Send your CV (including the social networks you’re on) to i…@chiomachuka.com
Successful candidates will be contacted 7 days from the date of this posting.
Send your CV (including the social networks you’re on) to i…@chiomachuka.com
Successful candidates will be contacted 7 days from the date of this posting.
First off, there is no excuse for not telling this story before now. I’ve had a crazy couple of weeks, and by now you should know I am in Abuja, Nigeria. Went to Lagos for a bit (that’s the story about the singing pilot), and I’ve got at least one trip there more before I leave.
For now though, let’s backtrack to the middle of February and attempt to pick up from where I stopped in this first one. So I was to lead a session on ‘Political campaigning and reporting: Quick click no engagement’, and on the panel were amazing people drawn from different yet relevant fields, ‘grandfathers in the industry’ if you like. Was such a privilege!
I can’t get over the official at Immigration calling someone on the phone to ‘verify/confirm’ my visa which I got in England but let’s just call that incredible and move on.
I got into Hamburg, and not only did I immediately regret not learning a word of German before I set out, it amuses me that I asked the Immigration official “what’s the name of this airport please”? He smiled and said, “Hamburg Airport”, and I imagined what I would have said/the look I would have had on my face if someone had asked me that silly question. SMH at you FGS, what else could it have been called? Lagos Airport?
Anyway, got a taxi to my lodgings, Superbude St Georg, a hostel type, bed and breakfast set up. Really lovely! And the art in the lounge was amazing! Dang!
By the way, the cabbie from the airport ride was/is a crook. The fare came to €23.20 and I gave him €50. He asked if I wanted a receipt, I said yes and so he wrote one for €25 and gave me €25 change. When I complained that the meter read something lower he said something about me claiming it back anyway and drove off. Crook.
Back to St Georg, I slept, Skyped my folks and loved ones to let them know I got in ok, and then it was time to explore!
My room was on the fifth floor, and I immediately purposed in my heart that I would use the stairs the entire time I was there to keep my #Fitfam business going. And I did!
First off I needed to find a sim, and I was particularly interested in something with a data plan because I wanted to be able to use BBM, check my mails on the go, and Instagram too (he he he).
After walking about for a bit, I ended up in a relatively large shopping mall called Reål, housing things like Mc Donalds (and other eateries), a laundromat, a recycling center for bottles (really cool stuff), Tmobile (and co), a department store, those kinds of things.
Let’s do a few pictures here shall we?
I bought a sausage roll, vanilla pudding (yum), fruits, and some water for my room, and soon as I saw that the chocolates were cheaper (and it wasn’t just about the exchange rate), I got some too. Got out of the supermarket and it occurred to me that I wasn’t sure of the way home!
Then I saw the Siemens and IBM buildings (became very important landmarks for me), and I found my way home!
The evening, and the morning, the first day!
One of my favorite TV Series is Hustle – a group of five con men (Albert, Stacey, Danny, Ash, and Mickey) who function as a modern Robin Hood crew. Exacting judgement n greedy, dubious businessmen, they operate under a set of rules, first of which is, “you cannot cheat an honest man’. Flip side to that is, “when someone wants to gain something for nothing, give them nothing for something”.
Apart from crushing heavily on Mickey (Adrian Lester) and his ‘out-of-this-world’ smile, I love Hustle because each episode exposes me to the different ways people bring heartache upon themselves by trying to reap where they have not sown, make ridiculous profits, or even worse, defraud the next man. Are the Hustle team righteous? Of course not; evil cannot cancel out evil, and two wrongs don’t make a right. Still love them though!
Away from Hustle, I have two rules for avoiding heartache in business. These two nuggets are guaranteed winners long as they’re applied exactly as prescribed.
1. There is social media and the ‘miracles’ it will work for your business as far as publicity and advertising are concerned. There is also something called a work ethic, without which both the social media platforms, and the business will fail. Unfortunately today young business owners spend more time tweeting and facebooking about their businesses than actually getting any work done.
