Aug 21, 2008

A new phase

"So where do I start?" This was the question I asked myself when I decided to update my blog. Should I start from where I stopped? Or should I resume as if nothing ever happened? I haven't updated in a while ... a long while. However, unlike my blog, I've been far from idle. Within the past few months, I've done several abrupt things. I've decided on a career change, resigned from my nice job, liquidated several assets, gathered my books, compressed my personal belongings into three bags, relocated from my home country, and reported to school. OK, I was able to say that in one sentence, however, it took several months of planning, studying, applying, writing essays, interviewing, receiving admission and then the Visa process (which is a different story altogether).

So here I am in the United States learning what it means to be a Nigerian in the diaspora. During the past month, I've seen things that made me proud of Nigeria, and I've also seen things that make me extremely ashamed. I'll soon be blogging about the "peculiar" lives of many Nigerians in the United States, and I'll be blogging about Nigeria from the viewpoint of a foreigner.

Meanwhile, what's this I hear of our president disappearing to Saudi for 17 days? This calls for serious concern. Thank God he's back now. I sincerely hope this is the last of such mysterious trips.

So that's it guys, an update. Hope to do that more frequently henceforth. Have a nice day.

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Jun 7, 2008

Eedris and Ruggedman - An Unexpected Collabo

The synthesized sound of the electric piano filtered through my car speakers as the voice of Eedris uttered, "Rugged Man, Eedris Abdulkareem Collabo" followed by Ruggedman's voice saying "Yes oh, no be dream". I was perplexed to say the least and I quickly turned up the volume and listened with interest - to "Ko le ye won" (They can't understand), a brand new song by Eedris featuring Ruggedman.

Observers of the Nigerian music industry will recall that Eedris was once a star who reigned unchallenged. He rose into fame with several hit singles, including "Mr Lecturer" and "Jagajaga". His name on your handbill meant your show was jam packed. His CD in your station meant he got lots of airplay. Eedris' "grass to grace" story was well known, and he told everyone who cared to listen about how he was penniless and was once deported from Spain. Like him or not, you became easily aware of his outspoken and egoistic personality.

Having shared stages with different categories of musicians including the famous American Gangsta Rapper 50 Cent, Eedris started referring to himself as the best in Africa. This claim infuriated Rugged man and led to the latter's release of the track "Ehen Part one" intended to diss Eedris and several other artists, picking on his rap style and lack of skill. Eedris apparently didn't take the insult well, and he replied Ruggedman in an interview saying "Person wey diss him elders no go grow". But Pride they say goes before a fall. Some time after this, Eedris was a guest artist at a concert sponsored by Nigerian Breweries which was to hold in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt. At the airport where the performers were taking a connecting flight, he entered a brawl with 50 Cent leading the latter to cut short his musical trip and go back to the US. It was bad for Nigerian Breweries as they had to cancel the Port Harcourt concert and rumors flew about how they promised to teach Eedris a lesson and make sure he received no more invitations to Nigerian concerts. Undaunted, Eedris went ahead and released "Jagajaga" which was again rumored to have infuriated the then President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo.

Soon after, due to unverifiable reasons, Eedris started fading out. He became silent and less was seen of him. In a rare twist of fate, RuggedMan rose and soon became the foremost rapper in the industry. He released an album which received massive airplay and performed in concerts nationwide. While it was the rise and rise of Ruggedman, it was the rise and fall of Eedris. Like Mohammed Ali after his first fight with Joe Frazier, it was as if the loud mouthed fighter had been finally humbled and silenced.

This Collabo between Eedris and Ruggedman is bound to surprise many. Eedris' strategy of collaborating with his "enemy" makes this an interesting comeback. The song sounds good, with a beat that can compete favorably in todays market. As usual, its hard to miss the pomp and confidence that Eedris still portrays, qualities that have been majorly responsible for his success in his earlier career. In Nigeria today, there are two types of artists. Those who thrive on music skill and those who thrive on delivery techniques. A good example of the former is Styl Plus while someone like D Banj falls into the category of the latter. Eedris would fit well into the latter. He might not have much melody in his songs, but his delivery has always been superb and this he displays very well in "Ko le ye won".

The Nigerian Music Industry has changed drastically and Eedris now has to contend with the likes of 9ice, X-project (of the Lorile fame), Asha and D Banj. One thing is sure though, he is a fighter and he has lived to fight another day. The question however is - How long will he last? He has an answer - Ko le ye won.

