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Collectivism: A Panacea to the Nigerian Conundrum

nigeria-at-atlanta-96_5o8zkuxp1eiu1x7nsplf1q8igThe maladies bedeviling the Nigerian Homo Sapiens in her struggle for survival, transcend Darwinian evolution theories of Natural Selection in the Origin of Species– It is indeed fact, being Nigerian is daunting.

It’s as though our creator dealt us a wrong stack of cards- bad leaders, bad citizens, and a truck load of bad luck. Nothing good happens. And when we try to make good of ourselves, something sinister piles up on our plate.  For example, we were sprinkled some cosmic dust of “Goodluck” (with high oil prices, awash with Foreign Direct Investments) yet at the same time Boko Haram sacked communities leaving the smell of charred flesh in its wake. The memories of Chibok and the Aluu four massacres linger, not to mention the iniquitous thievery that took place in that administration. The flicker was doused.

Enters Sai Baba, who ironically benefits from a process he truncates years before, ushering hope by his victory over the almighty PDP. Buhari came in at the time Nigerians were fed up with the draconian party at the centre. And you would think, finally, we can claw ourselves back from the pit. But with Jonathan out of the way, our luck turned for the worse: oil prices plummeted and our reserves took a hit not imagined by economists. A renewed militancy erupts in the Niger Delta championed by the Avengers while IPOB & MASSOB spark flames in the South East.  Consider this, with Buhari, there is “no corruption” (at least not as glorified as it was with his predecessor) but we have to contend with new devils compounded by a ravaging recession. Buhari’s government has no clue yet on what to do, little wonder our citizens scurry towards danger like Alice in Wonderland going after Ponzis such as MMM and ultimate cycler in other to make ends meet.

If you take the biblical account of the Tower of Babel seriously, it would suggest that all a nation needs to prosper even if their creator didn’t approve is to cooperate in whatever goal they set out to achieve.

Cooperation as a nation is easier said knowing Nigerians well enough. We never agree on anything, even obvious problems. Issues are peered through cultural, ethnic and religious kaleidoscopes.   Our moral compasses oscillate towards the satisfaction of our bellies and we have altogether lost our way (if we ever had one).

Does this mean Nigerians never come together at all? Yes, we actually do. Soccer brings us together! Remember how Rashidi Yekini, screamed out his lungs when he scored against Bulgaria in the world cup?  The country was united. Remember Nwankwo Kanu’s miraculous chip against Brazil? Yes, that brought us together too. In fact after we won Atlanta 96, people filled the streets chanting and singing, not minding the language spoken. But these sporting events are few and far between and are usually short lived. Sports are a good rallying point, but it doesn’t hold the centre for us in the long run.

 

So what else can be a unifying factor?

Famous televangelist, TD Jakes says: “Nothing brings people together like adversity”. And he is right. Death in the family brings relations from far and wide.   We see how America came together when tragedy hit them on 9/11.  America was unequivocal in its stand against terrorism the way South Africa was united against the apartheid government of FW de Klerk.

Nigeria has had her share of adversity- the Civil War; Kano riots in 91 & 2001; Jos killings; Cynthia Osokogu; Mubi; Ikeja Cantonment mayhem;  Independence Bomb blast; Madalla, June 12 and the fuel hike protests of 2013 among many others. But each time, the disasters wore a different color of interpretation depending on what religion, ethnic group, or culture you gleaned it from. We may have come together in these times but it is my opinion that these tragedies never defined us as a people the way 9/11 or apartheid did for America and South Africa.   There was no common ground. There were in fact people who blamed Cynthia for getting lured to a hotel room; others defended the Aluu killings because they believed Lloyd, Chidiaka, Tekena and Ugo were members of some cult.

There is perhaps only one event where Nigerians saw the struggle through from start to finish. It was not a political tussle, or a civil rights movement or a protest against unlawful killings. It was a fight to save and preserve our individual lives. It was the fight against Ebola.

The fear of death from the Ebola Virus gave us a unifying language. The market woman in Kafanchan and the student in Ilorin greeted with their elbows. The prostitute in Obalende and the priest in Mbaise understood the language. There was neither friend nor foe when life was concerned. Bribes couldn’t get you into any public building without the use of sanitizers. Nigerians who would otherwise never obey simple instructions now wash their hands. Why?

Nobody wants to die

These examples illustrate how individualism (or selfishness in this context) can be used to save the community. Usually it is our inherent selfishness and lack of consideration for others that make us cut corners. We take bribes in order to stop protests not minding if the objectives are achieved. We support thieving politicians and protect them with the “our son” mantra. We inflate contracts and still never build the roads not caring that pot holes kill people. We skip queues at banks and airports by settling attendants, just because we can. And recently, to think that food items desperately needed by Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who have gone through so much pain can be diverted by their own kinsmen privy to their plight would make you cringe at the deep seated selfishness in every one of us. Nigerians are selfish at heart.

But have you noticed how we obey flight attendants who ask that phones be switched off before take-off? And how everyone rallies against the passenger who just doesn’t get it?

Why?

Because, nobody wants to die. We will shelve our individualism for the collective interest of everyone so long as it spares us also. Our love for self is brought to the fore, but this time for the common good. The support for the flight attendant could in fact potentially save the plane couldn’t it?

Now, how can convert these individualistic tendencies to benefit the generality of Nigerians?

In the movie, Beautiful Mind, John Nash (Russell Crow) captures this concept brilliantly when he refutes Adams Smith’s claim on the positive influence of competition (individualism) alone. Nash was of the opinion that competition is only positive if it benefits the group (collectivism). Nash adds: “In competition, individual action (should) serve the common good”.

He further explains: “It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest. Nash’ argument was that when one does what is good for him and also for the group (or community) the system benefits more. Simply put, if our individual interest benefits the overall interest of the society, then that interest is worth doing but if it benefits us alone, it should not be done.

