Archive for March, 2016

Let us pray for Nigeria

Posted: March 30, 2016 in Uncategorized

By Prince Charles Dickson

Buhari: I like coke

Opposition: Buhari declares war on Pepsi

And soon afterwards we chorus let us pray for Nigeria

So, on this particular day last week, the baby in my house who is just 9 years was taking the lead in prayers. As he prayed he got to the point…”we pray for the President Buhari, we ask God help him to do this, to do that…sincerely I cannot say that I was listening to every prayer request he was making of God on behalf Buhari.

For me, I wondered if God was even listening to our prayers as a nation. Reflecting on my son’s innocence I wondered how many Nigerians really pray for Buhari and what the prayers would be.

So, what prayers are we praying for Nigeria, when you remember Kachukwu and his flippancy on when we would get fuel, and if we would get it…when many recall that they spent the Easter holidays at the gas station?

Are we going to sincerely pray for the 27 state governors that cannot pay salaries, really what prayers does one say, when you work for a government that insults our collective intelligence by making assurances that January salaries will be paid at the last week of March?

Nigerians are so religious and really we are just a jolly-happy-go people. No matter the way they treat us my namesake Charles Ike-Okoh captures it this way “we no get wahala. Even if light no dey we dey smile. Even if petrol no dey we dey laugh. Even if government people chop all our money, God dey. Even if naira turn 500 to dollar, baakwomi. So long as life dey we get hope say one day e go better. We go go church thank Hod for the one we thief or share from the politicians. God deyEven if Kachikwu tell us sharap we go sharap. Even hungry, fuel starved, light denied Nigerians still dey tell me happy Easter. How?! How the Easter take happy? Abegii!!!”

The Easter and everything Nigerian is happy because we pray, so when we drive on pot-hole ridden and coffin open roads, we pray that accidents are not our portion. I know several ministers that have stopped wearing belts tell us to pray and tighten our belts.

So let me pray, I pray for those who are excited at Mr. Buhari’s speech to his party’s NEC, I pray for those that are celebrating Tinubu’s strong counsel to Kachikwu on the fuel crisis, I love equally pray for Nigerians that have busied themselves on the RUMOR of the Governor who slapped his deputy and deputy return one hot slap back. I pray for those busy deceiving Nigerians on loot recovery and the dramatics. I pray for Amaechi and Wike for they are alive and that poor Corp member died. I pray for us as we feign ignorance at the Agatu killings…I pray for Nigerians as we mark two years of the Chibok schoolgirls abduction: for those who believe that it happened and those that say it’s politics. For us all my prayers are may it never be your portion the consequences of these prayers…

I ask are Nigerians praying that our schools will get back to the standard of the days of yore, or we are praying that dollars would come down for school tuition for our kids in Ghana. Are we praying that our hospitals will work again, or we are hopeful that the budget will translate to money in circulation so that we can resume our medical tourism.

So, I am in thoughts what kind of prayers would we pray for Fayose, if #I standwithBuhari, what should I pray for Aregbesola, with my salaries no where to be found. Do I pray my ancestors to deal with Fashola, as the megawatts continue to drop, or will thunder fire Jonathan and his crew who got us here, and hailstones hammer Buhari and his apologists for a lack of direction?

Tell me a minister that has not been paid his February salaries and I will pray for him, show me a governor who in the last month has bought fuel from a queue and I will pray for that governor. Including the common sense senator show me a legislator who is experiencing difficulty paying tuition for his/her ward and indeed I will not only pray but fast for such lawmaker.

Fridays and Sundays we cause a traffic in heaven bound movement by our prayers both Muslims and Christians but our actions are repulsive as a people the next day as we seek to outsmart each other, as government keeps lying to us, while we lie to ourselves.

Well, I will end this way…I pray that our leaders’ children are abducted, I pray that our leaders those that stole, and those currently stealing will suffer a form of hardship. Citizens that are bent on exploiting fellow citizens, you will be exploited in multiple measure. Each time you close your eyes or bow to pray whether to God or Allah…ask him to measure the same prayers you have prayed out, back to you.

While the efficacy of these prayers remains debatable. One unavoidable fact remains, no matter how much prayers we offer, good or bad, curses or blessings. We must know that prayers did not create a United Arab Emirates or Singapore, even with persons like Apkors aka Donald Trump in the United States, it is not by prayers but by the concerted and well drawn out purposeful leadership of great men and women that these countries are envied.

