Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Joseph Project

History is a guide to navigation in perilous times. History is who we are and why we are the way we are. - David C. McCullough

The current issue of New African has a great spread on Ghana, one of the articles that caught my attention was about an innovative programme launched by the Ghanaian government called The Joseph Project

The Joseph Project is part of an elaborate plan to establish Ghana as the homeland for Africans in the diaspora. The project takes its name from the story of the Biblical Joseph who was sold into slavery.
Ghana is using the 50th anniversary of its independence which coincides with the 200th anniversary of the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade, to reach out to Africans in the diaspora to return to the motherland and help in its development.

So what is Nigeria doing considering Badagry was a major slavery port?
A brief history lesson:
In the early 1500's, slaves were transported from West Africa to America through Badagry. It is reported that Badagry exported no fewer than 550,000 African slaves to America during the period of the American Independence in l787.

As usual Ghana is leading the way while Nigeria is still looking for the way...

dawn over the atlantic

i took this shot this morning as our plane was flying over the atlantic..

an ijebuman in new york

it was my birthday last week so we headed off to New York for a few days. Left London's lovely spring weather on friday and arrived in the big apple to what can best be described as "artic conditions"

Despite the weather it was still business as usual in New York, London would have ground to a halt if we ever experienced weather like this.

check out central park

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

'WTF' Moments

Last time there was a "WTF" moment on this blog was this time last year (see previous post), But seriously when it comes to Naija every day is a "WTF" moment.
I don't know if it has something to do with the coming elections but the number of "WTF" moments in the last few weeks is mind boggling even by naija standards.

check out the top 5 in recent days

5. SR reveals Bukola Saraki's (governor of Kwara state) stupendous wealth, if you had money in the former Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN) (like one of my friends did) you now know who "took" your money

4. "Daniel may have his own weaknesses, but such can be corrected" Is Obj's response to corruption 'allegations' made against the governor of Ogun state (Gbenga Daniel). I suppose that only applies to those in the "right" party while those in the "wrong" party end up on the EFCC "list"

3. "We need his experience to win the polls." is what Obj had to say about the antics of Lamidi Adedibu, Political Godfather in Oyo state. I'm sure his experience of thuggery, rigging and intimidation will serve the PDP well..

2. Yar'Adua's rumoured death. Yar'Adua catches a 'cold' and the whole country sneezes

1. Atiku flies out for treatment to a torn knee cap (shame he didn't break his neck while exercising)
Obviously if Atiku had any intelligence this would have been a great opportunity to gain political capital by using a local hospital ( according to his officials the equipment to treat him was available in Lagos)
Who will fight?

An interesting article from sahara reporters...

The Angry Nigerian In Diaspora (from sahara reporters)

By ‘Tosin Olawale Duyile

I am an angry Nigerian in diaspora. I mean a very angry Nigerian.

I am so angry that I look at our country’s neighbour Ghana and dream about what could have been in ours.

I am so angry that I wish and dream that I could be in a position with resources to hire a professional assassin and do something similar to what Jerry Rawlings did to the pigs and rats that looted his country’s treasury, to the thieves that have stolen and to those still stealing our country’s wealth, inheritance and resources.

Oh I am so angry, so angry that I constantly dream about what I would do if I have the resources at my disposal and tremendous will-power to execute my plans. If I do, I would target the corrupt leaders, including governors, administrators, legislators, political eunuchs, ex-khaki boys and hangers-on one by one. I would provide the hired assassin with high powered telescopic rifle with lead encased bullets and eliminate these bastards from afar one by one. I would then leave ransom notes at the scene and place anonymous advertisements in several national newspapers with clear instructions for each and everyone of the rest to return their loots to the national treasury. Believe me, there will be no hiding place for any of them.

But then I, like most other Nigerians am a coward. The only thing we as Nigerians are good at doing is talk and write. Talk is cheap. I sometimes watch some Nigerian current affairs discussion programmes via satellite television here in the UK. I feel so disgusted at times at the filth coming out of the mouths of the participants that such programmes rather than provide a psychological uplift, actually make me more depressed. I always look at them and think ‘birds of the same feather’.

A so-called journalist working for BEN TV in London (I won’t mention his name) interviewed Babangida last year and sucked up to him throughout the interview. He neither asked him any probing question, nor took him to task about his crimes against the Nigerian people. Rather, he pretended to be his son and kept referring to him as ‘My Father’. I felt like smashing my TV to pieces. I was angry that my 2 young children could feel the anger oozing out of me. I reckon this journalist was harbouring the hope of landing a plum job if the ‘evil genius’ (as he is called) returns to power.

The fundamental problem of the Nigerian polity is precedence. Precedence in that it is in the psyche of the Nigerian that if he / she is elected to, or appointed to a position of power or that which controls resources, he / she would embezzle and misappropriate funds and nothing would happen. Worst case scenario if he / she is found out – he would be incarcerated for a few months at worst, and later freed to enjoy his / her illicit gains.

I have often debated this ‘precedence’ problem with my compatriots here in the UK. The universal consensus is to adopt Rawlings’s solution to Ghana’s problem – Line up the leaders and corrupt officials (past and present) and shoot them, but not before they return their ill-gotten wealth. Failure to cooperate means that their immediate and extended families would be complicit and suffer the same fate. To the reader of this article, this may sound callous and inappropriate and against the fundamental principle of human decency. But desperate times call for desperate measures.

Prayers and talk alone cannot solve Nigeria’s problems. Make no mistake, the majority ethic groups of South Africa dismantled the apartheid structures not because of international support, but because there was no other option but death in struggle.

