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Monthly Archives: August 2010

Nigeria-Prostitutes Of Power and Political Parties.

Abuja

Typically,a political party is a political organization dedicated to the cause of winning political power,usually through participation in elections.Roughly founded on a given ideology,it attracts people of similar political opinions,aims and  ideas.It seeks to influence  society,by gaining governmental control,through the capture public offices,and then organizing government in line with it’s ideas and world view.Vibrant and focused political parties are necessary to achieving successful governance,as they act as mediators between the government and the governed,conveying  people’s needs and problems to the government,while informing and educating the people about the government’s actions.

The twentieth century has witnessed the emergence of two party models or paradigms:the rational-efficient model and the responsible party model.Under the rational-efficient model,the party is viewed as a machine for contesting elections.It concentrates on giving it’s candidates ballot access to the exclusion of other functions.It does not emphasize ideological coherence.Unlike the efficient model,the responsible party model demands that the party should have both coherence and cohesion.Coherence is necessary so that a party can be identified with a distinct program,by which the electorate can judge it’s performance.Cohesion is needed to give the party the necessary unity,to enable it execute it’s agenda.

Under the responsible party model,a political party,in addition to contesting elections,has these other duties:Aggregating the thoughts and ideas of it’s members and supporters,and turning them into party policies;mobilizing and encouraging people to actively partake in the political and electoral process;educating and sensitizing the people on the workings of the governmental,electoral and political system;actively engaging with the people and transforming their opinions into party policies;acting as a channel to convey the public’s views to the government.However,the most visible duty of a political party is preparing and training people for elections.

A look at the Nigerian political scene, shows that our political parties are organized in line with the rational-efficient model.And no wonder.In a clime,where people have been disenfranchised because their votes do not count,as elections are blatantly rigged,it is only natural that people are deeply alienated from the electoral and political process.And the parties,not needing the people’s votes,do not give a hoot about the voters.So great is the disconnect between ordinary people and the political parties that,for these folks,the parties might as well not exist.And vice versa.Elections here are all about rigging successfully.Normative rigging,over the years,has turned Nigeria into a virtual one-party state,with grievous consequences.

This level of rigging promotes carpet-crossing and ideological incoherence.First,when politicians understand that people’s votes will not count,they will simply join the ‘winning’ party,usually the party in power,which can guarantee electoral victory through it’s incumbency powers.All the politicians whose only interest is being in power,will desert their parties for the ‘winning’ party.Witness the frenzy with which politicians are ‘joining’ and ‘re-joining’ the ruling party in Nigeria

Second,as politicians from different ends of the ideological spectrum converge in the ‘winning’ party,the party can not be ideologically distinct or coherent.Given that they can ignore the electorate,these prostitutes of power,who are only interested in power and it’s perks,have no need to articulate an agenda to which they can be held.And this simply means they can not be accountable,when in power.

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Nigeria-Culture Of Impunity,Habit Of Bastardization

Nigeria has been hard done-by,as a result of the adversarial competition between it’s major ethnic groups,for control of the central government,as each group sought to gain power at the expense of the others..This struggle intensified with the discovery of huge oil deposits.To make matters worse,the oil deposits were located in areas,that are home to minority ethnic groups.Given the limited influence and power of the minorities,the oil might as well have been in no-man’s land.Predictably,for the big three tribes,a free-for-all ensued.The standard of accountability attending the stewardship of this “national” cake fell through the floor.Corruption blossomed.Impunity festered.And then came militarism.

Militarism is the apogee of impunity.The dominance of the politics of a state,through the hi-jack of it’s government by members of the military is the very definition of impunity.Given that it’s “legality” is de facto,the military-in-government is the very embodiment of impunity,based as it is on the idea that,the end justifies the means.Just think about it.If you succeed in over-throwing the incumbent government,you are recognized as a legitimate government,otherwise you are shot.In other words, criminality is incipient.Once you “make it”,you are successful and legitimate.No one cares about what you did to get to the top or become rich. With such a value-system,which recognizes wealth or office as the standard for judging success or standing in society,it is no wonder that Nigeria is where it is today.The culture of impunity has spawned the habit of bastardization.

Every where you turn evidence of this habit stares you in the face.Recently,we could not account for the where-about of our president for nearly 6 months!!So ridiculous has governance become.Look at our elections.Instead of being instruments for sharing and rotating power,as defined,we have turned them into weapons used to steal and monopolize power,to the exclusion of opposing political parties.Our education system has been so bastardized,that,for a lot people,they are useful only to award unearned certificates.In entertainment,instead years,we spend weeks to shoot a movie.Travesty.In sports we use 30 year-old athletes for under 17 competitions.So wedded are we to cheating.We just cannot seem to do anything right.We have developed a genius for travesty.We bastardize everything.We have turned “electric into candle.”.As Fela succinctly put it.

