Re-Branding Nigeria Or Educating Nigerian Leaders?


RE-BRANDING NIGERIA OR EDUCATING NIGERIAN LEADERS?

Jon Chikadibie Okafor.

Not long ago, the Federal Ministry of Information headed by Prof. Dora Akunyili rolled out what it called “Re-branding Nigeria”. This I understand is a programme designed to make Nigeria marketable, so to say; the argument being that we needed to project Nigeria in beautiful colours in order to make her the darling of other nations. Very noble idea I dare say. It is a thing of joy to see that Nigeria has never and will never run out of ideas of how to “move the nation forward”. [Has anyone else noticed that every Information Minister comes up with one pet project or the other just to look busy?].

While basking in the euphoria of Nigeria being full of “visionary” leaders, let us pause to look at the Nigerian state that needs “re-branding” and see if the medicine being prescribed for this apparently sick nation is the ideal one. Is Nigeria the country a bad one? Are the citizens of Nigeria a bad lot? Having argued that Nigeria the country has a problem, is that problem that of leadership? Let me try and tackle each on its own merit.

Nigeria came into existence in 1861 owing to what some mischievous people have referred to as the result of spending too much time in ones bedroom instead of concentrating on doing the job-Lord Lugard’s mistress gave us the name Nigeria [this might be the origin of the First Lady malady in Nigeria politics]. The Northern and Southern protectorates were fused together simply for the purpose of ease of administration instead of being based on the peoples’ wish. Hence, the Nigerian state is an aberration, a country that is an artificial contraption of an alien that did not take the interests of we the people into consideration. Up till this moment, Nigerians still see themselves first as an ethnic being, i.e. first seeing themselves as being from a particular tribe rather than being “a Nigerian” in all cases. I recommend that Prof. Akunyili strive to “re-brand” this situation.

Nigerians are not bad people by any standard. Incidentally, there is every indication that we have a warped value system. Morality has been thrown to the dogs all in the bid to “make ends meet”. The development of this ugly trend could be traced to the era of military repression of Ibrahim Babangida, a period of economic irresponsibility by the government that encouraged all manners of ills in the society. Horrendously, there has been some kind of geometric progression of the erosion of our value system as a nation. Elders do not solicit questions any more-our people now engage in all manner of evil just to put food on the table. It is a pity that instead of having a responsive and responsible government, what we have had in Nigeria since 1984 is a collection of rogues who have stolen so much from our collective funds! Just like soldiers of fortune, our military men had always found one incoherent reason to come to power through the use of the fire power that we the people paid for! Talking of our value system, what qualified retired Generals Ibrahim Babangida, Abdusalam Abubakar etc as elder statesmen? I feel so much rage when I see these coup plotters being sent to represent Nigeria on any capacity, what nonsense! We should be talking of finding ways to make this men vomit their loots! These men have retired to a life of grand opulence and are walking the streets free-they are even being protected and treated as VIPs! How much did they earn as salaries as military officers? Prof. Dora Akunyili, your effort to re-brand Nigeria should concentrate on those that looted our coffers [and are still at it!]. Let people know that pilfering public funds is a criminal offence and those that venture into it would be made to face the law. Use your Ministry of Information to educate the populace; encourage our people to kick against the immoral display of ill-gotten wealth, especially by those that occupy elective posts. This I believe would be a good case of re-branding Nigeria. I am sure you can do this, or have you changed from the fearless lady of NAFDAC? Being a government spokesperson must be a tough job, especially if that government is of the PDP.

Quite recently, the immediate past Vice President of Nigeria, Mr. Atiku Abubakar was quoted as saying that the problem with Nigeria was that of inept leadership. Bingo! It is instructive to note that Atiku made this comment while in Bayelsa State for the burial of the late mother of DSP Alamesiagha, a former governor/leader of that state who was convicted for stealing government money. Professor Akunyili, you are really in the wrong job. I am not sure how you would be working for the PDP government if you really want to “re-brand” Nigeria. Nigeria is not a product that needs a new label in order to attract buyers, what we need is a good government made up of men and women that are not kleptomaniacs, leaders who are truly committed to uplifting Nigeria, leaders who genuinely care for we the people, leaders who do not lie to the people, leaders who work tirelessly to bring about regular power supply rather than those that ask us to pray to God for uninterrupted power supply, leaders who do not lock up journalists for airing opposing opinions, leaders with a true compassion for the way to give their people the best of everything. My sister Dora, this is what we need in Nigeria, not wasting our money on some lousy PR gimmick aimed at making an attempt to deceive people. But I ask you, would your idea of re-branding Nigeria fix all the death-traps we call roads in Nigeria? Will your effort stop Mr. Maurice Iwu from supervising chaos instead of a credible election that is now taken for granted in Ghana? Will your work at re-packaging Nigeria stop the youths of the Niger Delta from kidnapping for ransom because they are outraged at the injustice of the Nigerian government? Will you also encourage those that stole our money and gave us more darkness instead of a regular power supply to return their loot? Will your pet project turn our National Assembly into a place where men with honour strive to promote the welfare of the people rather than a place where Ghana-Must-Go bags make curious movements? Mrs. Akunyili, what you are attempting to do is what others have tried in the past-they all failed woefully because of a gross insincerity of purpose. Those you are trying to sell Nigeria to only need to see certain things in order to be convinced that the Nigerian project is working; good roads, security of lives and property, regular power supply, a good health care system, clean water, sincere and truthful leadership that is averse to the lures of the overflowing treasury! On the part of the citizens, foreigners only need to see that Nigerians are no longer notorious for such degrading crimes as Internet fraud, drug peddling, armed robbery, etc.

The problem with Nigeria will not disappear no matter the amount of money spent on CNN for adverts. Our problem is man made. Until we develop the culture of holding past leaders responsible for their deeds while in office, until we start sending those that rig elections and those that supervise stupid elections to jail, until we remove the lust of lucre from political/elective posts, until we the people realize that we hold the real powers, until that day, Professor Dora Akunyili and co will only be deceiving themselves and wasting our money in silly spin.

