Me, Diezani, Boko Haram and NYSC

I feel I should welcome myself back to itualive! It has been almost two months since I posted anything personally on this blog. I had sort of taken a sabbatical break to reflect on life (a grandiose excuse for doing nothing) and the pleasures life brings. Another reason for my absence is that I have found it more difficult to find a balance between my day job and relaxing activities like writing.  Maintaining such delicate equilibrium is essential for leading a successful life for most human beings. In Nigeria, a lot of people find it really hard to relax and who can blame them? If one has to wake up early every morning to make a living, feed a family (or two), pay exorbitant amounts to landlords for rent and still keep sane, the least on one’s mind would be a lesson on how to play golf. For most folks in this part of the world, the word survival is the daily mantra.  
The middle class (by this I mean bankers, civil servants, and maybe taxi drivers) try to attain this balance in their own way. For the men, a bottle (or two or three) of Star at a local joint on Friday night may help put things in perspective. The wife can wait at home for a different version of pleasure.
The fact is that most people wake up early every day and get back late at night to do the same thing over and over until death is most disheartening. Our economy makes it so hard for us to do what we really like and in the process the very essence of life is lost. And so after my reflection, I have decided to try to relax more by doing things that give me pleasure like writing.  Writing for me is a form of escape. An escape to a place where the god in me rises to create his own heaven and earth. A place of romantic solace, where intellectual intercourse can be made serenely to evoke literary ejaculations that rival the utmost hedonic experience on earth. We all ought to indulge in something that makes us happy once in a while you know. Other than writing, I also love to watch Arsenal play (this cannot be said to be pleasurable anymore) and reading the scriptures. So while working like every “normal” human being to feed my wife and kids (he he he),  I have also began work on a future New York Times Best Seller, so please hang on there and buy it for my sake when it comes into print.
So enough about me, I would move on to discuss some of the events that have made the news in recent times. From the appointments of key ministers to the mayhem unleashed by the Boko-haram sect and then to the floods in Lagos which caused a gargantuan loss of properties. I would be sharing my thoughts on a few of these…


Boko Haram is one group that has put their name on the map by terrorizing and killing innocent people. They have one weapon-violence-and they use it well. Boko Haram have one mission, which is to invoke Sharia law on Northern Nigeria (first), then maybe extend the benefits to the rest of us down south. They have justified these killings on the extra judicial murder of their leader Mohammed Yusuf killed in police custody some time back. They have detonated bombs in strategic areas in some parts of the country to spread their message of fear and terror into the lives of innocent Nigerians.  Their ideology is to rid Nigeria off Western Civilization. They don’t want schools or universities. All that school stuff is Haram (which means forbidden) to them. The Sect has also detonated bombs in beer parlors because it is haram to drink booze. The Sharia code abhors alcohol and all forms of hallucinogen and they have taken it upon themselves to go the extra mile by killing those who drink it.  Funny enough they are not concerned with the codeine cough syrup or brukutu or ganja some youths in the north indulge in. They also have the exclusive rights in choosing what form of westernization is haram because I wonder sometimes whether Boko Haram members use water closet toilets and maybe whether they wipe their asses with toilet rolls or paper or is it with banana leaves?  They hate western education but can take their injured members to western trained doctors in hospitals. Why do they even bother riding on okadas and drive cars that were built by knowledge made from the west? Who is fooling who?

Some people talk amnesty and try to equate this issue with the Niger Delta crisis that escalated during the Obasanjo administration. And as usual, you can trust Nigerians to whip up sentiments when it suits them by saying President Goodluck is doing “pashia” because he is from the South-South. I have nothing personal against an amnesty program that will guarantee peace but the question these advocates of amnesty have not answered is this: how can we grant an ideology amnesty? It’s the ideology against Western civilization that drives them and not emancipation from poverty as compared with the Niger Delta struggle.  Another pertinent issue is this; if the government were to give in to Boko Haram and completely get Heineken, Star, and Moet out of Borno State, how does it benefit the 2 year who is infected with cholera? How will giving into their demands vaccinate their children against polio and give their young men jobs to support their families? Furthermore who do Boko Haram represent, the majority or the minority?  The old, young, rich or poor? Who are they speaking for? Who says the people of Borno, Kano, or Suleja want to be governed by Sharia? There seems to be a chasm in all this and at the moment it is all shades of grey. Now they have gone bolder by setting off bombs in churches. What is the correlation between people peacefully worshipping their God have to with their hate for western civilization and booze? The truth is that this is extreme Islamic fundamentalism christened as Boko Haram. The sole purpose of the Niger Delta “militants” abinitio (before the criminal elements began to manifest) was to better the lives of their people. They wanted hospitals, roads, state of the art facilities and resource control and not to send their people to the Stone Age.

