Training, Warri, and something (or two) about Denaj Hotels

Welcome to the end of March! Have you had a good month? I know I have!

Much earlier in the month, I was invited to Warri to facilitate at training for some officials from various organizations working in the Niger Delta. And I was excited, for a number of reasons. Since I ran a couple sessions late last year I discovered that training is something I really enjoy plus I hadn’t been in Warri since 199something and so I was really excited about the trip.

Flight was uneventful except I must mention that Arik Air thrive in the midst of confusion. It’s incredible! So my flight was for 8am, and I was at the airport before 7am. There was a rapidly lengthening queue, Arik Air officials doing what the Lord alone can explain because there wasn’t any progress.

And then of course people started jostling about and getting rowdy because their flights were getting announced. Guess what? They delayed the flight. Lol…

Anyway, we finally boarded the miniature plane, and off we went. Landed in Benin, and then did the 45+ minutes drive to Warri. I was taken to my lodgings, a place called Denaj Hotels. I was a little concerned when I saw these two signs but I said I’d be a good girl and not make a fuss about anything.

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This was at the bar.

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This was at the gate.

Have you noticed that when we say we’re not going to do something bad it seems like all the devils in hell relocate to our ends just to make us renege on that promise?

Children of God, the sheets had funny stains on them – not even going to hazard a guess around that. Then the toilet seat looked like there’s been a pissing contest for blindfolded guys.

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I was confused. There was no menu in the room either, and I was starving.

I called for someone to clean the bathroom (not change the room – remember, no fuss), and then I ordered jollof rice, plantain and chicken. Food came on a tray without cutlery, and the cleaner still hadn’t come.

So I went downstairs, and had to get cutlery myself, and pried a lady attendant from her phone and argument with the receptionist about her not being the person to clean my room. I ate (don’t ask any questions – I was starving), and then had a meeting where I complained to the heavens about the entire situation (by this time chill had departed), and then I spread my mom’s wrapper on the sheets, and slept. The evening, the morning, and it was time to prep for the first day of training.

First off, I woke up with some sort of itch on my arms and feet. There was no hot water. I’d finished my water and I didn’t even feel okay buying water. So, no shower, and I settled for gargling with my mouth wash.

Was I grumpy or what!! Hian! I mean it was lovely to meet the class, 21 bright-eyed people who I was supposed to be useful to, but I couldn’t shake the itch and it was all so disorienting, two mugs of my favorite brew didn’t help.

We were moved to Protea that evening, and guess what I did first? Phew… Thank you Jesus! I had a proper dinner as well, three-course type of business. Talmabout getting my groove back!

So what did I teach the class? We did an introduction to social media, tools and platforms, what their organizations might need (or not), and the personal vs corporate communication. We also learned about keeping ourselves safe online, hyperlinks, infographics, blogging, and developing articles for their organizations. Of course there were lots of things we tried our hands at (internet permitting), and I ended up creating a WordPress blog for one organization, a Facebook page for another, and personal Twitter and LinkedIn accounts for members of the class.

I also met Samson Idoko, a very brilliant young man and co-facilitator who taught Microsoft Office in a way I’ve never seen/heard it taught before. Tips, shortcuts, tricks across Word, Excel, Outlook, and PowerPoint, and it was a free class for me!! I learned so much!

There was also Frank, a staff of the organization who ensured we were always overfed! God bless him, one afternoon I said I wanted fish and a salad for lunch, and here’s the fish I got! I shared mine with Samson and we gave his out – walai I would have dozed if I ate that alone!

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There was James who drove us around, and had this hilarious bad eye he would give other people who were driving dangerously. Thank you for making me smile everyday!

And the icing on the cake? The feedback from the class! I grabbed a bit of it, and then there was the email from one of the attendees, which was the sweetest thing I’ve read in a while. Sweetest.

I learned lessons about myself, about people, and about social media on this trip. Start from confirming that Lagos, Abuja are on one level with social media, and the rest of the country on a totally different level. Totally different ladies and gentlemen. It might not mean much till you juxtapose that with political communication, numbers and expectations for these elections.