Truly, Nigeria is a lovely country. Let us not leave the running of our country in the hands of certificate forgers, coup plotters, election riggers, fraudsters, thugs, kidnappers, treasury looters, occultists, kleptomaniacs, charlatans, megalomaniacs! This is our country and it belongs to all of us.

Jon Chikadibie Okafor writes from London, UK.[johnteddyus@yahoo.com]

MALLAM ISA YUGUDA AND HIS SILLY COMMENT


For those who may not know, Mallam Isa Yuguda is the current Governor of Bauchi State. He was elected under the All Nigeria Peoples’ Party but later decamped to the PDP under a dodgy arrangement. To his credit, one of the daughters of the late President Ya’ardua is one of his wives. He is equally a practicing Muslim who believes in Destiny. I must confess that I do not know much about this man, especially his mental state.

Lately, his state has been in the news for all the negative reasons. Violence of a horrible nature erupted in Bauchi State after the presidential election which saw President Goodluck Jonathan returned as the winner. As was reported widely by both local and foreign media, scores of human beings were hacked to death by protesters, houses were torched, and many vehicles were equally set ablaze to the glee of the rampaging protesters. Most notably, about nine Youth Corpers were murdered by the Bauchi criminals, and many more were maimed. Hence cometh our Man of the Day, Mallam Isa Yuguda, The Executive Governor of Bauchi State.

According to a newspaper report [The Punch, Friday 29th April, 2011], the governor “ was reacting to a question that bothered on the brutal murder of non-indigenes, including at least nine corps members in his domain when rioters overran the state after President Goodluck Jonathan was declared winner of the presidential election. Over 50 people were reportedly killed during the violence while 90 churches were also burnt”. This governor, in his wisdom saw it fit to open his mouth, the mouth he uses in eating tuwo and kilishi to make the most bizarre comment any leader could ever make. Hear him, “they corp members were destined to experience what they experienced. Nobody can run away from destiny…..” I really do not know what to make of this, I am completely amazed. This is thus the crux of this write up.

On a good day, I will most likely write off Mallam Isa Yuguda as a roving lunatic. The way and manner he scampered from the political party under whose platform he was elected to find “refuge” under a tattered UMBLERA smacked me as the action of a man whose moral spine is at most defective. His argument in the interview under discourse says quite a lot about this governor, a man who tries to justify the brutal murder of innocent young men and women who were forced to serve their country in his state by gleefully telling us that he was also “attacked in Ibadan in 1979” . I dare say that this is the height of verbal recklessness, a deluded attempt at insensitivity. And to wave off the death of fellow citizens and the attendant destruction of properties portrays the governor as a mediocre primate.

From the Governor’s utterances, one could only deduce that he felt that the murder of the innocent youth corpers was justified-after all, he was attacked in Ibadan. Hence, if he was attacked for whatever reason in Ibadan, it was no big deal that those hapless Corpers were attacked and killed-their murder was just destiny at work. The logic of a governor of a state! I find it too unsettling sitting down here to write a piece on this rant from an apparently myopic governor. This gaffe is enough to impeach him as a governor in a sane society.

Unfortunately, we are not living in a sane society. I have argued in the past that most of the atrocities committed in Nigeria find comfort under the too-cozy umbrella of religion. It is a known fact that all the lunatics who commit heinous crimes in this world do so under a silly religious conviction-my God enjoins me to kill in His name. For those of you that would make haste to hurl rocks at me, tell me what else would make the likes of Mallam Isa Yuguda to cite destiny as an explanation to the wicked hacking to death of young Nigerians in their prime? Is destiny not that too simplistic definition of the fatalistic nature of the human fate which most foreign religions use in hiding the numerous wickedness of the humankind? I cannot help conjuring a picture of Mallam Isa Yuguda beating his chest while telling the clowns that attend to his court that those that died in the horrific 9/11 evil were destined to die so. America and the rest of the world should have smiled meekly and moved on without asking further questions as to what went wrong.

Destiny is really a pathetic part of most faith based groups. Isa Yuguda in his Islamic wisdom saw it fit to sweep the mind-bending crimes committed in his state under the carpet of destiny. Sometimes, I can’t help but be ashamed at the crap that drools out of the mouth of our leaders in Nigeria. It is simply too stupid. This is the same destiny logic that is used to hide the putrefying nature of election rigging in Nigeria; it is the Will of God, all power come from God, God allowed it to happen so that his name will be glorified, etc. Shame. Charlatans like this Isa Yuguda character should be vilified and condemned by every right thinking Nigerian. I wonder the kind of message he was trying to pass on to the parents and loved ones of the Corpers that were murdered in his domain? That it was destiny that made them to train their wards up to university level only to be slaughtered in Bauchi State? As it stands, the almighty Isa Yuguda has spoken and the parents and loved ones of the slain folks should dry their tears and thank God for little mercies. I am speechless.

Since the NYSC scheme was set up by the government of Nigeria, is there any way we can ask for its provisions to be tinkered with? I ask this bearing in mind that God did not create any NYSC on the fourth or fifth day, so there is no destiny tag here. Thousands of young Nigerians have lost their lives in the course of serving the nation under this compulsory scheme, and I see the loss of human existence as being above any other reason for the NYSC scheme. If we must retain this drain-pipe scheme, I make bold to suggest that each Corper be posted to his /her state of origin. The talk of “national integration” does not hold water when the Corpers that should be treated with civility by their host communities [in the North] are usually the first to be attacked and killed at the slightest shout of “Allah Akbar”! This however should not be construed as an attack on the many pious adherents of Islam.

