The Two Faces Of Tuface By Reuben Abati

Tuace’s decision to lead a protest to register the dissatisfaction of Nigerians with the performance of the incumbent administration and to reiterate the value of government’s responsibility to the people was his finest moment as a citizen and artiste. But it is also now, with his Jammeh-like volte-face, his worst moment. His transformation into a champion of democratic values and voice of the masses brought him added stardom and value. His retreat has turned him into a revolutionary manqué. He deserves our understanding and sympathy.

When on 24th January Tuface (Innocent Dibia) announced that he was going to lead, under the umbrella of the Tuface Foundation, a mass protest against the economic policies of the Buhari government, he immediately attracted public interest. A multiple award-winning musician, a naturally talented stage performer and author of at least two evergreen songs: “My African Queen” and “If Love is a Crime”, TuBaba, as he is also known, sounded like he was moving from art to politics, and seemed ready to answer to the true calling of the artist as the conscience of the people.

Artists and creative persons have always led protests and lent their voices to progressive causes. That much is the case in the United States at the moment, where artistes have raised their voices and joined protests to remind the “insurgent in the White House” that America is a land of freedom, democracy and justice and not bigotry and tyranny. Here at home, Fela, and his cousin, the Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe and others as well, have shown the power of creativity and stardom as a veritable vehicle for social change and justice. Artists and their art, and their movement from the stage, or the printed page, to the public arena of action have always saved humanity, by humanizing man. This has been the case from Sophocles, all through time and history to Olanrewaju Adepoju, Beyonce and Kanye West.

But activism comes with a price. Tuface obviously didn’t bargain for that. He received enormous support. His announcement of the February 5, later February 6 protest energized the angry, frustrated Nigerian base, and drew our unrelenting “children of anger” back into an overdrive on social media. The international community also became interested, waiting to see the effect of a protest driven by star-power in Nigeria. It was coincidentally a season of protests across the world: in the Gambia, there had been protests against Yahya Jammeh with a positive outcome, in the US, the UK and elsewhere, Donald Trump’s travel ban on seven Muslim-majority countries and his misogyny led to protests on both counts, and in the case of the former, a Federal judge has given a ruling that has resulted in the suspension of the ban. In Cameroon, concerned citizens are protesting over discrimination against English-speaking Cameroonians. In Romania, a sea of protesting citizens has just had its way. There is all around the world, right now, a resurgence and affirmation of people power, be it Brexit or left-wing activism in Europe. Individuals and groups lead such moments in history- what makes them different is the fire in their bellies and their readiness to command the revolution, at great personal risk.

“The Need To Tame Religion Before It Kills Us”: A Rejoinder To Wole Soyinka By Victor Terhemba

“Religion in the history of this continent has been a disastrous venture, a disaster in many zones and continues to be even so today.

Only the religiously possessed or committed would deny the obvious. The price that many have paid not just within this society but by humanity in general makes one wonder if the benefits have really been more than the losses.” These were the words of prof. Wole Soyinka, a wise septuagenarian.

I felt compelled to write this rejoinder, not to disabuse the counsel of the sage professor, but to lend my voice to his sentiments. This is because it really hit one of my core advocacies- the use of common sense. I honestly do not believe in the concept of religion, neither does this belief make me disparage the reign, omnipotence and preeminence of the Almighty God.

A cursory look at all the religions of the world, Christianity, Islam, Traditional religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, etc, you can compare and collect like terms. You most will realise that they are all founded on the same ideology, scope and purpose, albeit the method and form of activities may differ. These religions, according to their laws and fundamentals, all admonish us to be better individuals. They all advocates for the same thing; the worship of a supernatural being. These religions serve as a guide to the human conscience.

It’s in the light of the above that I have repeatedly defined religion as ‘a mere human invented tool of propaganda to regulate human behaviours’.

The reactions from religious bodies in Nigeria to Soyinka’s observations were inimical as it’s always been with any issue that the subject borders on religion. In one of the seldom causes of unity, both the Islamic and Christian bodies rose in unison to vehemently condemn the statement of Soyinka. A question they both failed to address is “have benefits of religion been more than the losses?” The answer to this is obvious, we’ve had more losses than gains.

Religion promotes further division of the people, bigotry, fanaticism and intellectual philistinism. More people around the globe have died from religious related crises than war and natural causes.

Dale Carnegie in one of his books, how to stop worrying and start living, agreed that religion is a good thing; it gives you peace and make your life meaningful. On the contrary, it is God that gives you peace and your life a meaning, through your personal relationship with HIM. Religion is just an idea, God is the only thing that is real.

For example, even before the emergence of Christianity the people of those days worship, praise and pray to God in temples. In the holy Bible, the people of the old testaments were not Christians but they were followers and worshippers of God Almighty. In fact, Christianity did not start until years after the death of Jesus Christ.

We should be more concerned about our personal relationship with GOD that guarantees our peace of mind. The kind of relationship that gives our lives a meaning. The kind of relationship that strengthens our faith and belief in GOD. The kind of relationship that makes us more empathic and kind to our fellow men. The kind of relationship with God that teaches us to pray directly to God instead to the god of the name of our pastors or sheiks. The kind of relationship with God that makes us know that wearing the picture of your pastor/sheik around the neck or chest cannot save or protect you from evil, only God has the power to save and protect. The kind of relationship that will make us realise that religion is a means and not an end. The kind of relationship with God that enables us to begin to use our common sense.

For any reservations reach me via my email or twitter handle. And for contributions just comment below.

Victor Terhemba Is a talent manager, political analyst and social commentator from Lagos.

Follow me on Twitter: @inkrediblesmog

Victor.terhemba6@gmail.com

The Buhari Presidency And The Bright Hope Ahead, By Okanga Agila 

No doubt, Nigeria is undergoing one of its toughest times in her recent history. Just yesterday, Nigeria was clad with the garments of oil boom or excess petro-dollars resources. There was enough for everybody or sector of the economy to blossom.

The country had enough cash to pursue developmental projects, build its critical infrastructure to attract foreign investments and fortify its foreign reserve base.

But its leaders and some privileged few in positions of authority wantonly fretted away these opportunities.

Unfortunately, the country was suffocated with crass graft, greed of the ruling class laced in theft of the people’s commonwealth and an unusual interest in weird politicking and such extremities. Nigerians acted like people destined to perish the next day.

Today, Nigeria has been aggressively used and dumped. There is poverty and misery in the land. There is hunger and thirst in the country. The citizens are unarguably going through the toughest of times. There is no enough money in the wallet to foot basic bills. There are frustrations in many families and homes.

But Nigerians themselves are living witnesses to the downward plunge of the country in the last few years. And in no way was this message absorbed, expressed and amplified more pungently than their desire for a change of government.

Nigerians expressed it through the ballot in 2015 with the enthronement of the APC-led Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN) in President Muhammadu Buhari (PMB).

His emergence symbolized hope for many and a renaissance in the leadership thought of the country. PMB in the last 20 months has tried to re-affix many of the wrongs he inherited in the country.

But again, some dubious Nigerians or forces used to the old order of doing things have constituted themselves into stumbling blocks and saboteurs of the laudable initiatives, policies and programmes of the current administration.

It’s clear that a few dubious elite who prefer to see Nigeria a failed state, which is brought to its kneels in the midst of abundance, work assiduously day and night to frustrate every step to change the misfortunes of this great country.

With paucity of funds and dwindling oil revenues, mounting problems and challenges neither recognize nor submit to such entanglements. The feeling is that these problems must be urgently remedied.

