time a local politician, but let's face it you and I know politicians at any level in Nigeria are fully loaded (with cash of course). Di was undecided, her family liked the bloke and were keen. She didn't mind him either but from talking to her she also didn't think he ticked all the right boxes for her ideal husband especially as regards to age and the sort of job he did. Let me say at this juncture, I and Di got on well when we were growing up. She could confide and talk to me literally about anything. Partly because she felt I was open minded and not quick to judge people, well at least as she believed.

In the weeks after her latest suitor came asking for her hand in marriage, Di talked to me on different occasions to gauge my feelings about what my thoughts were about him. My honest opinion was that it didn't really matter what I felt or thought. I put it to her it that what she felt was what really mattered as she was the one that would be in the marriage not me or any other person. I told her it was her decision and in life we have to live and die by our decisions.

So far by her account and what we hear from other sources, she seem happy in her marriage, blessed with two beautiful kids and a caring husband. However I wonder if that would have been the case if things had worked out with her first suitor who had or seem to have all she wanted in a 'dream' husband. Perhaps it could been successful or may be not. The truth is that we may never know.

Love and marriage are highly emotive subjects that divides opinion. It seems to me the more we try to treat them as variables that can be quantified and measured, the more we portray them as science. In my view love and marriage aren't sciences that rely on testable theories and hypotheses. If it were I'm sure other people could easily replicate the experience of successful marriages. There aren't any harm in observing and sharing personal experiences but that's all they are - experience and observations.

Societal values have changed and so does attitudes towards marriage. The reason it seems to me there is a perception that marriages have become more challenging are plenty and varied. We may spend a life-time trying to understand them but my guess is that the answers may elude us. The uniqueness of every marriage makes it even more difficult hence why it may be a good idea if we find what works best for us and stick with it instead of looking for a magic wand to put things right for us.

Perhaps we could do more to encourage our children and young people to develop the right attitude for future healthy relationships and marriages. Something I attempted to address in a previous post.

God bless our marriages, both present and future ones.

Still counting on your support on 'Give a book, save a future' campaign. Update to follow soon. Many thanks to all bloggers that have thrown their wait behind it, God bless you ten fold.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

What is your Nigeria Embassy Experience? (part 2)

Snapshot of the packed basement
Let me first thank all those who left comments in the first part of this post last week, I found all your comments very uplifting. The main reason I decided to share this experience was to show that the failings of our government past and present isn't just felt at home but is also felt abroad.

Anyway, we returned to the Nigeria High Commission just before the new year, this time armed with all necessary documents and even took along with us our marriage certificate, who knows if they might start demanding for proof that we're actually married!

On getting there it was the same experience of the previous week replayed; a cramped and crowded room, about 3-hour wait, poor customer service, no baby changing room, lack of disable/buggy access etc. I won't bore you with the details, if you didn't read the first part, you can go to this link.

While we were still waiting to be called, a female immigration officer came to the corner of the room where we managed to secure some seats after standing for about 30minutes. She was after a middle-aged man who was sat opposite us. She called out the name of the person she wanted to see as soon as she came close and the man stood up to go to her and she immediately instructed him, "seat down there", with a very rude tone. The man sat down without uttering a word. The next thing she said to him was, "where is your passport", again in a manner that was quite embarrassing to watch. Then she asked for his marriage certificate but wasn't happy with it for reasons I don't know. She started telling the man off, "why didn't you come with everything complete, in fact you're not prepared"...after stuttering for a few seconds, she asked him to follow her and away they went. I can only imagine the man himself had something dodgy about him that made him not to stick up for himself but does that give her any right to talk down on him in the way and manner she did? As soon as they left everyone around us couldn't believe what they had just watched play out in front of them.

We were finally called, after nearly 3 hours of waiting and followed a male Immigration officer upstairs to get the kid's photographs taken. This time it wasn't a long wait before we were called and attended to by another lady. She asked for my oldest son's name and other details which I told her.. She started questioning why we gave him a short version of his name, and this wasn't done as a compliment but quite arrogantly and patronising. She didn't even wait for me to respond and she started saying, oh, when they grow up now they will start running here to get their name changed and creating more work for us. To say I was stunned was an understatement. I told her in no uncertain terms that he is my son and it is my prerogative to give him any name I wanted. If he grows up and wants to change his name that is his choice but I refuse to be lectured about what is an appropriate name to call my child. As if that wasn't bad enough, my older son wandered to the table opposite us while my wife was getting something from her bag. This other lady just screamed at him, we were all shaken thinking he has done something outrageous. All he did was touch her computer mouse! I couldn't believe anyone could react to a 3year-old in that manner for only touching a computer mouse, absolutely ridiculous.

