COMMOTION IN THE NLC MIRRORS THE VALUES IN OUR SOCIETY

My friend Opeyemi Tegbe returns with something from the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC). For regular readers of this blog, you’d have noticed he likes talking politics, today isn’t different. He connects the dot between the NLC and the polity. Read and enjoy.

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Most often when we try to analyse politics in Nigeria, our main focus is always the highly placed political leaders, forgetting the fact that it is a bottom-up approach. A lot of sectors, groups as well as individual entities in Nigeria have lost their proper course of establishment and operations due to pursuance of selfish interest on the part of major players. This, over the years, has led to little or no consideration for the growth and development of our society.

Perhaps, if you have enough information about the housing scandal perpetrated by officials of the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), then unsuccessful election stories should not be a shocker. On May 1, 2013, the Abdulwaheed Omar-led NLC executive flagged off a housing scheme in conjunction with Kriston Lally EPC Nigeria. The Deputy President of NLC, Promise Adewusi and Umar Madawaki, Managing Director of Kriston Lally, earlier signed an agreement on April 6 of the same year. The NLC was supposed to provide land while Kriston Lally would build the houses across the country. The cost ranges from N4.6 million for two-bedroom detached bungalows to N6.5 million for three-bedroom bungalows and N18.5 million for four-bedroom bungalows. Subscribers were asked to pay N5,000 each for forms and 10 percent of the total cost for their desired houses. But the good part of the story ended there!

The housing scheme discussed above is the root of the problem rocking the largest and most powerful labour group in Nigeria and explains why the body cannot afford to hold a free and fair election. The NLC has been in the news for the wrong reasons in the past few weeks and one could not but cringe at the reality that our politicians are not worse off than labour activists. From a N960 billion housing scandal – yes, you read the figure correctly – to an election that ended in a fiasco on February 12 at the end of its delegates conference, it is very clear that the moral high ground that the NLC loves to occupy is not more than a mere cosmetic elevation which is far from reality.

If you’re bothered about the need for alternatives to the vultures rampaging Nigeria and claiming to be our leaders, you must be worried about the show of shame in the house of labour because the stems can only flourish if the the root does not tap the necessary recourses into the system of the plant as a whole. A house divided against itself can neither grow internally nor add value to its immediate environment.

Do we know how many houses in Nigeria are divided? Let all the houses put themselves in order and as such, we will feel the aggregate effect in the leadership of our country sooner than we expect.

PS: You might see less of Opeyemi here as he will be busy with his baby-project. This is wishing him and his entire crew success. You can check what he is up to here.

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TEJU COLE AND HIS OPEN CITY

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No doubt, Teju Cole doesn’t have Chimamanda Adichie’s kind of fame, so almost every time that I discuss him, the usual question is – who is Teju Cole? A little introduction, Teju Cole is a Nigerian-American writer, photographer, and art historian. He’s one of those currently flying Nigeria’s flag in the literary world. I put him in the same class with Chimamamda Adichie and Sefi Attah. Although he seems the least popular of the three but he rightfully belongs to that class because the three keep the world conscious of the fact that the country that produced Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka still produces fine writers.

At this point, one might be tempted to ask why it is that almost all (if not all) the internationally acclaimed best selling Nigerian writers aren’t based in Nigeria. In my honest opinion, I think it boils down to two things – education and exposure. We really do not need to belabour ourselves with the deplorable state of Nigeria’s educational system. On exposure, Teju Cole himself is a good illustration of that. His first novella, Everyday is for the thief was first published in Nigeria in 2007 and failed to draw the world’s attention. It took Random House’s re-publishing of the book for it to receive accolades to the point of being referred to as – arguably the best book about contemporary Lagos published in the past decade. It might be apposite to share how The Independent put it – Nigerians seem to have to leave the country and establish themselves outside its phantasmagoria of moral despair before their voices can gain any kind of authority.

We live in a time of peace, relatively, and so the first question the book Open City might throw at us is – what is an open city? According to wikipedia,
In war, in the event of the imminent capture of a city, the government/military structure of the nation that controls the city will sometimes declare it an open city, thus announcing that they have abandoned all defensive efforts. The attacking armies of the opposing military will then be expected not to bomb or otherwise attack the city, but simply to march in. The concept aims at protecting the historic landmarks and civilians who dwell in the city from an unnecessary battle.  The only time we come across the word ‘open city’ in the book is when Julius makes a visit to Brussels and informs us that Brussels was declared an open city during the second world war.

