LETTER TO PRESIDENT JONATHAN GOODLUCK


Dear President,

I am one of those Nigerian citizens who “checked out” of Nigeria to seek greener pastures in distant lands; the shame of having a feeling of abandoning ones country is always mitigated by the fact that my government forced me into taking this very painful decision. My sincere apologies for writing you through these medium-drastic situations require drastic modus operandi.

Sir, my motivation to share my thoughts and worries with you stems from the fact that you insist on being seen as “a listening President”. Your Facebook page encourages Nigerians of all ilk to send their concerns to you with the sweet assurance from you that their thoughts and concerns will be attended to- well done sir. As it stands, there are a good number of issues I wish to bring to your attention-issues which troubles every sane Nigerian citizen. They are not strange instances which no one has harped on before but it saddens me greatly to say here that it appears nothing worth mentioning is being done about all the negatives pulling down our nation.

Mr. President, corruption is one monster armed with a cold sledge hammer which is bent on bludgeoning our nation to death-I am sure you would be nodding in agreement at this one. The business of government at all levels in Nigeria is continuously being polluted by the rather too wicked actions of the very people entrusted with the running of our affairs. It is without fear of contraction that I assert that our politicians are amongst the most vicious primates to walk the face of this our dying earth. Ours happens to be the most expensive government in the world peopled with individuals whose capricious mind-frame makes Ali Baba and his gang of forty looters look like saints. Nowhere in the world have I seen politicians go into government with little or no wealth only to come as out multi-millionaires; my dear President, how do we justify the sinful and obscene amount of money our legislators are dragging home at our expense? Why is Nigeria the most notorious country where those that suddenly find themselves out of power are accused of emptying the treasury while in power? It makes nonsense of our anti corruption laws and stance when no real punishment is meted out to those that rob our country, rather the People’s Democratic Party [which you belong to] turn around to tell us that “it was a party affair”. I implore you to rise up to the occasion and tackle this monster head-on while there is still a political space called Nigeria.

All across Nigeria, we are really a cheerful lot armed with a curious overdose of hope-I have not seen that vicissitude of life that stands the chance of making us dump our positive attitude usually expressed in “e go better”. However, our smiles and cheerfulness fizzles into gloom in the face of darkness. Mr. President, when are we going to start enjoying uninterrupted power supply? Our claims to nationhood stands on a dodgy plinth as a result of our rather too erratic power supply; it is a shame that with our stupendous wealth brought about by our massive natural resources, this country experiences more darkness. The shame one feels for the ugliness of our power sector peaks when government makes provisions for generators and fuel in our annual budget. Sir, you will be celebrated forever if you call on those that squandered billions of dollars of our money on scandalous “power sector reforms” with nothing good to show for it to explain to Nigerians what transpired. Mentally, I remain in trauma when people that should be hurled before a Judge to answer to the wicked crime of stealing our money while pussy-footing about giving us regular power supply are decorated with National Honours and celebrated as “party stalwarts”. Curiously, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo remains a free man who rubbishes our psyche as a people; a man who frittered away a beautiful opportunity to transform our country into a better nation. According to Nuhu Ribadu, Obasanjo had a modest sum of N20, 000 in his bank account by the time he came out prison-how then did he end up with so much wealth after eight years as President?

Mr. President, you remain the only leader in Nigeria who cruised to victory at the polls on the wings of the goodwill and support of the youth of our country. However, the youth of Nigeria remain an endangered lot because of the bleak economic environment they are forced to exist in. It is a very ugly fact that your party, the Peoples Democratic Party plays a sad brand of politics that churns out policies that impoverish the youngsters of Nigeria. Our schools that ordinarily should be producing bright minds have been allowed to decay and now is a breeding ground for Internet scammers, armed robbers, kidnappers, drug mules, terrorists, gangsters and similar dregs of the society. As somebody that benefited immensely from our once glorious education system, it is my hope that you would make haste to restore that system to its long-lost glory. Until our schools re-establish itself as “a citadel of learning”, we will continue to be victims of a society filled with youths with a demented mentality; a warped mentality expressed daily in “I go hammer”. Sir, have you ever found yourself wondering why a local government Councilor would be earning more money as salary than a university lecturer?

Sir, Nigerians are dying needlessly because we do not have a functional healthcare system-this is a fact that must be troubling you greatly as President. In countries where government is seen to be working for the good of the people, government officials go the extra mile to bring about a society of proud citizens. In Nigeria, those that use uncommon and morally reprehensible methods to force their ways into positions of authority insist on lining their pockets only. Is it not curious that government officials are treated abroad for common diseases like cold and the bills picked up by government while the hapless citizens are forced to patronize charlatan quacks, native doctors and thieving “pastors”? It becomes more worrying when ex Governors who are hurled before Judges to answer to criminal charges are granted bail on such stupid reasons of “going for medical check-up abroad”. Governors who stole billions of state funds while paying lip service to “building state of the art hospitals” turning around to want to go to Europe and America for medicare?  Where is our shame as an independent nation? Are we really asking for too much? All we ask for is for our government to use our massive wealth to provide a functional healthcare system for we the people.