Unfortunately, it is the mind frame of morons like Mallam Isa Yuguda that has turned the Northern part of Nigeria into a massive breeding ground for urchins notoriously left with the tag of Almajiris. A situation whereby the State allows children to become destitutes, ruffians and societal-misfits in the name of fulfilling some God prescribed destiny! What else could be more scandalous? What else could be as heartless as this? A situation whereby it is enshrined in a religious ethics that children be abandoned to fend for themselves is pure evil. This is destiny at work as is defined by Islam-I sincerely hope that I am wrong here. But then, it is the Isa Yugudas’ of Northern Nigeria that destroy the youth population of their region. Ahaa!, the same Mallam Isa Yuguda promised the hapless and mostly illiterate young men of Bauchi State wives if they cast their votes for him! With all feeling of humility and pride, I endorse this Mallam –to be honored with the World Best Charlatan Cup! This man is just a clown of the worst order and should be treated as such.

I enjoin all the serving men and women of the NYSC to rise up in defense of their comrades that fell to the evil destiny engineered by the thwarted minds of morons like Mallam Isa Yuguda. To attempt to justify the murder of innocent citizens minding their business by alleging that he was attacked in 1979 in Ibadan sounds to me like a mockery of the fallen Corpers. An act of destiny that hacks innocent Youth Corpers to death in Bauchi State is a great injustice that beggars believe. The blood of all the men and women that died in Bauchi State is crying for justice and I urge every Nigerian to join me in condemning His ‘Excellency” Mallam Isa Yuguda. We are watching.

Johnteddyus”yahoo.com

https://jonchikadibie.wordpress.com

Governor Isa Yuguda’s stupid comment..


“They (corps members) were destined to experience what they experienced. Nobody can run away from destiny. When they were serving me, they were the happiest in Nigeria” [Punch, Friday 29/04/11].
This comment coming from a sitting governor says much about the type of clowns we have as leaders in Nigeria! This is the most absurd comment I ve come across!

Arise! O Compatriots!


Apart from being a proud citizen of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I also love my country. I grew up with the notion that I was a citizen of the greatest country in Africa. As a child, I learnt both the National Anthem and the National Pledge. Way back then, we sang the National Anthem and The Pledge with a strong sense of reverence, conviction and pride. It was a daily ritual then in both my primary/secondary days in Amawbia to “pledge to Nigeria my country, to be faithful, loyal and honest….” Lately, my pride and all the oath of allegiance I took as a child has given way to a strong dose of anger. I have been turned into a very angry man, a man filled with revulsion. Dear compatriots do not be quick to accuse me of defaulting in living up to the expectations of our National Pledge. I have not lost hope in my country; I am more determined than ever to be part of the fight to rid Nigeria of all sorts of evil that is currently personified by our politicians, and all those who played morally reprehensible parts in stealing our country blind during the military era.

Yes, I am an angry man. Extremely angered by the fact that majority of us have kept quiet for so long while our country burns. I am filled with so much shame because I am living in another man’s country where people have fought [and are still fighting] for freedom from oppression, police/military brutality, thieving politicians/kleptomaniacs, morally corrupt governments, ineptitude, siege from armed bandits, politics of Ghana-must-go bags mentality, etc.

I look at the government we have in place in Nigeria and I weep. I owe it as a moral duty to my children and future generations to raise my voice to shout a resounding tufiakwa! My greatest outrage is directed at the National Assembly and what it represents. The National Assembly is populated by men and women who are only interested in feathering their own nests, throwing banters and sometimes chairs at each other while the Nigerian populace starves and dies of common ailments like malaria and typhoid fever. Since the coming of “our nascent democracy”, can somebody somewhere please tell me how or when the National Assembly has ever done anything to uplift the living standards of the Nigerian people? The amount of money this morally spineless lawmakers pocket is simply mind-boggling! The most outrageous part of the scheme is that they allocate these monies to themselves without any regard to decorum.

When Umaru Yar’dua was about to be imposed on the Nigerian nation by the Aremu of Otta, I warned my friends who where rooting for him to be cagey. My reason being that I had long learnt that your friends have the ability of shaping your character, thus Yar’dua being an Obasanjo associate must have quite a lot in common with him. The rest they say is history. Again, who is that person somewhere who would point out the positive impact of the Yar’dua leadership in Nigeria? This man has taken us back to the Stone Age era! His best friends are former state governors who have been accused of looting the treasuries of their states mindlessly; he forces his aides to an oath of secrecy, he travels out of the country and comes back under the cover of darkness [at unholy hours I must add].

What will I tell my children when they ask me why I kept quite when there was so much evil stalking our land? That during my days that our president had the habit of hopping off to some clinic in Germany to be attended to by physicians for common cold? [At least, Mr. Ojo Maduekwe had the decency to tell us this much when he was PDP scribe]. Our politicians have perfected the art of rigging to the point that sane minds can’t but shudder and vomit! We have a democracy where there ought to be a government saddled with the task of uplifting the living standards of we the people, providing jobs for the teeming graduates, providing a brilliant health care system, etc. But what do we have in Nigeria? A rag-tag police force that is more interested in collecting bribes from both the complainant and the accused, a military that is more concerned with brutalizing civilians, hospitals that are more like “hell centres”, a nation constantly filled with the rumbles of made-in-china power generating sets, roads that are filled with gullies, schools that are more like brothels and motor parks. In short, the Nigerian population have been so traumatized that the only thriving business in Nigeria is the Pentecostal/Born-again madness! People now turn to God for everything. The sick are encouraged to pray to God for a cure to their ailment, the unemployed graduate is now faced with the silly option of fasting and praying while seeking some divine intervention, [waiting on the Lord], communities now set up vigilante groups to insure some insurance from angry hoodlums. Our students now go to Ghana to study! Meanwhile, our politicians made up of mainly PDP buffoons are building mansions and buying properties in Europe and America. Fellow citizens, is this really what we as a people deserve? People elsewhere have fought for freedom from all forms of government irresponsibility-we all saw what happened in Thailand not so long ago. The people collectively stood up against a dodgy government and forced it out. We can do it. We need to come together and sack these pirates looting our collective commonwealth! Why should a charlatan like the former president Olusegun Obasanjo be walking our streets a free man while insulting us? [He recently preached that Nigerians should pray to God for regular power supply!]. Why should Ibrahim Bagangida and Abdusalam Abubakar be free enjoying their loot? Abacha had the misfortune of joining his ancestors, if not I am sure he would be with these men attending Federal Executive Council meetings! This is so incredible, almost unbelievable! Sincerely, we need a revolution in Nigeria. We all have a part to play irrespective of your profession, if not our country stands the risk of fizzling out sooner than later if we all stand back with a frown of nonchalance! Why would I be in Europe enjoying the sweat of decent men and women when my country is in shambles? Is it really wise to complain when treated shabbily in foreign lands when it is public knowledge that I come from a country where corruption flies high like a National flag?, a country where thieves are given National Honours and are celebrated? Why should I be quick to complain when I have a feeling that my human rights have been trampled on in a distant land when it is a daily occurrence in my country of origin? The case of the hapless lady [Miss Okere] who was physically assaulted by some Navy chaps should still be fresh in our minds. Make no mistake about this; there are a thousand and one cases similar to that of the poor lady that goes unnoticed. When will Nigerians rise up and mob these wretched soldiers and police men who brutalize their compatriots? These goons are maintained by the tax payers.