NB: Internet Explorer users: If the player does not display, you may listen here. Firefox users should not experience any problem

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May 29, 2008

For football ... or for country?

It was evening on the 21st of May, 2008. Everywhere was strangely quiet. The streets were unusually scanty. The ever busy Ikorodu road was at half of its normal capacity. Third Mainland Bridge was free of traffic and Alfred Rewane road in Ikoyi looked scanty. Those who had not left their offices in a hurry decided to stay in till much later. But it was not midnight, neither was it an environmental sanitation exercise. No, it was time for the UEFA Champions league final.

Football fans converged in several places, often around a small TV, each person trying to maneuver his way to the most advantaged position. Chelsea fans seemed more in number than those of Manchester United and the blue color was more prominent. Somewhere in Surulere, a live cow was tied to a post with the Chelsea flag draped around it - ready to be butchered and barbecued to celebrate Chelsea's assumed win. A trophy was on a pedestal in another part of the city ready to be decorated by fans of the winning team. In another place, 2 cows were tied down, one for United and one for Chelsea. Cooks and Slaughter men stayed on alert ready to prepare a great feast. Drinks were ordered and iced as flags, jerseys, caps and stickers were displayed. Everywhere was either Red or Blue, there was no demilitarized zone.

Several days earlier had seen Chelsea fans holding rallies in several parts of the country notably Port Harcourt and Lagos, waving flags and banners and parading in a convoy of buses. It brought back to memory the days of the gubernatorial campaigns especially the PDP/AC battle in Lagos State.

Fast forward 2 hours, and the match had progressed into penalties. You could actually feel the whole city hold its breath. Somewhere in the east, a die-hard United fan passed out in the anxiety of the moment. Finally, Manchester United won and a great uproar went out. That was when the pandemonium began. Celebrations led to free-for-all fights in several places - as is almost always expected in such situations. Somewhere in Lagos, a fight broke out over the redemption of bets and broken bottles were freely utilized. Sadly, several lives were lost and many were wounded at the end of the day.

Now, here was a football tournament which took place in Europe with very few Nigerian players playing. The final match was played by an American owned club and a Russian owned club. Yet, Nigerians were ready to give their lives for the game. On the streets, about 1 out of every 5 cars has a Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool sticker displayed on its shields. Some have stickers so large they obstruct vision. In many offices, football is always the first discussion of the day. A lot of energy is used on a tournament that has nothing to do with our progress as a people or a nation.

It's all well to celebrate the win of Manchester. When last did we celebrate our country?
It's all well to identify with a foreign club and know everything about its history. When last did we identify with a Nigerian issue or the history behind the problem?
It's all well to have stickers, banners and plaques of teams in your car. Have you ever put a Nigerian flag or coat of arms in your car?
It's all well to use our energy during rallies and matches. When last did we use our energies for a community cause?

Today is Democracy Day in Nigeria, and as we celebrate the anniversary of our transition from military rule, let's celebrate Nigeria, and let's pledge to do our own little part in making Nigeria better, because when the cards are down, Nigeria is all we really have, and we have to live with and in it.

God bless Nigeria.

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May 18, 2008

Headache for the Obasanjos

First, I'll apologize for my long leave of absence. It's been three whole months since I last updated this blog. Three months which have been packed with activities and events in Nigeria. I was not running from the EFCC, neither was I slightly indisposed in Ota. I did not travel to Germany for medical checkup ... but I digress! Germany will be a story for another day. Today is the day of the Obasanjos.

The daughter of Baba himself, a serving senator in the upper house was declared wanted by the same organization that was started by her father. A cartoonist said "She facilitated the movement of Several Ghana-must-go bags to Ghana". She is now at large according to the EFCC. The same cartoonist wonders if the EFCC has tried looking for her in Ghana. Anyway, the court is expected to settle this matter. Nollywood will agree that this will make a great home video titled "The clash in the arms of Government" starring EFCC as The Executive, Senator Iyabo as The Legislative, and the Court of Law as The Judiciary. Introducing ... errr ... ok - lemme leave that for the home video guys. In any case, grab your copy ... NOW!

While this event is occupying front pages in major newspapers, Baba himself was summoned before the House of Representatives' Committee on Power and Steel to explain how and why $16 Billion (~N2000 Billion or N2 Trillion) was spent on the power sector without any visible improvement or any form of visibility. Quite conveniently, Baba became slightly indisposed and could not appear before the committee, choosing to draft a long letter to attend in his place.