Sir, it is no “rocket science” when one observes with sadness the depressing level of insecurity in Nigeria-again, this is another sad fact that I suspect is gnawing at the very heart of your existence. The bombs going off in the North, the assassinations in the South West, the mind-boggling armed robberies/kidnappings in the South East and the hostage-taking enterprise in the South-South all translate to a society gallantly galloping down the route to perdition. It is true that every society experiences its own share of crime; it is equally true that the State uses a well trained and efficient police force to arrest a situation of anarchy. Mr. President, Nigeria is saddled with an antiquated police force that is ill equipped to tackle crime-the manpower is poorly trained and motivated. Nigeria needs a police force that is able to check the ploys of criminal elements, a police force that would be able to arrest rampaging soldiers rather than scurry to safety at the sight of an army truck. Our country needs a police force that will have officers that will have the moral strength to reject the lures and trappings of N20. A secured society is a prosperous one.

Mr. President, I know you are a very busy man struggling under the weight of the destiny of 150 million or so of us, so I will be summary in my demands. Incidentally, you are the President and I believe you will do something about the things I have said here. History is beckoning at you and it is my sincere wish that you will make critics like me to recant on our earlier submissions that you would be no different from our past leaders. I have no other country other than Nigeria and I remain a proud citizen of the slumbering Giant of Africa; our country is dying while it appears that your party, the Peoples Democratic Party remains bent on carving up our resources amongst the ‘party faithful”. But then, you are a listening President whose humble background must remain a reminder of the fact that those in positions of authority must strive always to work for the good of the people rather than run away to Europe and America with their wealth.

Thank you so much for reading.

Sincerely yours,

Jon Chikadibie Okafo

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RELIGION, WOMEN AND THE MALE EGO


Ordinarily, men take certain actions that defy reason and logic; but the man who argues that he has God on his side while embarking on the weirdest of actions is the man to watch. Yesterday, the BBC carried a piece of news that caused me considerable discomfort- Bello Masaba from Bida in Niger State who is already “married” to some eighty-something wives is planning to take the count to a hundred. His argument remains that Allah told him in a dream to do so.

Again, ordinarily I would dismiss this Imam as a raving lunatic, but when a man clings on to serious claims relating to a Divine plot, I can’t help but get worried. According to Mr. Masaba, “a man with 10 wives would collapse and die, but my own power is given by Allah”-really? As I always make clear, it would be wrong and impertinent of me to doubt any man’s claims to having an unfettered access to God’s court in his quest for salvation; however I will make haste to delve into the morality of such claims as it affects the wider society of our primate. I view Masaba’s claims as a sinful attempt to stretch the cords of hyperbole a bit too far; it is a clear testimony that men with the connivance of religion still treat women as chattels. This is immoral.

The male ego to me remains one of the most striking proofs that religion is man-made. Across all religions of the world, we see coy machinations introduced by deluded men to keep women perpetually quartered as things to be possessed and romped with glee. I am yet to see any religion that treats women as being in the same pedestal as men; in Christianity, there is still that debate especially amongst the traditional ones [Catholic and Anglican] on the roles of women. Islam stands out as the religion that amongst other unsound practices treats women as specie to be partially seen and not heard at all. This explains why women of the Islamic faith are mandated to cover up always not minding the vicious dictates of the weather, this is why countries like Saudi Arabia forbids women from driving!

The male ego remains a part of us we males would rather not ditch despite our achievements in many fields of human endeavors. Our African society uses many obnoxious ploys to continue the practice of enslaving women and denying them that right to an egalitarian existence. So many traditional practices formulated by our stone-age ancestors are still being used today by modern day Nigerians to relegate women to the background. I may find it in my heart to pardon some of the excesses of our traditional practices by arguing that they remain a dying part of our dark and primitive past, but what do you say about the institutionalized inferior status which our modern day religions have assigned to our women? As primates, we are in an eternal pursuit of excellence even though our achievements remains marred by time-constraints; it makes one sad that the foreign religions calling the shots in Nigeria remain culprits in the sin of enslaving women.