Quick example: a friend of mine had a business and is quite active on social media promoting it; we’ll call her A. Recently, another friend (call her B) tweeted about needing the service A offers so I introduced them on Twitter. Two days after B tweets that A kept her waiting for four hours and she’s never using her service again.
Social media – good work ethic + all the recommendations in the world = heartache, brought on by failure.
2.Much as you can, avoid doing business with family, especially in parts of the world where ‘family’ is exalted over professionalism. I’ve written about landlords letting their property to family and the drama that goes with that, but I have a personal example now.
My family needed a service, and contracted two different companies to provide it – three items from Company A, and three items from Company B (who we’re distantly related to).
Company A delivers on schedule; on inspection the goods are of a good quality, and there is evidence that they used their initiative. Company B is paid in full, yet the goods are two weeks late. There are major errors in one during the draft inspection so it’s sent back.
48 hours to when these goods will be used, they’re yet to arrive, and the representative is unreachable. Several calls without any response and then by 5pm the representative picks up and says, “I’m in fellowship please, you’re calling my Galaxy Tab and its ringtone is loud”.
Took all of me (and some) to be civil and for a few reasons
This rep sent someone to deliver the goods the day before they were to be used (didn’t have the courtesy to bring them personally or even send a delivery/quantity note), and you can bet they were substandard. What did we do? Nothing. Why? Family. Will we use Company B’s service again? Not even if our lives depended on it!
There you have it! Thank me later…
Ok, so I’ve really slacked in finishing this series, don’t blame me, it’s the work of my detractors (in Mr President’s voice). Lol, that’s not even funny.
So, who knows that it doesn’t just rain, it pours? You would think the rest of the day (Sunday) would go smoothly…. Nope. It didn’t.
I had the privilege of meeting renowned Channels political correspondent Deji Bademosi that evening, and we all went on a little cruise around the city, look around, feel the pulse kind of thing. We drove past the Esama of Benin, HRH Chief Sir Gabriel Osawaru Igbinedion’s house. His Royal Highness is father to the former governor of Edo State, and is famous for his ‘when a child fails a class you let him repeat it’ speech at his son’s campaign for a second term. God save Nigeria. By the way, his house in the city sits on an estimated two hectares of land.
We also went past the castles houses of some prominent PDP stalwarts whose names I won’t mention because we didn’t drive past any of the houses belonging to the opposition. Agreed?
One thing is evident from the routes we took, on nine out of ten roads, there are no gutters, and so in the rains that fell from Saturday afternoon, the roads were flooded. Potholes + water = malaria dear Governor elect! Plus you owe me, my suede shoes were ruined!
Then we went to Ring Road, arguably the biggest roundabout in Nigeria (some folks say the one in Ibadan is bigger). People were everywhere, young guys and gals coupled in corners, a live band inspiring people in a group to ‘bend low’, suya spots, ice cream vans, sit out spots where alcohol and every possible peppersoup was up for consumption; there was a whole lot going on inside!
After we parked, and were walking to the fountain (me desperately trying to salvage what the puddles around had left of my suede shoes), we saw a Toyota Camry (2010) speed into the grounds (potholes and bumps regardless) with young urchins perched on the windows. I was about to panic then I saw they were waving brooms in the air. SMH I thought, these people have their ways of celebrating.
We got to the fountain, couldn’t take any pictures because people kept walking into our shot (SMH), and then it was time to go. There were three army trucks arriving as we were walking back to the car, and even though I heard there were just there to ensure safety, I was happy we were leaving. Me and the army? Abeg I cannot shout!
We piled into the car, and headed to a fish spot called Tasties. Word of warning, when fish at a fish spot doesn’t taste nice/fresh, leave; chances are everything else will be rotten, including customer service. Was there an incident? Yes did I get pissed? Yes. Did I show it? Of course. That’s all I’ll say about that.
Same night Goldie was evicted from the Big Brother Africa house, and Twitter was on fire!! Dang! I didn’t watch BBA but from following tweets I’m sure I would narrate (with at least 85% accuracy) all that had gone on in the house till Miss ‘I love Prezzo’ left the house.
