Thursday, 31 March 2016


Watching TV and an attempt to just make common sense stokes my anger and further confirms that after so many years our journey to redemption in this country seems further from the end than the beginning.  I am surprised that Ben Murray Bruce will come out to tell teeming listeners and fans that the problem with Nigeria is a lack of unity, and the unity in countries (or in the names) like United States of America, United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates is what makes these countries great. I just cannot imagine someone of his caliber and standing coming up with such a pedestrian analysis of our condition; to put it mildly.

If just being unified will bring the change that we so need, then all of us united in the sufferings, all of us united under the harsh conditions; would have achieved it long ago before we had the good fortune of listening to him weekly. If unity was our problem, then we would have been heading to the soccer pitches to solve our problems as no other place in this country congregates such a large number of united Nigerians.

Unity is not the Problem. Nigerians are, and can be unified in many more ways than have been thought possible. The problem sir is a lack of responsibility and accountability in our society. This two are the parents of corruption and all the major ills that have robbed us of our pride of place.

If those entrusted with authority and leadership took up the responsibility of doing what was demanded of them, putting the responsibility of their office ahead of their personal gains or perks, we will be in a better place. If those that have gone contrary to their responsibility had been held accountable for their expressed or implied breach of responsibility, we will be in a better place. If responsibility and accountability are what they should be, corruption will not be so rife and neither will all its other addendums.

I have witnessed in the United States where a pedestrian challenged a driver for attempting to run a stop sign. He felt it was his responsibility to caution the driver; he did not pass the buck neither did he wait for the police to show up; still in America I have also experienced random strangers helping a lady with a baby carriage down the subway stairs without any expectation of gratification, in fact they leave before the second thank you is audible. The citizenry must be personally responsible and accountable for the society they want to live in.

Nigeria can just be Like Charles Osgood wrote, “There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have”. So if we are going to make it, every hand must be on deck, all boots must be on ground, and we must take up the responsibility of playing our part as should be, and hold those that need be, accountable, whatever their position or place in the society.

So please when next you come for our hearts and souls Mr. Ben, come correct.

God bless Nigeria.

Thursday, 17 March 2016


As part of the 2016 women’s History Month Program, the United States Embassy, Abuja organized a seminar themed: Women as Victims of Terrorism and I was privileged to be an attendee. Privilege because I had a rare opportunity to hear directly from some Nigerians at the forefront of catering to the needs of those in the Internally Displaced Peoples (IDPs) camps across the North East of the country, majority of which are women and children. Information that will not be accessed unless ones comes in contact with these people and the work they do, because the official channels of communication do not give them enough coverage and the government is “busy” with more pressing issues.

I had to hold back tears listening to different stories and firsthand accounts of the situations in the camps. The human tragedies that have befallen these people, the material and human losses they have suffered and still suffer in the camps. The inadequate arrangements in the camps, and alleged diversion of relief materials meant for these camps, the continued exploitation of women and girls in these camps, the inadequacy of government participation, and the multitudes of orphans and widows created by the insurgency.  

After hearing the stories of mothers relaying atrocities such as rapes, killings, and deaths witnessed while in captivity by Boko Haram, the anger becomes palpable especially when one considers the amounts of money that have been stolen and diverted from the fight against Boko Haram that would have prevented these losses or the current situations in the camps in addition to government’s response ranging from slow to outright neglect of the situation.

It dawn on me while listening that while the government tells us daily that Boko Haram is nearing its end, a new silent enemy created by these events is raring to manifest; those that have gone through these atrocities suffer different forms of psychological trauma and Post traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) that are seemingly being ignored while the fight against the physical enemy continues. This is even made worse by the fact that such things are not fully understood neither are their devastating effects on the lives of people fully appreciated in this part of the world.

How does someone who has witnessed the beheading, rape, and other atrocities of family members return to normal live, how do children in their formative years who have spent months in captivity being indoctrinated by Boko Haram fit back into society, how do women who had been forcefully married to Boko Haram fighters and had even taken part in these atrocities reintegrated into the society among those who were victims and know of their involvements? The questions can go on. Our society has very little skillset in managing unseen enemies; from denial to ascribing it to the gods, to accepting it as fate. We rarely have answers for what we cannot describe or understand and usually take the wrong steps in dealing with it. And where we do have the answers or solutions, other unimaginable things prevent its deployment.