I got to know of Teju Cole on twitter through his now rested tweets code-named small fates. Small fates was Cole’s way of compressing news items into twitter’s 160-letter limit while exploiting wit, dark humour and sarcasm. Here is an example of a small fate –
“Not far from the Surulere workshop where spray-painter Alawiye worked, a policeman fired into the air. Gravity did the rest.” ( @tejucole 8:57am, 3/20/12)

Open city is the story of Julius, who shares certain similarities with Cole himself (e.g age and migration to the US from Nigeria), as he walks through New York (and shortly, Brussels), and meets a wide range of people. One striking thing about the book is Cole’s brilliance. Cole took us through the labyrinth of his own mind and the several components therein. Through Julius, Cole discusses social and critical theory, art, music and books with details and recollection fit for a master virtuoso.

Open city is not your everyday idea of a novel. At first it didn’t strike me like a book I would love to read but I kept at it because it is a book I have been looking forward to read since 2012. Cole began to catch my interest as he shares his boarding school experience at the Nigerian Military School, Zaria which is similar to my own experience in FGC Ikirun.

An exceptionally brilliant book with almost no flaw. The only flaw I noticed was in the narration of Julius’ excursion to the interior of Yorubaland. I’m unable to fathom how Julius and his family was able to tour the Deji’s palace in Akure, the Ooni’s in Ife, the Ikogosi Warm Springs and the Olumo Rock in one trip. That seems to me like biting more that one mouthful.

A plus for the book, in my opinion, is Cole’s ability to give a superb delivery without devoting great attention to sex. In the age of fifty shades, the book unbelievably avoids sex except for a one night stand Julius had in Brussels. Despite this, the book can’t be said to bore.

What more can I say about the book that Time picked as one of the top ten novels of 2011. It sure is a good book to get and to read.

I am @seunalade

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2015 POLLS: WHY ALL NIGERIANS MUST PARTICIPATE

Almost everywhere you turn, the discussions centre on politics. It is another general election year in Nigeria and so it is not surprising that the streets, offices and media are all agog with political discussions. My friend, Opeyemi Tegbe returns with another political post on why all eligible voters must vote, enjoy it.

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The beauty of democracy lies in the ability of the citizens to rule and not being ruled by an alien power. Hence, the ultimate rulers of our democracy should not be the political leaders but the voters. However, the degree of participation of eligible and concerned citizens is very fundamental to the development of democracy in any nation.

Over the years, statistics have shown poor turnout of voters during elections in Nigeria. As a result, we need to convince ourselves of the necessity attached to voting in any democracy. Frankly speaking, why millions of people turn out to vote in every national election in Nigeria and other large democracies is one of the persistent mysteries in the rational theory of politics. In fact, some people believe that individual voting is irrational as one vote will not stop the emergence of the winner in an election. Contrary to this opinion, I am here to point out to all well-meaning Nigerians the reasons why they need to vote in this forthcoming general election. There are a lot of reasons for us to exercise our voting right in the forthcoming election but the next few paragraphs of this write up will cover some of them. 

1. CURRENT ECONOMIC DOWNTURN:
President Obama, while speaking in an international conference in Greece, said one of the means by which countries of the world can manage current fall in prices of petroleum products in the global market is ‘efficient management of resources.’ In reality, you and I know that this condition, as advised by the American president comes with good leadership which can only be achieved if we get it right with our democratic process. Unfortunately for my beloved country, Nigeria happens to be one of the few countries that are ‘directly’ affected by the current global economic situation as sales of crude oil is the live wire of our revenue base. Truly, the world economic atmosphere currently features unpleasant and unfavourable conditions but leadership can make the difference from one country to another. The choice is ours if only we decide to choose!

2. ‘FALSE’ REPRESENTATION OF MAJORITY:
I will like to start by using a simple illustration. If as a farmer, I have resources to grow 100 plants of a particular cash crops and I need 51 plants to be fruitful before I can meet my budget. Ordinarily, if a plant goes bad, the probability that it will affect my profit is 0.01(1/100) which is obviously insignificant. But what if all plants go bad? The reasoning goes that, if everybody thought that voting was irrational and a waste of time, majority would not vote and democracy would collapse. As electorates, the essence of election is to join forces with people that are thinking the same way you do. The mind of ‘majority’ must be truly represented and this can be achieved if all eligible voters participate.