I don't blame the man. What with a daughter being pursued by an organization he created, and billions of Nigerians waiting for him to explain why they are still in darkness, why won't he fall sick? Abeg let them leave the man to rest in his Ota Farm. Nigeria's affairs can make anyone seriously indisposed.

I hope this will serve as a warning to present leaders in the country. They need to know that public funds are not meant for private use. Right now, what we need in Nigeria is evidence that our tax money is being used for what it should and basic amenities like light, water and good roads are available in all parts of the country. Considering the percentage of my salary that is deducted as tax, that's not too much to ask, is it?

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May 14, 2008

I shall be back

No, I've not lost the ability to write
No, I've neither retired nor given up my blog
The darkest hour comes before dawn
But I shall be back again before long

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Feb 25, 2008

A Volatile Senate and the Rule of Law

Nigeria's number 3 position is one hot seat that no one has been able to sit on for long. Since the restoration of demacracy in 1999, the Senate has witnessed 6 presidents, all within 2 tenures. They have all been characterized with (and removed due to) one scandal or the other. Evans Enwerem had forged Certificates, Chuba Okadigbo had embezzled, and so on. Now, Senate President David Mark has been sacked by the Elections Tribunal. Reason? The elections in Benue State which put him in power has been nullified. I sincerely hope this is not the beginning of another series of Senate Presidents in this regime.

Presently, the seat of government in Abuja is anxiously awaiting the results of the Presidential Elections Petitions Tribunal tomorrow, when it shall be decided if President Yar'adua was victorious in the Elections that took place last year. I'll leave you with a Food for thought. President Yar'adua has said he'll always abide by the rule of law. What if his election is declared as false? Will he leave? And if he leaves, I very much doubt that his successor will have the same respect for the rule of law. That'll effectively send us backward several places. What then is the way forward?

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Feb 13, 2008

This day ...

The 44th day of the year in the Gregorian Calender
Exactly 5 days later, the Sahara Desert experienced snow - for the first and only recorded time - for a period of 30 minutes.
Exactly 3 years earlier, Gen. Murtala Mohammed was assassinated in a coup plot.
Exactly 99 years earlier, Thomas Edison observed the "Edison Effect"
Exactly 25 years later, the universe's largest known diamond, white dwarf star was discovered.

The day I was born, the day I came into the world, the day I started in this journey called life.
My Birthday!

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Feb 10, 2008

Naija's Journey into Talk

Children born today will never imagine a time when GSM was just another meaningless and largely unknown acronym. They won't believe in a time when Telecommunications only meant NITEL and some archaic cable satellite company. They'll never know that masts once meant TV and radio stations, and Coca-Cola was the strongest Nigerian brand without any competitor for their colorful and eye-catching billboards.

I remember the days of the 090 (naught nine naught) lines - the NITEL cellular handsets of the 90s. If you owned one, you were considered an extremely big boy. You could receive your calls in any Bank, and no security personnel dared tell you to switch it off. In fact, you wouldn't even be in the banking hall in the first place, you would be in the Branch Manager's office receiving preferential treatment. You would never complain of bad network or poor service, because as far as you were concerned, you owned the best of the best.

Those were the days when you had to depend on luck when going to see a friend, and you had to plan the next appointment before you parted ways. Woe betide you if you left your house without the proper address - short of asking from door to door, there was no other way you get directions. Then, people stuck notepads and pencils on their front doors with stylish signs which read "Drop a note", and there were charts on doors with different attributes such as IN, MARKET, BATHROOM, TRAVELED, etc. It was the time when a man who was working in Lagos and his lover who was undergoing her NYSC in Kano kept their relationship alive through 6 page letters in the post, letters, which took two to three weeks to get delivered... and their love survived! It was the time when the only way you could confirm the safe arrival of your friends was by taking down the registration number of the commercial vehicle and visiting the park 3-4 days later to see if the driver was back from the trip.

Land lines existed, but were only for the rich and influential. The owners would usually lock the phones with a small padlock so their kids would not make calls and incur phone bills in their absence. There was usually a house with a phone line in every neighborhood, and it was common to find different people waiting at houses to receive a call from a family members residing abroad at a particular time. It was also common to have a messenger running to your house informing you that you had a call and the caller was calling back in 5 minutes, and you would quickly leave all you were doing and run to wait for your call.

Evolution soon brought the use of phone cards and calling machines from NITEL. People with phone cards would stand making their calls closely monitoring their units while they quickly made their calls in as few words as possible. Opportunists soon emerged, renting out phone cards to make a quick buck, and fables spread about how an empty phone card could be refilled by freezing it for a number of days.