And now for a shameless plug: want a social media trainer for your organization? Get in touch, already!

Warri was great, I love the class, and it was my privilege to share my skill/knowledge; massive thanks to the organizers and technical adviser for the opportunity, and for ensuring that we were comfortable. Let’s do it again!

9th (a.k.a Day Two) – The Nitty Gritty Stuff #BookSprint

Sausages and eggs for breakfast! Yes baby! Even though I had to ask that mine be microwaved. I don’t get it; why do these guys serve us lukewarm food? In the name of everything pure, we’re the only ones here! And then somehow they ALWAYS forget to turn off the airconditioning in the dining area (two split units which directly face the food) regardless of how many times we say so! Argh!!

Food over, work picked up in earnest. Did I mention we have a remote team working for/with us? There’s Henrik van Leeuwen our fabulous illustrator, Raewyn Whyte who did all the copy editing, Juan Gutierrez readily available to provide tech support, and then Julien Taquet who designed the book! I’m not sure I remember but if I’m right all our remote support guys were in different countries, different timezones sef!

Yeah, especially Raewyn who went to work each night as we went to bed, and then we’d wake up to feedback from her. Really cool huh!

Anyway, we were also introduced to the software we’d be working with/collaborating on called “Pubsweet”. What does that name sound like to you? Not even going to share what one of us said it sounded like, naughty children! Technology always amazes me though, that’s all I can say about it.

Today we spent some time outside, talking (and writing on more post its) the types of people we wanted to have in our book. We did it in a funny way. So again, we listed all the characteristics we wanted our characters to have – age, circumstance, education, profession, status etc. (on single sheets), and then we started forming characters from them. That’s when it all came together for me.

That's Rafeeat adding to our board of characters! To be honest, some of them just just remained on that board... no way we could have brought everyone to life!

That’s Rafeeat adding to our board of characters! To be honest, some of them just just remained on that board… no way we could have brought everyone to life!

We had an unending supply of post its!!

You can see we had an unending supply of post its!!

Lord knows what I was saying there... I feel like Elnathan felt I wasn't making much sense! Look at his face!

Lord only knows what I was saying there… I feel like Elnathan felt I wasn’t making much sense! Look at his face!

I mean I already knew (we’d agreed) that the issues we’d highlighted yesterday would be channeled through the characters, but it was nice to actually get there! You know, we’d whispered to one of the facilitators that we couldn’t wait to actually start writing, but the process leading up to this point really made things super clear, and easy! Characterisation was fun, I really enjoyed how we gave some people multiple problems in the name of creating them!

We’d been working in pairs all along, and today I switched from Elnathan (who’d started living the baby boy life which chose him rather than him choosing it, lol) and I started working with Azeenarh. Lovely, lovely, lovely girl. “Living the baby boy/girl life” has become a thing in our ‘house’ now, and I’m sure we’ve used it over 2 million times! Ok, I might be exaggerating about that, what isn’t in doubt though is the fact that it made me laugh every time!

Bonding in the common room (after we got off) was tons of fun, really nice getting to know everyone just a bit more, laughing (we laughed A LOT), and doing every other thing but characterisation and reading each other’s stories. We listened to music too, not even going to repeat the songs that were sang (hello self-censorship) but it was good fun.

Then it was bed time, so good night!

P:S – I was worried different times during the day. I’m still coughing, sniffing, and I really fear I’m going to pass this on to someone. Sigh.

PPS: Massive shout out to  Luis Antonio Delgado who took all the lovely photos and made a film off the entire event!! I haven’t seen it yet but you will as soon as we do!

BrandiQ and All Souls Church – A day in the life of a strategist!

The 6th of November was a truly special day, one of those days that can truly be described as ‘full’, and I’m about to tell you how it went down! Or up, because it ended on such a high!

So, I’d flown into Lagos the night before after spending a few days with my darling parents, was truly a gift to have been with them, and I can’t stop thanking both of them for the sacrifices they make to keep me comfortable anytime I’m around!