But every Nigerian can testify that President Buhari has instituted accountability and transparency in the conduct of government business, by the judicious application of meagre resources to critical areas to ensure the even distribution of social wealth to the poor masses of Nigeria.

But this again is being stifled with artificial setbacks deliberately created by enemies of the state, who shout loudest on the streets to conceal their moral dis-figuration.

The thieving elite loath the relief the PMB administration is extending to the people and work underground more as destructive spies, to portray his administration as failed.

Nigerians must be aware that these cartels of criminally-minded Nigerians have melted into vulnerable and unsuspecting communities in the country to ferment unnecessary and senseless crises.

In effect, the sinewy resources accruing to the government which ought to have been channeled into critical sectors like power supply, education, agriculture, job creation and youth empowerment and so forth are wasted on the security of lives and property of law abiding Nigerians who have been unjustifiably brainwashed into brandishing swords and cudgels against themselves in a chilling exercise of bloodletting.

This is the self-inflicted dilemma Nigerians have found themselves. But President Buhari has always resolved like today, more than ever before, never to relent in his pursuit of the populist cause or policies on his promise to better the lot of Nigerians.

Apart from ensuring that no part of Nigeria is violently assailed and seized by hoodlums and other criminal gangs or terrorists; there are modest efforts to alleviate the sufferings of the ordinary, poor Nigerian masses.

The N-Power job creation initiative to empower the teeming jobless youths in Nigeria and other social schemes for the elderly have started with beneficiaries gainfully engaged; the conscious and rewarding steps towards the diversification of the economy through agriculture with loans to farmers across Nigeria are praiseworthy steps.

Furthermore, the bail-out funds to states under the yoke of workers salary debts; the revival of construction sites with renewal of abandoned contracts and award of fresh ones are some of the measures in place, which are the lights of promise of a greater and prosperous nation President Buhari intends to bequeath to Nigerians.

Also, funds have been set aside in the 2017 budget to advance loans to Nigerians interested in the development of Small and Medium Scale Enterprises and similar businesses to stimulate capital inflow into the economy.

At the last count, local contractors were cumulatively owed contractual debts in excess of N1 trillion, which dates back to the last 10 years. The current regime intends to begin gradual evacuation of these debts with the 2017 budget, in order to inject life into the economy and ameliorate the present hardships faced by Nigerians. These are major pluses for the masses of Nigeria.

No Nigerian is in doubt about the deliberate frustration of the President Buhari’s regime by a cabal which has vowed never to allow him to succeed.

Of course, Nigerians still recollect the National Assembly’s (NASS) refusal to grant President Buhari the power to secure the $29 billion loan, which would have speedily activated most of the social schemes and developed critical infrastructure in the country.

The suppression of the emergency powers Bill or economy stimulus Bill from the executive arm of government questions the readiness of Nigeria’s subordinate leadership to assist drive the needed change. 

These are just the few out of the several landmines strewn on the path of the good intentions of the Buhari administration.

The massive recovery of looted funds would have served as an alternative in closing the financial gaps in public expenditure and the deficits in budgeting. But a greater part of this looted wealth, which it’s domiciliary has already been identified is stashed abroad and requires procedures and processes to cause repatriation of this looted Nigerian wealth. These processes would not come in a jiffy, as it would take some time to materialize. 

Back home, looters charged to court are held up in the judicial traffic, but it is hoped that these cases would terminate soon to enable Nigeria recoup its stolen wealth and channel resources to development.

Nowhere in the world has positive change come easily. It is resisted, attacked, frustrated and repressed by corrupted souls likely to be purged of such tendencies. 

Leaders who launch such changes pass through difficulties, blister nerves and cause tensions. But they eventually succeed with the active support and back-up of loyal and patriotic citizens, their only formidable strength.

That’s why President Buhari needs the support of the Nigerian masses, which he perceives as too sidelined, neglected and humiliated for too long. It is a battle of Buhari against the devious cabal for the sake of Nigerian masses.

It is therefore incumbent on all Nigerians to identify and support President Buhari to deliver Nigeria from this dubious cabal of sharks, who delight more in milking Nigeria. 

Buhari’s liberation of Nigeria is for the masses of Nigeria at the angst of these leadership hijackers and leeches on government.

Therefore, Nigerians should wake-up from slumber, sleep with one of their eyes wide open to identify and shun the ploys they deploy to deceive them into mortgaging their future.

“No pain, no gain”, says one of these songsters. Nigerians will only appreciate President Buhari when the battle is over, and they see and feel how much change has come to their country and themselves.

So, PMB does not only need the strong ideological support of Nigeria, but also their unceasing prayers and commitment to the goals and aspirations of the great country they wish to dwell.

Like President Buhari himself admitted, there are hard times, but it is a global phenomenon and experts are working round the clock to remedy it, much as he is making his own modest efforts back home.

Everyone should be optimistic that Nigeria is prepared to come out of this mess better, stronger and with a more secured future. 

In President Buhari, Nigerians have sighted a promising leader and brighter hope for a prosperous nation and no one should allow questionable elements to blur this vision.

Boko Haram: As Security Agencies Close In On Borno Administration

In May of 2014 the Administrator of Borno state, Kashim Shettima said as reported in Today.ng, “Leadership calls for restraint, if I should speak, heads will roll.”  It was the second time he had made that remark that year. The governor alluded to knowing the sponsors of Boko Haram but prided himself in restraint that protected these politicians and otherwise highly placed persons. During president Muhammadu Buhari’s trip to the United States in 2015, we lamented the president carrying along such a governor who has serially admitted to aiding and abetting Boko Haram and pushed for his arrest and interrogation instead.

Governor Shettima, the then commissioner of finance under the corrupt Ali Modu Sheriff, SAS government, admitted to his role along with SAS in facilitating the birth of Boko Haram while they were enmeshed in enriching themselves with the wealth of Borno people.  The EFCC has gone after Modu for misappropriating N300 billion ($2 billion). SAS’ Finance commissioner Shettima was clearly at the center of this. SAS has repeatedly dared Kashim Shettima to “spill the beans” on Boko Haram. Assuredly they will go down together.

The Borno governor has surrounded himself with Boko Haram-linked persons many of whom have been arrested over the years. In 2012, Kabiru Sokoto, the Boko Haram mastermind charged with the Madalla St. Theresa Church bombing that claimed 40 lives, was arrested in the Borno Governor’s lodge in Abuja and suspiciously released by Deputy CP, Zakari Biu who also hailed from Borno. Again in 2014, governor Shettima fought off the scandal of another terror-linked associate by claiming it was SAS that told him to employ his religious affairs adviser, Junaid Khadi when he was arrested for Boko Haram links. Since then several arrests of politicians and advisers linked to the Borno administrator have been made with the newest being the alleged arrest of three of his aides for which the Nigerian security agencies are still acting quite suspect by concealing his identity, surprisingly mentioning the event under concealing caption, “an APC governor.”

Several Borno local government chairmen have also been arrested for terror links and housing terror masterminds.

There are many more details linking the state governor with anti-SAS bombings, other political bombings and the targeting of foreign aid workers and the Nigerian military that may be too sensitive for the public but we are aware are in the dossiers of Nigerian intelligence agencies. Additionally, the Borno administration has been accused of missapropriating billions in security vote funds as well as blocking civilian efforts to defend themselves.

Apparently realizing the security agencies likely had him under their scopes, governor Shettima made an unusual speech advising the agents to arrest anyone even if his three sons. It was revealing.

