Tag: Nigeria

When Privilege Comes Knocking

When Privilege Comes Knocking

“Count your blessings, name them one by one;
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done”

The quote above is from a popular Christian hymn, “Count Your Blessings” by Johnson Oatman Jnr, however, fear not; this is not a proselytising article. The hymn just kept ringing in my head as I picked up my laptop to compose this article. I’m typing this article at the twilight of Good Friday 2019, influenced by four key events from the receding week.

The first trigger came from a Twitter thread I chanced upon during the week.

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In the thread, the poster gave an abridged outline of his circumstances regarding his affluent Alma mater and the present state of the Nigerian economy. The summary goes like this: David and his friends from “elite backgrounds” attended a high brow secondary school and most went on to earn degrees in foreign universities; some had opportunities to work abroad and a number of them returned to Nigeria to work. His schoolmates now have kids and suddenly realised they cannot afford to pay the school fees required to attend their expensive Nigerian Alma mater. At this point, even Jeremiah the Prophet would weep at the Lamentations of David.

Another trigger came from a Zikoko article I read during the week. This article described the life of a Nigerian who finished secondary school but could not afford the Senior School Certificate Exam. As a result, instead of his dream of studying law, he was forced to live a life where his daily sustenance flowed from jobs that are physically tasking and sometimes potentially fatal. One of such jobs literally involved a cycle of back-breaking work one month followed by a month of sickness. He still looks back at the critical point in his life when his final exams were unaffordable.

The third trigger occurred during a trip across Third Mainland Bridge in Lagos. As the bus crawled through the stream of vehicles on the routinely congested bridge, my wife pointed to the slums adjoining the bridge. At the edge of an area filled with wooden houses, canoes, and the smell of burning wood, we saw several persons at different points squatting next to the river to defecate. Recognising that these were persons lacking access to good sanitation and water, my mind jumped to the Sustainable Development Goal #6 and Nigeria’s shameful position as a country with one of the highest number of persons who defecate publicly (23.5% of the population).

The final trigger for this article occurred at the popular Obalende in Lagos. Walking down one of its linked flyover bridges, I became aware that someone was sleeping on the roof of a wooden “house”. I enclosed “house” in inverted commas because “slum structure” might be more appropriate. On a different day, I had seen two persons sleeping on the ground outside one of the wooden structures in that area. Again, my mind jumped to available statistics about the lack of sufficient housing units in Nigeria, coupled with the high poverty rate which makes good housing unaffordable to many Nigerians.

At this point you might be asking for the nexus between all I have recounted and “privilege”, after all, that is the title of this article. Just like Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”, I have just described two disparate worlds within the same country. Nigeria is a nation of two realities that dumbfound each other. In the same country where millions poo in streams, bushes, gutters, and on asphalt roads, some others’ biggest worry is their inability to pay ₦3.5 million naira annually as school fees for their kids. In the same country where thousands risk their lives hawking on highways from morning until nightfall, some others worry that they might not be able to afford a summer vacation to Paris to see the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Am I disparaging the legitimate concerns of people like David about their economic prospects in Nigeria? Of course not! Even I want to achieve financial independence and have enough for all my needs plus a bit extra for the accompanying wants. My aim with this article is to point out some privileges we take for granted. While David and his peers worry about being able to pay a certain school’s fees, there are millions of persons who just want to be able to complete their education at a dilapidated public school. Many of us are born with certain privileges even though we tend to look at the “elite” as the privileged ones. For example, if you are reading this article, it’s likely you have enjoyed the privilege of formal education, access to the internet, and a functional device. We might debate whether some of these should be termed as rights or privileges, but until a time when every person is guaranteed access to these things, they remain privileges.

Awareness of our privileged positions should do two things for us: make us thankful, and make us think about how we can help others having less fortune. Thankfulness like the introductory hymn advises, can help us take life a little bit less seriously and avoid unnecessary burnouts knowing that at the end, what’s important is that we can have a “good life”, not whether we can beat Jeff Bezos to the top. On the other hand, concern for the less privileged can clip the wings of pride, and make us better humans contributing to a better society.