Are we ready to build systems and structures that can work, are we ready to run a nation founded on equity, justice, freedom, with both fiscal and structural federalism or we want to remain situated in federal character, quota system, blaming Messrs. Jonathan and Buhari, blaming each other and praying for miracles–only time will tell

By Prince Charles Dickson

“And, since they are theater people, they are all talking. All of them. Simultaneously. They do not need to be heard; they only need to be speaking.”

― John Green, Will Grayson, Will Grayson

And so my friend tells me that he cannot recall when last he bought fuel at the regulated price, nor at the gas station. His cousin says he cannot recall the last time he had six hours of electricity. The youngest wife of the clan adds that if the situation was just forces of government ineptitude, it would have been better: But nature through a very hot weather won’t allow anyone sleep well.

So, what happened to the power generator, with a wry smile, my colleague asks: “when there is no fuel to run the car, how do we run the generator”?

We equally are in the clime that inflation has hit double digits, and every imaginable item has hit the roof in terms of costs, including packaged water. The wailers are wailing, and the defense attorneys for government has continued to defend.

And last week, one group told us that Nigerians are no longer happy people, due to reasons X, Y, and Z. The news was received with two templates, first the wailers who said, we knew it, and the praisers: who said all these is to get at the President, and his change government.

While I ruminated on project Nigeriana, a friend strolled into my thoughts, “don’t worry Oga Charles, everything will be fine soon, you know it is not easy to build, unlike when we want to destroy, a task which is far easier.” As he explained he pointed at a building to drive home his point.

All that came to my mind was only some five years ago, a Jonathanian was pontificating on how the Otuekean was building what had been destroyed and it would take several years to build. And nine months on the road I am hear the same sermon again.

So as I simply nodded, and my briefly glanced at my phone, I saw a Broadcast message asking that I pray for some Nollywood diva called Ibinabo Fiberisima, that was the second one I was receiving, I had some weeks ago received a “copied whatsapp message” alleged signed by her son asking for understanding and all that…

My mind wondered, this case must have followed a trajectory, why did they allow it to get to this point before asking for prayers.

The truth remains that as a people we are religious, we don’t joke with our Fridays, and Sundays. We don’t joke with our “juju” either. We love music, we are intelligent and yes, we excel in many a thing we put our hands to do as a people.

We are resilient, while people talk about the American dream, we as Nigerians are not dreamers, we are simply lucky, to the point we have often than not got leaders by sheer luck than preparation.

Amongst us are the ethnic jingoist and nepotic parapoist, we have those that do not see beyond faith, creed and clan. We divided on many fronts, united in soccer and corruption. However we are equally a dramatic nation, one full of drama, with so much suspense.

One hell of a telemundo if you ask me, if one section is not disturbing us how Oloye Bukola Saraki the Senate President is about to circumvent the course of justice in his CCT trial, El-Rufia is not only carry his Dane gun looking for Sani Shehu but equally about to Islamize or kill religious freedom in Kaduna.

Then did you hear that the whole of Osun state got in allocation just a fraction of the millions one Onitsha businessman has in his account, and that simply means salaries wouldn’t be paid again.

I do not know these days, when Mr. Buhari is in the country or out, but so did Obasanjo and his shuttle diplomacy. Anyway, it is all drama, to important issues, how about the missing budget, will it be signed this month or the drama would continue.

We are forgetting gradually all the noise about increase in tariffs for electricity, the same way we will forget the CBN employment of children of the nouveau riche and the Ese Oru and Yinusa thing is fading into other scenes and acts are overtaking the episodes.

And I do not know if we have agreed to devalue or revalue or if we have simply accepted that the dollar is bigger than us. Maybe all that was one big drama too, like the Dasuki arms-gate is gradually fading and becoming a only court day news, to the point that in recent weeks, it is no longer even making front page news anymore.

As a nation everything about us, seems to be gradually turning out to be like the drama queen in reverse as we not only now habitually responds to situations in a melodramatic way, but we are also melodramatic about serious issues. I sincerely believe that we are not ready for project Nigeria, we do not really have a template as to where we want to be, how we want to and when we want to get there, and are we showing signs or we are still dramatizing—Only time will tell

 

 

By Prince Charles Dickson

“The idea of the change mantra the way we see it should be to free the country from the clutches of a few that are manipulating the system, which of course has brought the country to its knee. The pains we bear today are needless if the people in authority are serious and wish to do something positive about it.” Comrade Bobboi Bala Kaigama President, The Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC)

The truth is that there is a global oil glut. I know and recall that the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria (IPMAN) had issued a warning that fuel might become very scarce, due to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation’s (NNPC) inability to import enough petrol into the country.