I am an angry man. Why should I be happy when a man like Mr. James Ibori who was struggling to make ends meet as a migrant in the UK suddenly become stupendously rich after spending eight years as a state governor and nobody is asking “how come”?. Why should I be happy when I see petty pick-pockets and mobile phone snatchers being manacled and paraded by the police when Mr. Lucky Igbinedion is allowed the option of a plea bargain after being accused of practically raiding his state’s treasury? Why should I have a stupid smile on my face when armed with the knowledge that Mr. “Andy” Uba whom Mr. Obasanjo promised the gift of governorship of my home state was charged with smuggling $177,000 into the US by that country’s authorities and was found guilty, yet the Nigerian government claimed that “no law was broken”? Why won’t I be filled with rage when Mr. Tony Anenih who failed monumentally as Works Minister is now made the Chairman of the Nigerian Ports Authority Board? Why should I be happy when my fellow citizens in the Niger Delta are living an extremely miserable life in the midst of so much abundance while the politicians are allocating obscene allowances to themselves? Why are these politicians so callous? Why should I be cheerful when state governors in my country are collecting huge sums as “security votes” while the lives of beautiful citizens are daily being felled by the fire-power of armed robbers? My anger is further increased with the knowledge that I belong to that “wasted generation” that Professor Wole Soyinka rightly identified!

Well, I was in Nigeria some weeks ago and I had cause to “stow away” my anger for a while. A tour around Lagos was the “anger-tonic” I needed to convince myself that with dedication, honesty and a strong sense of purpose, our Nigeria would someday be uplifted. Mr. Babatunde Fashola is practically demonstrating that a government that is purposeful would be commended by the people-not by the amount of money it spends on spin and “re-branding” but by the positive steps it is taking towards bringing good governance to the populace.

Arise! O compatriots, Nigeria call obey. It is time to break down this evil temple and make Nigeria a better place for our children!

Jon Chikadibie Okafo lives in London.

A Tear For The Nigerian Police Officer


In Nigeria, people often suggest that only two things are certain- this certainty is tainted with some strokes of negativity. Certainty that a drunken fellow is always playing with the switch at the generation/distribution points of PHCN, and that the Nigerian Police Force is a big source of national embarrassment. Of course, NEPA turned PHCN has a reputation that is too ugly to describe here; The NPF is a mess, to say the least.

Most of us “cyber-tigers” [Apologies to Fani Kayode] make it a point of duty to vent our spleen on the shoddy manner in which our dear country is being run. We also find it a little bit comforting exposing the true faces of the masked men and women that somehow, for no logical reasons find themselves in the corridors of power and have suddenly assumed the silly title of “leaders”. But today, I have chosen to pitch tent with the men and women of the Nigerian Police Force-those poor miserable folks! After much deliberations, after much obvious observations, after reflecting deeply on the real issues affecting and afflicting our police service, I have decided to make a humble attempt at projecting a true picture [as I see it] of the average Nigerian Police officer- it is an ugly picture, it is the type of picture that should shame most of the men and women that occupy space at the National Assembly in Abuja, law makers whose major pre-occupation is benefits; feathering their own nests.

Probably, about eighty percent of the Nigerian police population is made up of the “rank and file”; from the ranks of Inspectors to the newly recruited Constable. These are the majority of the police officers you encounter daily, and they represent the kwashiorkor that is the Nigerian Police Force. Their condition is so pathetic; their plight is nauseating, their misery is miserable! When we shout about mediocre policing in Nigeria, when we lament about the charlatans that represent our nation’s police force, all our verbal tirades drenching with repulsion is always directed at these poor fellows-the rank and file of the Nigerian Police force. How do you identify them? When next you are accosted by a fellow dressed in the traditional black shirt on black trousers [in that blazing heat!], a black shoe or a pair of tattered slippers, a dodgy-looking black beret, and clutching either an AK47 rifle with an extra magazine taped to it, or an antiquated Mark-IV rifle, do not flinch! That is the Nigerian police officer I am talking about; wait for a shout of “hol’ it there!”, and the picture is complete. Where is this fellow coming from? A police friend of mine argues always that every nation has the police force it pays for. I tend to agree, but to some extent.

Maybe there is an unwritten official fiat that stipulates that most of our police officers fitting the picture above must be semi-literate, or almost illiterate! [Not being funny here, but I have met many police men in the Northern part of Nigeria that revelled in shouting “Ba turenci” when approached with a query presented in English!]. A police officer that can not effectively communicate in English in a country that has that language as her lingua franca is a mobile malady. Thus, any verbal interaction between this officer and a “civilian” that is not crafted and presented in “Pidgin English” is usually met with a pregnant hesitation, and a scowl. Being an armed officer, do not make the mistake of assuming that his rage might be “impotent”-countless victims abound as a result of this unsafe assumption. Now, it is clear that a Nigerian police officer is not your friend as they want “we the people” to believe. He is an angry man venting his grumpiness at the wrong crowd rather than at the people that make his job a miserable one-the police top brass and the government that employed him [assuming he is a male officer].