Anyway, we've successfully collected the passports, after all the hassle.

Having seen the way that place is run, I think they could do with some of these recommendations:

  • Get some properly trained people to work there, many of them have no clue what it means to serve people. They need to be drilled to be courteous, polite and considerate and above all get some manners.
  • Cut the waiting times to about 30-45mins, how do they achieve that? Quite simple, work out how many people visit on average in a day. It's either they reduce the number of appointments in a day or employ more staff and give them processing targets to speed up things.
  • Consider moving to a different office or refurbish the current one to have buggy/disable access, have a family/children area, baby changing facilities
  • Sort out their website to make it more easier to access information and make the information they put their explicitly clear. No need having a website for the sake of having one.

However, the basement area where they cramp people in is a health and safety risk. Instead of just complaining and doing nothing about it, the relevant UK authorities have been informed to hopefully compel them to put things right. I don't want other families to go through the same experience. Our governments need to start treating its citizens wherever they may be with some dignity.

God bless Nigeria.

Friday, 20 January 2012

A country burns

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Nigeria is moving towards a precipice as recent events in the country may suggest. 20 bombs have gone off in Kano and sadly it's just a matter of when and not if the next one will go off. Don't ask me where the next target will be because I haven't got a clue. As if the Christmas day bombings weren't enough and the spate of shootings and killings that followed and now this, a feature that is now familiar with our country.

Nigeria is gradually burning in front of our eyes. Do we continue to do nothing? I don't think so, we've all got to take a stand. It's either we are in support of what is happening or we are against it, we can't afford to sit on the fence.

I really don't care if these mayhem are politically motivated or driven by religious extremism, the truth is that there is a failure of leadership to bring this under control. The primary responsibility of any government is to protect its citizens but they were pre-occupied with the small matter of subsidy removal. Thank God our people resisted it and in the end the voice of reason prevailed.

Nigeria has got to discuss the basis of its political and economic unity, we cannot carry on like this. Time is running out but we hope it doesn't run out before our country implodes.

God bless Nigeria. 

Sunday, 15 January 2012

What is your Nigeria Embassy Experience?

Snaphot of the basement area

Well I'll start by sharing my experience at the Nigeria High Commission recently. We visited their office in central London in December last year to obtain the new e-passport for my children having been given a 6-month appointment back in July when I applied.

On getting there, you are immediately made aware or given the impression that this is Nigeria, all be it in London. Thankfully we met a short queue, not long in the waiting, the bouncer or should I say embassy attendant whose job was to check visitors’ documents was arguing with a lady. From what I overheard, the lady was trying to explain to him that the information he was requesting for wasn't displayed on their website. However, he was having none of it and was talking down this lady displaying so much arrogance and rudeness.

Anyway I and my wife had to lift the buggy whilst also holding my 3-year old as the place had no disable or buggy access. On getting inside to the landing area, we met another 'attendant' who asked what our mission was and I informed him. He led us upstairs to a waiting area which also had a handful of people. After waiting for about half an hour, I had this sneaky suspicion that we weren’t in the right place. As soon as a lady who came to read out some names of people entered the room, I went up to find out from her whom we needed to submit our to. She told us we were at the wrong place that we had to go downstairs. I said to her that one of her colleagues directed us where we were. She insisted we were at the wrong place and so we heeded her advice.

Again, no disable or buggy access to the basement area where we were asked to go. So we had to lift the buggy to the basement area. On getting there, it was like one big market place. The whole place was full of people, the seating area was fully occupied and lots of others standing. It was very stuffy, despite it being a very cold winter’s day but when you've got that many people in a small space you should expect that. I was given a ticket number on presenting my documents to another staff at the basement and that was the beginning of what turned out to be a long, arduous wait. We stood at a corner, with some other families with children, as there were no vacant seats.
Another snapshot of the basemen area

We waited for nearly 3 hours before our number was called. In between, we succeeded in finding somewhere to sit after a family had been attended to and vacated their seats. My older son, was in distress all day and after much discomfort, he fell asleep eventually. My youngest followed suit, poor souls, they must be wondering why we brought them to this hell hole. There wasn’t any changing area for children so it meant nappies had to be changed in the same area people were waiting to be called.