Anyway, so I woke up that morning, chest tight, nostrils blocked, the leftover of a bad case of flu that refused to leave me alone. Show must go on abi? So I got ready, and headed to Civic Center where I’d been billed to speak alongside some very renowned speakers at the BrandiQ Symposium. My topic? Politics, social media, and young people – Tolu Ogunlesi had put me forward as a panelist cos he thought he wouldn’t be in the country and then when he found he would be around, he just came to support me. Hallelujah for friends/colleagues like him!

Keynote speaker was former UK High Commissioner Christopher Kolade, special guest of honor was the most lovely older gentleman Apostle Hayford Allile, and there were academics, other top-notch people like that. I was on the stage with people like Martins Oloja (Editor, The Guardian), and to be honest by the time he was done with his speech, the first thing I said when I took the mic was “how do you top a talk like that”? Thanks however be to God who always causes us to do brilliantly, and not shame Him, our families or our friends!

So, what did I talk about? I started with definitions of some key words in the Symposium theme, (participation, stakeholder, tokenism, and young person) and then I asked two questions:

  • How many people in the room have voter cards?
  • How many of us know the heads of our local government areas  (appointed or elected)?

How do we then (as young people) claim to be stakeholders in a thing we cannot participate in because we’re not registered? Really, how? Aren’t we tired of clicktivism? When do we move on to action, in this case enforcing our thoughts/ideologies with our votes?

Then it was off to stats on voting patterns, how social media is a means to an end but must not be misconstrued as the end in itself, and all of that good business. Event was great, I had a really good time! Potential client and writing gig in the offing too! Whoop!

It ended about 3pm, and then it was off to Terra Kulture for a quick lunch, dress change, and then flying down to All Souls Anglican Church in Lekki, where I’d been billed to speak on social media for play or business, from a Godly perspective.

IMG-20141004-WA0001My date was moved to the 6th because I signed up to something (which I have readied a series for) that would start on the 7th.

So I got to the venue late because I grossly underestimated the traffic and side note? Dear Lagosians, Lagos is not working! Your roads are horrible, even in the so-called posh areas. Yuck. Thankful for my Cabbie Abubakar who lives in Ajah and so knew all the hidden routes to take to avoid the traffic. Na wa!

Anyway, got there in one piece, and after the worship session, I was up! It was a small, intimate crowd, and it was structured a bit like this.

I started with 1 Corinthians 10:31 which I paraphrased as “whether you eat or drink, or tweet or Facebook, do it to the glory of God”. The rest of it is below…

  • About me
  • What is social media
  • How do you use social media – Proverbs 27: 17, Hebrews 10:24-25
  • How not to use social media – 1 Corinthians 15:33, Matthew 5:29
  • Careers in/around social media – Matthew 5:16

Pretty simple/straightforward right? The interesting thing really was introducing the word of God to the different points above. I had a marvellous time! I loved the question and answer session, and I have since made a blogpost off a quick consult I did following that event! Something to do with how we use LinkedIn, you should see it.

It gets even better – they gave me a plaque! I was so emotional, it means so much to have received this! And the prayers, aww, kiss of my life!

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Super grateful to JT for dinner, and then it was bedtime, and out of Lagos the next day to join the Heinrich Boll Stiftung Book Sprint in Abuja!

Crazy, crazy, schedule, but I love it!


Job alert! ThInK yOu CaN fLoUrIsH hErE?

CC consulting services LOGO FINAL
CC Consulting is looking for a content manager to join the team on the on the awesome task of navigating social media waters for its clientele. Competitive remuneration, lots of exposure and the joys of working with a distributed millennial team across the world are only the beginning of the perks that come with this opportunity to work in one of the most exciting spaces in media and the internet.
Content Manager, Full time. Two positions are open.
1. Managing social media presences for the client
2. Creating and administering content for the client websites
3. Producing weekly internal status and progress reports
4. Producing monthly status and progress reports for the client
5. Advising and collaborating with management on content and social strategy
6. Developing creative social and content strategies for CC and clients
Above 18 years old
Excellent writing ability
Familiarity with standard word processing, spreadsheet and presentation applications
They must speak web and be comfortable around cloud apps, remote collaboration software, content management systems and other web applications.
Extensive social media savvy. Applicant should not only be fluent in the dominant social media platforms but also understand the broader landscape and demonstrate the ability to translate their art to new channels.
Creative and design abilities
Discretion with sensitive client and employer information is a requirement.
Preferred location would be Lagos, but we’d consider working remotely with a strong candidate.