Another fact is that the dollar has flexed its muscles, so fluctuations in the foreign exchange market have discouraged more marketers from continuing with petrol importation. Therefore the NNPC has become the biggest importer of petrol into the country as a result of her special access to the country’s dwindling foreign exchange reserves and can arrange for swapping the country’s crude oil for processed petrol.

Another sad fact is that as a nation we did trade by barter with “we oyel” in a “give us petrol-we give una crude” deal, but that arrangement has hit plenty mosquitoes.

So, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Ibe Kachikwu, whom Nigerians believe speaks Mr. Buhari’s mind, as senior Minister said rather than trade by barter, we do something he called Direct-Sale–Direct-Purchase (DSDP) arrangement. The new DSDP arrangement would save the government over $1 billion, he said, and it was adopted to entrench transparency into the crude oil-for-product transaction by the corporation in line with global best practices. However all just seems like the noise of the irritating mosquito.

Painfully for a fact we all are living witness that we have yet another fuel scarcity due to a decline in the product’s supply. Not just because Nigeria, one of the biggest producers of oil in the world, does not produce its own petrol, but also because we are all emotional people who believed a theory called “body language” just as we believed we were in for “fresh breath”.

So, let us examine more truths, and permit me to put it in a “Did you know format”.

Did you know that if a mosquito has bitten you, it was a female? Male mosquitoes make do just fine with plants, but females need a blood meal before they can lay eggs…If you knew this fact, it means you are aware that none of our Ministers stay on the queue to get fuel, they do not even know how the fuel comes, the most they do is provide money if need be, their convoys are fuel-ever-ready.

Did you know that a mosquito could drink up to three times its weight in blood? Don’t worry, though. It would take about 1.2 million bites to drain all the blood from your body. And Female mosquitoes can lay up to 300 eggs at a time. Usually, the eggs are deposited in clusters – called rafts – on the surface of stagnant water, or they are laid in areas that flood regularly. If you knew these, you must have realized that the hardship the fuel bites gives Nigerians translates to high food prices, increased transport cost and in the end, more than 300 forms of hardship.

Tell us something; the hardship that the fuel scarcity has left in our nation is akin to that you feel when a mosquito’s wings beat 300-600 times per second. The reason that irritating buzzing sound you hear just before a mosquito lands on you and bites.

And do you know what Lai Mohammed says about the hardship…”the economic situation in the country has gone completely out of the control of government as the global economic meltdown is having a negative spiral effect on it.”

He explained that this was so because Nigeria cannot determine the price of crude or gas. (Like we have ever really determined the price)

Berating critics of the administration as mischief-makers, he said Mr. Buhari’s frequent trips abroad, especially to the oil-producing nations, became imperative because of the urgent need to rally support for the stability of the global oil prices and also to attract Foreign Direct Investment FDI into the country.

Finally what has made the current situation in the land unbearable is one that hangs on the shoulder of Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, the charge-de-affair of electricity abi power.

I would only remind Mr. Raji that he told Nigerians in 2014 that; “A serious government will fix the power problem in six months.” Like Raji, like Lai, like Nnaji Barth, like Labaran Maku. What all these dudes reminds one is that the age old fact of government being a continuum is very true in Nigeria when it involves the negative and giving excuses, they are often than not same difference. In ’99 while campaigning Mr. Obasanjo had said in his unpolished nature and Hausa “ba wuta, ba ruwa, ba mai” meaning “no electricity, no water, no petrol”

And on this note, I end saying: Dear Buhari, again there is no fuel and there is no electricity in Nigeria, so much goodwill brought you to power, the change mantra came like fresh breath code, and the change is towing the fresh breath trajectory. Don’t be deceived by the praise-singers, and don’t be discouraged by the naysayers and wailers. However you have a job to do, and for now Mr. President you have not done it, and whether you will do it—Only time will tell

 

 

 

By Prince Charles Dickson

For the uninitiated and those that prefer to remain old school in terms of food; Quickly let me explain, finger foods are popularly referred to as small chops.