On getting to the counter, I presented my documents to the lady who was attending to me. After perusing through, she told me my children’s birth certificates were missing. I said to her I honestly couldn’t remember seeing this information on the website and I had spoken to an embassy staff the day before and all he advised me to bring along was an authorisation letter including my own passport which I brought along. I requested if they could process the e-passports on the condition that I won’t be able to collect them unless I present the birth certificates but she declined. Fair play to her, at least she was sticking to the rules which I didn’t have a problem with. I had a problem with the fact that I was clearly misinformed by a staff of the commission and the information on their website wasn’t explicit enough either. As we don’t live in London, it felt like it was a wasted journey.

However, on our way out we had to lift the buggy again to the landing area from the basement and I was with the kids while my wife went down to get some items we had left behind. Whilst waiting, this attendant started questioning why I was standing where I was. I explained to him that I was waiting for my wife and we would be leaving in a minute. He didn’t seem satisfied and was more concerned that I left the area. I was quite upset that he was inconsiderate despite seeing that I had two young children I was looking after. How on earth did he expect me to move down the steep stairs with a buggy/child while holding another child? Anyway, shortly afterwards my wife turned up and I gave him a piece of my mind before we made our way out of the building.

We left eventually to return the following week just before the New Year.

I’ll update you in part 2 about what happened and my response to the condition and service in that place which in my view isn't worthy to be called a high commission.

Keep supporting Occupy Nigeria wherever you are and don't forget about 'Give a book, save our future' campaign. The destiny of Nigeria is in our hands.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Occupy Nigeria, A clarion call

I have been moved in recent days by the overwhelming support, courage, bravery and patriotism shown by ordinary Nigerians going out on the streets to demand for change. I commiserate with the families of those protesters whom I consider heroes of Nigeria that have been murdered in recent days by some trigger happy police officers. Their only 'crime' was exercising their democratic right to protest against perceived injustices.

I really don't want to go on about the issues and arguments for or against fuel subsidy because they're well documented. I believe what is unfolding before our eyes are pent-up anger and frustrations for over 50 years of bad governance, social injustice and a blatant disregard for human life in Nigeria. For me there are only really two options left for us, it's either we galvanise this protest into a movement to start the complete reform of our country or we give up and go back to the old ways of complaining and doing nothing about our problems.

Nigerians should also resist the temptation to turn these largely peaceful protests into a tribal diatribe as I have read in some media. The underlying issues behind these protests are bigger than any tribe, individual, politician or geographic region. It's nothing to do with where the protest started or which region is doing more or less. We can only hope that these peaceful protests gain momentum which may galvanise more people and make it truly national.

The Nigeria Police needs to exercise restraint about the way and manner they're handling these protests which from what I read and watch are mostly peaceful. We hope the Police don't become the catalyst to turn this into something that no one wants to see. I pray that God will continue to protect all those that are legitimately making their voices heard back in Nigeria.

Nigeria is gradually being occupied by the forces of change to hopefully displace the pains and long suffering of decades.

God bless Nigeria!

Friday, 6 January 2012

GEJ Presidential Palace Subsidy Must End: Nigerian Bloggers' Protest

Image source

This post is in solidarity with Naijalines's blog campaign against the unnecessary and insensitive fuel subsidy removal. It still remains an irony and defies all human logic that a country blessed with so much natural resources especially oil still struggles to feed its citizens let alone provide them with affordable petroleum products. But then our dear Nigeria is a country at variance with all forms of human and natural justice.

I believe we all have a role to play and take responsibility for the future of our country. Change will never come our way unless we take action and as bloggers, our medium is a very powerful force to challenge the status quo. Like I said before in one of my previous posts, this year is a big year for Nigeria. How do we  reconcile the fact Nigeria intends to spend over $3m to feed the President, an amount enough to pay the wages of hundreds of teachers, Nurses etc, who in my view do a better job. By the way, what does the country's president do with his wages? Isn't he supposed to use his wages to look after himself and his family like everyone else? Well take a look at the list below, if you haven't already, to see the full budget for the president's office and you realise that Nigerians have got to challenge and hold people entrusted with the public purse strings accountable.

