Monday, October 16, 2017

A TALE OF TWO STATUES

Nigeria's webosphere was on fire over the weekend on the issue of the unveiling of statues, though one garnered more attention for its odium, over the other laudable one. I've been to Imo State severally, last time been just last month; and though in the beginning of Governor Rochas Okorocha's administration more than six years ago, when Imo turned into a construction site, I felt it was a good development till further visits exposed the man for the megalomaniac he is. And how every thought of his, concerning the state was all about him, then going on to turn a whole state into his personal property. Even when he demolished markets (his newest pastime), he rushes to put up big billboards with the picture of his head taking up more than fifty percent of the space, while the picture of the proposed replacement so called ultramodern market pales in comparison.


Severally, on Saturday I was catching snippets of the charade organized by Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha, for South Africa's President Jacob Zuma, especially on AIT (though I was much more interested in seeing Liverpool knock the breath out of Manchester United to no avail on Super Sport, while Tony Elumelu with his Foundation on CHANNELS TV I think, was empowering youths to become entrepreneurs), and some other channel, that bothered to showcase the event, which included a so called Eze Imo (who I suppose should be the head of traditional rulers in the state), dressed like a Zulu chief, and former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo walking in tow. I only heard about the unveiling of a statue in honour of Zuma on Sunday via twitter, then saw pictures of him been given a chieftaincy title, and also having a street named after him.


Then I thought to myself, "Zuma?" The South African president who just last week had a court rule against him in a corruption case, for which he's now to refund to the state's coffers, monies diverted from state funds into expanding his estate to accommodate his ever growing harem of wives. This Zuma whose country is notorious for targeting Nigerians, especially Igbo people (including those from Imo State) during  xenophobic attacks on black foreigners, for lynching by civilians, and arbitrary arrests, detention and extrajudicial killings by the police, with little to no response by the Zuma government, which then goes on to reap political capital from it, by not claiming responsibility for the shameful conditions of black South Africans, as long as the people can continue to blame and turn on their African brothers for being responsible for their woes. It is this same Zuma that now has a larger than life size statue in his honour in Owerri, the Imo State capital?

Sadly, from the look of things, there are more statues to be unveiled, erected with funds that could've easily paid workers currently going months without pay, many times over, to the further disgust of Imo people if this last unveiling is anything to go by. As if it wasn't bad enough that nepotism is the official game of government in the state, this man continues to run his pet foundation, while in power, going ahead to sign an MOU with the Zuma Foundation while in office, making you wonder where the EFCC that's disturbing commissioners in Ekiti State because Governor Ayodele Fayose is in opposition are, and further fueling the assertion that the so called anti-corruption war by the Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government is a sham and one-sided.


While Governor Okorocha was embarrassing his people in Imo State like that proverbial king dressed in invisible royal attire, elsewhere in Lagos, another statue was been unveiled, this time of the Music icon and Afrobeat Legend (Social Crusader and National Conscience, whose words remain truism and prophetic for Nigeria and Nigerians, decades after his passing), Fela Anikulapo Kuti,
to mark the end of this year's FELABRATION on Allen Avenue, Ikeja by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, days after goofing with an earlier updated statue (considered by critics to look more a caricature than a work of art, in that the face might not have looked like that of the Great AWO, besides the fact that he was made to wear shoes with laces with Agbada- akin to fashion riot, in a sitting position) of the Yoruba demigod, Chief Obafemi Awolowo. Ambode got it right with FELA,  but I won't go further on this subject (especially in trying to understand why the statue is headless, save for the reason that once again the sculptor may have messed up like the  last one did with the recently unveiled Awo statue) in order not to draw away from Okorocha's shame, besides just to mention how in one weekend a statue insulted the psyche of a people, while another further elevated a people respectively.