In the film Godfather, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Corleone (played by Al Pacino) visited Cuba around the time of the revolution. In the scene, they witnessed a revolutionary blowing himself up rather than be arrested by the police. His partner in crime told Corleone to ignore the action, but Corleone wisely did not and flew back to the States. His words were that the revolutionaries would succeed because they were not afraid of death. True to his words, they succeeded. I suspect that that part of the film is reminiscent of the Fidel Castro’s struggle for power in Cuba.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a communist. In fact I am a very successful Town Planning Consultant here in the UK and I run my own business. But the message I am trying to put across is that until we as Nigerians take matters into our own hands and target these corrupt and satanic politicians and bureaucrats and force them to experience the penury and hopelessness that millions of Nigerians currently experience, we are condemned to eternal damnation. No amount of prayer will solve our problems. We need to take the bull by the horns and adopt the biblical principle of ‘heaven helps those who help themselves’.

We should adopt the same draconian principles that the Animal Rights Movement have put into perfection in the UK and the US by targeting companies and organisations profiting from research using animals, mainly primates. Some may call this terrorism, but in the long term, it would be successful. Of this I have a firm and unshaken conviction. The one thing that these dubious politicians and brigands fear is death and injury. History and posterity will forgive anyone who dares to follow this path. All peaceful means have been exhausted to stop the looting and mismanagement of our resources to no avail.

I empathise with the various militant groups operating in the Niger Delta, but they seem to have got their priorities wrong by kidnapping foreign expatriates. They should instead kidnap people like Odili and the others who mismanage their resources. Kidnapping foreigners only tarnishes our image abroad. To an average British or Korean or Chinese or Filipinos, these people are simply terrorists, no different from Al Qaeda operatives. The foreigner is not interested in the injustices in the Niger Delta area.

A taxi driver of Ghanaian descent took me to Heathrow Airport on my way to Lagos last year. This gentleman was so much in tune with the current affairs in Nigeria that he mockingly showed me Umaru Dikko’s grandiose mansion in Hammersmith. His exact statement was that what Umaru Dikko put Nigerians through, can never happen in Ghana. I nearly cried.

The sad thing about the sorry state of the Nigerian nation is that the younger generations do not know better. When I was in Nigeria last year, I engaged in a dialogue with a University Undergraduate, whom I have known since he was born. I told him in no uncertain terms that if Babangida returns to power, that would be the end of Nigeria. His emphatic conviction was that Nigeria would improve. I was alarmed and asked him why. His response was that Babangida would facilitate corruption and in his words allow everybody to chop. Babangida’s motto according to him is ‘You chop I chop’. At that very moment, I lost hope and firmly believe that I will never see a better Nigeria in my life time.

Nigeria’s politicians and power brokers are like a malignant tumour that feed on the organs of the body. Unless they are wiped out (I mean literally) there is no salvation for this great country of ours.

I remain angry, but take comfort in that my dreams may yet come to fruition in my lifetime. Any volunteers?

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I am laughing

sElection 2007(35 days(state)/42 days(federal) to go)
part of a series of blog entries on the Nigerian elections in April 2007.

Now laughing after ''exhibiting symptoms of catarrh''

So it seems Yar'Adua did not die as the rumour mongers hoped. I bet Obj almost had a heart attack, you could tell he was really pissed off as he 'described the rumour mongers as satanic'

According to the Sun (Nigeria's trashy tabloid paper)
Obj (obviously frothing at the mouth at this stage) also lambasted those alleging that he had known all along that Yar’Adua would not last a year in office, saying
"They are wicked. Anybody saying that is a child of satan. How can anybody say somebody will die on a particular day? They even said that I was dead in far away Ghana. They are wicked,"

Obj seemed to be in a better mood later in the day at a PDP rally in Abeokuta when he spoke to Yar'Adua on the phone, The Punch had excerpts of the telephone discussion:

Obasanjo: 'Umaru [Yar'Adua] are you dead?'
Yar'Adua: 'I am alive'
Obasanjo: 'What are you doing?'
Yar'Adua: 'I am laughing.'
The President, looking directly at the crowd: 'He is laughing ha! ha!! ha!!!'"

You gotta love that country, its so tragic it's funny. No wonder Nigeria is the happiest country on earth...

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Ghana Celebrates

“It is far better to be free to govern or misgovern yourself than to be governed by anybody else” - Kwame Nkrumah

Jeremy Paxman had Cameron Duodu (the renown Ghanaian journalist and writer) on BBC2's newsnight last night along with journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown
The discussion was about Ghana's 50th independence anniversary and the disappointment of other "independent" African countries

Paxman in his usual condescending way wondered if there was anything worth celebrating considering how poor Africans are despite independence while Yasmin felt that after 50 years Africans had themselves to blame for the current state of affairs.

Cameron Duodu made some valid points especially regarding comparisons of African countries with other former british colonies like India, Malyasia and Singapore, by pointing out that these countries had their own written languages (prior to colonisation) and their economy was built on their own culture and language while African economies are still largely based on European exploitation which has not changed despite "independence".

Ghana definitely has a lot to celebrate, as the first sub-Saharan country to break from Britain it prompted many others to seek independence in the following years. The country has been through a lot and despite its history it is doing well (at least compared to other west African countries).

Shame we can't say the same about naija but i'm sure we'll get there someday...

And the most emailed story on the BBC site since yesterday is
(yeah you guessed right, another amusing story about naija)

"Welcome to the animal kingdom where man pikin dey show dog pepper"

I don't know what the big deal is when dog meat is also a delicacy in many other parts of the world, even here in Europe (Switzerland)

as far as i'm concerned its just another excuse for the BBC to give a dog a bad name (forgive the pun)