Archive for July, 2014

By Prince Charles Dickson

In Nigeria, these are interesting times, or rather strange times, as a commentator, you are at odds, what really is wrong with my nation, the political hallelujah men are at work, as 2015 approaches.

The clueless ones are flexing their muscles and we are watching cluelessly.

Let me take a few picks, “Nigerian witches and wizards have bad news for Edo State governor, Adams Oshiomhole, All Progressives Congress (APC) National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and newly elected Emir of Kano, Mallam Sanusi Lamido Mohammed Sanusi II. On the other hand, they have cheering news for President Goodluck Jonathan regarding his re-election chances.”

These are some of the outcome of an emergency meeting they recently held at Afuze, Edo State.

The leader and spokesman, Witches and Wizards Association of Nigeria, (WITZAN), Dr. Okhue Iboi, at the same meeting, said the days of Abubakar Shekau, the Boko Haram leader, are numbered.

They specifically predicted that Shekau will be captured before the end of December 2014, and paraded on the streets of Abuja and Maiduguri for the whole world to see.

“We witches and wizards in Nigeria have sealed the fate of Shekau. His days are numbered.

He will be captured before the end of December, and contrary to the image and impression he has been creating that he is a warrior, after his capture, he will start singing like a canary bird.”

“An ordinary eye can’t see what we are seeing in the coven world.

Leaving the witches and wizards, we continued in our clueless endeavor at nationhood, with threats, some Arewa Youth Development ‘onething-something’ asked that Southerners leave the North because of XYZ, and some phantom registration of Northerners in the southeast continues to raise dust.

As Osun state polls draws near, the PDP and APC have also continued their exchanges of no value, and we the clueless ones still do not see that both parties are reminiscent of the two mouthed snake with same belly.

The clueless political class has continually engaged us with clueless drama, in Adamawa state where we now know that Atiku only makes noise, while Jonathan flexes less than his 20-40% power.

While I ruminated on how the default setting of a nation can be set on “confusion and being clueless”, I got this mail from a reader, barely a sentence—The National Confab is almost done, what did we achieve, I read your last week admonition on it being an Ole peoples home…?

My answer is put in this old management fable of the ant–Every day, a small ant arrives at work very early and starts work immediately. She produces a lot and she was happy.

The Chief, a lion, was surprised to see that the ant was working without supervision. He thought if the ant can produce so much without supervision, wouldn’t she produce even more if she had a supervisor?

So he recruited a cockroach who had extensive experience as supervisor and who was famous for writing excellent reports.

The cockroach’s first decision was to set up a clocking in attendance system. He also needed a secretary to help him write and type his reports and he recruited a spider, who managed the archives and monitored all phone calls.

The lion was delighted with the cockroach’s reports and asked him to produce graphs to describe production rates and to analyze trends, so that he could use them for presentations at Boards meetings.

So the cockroach had to buy a new computer and a laser printer and recruited a fly to manage the IT department.

The ant, who had once been so productive and relaxed, hated this new plethora of paperwork and meetings which used up most of her time!

The lion came to the conclusion that it was high time to nominate a person in charge of the department where the ant worked. The position was given to the cicada, whose first decision was to buy a carpet and an ergonomic chair for his office.

The new person in charge, the cicada, also needed a computer and a personal assistant, whom he brought from his previous department, to help him prepare a Work and Budget Control Strategic Optimization Plan.

The Department where the ant works is now a sad place, where nobody laughs anymore and everybody has become upset.

It was at that time that the cicada convinced the boss, the lion, of the absolute necessity to start a climatic study of the environment.

Having reviewed the charges for running the ant’s department, the lion found out that the production was far less than before.

So he recruited the owl, a prestigious and renowned consultant to carry out an audit and suggest solutions. The owl spent three months in the department and came up with an enormous report, in several volumes, that concluded: “The department is over staffed.”

Guess who the lion fires first? The ant, off course, because she “showed lack of motivation and had a negative attitude”.