'kovich


PICTURE CREDIT:
- https://www.punchng.com

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

OF SUKUK BONDS & NIGERIA'S CHRISTIANS

I couldn't be bothered by the fear expressed in some quarters of an ongoing Islamization agenda in Nigeria's financial system. SUKUK BONDS and the likes are all reactionary experiments that can be, and have easily been exploited by capitalist tendencies. As long as Nigeria hasn't, and can't shed her reliance from the Bretton Woods' institutions, all of these shenanigans will in no single way impact on the way, and who Nigerians worship. The British know this, hence they allow it in their financial institutions, ever the exploiters that they've always been, developing their land, entertainment and sports with interest-free Arab money, while keeping the financiers at arm's length from their prized possessions.


The scenario won't be so much different in Nigeria, despite the fact that Muslim faithfuls will be particularly drawn to the idea that financial instruments, such as Sukuk, and  Islamic Banking such as practiced by a few banks so licensed to so do, will bring them to the utopia of sharia-compliant Nigeria they've always dreamed of. When it was tried in Osun State a few years back, it was administered by a Christian commissioner for finance, though one can easily adduce that the prompting must've been at the instance of the Muslim and still Governor, Rauf Aregbesola, a Muslim zealot to the kilt.

In my estimation, the greatest undoing of pipe dreams like the Islamization of Nigeria, via the allure of interest-free financial instruments and banking, will not be from, and by antagonist Christians and other Nigerians, rather the elite Muslim Nigerians, who are not going to temper their unquenchable desire for acquiring wealth, seeing as Islamic financing as yet is a lake, compared to the mighty ocean that capitalism, with foundations steeped in Judeo-Christian traditions, swim in, and is where the big players play in. If you doubt me just look at where Alhaji Aliko Dangote turns to, each time he seeks a loan for another investment that interests him.


Christians who berate their leaders for not setting up something akin to what Muslims are doing, forget easily that  what presently obtains is Christian, or better still, as I've already stated, Judeo-Christian and nothing they'd set up will be anything different from what is on ground, and what the mega-churches have already set up in their private capacities. Interestingly, some Christians have even gone along to exploit interest-free loans in the Islamic banks in Nigeria, either by themselves or using proxies who are Muslims, to avoid "scandals".


The schools, churches and other edifices that churches are building today, with the surrounding communities they cultivate around them, with constant electricity and water supply, with other infrastructure the Nigerian government and democracy is finding difficult to provide, will not always be so expensive to access in future. They will be testament to the foresight of these church leaders (with whom I do not always agree with), besides birthing in upcoming ones (pastorpreneurs, Christian religious leaders and Christian entrepreneurs) new and more inclusive ways to do the same things, leaving others (proponents of Sukuk Bonds and Islamic banking) to play catch up.


'kovich

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

OF MARKET DEMOLITIONS IN IMO STATE

My visit to Imo State last weekend left me totally hollowed out with governance in Nigeria, especially as regards social contact between the rulers (because "leaders" isn't a word that should loosely be used to describe any Nigerian in government or power) and the led/ruled. It brought to life the many things I have heard and seen online, and on the very few TV stations like "Channels TV" in Lagos, that's not partisan and unafraid to speak truth to authority, in for instance, shedding more light on the circumstances surrounding the shooting to death of a boy,


allegedly from a stray bullet from random fire by security operatives accompanying the bulldozers set to the work of demolishing one of the markets in Owerri, the Imo State capital.


Away from Owerri, where churches and hotels compete for space with their  magnificent edifices, which was what I did when I visited Amaraku in Isu-Nwangele Local Government Area, and Umuawam, Amauburu also in Imo State, you'd find what seems like an attempt to knock food outta the mouths of already impoverished masses of the people of Imo. I couldn't ignore the hisses and sighs of disgust, a sense of resignation even, amongst the fellow passengers I shared a bus with as we made for the hinterlands of Imo, and passed by one market and the other demolished or under demolition by agents of the state government, with huge billboards hovering over the ruins, with Governor Rochas Okorocha's face taking much of the space in it, intimating those who care to notice, of his intention to put in place of what formerly obtained, an "ultramodern" market.