As we have advised in the past, the Buhari administration if desirous of responding appropriately to the seriousness of the Boko Haram crisis, will have suspended the political administration of Borno state long ago and replaced this with a  military detachment. The Borno administration continues to kill citizens indirectly via massive looting of food for starving Boko Haram survivors. The state emergency board, SEMA has been serially implicated in diversion of tons of food from storages and entire trailers. This administrative terror is killing and wiping out the surviving population faster than Boko Haram did. The United Nations reports staggering numbers of deaths and projected deaths due to starvation, most especially affecting Borno’s children.

Once again we make a passionate and desperate call to the Buhari administration to recognize the seriousness of the atrocities of the Borno administration through the years before and during the Boko Haram terror saga and the continued terror of the people being starved to death. Let our northerners not have died in vain. Avenge the deaths of the Kanuri peoples, the abduction of the Chibok girls and the stain to the name of the religion of Islam and reputation of the north.

Dr. Peregrino Brimah; @EveryNigerian

Professor Pius Adesanmi’s Air, You’re Under Arrest: A Rejoinder By Muhammad ‘Din Shehu

Professor Pius Adesanmi is one of my favourite political commentators. The Diaspora-based linguist never fails to raise a smile out of me with his style of commentary on Nigeria’s oft-times dire political situations. A master of gallow humour, that one. Professor Adesanmi recent article titled ‘Air, You’re Under Arrest’ did not fail to make a similar impact on me as he lucidly presented his support-in his inimitable style- for the much-publicized #IStandWithNigeria proposed protest march championed by singer, Innocent ‘Tuface’ Idibia against perceived bad governance slated for February 6th, 2017.

Drawing on classical tales from the Bible, Yoruba, Medieval and Greek mythologies, Professor Adesanmi argued that those who are against the Tuface Idibia-led protest are but engaged in a fruitless quest to catch the Air, as musicians whenever they put on the toga of societal crusaders, “become existential threat to power” because of the powerful weapon that Music represents. Professor Adesanmi concluded quite movingly that any attempt by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration to stymie the Idibia Protest negates the very principles of the Nigerian Constitution he swore to govern and abide by on May 29, 2015.

Professor Pius Adesanmi’s views on the freedom to lawful protests in a democratic dispensation are unimpeachable. Where I however draw a line of dissent is the obvious manipulation of classical mythologies in the article in order to burnish his narrative. The classical stories of Orpheus and the Pied Piper of Hamelin especially struck a nerve with me because contrary to Professor Adesanmi’s version of these mythological tales, musicians are anything but honourable, selfless and altruistic ‘societal change agents’ as the learned Professor wants us to believe.

Here’s Professor Adesanmi’s version of the legend of Orpheus from the article: a fellow called Orpheus became renowned for his musical prowess after being given the gift of a golden lyre and taught how to play it by his father, the Greek god, Apollo. The world obeyed the command of his skills on the lyre; rivers, mountains, animals, humans and stones “all melted when he played the lyre”. Unfortunately, Orpheus lost his wife, Eurydice to an untimely death and he, bowed with grief, decided to travel to Hades (the underworld of Greek mythology) to retrieve his wife from there. Armed with nothing but his lyre, he journeyed there and so charmed the guardians of Hades with his musical skills that he returned from the underworld with his wife.

Sweet story, innit?

Think again!

Here’s the true story of Orpheus as told by the famous Latin Scholar, Sir Thomas Bullfinch in Bullfinch’s Mythology, a collection of classical tales from Greek, Roman and Medieval mythologies: Orpheus was a son of Oeagus, King of Thracia and Calliope, one of the Graces (8 beautiful sisters of Greek mythology). He was taught how to play a magical golden lyre by the god, Apollo who was then wooing one of his mother’s sisters (kinda like the cash gift you give to the nephew of the girl you are ‘toasting’) and he became so good that all of Earth’s creatures were charmed by his music. One day, his wife Eurydice was attacked by a Satyr (forest-bound creatures of Greek mythology, half-man, and half-beast). While trying to escape, she fell into a nest of vipers and suffered a fatal bite to her heel. Overcome with grief at this, Orpheus played such a mournful note on his lyre that all creatures and even the gods wept. On their counsel, Orpheus undertook a journey to Hades and so charmed Cerberus, the three-headed guardian dog of Hades and Persephones, wife of Hades, with his magical lyre that it was agreed that he returned back with Eurydice but on one condition: he should walk in front of Eurydice and never look back until they reach the upper world. As soon as he reached the upper world, Orpheus turned to look at her and she vanished-this time forever.

Impetuous musician, in his haste to set things right, Orpheus forgot that he was not to look back until they were both in the upper world!

Was Orpheus a hero? No, according to Plato. Yes, the same Plato. He believed Orpheus was a coward who instead of choosing to die in order to be with his “beloveth” rather mocked the gods by trying to go to Hades to wangle a deal with the gods through his lyre. Many classical scholars like Plato believed his love was never true as he never wanted to “die for love”.

This story is particularly allegorical of the Convener of the proposed protest march that has all but sent Professor Adesanmi spiralling down the mythological stairways-Tuface Idibia. Many opponents of the protest accused Tuface, like Orpheus, of not being a true patriot or lover of his country. They ask: why did Tuface Idibia not #StandWithNigeria when the thieving club of kleptomaniacs had Nigeria against the wall, and repeatedly raped her commonwealth to the tune of N17trillion (or $20billion if you are of the Emir Lamido Sanusi School of Missing Oil Money)? That’s just from 2010-2014.

They ask: didn’t Tuface Idibia; male, Nigerian and musician, on the day of his wedding to one Annie Macaulay; female, Nigerian and actress, received numerous cash and car gifts from these set of people who’d plundered our foreign reserve and all but left us fiscally incapable of weathering the harsh storm of economic recession? They wonder if Tuface is not to Nigeria what Orpheus was to Eurydice: a fair weather lover, one who would rather play sad notes on his lyre instead of joining his beloveth to make something better in the Hades his former ‘friends’ left Nigerians in.

Again, Professor Pius Adesanmi of learned memory alluded to the classical tale of the Pied Piper of Hamelin to illustrate the “invincibility” the Muses automatically bestow upon Tuface idibia and other musicians turned-social crusaders. Really, really? Prof?

Here is the Professor’s version again: in 13th Century Germany, the people of a small village called Hamelin were suffering from a plague of rats. Along came a musician who promised, for a fee, to rid the town of rats with his flute. The Pied Piper with some magical notes from his flute succeeded in the task but later exacted a terrible vengeance on the town for refusing to pay him the agreed compensation.

Awww.

This, however, is the real story: in 1284, a town called Hamelin was besieged by a plague of rats. A musician (the Pied Piper) swung into town and promised to set poor Hamelin free from the rats, for a fee. With his pipe, he led the rats away from the town to drown in a nearby river. Deed done, the townspeople refused to pay the Pied Piper (sounds familiar MMM subscribers, huh?). The Town’s Mayor even went as far as accusing the Pied Piper of causing the infestation in the first place in order to profit therefrom. Long convoluted story short, the piper in a fit of righteous hissy exacted revenge on Hamelin-by leading all but three of the town’s children with his flute, to drown in the same river that did in the rats.

Evil, right? Doesn’t exactly fit the narrative of the musician as a selfless, patriotic citizen, does it?

Once more, this classical tale seems to tally with the arguments of those who are opposed to the Idibia Protest. They wonder if, as being alleged, Mr. Innocent Idibia is not just throwing a hissy fit with the #IStandWithNigeria protest ala Pied Piper of Hamelin because his access to the town’s government  patronage has been blocked by a no-nonsense Change administration with no time or inclination to indulge the airy frivolities of musicians and actors.