I think the basic problem is that,to a lot of people,the argument about the sustainability of Nigeria as a united nation has not been settled.To these people,as presently constituted,Nigeria is merely a geographic expression,a creation of the colonial government.This feeling is worsened by the fact,that very little effort has been made to address the grievances of those who are unhappy with it’s present structure.The fact is,that the Nigeria of our dreams,one that we all can love and sacrifice for,is still in our future.And while waiting for this future Nigeria,people are going about the  mundane business of surviving today,according to the rules of present-day Nigeria.Our people just do not have much confidence in Nigeria,as they should.Deep in our hearts,if we  are honest to ourselves,we have abandoned the idea of Nigeria as home for all,and like rats abandoning a sinking ship,we are all jumping over-board,with all the loot we can carry.What a shame.

Nollywood-Suspension Of Reason Needed

Suspension of disbelief is a term,used by many,to describe the relationship between an audience and a work of fiction.In movies,especially in genres like science fiction and horror,based on a premise of fantasy,and replete with fantastic or non-realistic elements,members of the audience are required to suspend disbelief,by overlooking the short-comings of the medium(film).This dramatic faith is deemed necessary for the audience to engage fully with the story and to be entertained.Even if there those who contend that rather than suspending disbelief,an audience simply chooses to believe the events taking place in the “secondary” world of a movie,suspending disbelief,for the duration of a movie,can be sustained only under certain conditions.

Maintaining belief in the “secondary” world of a movie,demands consistency of reality.The events depicted in the movie must be consistent with the movie’s premise,the fundamental concept on which the plot is based.Plot holes,gaps and inconsistencies,would undermine an audience’s ability to maintain “secondary” belief.The ability to retain “secondary” belief,would also suffer from poor acting; fake special effects,especially if the effects are gratuitous or inconsistent with the general story line.The genre of the movie,to a great extent,will determine the extent to which the audience is willing to suspend disbelief.For real-life genres,such as drama,action and romance,for obvious reasons,the willingness  to suspend  disbelief is that much lower,than for genres like horror and science fiction.

Which brings us to Nollywood.Given it’s lack of technology,it is only natural that Nollywood has had to “specialize” in real-life genres like drama and romance,the occasional “juju” movie notwithstanding.Unfortunately for Nollywood,these are genres where the audience can be unforgiving,when it comes to the quality of the scripts and of the acting,and rightly so.For the scripts and the acting,are the major selling points of these genres.People watch drama,romance or thrillers for the plot and the acting,not for fantasy or special effects,unlike fans of horror or science fiction movie(not to mention porn),who might over-look poor scripts and mediocre acting ,as long as there is plenty of “action” on offer.

That much of Nollywood fare is mediocre is not in question.Some of these movies are egregiously bad.In fact execrable.Even the Nollywood practitioners themselves admit it.More is the pity.Because,among there numbers are some brilliant talents.These talented actors and actresses are being let down by a cannibalistic system,one that feeds on it’s own.With the exception of the ‘a-laugh-a-minute’ comedies,featuring motor-mouths like Osuofia et al,any one weaned on Hollywood movies,would need more than suspension of disbelief to watch a Nollywood movie to the end.You would need suspension of reason.This alienates a critical and well-heeled audience.That the most educated and discerning people in Nigeria,are not patronizing and thereby contributing to the growth of Nollywood,is so painful.It is a tragedy.

Nigeria-50 Years Of “Agbada” Governance.

Nigerian Coat Of Arms

In less than 40 days,Nigeria will be 50 years as an independent nation,having secured independence from the colonial masters on October 1st 1960.Ordinarily,this should be an occasion for celebration.And i am sure there will be plenty of people,especially those in government,their friends and associates,who will celebrate.Witness the gigantic budget set aside by the government,to commemorate the October 1st anniversary.The truth,however,is that a lot of these celebrants,will not be celebrating Nigeria’s success,rather they will be celebrating themselves,in that they have succeeded in embedding themselves within Nigeria’s ruling kleptocracy.For most every one else,the October 1st anniversary will be mere pageantry,signifying very little.