The kind of ultramodern, my friend MJ once assumed to appear to mean only in terms of "money expended, but not in structure erected" as evidently displayed, not only in Imo State, but allover Nigeria, especially since the return of civil rule in 1999. A return to democracy that seem not to be able to afford massive infrastructural development, as witnessed under military rule, save for the so called "ultramodern" markets, public toilets and flyovers. So what have the the traders done? They simply moved back to the sites of the demolished markets, put up tables with umbrellas and other makeshift apparati, to continue with business as usual in plain site.
TRADERS RESORTING TO MAKESHIFT ARRANGEMENTS ON A SECTION OF THE DEMOLISHED MARKET AT AMARAKU, ISU-NWANGELE LOCAL  GOVERNMENT AREA OF IMO STATE. 


Interestingly, touts saddled with the responsibility of collecting levies from the traders, haven't ceased their activity. If anything they appear to be encouraging further encroachment into roads away from the market just so they can multiply their takings exponentially. It is left to be seen if all of these demolished markets will be rebuilt by the time the governor hands over on May 29, 2019. If however one considers that he intends to push a relative or an in-law of his into power after him, that should be enough motivation for him to complete the market projects (with of course the people turning their back on his anointed, if feelers are anything to go by, in the event that their votes count). If not, then these demolished markets may have just been returned to what they used to be pre-independence eastern Nigeria, for no just cause.


'kovich 

Thursday, August 24, 2017

INGLORIOUS POLICING ENCOURAGES JUNGLE JUSTICE IN NIGERIA

A vigilante group arrested one Ifeanyi Dike on his way to dispose of the body of an eight year old girl, he'd raped, killed, and mutilated for ritual purposes, and handed him over to the Police, somewhere in Rivers State.

The culprit who was swiftly paraded by the police (not because of any thorough job they did in apprehending him) earlier, was later reported by the same police to have escaped from detention, stating that a manhunt for the suspect has been initiated, even before many people could come to terms with the story surrounding the murder of the poor girl.


Now you wonder how this will not feed into the arguments of those in support of jungle justice, as once again the Nigerian police proves itself incapable of maintaining the integrity of Nigeria's criminal justice system, at least their own part of the bargain. To add salt to the injury they created, once the police announced the escape of the suspect, they were also quick to deploy men to put down protests by members of the community, who thronged the street yesterday to express their displeasure at the Rivers State police' poor handling of the case, only to be teargassed and forcefully dispersed by the same police that just allowed a criminal walk from their facility, on the pretext that the peaceful protest was infiltrated by thugs?


It's interesting that this happened in a Rivers State where just recently some members of Aluu community were sentenced to death for involvement in the lynching of four undergraduates four years ago (the first time in recent history, perpetrators of jungle justice will be so treated), after they were apprehended by vigilante groups who accused them of armed robbery, then went on, along with others to mete extra-judicial justice on them. Which must have informed the decision if this particular vigilante group to opt to handing the suspect in this case over to the police for prosecution.


Sadly, the police may have inadvertently granted the people who have already lost confidence in their ability to curb crime and criminality, a go ahead to procure and obtain justice by any means they consider necessary, under the shadows, seeing that most of the noise against jungle justice have come because of video evidence and social media.


This incident, amongst several others lends voice to those calling for state police. The Nigerian police as presently constituted, serves the interest of  government, those in power, politicians, the wealthy and elite only, and not the masses. When they are on the roads, it's to extort from motorists and harass the masses, while the job of security have largely been taken up by Nigerians on a personal level in the high fences of our homes, the metal burglary proofs on our doors and windows, including the "Aboki" at our gates (for those who have gates), and communally by the vigilante groups that you find allover the country. And in the occasions when these vigilante groups apprehend disturbers of the peace, they often than not get undermined by the police they trust to move justice to the next level. What a shame!


'kovich

Sunday, August 20, 2017

UNDERMINE THE UNDERMINERS

The best way to deal with blackmailers is to undermine them by releasing what they think they have on you. Literally taking the story from under their control, by taking the initiative to proactively own the narrative, practically taking the wind out of the blackmailer's sails.