Woke up with a very upset stomach, I knew I shouldn’t have eaten that fish! More bad news, one of us lost her purse with quite a bit of money inside. More than that she had ID and bank cards inside too. The only place that could have happened would have been the fish spot but they said they didn’t see it. I kinda felt that even if they did, they withheld it as punishment for my drama the night before. *sigh*
We had a meeting to finalize on the report we were writing over breakfast. Breakfast reminded me of fries from Burger King, the chips were so crisp! Whoop!! Chicken was stewed to perfection, and I made a mental note to tip generously. I love food, bite me! Speaking of food, which of my readers have tried the Hallelujah diet? How far?
I learnt something new that morning from Dipo Fasoro, one of the members of the team. Dipo is a brilliant software developer, and the lead consultant at Macgrenor, how to share network connections. Whoop whoop!! I’ll share in a different post but help me say a big thank you to Dipo!
We headed for the airport, our flight was for 1.30pm. We got there an hour before, checked in, had lunch at Sizzlers, and then the wait began. I knew we were chopped and screwed when we heard FAAN had grounded one of their planes in Abuja (long story), and again thought about the monopoly Arik is abusing enjoying.
About 3pm, a group of young, rough-looking urchins floated into the waiting area, a chubby looking fellow dressed in a sparkling white kaftan in between all of them. I knew I had seen that clean-shaven, wide-eyed look on a face before, and then it hit me, it was none other than Alhaji Mujahid Dokubo-Asari! Young Jock walked to the tarmac (of course he wasn’t searched) where a private plane was waiting, boarded, and then his chipmunks left the airport. *cough*
When Arik decided we’d waited enough, the plane arrived from Abuja, and we finally left Benin past 4.30pm. Pretty uneventful flight, Mercy and I chatted so much, was a wonderful 50 minutes! Horrible landing though, why do pilots around here land like they plan to bounce back into the air? Another tale for another day.
Good bye Benin!
I slept well, woke up about 5am to do a bit of writing, and then caught up with Oshiomole’s landslide victory at the polls; that explained the noise I was hearing just as I woke up. The breakdown of the results of the election are here, a very vivid pictorial representation of the results are here, and an interim statement by the coalition of civil society groups who monitored the election is here. About the interim statement, our team had the privilege to sit in on the meeting where it was drafted and all I can say about that meeting is, there is a balance to be made between events as they occur, and the way they are reported. Infer as you please. Then of course, there was the chairman of the meeting who was a few inches away from bullying everyone, and then the joker who couldn’t make a sentence without making us laugh. Was funny at first, then it became a waste of our time. *sigh*
About the celebration of ‘Oshiobaba’s’ victory, people (civilians) were shooting in the air. I understood that they were happy and everything but err, where did they get the weapons from? Or is it rejoice with the weapons in the morning and then use them to wreak havoc at night? These questions need to be asked!
Right. I honestly think the members of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) need to sit down and evaluate their strategies, especially measured against the way the electorate feels about them.
Again, much as I was excited about Oshiomole’s win, I couldn’t help but worry about how productive this second term would be. History shows that by the time politicians in Nigeria are running their final term, they have nothing to lose so they do nothing, absolutely nothing. I pray to God Oshiomole goes against the grain, and does something other than a fountain!
There was a bit of drama that morning, and I got really really, really angry. So the day before we ordered toast and egg sauce for breakfast, we told them we didn’t want onions in it (anyone who knows me knows I cannot stand onions, red, spring, autumn, fall or winter) and so it was garnished with green peppers and tomato chunks. Was really lovely. Today, I rang the restaurant and said, “can we please have exactly what we had for breakfast yesterday? So toast, egg sauce and pots of tea and coffee?” They said ok, and brought the trays soon after. Problem number 1? No tea, coffee or anything to drink. 2? No butter. 3? There were onions in everything! For some reason I woke up hungry so I really wanted to eat soon. I called them again, took care of problems 1 and 2, and then asked why my food had onions. The lady said she’d check with the chef, and then rang a few minutes after to say the chef said they were leeks, not onions. Hello!! Anyone heard the ‘same 10 and 10 pence phrase before? According to Wikipedia, the leek is “Allium ampeloprasum var. porrum (L.), also sometimes known as Allium porrum, is a vegetable which belongs, along with the onion and garlic, to family Amaryllidaceae, subfamily Allioideae. ” That definition is so you don’t think I was just making a fuss over nothing.