For Nigeria is a byword for dashed hopes and unfulfilled expectations.That Nigeria has not realized it’s vast potential is not a matter for debate.Nigeria’s performance has been abysmal by every yardstick,whether it be in the area of security,economic well being of the people,infrastructure,politics,genuine national unity,you name it.Nigeria’s record is a litany of woes.Nigeria has been laid low by the depredations of a predatory elite devoted to self-aggrandizement.It is hostage to a political class that is not exercised by the interests of it’s people,whose stewardship of the country,unconstrained by any considerations of ethic or decency, has been solely about securing the “feeding rights” of it’s members,whether in uniform or not.

An Igbo adage exhorts he,who would prepare yam for a blind old man,to  keep his mouth busy by learning to whistle without ceasing.Whistling without break would convince the blind old man,he was not rather busy eating his yam,instead.This simple adage,evocative of the proper relationship between the governed and those who govern,has been turned on it’s head and bastardized.Whistling is no longer meaningful.For in Nigeria,those who would prepare “yam”, are garbed in “agbada”,an audaciously over-flowing robe,garnished by a multiplicity of folds,vests,pockets and a top-off  cap,with plenty room in which to stuff the “yam”,while merrily whistling away.Nigerians have been left waiting for the yam-dividends in vain,for decades.

This “feeding frenzy” is fuelled by a too-rich center,with unfettered access to “captured” oil money.As long as we practice resource capture in place of resource control,we will not get out of the woods.Resource capture is the policy of choice of primitive occupation forces,with a limited time-frame.Keen to grab as much as possible before been booted out,these forces would not recognize or subscribe to any legal or moral constraints.Such are our present arrangements.With a consumptive agenda,the government can not be expected to govern in the interests of the people,because the relationship between the government and the people is adversarial.The people can only benefit at the expense of the government.And vice versa.

The Lord’s LovingKindness.

Christ On The Cross

The steadfast love of the Lord

never ceases,

His mercies

never come to an end,

they are new every morning,

new every morning,

great is thy faithfulness,

o Lord,

great is thy faithfulness………….

God has sworn that,though the mountains may depart and the hills be removed,his kindness will not depart from you,neither will his covenant of peace be removed from you………Isaiah chapter 54 verse 10.

Friend,God so loved the world that he sacrificed his only Son,in order to save the world………John chapter 3 verse 16.

It does not matter who or what you are,you can tap into God’s love.All you have to do is to believe,and confess  Jesus as your Lord and saviour……………………….John chapter 3 verse 18.

Praise God,alleluyah.

Nigeria-Improving The N.Y.S.C.

Yakubu Gowon

Created by the Gowon administration,in 1973,the national youth service corp,NYSC,was envisioned as a vehicle for fostering unity among Nigeria’s many peoples.The idea was that posting corpers to states other than their states of origin,would bring them into contact with people of different tribal,social,religious backgrounds.It was believed that contact,with people of different cultural and religious persuasions would boost the cause of national unity.No one can argue with the theory.Plenty of people are,however,arguing with the reality of the scheme.So,has NYSC met the expectations of the people?Is it still relevant?Depends on who you ask.

For members of Nigeria’s middle and upper classes,mainly southerners,it is viewed as a way to provide uncompensated skilled labour for areas where these skills are in short supply,mainly in the north of Nigeria.For these people,it is a wasteful distraction fromthe business of getting on in life.With all the connections available to people in this category,the one year spent on youth service could have been put to better use,securing some plum job somewhere,or furthering their education,given as  service in rural areas  offers little in the way of attractive permanent employment.

For the less privileged corpers,especially those who attended university straight from the village,the service year represents an opportunity.Lacking any sort of support base,in the shape of city-based relations with the necessary connections to enable job-hunting,the service year is a chance to work and get paid.It is also an opportunity to see other parts of the country and to broaden the horizon of their minds.For people in this category,the money they make during the service year gives them a measure of independence than they have ever known.And,not being so choosy,the service job,if it is made permanent, might be attractive enough as well.

For me,there is plenty of room for improvement,before we can really enthuse about a service corps that is delivering on the ambitions  of it’s founders.First,corpers need to be paid better.Much better.Some of these corpers,especially the less privileged,will need their savings while they hunt for a job,after service.Second,the waiting period for call-up after graduation, should be a matter of weeks,not months.The practice where graduates are kept at home,in limbo,for a long period of time,sometimes for  over a year,is criminal.There is no other word for it.People who could be productive,for self as well as for family and society,are kept at home,burdening parents and guardians who had already sacrificed everything for them.