3. ELECTORAL MANIPULATION:
Generally, I believe that one of the ways to manipulate elections is by disenfranchising voters and the more people participate, the more difficult it is to manipulate the result of any polls. Poor turnout has always been an avenue for political hooligans to manipulate results. However, I believe that disenfranchisement is of two types namely: Self-induced and process-induced. The self-induced type is when an electorate, whether intentionally or otherwise, decides not to vote; while the process-induced is as a result of faulty electoral process.

Well, according to the INEC chairman, with the postponement of the 2015 elections by six weeks, there is no excuse for the commission (INEC) not to ‘significantly’ conclude the distribution of Permanent Voter’s Card (PVC). I so much appreciate his choice of word “significantly.” In arithmetic and statistics, significance means 95% and above. I was prompted to write this piece when I saw the figures recently reported by INEC as per eligible voters who have shown the willingness to vote by collecting their PVC. The details revealed that 79% of the PVCs have just been distributed and thus the commission claims that 21% would have been disenfranchised if the election was not postponed but I disagree with this position. Our last population census revealed that about 65% of Nigerians fall within age 18 and above which is approximately about 90,000,000 people as against the 70,383,427 people registered by INEC. This simply shows that about 20,000,000 voters have already been disenfranchised in the registration process. This does not look good for the present and future of our democracy. We must bear in mind that if we decide to disenfranchise ourselves, we are indirectly calling for the manipulation of our economy and the wellbeing of the nation for years to come.

We cannot continue to sit in the corners of our rooms and condemn our leaders, most especially when you have no contribution to the emergence of such leaders. A New Nigeria is not possible without our choice. Don’t allow others to decide your future. This, evidently, may subvert the purposes of democracy. As INEC postpones the distribution of PVC till 08 March 2015, I implore all Nigerians to do the possible best in ensuring that they get their PVC and cast votes wisely. By March 8th 2015, I hope all states would have reached the same level of turnout in Zamfara state, where a very large chunk of registered voters have already collected their PVCs, and if possible, surpass it. It is our call, so let us all answer with full determination.

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RECYCLED LEADERSHIP: HINDRANCE TO YOUTHS’ PARTICIPATION IN NIGERIA’S POLITICS

2015 is another general elections year and so, my friend Opeyemi Tegbe takes us through the world of politics. I hope you’d enjoy this piece as much as I did.

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Anyone who keeps a track on political happenings in Nigeria would have observed that most of the political offices in Nigeria are being occupied by the same set of people who have been in the corridors of power since the second republic. Thus, the general saying that youths are leaders of tomorrow is gradually becoming a mere promissory statement as far as youth participation in Nigeria’s leadership structure is concerned. Recycled leadership is one of the reasons why some of our youths are jobless and indisposed.

For the sake of clarity, I will like to cite an example of what I mean by ‘recycled leadership.’ In 1993, I remember vividly when I was in primary school(class 2), our teacher gave us an assignment to mention the names of past Nigerian presidents from 1960. Our teacher attached a reward to this assignment as we were required to present the assignment individually at the assembly ground and if you got it right, all the pupils would not only clap for you but also chant your name as ‘the leader of tomorrow.’ For our age, it was indeed a very sensitive reward. As kids, we all cherished this reward and decided to put in our best. Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo and Gen. Muhammadu Buhari were some of the names mentioned as leaders of yesterday. After 1993, one of the duo ruled Nigeria again for 8yrs and the other has been perennially jostling to be the president of Nigeria since 1999 till date. How I wish I can see my teacher right now and ask her a simple question – when will my tomorrow come? Don’t get me wrong, I am not here to campaign for/against any aspirant for the forthcoming general election.

Even our recycled leaders are aware of the jinx that stops the youths from being relevant in Nigerian politics. Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, posited that Nigerian youths must be given the chance to participate actively in the political leadership of the country. The governor stated this in a paper titled “Youth and the Future of Nigerian Politics’’ delivered at the 50th anniversary lecture of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall, University of Ibadan,
Enough is enough of the system that makes the youth political touts and bouncers. They must be effectively included in general party decision-making and leadership structure of all political parties.”

However, the incumbent governor of my native state tied the participation of youths to a condition. He said:
If the youth of this country must indeed be leaders of tomorrow, we must stop recycling grey-haired leaders in this country. There is no gainsaying the fact that the same set of people who had been ruling the country in the last 30-40 years are still the recurrent factors in rulership today.”
I am so glad that this statement was made by a 65 years old man who was a senator from 2003 to 2007 before emerging as the Oyo state governor in 2011.