From the confab, to many things Nigerian, we are simply dancing in circles, now it is the Boko Haram Victims Fund, at the same time seeking $1BN to fight Boko Haram, while the dudes are having a field day in Borno and environs and a hairs breath away from other parts of the nation.

It is obvious that we don’t get it, Yes, we have problems, but in truth we are just creating them by the day, rat, do not chew the doctor’s bag on purpose, and doctor, do not starve the rat on purpose. Where Nigeria is headed, witches and wizards and clueless ones cannot tell—Only time will tell.

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Umaru Dikko: Diplomatic Baggage, Millionaire Crate-man and Nigeria

 

By Prince Charles Dickson

This week, I will tie my admonition for this column with the story of Ghandi…

When Gandhi was studying law at the University College of London, a professor, whose last name was Peters, disliked him intensely and always displayed prejudice and animosity towards him.

Also, because Gandhi never lowered his head when addressing him as he expected, there were always “arguments” and confrontations.

One day, Mr. Peters was having lunch at the dining room of the University, and Gandhi came along with his tray and sat next to the professor. The professor said, “Mr. Gandhi, you do not understand. A pig and a bird do not sit together to eat.”

Gandhi looked at him as a parent would a rude child and calmly replied, “You do not worry professor. I’ll fly away,” and he went and sat at another table.

Mr. Peters, reddened with rage, decided to take revenge on the next test paper, but Gandhi responded brilliantly to all questions.

Mr. Peters, unhappy and frustrated, asked him the following question. “Mr. Gandhi, if you were walking down the street and found a package, and within was a bag of wisdom and another bag with a lot of money, which one would you take?” Without hesitating, Gandhi responded, “The one with the money, off course.”

Mr. Peters, smiling sarcastically said, “I, in your place, would have taken the wisdom, don’t you think?” Gandhi shrugged indifferently and responded, “Each one takes what he doesn’t have.”

Mr. Peters, by this time was fit to be tied. So great was his anger that he wrote on Gandhi’s exam sheet the word “idiot” and gave it to Gandhi.

Gandhi took the exam sheet and sat down at his desk, trying very hard to remain calm while he contemplated his next move.

A few minutes later, Gandhi got up, went to the professor and said to him in a dignified but sarcastically polite tone, “Mr. Peters, you signed the sheet, but you did not give me the grade.”

Last week Nigeria lost of her political dramatis personae, his name: Umaru Dikko, 6th direct descendent of the Shehu Usman Dan Fodio.

For those old enough, or well read in Nigerian history, how could you not know Umaru Dikko…

One of the most comprehensive work I ever read on the Dikko saga is “Diplomatic Baggage MOSSAD and Nigeria: The Dikko Story” by Kayode Soyinka. I read the book in year 2000, six years after it had been published and 16 years after the saga.

The book reads exactly like a le carre thriller and indeed that is what it is, in summary it’s the story of Dikko’s battle for asylum, a shrewd analysis of Nigeria politics, and exclusive interviews with Dikko himself.

So when his death was announced last week, I quickly referred to my library and did another quick read, in the light of contemporary Nigeria, and what hurt most is that really nothing had changed, nothing seems to be changing and nothing may infact change.

From the Dikko that was almost bungled in crate to Nigeria, almost beaten up in a constitutional tea party by now equally late Ojukwu, to the fact that we are still part of another dialogue lunch in the name of confab, only baffled me more.

Of Dikko, Gowon said, “He was a very good person. He was a very effective minister; it was not his character what newspapers made him to be. The ACF said he was “principled and colorful politician of repute. David Mark said, “he was a political strategist who contributed to the political evolution of Nigeria”

In this part of the woods we do not speak evil of the dead…sadly also we know little of the dead too.

Was Umaru Dikko of the presidential commission on rice a thief, a corrupt man, or simply Dikko the Mathematician, broadcaster, or is he in the words of Jonathan the elder statesman, who made great contributions to national development.

Or is he the man that only three out of ten Political science students of a federal university I sampled knew anything about. Infact one asked if he was a soldier…yet he contributed to national development.