Alas, it's now all history, thanks to GSM. Anyone who can cough out N3000 can get a phone and a line. The average Nigerian now owns a handset he receives calls with. People have as many as two, three or four lines and are quick to display all their numbers on their personal business cards. Handsets have also evolved. At the onset, if you had a Nokia 3310 or 3330, you were a big boy. If you had a Samsung Blue-I, you were a bigger boy, and if you had a Samsung True-I or a Motorola V50, you were without equal. Commoners used the Trium Mars, Motorola Talkabout and the Sagem's first phones. GSM Lines were as costly as N20000 - N30000, calls were billed by the minute, and the cheapest air time you could buy was a N500 recharge card from Econet.

Now different versions of phones exist, with different functionalities such as FM Radio, Cameras and Video. Phones shaped like planes and those that remind you of walkie-talkies. We now do everything from running excel sheets to checking out our facebook pages on our phones. We play music and watch videos, and send pictures through MMS and bluetooth. The land line is almost forgotten, and the NITEL Phone booths are non-existent. Recharge cards are sold in every corner, and the average 7 year old kid knows how to operate his Mum's phone.

The GSM industry had indeed done a lot of positive things for Nigerians. Apart from bringing communication within the reach of the common man, it has created multiple employment opportunities, not only for those who work in the GSM organizations, but mostly on the streets for recharge card hawkers and phone call center operators. It has also created a big market for mobile phones, such that the Computer Village in Ikeja is no longer only known for computers but also largely known for mobile phones and accessories. With the advent of 3G Plus and 3.5G, we will soon be able to watch movies on our phones, make video calls and enjoy ultra high speed internet. GSM is here to stay, and will continue to change the way we talk, the way we act and the way we live.

Long live GSM!

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Jan 21, 2008

Happy New Year / Bloggers Party update

Happy new year! Yes, a little time has passed, a lot of stuff has happened and the year has changed since I last updated this blog. I've been involved in lots of stuff including (but not limited to) writing a major exam, the bloggers party, future awards, and several events, etc. This also marks one year of active blogging for me. Having opened this blog in Feb., 2006, I didn't start blogging actively until Jan. 20, 2007. Within the past two weeks, I've met enough bloggers to last lifetime! I've met Favored girl, Princesa, Bobby Taylor, Manda, Jaycee, The Scribe, Toni Payne, Overwhelmed Naija Babe and a few I had previously met eg, Laspapi, Comrade, Omoalagbede, Linda, etc. OK, before you guys start wondering, let me give a quick update on the Bloggers party. First I'd like to shout out to Bobby Taylor who unfortunately couldn't make it to Nigeria for the party. I'd also like to thank Twayne, who volunteered to help out in organizing (she actually did more than help!). Ok, so here's the update ...

It was the first Saturday in the new year, and the holiday feel was still in the air. Traffic was light and few people were in sight. On Saka Tinubu Street, Victoria Island existed an exquisite bar/lounge named "No 10" - rightfully after it's owner, Jay Jay Okocha. This was where the Bloggers party went down. Expected time was 5 pm but with African time in mind, the meeting time was fixed for 4 pm.

On my way to the location while trying to get there before everyone else, I had a small problem with my car. You know those small problems that take a while to fix? Well I had one of those so I branched at a mechanic in Ikoyi and finally got to the venue at about 4:30 and ... (un)expectedly, nobody was there. Not even Tope my co-organizer (although she had earlier called me to tell me she would be late) "Na wa o, thank God for African time" I thought as I sat and waited. If nobody showed up, ehnnn? Would I hang out alone?

After 10 minutes, I was starting to get bored. Suddenly the boredom faded, as four people walked in. I recognized Princesa, and she introduced Manda, Obi and a friend who's not a blogger. The arrival set things rolling. I got a call from writefreak informing me that she was outside the doors. When I went to lead her in, I met favored girl and writefreak's hubby who she talks about so much on her blog. Others started pouring in after this: Comrade, The Scribe, Unnaked, Omohemi, Jaycee, Tomi, Toochi, Fantasy Queen, Chakams and Babs were some of the bloggers who came in.

