Friday, November 29, 2013

Reading Assignments

Hi all, 
*passing by*
Thought to share these 2 articles that succinctly describe the mental laziness of our civil servants and effects of impunity in our society
Read the articles here and here 


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Between a MINT and a BRIC

Nigeria and India’s population figures in their respective continents have accorded them powerhouse status- Nigeria is MINT while India is a BRIC and the relations between them have been cordial. Recently, Nigeria-India relations was shaken when a Nigerian was murdered in Gao,India. I was listening to a radio commentary on the murder and the comments by an Indian Minister describing Nigerians as a cancer after protests by Nigerians in that community. A commentator noted that there was no difference between Nigeria and India and Nigerians resident in India should return home. I was surprised that the listening public vehemently disagreed with the remark.
I submit that Indians and Nigerians are very similar in shared experiences, attitudes, values and living conditions. For instance, on issues that would require explanation to an European, American or Chinese, my Indian friends understood immediately. I also remember when an Indian tried to rip me off. When I told him I was Nigerian, he refunded my money. Even our communication patterns are similar. As Nigerians we are not wired to keep it short and simple, I have discovered same with the Indians I interact with. 
A colleague once mentioned to me that Africans especially Nigerians underestimate the level of development that has occurred in the continent. He noted that though Africa is far behind, there is a semblance of organization around our under-development.  He cited the example of Victoria Island and Ajegunle where you can differentiate uptown and downtown. In India there is no such organization, beside a castle is a shack. Another colleague on a work-related visit to China recalled when she and 3 other colleagues (Pakistani, Indian and Indonesian) were lost in China. The Indonesian was frantic whilst the other 3 had the what-is-the-worst-that-can-happen. To buttress my belief that we are similar below are comparisons from reports and studies on India and Nigeria

Approx. 170 million
 Approx. 1.2 billion
Colonial Power
 System of government 
 Mix of presidential and parliamentary
 According to Nigeria’s Minister about 70% of the population have no access to electricity i.e about 120 million people
Income Category
 Lower middle income
Lower middle income
Year of Independence  
World Bank Ease of doing Business ranking   

Purchasing Power Parity: India does better
In simple terms, PPP is “the rate at which the currency of one country would have to be converted into that of another country to buy the same amount of goods and services in that country” (IMF definition). The PPP exchange rate is the rate at which the currency of one country would have to be converted into that of another country to but the same amount of goods and services in each country. The idea is all things being equal,  a bottle of coke in India should cost the same as in Nigeria. Some calculations go into determining PPP between countries but for this post, simple mathematics would suffice. In India the average price of 33cl Coca-Cola is 20 rupees. In Nigeria,33cl of Coke costs 24 rupees

Bad roads everywhere
In both countries, roads are the major means of transportation for people and goods and are in dire need of repair. According to this Deloitte report, 10% of India’s roads are motorable with poor connectivity to hinterland. This lack of access is a reason that has been adduced for India’s slow development rate. Nigeria’s story is also similar. According to PWC’s Africa’s Gearing Up report, only ¾ of Federal roads are in a fair state (Nigeria’s road network comprises 32100 km of Federal roads, 30,900 of State roads and 132,000km of local government roads). CIA world report notes that of Nigeria’s 193, 200km roads, only 28, 980 km is paved.

Nigeria and India rank poorly on the Liveability index
 The Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Liveability index ranks 140 cities on stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure. In 2011, New Delhi ranked 113, Mumbai - 118 and Lagos ranked 137. Compared to other BRIC nations, India is the worst (Beijing -72, Moscow-70, Rio de Janeiro – 92)

Systemic corruption abounds
Corruption is systemic in both India and Nigeria. On Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index, India ranks 94/176 while Nigeria ranks 137/176.  Government Institutions in both countries are highly corrupt and the price paid for corruption is very high in terms of lost opportunities to develop. A friend recalled his experience at India’s immigration and same scenario would have occurred in Lagos.

The difference between India and Nigeria is six and half a dozen. However,India has developed a niche in Engineering and also developed healthcare tourism and it is a possibility that Nigeria will fare worse if her population was over a billion. In the words of the commentator, why leave one shack for another? Nigeria is just 170 million.  Isn’t it easier to compete with 170 million people than 1 billion people?


P.S:Lord Lugard- Nigeria’s first governor general was born in India and also served in India

P.P.S: An interesting study would be the effects of British Colonial rule on attitudes of both Indians and Nigerians. For instance after the British left India, did Indian elites take over and become Ogas like their Nigerian counterparts? Why was India divided into India and Pakistan at Independence, yet Biafra was not “allowed” to secede from Nigeria?