Now that we are aware of one of the impediments for youth participation in politics, the next question should be – how do we remove it? In 2003, the World Bank came up with some submissions after the successful completion of a project tagged ‘WHERE LIES THE WEALTH OF A NATION?’ The research programme submitted that a nation must first develop her human resources before any other development can take place. This explains why countries with abundant natural resources are getting poorer and the ones with little or no natural resources are getting richer. The programme emphatically highlighted youth empowerment as a means to developing human resources in a nation.

Generally, I believe that empowerment is a product of good economic and educational system. These are two key means to empowerment of not only the youths of a country but also the entire citizenry. In the present scheme of things where the youths are jobless and cannot boast of a ‘today’, it would be very difficult to promise a  tomorrow for them. All efforts must thus be made to ensure that the youth are leaders of their stomachs today before we can consider them fit for leadership of the nation tomorrow.

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WELCOME 2015

“Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
– Albert Einstein

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Happy new year.

It’s the first post of the year on the blog and while I would love to admonish you to set goals for the year, I wouldn’t want to go deep into that because previous posts have touched on the subject. You can read this and this on goal settings and how it helps. One word before I move away from goal settings – no one succeeds by mistake. Part of the problems of this country is that we are a country of wishers! Success belongs to those who take steps towards it. If you want to reach a new height, try and follow the advice of one of the smartest men that ever walked this space – make a change!

In 2014, I said we would have a minimum of two posts per month on this blog. I kept to that, save for two months where we only published an article each. Nevertheless, we still went ahead and gave you twenty-four posts on this blog last year.

The blog statistics showed that viewership increased by 42% over that of 2013 and that the blog was viewed in 62 countries around the world! So, here is saying thank you to everyone that made the year an impressive one for this blog. A very big thank you to those who read and shared the posts.

A big thank you also goes to Douglas Oyakhire, Bernard John Terna and Opeyemi Tegbe for sharing their write-ups with us on the blog. Let me also specially thank Oke Adewuyi and Emcee who reblogged some of the posts. Thank you to Akinbobola Akintomide who helps with the domain name payment.

We will continue to build on the lessons learnt in 2014, so that we can serve you better in 2015. Now, you can send your comments, enquiries and suggestions to seunaladeblog@gmail.com. It’s one of the new ways to take the blog to the next level. And we hope to continue the sweet ride on the blog this year.

Once again, happy new year.

I am @seunalade on twitter.
Send your comments, enquiries and suggestions to seunaladeblog@gmail.com.

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BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS: BOOKS VS. REALITY

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
– Reinhold Niebuhr
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The title of today’s post seems to give it away as a contest, not a bad idea if we set books against reality, after all it is boxing day.

In 2006, I set lofty goals for myself. It was the year I clocked 20, so I thought it nice to grow my mind and spirit. To grow my mind, I set a target of reading at least 12 books in the year. One thing about goals is, you almost never hit the bull’s eye, so I ended reading about 36 books that year alone! I also went through the whole of the Bible. And you know what Ralph Waldo Emerson said, – “the mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions,” I have never been able to recover from the reading habit. Since that time till now, at every point in time I have at least a book I’m reading and right now, they are three – a fiction, an inspirational text and a christian text!

Just around that period I got attached to books by John C. Maxwell (I refer to myself as his disciple). I love his take on leadership. Just an aside, he gave me a follow back on twitter. The bulk of what I enjoy reading can be divided into three heads – success, leadership and relationship.

I love building relationships. As an individual, I am an outgoing introvert. Don’t be deceived, the keyword is introvert. The outgoing part doesn’t mean I enjoy partying or hanging out, it means I’m not the sulking, (entirely) boring and depressed introvert. If I find your company good enough, I could chat from morning till night. I know that relationships are essential. Humans are relational beings, we were meant to be interdependent. While building relationships come quite easy for sanguines, it isn’t that easy for phlegmatics. It is something we have to consciously work at. So, almost naturally, a brother had to read Dale Carnegie’s popular How to win friends and influence people .

No doubt, the book is a great self-help tool and it sure helps in penetrating through hard people. However, if you are an avid reader and not one who stops at just reading but goes further to practise the things you read you would have realised that there’s a great gulf between what you read and the way it plays out in real life. For starters, we know the difference in laws in pure science and laws in social science. To borrow the words of a great man, humans are not a subject of mathematical precision. We react differently to the same situations, so no singular approach is a one-size-fits-all for human beings.