There is a case of a girl that was returned home to her parents from Boko Haram captivity, her mother went out of the house only to come back to find out that the girl had killed her younger sister because the little girl was “annoying her”. There is also another case of a 10 year old boy that was almost beheaded by his peers in an IDPs camp. These attitudes to life were picked up in captivity and are expressions of the psychological state of these victims. How can they be reintegrated into society without causing harm to others or themselves? The government and people have to recognize that this is a clear and present danger and start the second phase of the war on Boko Haram: fighting to reclaim the hearts and minds of those that have been affected.

This campaign is going to be more herculean in nature taking into consideration the diversity of experiences and dynamic nature of human beings. The experiences and its effects will differ and so will the approaches to dealing with it. Even if it means getting international help from countries with established competencies in this area, it needs to be done. We cannot have any residues of tendencies or ideologies perpetuated by the insurgents in our societies (Boko Haram proxies); this will only be a recipe for the next and potentially more dangerous group. Successfully reintegration and return to “normal” life for these people is seriously at risk.

While we can claim that Boko Haram took us unawares, the lessons we have learnt from this and the new information about our vulnerability to such happening should not be discarded. There needs to be new curriculum of study introduced into our educational system to harness and utilize this new knowledge. Conflict resolution, security awareness, treatment of PTSDs, and the like should be made courses in our schools of higher learning and not just topics we skim through. This will help us to develop knowledge bases and build competencies to deal with future events, stopping them from snowballing into what Boko Haram is today.

As a matter of fact, the war against Boko Haram will continue for as long as we have people within our society that have been affected and are yet to let go of the atrocities they have experienced and witnessed. The government has the urgent task of providing psychotraumatic treatment for all those that have passed through this experience; this includes our military personnel and their families too.  We as a people have a role to play in destigmatizing those that have been forced actors, their reintegration into society, and their continued existence within us.  Until we do this, the war on Boko Haram goes on, more people will be affected, and its long term effects will drag on.

So before we get to that point of being drawn into another needless and unending circle of violence needing a cure, let us make use of the most effective weapon that we can easily lay our hands on within our society: prevention. We are not very good with curing situations.

Adopt a camp today. Be your brothers’ keeper. It is unfortunate they are the ones there, if not for God’s grace and mercy, it could easily have happened to any of us.

God bless Nigeria.

Friday, 11 March 2016


The Presidency continues to insist that provision of foreign exchange for health and education should be discontinued by the Central Bank of Nigeria; advising that those who cannot afford it should come back home. My first reaction was:  Haba Baba, come back home to what? For me it was a disappointing response to such a sensitive issue. It was a response that was brought about by a skewed perspective of solving the foreign exchange issue; failing to take into consideration other underlying and equally pertinent issues and consequences.

For as long as I can remember, there have been issues with the education and health care systems in this country. What we make for in quantity with the proliferation of schools and hospitals, we lose greatly in the quality of services and care these organizations provide. We record numerous cases of unnecessary deaths, misdiagnosis, and shabby treatments in our hospitals; churn out half-baked students ill equipped with the necessary education and skill-sets to be relevant in these times. This is in addition to a lack of accountability and responsibility exhibited in the lack of prosecution for the misdeeds in these sectors. These and many more are the reasons why most that can afford and those that cannot desire to go abroad.

Majority of Nigerians that go abroad to seek these services have been compelled by the lack of quality at home. I know for a fact that had things been okay majority of those abroad will be back at home. No parent will want to send their children beyond the reach of accessible parental supervision, exposing their kids to the socio-cultural “advances” of the western world and risk them imbibing attitudes and cultures that are “un-african” to say the least. No one can be happy to have to spend all that money.

The government needs to urgently put the necessary structures in place, and revamp existing ones in these sectors. The judiciary and all supervisory bodies of these sectors need to step to the plate and demand accountability and responsibility of the actors in these sectors. It is not uncommon to hear of individuals dying from negligence in a hospital, what is rare is that a doctor or a hospital has been held responsible and accountable for that negligence.