It is on this note that I find it somewhat comical that the Muslim clerics that are engaging Bello Masaba only disagrees with him on the number of women a man can keep as wives-Masaba is claiming that Islam does not make it a “sin” to marry more than four wives whereas the clerics are pointing out that it was only Prophet Mohammed that had the right to marry more than four wives. Is this not a case of men being allowed to decide on how best to demonstrate their randy nature while cherishing their primitive acquisition tendency? Why does any sane man need more than one wife if not immotarlize that “variety is the spice of life” saying? To take the case of the mundane nature of religion a step further, we observe with some tinge of shame that even the Christian Bible treats women with scorn- it stipulates when a man can divorce his wife but is conveniently silent on when a woman can divorce her husband. Religion is really the handiwork of some smart men at work. There must be something in we males that pushes us to go the extra mile to amass as much property as possible [especially women] while being stern in matters that would someday call us to give an account of our actions [like evading the EFCC].

The BBC news item on Bello Masaba ended on a comical note-some of the wives of that randy old hand took turns to debunk those suggestions that there could be some strong dose of rancor amongst them. Without any trace of shame, they all echoed that Masaba makes use of an unwritten time-table in consorting with them; this keeps mischief at bay while giving each and every one of them a periodic feeling of being consummated. To the glory of men and their tall ego, there are millions of women in the mold of Mr. Masaba’s harem who have been seduced by societal dictates [skillfully designed by men] to accept a life of mediocre existence; needless, to point out that women in Africa and elsewhere appear to be engaged in a deadly game of “self-destruct”.

Summarily, while saluting the monstrous energy and stamina of Mr. Masaba and his ilk, I find it too curious that his God chose to demonstrate some sense of humour in endowing him thus. “Allah gives me the strength…” is a wonderful boast which I am sure many randy men will be wishing to be making in this regard too. Well, women should once again come together in another “Beijing Conference” type and start formulating their own plots too- maybe then, we will start seeing lovely cases of women being able to marry up to four husbands and an occasional burst of a deranged female specie shouting that God enjoined her to marry up to a hundred husbands. Until such a time comes, there will remain randy lunatics like Bello Masaba and similar buffoons armed with some religious creeds and warped ideas rubbishing women and all that they stand for.

Johnteddyus@yahoo.com

Prostate Action walk


I pride myself as being an individual who is relatively lettered-a man who strives as much as time and space permits to remain “in the know”. Recently, I found myself grappling with a scenario that left me considerably gasping for breath-metaphorically and otherwise. The myth with which I surrounded myself was effectively shattered on the 28th/29th of May, 2011.

On the dates referenced above, I was part of a walk to raise awareness in my community on the dangers of prostate cancer. This event was organized by Prostate Action UK, and the London chapter of the National Association of Seadogs. Prostate Action UK is a registered charity organization that concerns itself with amongst others, raising funds to find a cure to the prostate disease and raising awareness amongst the men folk, whereas the National Association of Seadogs seeks to also improve the lot of man through its focus on HUMANITARIAN IDEALS. The event was quite fulfilling.

For a man that held the belief that he was somehow ensconced in the realm of “enlightened men” to be confronted with the glaring and unnerving reality that he knew nothing about prostate cancer, was exceptionally disturbing. The fact that this notorious cancer kills more Nigerian males made the discovery both humbling and humiliating. A lecture at the end of the walk ably presented by Dr. John Akumabor and Jack, a gentleman from Prostate Action UK changed my perception of my abilities for the better.

At the risk of sounding immodest, I have made myself an ambassador of Prostate Action UK; though self-imposed, I believe I have every right to cling to that title. Though not too surprising a discovery, I have come to realize that most of us die out of ignorance. Most men I have spoken to lately confided in me that just like me, they knew very little about prostate cancer; this is a realization that ignorance is still a major killer amongst the African community. It becomes more disturbing when one is confronted with the fact that our health care system in Nigeria remains something akin to a Stone-age scenario.

Though the walk entailed trekking through some 50 or more kilometers of the beautiful city of London, though it was a daunting task for my colleagues and I to endure the rain and the vicious pangs of hunger, thirst, sore feet and all the tasking vicissitudes of walking for such a “long distance”, I went home with a huge feeling of accomplishment, pride and gratitude. Gratitude in this instance is the most humbling experience I went home with because I was happy for being a part of an event that was aimed towards celebrating the brotherhood of man. It is my philosophy that we exude so much love when we live for one another rather that clinging to the much talked about “every man on his own”.

My philosophy of life remains stout when I recollect the comradeship and chivalry displayed by every individual that participated in this charity event; new friends were made and so much love and laughter shared. At the end of the day, we all went home armed with that beautiful feeling that we did something that was entirely charitable. As was expected, we raised so much awareness about the dangers of prostate cancer, as is the case with every good cause, people donated funds. I remain eternally grateful to Prostate Action UK, and to the National Association of Seadogs, London chapter for giving me and my mates this wonderful opportunity to do something for humanity. I will be glad to be part of any future event of this nature. Thank you.