Who really was the Umaru Dikko that was called to the Bar at the Middle Temple in 1991, was he the same man that was part of a government that literally was importing sand from Italy, is he the same man that British TV-viewers switched to their afternoon bulletins on July 5, 1984 astonished to learn of a kidnap in broad daylight affluence laced London street within half a mile of Kensington Palace.

Is it same Nigerian soldiers that have excelled in foreign missions and behaved well that burned BRT busses and beat up citizens because a colleague was hit by a BRT bus (certainly not on intention)?

Is it the Nigeria of Soyinka and Achebe, Anyaokwu, Maitama Sule and co that have produced Farouk Lawal, Stella Oduah and co. Is it a case of the good, worse and very ugly.

Is it Umaru Dikko’s Nigeria, or we are just one diplomatic baggage whose seed of discord and disunity was sown right from inception. Is it that since the Umaru Dikko palavar till his death the only problem we have is changing Nigeria’s name to ‘aiger’ or some antibiotic sounding name?

Is it not safe to conclude that we have beaten all the records of corruption set during the Dikko days so much that we owe that era an apology?

In one of his interviews in 2004 in the Guardian newspapers, I picked this gem, and it summarizes the controversy that Nigeria is, Dikko speaking on money in politics had this to say, “The problem with our country comes from one particular sources more than any other sources. The problem that is facing us today in Nigeria is that our minds have been monetized, our people have been monetized and people don’t think of any other thing except money. Today, it is money that matters in everything even when people are offering prayers, they will be asking God for money. They do not ask for forgiveness of their sins, they are not asking for peace in the country, it is only money.”

Umaru Dikko is gone, millionaire in a crate, good man or not, intelligent or misunderstood, corrupt or otherwise. He has gone the way of all mortals. All is vanity; his death again serves as a reminder to the looters in high and low places. What do we want to be remembered for, or how do we want to be forgotten, as a Ghandi, Dikko, Mr. Peters, or an idiot—Only time will tell.dikko-umaru

By Prince Charles Dickson

 

Ladies and gentlemen, hobos and tramps, bug-eyed mosquitoes and bowlegged ants!

 

I’m about to tell you a story I’ve never heard before, so pull up a chair and sit on the floor.

 

Admission is free, so pay at the door.  One fine day, in the middle of the night, two, dead boys got up to fight.

 

Back to back, they faced each other, drew their swords and shot each other.

 

A deaf policeman heard the noise, and saved the lives of the two dead boys. If you don’t believe my lies are true, ask the blind man, he saw it too!

 

By Kristin Beckstrand from Brentwood California USA.

 

A very good friend commonly called Uncle UST shared the above, and it captured my admonition for this week, it affects us, you and me…the oxymoron that goes on in the head of an abused person.

 

On the 26th June it was the International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, I was at a local function with a heart, organized by a wonderful group called YARAC in Jos, the Plateau State capital, the beat of the the program was listening to ex-drug addicts, those who had substance abuse issues.

 

I could not say thank you enough to Professor Tor Iorapu and his team, as I sat down and reflected deep.

 

It was a gathering with the usual crowd, the politicians, the press and pastors/imans were missing in action, and there was no money to share. However facing a nation of 150million is various forms of abuse.

 

Drug abuse, power abuse, stomach abuse in Ekiti, Boko Haram and its most recent abuse in Abuja, striking at the EMAB plaza and taking away an ally and friend Sulieman Bissalah, pen man and editor par excellence.

 

It was sad as I pondered about the calamitous consequences of drugs on Nigeria that no one cares about, all the preventable deaths each year from overdoses.  Illicit drugs spawning criminal violence and weakening Nigeria’s a state’s essential institutions.

 

How simple drugs like the Benyln cough syrup, or how the drink La casera has become opium in places like Kano, Kaduna and many Northern states, did I forget to tell us, about the opium fields in Bauchi, Gombe, and Zamfara states, in Ibadan and many villages in Ogun, Oyo, Osun, and Kogi states and we ask what does the Drug law Enforcement agency NDLEA do.