Send your CV (including the social networks you’re on) to i…

Successful candidates will be contacted 7 days from the date of this posting.

CC Consulting is a 23rd Century – yes, 23rd Century – Social Media servicing company, duly registered in Nigeria that provides consulting services for individuals, companies and governments looking to achieve strategic goals via social media. We transform ideas, values and visions into professional design solutions that communicate and support our clients’ objectives.

Hamburg Diaries: English Language, art,  and some! (Part two)

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?

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I liked the odd shapes of these perfume bottles… I actually arranged them like this to take this picture!

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Take away pack… lol…

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Too many people smoking!!! Sheesh!!! Look at that hand dropping a stub even as I was taking that photo!

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Ah ha!! This is the SIM I settled for…

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Alcohol for the man dem! SMH… This one still has the barley inside sef…

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Recycling machine for bottles – really cool. Someone explained to me but I’m not sure if I understood them well. Apparently, you get some money according to the amount of recycling you do. It’s not a whole lot, but it’s something.


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!

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The evening, and the morning, the first day!




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Avoiding heartache in business….

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

  • How was I to know you were in church? If you’d had picked up the entire day we’d been ringing your phone, or had the decency to return the calls….
  • I have one number for  you. What other way should I have tried to reach you? Seance? Mind travel? By the way, I’m excited you have a Galaxy Tab, SMH.
  • Why didn’t you just deliver when you said you would?

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.

This is the fourth and final post in the Edo Decides Series…. Click on the links for posts one, two, and three if you haven’t already read them so you have a bit of perspective. K?

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.

Sizzlers…..*sigh* With their dodgy catfish….

Some interesting construction work going on here….

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!


Hello!! Day three of my trip to Benin cos #Edowasdeciding; click here to catch up with parts one and two.

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.[1] ”  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.

The nerve! As in ‘just in case you don’t know what I’m talking about’. Seriously? Seriously!!! Look at the shriveled looking root sef!

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.


Ok, so this post captures a bit of day one, but mainly day two of my trip to Edo State because #Edowasdeciding. Part one is here.

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:

  • If you have to share any information online that isn’t originally yours, please time stamp it, otherwise you end up doing more harm than good. So you don’t come on Twitter at noon, see an incident your friend tweeted about 8am, and then start retweeting furiously. Especially in a crisis, it only serves to hype tensions and spread terror; it’s even worse if you’re sharing the information after the problem has been solved/crisis has been quelled. @Channels_TV was guilty of doing that severally, and at some point I had to tweet at them.
  • Sift through whatever information you accept. People will do anything to get a retweet, or a random follower, even if it means peddling absolute falsehood. It is your responsibility to verify before you accept. There was a particular incident during the elections where someone was tweeting from their bedroom in a city miles away from where the election was happening and tagging them ‘eyewitness reports’. Don’t fall into the hands of mischievous people.
  • People want to know. @rmajayi and I met a group of guys at one of the polling units holding the ReVoDa handbook. If you didn’t know, ReVoDa is an app that turns every one into a citizen reporter during elections. Powered via SMS and only functional with valid PU details, you can send a message about what’s happening at your polling center. One of them wasn’t sure what the app could do but we explained and he said he’d download it and use after he voted. That felt good, like we had just ‘converted him’.

Our convert. Lol….

  • Put your actions where your belief is. I believe the elections of 2015 will be different in the sense that not only will there be more eligible voters than there are now, but people more than ever are aware of the power their votes have, and are motivated more than ever to wield that power. Doesn’t matter if they’re voting for a candidate because he built a water fountain, it’s their choice.

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!

From left to right that’s Mercy, Dipo, Me, Jide, and Scott!


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.