OUR KIDS, OUR LANGUAGE, OUR SHAME


Our language is what gives us a sense of identity and remains a veritable tool that aids our quest towards the attainment of self-realization. All over the world, people of different tribes invest huge resources in promoting their language, culture and tradition. Alas, it is with a heavy heart that I proclaim that we seem to be speedily murdering our language, culture and every other aspect that makes us who we are.

Though it is not my wish to malign our ability to display our mastery of languages other than our own, I find it extremely depressing that we are doing so at the expense of our mother tongue; adults and kids alike appear to be basking in an inferior euphoric delusion that suggests that their inability to speak their mother tongue presents them as being posh. I do not really know about other tribes in Nigeria but I strongly suspect that this trend is most prevalent amongst we Igbos. I find it quite weird that we seem to be ignoring the warning by experts that the Igbo language will become extinct in a few years time-though I do not know how this submission came about; I agree that the possibility stares us in the face.

Is this trend suggestive of a people saddled with a feeling of inferiority complex or a situation whereby we allow our love for travel and adventure to consume our identity as a people? I am particularly concerned about our children’s inability to neither speak nor understand our language; it is now a popular trend for us parents to take pride in raising children that are more versed in foreign languages, particularly the English language. A few years ago, I went to visit a cousin that lives in Anambra State and was so miffed when he and his missus informed me with so much glee that their daughter “does not understand the Igbo language”. When I sought to find out why, I was jolted by their insistence that they prefer her “ajebo” status of speaking only English. To them, the English language is a language that keeps you balanced smartly at the apex of some grand social ladder.

Now, my cousin and his missus are not the only parents guilty of raising tokumbo children in Nigeria. In my home, I find it too perplexing when my daughter stares at me in wonderment when I try to have a meaningful conversation with her in Igbo language; at most, she mimics what I say and fills the void with laughter which I find very annoying. We are raising children who are almost like foreigners in their country of origin and this to me is shameful. I grew up reading Igbo novels, story books, watching captivating Igbo dramas on TV and listening to same over the radio; I still cherish the fond memories of that lovely period of my life. What do we have today? Our children are being encouraged by us to cherish foreign cartoons, story books and movies. We think it shows our posh nature when our children can recite nursery rhymes written by foreign authors for their school children while knowing nothing about Nigerian authors and their works.

With every sense of modesty, I see myself as a bloke who has travelled round our beautiful country but nowhere is as marooned with a tendency to take pride in their mother tongue than in the South East of Nigeria. A visit to any tertiary institution in that region will buttress this fact; our undergraduates regale in reminding you that they do not speak the Igbo language but “I dey understand small-small”. These students ridicule those that speak the language as being “bush people” and any male that attempts to seek for a girl’s hand in friendship in Igbo language is rudely dismissed as being uncouth. Igbo names given to them by their parents are immediately westernized; names like Nneka becomes Nekky, Nkechi becomes Nk, Chukwuma is now Chucky, etc. The erosion of our identity to me is total. However, I am particularly impressed when I see Nigerian kids of Yoruba origin born and bred outside the shores of Nigeria who speak their mother tongue without any trace of an accent, and understand same perfectly. In the UK, it is very rare to see a Yoruba person that answers such names as John, Mathew and other names imposed on our culture by Western influences.

Nevertheless, there are still Igbo parents that make great efforts at preserving the Igbo language and culture in the course of raising their children. There are countless Igbo parents that insist on giving proper Igbo names to their children instead of tokumbo names. I commend this greatly. I really do not frown at people adopting the cultures and values of tribes and races other than theirs, but it is my view that this should not be allowed to relegate ours to the background. I see it as an attack on reason and common sense when we see what is ours as being inferior while celebrating imported cultures and traditions; it would be nice to see a situation whereby we take pride in celebrating our diversity as a people from a multi-ethnic country rather than being in an eternal quest to marvel at values and languages from far places.

Is this not funny that while we blame Western countries for our economic woes, we take so much pride in perpetuating a new form of mental slavery by copying their life-style against ours? Generally, Nigerians now trample on their pride as a people by accepting foreign made goods and cultures as being superior to theirs, we try as much as practicable to imitate foreign accents [especially American] when we speak, we prefer hanging out at eateries that stock foreign junk foods instead piling up on our local dishes, we prefer sitting stupidly in front of our TV sets watching uninspiring shows like Big Brother Africa instead of Things Fall Apart, etc. The onslaught on our values is wicked and this is why we are raising tokumbo children in our country. Hence, I really do not blame kids that grow up with a mentality that ridicules their ancestry while celebrating foreign ways of life. We can still reverse this ugly trend by paying attention to how we raise our children by making sure we instill values that will make them proud ambassadors of their origin.