In my opinion, I think there are three sets of people –
1. People who will like you regardless of what you do;
2. People who will like/dislike you based on what you do; and
3. People who will not like you regardless of what you do.
And here is where books come to play. For the first set of people, you don’t need any book knowledge to get along with them. They are jolly good fellows and they take life easy. The second set of people are the reasons why relationship books are written, book knowledge will help you know how to handle them. You need to be careful around them, read their moods, find out what they like and dislike. This set of people need to be studied for you to get along with them and once you unlock their secret codes, voila, you see them in a different light!

And for the last set of people, no amount of book knowledge will help you out in relating with them. Unlike what books will have you believe, you will never be able to break the hard code of some people. These people are hard, they decide who to like and who not to like. You have no part to play in the category you fall in with them. No matter what you do, they will always resist and make you believe you killed them in their former life and they are here to get back their pound of flesh. This is where Reinhold Niebuhr’s words come in – serenity to accept (who) you cannot change.

Don’t get me wrong, books are good but reality sometimes comes in shades not painted by books. This is my honest thought. You may disagree and I would love to hear your comments. Once again, compliments of the season.

I am @seunalade on twitter.

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IS IT MERRY CHRISTMAS IN CHIBOK?

Amidst the wining and dining that characterises the mood of today, a friend spares some thoughts for the over 200 girls that were kidnapped in Chibok. Enjoy this selfless piece sent in by Opeyemi Tegbe.

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All over the world people desire to be part of the joy and fun that is always associated with the celebration of Christmas. As the world celebrates the Christmas today, in fact, in a more narrow sovereign definition, as Nigeria celebrates Christmas today, it’s unfortunate that the Chibok community is celebrating Christmas without their 216 daughters. The girls, who were kidnapped by the Boko haram sect (meaning ‘western education is evil’) from their school on the 14th day of April, 2014, were reportedly 219 in number as at the moment they were kidnapped but reduced to 216 after 3 of the girls miraculously escaped from the camp of the Islamic sect. 

During an interview, the chairman of Chibok community in Abuja, Mutah Nkeki said: “We are saddened. Our girls are not back with us. It is devastating that we can’t celebrate this day with them. In a community, 219 girls are abducted. How many of us are remaining then? These girls are in their productive stage. Their absence is affecting on the community and it is like an entire tribe has been wiped out.” He also made it known that the community had lost hope in the government of the day – “ We have lost hope in the government. The way the abduction of our girls is being handled has shown us that we are not regarded as important people in the country. Compare how our Chibok girls’ abduction was handled to how Pakistan handled the case of 141 people including 132 children who were killed by the Taliban at an army-run school in Peshawar. Its response was immediate. If our government had responded immediately, our girls would have been back with us by now.”

Going by his utterances, Nkeki, like many other Nigerians, is disappointed in the government for failing in its responsibility of securing lives and properties of its citizens. There is no doubt, the Nigerian government has not only failed to rescue the Chibok girls, it has also failed in putting a stop to series of life-claiming attacks launched by the Islamic sect.

Honestly, it is about time we approached any issue that has to do with ‘the state of our nation’ in a more philosophical manner. By blaming insecurity on government, we also blame it on ourselves because we elected the people in government. Insecurity and any other contemporary matter facing our great nation emanated from fundamental and foundational errors which we have committed prior to this period. The problem is not just surfacing, it has only grown worse over the years. I believe the first step to extinguishing our smoke pipes as a country is by taking collective responsibility for the cause of the flames. President Obama said: “the #bringbackourgirls project is a global issue and not a Nigerian issue,” if non-Nigerians are willing to take responsibility, why should we Nigerians blame it on the government alone? Apart from using ballot papers to reposition our leadership structure in the country, we must take full responsibility for the current state of our nation and also put up the mindset that the solution to our problems can only come from us. Do not forget that elections come up once in 4 years but our contribution to the well-being of the nation as citizens is a recurrent activity.

A lot of questions are hanging in the air, questions like – are the Chibok girls not entitled to celebrate Christmas with their respective families? For how long will Nigerians suffer from the untraceable attacks of the Boko Haram sect? Don’t we have security agencies that can tackle the forbidden dominance of the Islamist sect in Nigeria? On a frank note, we are all responsible for providing answers to these questions.

Finally, please permit me to expand the scope of this article by altering its topic thus: IS IT A MERRY CHRISTMAS IN NIGERIA? Considering the pathetic situation of the Chibok girls, I am sure the answer that will come from every selfless Nigerian is “NO.” Therefore, as we celebrate the season, let us pray, meditate and also take selfless decisions for the sake of our beloved country. Merry Christmas and happy new year in advance.

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