The claim by Professor Adesanmi that Music –citing the documentary Amandla as evidence- was responsible for the fall of the Apartheid regime in South Africa to me was just the last straw. Haba Prof, joor o! That is nothing short of stretching the narrative too far! On that score though, I forgive the Prof; after all, myths and legends such as the ones copiously alluded to by Professor Adesanmi in his piece, are all about stretching the limit of the human imagination.

However, Truth must out…

Contrary to the Prof’s assertion that Music was the chief weapon used to defeat Apartheid, it is historically and factually true that the blood, sweat and sacrifices of the late Steve Biko, Walter Sisulu, Oliver Tambo, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and the father of them all, Nelson Rohilahla Mandela, Madiba of blessed memory; with the support of equity-loving humans the world over, brought down the curtains on Apartheid in South Africa-all these while Miriam Makeba, Hugh Masakela, Yvonne ‘Chaka Chaka’ and others were singing, dancing and cavorting freely all over the world in the name of music.

Innocent ‘Tuface’ Idibia has every right to protest his angst and frustration against this government. Others also reserve the right to criticize and oppose the planned protest. These I understand. What I won’t stand is Professor Pius Adesanmi- who I have nothing but unending reverence for- cleverly manipulating classical mythology, quite wilfully and deliberately, to validate his narrative. I grew up reading Bullfinch’s Mythology and with all due respect, I refuse to allow my head to be shaved by Professor Adesanmi or anybody else, all in the name of “informed opinion”.

After all, I finish school.

 

Muhammad ‘Din Shehu is an occasional writer from Kogi State. Follow on Twitter: @dinstots

Venus and Serena Williams: A Bold And Audacious Promise Coming From A Father ~ Olajuwon Obalola

”The world may know only Venus and Serena Williams as the duo superstars of tennis. But the secret to all that success is founded on a strong family culture. And at the hem of it all is their father and coach, Richard Williams, who is ably supported by his wife, Oracene.’

Unless they are the best of actors putting on the best of acts, the Williams family is a stongly bonded unit who view themselves as a corporation working for the whole instead of selfishly for the individual. With the Chief Executive being Richard Williams, the father of Venus and Serena who have both come to dominate the world of tennis. They are both ranked in the top 10 in the world, and the youngest daughters, Venus and Serena, is the number one family in tennis, according to Tennis Magazine.

During their meteoric rise, Venus and Serena have quieted detractors who severely criticized their father’s style and language against racism and the importance of education before tennis. Richard eschewed the established traditional system in the raising of his two extraordinary players. With the help of his wife, Oracene, they devised their own method of molding future champions {practice, practice, practice}, while totally ignoring the junior ranks that the tennis establishment advocates. They also simultaneously focused on their daughters’ education. Today, both Venus and Serena are bright and articulate and each possess a vocabulary that can send journalists searching for their dictionaries.

But all these started some years ago when an unknown father stood on a crumbling tennis court in Compton, Califonia, USA, and told his little daughter, Venus that she was going to be the one of the base tennis players in the world. It was indeed a bold and audacious promise coming from a father, then a neighborhood tennis coach, who knew that the odds of this happening was very high. But as it turned out, the father knew best.

It wasn’t easy though. He recalls a time when Venus completed in a tennis tournament, she wasn’t a household name and all the other players knew that she was black and poor. ”I overheard some people say we shouldn’t even be there” he says. ”They are from Compton”, they said. ”What are they doing here – they can’t play.” They should be glad that I am a good man because if I wasn’t a good man, I would have picked up a stick, and knock the hell out of somebody. Looking back on the times when he fought for his daughters to be treated fairly, Williams says, ‘So many people just want to jump on a poor guy out of Compton. I came out on a poor guy out of Compton. I came out of the worst ghetto in the world and was simply trying to prove to the world that it doesn’t matter where you came from to be good in tennis. You don’t have to be brought up in the country club to do this. You can actually come out of the ghetto and play tennis.’ It seems however that all these criticisms have only served in bettering the performance of Williams. Again, Richard Williams recalls, ”Over a period of time, we gained much confidence in what we were trying to do. A person can pick on you so long, enough that, instead of making you weak, it makes you strong. We decided long ago we didn’t care what people thought. The only thing that would matter in the end was that we thought. And it worked out beautifully.

As with any father, Williams say his memories of training his daughter – like the first time he took Venus onto a tennis court – have also kept him focused and motivated.

”The first time I knew Venus was going to be a good tennis player was the first time I took her out on her day. ‘Then I was a tennis coach for neighborhood kids in Compton. I was working with some other kids, and had a shopping cart that would hold 550 balls. It took 3 kids who were teenagers a long time to hit those balls. They wanted to take breaks. Well, while they were taking a break, Venus wanted to hit every ball in that basket. She wouldn’t stop. Every time you tried to stop her, she would start crying. She was only 4 years old. A lot of them she missed. But she would swing at every ball. When she got to the last ball in the basket, she told me to say, ‘last one’ and I said, ‘Okay, last one.’ And to this day, I say the same thing to her when she’s practicing.’

Williams remembers walking home with Venus that day and telling his wife what happened. I told her. ”Well, how do you know?” I told her Venus demonstrated all four qualities of a champion. No matter what age, all champions are able to demonstrate that they are rough, they are tough, they are strong, and they are mentally sound. You cannot teach that, that is a God-given quality, and Venus demonstrated that on the first day.

Williams says life for the family was simple then. At a time, he even focused on not letting Venus and Serena get sucked into the politics surrounding the game of professional tennis. He says he looks forward to the day when both his daughters retire from tennis and move further away from the media spotlight. ”I’ll be glad when it’s all over. But it’s a very difficult decision for them to make when people are offering them all of this money. But money’s not everything.”

Today, to the greatest surprise of the tennis establishment and the delight of tennis fans, Venus and Serena have successfully climbed up to the top of professional tennis. The journey was started off when Serena won the U.S. open, when she beat then number one seeded Martina Hingis in straight sets in 2001, when the duo played in the finals of the U.S. open with Venus beating Serena. Venus would later reveal, ”I guess I always imagined Serena and I were good kids (is that) we’re obedient and never go crazy is because of our beliefs. In the Bible, it tells us that disobedient children don’t live all their days. I believe that.”

Despite the inevitably rivalry, the Williams sisters remain close friends. Raised as devout Jehovah’s Witnesses, both have received their high school diplomas. Apart from tennis, the two sisters are also celebrities making money from other things like modelling. Serena makes million of dollars in her modeling career, while Venus, whom she (Serena) joined at the Art Institute of Florida, where they studied fashion design in 1999, is now the CEO of her own interior design firm, ‘V Starr Interiors.’ Serena also have her own company called ‘Miami Dolphins Ventures.’

Now, Serena and Venus are known for great feats in the international tennis circle that are often much more than ever achieved by any other African-American athlete, tennis player or female. For instance, Venus, as at 2011, holds the record serve in a main-draw match at 129 mph, towing just behind 40-year old Brenda Schultz McCarthy, who was then the current holder for the fastest women server in history at 130 mph. She (Venus)   as at 2011 held the record as the first unseeded woman ever to reach the US Open final, and the first African-American woman to do so since Althea Gibson won back-to-back championships in 1957 and 1958.

Of the two, Serena is the most successful as far as tennis victories and prize monies go today. As at 2011, she was ranked 6th on the All-time Grand Slam Singles Titles among women. She deposed Billie Jean King who held the position with a record 12 Grand Slam singles title around the middle of 2010 when she won the British Open (Wimbledon) raising her titles haul to 13 Grand Slam Singles. Venus has an equally impressive number of Grand Slam singles under her belt, totalling seven as at 2011.