They are appetizers served mostly at parties and special events. They are basically the classic Nigerian snacks made into bite sizes. Back in the day, these were limited to Battered Fish, Mini Sausage Rolls, Snails, Peppered Gizzards, Barbecued Goat Meats (Asun), Puff Puffs and the like.

But these days, some imported world recipes have joined the Nigerian Small Chops family. At first read, I am sure you must be in thought…is this a culinary column or some essay on how to prepare “small chops”

Well this is the thrust of my admonition this week; I am on one long track of official assignments that will see me crisscross a couple of African capitals and then Obamaland. And while en route I busied myself reflecting on several small chops and the wahala in Nigeria.

I do not need remind us that when the appetizer is bad, one looses appetite completely, in many cases a bad small chop makes for plenty wahala with the small house inside the big house, so let me quickly share with us the following “small chops”

Battered Fish and Arik Airlines

So, for those that do not know, the Jos Airport still functions, but operators have come and gone, from Aero to Arik, name them. However the Arik guys have kept faith, they fly the route once everyday, but sadly they hardly ever fly it on time. Most times a 3:10 flight would leave at about 4:30 and the day the Lord deserts one, it would leave at 5-6pm, and God help you that you have are connecting to another flight which is not Arik–This small chops will purge you!

However nothing prepared my mind for the terrible thing that was about to happen on the fateful day, after my tickets were bought via their e-ticket platform. The boarding pass was completely written in pen as in handwritten in “BIRO”. Maybe I should add blue biro, although the lady writing was pretty, it did not remove the fact that small chops look beautiful but can also be a source of pain.

How did we get to such level of inefficiency or ineptitude, what kind of joke was this. First Arik staffer said, “na so we see am, we don complain” he even added “maybe na dollar”. I don’t take such slip kindly so I even asked a member of the crew, is it this bad…her answer “maybe their printer is bad”.

Well the flight may have been okay but where are the authorities, those responsible to seeing that every aspect of flying is taken serious–Well I simply shrugged, why bother, thank God that you did not disembark from the pane in Lagos via a “LADDER”.

Peppered Gizzards, Abba Moro, and US

While on my sojourn I hear that the former Internal Minister, and best men to one time Senate President was quizzed, and arraigned for the Immigration jobs scam, where a few paid the ultimate sacrifice.

Let me state, many may won’t to disagree, I dare say it was one of the factors that led to Jonathan loosing the General elections last year. Sadly a source told me that they simply bought houses with proceeds of the money.

Now this is the koko of the small chops, those in authority (and here I mean, immigration, the minister, consultants, government and related agencies) knew that they had barely 2-5 thousand applicants to pick; yet they sold forms in excess of a million.

Abba Moro and their likes should have a long lease in Kikiri if found culpable. However in a double speak, what did Abba do wrong, when currently the Nigerian Airforce, Navy, and others are doing the same…dishing out applications in 5 and 6 zeros figure when all they require is a handful.

It’s unfortunate that a nation rather than get a working social security system, exploits its unemployed via an established small chops racketeering structure, simply put there is big wahala, in cracking down on established corruption.

Puff Puffs, NASS, DISCO, plenty wahala

So I equally was intimated on the order of the National Assembly ordering the Distribution Companies to revert to status quo on electricity tariffs. Our legislators can be clownish, to imagine there are lawyers amongst them…first there is nowhere they have all that ordering right. All these shakara do not cut it!

The DISCO coys are simply crooks, several years ago I stated that a lot needs to be done in our electricity sector, not all these change of name, and sales of assets to friends and cronies.

Because the government is not really interested, they don’t understand that it is practically impossible for a man who earns and N18k salary to commit N10k to paying for unavailable electricity.

Finally all na dollars

Even garri sellers are blaming the dollars for rise in price. And emergency patriots are preaching #buynigeria #madeinnigeria and all sorts of ad hoc sloganeering. Well good news is that the price is coming down, and as the economic gurus, financial wizkids and witches continue to debate devaluation, revaluation of the Naira.

The dollar is not our currency, so next time anyone tells you na dollar, tell the person to shut up! We need to find a way out, and we need to cure Nigeria, before we can think Nigeria. This once big giant of Africa is no longer sleeping, it is only pretending to be big, and also pretending to asleep, for how long—Only time will tell.