Other people in the lounge soon became conscious that there was something going on. While Princesa and Favored Girl mischievously took pictures, Tope led an "introduce yourself" session and got everyone excited. We spoke about several things, jointly and disjointly, took pictures, ordered drinks and talked about everything from blogging to the internet. I silently wondered why Fantasy Queen, Unnaked, and Omohemi were being so quiet and shy. Their blogs are far from shy now. Aren't they? Soon Tomi had to leave, then Princesa, Manda and Obi left as well. Omoalagbede came in and we received a call from Laspapi saying he was on his way. After waiting for what seemed like hours, Laspapi showed up. Out of the blues, Overwhelmed Naija Babe showed up too. Alright, so I had to leave. On our way out, we met, Simply Nuttie and two other bloggers. Talk about real African Timing! They joined the crew and brought the number of guests to 28. It was a wonderful evening of networking and fun, and I'm glad we had it.


Aren't bloggers good looking people?

I don't really do new year resolutions, but I hope to be able to blog more often this year. I hope more old time bloggers won't leave blogsville this year - We've already lost too many. This is a shout-out to Cheetarah, Pink Satin, Baba Alaaye, Pseudo, T.Minx and all others who have resigned from blogging. You are highly missed, and I hope things are going well with you.

Many things happened last year. A significant thing being the handing over of government from a civilian president to another civilian president. I believe this is the first time we will ever experience such. Nigeria has come a long way, and so have we.

Looking back, I can say last year was better than the previous. I pray this year will be a better year for us, our homes, our families and our Country.
Welcome to 2008!
Happy new year!

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Dec 25, 2007

Merry Christmas + Naija Bloggers Party

This is to wish all my subscribers and readers Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays. Christmas comes but once a year, so enjoy yourself as much as you can. Be careful though, and remember "If you drink, don't drive and if you drive, don't drink!

The Naija Bloggers Party will come up on Saturday, Jan 5. The venue has not yet been fixed. I'll notify you as soon as it is fixed.

I'll leave you with this video from NSync. Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!


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Dec 10, 2007

Christmas Traffic

Christmas time is here again, and so is Christmas Traffic. How such an unpleasant thing came to be associated with such a pleasant thing baffles me, however if you live in Lagos, you'll agree that Christmas is synonymous with traffic. Nigerians in the diaspora return home from all over the world with a majority of them coming to Lagos, and holiday makers and shoppers flood to the markets and malls in search of the perfect Christmas gift. It all leads to increased movement and a corresponding increase in traffic.

A notorious road for traffic jams is Ikorodu road, one of the busiest roads in Lagos Mainland. The government has not helped matters in any way. First a full lane was cordoned off the 3 lane road for the BRT project leaving motorists to jostle for the insufficient two lanes. Now after over a year, the BRT project is far from complete. To make matters worse, the service lane is presently being demolished due to an ongoing pipe laying project reducing the capacity to 1 lane instead of 2. Thus the present capacity of Ikorodu road has been reduced from 5 lanes to 3 lanes, which has effectively multiplied the time spent on this road by 3, 4, 5 up to 10. How else will you explain a 10 minute journey from Ikeja to Ilupeju taking 120 minutes? Amidst the hold up, you'll see an occasional heated argument between 2 vehicle owners that have run into each other with their vehicles constituting another bottle neck. If one of the vehicles is commercial, it'll only make matters worse. You'll also spot the occasional car (Usually a Mercedes Benz) on the side of the road steaming from over heat with the driver frantically trying to fan, add water and stay calm all at the same time. You'll also see the street hawkers trying their best to sell all kinds of wares as they maneuver their ways deftly between the car. Finally you'll unmistakably notice the angry faces of the drivers who have no idea how long they'll be stuck in the traffic and who also know they're powerless to do anything about it.

I personally see no reason why two traffic-affecting projects should be executed side by side, what with the Government's seeming habit of starting and not finishing. Why would the pipe laying project start when the BRT project is far from finished and for the most part seemingly abandoned? Who does such thinking for the Government? Someone is definitely not worth his salt. Now that Christmas shopping has not even started for most people, and most of the travelers are yet to arrive, I wonder what will happen 3 days before Christmas. I'm already contemplating on leaving my car at home and resorting to more subtle means of transportation, eg Okada or I might just get myself a bicycle.

Anyway, that's enough ranting, let me move on to some good stuff. I passed under the Maryland Bridge yesterday night and I was really impressed. Street lights were full and very bright. Flowers lined the middle of the streets and everything was beautiful. I almost felt like stopping and making a picnic camp right under the street lights. Driving through Ilupeju last week, I also noticed that the roads leading to and from Coker roundabout have been tarred as well as several roads in Yaba. VI - Lekki road is also presently undergoing a major expansion which should alleviate the traffic situation in that area. Hey, good stuff is happening too! It's not just happening as fast as we would like it to be. But patience is after all a virtue, we have no choice but to remain patient. Have a traffic-free Christmas.