The Nigerian police officer is the worst dressed police man. Whoever chose that all black uniform must have a weird sense of humour or was trying to pay the Police back for some past maltreatment! Black as a colour traps heat and the intensity of the sun in our country fears no police man, or woman! Imagine a police officer at a check point, in the middle of nowhere [or somewhere along Shagamu-Benin express way], on a normal sunny day, sweaty and drunk! [Yes, as an unwritten rule, there is always a woman selling assorted brands of local gin close to every police check-point]. Again, the colour black has a sad reputation of being lumped together with all that is perceived to be negative-this is erroneous though. Black sheep, “black devil”, black book, black man, black snake, black magic, and now, “black” policeman! Somebody started this mission to demonize the Nigerian police officer a long time ago by choosing to dress him in black, I dare say.

Now, this police officer dressed in black works at a police station that defeats all attempts at trying to depict an ugly picture. Every man to a large extent is a reflection of so many things, including his home, place of work and the car he drives. When these three are an assemblage of all that is repulsive, then the man attached to them is an embodiment of rudeness in its crass form and revulsion. It is a sad tale but true. There are thousands of police stations and posts littered across Nigeria and one thing that holds them together is their collective claim to notoriety. They are all filthy, and the working conditions of the officers and men that are unfortunate to work there remain unsavoury. Regularly, there is an irregular power supply to all the police stations [somebody at PHCN must be having a good laugh], the jails are little dungeons filled with smelly inmates, the mixture of the stench of human waste and misery fanning majestically inside the station, outside, there are numerous accident-disfigured vehicles, pepper-soup joints and local gin sellers, hung outside too on two bamboo poles-a tattered Nigerian flag and an equally tattered Nigerian Police Flag. The picture is complete. Have you ever been to a police barrack, anywhere in Nigeria? Please do. The ones I have been to are all notorious for harbouring miscreants, hooligans, and sundry fellows. The only shelter provision for our police men and women in those barracks are shanties that were built before the Biafran war, relics of the colonial era. Our police officers are sheltered like fugitives, with an average police family of four cramped together in a single room! Toilet facilities in these barracks are deplorable. All across Nigeria, all police barracks are the same, very ugly shacks! Believe me, any police officer that lives in such a mind-bending environment won’t be in a hurry to paint a picture of civility. Certainly, not a breeding ground for sane men!

Why would the average Nigerian police officer be civil? As a career choice, the police man is seen as a misfit, as a complete failure! The Nigerian Police Force is widely regarded as a dumping ground for those who are either not so keen on making an impression on academics, or those whom the promises of the class rooms failed to impress. Hence, a police officer is assumed a failure. His welfare is a fattening ground for politicians and his bosses. Was it not the ex-IG, Mr. Tafa Balogun that was hauled to jail for coveting seven billion Naira of Police funds [yes, 7 Billion!]? This was after making so much noise about improving the lot of our police officers. Our police force is so ill equipped; I weep whenever I see our “gallant” police officers at check-points armed with WW2 Mark-IV rifles! At such check-points, a rickety Peugeot 504 pick-up van or saloon is always a constant part of the picture-and sometimes scrawled on the side of the van is the cheeky slogan, “To serve and protect with integrity”! Zebrudaya must have suggested that! The officers are not always protected by bullet-proof vests, not that they would not want to but for the simple fact that they are not provided. The jalopy vans provided for patrols belch out more smoke than the legendary Lagos “Molue”. This is the police force we have protecting us in Nigeria. A police force that is angry at the society. Misguided and misdirected animosity, I must say.

Every society has the police force it pays for, not true? I certainly did not bargain for this for I am neither a PDP stalwart, a “stake holder”, or in government in Nigeria. Neither am I a police officer. The Nigerian government should be held responsible for the stinking rot that is the Nigerian Police. Systematically, our Federal government has under-funded and stultified the police force. Our police force of today is exactly what it was designed to be during the Colonial era-an instrument of coercion! The federal government has refused to equip the nations’ police and position it as a modern police force. Entrance into the officer cadre is still being based on “Federal Character” as against merit. Money voted for police officers’ welfare usually ends up in private bank accounts, pockets or ceilings, our police men are demoralized. The only time our Abuja law makers wake up to challenge police ineptitude is when a politician is assassinated, when a “prominent” party member is kidnapped, or when the police choose to withdraw their armed MOPOL guard!

Some have argued that our police officers are a representation of the larger Nigerian society, a society that is fast galloping down the slope to its destruction, a society that has thrown morals and virtues to the swine. For sure, our police men are not dedicated; amongst them are a bunch of criminals who are in uniform as the quickest means to filthy lucre. Our police men are Nigerians too, they are not foreigners. The Nigerian state does not hold any promise for her citizens; it is a replay of the Hobbesian State of Nature- all man on his own. Government at all levels in the country is an organ that caters exclusively for those that parade the corridors of power-the leeches that suck the life out of our patrimony! Believe me, I am not holding brief for the men and women of the Nigerian Police Force, I will not suggest any claims to understanding some of their very bizarre actions, but I will always stand up to argue that they are a creation of our ruling class. People are forced to seek employment in the police force with an ulterior motive because the system has allowed such rot to fester in the first place; most people in government steal so much money, enough money to run an African country! These criminals are decorated with National honours and are elevated to the silly positions of “leaders of thought”. Most police officers are barely literate and you might want to let them just be; the Nigerian state as we have it places no value on education. That is why after more than four decades as an independent nation, the passive late President Yar’dua was celebrated as the “first university graduate” to rule Nigeria! Meaning that we were content with having soldiers of fortune that had no reasonable claims to academic prowess governing us for so long! Daily, our police officers fell to the superior fire power of bandits-deaths that could have been avoided if our government have chosen to provide the necessary tools and incentives to help them function well as capable police officers; they die as unsung heroes because the Nigerian society has become such a callous one that death is no longer discussed with sadness, children even come out to dance when a corpse is being buried!

