Monday, March 22, 2010


Jos. Still on my mind.

Just today, the Police has finally been able to draw up a list of 162 people to prosecute for the massacres in Jos. What I find most interesting are the offenses for which the suspects are being 'prosecuted'.

- 41 suspects are to be charged with terrorism and culpable homicide, punishable by death'

- 82 would be charged with unlawful possession of firearms, rioting and "mischief by fire"

Terrorism? Culpable homicide ? Pray, how many will be charged with 'Murder'? None.

'Mischief by fire'; is that the same as arson? Maybe not.

No wonder nobody seems interested in the trials, if ever they actually take place. From the onset, we have refused to call a crime by its name; we glorify criminals and call them 'muslims' or 'christians'.

I am not sure if we have learned anything from all these killings and a people who would not learn from their history, are bound to repeat.

Will we ever forget what happened in Jos? Unfortunately, yes. Sooner than later, we will.

Did we not forget Ife/Modakeke? Aguleri/Umuleri? and the many wars of the Ijaw/Itsekiri/Urhobo?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Cunning Man Die ...

For Nigeria and Nigerians, these are very interesting times.

With a president who has been AWOL for almost 80 days and a clique of hangers-on who have decided NOT to do the right things even when the right things are as simple as writing a letter (or a communication) to the Senate President. Things had got so heated up that people were afraid of a breakdown of law and order and probably a breakup of Nigeria.

It is true that we take Nigeria's resilience for granted and we subject her to all kinds of pummeling but then if such be the path of our nation-building, then so be it. We are still a country trying to become a nation. Nigeria will definitely outlive all of us. In fact, I am not afraid for Nigeria, it is Nigerians I pity.

I have come to know enough of Nigeria to know that it will take more than Turai Yar'adua and her band of hangers-on to bring this country to her knees. Their game was so obvious even to a child right from the onset, what remained to be seen was how Nigerians would react to it.

We were not voted the happiest people on earth for nothing. We have learned the art of meeting our challenges with humor. The latest one was even very funny. It was like a game of draughts. For most of January the clique reacted to every single act of the Nigerian people:

- Every time Nigerians vowed to go to Court: Aondoakaa went to Court. The same court, mind you and gets the same judgment over and over again in such record time.

- When newspapers reported that Yar'adua was either dead or brain damaged, the next day, he gave an interview to the BBC Hausa Service in English.

Now, that interview has become their undoing. I remember that when he asked why the President would give an interview in English to an Hausa station, Aondoakaa said the transmission was meant for all Nigerians and not just Hausa speakers.

I agree that what we have is a political resolution and may not be the actual end of this logjam as it presents its own challenges. For instance, by this resolution - if we accept it for arguments sake - Nigeria now has two Presidents -though one is acting. Yar'adua never left power and Goodluck should be very careful what actions he takes. If he tries to remove Aondoakaa, Kaase will go to Court. Remember he was the one who got the spurious judgments from Abutu in the first place. All the same it is a step forward.

Now that the National House of Assembly has adopted the BBC interview as direct transmission by the President to it, I wonder how Aondoakaa will wiggle out of this.

Some lawyers have contended that an interview in which the President clearly declared that he was not well and fit enough to carry out his duties was not equal to a letter written to the Senate President.
  1. That the interview was not authored by the President but rather by the BBC which is not even a Nigerian medium.
  2. That the mode of transmission was not directly to the Senate President but rather a broadcast to the whole world.
  3. That the Constitution (s. 145) clearly states that the transmission must be written because it says 'writes' and besides, it was not signed by Yar'adua.