Going by the Ebola example, if a contractor sees himself or his loved one dying on the road he is meant to fix, he would not cart away public funds. Imagine if this were the attitude we took to our business places every day

What if major fuel importers thought they would make a better profit investing in building refineries that in importing fuel because it would benefit the country more in the long run?

What if, the solution to the youth restiveness in the Niger Delta and South East was “True Federalism?”

What if having only one chamber in the National Assembly would benefit the country more in the long run? What if our lives actually depended on this, wouldn’t we be willing to make the necessary sacrifices?

So many “what ifs”, but it is clear that focusing on ourselves rather than the group is costing us more that we can accommodate. The world is moving on, and every country is adapting and finding ways to survive as species often do. Our failure to adapt is causing the “extinction” we presently face.

Whether we live or die is left to us but the solution is clear. All we need to do is to love our fellow man as ourselves and possibly more.

 

Otaigbe Ewoigbokhan

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Finding Tinapa

I took a four-day hiatus off work to visit family in Calabar, the capital of Cross River State in Nigeria.  Having never been to Calabar this was going to serve both as a family reunion and an expedition of some sort. I knew a thing or two about the place. The city Calabar served as port for transportation of slaves to Europe. Many “Cross-riverians” still bear names handed to them by slave masters.

Calabar is also home to fine cuisine. It is near-impossible to choose between delicacies edikang ikong, afang, and four-o-four (dog meat). The people also have unique, mythical characteristics; their women are said to be beautiful, voluptuous, possess magical culinary skills and are enchanting in bed. In politics, Margaret Ekpo, the rights activist, who fought for women civil liberties, gained reputation as a member of the regional House of Assembly from 1961-1965.

Calabar is one of many tourist destinations in Nigeria but unlike other tourist attractions, the state has made out a global brand. Donald Duke, a former governor of Cross River played a pivotal role in making this possible. The Calabar Festival he inaugurated is the biggest tourism, leisure and entertainment programme in West Africa. It is held in December to celebrate and usher in the New Year.

The other key feature in Calabar is Tinapa.  Tinapa was built to be a business and leisure resort meant to take tourism to a whole different level in Nigeria. The project was initiated with a dream to make Calabar a hub for business and entertainment. Duke sought to create a tourism ecosystem in Crossriver State with Obudu Ranch and Tinapa at the centre. Development of Tinapa was buzzworthy—after all it only cost over $400 million!  In fact Tinapa was to be the centre of Nigeria’s free trade zone. It would attract investors from all over.

Personally, it wasn’t a question of if I was ever going to Tinapa but when. No one could wait. It was like waiting for the first match of a World Cup. So I knew that even though I had heard and read negative reviews of Tinapa, I still needed to see for myself.

Tinapa is twenty minutes away from the city centre. Trees arched forwards towards the centre of the road on both sides of the high way, leaving huge shadows overlapping on cars. My party and I made mock videos as though we were real tourists and titled it, On the Way to Tinapa.  I expected more from the ambience on our journey there and found it to be unexciting. The streets were half empty and there were no road signs that made our destination special from say going to church. I have visited tourist attractions in London, Dubai, Nairobi and Accra and I expected more from the journey. An ominous feeling began to set in: Maybe Tinapa was dead after all.

We finally made the left turn that brought us into Tinapa. Our first stop was the Water Parks. My enthusiasm surged again. Men, women and children were present. This area of the resort was functioning though not at full capacity (sounds like a refinery innit?). A bunch of freelance photographers scampered around us in hopes of taking and selling pictures.

“Bros, make I snap you and madam,” one quipped.

I was armed with my Ipad. My wife had a Samsung phone and my mother an android device enabled with a camera. We declined their offer. We paid and went in. I was impressed to see the pools properly maintained. The Water slides were not in use but this was probably because no one showed interest. Next stop: the shopping malls!  What shopping malls?

And that was where the Tinapa cookie crumbled. It was a ghost town. There was nothing, nada, zilch. Virtually every store was closed or had nothing to sell.  Shopping ought to be the centre of Tinapa. Nobody flies from Lagos or London to have a good swim. In fact the market survey that propelled the Tinapa project forward revealed that at least 500 Nigerians leave the country on nine different flights daily with each traveller spending on average 1.2 million naira in travelling and shopping cost. Tinapa was developed to save Nigeria about N200 billion annually from capital flight.

We eventually found T-mart, a store running clearance sales (They probably were also on their way out). There was no light in the building so I brought out my phone and found the torch app to help us find our way around. It was like a scene from National Treasure. We picked some clothes and headed for the till.

At this point, I couldn’t hide my disappointment.

“Oga, abeg who get Tinapa? Na Government?” I asked the attendant. I needed to put things in perspective; I needed to know who really was, is to blame for the mess.

“Na Cross River,” he answered, his patriotism tinged with shame.

My phone rang. On the other end my friend inviting me for his sister’s wedding in Lagos.

“No problem,” I responded. “I should be in Lagos next week. I am in Calabar, Tinapa actually.”

“What are you doing there?” he queried. “That place is dead—don’t you know?”

“Now I do”, I didn’t say.

I strongly believe the situation at Tinapa can be turned around if proper planning and management is employed. Certain factors such as government bureaucracy, insecurity in the Niger Delta, and kidnappings, contributed to the failure of Tinapa. Global terrorism especially that posed by Boko Haram has slowed down tourist into Nigeria.

Some steps have been made to save the project though. AMCON’s acquisition of Tinapa may be a blessing in disguise as it has given Tinapa a new lease of life. Ebony Life TV (A black Entertainment and Lifestyle network) has taken up residence on the Tinapa Campus. This has also helped drive some traffic into Tinapa.  It is unclear how long this turnaround will take but it is a road that must be travelled. The Canary Wharf (a major business district is one of the UK’s two main financial centers) recovered from an initial hiccup and the same can be done with Tinapa.