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Dec 1, 2007

Tagged - Weird things + 30 days of Thankfulness

I've never been tagged on blogsville, and I've never even expected to be tagged. However, within the last 2 weeks, I received 3 tags in quick succession from Bobby Taylor, Pamela Stitch and Aloted, welldone to you guys, putting me on the line like that. Anyway, after days of deliberating, I've decided to reply your tags.

Weird things about me

I was tagged by Bobby Taylor and Pamela Stitch. Thanks for tagging me. You set me thinking up all this stuff about myself.

1. I'm not much of a football fan. I don't run after premiership matches and I don't participate in arguments about why ManU is better than Arsenal or why Chelsea won Man City. I used to be a ManU fan but was not too much of an active fan. I watch World Cup, African Nations Cup, Olympics, but when Nigeria is out, I lose interest.

2. I'm from Ijebu Ode, Ogun State. However, I can't find my way to my hometown. I don't even know where my family house is. My Dad grew up in the North and in Lagos and he didn't have much contact with home either. In my whole life, I might have been there once or twice.

3. I hate traffic. I prefer driving for two hours on a free road to getting stuck for an hour in traffic. Some time ago, I went to drop a friend in Surulere and was to go back to Maryland. When I saw the traffic on the other side between Surulere and Jibowu, I turned right at the stadium and drove all the way to Marina, then proceeded to the 3rd Mainland Bridge, came down at Ojota and found my way to Maryland. Long journey I know, but I didn't mind since I avoided the traffic.

4. I rarely get sick. The last time I had malaria was over a year ago. The last time before then was probably 5 years ago or thereabouts. Also, I can endure the highest number of mosquito bites without any disfigure or discomfort to my skin. While others are nursing sore skin and itches due to mosquite bites, I just need to get under a cold shower and everything's back to normal.

5. I can concentrate in very noisy and rowdy places. I've once revised for an exam at a busy airport terminal where I was waiting to pick up my cousin. The exam was later in the morning and his arrival was delayed, I brought out my revision book and trust me, the jacking entered well well, and I passed well well.

6. I know too much technological stuff for my health. I can do things with my phone that people never believed can be done. Things like having an auto SMS sent to everyone who calls me (an sms answering machine), using my phone as a remote control for the TV through infrared, logging on to my laptop through my phone, etc.

7. A friend once nicknamed me Jason Bourne. This is because I can be different things to different people. It's not about me having multiple personalities. It's just about what part of me you're able to relate to.

Ok, I guess that's enough weirdness for one day!

I hereby tag Laspapi, Akin Aworan, Ore, Jaycee, Mimi, OmoAlagbede and Aloted. You guys blog too much about serious stuff (especially you Ore), you need to loosen up (like I just did) ... lol. Omodudu, you lucky say them don tag you already o, otherwise you would have been the first on this list!

Here are the rules
1) Link to the person that tagged you and post the rules on your blog
2) Share 7 random and/or weird facts about yourself
3) Tag 7 random people at the end of your post and include links to their blogs
4) Let each person know that they've been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog

30 Days of Thankfulness

I got tagged by Aloted. Thanks for tagging me. I'm first thankful for that.

I'm thankful for:

1. My Life - I'm thankful for my life because without it, I would be nothing. It's a chance to be on the earth to create a change and leave a legacy. I pray I'll achieve things that will make me remembered long after I'm gone.
2. My Family - I'm thankful for my family, for bringing me into this world and for being the first friends I ever had. The were the first examples I ever observed. The first people who taught me, brought me up and gave me a sense of belonging. They played the most major role in making me who I am today.
3. My Friends - True friends are gifts. No one deserves them. I'm thankful for all the friends I've ever made. My close friends and not-so-close ones, and even those who don't like me. You all add to the spice of life and you've all made me who I am.
4. My Country - I'm grateful for this country and would never exchange it for any other. Though the present situation leaves much to be desired, I'm confident that things are changing, and I must be a part of that change.
5. My Job - Even though at times I don't feel like leaving my home to go to work, I'm still thankful because my job is something I enjoy (unlike many people I know), and the organization I work for can be considered the best in it's field. It's a rare privilege to work for my company.
6. The Internet - Where would we be without the Internet? I can't even imagine. Kids being born today will never know there was a time in which owning a computer was considered a luxury. I'm thankful for having been a part of both worlds.
7. Blogger - I'm thankful for and the world of blogging, for creating a perfect avenue where I can express my thoughts and opinions about issues, and have people read and tell me what they think. I'm not thankful for the addiction though.