Well, the police man sees you and me as his enemies. This explains all the hostility we encounter at various check points in Nigeria. This is their way of telling you “first-hand” that the police are not your friend. When next you see a police man hurriedly shedding his uniform, hiding his rifle and running faster than you at the sound of “enemy gun shots”, do not blame him-run! The system that created the police man will not miss him if he dies, and believe me our police officers cherish life more than anything else. Next time you run into a check-point manned by angry and hungry looking police chaps, try to understand where they are coming from, think of that barracks where they are housed [those are the lucky ones o], think of their entire welfare package, remember the condition of the last police station you visited, think of the politicians in the various levels of government in Nigeria- I am sure you will shed a tear for our country, especially for the caricature police force that claims to protect us all with integrity.

johnteddyus@yahoo.com

NIGERIA, RELIGION AND I


Written by Jon Chikadibie Okafo

Karl Marx must have had a vision of the present day Nigeria when he submitted that “religion is the opium of the masses”. I am alarmed at the rate of religious bigotry and fanaticism especially amongst the Christian folks, the hitherto tolerant religion is now at the pinnacle of over-zealousness. From all indications, Nigerian Christians now employ all sorts of dodgy approaches in their bid to convince us “unbelievers” that we are all going to perish. While Nigeria is daily galloping down the valley of perdition, my religious folks are daily ambushing me to “accept Jesus as my Lord and personal Saviour”. [Whatever that means].

As a child born into a Christian family, [Catholic] I went through the rigours of attending Mass every Sunday, passing my catechism classes before receiving the Holy Communion and eventual doing my “Confirmation”. In my catechism class, I was thought [and I believed it then] that an Anglican fellow’s chances of making heaven were extremely slim-almost impossible. As a child, I was thought to always pray to Maria and ask for the forgiveness of my sins-sins I knew nothing about. To cut a long story short, I practiced all I was taught in my catholic faith up till adulthood. As with all cases involving the antics of a rational being, my perception of the world has changed, my religious inclination is different now, to the chagrin of my Christian mates. I hereby wish to state once again for the benefits of my “born-again” folks that I do not accept certain teachings of Christianity as being true.

I do not believe that Mary the mother of Jesus appeared to three children in the village of Fatima in 1917 with the command that they pray regularly to her in order to appease her son, Jesus. That would be throwing modesty to the winds! Hence, anybody who tries to enjoin me to pray with the rosary will be insulting me. While still on Mary, I simply find the fable of Immaculate Conception too incredible to believe. I wonder why almost all the major religions of this world make claims to their founder being the product of some “immaculate conception”. Does anybody know the story of Buddha?

While the rest of the world is making headways in science and technology, Nigerian Christians are making so much noise about the second coming of Jesus. Every street in Nigeria has a church with loudspeakers mounted at all the four corners, blaring! The message is always the same, though the ferocity and intensity of the threats may vary-the kingdom of God is at hand! I have no problem with anybody claiming that the kingdom of his God is “at hand”, but then when you ambush me with threats about hell fire and eternal destruction, weeping and “gnashing of teeth”, fire and brimstone, etc, I get angry. I simply will not accept that when eventually Jesus makes his second coming, everyone that does did not accept him as his “Lord and personal saviour” will be murdered! This is pure crap! Again, please when you wish to assert that “Jesus is the way and the truth….” leave me out of it. I don’t believe that.

Why is it difficult for Christians in Nigeria to accept that there is something like a “comparative theory of religion”? Why should anybody expect me to keep quiet when a preacher gets up in a coach I am travelling in and start shouting about nothing other than witches and wizards, blood sucking demons, principalities and powers[in high places o!], marine spirits, devils and demons, and of course hell fire? What good has religion done for Nigeria? Does religion make people moral? What has been the good impact of the thousands and pockets of churches and worship centres scattered all over Nigeria? What is keeping the Christian/Muslim God from killing our politicians who all swear by His name to be upright in discharging their duties rather than stealing our money? It is so annoying the way religion is being used as an instrument of suppression in Nigeria. Why should I “fast and pray” before I could get a job after graduating from the university? What do we blame for this? How did Nigeria get to this sorry state? Nigerians accept anything said by a Pastor or Imam as the truth, and nothing but the truth, Nigerian leaders lie to the people in God’s name and nobody asks any question. Olusegun Obasanjo is the champion of this gaffe; he built a church inside Aso Rock where he worshipped with his otimkpus and Nigerians shouted that yes, he was a “God fearing president”, when he wanted to rig his way into Aso Rock for the second time, he claimed he was waiting for God to speak to him[ He finally did-through Maurice Iwu’s INEC], after squandering billions of dollars without any tangible result in the power sector, Obasanjo enjoined Nigerians to pray to God for electricity! And Nigerians went down on their knees-till this day! When Jonathan Goodluck assumed the position of the President of the Federal Republic, he gleefully announced that he was looking up to God for guidance; a clear testimony that he had no idea how to govern Nigeria. Now, his government has budgeted about N9.7 billion for a “Nigeria @ 50” party-is this the kind of guidance God is giving to this man? One would think that his God would have directed him to use that money in revamping the notorious Sagamu-Benin expressway that claims the lives of innocent and hapless Nigerians on a daily basis.

Who is celebrating Nigeria at 50? Fifty years of what? Fifty years of monumental corruption! The only people that would be celebrating would be the IBBs, Abdulsalami Abukakar, Obasanjo, Atiku, Peter Odili, Jonathan, [he’s been too lucky] Lucky Igbenedion, Orji Uzor Kalu, David Mark, Bankole and the entire space-wasters/“cashivorous” National Assembly folks[ apologies to Pius Adesanmi]. Those are the ones who always hire pastors and imams to “proclaim the goodness of the Lord”. As for the ordinary Nigerian citizen, life is too hard and too short, what with the constant prayers and supplication to God for regular power supply, constant water supply, provision of passable roads, protection from enemies, armed robbers and kidnappers, financial breakthrough [ this is my year of unstoppable cash flow!], etc. So much confusion and “speaking in tongues”, casting, binding, uprooting and throwing into the abyss!