David Letterman did it, when an attempt was made to blackmail him over allegations of him having sex with a female staff of his show, intending to extort him, or have the story leaked to the media, and he simply went ahead and told his story himself on his show, apologized to his wife and others who might have been disappointed by his indiscretion, and his blackmailers got zilch.


When hackers threatened to leak the sixth episode in the currently running seventh season of Game Of Thrones, after successfully doing same to episodes before it this season, except some demands of theirs are met, HBO simply leaked it online, rather than yield to the demands of the hackers.



Hence, in the examples cited above, the BOSS way to deal with blackmail and blackmailers, and still come out of it heads held high is to undermine the underminers. There's always this feeling in the minds of close watchers of incidents of blackmail, that there's no smoke without fire, when there's hesitation on the side of the victim to state his/her own side of the story, believable or not, or in resolving to go to court, more so when  both sides now go ahead to settle out of court with "gag" clauses attached to agreements reached.


'kovich

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

BIAFRA: FIFTY YEARS AFTER

I think it's disrespectful not only to the memory of the dead, but also an insult to the living, when the Igbo are asked to simply forget about Biafra, especially because those talking about it, moreso agitating for a sovereign state of Biafra weren't born fifty years ago when more than a million Igbo died from the Nigeria-Biafra Civil War (1967 - 1970). Was it not our literary hero, the late Professor Chinua Achebe (of THINGS FALL APART fame) who admonished that those who do not know where the rain started beating them, won't know where it stopped, which was reechoed by the late Reggae icon, Robert Nester Marley who sang that if one must know his destination, he must know where he's coming from in BUFFALO SOLDIER. How far has the denigration of history taken Nigeria as a nation? Jews worldwide never forget the holocaust, even though the number of those who actually witnessed those sad days continue to dwindle exponentially. No Armenian alive saw what their forebears experienced at the hands of Ottoman Turks, yet they continue to relive the events in literature, arts, music and so on, but in Nigeria, the Igbo must forget Biafra to move on, just fifty years after it was declared, and forty-seven after it became defunct? Just like that? Even if it's for peace to reign in Nigeria, can there really be peace without justice?


Rather than berate the Igbo for not forgetting the horrors of their past, other Nigerians must encourage them, and take a cue from us. I received with joy the news that the Shehu Musa Yar'Adua foundation deemed it fit to hold a Biafra themed forum days back, seeing that years back it was unfathomable that a Northern Nigerian group could mention Biafra, for all it connotes, much less organize a symposium seeking a way forward from that ugly past, when in fact a son of theirs totally unimpressed with anything Biafra is in power. Even if that program wasn't meant to coincide with the anniversary of the declaration of Biafra, as an independent state, the coincidence a few days to the day cannot be overlooked. In a Nigeria where justice is not only delayed, but denied the best victims of state orchestrated violence and impunity, including inactions (and the list is exhaustive) can do is remember, and never forget peradventure a Pharaoh "which knew not Joseph" will come in future and right the wrongs of the past, even if by making a symbolic apology, or something in the likes, far beyond any form of physical rehabilitation of and for the Southeast for instance. Therefore, for me anything that's done to keep memories of Biafra alive works for me, from sitting at home, to organizing symposia and talk shops, to peaceful demonstrations, amongst many other avenues that can be explored to bring the issue to the fore, not just locally but internationally.


When a friend called me some minutes ago, from Obigbo area of Rivers State in the Niger Delta, that she couldn't go to work today because of the sit-at-home instruction by pro-Biafra groups, I was not in the least surprised, because I hadn't figured that there'd be solidarity beyond the core Igbo states, though during several visits to Rivers State in recent times, I'd found that RADIO BIAFRA signals were clearer with more faithful listeners there than even in the heart of Igbo land, regardless of the fact that a few of the listeners aren't Igbo but of any of the tribes in Nigeria's South-Southern region. Prior to today, most Niger Deltans have gone on social media to denounce Biafra, and dissociating themselves from the planned "strike", if I may borrow that word. Pictures that have been streaming in online, as well as from some news outlets, show compliance especially in the Southeastern states, with scant to no traffic on major federal as well as state roads in the region, including of the ever busy Head Bridge connecting the
EMPTY HEAD BRIDGE INTO ONITSHA FROM ASABA, AS A RESULT OF "SIT-AT-HOME" COMPLIED WITH BY IGBOS IN THE SOUTH EAST.