Tinapa faded behind us into the clouds as we drove back home.  It was less spirited; no chatter or video footages to pass time. Yes, I had found Tinapa but did I think I would ever come back?  Probably not!

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CHRONICLES OF AREA X POLICE STATION: CORPORAL RASIDI MANA (PART 3)

Police-station1

Mr. Furuk Lawani returns to Area X police station after one week and meets a praise and worship session.

 

(Police officers singing)

Amen amen, blessing and glory

Wisdom tanks giving, and honor,

Pawa and mite, belong to awa God

Forever and Ever. Amen.

Police man moves to the centre and offers prayers

“…Papa God we tank you for life

We tank you say we dey alife

We tank you sey we no follow die

We pray sey you go keep us alife

Make the sole of awa fellow offica wey die rest in piece

Amen! (Chorus response)

Papa God make u helep protect offica

No let awa blood dey shed anyhow

Papa God kill all the tiff for dis Lagos

Amen! (Chorus response)

We call fire for heaven to destroy all of dem

Holy fire consume dem!

Amen! (Chorus response)

Papa God, both small tiff wey dey carry gun

And tiff wey dey use biro

Make all of dem die by fire

Amen! (Chorus response)

Papa God, even the one wey tiff awa police pension and every oda pension money, make e die

Amen! (Murmured response)

I say kill all the pension tiff (he raises voice)

Amen! (Chorus response)

Papa God, prospa Nigeria…”

After the prayer Farouki Lawani goes to the counter to make an enquiry

Good morning offica

 Yes Good morning, how we go help you?

Abeg, I wan see DPO

For wetin?

Notin ma, I just wan see am

I no understand; you wan see DPO for notin. Dis man e be like say you no serious.

 No be like dat, na my case I wan follow DPO tuk, no be say anyting

Shey na that one you no fit tuk, u dey lucky sey I get your time dis morning. DPO office dey upstairs.  See that door wey that man for white they comot from (she points her hand). Na DPO office be dat.

Thank you offica. God bless you.

Farouk enters the office and recognizes him as the man who led the prayer.

 Good morning sa

Good morning. How are you?

Am fine sa.

So how I go fit help you?

Well oga DPO, I come report case for here too weeks ago

Na Corporal Rasidi Mana be my IPO

I don come station like 2 times now

Tiff bin come my yard for Ebute Metta

And I come report am

Make police gimme report make I take give insurance pipu

We bin tuk for fone last week

E say im never get time come investigate

And now e no dy answer im fone again

Na im I sey make I come tell you.

The DPO sighs heavily and shakes his head

Corporal Rasidi Mana don die.

E die too days ago.

Na tiff finish am for masha side

Heavy gun fire between police and tiff.

Na im and three oda officas die dat day

Na so we dey see am for dis wok o

Na God go help us for dis wok (Shakes head)

Anyway, I bin review all Corporal Rasidi Mana case

And na true you tuk, I see your case file

I don already assign anoda IPO for you.

Since na the police report be the main tin wey u want

Na God go help us catch the tiff

Your new IPO go follow you go house today do preliminary investigation wey we go fit do your report.

Tank you sa. God bless you.

You go first give dat offica for that room tati thosand

Den come collect your report tomorrow.

Haba DPO, tati thousand, for wetin!

Oya how much you go fit pay? (smiles)

THE END.

©2013 Otaigbe Itua Ewoigbokhan

NB: The characters used in this piece are fictional and semblance to real persons is entirely coincidental.

Itualive! ™

CHRONICLES OF AREA X POLICE STATION: CORPORAL RASIDI MANA (PART 2)

 Police-station1

So na so im appun, Corporal Rasidi Mana, na so the hole tin appun oh.

Ok. Mr. Furuk Lawani, I don hear the mata. D tin now be say, after you write your statement finish, we go come go your house go do the investigation. We go lock up your may gard for like tree weeks. E go confess. From wetin u tell me, e be like say e go follow know d tiff. But u no go write for your statement sey na arm robbery o. If you tuk that one, den we go nid to transfer the case go anoda division. Except sey na wetin u want be dat?

Oga Corporal, na report I come report for station. I no no which one be division. I wan make una catch tiff wey come my house, come slap my wife for my front. Any division wey go do the work, make e do am.

Mister Man, listen to me. I get wok do. I just sey make I help you take up dis case. If dem carry go anoda division, u don complicate matas be dat. Just write as I tell u; tiff enter house, carry some tins commot. Simple! Na we go go take no how we go do d investigation, abi u wan teach us awa work? If you wan write arm robbery, make I kukuma go call anoda officer. (Stands up and slowly moves towards the door).

Abeg no go Corporal Maina, I go write am as u tuk am. I just wan do d propa tin sa. But I go write as u tell me.

No write as I tell u. Write wetin appun but without arm robbery. Chikena. Proppa tin (scoffs). Oga just write abeg. But she you no sey before we start the investigation, u go mobilize us?

Mobilize u? As how, Corporal Rasidi Maina

Dis man sef, we you from come? All dis kain question wey u dey ask, you wan make we investigate or not?

Corporal Mana, why I come police before? No be because I want make una help me?

See d many question wey you for the ask. If na like dis you be, maybe we go transfer your case true true. Mr. Furuk Lawani, abi no be your name be that? If you wan make we work with awa full mind, den u must push d work small. Oda wise nothing go appen. I no go tell you wetin to do, but I believe sey, you get church mind.

Ok sa. I don here. Make we dey go my house. We go tuk dat one later.