These might be true, but the Senate (and some other lawyers) responded that:
  1. We all know that Presidents don't usually write or type letters; they get some Secretary to do it and if they feel strongly enough they may actually dictate the letter to the Secretary who transcribes the dictation and it is the final transcript that is transmitted to the Senate President. We all know that the paper (medium) on which the letter is written is not likely be made in Nigeria.
  2. The Senate president is part of the whole world and has decided to accept the interview as a direct transmission to himself. The messenger is not important, as long as he gets the message abi?
  3. The BBC interview has been transcribed and published on the BBC website with the express permission of the President who has not come out to deny any part of the publication besides, the Constitution did not require any signature on the document.
We can even go further to say that the President's voice signature was all over the transmission, unless of course, Aondoakaa can prove that it was not the President's voice on BBC.

That will take us back to square one.

See? Cunning man die, cunning man bury am.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Code Of Silence

The silence surrounding the state of being of President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua is deafening.

Nobody seems to know exactly what is happening with/to him right now.

Well, they know but nobody wants to get the 'Baba Gana Kingibe' Treatment.

Remember the former Secretary to the Government of the Federation and the circumstance of his sack? He had announced the demise of his principal, only for the man to miraculously wake up a few hours later (after some serious prayers) and sack him - some say with the promptings of the First lady. Understandably.

So here we are again at the same pass. And yet again, we expect a miracle.

But this time, there is a code of silence in force. From the VP, to the Ministers, to the cleaners in Aso rock, the answer to every question is: Let us pray for the President to recover quickly.

Let us believe the best.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Myth #2: It Takes Two (Fair Is Fair!)

"Every marriage tends to consist of an aristocrat and a peasant."
- John Updike

Not everyone will marry. That's a fact we must learn to live with.

If you are one person with a rather acute sense of fairness and equality, the institution of marriage might just not be for you; unless you are prepared to chuck some of those ideals out the windows. Marriage, by its very nature is steeped in inequalities. In fact, that's what makes marriage unique.

A marriage is not a partnership, it is a union.

That is why the very idea of a pre-nuptial agreement totally negates the idea of marriage. Unless of course its a business arrangement.

Someone once defined a marriage as like the relationship between a statue and a pigeon. The pigeon perches on the statue and shits on it and what not; the statue does not seem to complain -at least not openly. If you are in a marriage, on some days you are the pigeon, on some other days you are the statue. Live with it.

It is not possible for two people to love each other equally, one must love the other more -at different times in the life of the relationship. Whatever the reasons for getting married, of necessity, one must need the other more.

A clergyman friend of mine once told me this: It does not take two people to make a marriage work, success in marriage depends on the 'Power of One'. At any point in a successful marriage, one person is giving more, doing more, being more for both of them but because of the deliberate opacity of marriage, people on the outside do not usually see this.

Examples abound of this for me and I believe you have a few examples of your own too.

My friend Chinedu works in telecoms with an annual salary of about N4m, his wife Amarachi works in a bank with take home close to N3m per annum. They are from similar family backgrounds, children of retired civil servants. They have two beautiful children.

Nedu and I have been friends like forever; our families are like 5 and 6. I know that he pays the rent, the children's school fees and other fees around the house including feeding money. His siblings go to public schools - his kid sister is in LASU while the brother is in secondary school. Nedu pays their fees too because his parents are retired.

Sometime in 2006, Nedu's mum had to queue in the sun at LASUTH, Ikeja in order to get the free eye surgery for cataract removal sponsored by the government of Bola Tinubu, she also got a free pair of glasses. I know these because I drove her there.

Amara's brother is in Covenant University and she pays the fees. Her two sisters are in private secondary schools. Sometime last year, her employers sponsored a vacation for the famly in the UK. She went with her Dad and the children. Her Dad actually went for a comprehensive medical check-up in London and was treated for some minor ailments while there. Amara paid for it.

For some time, I used to think that the marriage was not fair to my friend. Until one day it hit me, Nedu had never complained to me! For as long he was happy in his marriage whatever the configuration, it was not any of my business.

Marriage is an eternal work-in-progress, a perpetual balancing act.

Marriages fail when one person decides that its not worth it anymore.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Myth #1: Its All About You!