heartland of the Igbo nation with the rest of Nigeria, between Asaba and Onitsha. Even banks, schools and businesses were closed down in those states, while outside of the
OTHER PARTS OF NIGERIA'S SOUTHEAST WHERE COMPLIANCE RECORDED ALMOST A HUNDRED PERCENT TODAY.

states, markets where Igbo traders form the majority were deserted by Igbo traders. That for me is enough, including the fact that despite all of the flexing of muscles, and show of strength exhibited by the security agencies, notorious for mowing down pro-Biafran activists and peaceful demonstrators in the past with impunity, there hasn't been any record yet of any casualty.


As an advocate of a BIAFRA OF THE MIND, I'd made my views clear in https://madukovich.wordpress.com/2015/07/16/biafra/ two years ago, and I do not hold a contrary opinion to those yet, despite all the noise and clamour surrounding Nnamdi Kanu whose incarceration by the Muhammadu Buhari government, against court decisions granting him bail severally, made him a cult hero amongst many a Igbo people, even though much of his views aren't exactly supported by mainstream Igbo. Since his release on bail on health grounds, no day has passed without the social media especially, and other mass media outlets highlighting one activity or the other he'd gotten himself engaged in, some flagrantly flouting his bail conditions, which I think was intentionally set to trap him in the first place, though it seems his prosecutors and government of the day don't seem keen to pursue that matter for now, for obvious reasons that might pertain to unnecessarily heating up of the polity.


What I think the Igbo should do right now is an introspection. It's true that the conditions that led to the civil war hasn't until recently changed so much, maybe there'd have even been no war had some voices been heard in the first place, and people not headily gone into an unwinnable war sake of an injustice they felt couldn't be righted by meaningful dialogue. In recent days, some have even mentioned the fact that there was more pride than commonsense at play in the decision to secede from Nigeria, and by extension go to war, but really who am I to judge, and what do I know. The mistake of taking one man's view only, as sacred should be discountenanced this time around. We are Igbo. We are consensus builders. Today we made a point, that the Biafran issue cannot continue to be ignored, but we must move ahead from there, and if truly the majority of Igbo people want out of this contraption called Nigeria, there are peaceful means of going about it (even the case for a referendum can be politically driven by representatives of the Igbo at Nigeria's National Assembly), as confrontation will only earn us the ire and  non cooperation of our neighbors, whose understanding we need to drive that agenda. However, if the opposite is the case, then we should also be willing to pursue agendas, politically, diplomatically and otherwise, to ensure a better deal for the Igbo, as with other ethnic nationalities in the Nigerian project, but all voices must be heard while we are at it.


'kovich

Saturday, May 13, 2017

LAGOS' "AREA BOYS" MENACE

Just about everywhere you go in Lagos these days, excluding the very posh areas, you will find social miscreants, popularly called AREA BOYS. I have wanted to write about this for sometime now, but somehow I just let it pass, because something I may consider more important happens and then I'll write about that. Even when some weeks back when the Okada rider conveying me through a very busy market was stopped by them, just to ask of me some money, I still didn't feel the urge to write, despite the fact that one of the duo who had stopped my bike man, had said something to the effect that, "we are doing this because you people said we should stop stealing", but I didn't let the shock that these could be robbers (sometime in the past, if not till date) perturb me, or register in my face, while his mate had his eyes glued to my backpack. I sternly but respectfully told him that I was struggling just like them, and as such didn't have extra change besides what I had on me to pay my rider, to give them, and they let us go.


