Archive for January, 2016

By Prince Charles Dickson

So, I went last week to buy a “reliable” made in China Casio calculator, it even had the benefit of also being a scientific calculator too. I just could not trust my regular calculator; the one on my phone as an application, I use that to calculate how much I need to give madam, girlfriend, religious obligations, family trench, utility bills like NEPA abi na DISCO, I use it to add, minus, and multiply especially this January when all kind of fees have to be paid; from school fees, to daily, weekly fuel waka…the expenses are plenty, and indeed income not as plenty.

But truth is I needed this NEW calculator, and to Okechukwu’s Bookshop on Ahmadu Bello way, I went with my friend Adegoke as witness to buy it. After parting with a few lower notes, I was a proud owner of the product.

Wonder why I have teased us with the last two paragraphs on purchasing a mere calculator, I will share with us my admonition on this “calculator” ordeal.  Kindly bear with me, as we go through the next few paragraphs.

First despite my Casio being scientific, there was no scientific methodology to really guide me, and you–my dear reader would pardon my clumsy arithmetic, and my mumbo-jumbo procedure but please stay with me briefly, and we will be done.

With my calculator, and a long sheet of plain paper, and a cup of green tea, laced with pure blossom honey, and wheat bread, I was bent on “enjoying” what I predicted would be a nasty exercise.

I started with a few of the Abacha loot that was returned in the last few years…they read like $65,$300, $40, $37 all in millions, and that’s like $442million according to my calculator.

We remember that movie shortly after the oil subsidy protest…it featured a certain Otedola, Farouk and a few special appearances, and $3million vamoosed, only a few days in Kuje, and a visit from members of the Kano legislative house, Farouk went away and sinned no more…Total$445million

How many of remain, the James Bond series, yes James Bond, because any oil related theft is often than not a James Bond sequel…It involved Dan Etete, and his cast, and crew, after all said and done, the Malabu oil deal made sure that $1.1billion developed wings…Total$1.5billion, or before I confuse, 1.1billion dollars jam 445million dollars.

Okay, lets leave dollars small and deal in Naira; I will come back to it.

Do we recall Abubakar Kigo dude, of the ‘police pension things’, he escaped with N33billion, and then Abdulrasheed Maina then disappeared with another N195billion from “pension things” things. TotalN228billion

I am sure we have forgotten that Steve Oransanya, he was supposed to correct something-onething in the civil service or so, by the time he was done, N123billion was allegedly done and gone too. TotalN351billion

At this point, my tea don dey cold, and bread tasteless, while my calculator was getting hot, and I had not reached halfway.

I refused to add the missing “oyel” money during Diezani and Sanusi war, as some say money no miss, and others say money miss but e no reach so-so billion dollars. I rest my case.

I refuse to add the Donatus Dasuki ATM dispensary arrangement because (1) the money no reach me, (2) People are still confessing, returning, and maybe, just maybe, we may hear that APC also have a similar bazar. However I hanged the $2.1billion in one column as “tattered” sorry Chartered Accountants do in Nigeria.

It only gets interesting, as my plain sheet was become littered with figures and zeros in countless repetitions, I came to the governors, there were cases of the known, while other were the unknown.

For example, IN THE KNOWN COLUMN: they” say Joshua took a few millions from Ecological and other funds, James also increased his, it was up to a few billions, the late Alams also helped himself. And Goje printed OXFORD or was it CAMBRIDGE dictionaries for several millions. Add, the Jolly man from Taraba, and my friend Boni, and the bubbling Susan, and his predecessor, just to mention a few. We all remember that Ribadu said that one Sharia dude like that even refused to use a bank, he packed his own dough raw. Infact, in those days some $15million was offered as bribe—Chai, and if Ribadu is to be believed some 30 governors were thieving.

Hence I do not agree with the former EFCC helmsman, let me just do this simple maths, based on the KNOWN COLUMN: Let me say only 20 governors stole, and each stole N1million per month, that would be N12million per year multiplied by 16 years that would equal N192million and then multiply that by just 20 governors, that would be N3.840billion. I added this to our N351billion and we got N354.840 billion

I was beginning to feel dizzy, as I added Perm Secs who stole a few millions, heads of parastatals who helped themselves with some crazy sums through ridiculous subheads, like I recall how millions were in the NNDC budget for funerals, like every staff in the organization must die.

I added the monies that disappeared in millions from Funds, like the Educational Trust Fund, Petroleum Trust Fund, Ecological Trust Fund, Industrial Trust Fund, just check, if the name ended with an F, funds were stolen. I added the ones stolen by our lawmakers, even though it was “stolen legitimately” either via third term, or some allowance or money to do onething-something or buy some car with five tyres. I also added monies that were stolen by local council runs-men and women, monies that disappeared in Ministries.

At this point, my calculator was HOT, RED, and could barely even sure the regular ERROR message, even the scientific part of the calculator was not working, as I had converted the dollar to Naira, and was trying to add up, all my eyes could now see on the once plain paper was an endless count of zeros like big heads.

And in Fela’s words, need “I wonder how this country come take get big head”. My calculator could not continue, I just stared in trance, at how Nigerians were undoing Nigeria, I had barely touched the surface of monumental government stealing, and we are arguing, who stole less, or more or justifying that everyone steals. I end this admonishment asking, oh ye foolish Nigerians, for how much longer—Only time would tell.