"When the one man loves the one woman and the one woman loves the one man, the very angels desert heaven and come and sit in the house and sing for joy." - Brahma Sutra

People get married for so many reasons.

Some marry for love. Some marry for money. Some marry for security. Some marry for comfort. Some marry for positioning. Some marry for the baby. Some even marry for the wedding.

Usually, we all have our idea of a dream marriage (or dream wedding) and this idea/wish forms the basis of our 'reasons' for getting married but we mostly keep our 'reasons' to ourselves. We play our games right up until the wedding (or after) without the other person suspecting a thing. Then we settle down to 'live the dream'.

Problem is: We expect the other person to fit perfectly into our dream. And they don't. Then we get mad and wonder if we married the wrong person. Truth is, we married the right person for our 'reasons'. But then, our 'reasons' may have changed.

After all, he still owns that same airline and earns that same fantastic income as when you were courting and it fitted right into your 'reasons'. She's still the Most Beautiful Girl in Nigeria 1974 and she still earns good money from endorsements. She's still the daughter of Lord Rumblesbottom with all her Dad's connections. Besides, the PT stick still shows positive.

Nothing has really changed. Or has it? For one, you are now Mrs. Rumblesbottom-Ugbodikoko. But the change is more than in the name.

At the point you get married, everything changes. It is so subtle and you might have missed it but it happened. You may wake up to it the morning after or a year later, but it happened.

Since I came to this realization, I have watched wedding officiators try to explain something to the couples they wed. They try to tell them about the 'Divine Equation'; some times they fumble IMO and even when they get it right, the couples just don't get it.

The Divine Equation can be expressed as 1+1=1. Simple, abi?

I have seen some Pastors using the 'leave to cleave' passage from Genesis to explain this. Some have even used it to justify their arguments against hyphenated surnames - since they are supposed to become the mythical 'one'.

I don't want to go spiritual here but let me just say that the Divine Equation states that at the point of marriage between two people (usually a man and a woman), a third entity is formed. That entity is the Marriage.

From the moment they are married, the Marriage takes precedence over and above the constituent parts. It really does not matter who or what you were before, when you marry, you work at the Marriage. People shouldn't see you any longer rather they should see the Marriage.

People - especially Africans - will stop asking about your job, car or house once you are married. After 'How are you?' they ask about your spouse or the children. From then on it is about the Marriage. Remember, 1+1=1.

Does this mean that you lose your self in marriage? No. It means you are willing to submit of yourself in marriage. Remember, all former documents remain valid.

Some people say marriage is sacrifice. I don't agree wholly. Sacrifice can be forced. You can be made to sacrifice even against your will. Marriage is about submission. Its about what you are willing to give; about acceptance from the power of choice not a resignation from powerlessness.

The Marriage is only as strong as what both parties in it are willing to submit. If either or both gives 0.9 then it can't be 1+1=1. If he has $1 billion but is only willing to submit $900 million to the Marriage, beware. If she starts giving you conditions before she can be called Mrs. Rumblesbottom-Ugbodikoko, beware.

Think about the most successful marriages you know and try to decipher what either party in the marriage is doing to make the marriage work. If you can, then the marriage is not as strong as it appears. When a marriage is successful, it looks effortless. Its like they are doing nothing.

In reality, they are doing nothing. The Marriage they have built does it all for them.

It is really not about you. Neither is it about you too. Its about the Marriage.

Live with it.

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Six Myths About Marriage

"A happy man marries the girl he loves; a happier man loves the girl he marries."

Yes, I still have Laspapi's Tarzan Monologues on my mind.

The same weekend that my uncle was celebrating his fortieth wedding anniversary was also our own fifth wedding anniversary. Expectedly, my wife and I had several interesting discussions on what we will do to make it to forty. We concluded that it was best to just live it one day at a time.