(Bursts into hysteric laughter) See dis man o. I resemble Ashawo for your eye? Even Ashawa nawadays dey collect advance. (Laughs). E get one man last week for here wey ashawo bring come station for nite. The ashawo tuk sey d man do and e no wan pay. The man tuk sey e no do anything. No be small money o-fifteen t-a-s-a-n-d.  But as woman tin no get meter, sodia for , no evidence against d man. Case dismissed. The man do for free. (Laughs).

So Mister Furuk, I no be ashawo. I no come Lagos come count bridge.

(Furuk Lawani takes out five thousand naira from his pocket and hands it over to Corporal Rasidi Mana who pockets it quickly without counting)

How much dey dere?

Na five t-a-s-a-n-d.

Wetin be that? By d time I give DPO im own, and I give Crime Officer im own, wetin go come rem…

(Their conversation is interrupted by a plain cloth police man bringing in a hand cuffed pale looking man. Corporal Maina Salutes)

Good Morning sa!

Corporal Maina, commot dis man case file (pointing to the man in cuffs) we dey charge am to court today. Nobody come bail am for more dan one month so we must transfer am go kirikiri today. Dem sey that na new IG directive.

Yes sa.

When you find im file, you come meet me for my office. (Leaves office with man in cuffs)

Yes sa.

You see wetin ma Oga tuk, e be like say you go come some oda time

Some oda time?

You and dis questions wey you dey ask, you no here wetin my oga tuk. Just be patient, collect my number and come next time… (Corporal Rasidi Mana leaves the office)

To Be Continued…

©2013 Otaigbe Itua Ewoigbokhan

NB: The characters used in this piece are fictional and semblance to real persons is entirely coincidental.

Itualive! ™

CHRONICLES OF AREA X POLICE STATION: CORPORAL RASIDI MANA (PART 1)

Police-station1

4:00am

Photograph of the President, Police Chief, and Police commissioner hang on the wall.

Abeg who dey here o. Una Good morning o

Good morning. Kpom Kpom Kpom

Police office wakes up and responds

Mister man, wetin be your problem?

If I come your house kan wake you like dis, you go like am?

 

Oga, no vex, na tif come awa yard about too awas ago, naim I sey make I come police station come inform una

Ehen, so because tif come your house, that na why yu come wake us for station?

Anyway, no wahala, wetin your time tuk?

Na, for twenty five sa.

Yu go go house come back except you wan wait till morning

Na morning people go take your case

Ok sa

9:00am

Good morning madam, my name na Lawani Furuk

Yes good morning Oga, how can we help you?

I come report case of robbery for my yard for Ebute Metta

Ok, which time the occurrence occur?

Na around that kain tuh o clock for mo-mo

Sometin happen since morning, why u just dey come station?

So you wait for seven awas to report case?

I be come before, but the officer wey I meet tuk sey make I come later sey na morning people go handle am

You be mumu o, and you sef go house, e be like sey the tiff no come your house true true.

Officer shakes her head in disgust

Una see d kain nonsense wetin Kasali dey do?

Na God go punisham.

Instead of make e do im work, he go dey give anoda person extra work

Oga sit down for chair for that room. I go call you later. The person wey dey with the statement form and entry book go chop for back yard. E just lock am by mistake for locker. Just wait 5 minutes e go come now now.  Just stay at alert, I go call you when e come.

 

10:02am

 

Oya oga come o, the officer don come. Come write your statement.

Ok. Tank u officer

Dis one wey I try for you call the officer, you go shine eye well o before u commot . (she smiles)

Lawani Furuk tries to hide his displeasure with a smile back

Yes Mr. Lawani Furuk, make we go my office go take your statement. I here say na robbery incident, na me be the IPO in charge for your case, my name na Corporal RASIDI MANA.

To Be Continued…

©2013 Otaigbe Itua Ewoigbokhan

NB: The characters used in this piece are fictional and semblance to real persons is entirely coincidental.

Itualive! ™

PHCN: HOW NOT TO FORMULATE POLICY

 

 

This is a clear example of what happens when “leaders” in government lack the insight and compassion as well as common sense requisite for policy formulation and execution.

I live in Opebi, Ikeja Lagos.  My monthly PHCN energy bill ranges from 2,300 naira to 3,500 naira (with the new energy tariff regime). I’m single, have few electronic gadgets and spend more of my time outside my house on weekdays. This explains why I have managed to maintain a fairly low tariff on my electricity bills.

So you can imagine my disbelief upon finding out that my bill read 16,000 naira for the month of October.  My initial assessment was that it must have been human error by the person who read my meter. I went to the PHCN office on Ikosi Road, Oregun and lodged a complaint

I spoke with the both the marketing manager and the woman who reads my meter and was shocked to find out that the reason for the outrageous bill I was served was due to a new PHCN policy. The policy states or rather assumes that no individual can use less that 200 units of energy per month. In the event that this occurs, it must mean that the individual or household has tampered with the meter. The penalty for this (whether one is guilty or not) is to be slapped with a16,000 naira flat rate equivalent to about 1200 energy units of electricity!

It doesn’t matter whether you have one fridge or no TV set. It doesn’t matter if you do not have air conditioning sets or no electric cookers. It doesn’t matter whether you travel for three weeks on vacation with your family. It doesn’t even matter if the transformer has a fault. Once the energy unit reads 200 or less, you must be a thief and a scoundrel cheating the government.

Of course I tried to make a case by showing my bill payments from February to date which amounted to an average of about 3,000 naira per month. It was saddening to realise that no one could offer any satisfactory response or even empathize with me. All they could say was this: “just pay the bill and apply for the installation of the digital meter”.

The problem remains unresolved and I am faced with the stack reality of another 16,000 naira bill in November.  Going by my average monthly energy consumption, I’m definitely in big trouble! It is wrong for PHCN to force me to pay for power I did not consume.