Serena has won three (3) Olympic gold medals in women’s doubles and one (1) in singles.  And for an impressive achievement, she has won more career prize money than any other female athlete in history, including all-time great, Steffi Graf. As at the year 2011, Serena was then the reigning champion in both singles and doubles at the Australian Open, in singles at Wimbledon, and in women’s doubles at the French Open.

She has whopping total of 28 Grand Slam titles, which places her in a very good position on the All-time Grand Slammers’ list. 23 in singles titles, 14 in women’s doubles titles, and 2 mixed doubles titles. She also is the  most recent player, male or female, to have held all four Grand Slam singles titles simultaneously and only the fifth woman in history to do so. Serena ranks fourth in Grand Slam women’s singles titles won during the open era, behind Steffi Graff (22 titles) and Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova (18 titles each). She has won more Grand Slam titles in singles, women’s doubles, and mixed doubles than any other active female player. All of these emanated from a determined father’s coaching and the children’s desire to succeed.

The sisters are so good at what they do. They proved that at the just concluded Australian Open 2017. And so,  they get to play themselves for international glory and of course, prize money. The sisters have played each other in so many professionally matches since 1998, with Serena winning most of these matches. They met in eight Grand Slam finals, with Serena wining six (6) times. Starting from the 2002 French Open, the Williams sisters played each other in other consecutive Grand Slam singles finals, which was the first time in the open era that the same two players had contested four consecutive Grand Slam finals. Together, they have won 12 Grand Slam double titles.

Indeed, choosing to do things a little differently paid off for the fine girls. Today, they are not only multimillionaires, but legends, all because of their father’s desire for something better for his girls.

What are you doing now?  Do you have passion for it?  Do you get support from your parents?  My advice to you keep doing, doing, doing and develop passion in it. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

If you love this article, kindly share with friends and make some comments and do not forget to  follow me on Twitter @OlajuwonObalola and add me on Facebook: Adeyemi Olajuwon Obalola

NotTooYoung Run Bill: A Timely Intervention in the Chronicles of A Changing Nation

“The world, indeed, moves under the impulses of youth to realize the ideals of youth. It has youth for its beginning and youth for its end; for youth is alive, and progress is but the movement of life to attain fuller, higher, and more vivid life” –  Edwin P. Whipple, 1888.

When Ban Ki-moon, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations, said in a message delivered on the International Youth Day, on August 12,  2010,that: “Let us acknowledge and celebrate what youths can do to build a safer, more just world. Let us strengthen our efforts to include young people in policies, programmes and decision-making processes that benefit their futures and ours”, he seemed to have directed those words at our dear country where our fathers are already inheriting our bequest, while we are still alive, agile and virile. The marginalization of youths in the Nigerian policy making sphere is a time bomb with a cataclysmic future, if folded arms are not stretched to embrace the crying prince.

Youths are the engine room of any nation; a nation without youths is a nation without a future. This indisputable fact, no doubt, has necessitated that every nation sees the expedience of taking the well-being of this imposing youthful chunk as a priority.

It is heart-rending, however, that the Nigerian experience is diametrically opposed to the striking reality. It is lamentable and worrisome that youths, who constitute over 60 per cent of the Nigerian population, have been schemed out of governance by unfavorable constitutional clogs.

In the pretense of recognizing the bright future that people of this age bracket portends, however, only mere deluding statements have been fashioned to compensate our denied birthright. Hence, we constantly – and if care is not taken eternally – hear that “youths are the leaders of tomorrow”. Tomorrow is a future that is expected to come one day in the later unfolding of life, ceteris paribus. Unfortunately ironically, tomorrow never comes in Nigeria, as a youth of 35 years of age is still basking in the eternal hope of a tomorrow, which, like the second coming of Jesus, has never been forthcoming.

As a matter of fact, the agility, virility, and youngness in the youths have made them best-fitted to bring the desired change to our nation pine for. But rather than engage youths actively in the decision making process of the nation, the constitution has been fashioned in a way that it has jettisoned the interest of the teeming youthful population, who, as a result of years of misgovernment, corruption and truncated democratic process, are bearing the bitter brunt of quality-denied education, and unemployment, even after spending years acquiring formal education.

As if this designed impoverishment by the ambassadors of poverty is not unfavourable enough, youths are still further exploited and extorted by some trigger-happy politicians who resort to these idle forces as instruments of hooliganism and election rigging – dumping them immediately they assume power, all in their claim of serving the nation. I wonder the patriotism of the cat guarding a pot of fish!

Indeed, sectors have been created to cater for the needs of the youths. In fact, a ministry is clearly marked as the Ministry for Sports and Youths affairs, which – presently – is headed by a minister of 52 years. Tell me, in what way has the country not defied the altruism in the saying that “whatever is done for us without us is against us”? In no way, absolutely! Various manifestations in the nation have lent credible credence to this fact! Our predecessors claim we are the future and they con us to believe they are striving to enable our soft landing, yet we are totally exempted from the system that defines us and our future.

Having slumbered for years in the process of awaiting the ever-lasting tomorrow, the youths seem to have finally woken up to the responsibility of clamouring for their deserved rights, since ‘Change”, in the words of Martin Luther King Jnr. ‘does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle….”. Hence, the laudable precedence given to correcting this ugly development, lately.

The #NotTooYoungToRun Bill is a timely intervention which has come to correct the ugly trend of voiceless Nigerian youths. Introduced and sponsored by Hon.Tony Nwulu, representing Oshodi/Isolo Federal Constituency II of Lagos State on Wednesday May 26th, 2016, the bill came as a megaphone giving voice to the voiceless leaders of tomorrow. If this bill is passed, the Nigerian youths, who constitutes the country’s largest constituency, will have the opportunity to change the course of the nation by bringing to bare their virility and brilliant ideas.

Brain builders International, therefore, strongly advice that this Bill is passed into a law for the common good and progress of the Nigerian nation. We call on the youths of the nation to stand for this course and see to the successful approval of this bill that holds our future. The time is now and never! The youthful army is conquering and we have conquered. We subscribe totally to the submission of Jean & John Comaroff, in Makers and Breakers, that: “In the cyberspace age, juveniles have an enhanced capacity to communicate in, and act effectively on, the world at large”.

 

Olasupo Abideen Opeyemi is a Youth Leader, Business Consultant and Digital Marketer. He is the Executive Director, Brain Builders International- A United Nation accredited Non Governmental Organisation (www.brainbuilders.com.ng). He can be reached on +2347068775529 or abideenolasupo@gmail.com

On The Constitutionality Of Tuface Idibia’s Proposed Protest By Anifowoshe Titilope 

“Laws alone cannot secure freedom of expression; in order that every man presents his view without penalty there must be of tolerance in the entire populace”

—- Albert Einstein

One of Nigeria’s most respected artiste intends to organize a Peaceful protest in major states in Nigeria and the social media has been agog with criticisms and support, from different quarters, quite saddening how the criticisms are sniped at his personal life , fabricated facts , novel stories intending to connect 2face’ intention to politics have cropped up from different quarters. I am particularly not surprised because nothing new erupts from Nigeria and Nigerians.

I am particularly bothered at the attitude of our government , our executive and our number one  law enforcement enforcement agency; the Nigerian Police or should I say the Lagos State Police Command.

If some Nigerians are improvident to spread fictitious news and pessimistic views on an attempt to bring express displeasure at the highhandedness of our government, the economic backlash and regressive development on our nation on the social media. Should the authorities give us a shield to express our views or stretch out their long arms to prevent the exercise of our fundamental and essential human right? Isn’t such denial tantamount to a denial of our Humanity ?

