Todays Post

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Serious assault in the Rivers State House of Assembly and what has come of it

A friend sent me a link to a video showing the serious assault of two persons in the Rivers state house of Assembly. ABSOLUTELY SHOCKING!!!! this attack brings new meaning to the term 'to mace someone'. Granted, it is very possible for someone to go crazy and attack another in plain view of others, and we have seen evidence of this all over the world. What is totally unacceptable is that the perpetrator of this crime is walking free and uncharged and other people who were involved in viciously attacking the victims are also free without charge.

Can we really call our political system a democracy? What we have can only be described as a free-for-all system where 'law makers' are able to contravene the law and walk free while the media and other parties focus on who is playing politics and who started the fighting etc. rather than on demanding justice. This attack is a public declaration of what has long been known but unspoken which is that anyone with money and influence can do as they choose even going as far as seriously assaulting people without facing the consequences. This is not the first time. There is video evidence of members of the armed forces assaulting members of the public and dare I say it, even a well known Leader of a Nigerian Mega church assaulting a young lady widely available on the internet. There have been no convictions for any of these crimes as far as I know and I would love to be corrected on this claim.

Is this what we call democracy? A society where hundreds of thousands of university graduates go begging for jobs and are reduced to competing for unskilled jobs with the rest of the populace while influential business owners are recorded expressing their surprise at the system they created. A society in which all kinds of tribal, religious, gender etc. discrimination is entrenched, where people are physically abused and assaulted daily with no repercussions and most of all a society with little social development or execution of justice. This is not a democracy, this is ANARCHY!

To borrow a quote from Chinua Achebe's novel Things Fall Apart; 'Things fall apart; the center cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world'. The justice system is the center of any developed society because human beings respond to punishment as a deterrent to crime. When the justice system is broken then anarchy is prevalent. The Nigerian justice system is broken, it is preferential in its treatment of people; punishing the poor and powerless for crimes that are usually unproven while allowing the rich and influential to go free. A justice system that does not seek out the truth and punish crime allows anarchy to thrive. Nigerian's can no longer deny that we are in a state of Anarchy, it is clear from the media reports and people's personal experiences. Starting from the lawmakers offices down to the street,people are living in fear, looking over their shoulders wondering where the next attack or frustration will come from. Everyone is thronging to religious institutions seeking answers from God. God already saved us from military rule, the rest  is up to us.

We must demand that our leaders focus on fixing the justice system. Only then we will begin to see crime diminish and true democracy and social development emerge. How can we do this? It is up to us to get involved, be interested and start speaking up and making demands by writing to our local Councillors and following through with petitions. A word of caution; change takes time. Rome was not built in a day and expecting immediate change would be foolish. We are all in this together, we need to work with our leaders to create a society that we are all proud to be part of.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Health is wealth

It's been a while since I posted to this blog and i promise you I haven't lost steam about making Nigeria better, my silence has been due to ill health. These past weeks where I was plagued first with the flu and then by a vile stomach virus have been tough and once again I have been faced with my mortality which made me think about all the people who like me were suffering yet could not afford to get treated. Living in the UK has its perks, one of them is free access to the national health service. It may not be the best service in the world but it exists and the employees do a good enough job of helping a lot of the populace through their ailments and giving advice on nutrition and exercise. Before my fellow Nigerians jump in and start throwing mud at our government, when i say this service is free i mean that it is free at the point of access but it comes at a cost. This service can only be provided free because members of the working population contribute a good proportion of their salaries to the national insurance pot. Every working person is taxed based on income earned from the high income earners to the basic rate earners. That's the key, everyone contributes, no one can opt out and everyone can benefit from the service. Of course it's a free society and people are allowed to purchase private care but the fact remains that all who work contribute. I understand that the Nigerian government is setting up a national health service. My understanding is that the scheme will benefit only those who contribute. I believe that one of the building blocks of a just society is equality. How can there be equality when we support the ever increasing divide between the haves and the have nots. I believe there is a lesson we can learn from the UK example and think of ways were those who are working can contribute to and demand the building of a fair society. People living below the breadline are as acutely and even more so aware of their mortality every time they are ill and they too would like someone to care for them and help them get better. I think there may be an opportunity here to push for a more equal health scheme and a better Nigeria. All comments will be appreciated.