I tried to fill out the forms for the digital meters and the forms were not even available. And if it were, it could take ages to be installed. And while I wait, 16,000 naira electric bills would be forced down my throat except I decide to live in darkness.

Another option I may employ is to leave all my fans and lights on through the day, every day, whether I’m in or not. This may help push my monthly consumption to above 200 units of energy!

It is not fair for me to pay over 14,000 naira extra than I should every month for electricity. The fact that somebody somewhere behind a desk thought this policy out without considering that some people may by choice use less electricity is lunacy. This is a stupid policy at best and people with such unintelligent approach to issues should not be allowed to roam free let alone be policy makers.

I want to use this medium to ask anyone out there for help. If you know anyone who can correct this anomaly or can lend expert legal advice on what I should do about this matter, please do contact me.

Richard Obaitan

(08063805100, robaitan@gmail.com.)

RONALDO VS MESSI: A Winner At Last?

Even a toddler would have a thing or two to say about these football superstars. Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi are two footballers who though still in their twenties have made legends of themselves.  So who then is better? Well, this question has been trending for a while now and will continue to do so so long as these duo continue to smash records with consummate ease. The manner with which they do this is unique to both players and this makes it difficult for their passionate fans, admirers and neutrals to agree on who truly is better.

Ronaldo is the embodiment of an ideal athlete: Optimal height, tremendous burst of speed and power with fantastic skills to boot. He is lethal with his head and can strike with both feet. He can nick one from a distance and he could be a fox in the 6yard box and not to forget, he is also a dead-ball specialist. It is no wonder his stats for Los blancos are phenomenal.  Presently, Ronaldo is averaging just over a goal per game. You would think we have a winner, right? Well, wait to you hear what his counterpart has on display.
Messi, while not exactly imposing in any physical attribute takes close ball control and dribbling at top speed to a celestial high. Many neutrals have become fans of football just by watching the diminutive Argentine at his mesmerizing best. Not since the days of Maradonna have we seen a player that consistently shows us how to dribble from any position on the field. Irrespective of the size and number of his markers, Messi glides past them like hot knife through butter. There is probably no better finisher of the round leather game on earth. Messi also scores with his head, and can score from distance. He brings such finesse to his finishing, making the most daunting task look ridiculously easy. 

Asides their incredible football talent, the mere fact that they are from the same era, which in itself is a rarity, is fantastic. Looking beyond their well documented physical differences, they play for teams established as eternal rivals. If comparing both players proves difficult, the rivalry between Real Madrid and Barcelona puts things into proper perspective. You cannot divorce the fact that the clubs they play for have helped stoke the fireworks. And if that didn’t do it for you, knowing that Christiano Ronaldo answers to Jose Mouriho-the special one- and Lionel Messi is managed by Pep Guardiola, a man said to be arguably one of the best coaches on the planet. The two players may be similar in how prolific they are at scoring goals but away from the pitch it’s a different ball game all together. Christiano sports Armani suits, Lionel wears Dolce and Gabbana.  Christiano endorses Nike, Lionel assents to Addidas. An Audemars Piguet piece is worn around Messi’s wrist, and for Ronaldo, it’s a   Time Force.  Ronaldo may have won in the area of facebook fans but Messi can take solace in the fact that he makes more money.  Although Ronaldo appears to have a bad boy image judging by his numerous voluptuous model girlfriends, Lionel Messi is perceived to be a lot “humbler” in his desires.   

Who then is the better? Well according to the World Governing Body, FIFA, and UEFA, Messi is. But if you consider that football is a team sport and to select a player above another, such a player should have exceptional talent. How well do these players fit into their respective teams vis-à-vis team work and camaraderie. And if they happen to play for different clubs, can they replicate or surpass their present achievements?  
Messi supporters would allude to the fact that, save for the Argentine national team, Messi has led the various teams he has played with (to lift trophies. Quick pointers would be the World Youth Championship (FIFA U-20) in 2005 cup where he bettered our own Mikel Obi as the most valuable player of that competition.  They would claim that it would be a matter of time for him to replicate his achievements for the South American giants. With the consistency with which Messi raises the bar of excellence every season, few would be brave enough to bet against the La Albiceleste  in Brazil come 2014.
While Christiano Ronaldo’s protagonists may not mention that he has not achieved anything fantastic for his national side, they would be quick to point that he has always been exceptional at all his clubs- from Lisbon to Manchester United and now Real Madrid. Ronaldo has distinguished himself in different teams and leagues. We can’t say the same for Messi. This strengthens the claim that Ronaldo is better.
Ronaldo might have a selfishness to his game, but that only adds to the allure that surrounds him.  Messi almost always comes out tops each time they go head to head. And many have questioned Ronaldo’s incapability to consistently bring it on in the big games.  Messi currently leads in most stats of comparison but that is not enough to stifle the pro Ronaldo camp. With Ronaldo thrumping Messi in La Liga so far, and a potential classico UEFA Champions League Final looming, there are numerous twists and turns and opportunities for these gladiators to state their claim as the best in their era.

What is certain however is that this battle is not in its twilight and we should all consider it a privilege to have not one but two great legends of the game in our time.

©2012 Colin Obaitan
ItuaLive!

NIGERIA IS RISEN!