I was hungry, and upset. In my most calm voice, I asked that whoever was bringing our drinks bring me a fresh dish (without leeks or onions or anything else in that family), and next thing I know the chef sends a waiter to me with a leek in the tray so I can see what he was talking about.
What!! I flipped, and hunger is not a good background for anger. I was so angry!! As in! I felt so insulted! What on earth was the chef thinking! Well, I was going to find out. I gave the waiter a good piece of my mind (the hungry side), then I floated to the kitchen and asked to see the chef. Somewhere between my yelling I know I explained to him that when someone says they’re allergic to nuts, you don’t give them peanuts, macadamia, Brazilian, ground nuts, you don’t substitute one for the other. I think I scared him, lol, because he said he didn’t have any green peppers and he wanted it to be as nice as the day before. I softened a bit but still told him that if he had to deviate from what we had complimented him about, the logical thing would have been to ask. Then I spun, and slammed the restaurant door (for good measure).
Yes, they brought me a fresh dish, devoid of onions.
P:S – Did I mention the chef was diminutive? It’s true talk that short men have the most drama. SMH.
So, we touched down safely (thank you Lord), and first thing I noticed was a lot of construction work going on at the airport, very interesting. Who’s in charge of fixing up airports, the federal or state governments? I asked because I don’t know. Met up with @_yemia, @rmajayi, and @dfasoro who I was meeting for the first time. We loaded ourselves into our car, and went off to The Excalibur, our home for the next few days. Was a pleasant surprise to see @nigerianblogger, and to meet @jidealuko and Afolabi; they were both fabulous, were very helpful, and made our stay very comfortable (cc @_yemia). Got in to find that apart from my back acting like someone had set fire to it, my ‘friend’ was around so I had a bath, popped a few painkillers, and went to sleep.
About painkillers, @rmajayi and I went out to get them (she was feeling poorly as well), and two things stood out; police presence was scary. Kai! They were like everywhere, and since I don’t kid myself about the police being my friend I was uncomfortable. Especially since they were shouting and making noise on the road, for no reason! SMH! It was kind of good we went out though, because we spoke to different people, a lady selling lime, another one selling apples, the one roasting corn I think, quite a few of them. All of them wanted Oshiomole back, but not everyone wanted to vote. One lady said she was afraid, said, ‘dem fit fight’. Honestly, I didn’t doubt her, not with the security report we had access to before we got into Benin.
The evening, the morning….
Saturday. I was up by 7am, shout out to @Channels_TV for their live coverage of the elections . Noticed a few things about the place; the room was nice, was a suite actually, and it was really nice. Problem? Internet was crappy. More like they had no internet service at all. Good thing we had dongles and everything, our trip would have been in vain! I was still battling pain in my back so I could only sit for a few hours at a time, and I had to pop pain killers every few hours *sigh*
Based on our brief, some of us monitored conversations online, while the rest of us went out to do the monitoring in person. Below are four points I took away from ll the monitoring:
Tired as we were, we took some pictures when we all got back, especially with @nigerianblogger who got arrested with @governoryves earlier in the day; full story is here. By the way, looks like ‘Oshiobaba’ is going to win!
This is the beginning of a series capturing my trip to Edo State to monitor elections via social media. Trip was made under the auspices of Enough is Enough Nigeria, and funded by the World Bank. I’ll capture the trip to, the events in Benin, and the trip back. Ready?
Right. The date for the trip? Friday the 13th, famous for people who believe in superstition. Funnily, I saw a black cat the day before, but I’m sure it doesn’t count. Again, I slept very well the night before (very unusual if you know how I get before trips).