 

Not that one blames them totally, as they are equally abused with poor funding.

 

I shake my head, at a nation that continues to be abused by its own, with consent of its own, and divided by its own…as I hurt deep inside at the abuse Nigerians go through, swallowing panadol for pains that are not necessarily fault of theirs and taking paracetamol for self inflicted ones I was jolted back by the words below.

 

“We have been advised to avoid crowded places…

 

So that means Churches, Mosques, Markets, Shopping Malls, Motorparks, Airports, Schools, some Ministries, Public hospitals, Weddings, Naming Ceremonies, Burials, Workshops and conferences…right?

 

Those that have died or been caught up in previous bombings were not gallivanting or looking for trouble o! They were at work …UN House, on their way to work…Nyanya, in their shops, shopping and waiting for passengers or just passing by …EMAB Plaza. Nobody will see a pit and enter with their eyes open.

 

Oh I forgot? What about the famous Abuja traffic and hold ups at checkpoints then? How do we avoid those? May Allah protect us from the demons amongst us!

 

As I said a soft amen to the prayer to that ended Ramati Bako’s lamentation on the abuse above, I shifted focus to the victims of all the blasts, the insecurity in the Nigerian state, and I was saddened on how we are gradually loosing it as a nation.

 

And who are these victims that are so unsung, apart from one story and another story, they are forgotten so easily—The widows, wives of dead soldiers, dead policemen. The wife of dead Sulieman Bisallah, widow of Col. Salisu Kabiru and that wife of late Okonkwo that would be made to go through pain unbearable while a host of us, just wish them well and move along.

 

Woman who lose their status, livelihood or property when her husband dies, and immediately start to face persistent abuse, discrimination, disinheritance and destitution.  Subjected to harmful practices such as widow burning and “widow cleansing” –All because of one drug mentally infested suicide bomber, or for reasons of a society that has permitted such and even more cruel forms of abuse.

 

The impacts on these women also become another case open for forms of not only drug abuse but also even more hidden abuse.

 

So I watched as the International Widow’s Day was marked and no one bothered, we cared more about Ekiti, and PDP’s miraculous victory and Fayemi’s acceptance of defeat. But no one thought of stronger action to empower our women, promote gender equality and end all forms of violence against women.

 

No one in these climes thinks of our widows beyond the Politicians PR stunt, and the church/mosque pitiful pittance. They are absent in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, neglected by national and local authorities and mostly overlooked by civil society organizations – “the situation of widows is, in effect, invisible”, according to the UN’s Ban Ki Moon

 

Yet abuse of widows and their children constitutes one of the most serious violations of human rights and obstacles to development today.  Enduring extreme poverty, ostracism, violence, homelessness, ill health and discrimination in law and custom…we are left with a cycle, as drug abuse is one of the many extensions of the evil berthed.

 

This week, one woman will be widowed, denied her right of inheritance and land rights, degraded and put in life-threatening mourning and burial rites and other forms of widow abuse.

 

This week, some will be evicted from their homes and physically abused – some even killed – even by members of their own family. A widow will tomorrow be stigmatized and seen as a source of shame.

 

In the East and some other parts some will be treated as witches and bearers of the ill luck that killed their hubbies.

 

The children of widows often affected, both emotionally and economically, will take to drugs, as these kids will be forced to withdraw from school, daughters of these widows will suffer multiple deprivations, increasing their vulnerability to abuse.

 

I have left out politics this week, let us empower our widows through access to adequate healthcare, education, decent work, full participation in decision-making and public life, and give them lives free of violence and abuse, give them a chance to build a secure life after bereavement. Importantly, creating opportunities for widows to protect their children and avoid the cycle of inter-generational poverty, deprivation and abuse of not only drugs, but abuse of esteem.

 

Nigeria battles with these social issues, too long invisible, ‘undiscussed’, and ignored, the effects on our society, how bad—Only time would tell?