For this, I tag Bobby Taylor (getting back at you, girl!), Ababoy, Overwhelmed, and Nneka.

I don't know the rules for this one. I think it's supposed to run for 30 days, but then again, there's always something to give thanks for, so I'm not posting any rules. You guys are free to be thankful in anyway you wish. Just make sure you are thankful.

I wish all my readers a great week ahead.

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Nov 15, 2007

We're ready to probe Obasanjo - EFCC

I was surprised and somewhat shocked when I saw this headline in the punch newspapers of today. Obasanjo to be probed by the EFCC? Now that's a kind of story I've not heard of in a long long time. Ex-presidents in Nigeria have always been untouchable, basking away in some remote place with enough wealth to last them for several lifetimes. Well, within the next few weeks I'll like to see the answers to the following questions.

1. Will he actually be probed?
2. If yes, will the EFCC follow due process in the probe?
3. If yes, will the EFCC "find" any evidence to prosecute him?
4. If yes, will he actually be prosecuted?

I suspect that the answer to the first question will be "Yes", and answers to the next three will be "No". Anyway, let's see how it goes. EFCC, over to you.
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Nov 11, 2007

Motherland Updates

President Yar'Adua presents Budget
President Yar'Adua has presented a budget of N2.4tn to the National Assembly during a joint session which he attended a few days ago. Highlights of the proposed budgets are
Security and Niger Delta - N444.6bn
Education - N210bn
Energy sector - N139.78bn
Health - N138.17bn
Agriculture and Water Resources - N121.1
Transportation - N94.4bn
Poverty reduction initiatives & programmes - N110bn
Debt service - N372.3bn
Pensions -N99.7bn

It looks like President Yar'Adua's priorities are in the interest of Nigeria's development and a heart for the common man. Our security system and the Niger Delta surely need a revamp. The education sector is of great importance if we're to reduce brain drain and Nigerians in the diaspora. The energy sector needs no comment, we all know how it is. Health is another vital sector. Our Agriculture needs to get back to where it was before the Oil Boom. We used to export cocoa, rubber, oil palm, groundnuts, etc. I wonder where all that went. Transportation needs no expatiation. We know how much valuable and resourceful time is wasted on the roads. I'll say this budget was well put together. We await the approval and most importantly, the implementation.

Hon. Bankole presents his NYSC discharge certificate
The new speaker of the house of representatives, Hon. Dimeji Bankole is a young man. At only 38, he has become the No. 4 man in the nation. However, after barely a week in office, anonymous opponents accused him of dodging the NYSC compulsory service. In a quick counter move, he silenced them by producing his certificate. You can imagine what would have happened if he had actually not undergone the NYSC service. The press would have had a field day, and the House of Reps which has endured one scandal too many would become seriously unstable.
So all you Nigerians in diaspora, make sure you go for your NYSC, in case it comes back to haunt you.
BTW, how come this reminds me of blogsville? Those anonymous opponents probably started off by leaving anonymous comments on blogs. Hmmm ... some things never change ... lol.

New Blogger on the block
My friend "Comrade" has finally bowed to internal and external pressure and opened a blog. He writes about Nigeria and events generally. He presents his articles with a hilarious tint but his points hit home. His blog can be accessed here.

Omoalagbede, Ore
I was at the Lagos Book and Arts festival yesterday and met with Laspapi (playwright, poet, lawyer, dreamer, etc) for the first time. Omoalagbede was also there as well as Ore. Below is a picture of Laspapi, OmoAlagbede and Myself. It was dark though, but I kinda like the effect. Omoalagbede's face is not too clear, so I'm not breaking his anonymity.


I guess that's enough for an update. Wish you all a fulfilling week ahead.

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Oct 29, 2007

From Nigeria to Ghana by Bus

Time: 0900hrs
Location: National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos
Mode of transportation: Bus
ETA: 2000hrs

I was excited and thrilled. Having never stepped out of Nigeria in my entire life, I had every reason to be. I had already met a few friends and we had discussed how we were going to enjoy the scenery, have fun at the borders and marvel about being in 4 different countries all within a day. Unfortunately for us, we were about to go through some shocking experiences which made me conclude that most of the problems we have in Nigeria are caused by Nigerians themselves. I’ll start the story from the departure point.