I had a few things to sort out that morning, and my flight was for 1pm; was worried because apart from waking up late, the ache in my lower back that started on Wednesday was manifesting with an intensity that was scary. I collected the ekpang nkwukwo (traditional Cross Riverian dish made from cocoyam, pumpkin/green leaves and lots of different meats) I had ordered the day before, went to renew my Starcomms subscription, and then went to play with my nephew.
I hitched a ride to the airport with Mercy Abang, my friend and colleague, and the first sign of trouble was the long queue of cars as we entered the airport; that turned out to be child’s play compared to the people waiting to check in. Let’s digress; I think it is very unfortunate that there is only one airline operating out of the International Wing of the Nnamdi Azikiwe Airport, Arik Air. We all know about the disaster with Dana, and Air Nigeria has not only been suspended, four of the planes in their fleet have been repossessed. Again, I think that Arik Air is under a lot of pressure to satisfy customers that have almost trebled with the misfortunes of the other airlines. Have they increased their fleet? No. Employed more staff? No. Instead their pilots are ignoring weather forecast warnings, and putting people in danger!
Our 1pm flight was called at 1.15pm, by which time I was doubled over in pain and trying to convince myself to still go on the trip. We went through the boarding gate (which was a corridor with a guy signing our boarding passes) and then we got in the bus on the tarmac to take us to the plane. Typical cramped six sitting, three hundred standing scenario (yes I’m exaggerating but you get the idea), and now I had sights, sounds, and smells to contend with. I watched a flight wait for one guy; they re-opened the doors when the guy (and his military aide) got to the plane. I miss England…. British Airways wait for you? Try yourself!!
Time check? 1.50pm; we had been standing by the plane for about 20 minutes, under the sun. Then we were told that there was no fuel. What!! Why do we do things that are unheard of everywhere else? I had tears in my eyes. Why take us out of the lounge at all if there was no fuel? We milled into the bus, and ended up in the lounge that barely had space to stand. Plastic bottles of mineral sold for N300. We got some, and then some heavily made up lady, color blocked to the teeth bought a can of Guinness extra smooth, wrapped it in nylon, opened it, and then sipped with a straw. Amused me to no end.
Then we heard, ‘final boarding call for Arik flight xyz to Benin’. What!! Final boarding call? Thought you just told us there was no fuel! We pushed our way through the crowd to the plane, I didn’t even bother with the bus again. Can I say security at the airport is below zero? I boarded the flight with my pack of ekpang, and juice at the bottom of my handbag; the security scanners didn’t pick it. Most importantly, when we went to board the second time, we weren’t checked so ANYONE could have taken ANYTHING on board. You can imagine my exasperation when one of the people who check your boarding pass at the bottom of the plane (never understood their function) saw me drinking my Mountain Dew and said I couldn’t take it on board. Just in case I constructed a liquid bomb with it while walking the flight of stairs into the plane abi? I was too drained to even argue.
Drunk sounding pilot gave a one line apology about the 1 hour 40 minutes delay, said they had ‘fueling issues'; I remember tweeting ‘Jesus take the wheel‘. Then there was the lady sat beside Mercy and I who wouldn’t stop singing above the noise from her already loud earphones.*sigh*
Smooth take off, not ashamed to say I had my heart in my hand throughout, and I’m not looking forward to the trip back.
Part two? Benin. Edo Decides.
this post was originally posted here, and is my pod for all things social media. It got such a response I decided I would put it on here for people who didn’t know that site existed! Now you know! You’re welcome to like our page on Facebook , enjoy the post!
If you’re looking for new ways to improve your blog and increase your readership, there are always a few key tips you can follow to inject some energy back into the blog and garner some excitement. They’re very simple, and I guarantee you’ll have fun with them as you explore!
1. Talk about yourself! A good place to start is by telling your own story. Who are you, why are you writing this blog, and what do you want to share with the world? Your readers want to know you, and know why you’re writing. Plus, if you’re stuck with a bit of writer’s block, what subject do you know better than yourself? What lessons have you learnt in your time on earth? How can you make your readers smile? Go on, dig deep!