“He is risen”- is the text that graced many personal profiles on Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry messenger on Easter Sunday.  This text first appeared in the bible in Matthew 28 and also in Luke 24, when an angel from God comforted Mary at the empty tomb of Jesus. The resurrection of Christ is the core feature of the Christian faith and it marks the crescendo of Jesus’ work on earth.  And according to Apostle Paul, without the resurrection, the Christian faith is vain and we (Christians) are of all men most miserable (1Cor 15:13-19). 
Arguments over the true origin of Easter have spawn through time.  Some have pointed out that Easter is deeply rooted in pagan tradition dating back to an ancient Babylonian family—2,000 years before Christ—honoring the resurrection of their god, Tammuz, who was brought back from the underworld by his mother/wife, Ishtar (after whom the festival was named). They have supported their claims arguing that ceremonies where Easter bunnies and Easter eggs are used in celebrations are not biblical. There may be some truth in this but I believe the message of Easter is what is truly important.
In the White House, there is an Easter Egg Roll tradition since 1878 when President Rutherford B. Hayes officially opened the White House grounds to local children for egg rolling on Easter Monday. Am sure most Nigerian children would prefer to eat the eggs to fill their hungry stomachs instead.  Who would blame them? The present state of the Nigerian child is pitiable and his future has sadly been mortgaged by his fathers. 
Over the last month or so, I have not posted anything personally on the blog majorly because I have become disillusioned at on-going events in the country. It seems like we take one step forward and several steps back. I keep asking myself, “What is the point”? The truth is that no one really cares. The country seems to be on auto pilot.  It’s everyone for himself and God for us all as they say. And sadly I had begun to adopt the strategy of self preservation. At least let me try to better my own life. “Let God bless me and enlarge my own coast”, I profess to myself. If Nigeria burns, so be it. But in taking that path, I had also become part of the problem because the moment we decide to be like lambs and keep quiet, we have inadvertently agreed to be led to the sheerer for slaughter.
The truth is this: Nigeria can never get better if something radical does not happen.   A radical change or a radical decision (I don’t mean fuel subsidy removal) must occur. Newton’s first law of motion forecasts Nigeria’s doom in the absence of an external force. Marxist would liken that force to be Prometheus, a renegade god who stole fire from Zeus to give to men. Others including myself would gravitate towards a less supernatural solution to something more practical. 
For the record, I no longer think the major problem with Nigeria is leadership. Leaders are a product of society. The society in turn produces its leaders. Thus, a tragic vicious cycle is created where the victims of a system procreate to breed hegemonic leaders. The young man that had a cell phone strapped to his sandal during the last UTME examination is a case note.  Had he succeeded, a paradigm for his life would have been set. If in the future he contested for election to become a local government chairman or even a governor, he would have no problem rigging. He would lie about building roads and schools and new refineries to win elections. And if he joins the right political party (wink wink), he certainly would win. He would pick up his microphone in his broadcast as a number one citizen of a state or local government and tell his followers that there would be no sacred cows. He will tell everyone who cares to listen that there would be no tolerance for corruption. The moment he drops the microphone, he would cart away 250 million pounds into foreign accounts through his girlfriends and mistresses. He expects nothing else of himself, because that is who he truly is. The society that produces him expects nothing more from him; after all, our leaders must “chop”. We are further plunged deeper into the bottomless abyss of anarchy. Of course we shouldn’t forget that he did not start up in life as a cheat. This might have been his fourth UTME exam. He has younger ones to support and his chance of getting into University is getting slimmer. He needs to know someone to get into school. He needs to know someone else to get a job. He needs to know someone for everything.
 Because he is poor, the society ostracizes him. The Darwinian Law of Natural Selection kicks in. It is survival of the fittest and man must “whack”. A life of hardship and possibly crime beckons. If he’s lucky he will die before he is 30. If not, he would end up in prison. The chances that he would cross from poverty to wealth by hard work and honesty is close to zero. The society hates him because he is not successful and he hates his society for not giving him a chance. The people who do get the job sometimes aren’t the most qualified and hence promotion and perpetuating mediocrity in the society. 
 What results is that everyone now wants to be a mediocre because medicres are the ones that have it all.
Another reason for our underdeveloped in Nigeria is because there is no punishment for crime and we continue to glorify and adulate people who should be in prison. It is said of Christ, that he loved righteousness and hated iniquity (or wickedness). For a society to function optimally there has to be a balance. The State must punish crime and extol justice and integrity wherever it is found. If there was a law to punish anyone who steals N500, 000 and above by death, it won’t take a rocket scientist as President to put Nigeria back on track.  But everybody’s job is made harder because there are crooks everywhere-in the offices, among your friend and family, and even in places of worship.  The future of the nation’s children has already been mortgaged to corruption.  We here of endless circuses called probes in the NASS that come to nothing. We see the charade on TV, and behind closed doors, they “settle” it as gentle men and women. Members of the House who should resign still wine and dine and vie for reelection. The fuel probe will most likely go the way of power probe, SEC probe and pensions probe.
I believe strongly that Nigeria’s problems are not insurmountable. They are as legion as the demon possessed man, but certainly not impossible to deal with. First is to adopt a step by step approach and solve one problem after the other. Corruption is pervasive but while we try to fight it we can as well have light or can’t we?  If we all agree that a major impediment to Nigeria’s economic growth is power, why is the light issue becoming worse instead of better? Why have I had light for less than 2 hours daily in the last month? And what does it take to give Nigerians light after 13 years of democracy.  
In elementary biology we learn that in the organization of life, cell come together to form tissues, which build up to organs and eventually become systems. If God Almighty built the human body to function effectively and efficiently using this model aren’t we being foolish in trying to generate power centrally in order to distribute to different regions? Over 15-20% of the power generated would eventually be lost when sending it to the National grid.  The idea of the FG trying to control everything is not helping. I was in Dubai in January, and I saw a 132kva substation plant providing light for a part of the city. Imagine if that power had to be transferred to Abu Dhabi, the seat of government before it is redistributed back to Derra in Dubai. It would be both wasteful and stupid. Also, little steps like filling up pot holes instead of waiting for the giant contracts to sail through can be done.
The major reason I believe there is hope for Nigeria is because of Easter. The body of the most anointed man on earth lay lifeless in the tomb for three days. It seemed like all was lost. His disciples had become despondent, his followers had abandoned him. And then, on the third day, he rose from the dead. 
We may have remained dead as a Nation for quite some time. Our society may have produced the worse set of leaders, still I believe we will rise. I believe that a dysfunctional society that can still produce people like Bishop Oyedepo, Babatunde Fashola, Tuface Idibia, E.A Adeboye, Asa, Osita, D’banj, Funke Akindele, Chnedu, Osita Iheme, Chimamanda Adichie  has hope. And that society one day, someday will rise.
©2012 Otaigbe Itua Ewoigbokhan