Third,host communities must be sensitized to be more accepting and tolerant of service members’ rights and freedoms.If we are to achieve the aim of engendering unity through the NYSC,then contact between corpers and host community,must be more enlightening for both parties.Both parties must learn to be more tolerant of each others differences,cultural,social or religious.Each party must adjust to the other,otherwise the whole scheme is  meaningless,and dangerous for the corpers.This puts me in mind of the incident,last year,in one Northern state,in which a female  corper was reportedly raped and killed by locals,who complained that she broke local religious laws by wearing trousers.This is just unacceptable.Service must be made safer for the corpers.The hosts religious sensibilities are matched by the corpers religious rights.If you are forced by the government to serve in certain areas,and your religion compels you to wear trousers,then what?

*Public nudity is prohibited on the basis of decency,not religion.Wearing trousers is a different matter.

Nigeria -Police And It’s Colonial Mentality.

Nigerian Police Vehicle

A creation of the colonial government,the Nigerian police began life as a consular guard which was expected to protect and facilitate colonialism.It was more of an occupation than a citizen force.It’s orientation and training,were not geared towards securing the approval and respect of the indigenous populace.Instead,the colonial police was an instrument for the subjugation of the people,as it was deployed to strike fear into the hearts of the people.In it’s dealings with the people,it favoured the use of maximum force rather seeking the co-operation of the public,through appeals and persuasion.It’s vision and character,could not have been more different from the police force that Robert Peel envisioned and founded many years ago(1829).

The tragedy is that almost 50 years after independence,the mentality of the police has not really changed.It still acts like an occupation force which must intimidate and subdue the “enemy”.In fact,having lost any sense of decency that it might have had under the colonial masters,as the larger society itself has grown more corrupt and decadent,it is now even more brutal,aggressive and reckless towards the public than ever.Examples of it’s hostility towards the public abound:beating people,extortion,checkpoint violence and harassment,”accidental discharge”,usurping the role of the judiciary in punishing and incarcerating people,at the behest of the wealthy or those who can pay for it,e.t.c.Unless there is a fundamental change in the mentality of the police,gratuitous police related violence and deaths will continue to be our lot.

As well as improving the quality of the personnel,great emphasis should be placed on the re-orientation of the police.The police must be indoctrinated to recognize that they are members of the public.One of the principles of policing enunciated by Robert Peel,was that “the police are the public and the public are the police,the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence”.The police need to be friendly in it’s relations with the public,choosing favour and seeking co-operation with the public in fulfillment of it’s duties.If the government puts it’s mind to it,it can turn the police around.The blame for the shortcomings of the police,therefore,lies at the government’s door.

Nigeria-Corruption and High Internet Penetration.

ITU headquarters,Geneva.

ITU headquarters,Geneva

According to the international telecommunications union,ITU,Nigeria,with over 43 million internet users,has the largest internet market in Africa.The ITU goes on to report that 40% of all internet traffic from Africa originates from Nigeria,topping South Africa,the continent’s top economy.No mean feat,this.Are there other factors driving this,other than that Nigeria has the largest population,by far, in Africa,and that Nigerians are show-offs,materialistic and have a taste for early-adoption of technology?From where i am standing,yes.

First,the mass embrace of internet facilitated fraud.With limited opportunity for legitimate gainful employment,in a society where moral values have unraveled and which worships at the altar of materialism,many Nigerian youths predictably,turned their talents to online fraud.As a lot of people surged into the “business”,internet activity received a huge boost.This is not to suggest that all online activity is fraudulent.Far from it.There is plenty of legitimate online business.But,it is a cinch that internet traffic would be a lot lower,if not for online scams.

Second,government corruption.The reality is that many Nigerians with internet access are multiple subscribers,migrating from one vendor to another,in search of  non-existent service.The service is that bad.The regulators overseeing the sector,the communication commission,are falling down on the job.They are just not doing the business.They allow the service providers to sign up subscribers,out of all proportion to their capacity to provide the contracted service.No real effort is made to align internet infrastructure with subscriber base.Many believe,that this is because the regulators have been co-opted,through a process of outright inducement or regulatory capture.

However it is viewed,the reality is that Nigeria represents a huge internet market,a fact that should interest investors and enterpreneurs,both domestic and foreign.This is the message from these figures.I have always felt,that at over 140 million people,Nigeria has a population of autarkic proportion.Just by targeting the Nigerian market,any producers of goods and services can profit greatly.And part of that profit would be invested in new ideas and technologies further enriching Nigerian society,in what is a virtuous cycle.But this is possible only under certain conditions, characterized by intelligent regulation and robust enforcement.

Nigeria-Colonialism,Credentialism and Corruption.