Religion will never lead Nigeria out of the wilderness, praying and fasting will not give Nigeria the much sought after uninterrupted power supply, building churches on both sides of the Lagos-Ibadan expressway wont get rid of the kleptomaniacs parading our corridors of power, organizing “miracle night” crusades at the National Stadium, Surulere will not stop our police officers from asking for “roger”. Is there any God in the confines of Nigeria? Why has He allowed so much suffering and hardship especially amongst the ordinary citizens of that country? Has God abandoned Nigeria in protest or frustration? Is there really any such thing as God’s intervention in the affairs of a nation? Is it God that is making the leaders of countries like China, South Korea, Malaysia, Indonesia, India, Ghana, and Botswana to be planning for a better society of man in their various countries? Nigerians are so obsessed with God to the point that we ignore the fact that leaders should be held responsible and accountable for their actions and inactions. Under apartheid rule, the South African blacks did not fast and pray for deliverance from the claws of their oppressors, they challenged the powers that be until they won. When Sani Abacha had Nigeria under his jack-boot, what did our religious leaders do? The Catholic Bishops came up with a hilarious “prayer for Nigeria in distress”, it was customary for everyone to recite that stupid prayer at the end of every mass. I am not privy to any miracle being as a result of that silly prayer. Developed and developing countries of the world do not rely on prayers in running their countries, they plan. The citizenry of better organized societies hold their leaders responsible for whatever they do while in power. In Nigeria, everything boils down to tribalism and religion. Corrupt leaders are always seen with in the company of church leaders who appear to be happy at their company. Olusegun Obasanjo was a regular at Pastor E.O Adeboye’s crusades at his Reedemed Camp, mounting the podium preaching about Godliness and all that. Now we know better; Obasanjo’s claims to piety has been shattered by numerous revelations and instead of hauling him back to jail where he rightly belongs, the present day government is busy involved in some immoral romance with him. Religion is really the opium of the masses especially in my beloved Nigeria, that is why a transport company that goes by the name “Ekene-dili Chukwu” Nigeria Ltd [praise be to God] will be defrauding passengers daily by providing rickety coaches that will break down half way into the journey after collecting huge sums as fares-of course, the coaches break down and the conniving drivers disappear, abandoning passengers to their fates! Religion corrupts everything; in this 21st century, the Catholic Church in Eastern Nigeria still forbids a marriage between a catholic lady and an “Anglican” man! The fear of the parents of the lady in question being barred from receiving the “holy communion” insures that parents stop their daughters from agreeing to such marriages. Can anybody give me any rational explanation to why this practice is still going on in this modern day Nigeria?

I have nothing against religious people; I subscribe to a practice of religion backed by the purest form of human rationality. My friends who try to “frighten” me with eternal hell fire and all that wishful wickedness should be rest assured that their claims and rants do not move me. Like Socrates, I believe that an unexamined life is not worth living, a life of pristine morality can be attained without any recourse to religion-in any form. We need practical solutions to the hydra-headed issues bugging down Nigeria, our dear country. Religion is an instrument of oppression and control, a wicked tool designed to keep the commons in a perpetual state of submission while the big men and thick madams maintain the status quo. I might change my opinion about religion and its stranglehold on Nigeria the moment we pray and every corrupt governor, National Assembly members, PDP cabals, rogue police officers, dodgy civil servant, 419 pastor/Imam, thieving bankers, fraudulent individual all drop dead! Yes! That would be the day, but until that day comes I am happy ignoring all calls to “repent” while working towards the attainment of a just society.

johnteddyus@yahoo.com

If I were God!


I nursed the idea of writing this article for a while. Many times I started to think of what to write but always gave up-I just could not organize my thoughts. Which brings me to my first point-I am not God. I therefore offer my sincere apologies to all of you who believe in any Deity, this is not an attempt to reduce your Object or Concept of your faith to the level of human enterprise. Happenings in Nigeria have forced me into wishing I was God, and I have made up my mind to visit certain Nigerians with my wrath. Please, read on.