IBORI: CUSTOM MADE HELL, PFN, ANDRES VIAS BOAS AND ONE OTHER THING

The beauty of Israel is slain upon your high places: how are the mighty fallen!
The above text is culled from the Second book of Samuel in the Bible. It speaks of a people (or person) who had at a time been so mighty and powerful that they became prideful and arrogant and now were humiliated by the Almighty. That can be said to be the case of former Delta State governor, Chief Onanefe James Ibori. A man loved by a few, hated by others, cherished by some and feared by all. In fact, it seems every adjective can be used to describe the ex-governor except honest. Ibori’s integrity has always been in the spot light even from the early days of his administration.  James Ibori was accused in 2003 of being an ex-convict but narrowly escaped impeachment. A “curious” judgment was delivered in his favor even when the evidence appeared to be of be of contrary opinion. 
Ibori after being forced into exile by the EFCC will certainly be regretting some of his actions now. Am sure given hindsight, he (Ibori) would do just one thing differently- that is, remain in Nigeria instead of fleeing to Dubai. If the statement credited to his lawyer is anything to go by, pleading guilty to money laundering charges is not the same as pleading guilty to corruption charges. He claims to have done the nation a favor by his plea. He doesn’t want to drag the name of the country into the mud by going through the hassles of a lengthy trial. With this type of talk, it is obvious that his kind is unrepentant and unapologetic. He belongs to the class of Nigerian politician that would rather make a crooked cent than make an honest dollar.  The only thing Ibori would do differently if he were to be governor again is to take a chance with the Nigerian justice system. It is a system where “senior lawyers” are hired to make a trial go on indefinitely so that justice is never served. And if the heat gets too much, one could always settle for a plea bargain. In this case, Delta state will get their cut while Ibori will keep the rest.  If the trial had been in Nigeria, some Delta women would have come half naked to the court house to bemoan the persecution of “their son”. Hired youths will join in the melee of brandishing placards displaying, “man of the people” or “free ibori” or “GEJ, this is victimization.”  
What is  especially worrisome and sickening to me is the realization that if Late President Yar’Adua, Chief Aondoaka and Mrs. Farida Waziri, were still in office, Ibori would be in Nigeria today worshipped by all the prophets of Baal as an elder states man of PDP. It only goes to show that what determines whether a person is punished for sins against humanity in this country is what side of the power block he/she is on and not the rule of law.
I have said this over and over again. The law must serve as a deterrent.  Judge Christopher Hardy of Southwark Crown Court sentenced Ibori’s wife for five years after considering her plea for mercy to serve as a warning to other governors’ wives. Law should not encourage sin. This way wives may be encouraged to advice their husband’s to tread gently or at least not buy a house in London.  But in our dear country the reverse is the case. Everything here is sentiments. Even issues that should not be toyed around with are laden with sentiments.  It was reported in some news media that the family of the would-be bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, in conjunction with some influential northern leaders are trying to plead with President Jonathan to prevail on the US government to lessen the sentence because no one died. Am still trying to wrap my head around this and hoping for our sakes the report is false. This young man almost ruined the future of unborn Nigerians and people are considering going to beg on his behalf? Do they know the kind of embarrassment his action caused? Even Nobel Laureate was not spared any blemishes when he was made to go through “strenuous” checks at the airport on entering the US.
A lot of people are happy Ibori was caught with soiled hands. But I would have been happier if this guilty plea was obtained in Nigeria. It would have done wonders for our justice system and at least brought some form of succor to the injustice being meted out against hard working Nigerians daily. I feel deeply pained when I see able bodied men selling gala or fan milk on the road in an oil producing country. Over educated youths are roaming the streets unemployed. In fact so many people are going abroad to obtain masters degrees they will never utilize because unemployment rate has skyrocketed. Yet one man will cart away over 250 million pounds to fund his profligacy and lust.
Almost every day an Okada accident occurs with people dying because the roads are bad. The ones that can be managed have pot holes. Our people are slaughtered yearly because roads that should be dual carriage are so narrow that head on collisions often occur when vehicles try to overtake. Yet monies meant to for development is diverted to buy mansions in Europe for mistresses. I am so convinced that the Nigerian corrupt politician and civil servant will get a custom made, full option hell fire when they die. I can’t fathom a common thief and our potbellied thieves having the same punishment. Too many people have died over the greed of our leaders. Yes, factory fitted, full option hell fire!
 I know it’s impossible to have a coed prison but I keep imagining Ibori, his wife and his mistress all in the cell room.  I may seem funny but it’s a fantasy that may give Hugh Hefner a run for his money.

PFN VS JNI
There has been a trade of wars between the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN) and the Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), the governing body for Muslims in the north over statements credited to the JNI. I support the PFN completely, not only because am a Christian but because the JNI were making unfounded statements that could cause more harm to our collective coexistence. Statements like this: “several reported cases of Christians who disguise as Muslims to burn churches” cannot be farther from the truth. If we all agree that Boko Haram is the problem, why would anyone say a Christian will kill another Christian so that a Muslim will be blamed beggars belief.  Virtually every Muslim I know has distanced themselves and Islam from Boko Haram, therefore let’s concentrate our efforts on who the enemy really is-Boko Haram. The JNI also claimed that a “Christian dominated southern media have always demonstrated bias against Islam and Muslims”. This also cannot be the truth. Actually, I think the so called “Christian dominated southern press”, have actually been too balanced. If they had anything against Muslims, it wouldn’t be the JNI that would tell us. Virtually, every print and electronic media house have been professional in the way they have reported acts of terrorism carried out by Boko Haram. By far the most disturbing point they made read: We want to remind all Christian zealots in Nigeria, that our love for peace must not be mistaken as a license to make us second class citizens in a country where we constitute a majority”. The PFN wrote a perfect rejoinder that I hope the JNI got the message.