2. Create a regular feature. Find a topic that you can write on and feature regularly. Whether it’s interviews related to the subject of your blog, or maybe just a weekly photo, creating a recurring feature gives you some structure within which to plan, and gives your readers something to look forward to. A regular feature also suggests that your articles not be too far and in-between. Write as often as you can, don’t let your readers wait too long for something new.
3. Focus on images. If you have writer’s block, look through your trove of photographs related to your blog, and start sharing some of those. Start with just writing quick captions to explain the photos, or create an entire post or story around a picture. Images are important to help your blog stand out from the others. Instead of using stock images, try taking your own pictures to make your content unique. If you are not good at photography, ask around your friends or check http://www.tradestable.com.ng to find somebody more skilled to help you.
4. Use audio and video as well. Make a short video instead of writing a post. Your readers will get to know you a little better, and you’ll get to try something different and exciting. Experiment with podcasting, video blogging, see how you feel about it!
5. Seek out inspiration. Think about why you started the blog in the first place, what you love to write about, where your passions lay. Go out and experience those things again, find experiences for you to write about and share. Think about things that make you laugh, pleasant memories, and if you’re brave enough, things that have made you cry. People relate very well to things like that….
6. Explore the offline world. There are now blogger conferences for just about every genre. Find a meet-up in your area and get out there and network. Talk to others who write about similar topics. You’ll come away with new ideas and new friends! Never forget that online drives offline, and vice versa; they don’t exist exclusively!
7. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Whether it’s from other bloggers or just trusted friends, seek out their feedback, and advice on your work. Solicit suggestions on where you could take the blog and what improvements you could make. No one is beyond correction, and what looks marvelous to you might just be putting your readers off!
8. Invite guest bloggers. Bringing a new voice onto your site will generate excitement among your readers, as well as inspiration in yourself. Reach out to bloggers that cover a similar topic, and propose a post exchange. You’ll each gain new readers and new ideas! Put in your best when writing for them, you don’t get too many chances to sell yourself!
9. Redesign your blog. Whether it’s a full overhaul or just a new template, spend some time looking at the design of your blog and whether it best fits your needs. Besides, a new theme is a brilliant way to re-invent yourself, and is a good justification to toot your horn without feeling vain!
10. Enter the world of social media. By engaging with social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, you can promote your brand, as well as encounter new sources of inspiration from your fans, followers, and fellow bloggers. You can also take advantage of the many functionalities these platforms allow, like syndicating publishing, sharing, etc.
There you go, 10 ways to improve your blog!! I’ll add an eleventh for good measure….
11. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. If you want people to read your articles and comment, like, share, or reblog them, when last were you on someone else’s blog? When last did you comment on a post, or share something you read and really liked? When was the last time you linked to someone else’s blog in a post? Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!
I said on Twitter this morning that there was nothing new to write about Nigeria and our government; it’s the same evil made manifest in loads of different ways. We have a government on the one hand that has exchanged its conscience and morals for oil, and a people who are too short-sighted and too easily distracted to work towards long lasting solutions. In my opinion, and every day I am further convinced that Nigeria’s problems are 50% leadership, and 50% ‘followership'; why else will youths still allow themselves to be used as puppets in protests they have no knowledge about?
The post below was written by a stellar journalist and good friend of mine, Tolu Ogunlesi and I echo every sentiment expressed. It is titled, ‘The Nigerian Government is guilty of crimes against humanity’ and was first published here.
Remember where you were that New Year’s Day afternoon when you first heard—and disbelieved—the news. Initially it was like a terrorist attack no one was willing to claim responsibility for. And then the truth hit home, hard. Our government had successfully stolen the shine from Boko Haram, and exploded a bomb in the pockets and psyches of already longsuffering Nigerians.
In the weeks that followed, Nigeria burned. Armed with lies, intimidation, condescension, and (eventually) soldiers, the government waged relentless war against the Nigerian people. “The subsidy has to go. No going back! Nigeria cannot afford this. It is for the good of the people; we’re doing this for your future!”
Never before in the history of Nigeria had so many been condescended to, by so few.
