Posts Tagged ‘politics in Nigeria’

Maryam is a firebrand. Passionate about things she is passionate about, and it’s always very nice to see. She has a blog called ‘The Amba Imprint’, with an interesting meaning for ‘amba’. I like! Maryam takes the stage for the second instalment of the #31Days31Writers project, writing on “Things I am Grateful For.”

I believe that gratefulness starts from the heart, in the sense that even when you have very little, you can look at it and still realise it is a blessing. What reason do I have to be ungrateful? I think none. I’ve had an amazing 2016 and looking back, I am grateful for Rahama

I believe that gratefulness starts from the heart, in the sense that even when you have very little, you can look at it and still realise it is a blessing. What reason do I have to be ungrateful? I think none. I’ve had an amazing 2016 and looking back, I am grateful for Rahama Baloni, my dear friend. In 2016, she was someone who I felt confident had my back (we all need such people in today’s tough world) and I’m also grateful for the trust she put in me. She is someone I will always be grateful for, my confidant.

I am grateful for the things I can’t count. Like the warm hugs and kisses from my nieces and nephews, the amazing young people I have met who have inspired me to do more for myself and for others.

I must say, I am grateful to be a part of the Not Too Young To Run campaign; it has opened up my mind to another level of political consciousness and involvement even with life in general, it has kindled a fire in me. I am grateful for cake, for seeing my afro get a bit bigger and for hearing God whisper secrets to me along the way.

I have learned more than in any other year that I need to depend mostly on God and myself, every other thing or person can falter at any moment and that it’s okay for humans not to be completely dependable, we are all flawed after all. I’ve always been someone to speak up and make clear what I want and even go for it, I have learned how much more important it is to be a go-getter this year.

I have also learned to be less stubborn and more flexible. One must be pragmatic to survive in this world that is everything but idealistic.

I learnt that the land of opportunity would rather take an honest racist and sexist man than a flawed but experienced female leader. There are many angles that analysts have looked at to explain the situation and its causes but there’s no explanation for me. I guess I have learnt that some things will never have an explanation and sometimes that is fine, one must simply learn the tiny lessons from them.

If I could, I’d change the harsh way people communicate with each other if I could and I would start with Nigeria. I am never able to look at these Jungle Justice pictures that have been going around for too long. It breaks my heart that human beings can be so heartless. If I could, I would bring back to life Col. Abu Ali because he was a symbol of the hope against Boko Haram that many soldiers still held on to. Knowing someone like him is lost is tough even for many of us who never knew him personally.

Another thing I wish I could change that this world has held onto for too long is gender inequality. I wish, and also work, for a world where women are given the freedom to make choices, be free from oppression and violence and be given equal respect, pay and opportunities. Having that happen would be fantastic but the challenges are many and we continue to fight, speak and advocate for it. Realistically, it may not be a battle that will be won in my lifetime.

 

One Local/ Global Event That Has Shocked Me

So many wonderful and terrible things have happened all over the world in 2016 that have incredible shock value. Because so many of these events have been happening, it is really difficult to find anything so shocking now. Shocking events seem to be happening back to back and have for me resulted in desensitisation.

 

Finally, I asked myself what I would do for myself more in 2017 and I realised I am happy and I haven’t thought about any extra thing I can do for myself when the calendar changes. I have found myself asking- What More Can I Do … to make this world a better place? Maybe that is what I will do for myself. I will see what I can do to make this world a better place so that if I am blessed enough to be alive at the end of next year, the sense of accomplishment and joy from putting good out into the world will warm up my pillow as I lay down to sleep into the new year.

Fiery, passionate, but with just the right amount of warmth. Thank you Maryam, here’s to a 2017 full of everything your heart desires!