I do some work with an NGO as a sort of relationship advisor. In the course of my duties, I usually meet with couples - both married and intending to marry. Most of the time I just listen and you will be amazed at the kind of things that people say they go through in their relationships. I have discovered that most people have created myths about the institution of marriage.

Most of these myths are based on misinformation. Misinformation fuelled by wrong attitudes.

Most of these misinformation unfortunately come from so called 'experts' and contained in books and magazines. For the wrong attitudes, I hold magazines like Cosmo responsible. And some of our 'Singles & Married' pastors. Some of them just don't have a clue.

Most of these myths are about the other sex. Myths about Men or Women in marriage. If these were all, there really wont have been much problems but sometimes, people have created myths about marriage itself.

I have tried to compile some that I have discovered both in the course of my own marriage and from listening to others. Some of them I had myself going into marriage but I believe I am wiser now.

I do not claim to know it all. After all, I am still married. And still learning. Please feel free to disagree with me.

These myths are about the Who, What, When, Why and How of marriage. The sixth myth I am still trying to grapple with. Here's hoping we will unravel it together in the next six weeks.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Married Life!

I was at a recently married friend's place over the weekend and they were obviously still in their post-honeymoon daze. Everywhere in the house was littered with photographs, cards and gifts -opened and unopened. Since most of the gifts were wall-clocks anyway, the couple decided to stop opening until probably later.

I also noticed so many cards, many wishing them a happy married life.

How would you describe a Happy Married Life? Is there really anything like a happy married life?

Or is it as my good friend Abadingo said, that the words 'happy' and 'married' cannot exist in the same sentence? You are either happy or you are married. They are mutually exclusive.

I told about an uncle who recently celebrated his fortieth wedding anniversary. I went to see him during the week. I looked at their wedding picture again, he was a young man of 23, recently graduated from university and just got a job. She was a wide eyed, very pregnant woman of 20, recently qualified as a teacher.

I couldn't help but ask him if he had thought about what they would be doing in forty years time. He did not. Remember that this was in the middle of the Nigerian Civil war. They were afraid but they lived everyday as it came.

So I asked him: Has he had a happy married life?

He answered emphatically in the affirmative. I wonder can he be for real?

What do you think?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Me, Tarzan

So I finally went to the Theater@Terra with Madam to see the Tarzan Monologues.

Yeah, I know. The whole world and his wife had already seen it.

We were probably the last couple in. We had to attend an Uncle's 40th wedding anniversary (yes 4-zero) and thus missed the 3 o'clock show. We barely made the 6 o'clock.

I finally saw Laspapi. No, I did not get to meet him. He was just too busy. I think the guy took on too many roles.

Writer, Producer, Director, Ticket seller, Ticket puncher, Doorman, Compere, Show Opener, Show Closer. etc etc etc. I know the budget was tight but there must have been other guys who could do other things.

But the show must go on.

The show itself was superb. I cannot now say whether it was superb acting or superb directing. I think all the actors gave a good account of themselves. But then, the play itself was very well written. An actor's delight, you might call it. Allowed them a lot of freedom to express themselves.

All the monologues were well delivered.

One question. Why Tarzan Monologues? Why not Penis Monologues? Or just P-Monologues? Like the female version.

Why Jack Gowon's Mother? Why not Yakubu Gowon's Mother? Most Nigerians don't know him as Jack. Maybe this was written for a British audience. Maybe.

And the 6 Myths About Marriage , Madam would not let me hear the last of them. Particularly the 6th one.

We got home quite late last night. We went elsewhere after the Monologues.

My mother was with us. She had come for her brother's wedding anniversary. And she asked me. Remember, there were two of us who came home late but she asked me:

N'ibo n'iwo ti n'bo l'oru yi? (Where are you coming from this night?)

In my own house?!!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Why Do Women Have Sex?

Simple question, right?


Even in a study conducted by women on women, it still comes out that no one but NO ONE can understand women.