In Abacha v Fawehinmi (2000) 6 NWLR pt 660 228 the court held that the constitution of our nation is our guiding light in governance, their supreme law and  grundnorm of all laws. All actions of the government in Nigeria are governed by the Constitution and it is the Constitution as the organic law of a country that declares in a format, emphatic and binding principles the rights, liberties, powers and responsibilities of the people both the governed and the government. see also A-G Abia v A-G Federation (2002) 6 NWLR pt 763 264;

The 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) expressly provides  for the freedom of association in section 42 and the right of  a citizen to express themselves  and move about freely under section 39 and 38 respectively, the same way section 2, 10,11 and 12 of the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights .

Public Order Act Cap 382 LFN 1990 attempted to restrict the above rights (see section 12345 of the Act) by allowing the governor of a state or his delegate to allow, disallow or restrict the right of public assembly or public procession.

However, judiciary which is the last hope of man has affirmed the inalienable rights of Nigerians and associations to hold rallies without police permit in  the case of inspector-General of Police v. All Nigeria People Party (2007) AHRLR 179 (Ngca2007) where the Court of Appeal per Justice Anwuri Chikere issued an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Inspector-General of Police from preventing aggrieved citizens of Nigeria, including the plaintiffs from organising or convening peaceful assemblies, meetings and rallies against unpopular government policies.

Let’s take an intellectual journey outside Nigeria to Ghana’s Jurisdiction. In  the case of Patriotic Party v. Inspector-General of Police, Accra (1992-1995) GBR 585 The Supreme Court of Ghana observed that:

“Statutes requiring such permits for peaceful demonstrations, processions and rallies are things of the past. Police permit is the brain  child of the colonial era and ought not to remain in our statute books.

“There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest.” – Elie Wiesely

The obligation of the Nigeria Police Force to preserve law and order, protect lives and properties and enforce all laws and regulations is still intact, straight and express as adumbrated by Section 4 of the Police Act CAP P19 LFN  and I expect that the guarantee of the safety of Nigerians and protesters should be their main focus.

Anifowoshe Titilope  Tawakkalt is a student at the Nigerian Law School Abuja

#iStandWithNigeria #istandwith2baba #NationwideProtest #Nigeria #istand4agreaterNigeria #Law #Order #Constitution
Regards from Anifowoshe Titilope LegalEagle

Tel: 08186985683

IG: @d_legal_eagle

Naija Green Card: A Timely Change Mechanism, Akeem Ogunmilade

The economic recession being experienced in the country today has been talked about from different views and angles in the last one year. Despite all our complains and several analysis, measures and counter measures it still bites hard and a call for deeper reflections on the private efforts so far to cushion the effects on the masses.

Today I wish to narrow my discuss parlance to a concept that came in few years ago and has suddenly being a talk of the town .Talk of the town; in terms of impact, functionality and purpose.

The Naija green card came with its trending tsunami impact, it received wide acceptance from the three parties involved .One would wonder what set of refined breeds and crops of financial experts are the brain behind the success story of this initiative.

This leads us into what exactly is a discount card and how it can help in this time of economic recession. A discount card is a card or document, often a plastic credit card or paper card that entitles the holder to discounts on the prices of some products or services. Cards may be issued as part of a loyalty program, offering discounts to existing customers to ensure their continuing custom; they may be offered free of charge, offering a modest discount with the intention of persuading purchasers to patronize participating shops; or they may be sold to members; offering larger discount for example the Naija green card offers certain percentage for discount at many business entities at a substantial annual cost.

I would say we Nigerians are blessed with such timeliness and ingenuity of purpose on arrival of the Naija discount card. It could best be described as the arrival of the chief priest at an annual festival. First, one would have wanted to compare its feasibility in this subterranean economic landscape of ours and describe it as unworkable that it can only work in a well structured economy.

But lo and behold, its take off was untypical, untypical; in the sense that most of their logistics had already been perfected before it was  launched  to the public domain, a well trained and crop of professionals had been recruited ,I will describe these set of Nigerians as concept midwives and terrain crackers.

In terms of functionality the naija green card has recorded success in its ‘TRINITY’ bases of functionality. The naija green card team, the potential clients or carriers of the card and the servicing ends (service providers) .

The amazing secrete of this team naija green card is how they make the synergy between this three parties work and strike a balance, this is why it has been reckoned with as a timely economic catalyst, it has been described as the recession antidote while some researchers call the naija green card the Wisemans option and identity.

Regardless of if you have used the cards before or not am sure you would have heard about  it, the approach of the operations of the naija green card keeps drawing third parties to a cross road going by the records of partnership that they engage in across the 36 states of the country. They are virtually into partnership in all strategic spheres of life making it a real economic roller coaster.

The network coverage of the naija green card covers food, beverage and restaurants service providers, travel and tour sector trail blazers, laundry and decoration, contemporary technology, fashion/hair and beauty, photography and video, health, sports and fitness, even into insurance and banking.

Going by this large scope one will agree with me that the naija green card midwives the economy on behalf the teaming populace especially in these trying times.

Impact-wise, going by the annual average of numbers of graduates as corp. members been churned out of our high institutions both private and public estimated to be over 250,000 nationwide into the mainstream of the labor market which are one of their major client niche is an annual and reoccurring cycle hence its impact of purpose has a safe landing especially with her numerous clients and partner agencies. This is kudos, a management concession to applaud the master craft and brain behind this lofty idea.

At times one would wonder if we had such resourceful talents, futuristic, astute business developers and empire builders despite the recession, and doing so good and fast expanding her tentacles. It also stuns a close observer how so soon the naija green card started and already giving back to the economy via other related concepts and still building youths and capacity .They have organized not limited to any part of the country essay competitions with huge rewards and a basis for motivation, they have beauty pageant and talent haunt contests and so on.

Bringing me to the point I started from. Naija green card ; An economic catalyst! Celebrating the brains behind it and appreciating the timely coming of the concept and economic innovation.

Akeem Ogunmilade (CNA)

Media consultant.

Dear Nigerians, Before You March… By Hemenseter Butu

There is nothing quite as potent as being specific.

In a world replete with things scrambling for attention, only those who are able to capture ours with spirit within the shortest possible time win. Be it politics, advertising or business development, there isn’t much room for ambiguity to thrive.

I remember watching a video of the Christian comedian Michael Junior asking a man to sing the chorus “Amazing Grace” then asking the same man to sing it again, this time painting him a picture of the specific reason why he was singing it. Despite the hypothetical, the second rendition was at least a million times more moving. Why then was this so? Why was he unable to hit the same notes and move the Earth the first time even though he had the innate ability to do so and did do so seconds later? It is quite simple, 18th century philosopher Thomas Reid puts it in quotes “There is no greater impediment to the advancement of knowledge than the ambiguity of words.” A man who clearly knew how to sing one of the most awe-inspiring versions of Amazing Grace didn’t KNOW how to do so because he didn’t have any SPECIFIC reason to do it.

What does this have to do with the planned protest on Monday the 6th of February 2017? I’m glad you asked. It is clear that people are angry, devastated, exasperated, but what are they angry about exactly? Are we just angry because Tu Face Idibia is angry or are we angry because every year our legislature spends billions of dollars and no meaningful law is passed? Are we just angry because those we hold in high esteem are angry or are we angry that the naira is depreciating and instead of explain to Nigerians the administration heaps blame on past governments and throws invectives at citizens.

What exactly are we protesting? For if we spend millennia protesting in ambiguity, we will end up changing those in power a thousand times without making any real progress. So I submit that we must protest specifics. Let it be clear what we are demanding moving forward.