Does Nigeria concern you?

Posted: January 5, 2016 in Uncategorized

By Prince Charles Dickson

“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We grab a dog with the hands and it escapes; thereafter we beckon it with two fingers. (If both hands cannot detain a dog, two fingers from a distance will not bring it to where it escaped from.)

Sometime in 2012 I wrote under the above title, “How Nigeria take concern me”. A lot in that particular admonition still resonates with us, and I see it important to remind us with a few lines in that essay, and in the light of a new year.

‘Concern’ is an English word, used both as a verb either reflective or passive, and as a noun.

1. Concern means to relate to; to be connected with; be of interest or importance to; affect: The state of killings ‘concerns’ us.

2. Used in the passive, to interest or engage: We should ‘concern’ ourselves with how we are governed.

3. To trouble, worry: Are you ‘concerned’ about how much will be spent feeding persons in the villa?

4. As a noun–something that relates or pertains to a person; business; affair: Nigeria should be the ‘concern’ of every Nigerian.

5. A matter that engages a person’s attention, interest, or care, or that affects a person’s welfare or happiness: ‘Concerning’ Nigeria, there is need for government to provide social services.

How does defining ‘concern’ concern you…interestingly the word ‘concern’ finds home in our local lingua called pidgin and in my admonition this week, I ask in local parlance taking into cognizance the working definition and the thread meaning– does Nigeria ‘concern’ you, how ‘e take concern’ you, Nigeria dey worry you…?

Is there need for apprehension, are we drifting towards distress, should we be perturbed, troubled or bothered about the construct called Nigeria and her people?

For example, how ‘e take concern’ me and you how a man of ‘god’ chooses to display his wealth, or are we ‘concerned’ by the fact that in the midst of lack a lot of folks will spend money in crude fashion to obtain passports to heaven. The reason why Nigerians are more concerned about the early year prophecies from the many “god” of men around, than whether the government is on the right path.

I don’t know about you, but I am concerned and uneasy that we still have ghost schools, ghost teachers, fake graduates, and in a nation that seeks PhD teachers, we get PhD drivers by default of availability not choice. Indeed we talk trucks because the nation lacks an efficient train haulage system, so we strain roads that are already death traps. So I am concerned about Buhari’s train-promise…

In almost comical fashion in one mouthful we are all concerned in unison that ethnic nepotism, parapoism, sickening ‘unfederal discharacter’ is a major ill in our society. But in typically crying more than the bereaved or showing more concern than the ‘concerned’ attitude. We get anxious and disturbed by the terms, ‘they, them, us, our, we, their, those’ all depending on convenience and yet we want a united Nigeria to ‘concern’ us.

My friend and brother, Benjamin Aduba, in Boston puts it this way and I rephrase in this manner…”Nigerians want change, so long as the change no ‘concern’ them, …for others to change but not for me to change”.

We are all concerned about corrupt politicians and persons are punished, but as long as the culprit is our enemy.

We show concern in very queer manner by honoring same people that have turned our collective harvest to personal fiefdoms with institutional awards, traditional titles, as long as the person is from our side, all other things should not concern us.

We are concerned to paranoid if the government is to build or do something good, which is rare, it must be for us, with us, and by us or else it is not good. It concerns me more than anybody…if Dasuki’s rights are violated but does it concern us about the many that are in cell without even a case file.

Does it concern you that we generate power individually, buy portable water, educate our kids privately, provide healthcare for our families, both immediate and extended, run micro welfare and social security systems for family, and relatives, and still create other infrastructures despite being milked in taxes from a meager 18k stipend for those being paid that much…and still some governors even muse a reduction.

The problem with our ‘concerns’ is a top-down, down-up systemic failure. Like we are programmed towards grinding to halt, rather than repair, we are so accustomed to cosmetic dressing, ala Dr. 90210… So we focus our ‘concern’ on leadership, when it is as much a problem with followership.

Do you feel concerned that we are raising a dangerous mixed grill society with kids largely ‘schooled’ abroad, with allegiances to other nations and a home bred population of children denied education outrightly?

Don’t we feel irritated that, it is the same five and five pence from Umuahia, to Jos, Oshogbo to Minna, Sokoto to Eket, same political class and patrons displaying stupendous wealth in the ‘ very before’ of lack?

If one is not concerned, if you don’t care, if we are not bothered, we may be behind our comfort zone, there may be ease but it’s not calm…I may not be worried, you may not be troubled or see distress in Nigeria, you may be the eternal optimist, or cautious optimist, our hope may cloud reality, however let us remember that the leopard’s stealthy gait is not a result of cowardice…our actions or inaction is being stalked.

The Yorubas say “were were nikan njele” meaning slowly, slowly is the manner in which termites consume a house, our inconspicuous and imperceptible problems in time are piling…if ‘e no concern you now, e go concern you soon’

We have very little history of who we are as a country, at every turn in national discourse like the axiom, aki í fi ìyá ẹní dákú ṣeré, we joke that our mother has collapsed, always trifling with serious matters, playing with a loaded and primed gun. Forgetting that one does not hide something in one’s hand and yet swear [that one knows nothing about it]. We know our problems, but does it really concern us– only time will tell.