In the online survey of 1,000 women aged from 18 to 87 by Meston and Buss, as reported by Deborah Kotz in the USNews, you would have expected to get simple straight forward answers like for procreation, or for pleasure but the number one reason women have sex is ... wait for it ...... because they are attracted to their partners!

What has attraction got to do with anything? Hey, what do I know, I'm just a man abi? Lower down the list were reasons connected with love and emotional bonding.

There were other reasons too:
- to bring them closer to God. Really?!
- to get back at partners who weren't faithful by having sex with someone else.
- Competition 'Gotcha' sex: who gets him first!
- to get another notch on their belt, which we typically think of as something men do.
- to get rid of their virginity. O m'eziokwu!
- Sympathy sex" because they felt sorry for their mate. The poor guy will NEVER hear the last of it.
- Economic Exchange sex to land a job or promotion or to get money or drugs. OK.OK.OK.

But you will not believe that after all these confessions and enlightening revelations, the authors still arrived at some very strange conclusions like
" .... we see that men are still more likely to engage in uncommitted sex, like one-night stands .. "
"... more women still make the connection between love and sex..."
"... men are definitely more willing to have sex because of physical attraction ...". W-h-h-a-a-a-a-a-t?!!!

Anyway, was it not a woman who said that men are dogs because they sleep around. As if they sleep with goats.

And this lie that women make the connection between love and sex should stop o. If this were so, why do men fall in love with prostitutes? Hello, Pretty Woman!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Maybe Nkrumah Was Right

I had wanted to post this on Nigeria's independence day but somehow work got in the way and I could not.

Monday 21st September 2009 marked the centenary of the birth of Osagyefo Kwame Nkrumah and the government of the Republic of Ghana actually declared a year-long celebration culminating on the anniversary of the birthday of its first Prime Minister and President.

The more I read about this remarkable African, the more I appreciated why Ghanaians celebrated him thus.

I got an audio copy of Nkrumah's 'Africa Must Unite' speech at the founding of the Organization of African Unity in Addis Ababa 1963 and I could not but marvel at the profundity of his vision. His vision, as expounded at the summit was obviously very far ahead of his time. Also, his speech at the United Nations in 1960 was a masterpiece in all respects and must have been seen as a sort of 'bring-it-on' by the Western powers at that time.

As a Pan Africanist and leader of an independent Ghana - Africa's first independent nation - Nkrumah's major preoccupation was to encourage the other African countries to continue to demand for independence and he did this with a swagger that was infuriating to the colonial powers, particularly France which did not seem to have had any plans to leave its African colonies - even till today.

Nkrumah looked to Nigeria even at that time to become an African regional power given its sheer size and resource wealth but the Nigerian leaders at that time were very suspicious of his intentions and also of themselves.

Zik, his fellow Lincoln University alumnus and Pan-Africanist, had found himself in the position of a ceremonial President that was powerless and limiting while Awolowo appeared content just playing his politics locally.

As far as the pan-africanist agenda was concerned, Nigeria was of no use. Of all his seminal speeches however, the singular statement that Nkrumah made that was of significance to the Nigerian government of Prime Minister Tafawa Balewa and most Nigerians of that time was the one about Nigeria being ' ... big for nothing ..'

Domestically, Nkrumah ran a unitary government in Ghana in spite of it being composed of up to fifty different ethnic nationalities. He believed more in a federal Africa with the countries as the federating units than in a country with federating units. He practically forced Ghanaians to inter-marry and live outside their native environments.

Achievements were purely on merit. The whole of Ghana competed with itself. No 'local champions'. No 'catchment area'. No 'quota system'. His style of government is credited in part for the unity among Ghanaians till today.

Comparing all these with Nigeria, I just could not help but wonder where we got it wrong.

I could not help but think; Maybe this federalism is just over-hyped after all.

Maybe Nkrumah was right after all.

Maybe Nigeria is just big for nothing.

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