Image Credit: debarghyadas.com

Now that the Elections have Ended

Now that the Elections have Ended

A little while has passed since the last time I tapped my keyboard composing a document that was unrelated to my day job. In the intervening time, I got married, and Nigeria held its most expensive elections ever to select office holders for the next four years. Except for my Rivers State, which now operates a different wavelength, other states have concluded their selection processes. Today’s article is more of a potpourri of my thoughts on different issues related to the elections. Although each issue merits a full article in its own rights, let’s accept what will be a summarisation.

Continue reading “Now that the Elections have Ended”
Still Washing Pigs

Still Washing Pigs

After reading my last article on issues affecting Port Harcourt, a certain friend of mine called me to discuss the main ideas in the article. In a one hour-plus WhatsApp call, this Nigerian “externally displaced” in the United States, made the point that my article was trying to solve a problem by complaining about the symptoms. Whereas I did not necessarily agree with his entire viewpoint, a key idea stood out—his application of Jesus’ Parable of the Prodigal Son to events in Nigeria and Africa. Continue reading “Still Washing Pigs”

Kemi Adeosun: Beyond a Resignation

Kemi Adeosun: Beyond a Resignation

It is no longer news that Mrs Folakemi Adeosun is no longer the Nigerian Minister of Finance. If like Jesus on the way to Emmaus, you are unaware of the events surrounding her exit, you might want to read the Premium Times (PT) article that set off the stack of dominoes. While Nigerians continue discussing her exit, amidst insinuations that the announcement was timed to obfuscate President Buhari’s latest SSS appointment, my view is that her resignation should not be an end in itself but rather, the start of a reflective process.  Continue reading “Kemi Adeosun: Beyond a Resignation”

S for Sarcasm Unscripted

S for Sarcasm Unscripted

Prologue: The following is a redacted chat between some members of a certain WhatsApp group. The banter is around President Buhari’s candidacy in the 2019 election. I decided to turn the transcript into a blog post. Only members of that group can identify the participants. If the “S” in “Sarcasm” has not already informed you, please be aware the following conversation is intended for humour.

‪Amadi: We have decided not to work on ourselves, hence no single man of competence (integrity and character) to lead the country out of the abyss.

That’s why it is the same set of people that keep recycling.

Imagine Obasanjo of all people running helter-skelter to form alliance so that he’ll continue to gain relevance and call the shots. What does he want to improve by his protege that he could not have done during his 12-year reign?

Bobby: Don’t mind that man jare. We will shock him. We will vote for Buhari to continue to move the country forward.

Out of 200 million people, how can we not have one competent person that will seize power from those tyrants. Buhari at his old age managed to do so and all they do is criticize the poor man.

Charles: You sha won’t blind yourself with this “light” you’re always seeing.

Bobby: 😡😡😡😡Don’t spoil my post with your sarcasm.

I’m serious at the moment please.

Even after transforming Abuja into a mini-London with state-of-the-art train system, your religious and ethnic bias still blinds you to the fact that the old man means business.

You guys never cease to amaze me.

Desmond: Don’t mind these ungrateful Nigerians.

Bobby: It’s until he builds train to the moon you’ll agree he’s working abi?

Desmond: An old man who should be chilling with his great grandchildren brought himself forward to deliver this country out of the abyss, yet some unpatriotic rabble-rousers choose to malign his every move.

Bobby: I wonder o

Desmond: They don’t want to adulate the days of little beginnings😒

Evans: How come I never see these things? 🤔

Bobby: Ethnic and religious bias na

At least, Buhari is still trying. What did Obj do when he was there?

Desmond: As long as you now see, we can forgive you. Go and sin no more

Bobby: Obj is even worse. He did nothing for his hometown (Abeokuta) when he was there. At least Buhari is fighting for grazing land for his kinsmen.

Desmond: $16 billion and no single wire was bought by him.

Bobby: Abi o….