Monday, 19 March 2012

A Whiff of Nostalgia

I woke up this morning with a very strong feeling of nostalgia. Yes, sometimes I miss my country dearly and more so I miss my childhood, a time when I was cocooned in an atmosphere of relative protection and peace and oh! Life was sweet. I remember that my two main worries while in primary school were firstly how to ditch my well prepared packaged lunch and flask of milk and secondly how to get through the day without being beaten with koboko (cane) for various types of bad behaviour (as judged by the teacher) or for failing a few mathematics questions. The former was easily solved; the latter however was a major problem and something I spent a lot of time worrying about. It was bad enough that the day’s mathematics quiz result was made public, but even worse still was the humiliation that one had to bear from being publicly flogged - the number of strokes being equal to the number of questions failed. Like any normal person, I detested the public humiliation, so I worked harder at my mathematics and it paid off. The visits to the front of the class quickly reduced and became almost non existent by the end of the school year. Let us just say that at a very young age, I learnt that if one worked hard, school and life in general was a much more pleasurable experience.
Why did I start rambling on about my childhood? I guess it’s because while being nostalgic, I started pondering on what our country Nigeria has to offer the children today. Kids these days are all under intense pressure. Constantly surrounded by political instability, strikes and violence, any vestiges of safety finally went out the window with the rise of ‘Boko Haram’. Children are also constantly being bombarded with the negative press that Nigeria seems to be getting of late and are exposed to the greed and corruption of the general populace, making them feel that ‘keeping up with the Jonses’, and knowing the right people is all that life is about. What happened to the spirit of hard work and competitiveness that was prevalent in my school days, cramming timetables to show off to friends, committing to memory as many words from the dictionary as possible just to claim the titles of whiz kid and Spelling Guru for the week?
Now, no one really cares, all that has been replaced by talk of the newest TV channels, the last vacation abroad if one’s parents are affluent enough, and computer/video games, the likes of Play Station and PSP to name a few. As for spelling, why bother when there are computers and spell checkers to boot, and why work hard at school when one’s parents can sort one out because they know the right people. With so many parents holding down full time jobs while running businesses on the side to afford that latest car, vacation and the big houses, being at home to make sure the kids have a siesta after school and do their homework is ironically a luxury a lot cannot afford. Instead kids are shipped off to private tutors so they become someone else’s responsibility. As for the kids from less affluent homes, they end up on the streets idle, passing away valuable time while being unwittingly exposed to the attention of unscrupulous individuals.
What am I getting at? Children are the Leaders of tomorrow. The environment to which they are currently exposed will mould them into what they will become in the future. The future of the country lies in the hands of these little ones. It is left for us all to provide a safe, loving, challenging environment where they can be exposed to the right stimuli and influences that are required to empower and equip them for the future. I do not have kids, and observations based on general interaction, so any comments to prove me right or wrong and to suggest a way forward will be highly appreciated.

A lot of my peers who were educated in Nigerian institutions but work in the UK are highly regarded for their engineering prowess and quick learning capabilities and I am sure the same goes for my peers in other fields of endeavour.
Food for thought: Will this be the same story in the next 30-40 years?  You tell me.



Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Fantastic News!!! Ex government official convicted of 3.8 million Naira Fraud

I know what you are probably thinking; what is so great about a conviction for embezzling ONLY 3.8 million Naira when the fat cats get away with billions stolen from the same source. It is indeed difficult to get excited over this conviction for such a tiny amount of money but dear friends, I say rejoice! Change has to start from somewhere and believe it or not, it has begun.

We Nigerians have developed a great amount of tolerance to fraud and corruption through a continuous exposure to corrupt practices that are never punished. The average Nigerian person would defraud the government or a business if they thought that they wouldn't get caught and this has largely been the case until recently when EFCC and associated bodies were given their mandate.

At the moment, it seems that the EFCC can only bring to justice those in soceity that have little or no political clout and are powerless in dealing with the elite criminals. While we may moan about these small feats, what will be achieved as the convictions continue to roll in is a sustained reduction in the level of tolerance to fraud and corruption amongst the general populace. This effect will be a direct  result of an understanding of the laws of cause and effect, of crime and punishment.

As the greater community's level of moralistic consciousness adjusts with the re-inforcement of each conviction, the masses will begin to demand for EFCC to apply the same rules to the fat cats and excuses will no longer be accepted. What started as a little drop of water has the great potential of turning into a mighty roaring ocean that could sweep corruption from Nigeria.

We all have a part to play in turning the tide, we need to celebrate the succesful convictions of fraudsters by spreading the word which in turn will start the process of raising the public consciousness to the fact that crime WILL be punished. The ball is in our court, lets set it rolling. Start by celebrating this victory and spread the word..

Monday, 12 March 2012

Suicide bombers strike. Again!!!!!

I dont know what others think about this fiasco but honestly, I am sure a lot of people are tired of hearing excuses. Mr Jonthan has once more said that the government is doing 'all' that it can to stop this menace; but are they really?

What gives me even less confidence is this: the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) gives the total number of casualties as three while national newspapaers are reporting higher figures. If NEMA operatives are unable to efficiently deal with counting casualties what hope do we have that Boko Haram will be stopped.

My personal opinion; I think we need more transperency from the government on how they are dealing with this situation. We need to know that intelligence is being deployed in protecting the citizens. People in other countries have been targeted by similar organisations and their leaders have learned how to reduce the strikes. I suggest that our government can learn a thing or two from these countries in combating terrorism. Life is hard enough for an average citizen, why let terror be added to our burdens?