ANDRES VILLAS-BOAS

It is the end of the road for Chelsea manager, Andres Villas Boas. The hammer has slung once more and Chelsea find themselves in need of someone to fill the big shoes left by Jose Mourinho. The 34-year-old Portuguese is the sixth manager to be sacked by Chelsea’s Russian billionaire owner Roman Abramovich. Since he took control only Guus Hiddink, who was an interim appointment, left of his own volition. It appeared the “senior players” didn’t want him and they forced him out. I kind of liked AVB as he was popularly called. Well not exactly because he was a good coach, but his continual stay at Chelsea (especially with the rebellion rumored in the dressing room) guaranteed their underperformance which would help Arsenal better them this season. Don’t blame me; Manchester United and Manchester City are in a world of their own. I don’t fancy Tottenham dropping too many points. Arsenal and Chelsea have both been inconsistent and if anyone of them deserves the final Champions league spot, it ought to be Arsenal.


VANTASTIC
Yes, Vantastic. That was what I screamed after Van Persie scored that screamer against Liverpool over the weekend. The man is simply outstanding this season. This season has been one of ups and downs but Van Persie’s performance all through as been phenomenal. I hope he stays at Arsenal but if he leaves in the summer, I won’t blame him. He is simply too hot to handle at the moment.
©2012 Otaigbe Itua Ewoigbokhan
Itualive!™

SUBSIDY: A PANORAMIC VIEW


I am not a politician and I am not an economist. I don’t hold the strongest opinions on either.
I am a Nigerian and this imposed fact means I can speak my half-baked mind on the issue.
I do not support the subsidy removal and as it stands I don’t think I ever will. Now listening to both sides of the debate, it appears the subsidy would have to be removed eventually. The government claims the money is to be used on infrastructure. A laughable idea since it sounds like the provision of infrastructure is a favour to Nigerians. The argument against is hinged on the timing and there is the theory that there isn’t any subsidy in the first place.
Like I have said I am not an expert in this field so I say as a layman with only the elementary economics taught in one of the public schools that previous government have allowed go to ruin, that the thought is callous. Since the issue was raised in public discourse, my faculty has been inundated with various arguments with well annotated calculations that fly over my head. The only one I consider of any merit is basic arithmetic that starts from the minimum wage.
Basically for simplicity, let’s use 18,000 as minimum wage. Since the increase, the average fare from places like Nyanya to Gwarimpa (using Abuja as setting)has gone up to about 250. Now to and fro would be 500. So daily transportation expenses is N500/day. If we assume the worker doesn’t go to work Saturdays and Sundays in a 30-day month of three weekends, that would mean 24 days of 500/day fare which would amount to N12,000. So for all other expenses he has N6,000 to be used in a world where food prices have doubled.
Just peachy, isn’t it?
The example is for a single person, but there are families that actually have less than 18,000 as sole income. Spokespersons for the government say the benefits would be seen in about three years. And I ask, how long can a family subsist on that income while it awaits this bright future?
Truth is, such a family won’t survive three months. It is impossible. But knowing Nigeria, people who haven’t lived like this ever are telling us to wait, give government time, joy cometh in a few years. Bollocks, I say.
Of course, few experts would take this type of analysis seriously since there isn’t any fancy economic jargon involved. I know I have ignored large swathes of economic postulation to get this across but I doubt the majority of Nigerians understand anything higher than this pedestrian view.
The government says it will get better, market forces (that faceless entity) based on demand and supply, while the money saved, that mythic 1.3trillion, would provide roads, hospitals, health centres, and yes the elusive power! All that may be good but how long can the vast majority of Nigerians wait for market forces?
It really is that simple to my mind.
Any expert reading this especially the Iweala’s, Sanusi’s with their foreign tutored brains would label this silly. But there isn’t another way to see it. Aside the fancy education that prevents these people from understanding the simple things of the world, there is also the money and power.  Chances are none of these people or their kids have to purchase fuel most of the time- official cars ferry officials fuelled with official fuel- the life. Such life comes with a lack of empathy as handicap. Even if they have to pay, the obscene amount of money as salary is a mighty soft cushion. If they had to live on 20,000 a month, I am sure they would find Tropical Editions of Harvard textbooks to imbibe.
Again, if by the most definition of democracy, it is for the people and by the people; now same people have said they don’t want the policy, how can it stand and yet claim to be democracy. I must be missing something here.
For us young people, Nigeria has for the most part being a la Awolowo a geographical entity. There are hardly any of us who can claim to be patriotic and show proof. We have not fought wars, we didn’t fight for Independence, the transition to democracy was achieved through prayers and an anecdotal apple. A lot of us can’t recite the full anthem and pledge completely and accurately (fortunately, our politicians can’t either).
But it takes only one episode to transform a docile people into a horde of irate protesters. We have watched the people of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, a lot of them young with only books and oral tradition telling them when their leaders came into power tackle their governments, marching angrily on the streets defiant. They may have been speaking to their leaders but in their agitation was a message to us, we the meek people of Nigeria- of which I am a card carrying member- appear to have found an opportunity to stand for something.
Come tomorrow, I drop that card and pick up a placard in its stead.


Oris Aigbokhaevbolo
Asokoro, Abuja.
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