I for one want to see a protest against an education system that builds classrooms but does not improve quality of teaching, and end up being idiocy multiplication centers. We must demand that universities undertake research and get government funding. We must protest that this research be meaningful research with tangible applications and not just academic exercises. We must protest against the large sums our legislators take home and how largely unsupervised they are. They must be accountable, they must be checks and balances to ensure a legislator is meeting some specific target, be it making laws, enhancing policy or preventing harmful legislation from being passed. The legislative chambers must not be allowed to become a retirement plan for State Governors. We must protest the inability of citizens to access healthcare. Save for very few hospitals and very brave medical practitioners, the entire healthcare industry in Nigeria does not work. Simple operations are botched, hospitals have neither enough staff nor equipment. We must protest the judiciary and their continued role in assisting corruption. They too must have checks, they must not become gods, perverting justice at will without consequence. We must demand youth and women inclusion in governance with specifics. Every constituted board in Nigeria must be made up of 50% women and youths as that demographic alone makes up 80% of the country yet is represented below 5%. It is not enough to demand inclusion we must demand that inclusion be based on merit and employment across board be based on merit too. We must demand a better police force, we cannot be policed by people who see the average civilian as the enemy and is in turn seen as an oppressor. The recruitment of the police must have background checks, it must be made to attract the best of the best, they must be trained to uphold the law at all times. We must protest the redundant laws that still exist in our constitution that make it possible for oil companies to flare billions of dollars of gas while paying peanuts as fines. This list is in no way exhaustive but I think we get the picture.

This protest will not be effective if we do not know why we are marching and what we plan to achieve. If we have some set of nicely articulated but ambiguous goals we risk repeating the same thing and expecting a different result.

I love my country Nigeria and it is with great love that I pen these words. We have marched before. This time let us march with specific purpose and come out with a promise, a promise we can refer to in the future as a benchmark to vote in or vote out.

#IstandWithTuFace

#IstandWithNIgeria

#OneNigeria

 

Hemenseter Butu

Hemenseter Butu writes from Daegu, South Korea engage him on twitter @HemButs

Lest Buhari Becomes A ‘Captive King’ By Olusegun Adeniyi

Following the 2015 general election, I decided to write a book, not only to find out why and how President Goodluck Jonathan lost but also to interrogate the recruitment process that keeps producing lacklustre leaders who are neither prepared nor have clear vision of what they would do in office. In setting a deadline of November 2016 for the publication, I thought I had enough time on my hands.

However, a discussion with Dr. Chidi Amuta, who has in recent years become a professional mentor, changed my thinking when he suggested that for the book to be authoritative, I must speak to as many of the principal actors as possible. With that mandate, I have spent the last six months travelling within the country and the West African coast. The outcome of that adventure is that I have learnt enough to write several books about politics and government in Nigeria as I listened to those who have held (and those still holding) critical positions in the affairs of our country. As to be expected, it is not a particularly pleasant story.

Some of the people I interviewed include former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo and Goodluck Jonathan as well as former Senate President David Mark, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Alhaji Mahmud Yayale Ahmed; APC National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu and the PDP National Chairmen at two critical epochs, Dr Okwesilizie Nwodo (2010) and Alhaji Ahmed Adamu Muazu (2015). I also spoke on record with serving and former governors: Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Nasir el-Rufai, Kashim Shettima, Aminu Bello Masari, Muazu Babangida Aliyu, Gabriel Suswan, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi among several others. I equally got invaluable insights from the Convener of the National Peace Committee, Bishop Matthew Hassan Kukah, former Army Chief and current Interior Minister, Lt General Abdulrahman Dambazau, SA to the former INEC Chairman, Prof. Mohammed Kuna, founding National Secretary of the dissolved CPC, Alhaji Buba Galadima, and many other actors, including in the National Assembly, federal executive council, security agencies, military and private sector.

While the book, Against The Run of Play: How an incumbent president was defeated in Nigeria should be out hopefully by April, it was my interactions with President Jonathan and the former Senate President Mark that I consider relevant to this intervention. Even though the recollections are not part of my book, they are nonetheless very important for this season as the duo shared with me revealing insights into some of their experiences when my late boss, President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, was hospitalized in Saudi Arabia. What their separate narratives, which I was never aware of at the time, suggest very clearly is the far-reaching implications for governance and national security of even a hint of illness in the president of a country as diverse as ours.

Meanwhile, on January 7 this year, for the third time within a period of eight months, President Muhammadu Buhari wrote to notify the National Assembly that he would be proceeding on a leave of 10 working days in the course of which he would also temporarily transfer power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in compliance with Section 145 (1) of the 1999 Constitution. The statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, added that the president would, during the vacation, also undergo some “routine medical check-up” before returning to resume work next Monday, February 6.

In a nation where rumour mongering has become a religion, it did not take long before there were “news reports” of how President Buhari was in coma, on life support, gasping for breath, lost consciousness etc. all at the same time! And since these tale bearers have also perfected the art of smoke without fire, the 36 governors had all been assembled in Abuja to discuss “succession.”

President Buhari is expected to return to the country by this weekend but even that will not be enough to dispel the sordid tales about his health. In fact, from now on, the rumour industry has been given a new raw material. The day he cancels an assignment within the Villa, refuses to undertake a scheduled local or international trip, leaves an engagement earlier than planned, then there will be “stories” about his health, especially since those with ambition to replace him are already making their own calculations. On the flip side, in the absence of any tangible achievements or coherent policies from the administration, some rogue security men can also orchestrate ‘death’ hoaxes and other elaborate schemes to divert public attention.

In their much acclaimed book, “When Illness Strikes the Leader: The Dilemma of the Captive King” which combine medicine, politics and psychology with interesting anecdotes drawn from several leaders across the world, Robert Robins and Jerrold Post provide insights into what happens behind the scenes when political leaders have health issues and the implications for their country. It is a book that speaks to a season like this in Nigeria.

Except the handlers of the president want to deceive themselves, their man has frittered away most of the goodwill that brought him to power while the situation has been compounded by the issue of health on which his opponents will now focus. How the administration responds to such provocations (because there will be many outlandish stories) will determine the direction of the country in the next two years as we move into the transitional phase. If, for instance, Buhari intends to go for a second term, then we should expect a draconian pushback from his handlers in a manner that will erode not only his credibility but also turn him into a puppet of power with governance put in abeyance.

In a peer review of “When Illness Strikes the Leader” in the New England Journal of Medicine, Edward J. Burger, Jr., a respected American surgeon, explained that the relation between the state of health of political leaders and the institutions of state that they govern are necessarily complex. “The authors of this book describe these relations as though a leader, whether a monarch or a democratically elected president, presides over a group of courtiers and possesses all the instruments of a palace. The description is not inappropriate. Staffs of latter-day presidents and prime ministers behave in many ways as did courtiers of old. The political surroundings of democratic leaders retain much of the coloring of intrigue and the rewards usually associated with older regimes” wrote Burger.

Every society, according to Burger, desires to have leaders “who are strong, wise and powerful and is made very uncomfortable even by hints of illness or incapacitation” yet people who advance in age before reaching political leadership are “particularly vulnerable to physical and mental incapacitation.” And because of “these very circumstances, which makes a king’s illness more special than that of his subjects, it tends to be treated differently. The fact of illness is downplayed or not disclosed” said Burger.