And I cast my roving eyes on Olusegun Obasanjo and shook my head. This is a man whom I gave all the opportunities to be a source of blessing to his fellow citizens but he squandered it all. Looking at this Aremu character, I have every cause to suspect that the good Old Nick sneaked in while I was on a break from my work in the creation workshop and moulded this one-in his devilish character![yes, my enemies were at it!] Obasanjo has forced me into rejecting the earthly notion that I created everything on earth! I am a merciful deity and this is often reflected in most of my pronouncements and deeds, but after watching Obasanjo on Steve Sackur’s HARDtalk on the BBC, wept for Nigeria. I humbly enjoin those of you who did not watch this programme to do so at once… http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00j6bhx/HARDtalk_Olusegun_Obasanjo…. I have taken the pain to provide this link so that any of you who might want to intercede on behalf of Mr. Obasanjo would think twice. If there is any such thing as a divine apology, I would not hesitate to apologise to Nigerians-150 million of them! The BBC programme sited above could be used by any discerning mind to judge the true character of Obasanjo. Steve Sackur aptly reduced Obasanjo to the nit-wit that he is. Watching Obasanjo cringe at Steve’s hard-hitting questions, he succeeded in bringing so much shame to Nigerians both at home and in diasporas-especially the Diasporas! To present Obasanjo as the most experienced Nigerian president and ending up exposing him as a buffoon is enough to condemn Obasanjo to death-for bringing the name of God into disrepute! Simple questions that required simple answers were put to this man, and what did he do? He flared up and started accusing the presenter of taking an undue advantage of him! Looking at Obasanjo stuck like toad in his seat, it was clear that he regretted that the interview was not taking place in Nigeria. His answers to virtually all the questions put to him by Steve Sackur were totally unintelligent and represents what could be described simply as the ranting of a common thief! And then you begin to wonder if the likes of Obasanjo could be used to support the argument that “God is good all the time”? The actions and inactions of Mr. Obasanjo for the entire eight years he ruled Nigeria brought so much pain, deceit, suffering, hardship, poverty, misery, disappointment, national shame and embarrassment to the good people of that nation. The most sinister part of this Obasanjo hype was that he was a hypocrite of the highest order-he supervised the primitive looting of the resources of that country. For a man who is famed to be a sex addict, I would first of all render him impotent-and make it public knowledge! A cursory search of the soul of men identified shame and embarrassment as the greatest afflictions ravaging impotent men. By all standards, Obasanjo is an exceptionally ugly man-I will add to this infamous aspect of him by giving him the Nebuchadnezzar treatment. I would turn him into a beast, creeping on all fours while roaming the bushes of Otta. For those of you who may seek to make me change my mind by attempting to “fast and pray” on his behalf, don’t. It would be a sheer waste of time. Think of the lives that were wasted on thousands of road accidents in Nigeria, all owing to the fact that Obasanjo rather than fix the numerous bad roads littered across the nation chose to misappropriate the money with his fellow PDP characters, reflect on the deaths brought about by kerosene explosion; so many Nigerians died because they were forced to use adulterated petroleum products, commodities that abound in their country but were being imported because Obasanjo and his clouts were benefiting from wrecking the refineries and importing same product! Think of the men, women, and children that have died from inhaling generator fumes-because Obasanjo was the president that stole the money meant for the provision of electricity. Many Nigerians have died, and are still dying because Obasanjo ran a government that looted the money meant for the provision of clean pipe borne water. Think of all the beautiful lives that perished in plane crashes because Obasanjo and co only paid lip service to fixing our Airports and ensuring the safety of air passengers. Well, I might have to do more to Obasanjo than to turn him into an impotent beast. I have decided to complete his cycle of madness by making him lose the remnant of his brute sanity by walking the streets of Lagos naked for a month! I should take it easy? Well, he earned it by making a fool of himself on Steve Sackur’s HARDtalk on the BBC.

His answer to the question on the Halliburton bribery allegation is nothing short of puerile! How could this man have ruled a country like Nigeria for eight years? The Igbos’ay that “it is only a blind man that you can tell that there is no oil in his soup”. While attempting to refute the allegation of accepting bribes from the multinational, Obasanjo ended up sounding like a “meatomaniac” child caught stealing lumps of meat from the soup pot. When asked to react to the allegation made by Mr. Tesler [a French national] that he accepted bribe money, all he could offer was “did anybody mention my name?, Steve did anybody mention Obasanjo….did anybody mention Obasanjo..?”.[he was screaming] .And his face was zoomed so much that the man Obasanjo, the emperor that once rode Nigeria rough was finding it hard to swallow saliva, in short he appeared to be choking on it! And that was when he exploded! And I saw the workings of his mind at this point-he was cursing whoever encouraged him to take up the challenge to present himself for this suicidal interview; all the curses were in his native Yoruba language. At this stage of the interview, I could also see the numerous questions seeking for answers in Steve Sackur’s mind. He seemed to be genuinely shocked by Obasanjo’s disposition, evident enough to portray the mind frame of an African maximum ruler. Obsanjo could not shout down his interviewer because such would not be permitted in England, Obasanjo who started the programme with his usual boring manner suddenly saw the need to cross his stiff legs, and seemed to want to remove his agbada! He ended up exposing himself for what he is-a silly man, an idiot of the worst order, a thieving hypocrite, a bribe taker, a man that is bereft of the slightest iota of decorum, a buffoon who hates any form of criticism, a maniac that should have been left to rot in Yola prison, a tyrant, an impostor, a man hated by his people, a wife snatcher [his son swore to an affidavit], an immoral creature, and above all, the worst personification of evil!

So, as a farm owner, Obasanjo will be beaten by the snakes he warned journalists about in his Otta farm. He would be taken to his local hospital tied on a rickety Okada. The doctor would refuse to treat him because there wont be enough money to be deposited by his family before treatment could commence [ I would have made the EFCC to seize all his stolen wealth], there would be no power supply in this hospital, the Doctor would have been forced to relocate to Saudi Arabia or Europe because of Obasanjo’s criminal policies while in power, and as a last resort to save his live, a dodgy pastor would be invited to pray to me to “please save Baba’s life”, [claiming to be a pastor seems to be the way forward in Nigeria now].

But then, I am just but a man. An angry man, a raging citizen of Nigeria who had the misfortune of being awake when Steve Sackur’s HARDtalk was on air! A man who is still wondering what the UN saw in Mr. Mathew Aremu Olusegun Okikiola Obasanjo to warrant his being made the United Nation Secretary-General’s Special Peace Envoy to the “Democratic” Republic of Congo! The voice of men is the voice of God? Why then is Obasanjo still walking around a free man? There is no greater evil than the evil of hypocrisy! Obasanjo is no better than the kidnappers of the Niger Delta! A man that used his position as the president to engage in shameless land-grabbing all across the country, a man that came out of prison with about twenty thousand Naira in his bank account but eight years later, turned into a billionaire, a man that his son accused of “high jacking” his wife [in other words, a wife snatcher!], an election rigger, a man that pretended to be “a practising Christian” [whatever that means!] while raping and raiding our treasury, a man whose unforgiving spirit is quite legendary! And now, Nigerians rather than rise up in unison and bring this charlatan to justice have decided to “leave everything in the hands of the Almighty”! Well, if I were to represent that God, that all-knowing Almighty, I know what I will do to Obasanjo and his co-travellers-and no amount of “fasting and praying” especially from the comity of LAGOS-IBADAN Expressway churches would make me spare them……time shall tell. If only I were God…especially the God of the Old Testament