I once sat on an interview panel where the interviewee (a graduate) did not know the name of the company he had come to interview in; in addition to other goofs. We have a lot of graduates that cannot string correct sentences together, let alone defend their qualifications because of the quality of education and life skills they have received. Yet their schools continue to swell their kind in the labour market yearly. So we have a large number of premature graduates roaming the streets; an economic disaster waiting to happen.

Many of us are told things are not that bad, that we are not too far behind. The truth is things are worse than we are being made to believe and we are really far behind where we should be and where others that we seek to emulate are. We are only coping with our situation; life was not designed to be lived in a perpetual state of coping. There is a lot of work yet to be done. The leaders cannot do it by themselves as such all of us must come together to make it happen. We cannot afford to be divided in purpose or action. If not for today, then for the future we intend to handover to our children.  

We also have to understand that what we may “lose” now in foreign exchange, we make up for later in having a set of people that are better educated, and healthier (albeit a very small percentage) who usually come back home to make contributions to the economy. Sort of paying back for what they have enjoyed from the country.

The government cannot afford to deprive Nigerians an opportunity to better their educational lot, or a chance for better health care abroad when it cannot guarantee these at home. More so when some of its officials still make use of these foreign services. The days of “do as I say” are over, it must now be “do as I do”.

We are all in this together, and until we begin to think and act with this truth in mind, our change will only remain in the air.

God bless Nigeria.

Saturday, 5 March 2016


Driving through Maitama in Abuja in the evening, I came across quite a number of white people at different times taking a run, I could not help but notice the physique of these people who needed to take this exercise; tall and slim, with slim being a more constant appearance. Like a typical Nigerian, I could not help but wonder why they needed it. “Wetin this lekpa people dey find sef?” was a more apt expression. Still in my thoughts, I came across my first black guy (supposedly a Nigerian) you could tell from his build that our local carbs had done a number on him. Short and stocky, sweating profusely as he struggled to get that frame moving.

As I drove on, I saw majority of my fellow Nigerians milling around their office entrances (just closing from work), around eateries (getting their evening meals), or just gathered together gisting and gossiping. Then a thought struck me and immediately the situation presented me with the reason for this disparity, all the white people I saw jogging where not doing it because they needed a slimmer frame, they were doing it so they could maintain themselves, while my Nigerian jogger obviously needed some long overdue exercise.

The maintenance culture is one that is still yet to gain a strong foothold in our society. We see a lack of it in government and privately owned establishment and also in our private lives. We spend a lot of money procuring items, cars, phones, and other gadgets only to allow these things fall into misuse, disuse, and fall apart due to a lack of maintenance and or management. It is so bad that even the small progress we make in certain aspects of our lives, are soon lost due to mismanagement.

When was the last time you went for a health check that was not necessitated by an un-well feeling? Many of us carry illnesses around that we never know about until it takes its toll on our body, and we start fighting an advanced stage. This hit home recently when I lost a friend to diabetes, a condition he never knew existed; an avoidable loss of such a promising young fellow.

Every aspect of our lives needs to be maintained and managed properly, its only in doing so that we can learn from our mistakes with a view to not repeating them and also carry on to greater heights the progress we occasionally make.

We have national edifices like the National Stadiums in Lagos and Abuja, National Theater in Lagos, and many more, as relics instead of icons; especially when compared with similar projects built at the same time in developed countries. All these simply because we cannot spend the required time and funds necessary for maintenance and or proper management.

Maintenance and management is even more relevant to us here as it is better to pursue the prevention option than to chase the cure option that is usually more elusive in our society.

If the older generation missed it, we cannot afford to follow suit. Now more than ever it is pertinent to our continued survival that we indoctrinate the maintenance culture in ourselves and our children. Our natural resources and their application to us and the environment have to be managed properly, this may be singing an old song but it’s a song that needs to be sung. Global warming, environmental issues, socio-economic upheavals are just a couple of glaring examples why this must happen.

Let us in this part of the world not think that the effects are far from us, they are much closer than we think. We need to have a paradigm shift and start doing what is necessary to adequately manage ourselves and teach those around us how they too can do same.

We can do it.

God bless Nigeria.