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Book review: The Next Gulf: London, Washington and oil conflict in Nigeria

(pages: 306; publisher: Constable& Robinson; year: 2006) 
The cover photo of the book summarizes the core of the book which is the destruction of the Niger-Delta environment. Using Ken Saro Wiwa as the focal point, the book examines the relationship between Niger-Delta, the Nigerian government, Shell (International Oil Companies) and UK and US governments.
The book authored by Andy Rowell, James Marriott and Lorne Stockman discusses the roles of above players in Niger-Delta’s underdevelopment, Shell as Nigeria’s Goldman Sachs- a number of Shell staff move into government roles after working with Shell and the deliberate policies by these governments to ensure that unlike the Middle East, the flow of oil from Nigeria is not disrupted.
The book is very detailed in exploring Nigeria as a rentier state, the commercial nature of Britain’s colonial policies in Nigeria, the role of Shell, the politics of Ken Saro Wiwa’s death and the emergence of the culture of violence in the Niger-Delta. The book also identified an un-utilized area of Nigeria’s oil and gas sector
As a reader, I enjoyed the personal touch the writers provide through their own stories in relation to the events mentioned in the book. It is also telling that the the chickens have come home to roost  for IOCs. The peaceful and non-violent requests by the people met with violent reactions by the IOCs through the deployment of State Security forces. These IOCs have become targets of kidnaps and sabotage- oil bunkering. It is also telling that some of the Nigerian Shell staff who were involved in building the culture of violence have become part of the “change process".
The repetition of themes, the adulation given Ken Saro Wiwa and few editing errors detract from the book.
The book is thorough and provides good historical and current accounts of the developments in Nigeria’s oil sector. The book asserts that the global North represented by the UK and US have focussed on Nigeria oil and want to get it at all costs because of the instability in the Middle East.
However, events in the oil sector in the last 5 years demonstrate that countries that rely on oil are seeking alternatives to oil. Countries such as the US are also reducing their reliance on other countries. In addition, the once favourable Nigerian environment is now unconducive for IOCs as a number of them are selling their oil blocs in the country. By extension, this means the energy focus of their home countries would change.
I recommend this book for another perspective on Biafra, the oil connection in Nigeria- Britain relations, corruption in the global North and its effects in Nigeria and how embedded Shell is in Nigeria’s government.
I close with a few quotes from the book:
"Unfortunately, we now have this combination of violence, greed, in terms of illegal oil bunkering taking over from the empowering non violent struggle for the environment and for resource control"( Ken Saro Wiwa Jr on the state of the Niger-Delta today )

"When I travel outside the Country, people often ask me how far away Ogoni is. I tell them it is as far as the nearest Shell service Station" (Ledum Mitee on the interconnectedness of oil and it's consequences on the Niger Delta across boundaries).


Thursday, November 21, 2013

The Racket at Yaba LCDA

Governor Fashola recently stated that  local government officials involved in "traffic management do not represent any local government. My personal experience begs to differ. 

point of arrest

Recently on my way back to Lagos Island from Yaba,I was stopped by a uniformed Yaba LCDA (Local Council Development Area). Uniform pictured below
 The officer said I had passed one way (pictures of the said one-way below) and that I would be cautioned. The  "caution" was that I would go back and pass the right route. I agreed and he entered my car. Once inside, he instructed me to drive to the LCDA office. 
(I was behind another car that was"arrested". Anyone plying this route would notice that cars driving North divert and face cars going South) like below. I was going South and yet was the traffic offender. 
I was in no mood to argue with the arresting officer.  A man pictured below approached me and asked where I was coming from, where I was going, where I lived and worked and I told him all except where I worked. He tried to make me offer him a bribe and I refused. I told him to let me know my fines and I would pay. He said I would do a psychiatric test, pay N25,000 fine, N500 gate pass and N2000 for tax clearance. When I heard the tax clearance, I asked why? I told him I don't have one, what if I am unemployed? I asked him to let me make some calls and after 5 minutes, he began to harass me for my keys and when I refused to hand it over, he told his officers to deflate my tyres. Then, I saw a man who looked like his boss, approached him  and told him what had  happened. He requested for the pictures they took of my offence ( which I was not allowed to see) and said it was one way. I mentioned the 2000 tax clearance fine and he asked who told me to pay that and I pointed to man pictured below. He requested for the booking sheet and changed my fine to N15500. I paid the fine. 

Trouble began when I requested for a receipt. Officer above issued the gate pass but was reluctant to issue a receipt. Booking officer (below) was also reluctant to issue a receipt.

After making a serious fuss and calling "the boss" that reduced my fine,a lady approached me, gave me N5000  and said the boss said it should be returned to me and I was given receipt below that did not state the full "offence"
I tried to reach the numbers of the LCDA chairman (Jide Jimoh on his number given on the LCDA's website)  and the Council Manager (Tunde Ojikutu) and the lines were switched off. Dear governor Fashola, miscreants are not running this racket. It is run by Local government staff and this is another example of the impunity that occurs in Lagos state.