Desmond: We have to appreciate Buhari, the only incorruptible Messiah sent by God to rescue Nigeria from the fraudsters of the last 16 years. The only guy who had to borrow money to buy his presidential form.

Imagine the patriotism! He was willing to risk being in debt just because of his undying love for us. I feel like crying at this point. I’m just overwhelmed by this new enlightenment😥

Sai Buhari! Sai Baba forever…

Charles: I envy you guys with opened veils beholding the wonders of Buhari o

What must I do to be saved?

I really envy you guys

Desmond: Brother, believe in God and you shall make it. Believe in Buhari his chosen Messiah and Nigeria shall be established. Let go of your sinful ways and thoughts. Only behold the beauty that is the righteousness of Buhari.

Come and taste and see that Buhari is good.

Charles: No confession?

Like something to repeat after you?

Desmond: It’s not about repetition. It’s in you. Once you come into the manifestation of the light, you would know a joy that passes all understanding. That’s nirvana where you no longer think about that visa you applied for but trust wholeheartedly in Buhari to deliver Nigeria into a state of bliss.

Charles: I’M HOME.

EUREKA!!!

Desmond: I’m happy you’re gradually seeing the light. Just keep your eyes fixed on that shiny spot.

Charles: I BELIEVE

I’m a new Buharian. I’m proud to be one. I will shout this to the ends of the earth.

Are there manuals I can read, so that I can grow more as a baby Buharian?

Evans: Start watching NTA. Recommended for beginners.

Charles: OK sir. I would appreciate more suggestions.

Someone told me I should listen regularly to one Prophet Lai. Hope it won’t be too much for me sir?

Please I don’t want to get “light” constipation o.

Fidelis: Yeeeeessssssss!

My brothers have seen the light!

I’ve been saying this for too long.

I kept the faith! Now I have brethren in the faith.

Someone that is over 70 (perfection X 10) – for those that understand the language of the spirit, came to sacrifice his retirement period for the survival of our fatherland. He’s not only president but also minister of petroleum. Double honour!

When he was terribly sick, where others would have resigned and given up, he kept the faith in himself and came back continue the rescue mission.

Completing the projects of previous administrations. That is, places where he couldn’t be alpha, he ensured he was omega.

How many people can boast of that?

Evans: No one, Mai bródà

Fidelis: The greatest achievement is that now our place in the committee of nations has been elevated. The whole of Africa, using our road map to fight corruption in their countries.

We’re the pacesetters.

We’re the trailblazers.

A country set upon a hill that can never be hidden.

I leave you all with the greatest song of victory and doggedness!

Sai Baba! Sai Buhari! 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾

Evans: 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽

G.O.: It is well with your souls🤷🏽‍♂

Brethren, close your eyes in deep sleep tonight for you have beholden the wonders that true light shows. May these newly found lights of yours never grow dim. #ItIsWell

Epilogue: Whereas the interaction above seems like a drama script. It was totally unplanned. A group of persons were discussing the state of politics in Nigeria and one response just led to another. Knowing that codeine has been banned in Nigeria, it is possible that the participants were victims of second-hand marijuana smoke.

Image Credit: auselt.com

None of Two Evils

None of Two Evils

Let me begin with a quote attributed to Howard Dean: “I’m just disappointed that once again, we may have to settle for the lesser of two evils.” This quote was issued with respect to the 2004 US Elections. Applying this quote to Nigeria, especially in light of the fast-approaching general elections, a reader would be forgiven for quickly linking it to the presidential election. However, that is not my intention here. The presidential election, unlike some would argue, is not a choice between two evils.  Continue reading “None of Two Evils”

SARS: When Lawlessness is the Law

SARS: When Lawlessness is the Law

“Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster… for when you gaze long into the abyss. The abyss gazes also into you.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

There is this crude joke by some Nigerians that should they find themselves being sentenced to hell, they would argue that God should not cause double jeopardy since their lifetime in Nigeria was spent in hell. While this joke may seem out of place, it highlights what some (maybe many) Nigerians think about living in a country where illegality is legal.  Continue reading “SARS: When Lawlessness is the Law”