While I find the book very revealing, where I differ with the authors and the reviewer is in the assumption that “members of the court” are always to blame for whatever “loose conspiracy” that arises from such development and I am borrowing from personal experience. That explains why I sympathise with President Buhari’s spokesmen who are being assailed for what is not, and cannot, be their fault. Spokesmen report only whatever their principals want to be reported, so long as it is not a lie; and African leaders generally are very secretive about their health. But there are far more serious issues of governance that should concern us.

Whatever anybody may say about President Buhari, even his most implacable foes will readily concede that he hardly dissembles. Two weeks before assuming office in May 2015, he said most memorably: “Now we have invariably inherited all the problems, especially in the north east. A generation has been denied education and health care. Infrastructure has gone. You can imagine what is happening in the high seas where up to 400,000 barrels of crude oil which we rely on is stolen everyday with the full cooperation of those who are supposed to protect it. The price of oil has gone down and 90 percent of the foreign exchange we rely on comes from that. So, you have to convince your constituencies that we have virtually arrived at the wrong time and that they have to temper their expectation with some justice towards the leadership.”

Three weeks after assuming office, on 16th June, 2015 to be specific, Buhari told a cross-section of Nigerians living in South Africa on the sideline of the African Union (AU) summit in Johannesburg: “How I wish I became the head of state when I was a governor, just a few years as a young man. Now at 72, there is a limit to what I can do”.

Given those two moments of introspection, the first to dissect the enormity of the challenge he had to confront; the second to admit his own frailties, I feel for Buhari. When a man with as much patriotic fervor has vague ideas about how to tackle serious national problems that seem to overwhelm him, they would continue to weigh on his mind, with all the medical and psychological implications. Yet, at a time the opposition has a major market (the hungry, the jobless, and the displaced) from where to recruit “reporters”, those who seek to preserve their own privileges at the expense of the same social media emperors who helped to bring Buhari to power may choose to subvert the law. That is the danger that I see ahead.

If he is to regain lost momentum, there is only one option left for the president. He must rid himself of the “grass cutters” and other in-house rodents that he has been petting with “deodorants” (Senator Shehu Sani is very wicked!) and revamp his administration by bringing in those who can really help him. At a most critical period in our history, there is an urgent need for fresh ideas that can get us out of the current economic recession, put our people to work and reposition the country for peace and prosperity. Even the most fanatical of Buhari’s supporters know that he doesn’t have a pool of such talent in his government.

The urgency for President Buhari is underscored by the fact that even some of the people who helped him to power have started backtracking from their support. For instance, in the course of my interview with President Obasanjo, I accused him of being part of the “cabal” that gave President Buhari to Nigeria. “I didn’t join them in supporting Buhari, I joined in opposing Jonathan so Buhari was just a beneficiary of my position which was Any Option But Jonathan” President Obasanjo replied, before theatrically reeling out the acronym for me: A-O-B-J!

As things stand in Nigeria today, I know many people who have already made up their minds that should this administration continue on the current course and President Buhari seeks re-election in 2019, their position would be: AOBB!

The ‘Prophesy’ of Menchen

In his article titled “Bayard vs. Lionheart” first published in the “Baltimore Evening Sun” on 26th July 1920, and reprinted many years later in the book “On Politics: A Carnival of Buncombe”, Henry Louis Mencken, a respected 20th century journalist wrote what is now being circulated widely, especially on WhatsApp, for obvious reasons. Here is what Menchen wrote some 97 years ago now drawing huge attention on social media:

“…In small areas, before small electorates, a first-rate man occasionally fights his way through, carrying even the mob with him by force of his personality. But when the field is nationwide, and the fight must be waged chiefly at second and third hand, and the force of personality cannot so readily make itself felt, then all the odds are on the man who is, intrinsically, the most devious and mediocre—the man who can most easily adeptly disperse the notion that his mind is a virtual vacuum. The Presidency tends, year by year, to go to such men. As democracy is perfected, the office represents, more and more closely, the inner soul of the people. We move toward a lofty ideal. On some great and glorious day the plain folks of the land will reach their heart’s desire at last, and the White House will be adorned by a downright moron.”

While I leave readers to make their own conclusions, I have uploaded eight new Verdicts from the 2004 series on my web portal, olusegunadeniyi.com.

“Ebira Culture And Modern Civilization” By Haruna Sanni

Ebira people are an ethno -linguistic group  consisting Ebira Toa,  Ebira Koto,   Ebira Mozum,  Ebira Panda, Ebira Toto,  Ebira Etunu, Ebira Agatu,  Ebira Oloko, spread across 8 states in Nigeria
Culture is a way of life of a group of people such as behavior,  beliefs,  values,  and symbols that they accept generally without thinking about them and are passed along by communication and initiation from one generation to the next while civilization is an advanced stage of human society.
 Culture such as values and goals is an end itself while civilization such as tools and techniques is a means to an end.
Over the years,  Ebira culture has suffered encroachment,  as other peoples’ way of life is existing side-by-side our culture.  Today, we witnessed two examples of these. First, the  brutal killing of AMINCO is an example of an imported culture while the selfless and peaceful demonstration by our youths to demand improved service for our people is a good reminder of who we truly are.
Civilization is using technology to drive culture to improve the quality of life but when we use other peoples way of  life to undermine our way of life,  that is not civilization. In the past,  we read about kidnapping in James Hadley Chase etc but today,  kidnapping is right here with us.
In my opinion,  our culture are those cloth weaving,  farming, hunting,  traditional ceremonies,  etc.  Civilization is desirable if technology is used to modernize our culture to derive the greatest good for our people. This includes everything we are known for,  cloth weaving, farming,  hunting, blacksmith work, traditional ceremonies etc
The name Ebira means good manner, which is an expression of who we are and,  by extension,  out culture.  There was a time in history,  when people of all persuasions were comfortable with everything Ebira man or woman,  just for being Ane-Ebira,  but today the Ebiras are suffering from serious societal and cultural infections such as kidnapping,  armed robbery, westernization of many aspects of our lives etc. These are coming  at heavy costs,  which we are paying for very painfully.
What is wrong with us?
Traditional festivals. The sweet memories of them are almost gone. The idea behind them was to help foster reunion, friendship, correcting societal ills, celebrations,  funs etc but they are part of avoidable societal difficulties and have helped to deepen crisis in our land rather than solve them
Clan: Clan itself is an important part of Ebira culture. As Ebiras  we have common source before we started to multiply into clans etc.  The idea of having common source,  been brothers and sisters is to leverage it to make us better but our people have a different interpretation. The Clans that are supposed to be source of our unity, strength,  growth and development are actually the source of our disunity,  underdevelopment, in-fighting etc.
Family : There are too many broken homes in Ebiraland.  Our forefathers had multiple wives and large family but they loved,  supported,  and sustained them but  today such large families are rejected or abandoned or neglected or under-supported.  This why it is possible to have kidnappers, armed robberrs, thugs,  etc among us.  If the kidnappers who brutally took the life of AMINCO in the early hours of today are not our children,  they are probably insider supporters
What we can do?
We need to reinvent the will and spirit of our forefathers,  by doing and encouraging what is right and avoiding and discouraging what is wrong/evil
The family is the basis of society,  therefore, we must take it seriously and take deliberate steps to ensure that every member of the family is nurtured to project the family in good light
We must work together to uphold the Ebira value rather clan values
Conclusion
Ebiraland is a great land,  Ebira people are great people,  our capacity and opportunities are being underutilised,  we must harvest our opportunities and strengths to make the right choices,. We can convert our weaknesses to opportunities, so that Ebiira man and woman that were once loved and treasured everywhere , can bounce to greatness again. Our culture is our pride, we can improve our way of life by applying technology to drive our culture for the overall good of our people.

Send this to friend