Well this is also related to the Boko Haram issue. The DG of NYSC has redeployed Batch “B” Corp members from Borno State because Corp members have become endangered species in that part of the country. I have written many times on the NYSC scheme and am not about to go on about it again. In that article I advocated the reformation of the scheme and it seemed something was going to happen. Corpers were killed in Bauchi, Kaduna, Suleja and Bauchi states before and after the April elections and a lot of noise was made about reforming the scheme. The National Assembly made their usual noise debating the issue but till date nothing has been said.  Am happy the DG has decided to be proactive this time around but I no longer believe the NYSC should be used as a means of integrating Nigerians. It may have worked before but it’s certainly not anymore. The scheme still helps build a work force and provides job opportunities to youths and manpower to many organizations. Corpers help to improve the economy directly and also indirectly especially in the education and health sectors. But as far as loving ones neighbor as one’s self is concerned, the NYSC should not be used as a means of achieving this. So sending an Ibo man to Zamfara no longer makes sense. I would prefer a situation where Corpers serve in their own geo political zones where they can at least be guaranteed safety. It won’t take away the numbers of doctor or pharmacists or primary school teachers deployed in a region and the commitment and service rendered would still be achieved. If a Corper wants to voluntarily go Borno or Bauchi or Kaduna to serve his father land then that is understandable. But it is wrong for a country to send kids into harm’s way. Life is too precious to play with. And no form of compensation is enough to pacify the loss of life. As I write this, some Corpers who were promised redeployment from Bauchi state following the post election blood bath are yet to be redeployed. What a country!

There was an outcry by a section of the public during the ministerial nominee screening in the senate against Deziani Allison Madueke. The antagonists of her candidature claimed that because she did not serve her country back then therefore she cannot serve now. I have debated this issues several times with some friends of mine and they all seemed to believe that I am one of those who would put personalities over principles because of my support for Diezani. These friends of mine claim that she subverted the system and must have lied on record to have come this far without anyone raising questions about a discharge certificate. My counter argument was this: One, the first time Deziani was about to be confirmed minister, she was accused of working for Shell. That was her wrong-working for an international organization. And they claimed it was a conflict of interest especially as Shell was implicated in a lot of issues in the Niger Delta. This time around, the NYSC is meant to be her albatross. Doesn’t it suggest that some people just don’t want the woman? Second, since the NNPC was formed, we have had several people who have ran our oil ministry in various capacities. There was one GMD of NNPC that lived in a five star hotel in Abuja on government expense.  There was another that was accused of diverting hundreds of barrels of crude oil to himself and the refineries’ owned by his cronies while Nigerians suffered on long queues waiting for their turn to buy petrol. And there came a certain woman and it looked like she waved a magic wand and we no longer have fuel scarcity like it was in the past. And all people can say is that she doesn’t have NYSC (gimme a break!).  Some people obviously want business as usual back on the table.  Haven’t we realized that whenever someone outside the norm comes around, the chop-I-chop people become uncomfortable?
Am all for integrity and honesty, and a passionate advocate for these sacred virtues but the day we start to exalt and put mediocres in positions to fulfill “righteousness” then we need to re-examine ourselves again. Remember, the law was made for man and not the other way round. At least thank God she claimed she was over the age of 30 years before she worked in Nigeria. They probably would have gotten rid of her (That’s what I call being saved by the age!).

The news making the rounds is that some people get sitting allowance of about N20, 000 in the National Assembly so I don’t believe a minimum wage of N18, 000 (per month) should a topic up for discussion.
On the floods, I will just repeat the what i posted on my page on facebook last week.
 The reported floods in Lagos and Ogun States can be solved by only three people. 1.Moses to split the floods in two 2. Noah to build an ark and 3. Jesus to teach us how to walk on water (lol)
©2011 Ewoigbokhan Otaigbe Itua
Lagos, Nigeria

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