Ancient Benin City

Nigeria is renowned for corruption and and it’s people for a lack of work ethic.Not a day goes by,without some politician or government official being pilloried in the media for one alleged financial misconduct or another.The perception on the street,is that government officials work only to fill their own pockets.But not only public officials,private ones too.The impression has taken hold that,every Nigerian sees his office as a prebend:a place to collect his share of the spoils rather than to work.This is the “this is not my father’s work” syndrome. How did Nigeria come to this pass,Especially considering, that Nigerians are very hardworking and religious people?

Colonialism.Colonialism heralded the bifurcation of morality into personal and public strands to reflect the dichotomy between traditional and western societies.You have to understand that, traditional Nigerian society subscribed to a value-system which was very different from that of the west.For example,work.Traditional society judged hard work by the  amount of physical exertion involved.A man could not become wealthy,unless he was willing to put in years of hard work,farming or fishing.There simply was no short-cut,to acquiring wealth or riches.Absolutely none.

Imagine the quantum leap that colonialism represented.All of sudden a man could become wealthy,not by sweating it out on the farm,but by  “loafing” in some square building in the mission house for a few years.For spurning farm work, in favour of schooling,these lucky people were rewarded with the white man’s money,which enabled an exotic life style:white man’s house,white man’s car,white man’s authority.The message was,to a  farming or fishing community with it’s traditional definition of hard-work, simply that one did not have to work hard to become rich anymore.Just grab those certificates,by whatever means necessary.All hell was let loose.The race for the white man’s money had begun.

You only work for the money.Period.This is especially true of government work.Because the colonial government was an appendage of the government in London,people have come to identify government work as working for foreigners.People did not feel that,in government service,they were working for themselves.Today,after many years of  independence,that feeling is still very strong.This alienation being exacerbated by tribalism,most people only want to get their hands on government funds,to privatize it,for the benefit of themselves and their kin.For many people,the federal capital might as well be London or Paris.

And the politicians are no different.Indeed you could argue that the politician are mandated by their people to bring their  share of the “national cake”.In a country subscribing to hierarchy of loyalty,the interests of your kin trump the national interests.The result is the looting that goes on in government,because people are celebrated in their communities,for having the gumption to go to the center and grab their own share.As though they were big -game hunters,returning home from successful hunts.And the duality of morality enables this,because where as stealing within the community is deplored,stealing from government is not.For government money is still seen as white man’s money.And that is fair game.Except,the new “white man” is the Niger Delta man.

Nigeria-No Representation Without Taxation

The Nigerian National Assembly

As long as Nigeria continues the policy of resource-capture,it would remain a trust-fund-state and it’s government, unaccountable.The truth is that,under the present arrangement,the government controls too much money.With seemingly unhindered and independent access to a limitless pot of money,the government cannot feel the need to seek the approbation of the people.If the government feels it can do without the approval of the people,it has little incentive to govern in the interests of the people.It does not need to go to the people for money ,for it’ running and administration.

The corollary to this situation,is that the people themselves will not demand good governance,since they are not responsible for the financial upkeep of the government.And unless people absolutely demand good governance,they are not going to get it.Governments,anywhere in the world,have to be pushed to perform to the satisfaction of the people.Taxation,in this regard,is central to good governance,because people will demand probity and accountability from the government,if they are financing it,with their hard-earned money.This is a  “quid pro quo”. Taxation for representation.

The reason corruption is so prevalent here is because,people are nonchalant about it.I can assure you that,were people sustaining the government through taxation,reports of corrupt practices would  be more gut-wrenching and visceral,with a good chance of leading to mass protests.The thought of politicians stealing your money ,not “our” money,would prove sufficient motivation to take some sort of action.If politicians understood that stealing of public funds would be attended by serious consequences,they would desist.Politicians would not behave well because they are good people,but because they fear the people.They would have no choice.

Currently,most of us have no deep conviction that government money is really “my” money.With the exception of those from the Niger Delta,most Nigerians cannot really explain how government could be taking money from them.How can you feel government is in your debt,when your ancestral lands and rivers are all intact,especially being African.How can the government owe you anything,including accountability?.Except in the Niger Delta,where the despoiled environment is proof enough that someone is taking something from them.Any wonder then,that they are the only Nigerians to take up arms against the government for purely economic reasons?

I am willing to bet that if the government were been kept by our taxes,and kept is the right word,government would be more responsive to the feelings and needs of the people.Certainly,we would not have a situation where,even though we have a GDP per capita of $2,150 compared to $48,368 for the United States,according to the world bank(2009 figures),we still manage to pay our senators $1.7m a year, compared to $174,000 and $400,000 for the American senator and president respectively.Even for a people with a gift for travesty,this is outrageous.I bet you are raining curses on those guys.Believe me,if we were paying for all this ,we would not limit our reaction to cursing.We would act too.