This incident happened right beside a police traffic warden, who stood by watching, and this wasn't the first time it was happening to me. In fact, I could say I've become a veteran in dealing with social miscreants, though my response on each occasion to their antics belly the fact that I can read them like the palm of my hands. About a decade ago, when I returned to Lagos from a year in the north, and another in the Niger Delta, for work, I had this barber on the street where I used to live, always accost me for "change", just because we got to say "hi" to each other having known a mutual friend together. I'd give him something if I had, till someday I told him that he was better than me, seeing he had his business, even a family and I was unmarried and salaried at the time, and in fact I should be the one asking him for some dough, and not the other way round. I went ahead to rummage through his pocket for some money, came up short, and left. He never again bothered me.


I decided to write about this today because of what I witnessed last week. A sewage disposal vehicle had come to do their business in a house adjacent to where I'd gone to rendezvous with a client for some business, and some boys were there haranguing the driver and his mate for money. I know that there are some areas in Lagos, where you can't bring a container into the street, without "boys" been "settled", truck drivers conveying perishable and non-perishable goods are routinely "obtained" by these AREA BOYS, as they enter Lagos, even on their route to, and as they reach their destination markets or warehouses in town, leading to the extra costs of these goods at retail. What I was seeing for the first time, was the collection of "shit" fees by these boys, and I was left mouth agape while the brouhaha lasted, with the driver threatening to kill the boys should any of them stand in his way, after their job is done. If one hadn't heard the Yoruba language before, coming to Lagos for the first time, and not shielded from the common parts of the city, where these boys operate, almost everywhere in their every increasing numbers, you'd think "Owó Dà?" (where's the money?) is some form of greeting. It is the "rent-seeking" madness that is the true face of Lagos, especially amongst the so called indigenes, many of whom have sold their father's houses and estates, and frittered the proceeds away with their excesses, and now live by extortion, especially of those involved in the daily grind to make ends meet legally.  In recent times many of these have joined different cults and put the lives, limbs and property of innocent Lagosians at risk when they make war against each other during STREET FIGHTS in areas like Mushin, Bariga, Oshodi, Ikorodu and the likes.


Unfortunately, the Lagos State Government seem not to have woken up to the nuisance these Area Boys constitute. Their efforts have largely been restricted to the motor park touts (Agbèrò), who have now even
AGBÈRÒ LOOKING TO "OBTAIN" A BUS CONDUCTOR AT OSHODI, LAGOS, NIGERIA. 

resorted to plying their trades on the main roads, contributing to traffic headaches that bedevil motorists as well as pedestrians, in spite of efforts to curb their excesses. Even the law to criminalize the activities of Land Speculators and Grabbers (Omo Onílè) recently signed by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, remains just where it is on the paper where it is signed, while Omo Onílè continue to run things, so much so that a market was pulled down overnight, in the Sabo area of Ikorodu recently, with the Lagos State Government denying any knowledge or giving approval for the demolition, days after it had forcibly evicted residents of Otodo Gbame into the Atlantic.


The menace of these Area Boys haven't spared Nigeria's booming Nollywood industry too, so much so that there's been recent cases of disruptions of filming in several areas of Lagos by Area Boys, asking to be settled before filming can continue.

One of the actresses even lost her pregnancy after she was manhandled on set by these rent-seeking societal wretches. Till date, it's not a case the police is looking at. Now, Nigerian musicians go to Ghana if they can't afford South Africa to do their videos because unless you're from Ìsàlè Èkó, or streetwise, or willing to part with a substantial amount to these Area Boys, you can't shoot scenic Lagos, especially if you're doing a song that doesn't require the posh areas in the video. One can only imagine what the present situation will metamorphose to should this trend continue without intervention from authorities that ought to be concerned. Maybe, when the posh areas become invaded by these boys, we will begin to see action in that line. For now, as the  government and the elite of Lagos mark 50 years since Lagos became a state officially, I cannot but notice how the Area Boys have become a law to themselves, and a very visible but unpalatable part of the Lagos story.


'kovich