We boarded the bus at Surulere under the bridge opposite the National Stadium. When we were ready to move, the first of the problems came up. Area Boys, (a popular menace in Lagos, Nigeria) held us hostage and refused to let the bus move. Why? The bus had just loaded in their territory and being the territorial terrorists guardians, they were entitled to territorial fees! Talk about Robin Hood and the Sherwood Forest, except this time it was not for a common good! Fortunately though, we were bailed out by some mobile policemen not too far from the area. A minor setback, I thought ... little did I know.

The next experience was at the Seme Border. Some curious okada-like tricycles were riding past and a friend of mine (Gbolade) brought out his camera and took a picture. Suddenly, Customs officials appeared in the bus as if from nowhere and started shouting furiously, "Who is that?", "Bring that camera here", "Move outside" and other such phrases associated with the military. His camera was confiscated and he was taken away for some brief "questioning", during which his memory card was explored and the images deleted. I thought to myself, "OK, even if there's a law against taking pictures at borders, and yes someone broke that law, why should you talk to him like a kid, snatch his camera and march him outside like some criminal without exhibiting one iota of professionalism?" I realised that that was just the typical Naija definition of Law enforcement which we're supposed to be used to.

The next experience was when a friend and I stepped out of the bus in search of a toilet or secluded area where we could do the No 1. Finding no convenient place, I left my friend and turned back, when suddenly, some rough looking fellow approached me and said, "Officer dey call you". I looked at the "Officer", and behold, I've never seen a more shabbily dressed officer. This "officer" guy was in ragged jeans and a dirty T-shirt. Thinking to myself, "This guy think say them born me yesterday", I said to him "Which officer? Wey im uniform? ... Tell am make he come meet me for inside my bus". Nonsense and Concorbility. However, a fellow traveller was not so lucky. He obeyed the "officers" and they told him to declare the currency in his possesion. He did and after their "inspection", N500 had disappeared. Now what do you call that? Theft, extortion, or what?

We spent the next 4 hours at the border waiting for our passports to be stamped for exit from Nigeria. 4 hours in the hot sun in a bus with the engine and AC switched off is no joke in any way. During this time, the frequent travellers amongst us (apparently identified through the VISAs on their passports) were invited for a special session of silly questioning like "What did you go to do in France?" , "Who did you stay with in London" etc. all this while, I noticed Okadas crossing the borders freely with passengers without any such thing as a security check. All they needed to do was drop an undisclosed amount of money with the guards at the gates. Eventually, we were stamped out of Nigeria and surprisingly we were stamped into Benin Republic in under 30 minutes. We crossed the border and drove into Cotonou, and lo and behold ... it was like heaven ... compared to where we were coming from.

Cotonou is a beautiful city. During our drive through, we did not step into a single pot hole in the roads, neither did we pass through any undulating patch. The street lights were all complete and shone brightly. There were no traffic jam and we soon got to the Benin/Togo border. In about 20 minutess we were in Togo. I then thought to myself, "Have we just crossed a border?". It took us just 20 minutes and I couldn't believe it. We crossed a border in a strange land in a fraction of the time it took to cross our own border. Did those people trust us more than our Nigerian brothers did? We got to the Ghana/Togo border and it was the same thing. Within 45 minutes we had gone through. The Ghanian officials were very polite. A soldier came into the bus to look through the bus. He was very well mannered, friendly and looked quite decent and neat. He soon became a subject of discussion on the bus. On comparison with our recollections of Nigerian soldiers, he stood miles apart.

At the Ghanaian border we were treated like invited guests and tourists. At the Nigerian Border, we were treated like spies and criminals ... without any reason. At the Ghanaian border, we were people to be reckoned with. At the Nigerian border, we were just another number of people, opportunities for the Nigerian officials to make money. I used to think that the whole of Africa was like Nigeria, but like the popular yoruba adage, I had to visit another farm to know that my father's farm wasn't the biggest. Nigerians really do cause problems for Nigerians.

The trip opened my eyes to 3 problems that are prevalent, and need to be addressed ASAP.
  1. Autocracy. The "Do as I say, because I say so" syndrome exhibited by everyone with any measure of authority.
  2. Corruption. In many places, the officials are not just corrupt, corruption has become official.
  3. Crime. Starting with such little things as swindling innocent people of little sums of money, it soon blows out if not arrested.
I know I promised not to write any bad thing about Nigeria, but I had to put this up, so we'll know exactly what we're up against. We are the cause of our own problems, and by the Grace of God, we shall be the solution. God Bless Nigeria.

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