They cooked and threw figures at us; flung promises as loud as they were empty. The President created 370,000 jobs in one speech (a probable world record by any standards), and with a straight face ‘paid’ civil service salaries on the 20th of every month. They also ordered “palliative” buses after the fact – incontrovertible evidence of the fact that their DNA is imprinted with contempt for the people they pretend to lead.
Now, with the release of the fuel subsidy probe report (the credit for which belongs to the Nigerian people, who put unprecedented pressure on a government unfamiliar with the concept of accountability), the chickens have found their way home—shorn of the feathers that long shielded their anuses. This moment in history, if not for the inherent tragedy, would have been a perfect ‘we-told-you-so’ moment.
For me the issue has always been clear, as follows: Under Mr Jonathan’s watch, fuel subsidies rose (at least) three-fold. Instead of looking inwards, finding the reasons for that, taking responsibility, and punishing the implicated criminals, the government chose the easy – and unconscionable – way out: it turned its anger on a hapless people, and blamed them for its sins.
It’s one of the worst things any government can do; in my opinion nothing short of “crimes against humanity.” I have not used that term lightly or thoughtlessly, and by using it I am not in any way trying to equate the January crises with, say, the Rwandan genocide, or the sufferings of Syrians under the brutal Assad. No. Indeed a lone hit-and-run fatality and a survivor-less plane crash can both share the word “tragedy”, without the ‘smaller’ tragedy triggering accusations of seeking to devalue the resonance of the ‘larger’ one, and of the word “tragedy” itself.
I look at what the government did in January, against the backdrop of the revelations from the probe, and find it consistent with the patterns of governments that commit crimes of genocide against their people. A government that could do what it did – all those lies and emotional blackmail – all in a bid to avoid taking responsibility for its failings, will go to any lengths anytime it finds itself on the wrong side of the people’s wishes.
And of course we saw that happen on the day they crushed the protests – they deployed armed troops to the streets of Lagos, and then tried to frame Governor Fashola by saying he requested for the deployment.
It is a simple law of potential & progression: A government that lies against the people with such impunity will turn the military on them without blinking. And a government that turns the military on its people to crush protests against its lies is at any point in time merely a few steps from where Mr Assad currently is. Let’s not forget that people died protesting last January!
Now that the truth is out, and it has emerged that the Nigerian people are not the parasites their government painted them to be (parasites sucking the life out of the Nigerian state through their addiction to ‘cheap’ petrol); now that it’s clear who the real parasites are, and that the aiders and abetters of parasitism are the same ones who were loudest in defence of the subsidy-removal; the least Mr Jonathan, his henchmen and henchwomen can do is tender an unreserved public apology for their countless crimes against the Nigerian people.
I found him on a friend’s page, was nice to finally ‘meet’ the person behind the acclaimed Student Circle, and very recently, the first fully online African university, fresh from its beta testing phase. Say hello to Gossy Ukanwoke, the 23-year-old Nigerian who is successfully channeling his passion for Africa, technology, and education into multi-pronged solutions.
Gossy: How are you doing? And good evening!
ME: Good evening. I’m doing great! You?
Gossy: I’m very well, lots of work but I’m getting by…
ME: Welcome to the 3, 2, 1 series; a platform where the Fairy God Sister is at liberty to ask any question she wants!
Gossy: *smile* thanks and Gossy chooses which to answer!
ME: This interview is written so I’ll reproduce as is on the blog, only editing for any errors. And err, Gossy will be compelled by my fairy powers to answer! Ready?
Let’s start with, what is it about Gossy that I won’t/can’t/haven’t read in interviews?
Gossy: Gossy is really God fearing, he’s a strong Christian.
ME: Wonderful! What else?
Gossy: My computer is stuck with me.
ME: Ha ha ha… obviously!!! Give me something Gossy
Gossy: I do not like education as it is currently. I believe the system is not built for all types of learners; that’s why we see those who are not “bright” in class excel outside class, in business, in art or vocation. However, vocational learning is not always considered equal to the standard learning schemes in our societies today
ME: Student Circle Network. What’s the back story?