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing", Edmund Burke.

Doing nothing is no longer an option, please support this campaign if you haven't done so already.

PS: Give a book, save our future, is still on-going for those who missed my previous post. Please click on the link for full details.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Give a book, save our future

Image source
Let me first say a happy new year to you all and may your dreams come to fruition this year.  As promised, I’m embarking on a campaign, ‘Give a book, save our future’.

Quite simply, as some of you may well be aware that I’m a teacher and someone with a deep passion for education.  I believe God used education to make a huge difference in my life and continues to do so. I’ll regard my life’s journey as unfulfilled if I fail to give back to society in any way I can. As a Nigerian, we can be quite critical about the many wrongs in our society and most times rightly so. But I also believe we can take action by making small contributions that can only help improve our society. I’m a firm believer that whatever change we seek will only happen if we take action to accomplish them. I’m not in any way claiming this campaign will change the world but it certainly won’t make it any worse.

What is the purpose of this campaign?
I believe education remains the key that will unlock Nigeria’s future. Good education can only be possible with access to books, something that many Nigerian children are denied. So I’ve decided that if we keep waiting for the Nigerian governments at all levels, we might be waiting for a long time.

How will this campaign work?
This campaign which starts from today will involve awareness and invite people to donate old or used books they no longer need or are quite happy to give which are in fairly good condition. They can range from academic books, for primary and secondary school age, fiction, non-fiction etc.

Who can get involved?
This campaign is open to all. You can kindly donate a book or books.

How can you get involved?
You can get involved by help spreading the word via your blogs, websites, through friends, family etc. This campaign is not about me, I just see myself as a facilitator. It’s more about the ordinary Nigerian children who have limited access to books and whom this campaign will benefit eventually. You can also get involved by choosing to become a co-facilitator of this campaign and be actively involved in its operations.

How long will this campaign last?
This campaign will last for at least 6 months, up to the summer to enable us raise our initial target of 1000 books (an ambitious target) you might think but quite achievable I would like to believe.

Who will benefit from this campaign?
The plan is to partner with at least 3 schools especially in deprived areas in Nigeria in the first instance. The intention is to ensure that the books are donated for use in each school’s library for use by all students. Where a school library doesn’t exist then we can encourage them to set up one to enable students borrow or use these books for study.

Do you know of any school that could benefit from this campaign? If so please get in touch and let me know how you can be of help in making the necessary contacts needed to get things started.

How will this campaign be funded?
This will be a 100% charitable campaign. I am not asking for money, all I’m asking for is publicity, donations of old or used books for primary and secondary age or any book that will benefit young people. We'll also be soliciting for logistic support to send these books to Nigeria at the appropriate time.
All books collected will be accounted for. At the end of the campaign, details of the schools where these books have been donated to will be made available. Regular updates will be made available on this blog and on my education blog.

How can I send my book donations?
If you live in the UK or Ireland, please email me at:  or and I’ll provide you with the address where donations can be sent to.
If you live in the US, Canada, or other parts of Europe, perhaps you may want to lead this campaign where you are which will be quite awesome if you can. Those in Nigeria, we would even rely on your massive support in recommending schools and mobilising where you are.

At the time of writing this post, I've already collected about 100 ICT books (which is my subject specialism by the way) which we were going to throw away but I said no way. I knew it will be of immense benefit to our young people whose access to books is somewhat limited. That was really the time the idea for this campaign first crossed my mind. After months of dithering, I feel it's something I have to do. 

How can I get updates about the work of this campaign?
I will provide regular updates to show how much books have been donated and by who. I can use pseudo names for those who don’t want their real identities revealed. I have contacted a media outlet in the UK (BenTv) and I’m currently in discussion to see how they may help us get the word out to the Nigerian community and even others. I’m also in the process of contacting VoxAfrica, another UK based media outlet for Diaspora people.

In whatever way you want to support, please feel free to let me know on here or send me an email if you prefer. Also please feel free to ask any questions you may have. Advice and constructive criticisms are most certainly welcome.

This will be a challenge no doubt but one that I believe can succeed with your help and support. And if we succeed, we would together have made a small difference to the lives of some young people in Nigeria, and in doing so, maybe save their futures. And who knows, perhaps save our country’s future.


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