Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 in review

2014 was the year:

The continent saw Ebola coming yet failed to take action till it ravaged and ravages West Africa
Over 276 girls were kidnapped and 219 of them who were unable to escape remain in captivity. Our government has moved on.
The chickens came home to roost for Nigeria's crude oil and its price. Unfortunately, the government will not give up its lifestyle. Nigerian consumers have to pay
We discovered selfless Nigerians ala Dr Adadevoh
Stomach infrastructure was  redefined
CBN stopped defending the Naira and it got devalued
Nigerian students in the US were recognized as exceptional
Nigerian Football Federation refused to put its house in order
Impunity reigned

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Goodluck 2015?

As expected, President Goodluck Jonathan bowed to the wishes of the people to run as president in the 2015 elections despite his public claim that he would not run in 2015. 
That the president is standing as a candidate for next year's election is not an issue. He has the right to. The concern is the volte face and lack of principle that has become a characteristic of Nigerian politics. From governors and legislators who switch political parties for personal interests to Mr President who declared in 2011 that "I would have loved that the Nigerians in Diaspora vote this year but to be frank with you, that is going to be difficult now. Presently, the law does not allow the voting outside Nigeria and so this year Nigerians in Diaspora will not vote but I will work towards it by 2015 even though I will not be running for election.",changing their minds is a constant. A constant that is a disservice to the people they claim to represent. 
In 2010, when the sitting president first declared his intention to run he stated all the policies he would put in place to take Nigeria to Canaan. Not so long after he was elected, the fuel queues and petroleum issues he promised to address returned and thanks to him, fuel prices increased by 100% before protests brought it down to NGN 97. The corruption he vowed to tackle is no longer Nigeria's major problem because what Nigerians regard as corruption is mere stealing. In 2010 he promised to fight crime and now in 2015 he is promising to punish suicide bombers. Mr President sold Nigerians hope but hope is not enough. That he progressed from someone without shoes to a President is not and will not be the reality for many people in similar circumstances that he was in because the ineptitude of his government means that those in his shoes may never get out of their situation save for a miracle. Yes, Jonathan is neither the cause of the problems in Nigeria nor the problem with Nigeria. However, he has contributed in no small means to deepening the problems and challenges Nigerians face in their quest for a decent life. Nigeria’s problems have from just a tear to big hole that gets harder to mend.
By failing to perform the basic duty of government, which is to ensure the security and welfare of citizens irrespective of where they are from, his government cops out of its responsibilities by blaming the opposition and tarring every criticism as the work of those who do not mean Mr Jonathan well. 
The President need not campaign if the attacks in Northern Nigeria was decisively tackled and an example was of the so-called opposition that sponsor the violence. The return of the Chibok girls will be a great start. Prosecuting those who pillage the nation's common wealth will be a great follow-up- starting with those who benefit from the oil-subsidy scam to government officials in military and public institutions. Delivering on the promise of constant electricity- which is 31/2 years overdue will further spur the growth of our economy- where citizens survive inspite of the enormous hurdles they face and revitalizing our healthcare systems (both the people and infrastructure).
These achievements will speak for him and "fans" of the president will not spend the huge amounts currently being spent to sell his "successes".
In his declaration speech for 2015, the president, unlike in 2010, makes vague promises. His declaration is empty and showed no direction for the future .
In 2010, he said, "if I’m voted into power within the next four years, the issue of power will become a thing of the past. Four years is enough for anyone in power to make significant improvement and if I can’t improve on power within this period, it then means I cannot do anything even if I am there for the next four years.”
Does this president deserve to repeat his term?

Monday, December 08, 2014

PU 016- Lekki 1

My attempt to register to vote in the 2015 general election has given newer insights into the collective mindsets of Nigerians. With this understanding, and all I want to do is throw my hands up and surrender. First thoughts are where does one start with addressing the issues we face? 
I went to register on Saturday  and I was impressed by the number of people waiting to register. As at the time I left- about 1pm, there were about 300 names written but no INEC official to register anyone (Registration should hold between 8-4).
Today I resumed the quest to vote at 2.30pm and it was full of drama

Act 1, Scene 1
People struggled to write their names and get ticket so they can join the queue and register- apparently, if you were willing to pay or was  brash you could buy or browbeat your to  the capture point.People lashed out at guy handing out numbers. He left  to come back about 30 minutes later- everyone needs a break.  The process of issuing tickets stalled. After a while, someone started selling tickets, and the polling unit turned violent, some guys began fighting each other and some bystander police officers intervened. After hustling for over an hour, I finally got a number and proceeded to the point of capture.

Act 1, Scene II
There were two INEC officials registering residents on two lines. I joined a queue and when I noticed we were stationary,  I went to the front to check what was happening. I was told by a resident we had   hustled together that there was no queue, people were shunting and I should stand beside him. From that point, people pushed and shoved to get in front of the registration official and series of fights broke out. At a point, some thugs came with wooden sticks to scare people into running away to form another line- they succeeded but those on the main queue came back and refused to budge. Registration at the desk stalled. At the other desk, people pushed and shoved and the same area boy began to bring people who had dropped something to register. Those on the queue protested but their protest was in vain.Things never calmed down. People continued to jostle, push and shove to get registered till the officials signed out at 5:50pm.

What led to the signing out? The INEC driver came to pick them and one lady who had wrestled her way to  register picture would not print. The printer malfunctioned when it got to her turn and people begun to joke that she had a "bad head". She got up for someone else to register and the person was able to do hers successfully, she sat and the system went off. Then the jokes began.

The takeaways from that experience has made me ask questions like:

1) Why we treat ourselves like animals that have to be shoved and beaten. Why are we  unable to be orderly and just do things the right way. The registration process itself was simple and would not take more than 5 minutes. However, because people refused to be orderly, nothing was done and we ended up going home without registering. This is similar to the way we drive and cause needless traffic because people are impatient and would not give way for other drivers.
2) Why do we need to lie to get ahead. Some people claimed to have brought and fueled the generator used to power the capture process.  This  was false. People had excuses/ reasons why they should get priority registration
3) The major causes of the fights that broke out were  the result of a 'we-them' mentality. At a point it became a case of 'you think because you are rich, are educated or  dress well think you can intimidate me'. The "rich" and the "poor" began to  exchange words and threw jabs at each other. If the proletariat can openly put each other in a caste, what hope do we then have?
4)If we channelled the vehemence and brute force we use  on each other to hold our governments accountable, we will be better off now. That belief that we must  be assertive, be feisty, that we must shout to get what we want explains why we  are uncivil to each other.  Try talking to a junior officer say a security man, and the first instinct is to shut you down.

As a country we have a long way to go. Where do we start? Which do we start with?