Gossy: I have always believed that every student should have access to quality and affordable education; Students Circle Network was built from that drive to help students and the rest is history.
ME: What’s your biggest success story from the network?
Gossy: Our users come back to say thank you and for me that qualifies our success.
ME: Any distinct story?
Gossy: A Masters students who was choked for a final project got on SCN 5 days before submission deadlines. He spoke with a teacher/a group of students, was put through and he got an A in that project!
ME: amazing! That’s the kind of story that keeps you going on a difficult day isn’t it?
Gossy: yes exactly. There have been times in the past that the pressures were so much that I once reconsidered the network but these stories give you a sense of fulfilment
Ok, #3. Who’s your ideal woman? (And I’m a Fairy, so feel free to dream…)
Gossy: Lol! Ok, my ideal woman….. should be understanding; because I could get stuck up on work and this PC so much!
ME: That’s it? Understanding? That’s it? C’mon!!! There must be other things you want!
Gossy: that’s pretty much all I can say trust me! You won’t understand how much understanding is..
ME: Looks, culinary skills, temperament, nothing? Ok, at the risk of digressing, explain your understanding of the ‘understanding’ you’re looking for.
Gossy: Understanding that being on my computer 72 hours doesn’t mean I’m not paying attention. Get the picture?
ME: hmmm….. I know your type! On to your latest venture, what does Beni stand for?
Gossy: Beni is just a unique name in itself and its part of a personal experience. So yes Beni…… I think it’s a great name
ME: Ok… if I pronounced it in Yoruba be ni could mean ‘yes’. It could also be a place, river, or part of a name. For you is it an acronym, something in a language, I’m curiooooooous Gossy!
Gossy: more things will unfold in the future I guess, but it’s a name on its own.
ME: hmmm, I’m restraining myself from using my powers to extract the name from you right now! What’s the place of social media in the communities you’re building?
Gossy: Social media drives sporadic communication between those who are remotely linked; this is vital in learning and the growth of knowledge and that intersects with what my focus is on.
ME: I see that the pioneer students at Beni American have a ‘class blog’. We had one during my postgraduate studies but I’d like to know why you set that up?
Gossy: students who are coming from diverse backgrounds come together, they need to know each other, learn from each other’s experiences, etc. I got to know a few people from that class blog myself whose knowledge I’ll be tapping into in the future.
ME: Including me? smile
Gossy: yes you were a student in the class blog
ME: Past tense? Ahhhh!!!
Gossy: the class is over, and you weren’t exactly a model student… you did not attend classes and you did not do assignments.
ME: Awwww, I’m sorry! I feel like I’m getting a talking to from a Principal! And I am a good student! *adjusts halo*
#2 If I gave you three days devoid of work/school and all the money you wanted, what would you do?
Gossy: I’d head to England to see someone and have a nice holiday
ME: See who? The person who understands you?
Gossy: I don’t really discuss personal details but yes it may be the person who understands me, or an advisor I have been promising to visit, or a family member!
ME: That’s good enough for us, I respect your privacy. Student Circle, BAU; what else does Gossy have his hands in at the moment?
Gossy: school, I’m a final year student at Girne American University, studying Management Information Systems.
ME: Final set of questions, and I must thank you for being an interesting guest…
Gossy: Thanks plenty, any time!
ME: Why Beni American? Why not Beni Nigerian?
Gossy: We need to let people know what they are going into. Nigeria doesn’t currently have a benchmark for online universities; however the Americans do and we are running an American system, curriculum, structure and calendar amongst other things.
ME: What’s the biggest take away for you now that the testing for BAU is done?
Gossy: The people love it and that’s a great start. The students have come to realize the online system isn’t exactly an easy process when properly executed as we are doing
ME: #1 If you had one wish that you were sure would be granted, what would it be?
Gossy: that every Nigerian youth gets educated and upon graduation have an opportunity
ME: Thank you Gossy!
Gossy: You are most certainly welcome
Note: Gossy is currently fund-raising to provide free tablets for BAU students as well as subsidized internet access for them. Information about his outstanding precedents, and avenues to donate are here.