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So the US election campaigns started about 18 months ago, and I’ll be honest and say I was largely uninterested in the debates, rallies, etc. until very recently. Of course there were the very many days the world was jolted by any of the inappropriate (inappropriate here also meaning scary, unacceptable, criminal, etc.) utterances from Republican Candidate Donald Trump either during rallies, interviews, in the locker room, pretty much everywhere. On those days I would be forced to catch up on the outrage, but that would be all.
Not because I don’t care who the next leader of the free world is, not because I don’t see the incredible importance and leap it would be for a woman to become the next president of the United States, but because my people say that “when a man’s house is on fire he does not bother about the fufu he had on the stove.” There was (still is) just too much “what on earth is going on with my Nigeria” going on to focus on what’s happening in the pond an entire continent away.
TV ads forced me to care. Stickers, posters, heck even conversations a little too animated forced me to join the US Election frenzy. With or without my consent, I’ve had to actively follow.
So, I’ve been in the US for the past 4 weeks now and the excitement/apprehension/tension is palpable. Not the Nigerian flavor of ‘we’re voting for x and y not because we know what they will offer but because our leader says to’, but the ‘we’ve listened to both (major) candidates, know their history and believe overwhelmingly that x is better than y’. Or maybe even that x is the lesser of the two evils, whatever personal reasons.  
It reinforced a thought that led to this tweet“Dear #Nigeria, when we’re done climaxing over the #USElection rallies, our candidates MUST debate in 2019. Anything else is unacceptable.”
I believe that tweet with all my heart, and I hope you, Nigerian, tax-paying, voter card-wielding, pledge-reciting, daughter or son of the soil who has followed the US Elections has been reacquainted with a love for oratory, a respect for facts and figures, an appreciation for the media (and the 2016 expression of the Social Responsibility and Hypodermic Needle theories), and a renewed belief in yourself as a citizen whose vote is worth more than screaming rallies without any substance.
Anything less than debates with concrete plans, economic policies that can be argued for or against, and interventions that directly impact the lives of Nigerians is unacceptable. No more platitudes, no more empty promises, no more roaring rhetoric. 
Our state and national representatives must clearly articulate their plans for us, the people they represent. We cannot applaud the levels of transparency we’ve seen in this election and be content with declarations of assets that end up being as vague as they are untrue.
We must elect representatives who will not subvert but uphold the Constitution, and indeed open up the black hole that the National Assembly budget currently is!
Sigh. Deep breath Chioma. Moving on.
I’ve also thought very deliberately about how technology has been deployed for these elections. I’m not referring to diaspora voting which ensures citizens all over the world are not disenfranchised, and sounds like a brilliant idea till you remember that Nigeria has not come close to perfecting our local, physical processes yet. We cannot guarantee votes cast by human beings we can see and touch (’see and touch’ excluding the era when we had Jamie Foxx and Michael Jackson on the list of accredited voters); yet we’re currently fascinated with diaspora votes. Maybe add that to the things we will blame next for inconclusive elections?
Anyway, I was referring to citizen-centered technology. Technology deployed to make voter education and the voting process as seamless and inclusive as possible. First from the government with the listings/helplines on social and traditional media, to parties and politicians constantly reminding the electorate why, how, and where to vote;  broadcast media and state-specific voting information, to the digital titans deploying doodles, stickers, and other ‘make it cool to vote’ paraphernalia for the electorate to perform their civic duty. No stomach infrastructure, sharing of rice, or bread, or corn; no ridiculous photos where fancy wristwatches meet extreme poverty, none of that mess. 
Anyway, it all ends in the next 24 hours. Those who didn’t already vote have until 8pm to get counted, with a collation and announcement devoid of candlelight, midnight miracles, meme-worthy drama, or any funny business. Governance should also start in earnest immediately after the swearing-in, not 9 months after. 
Quite frankly, these elections rank high on the list of things Americans should be ashamed of – the blatant mudslinging, disrespect for candidates/American History/the American people; the divisive nature of the campaign, the hate it’s inspired, ugh. Shameful.
However, for us, there is a lot to be learned, and I hope we’ve all been taking notes. 2019 is coming. 
PS: Originally published on Huffington Post

Demola the politician. Demola the PDP guy. Those are probably the bits of Demola the world (read as young Nigerians within and outside the country) know. I know a Demola who loves history, who can quote Nigerian history from here till tomorrow and not make a mistake. From this post, you’ll meet a Demola who’s head over heels for his family, and his entry (very quiet but laden with wisdom) is a joy for me to share today.

This time last year, my son was just few weeks old and since then, I’ve watched him grow and learn. And I have learnt as well… seeing the world as he sees it, seeing him struggle to understand the nature of things as they are – that a ball rolls but a remote control won’t/can’t. That the flick of a switch can flood a room with light, that a bed doesn’t make a good place to walk but the floor isn’t good for rolling around either. That my phone cannot be chewed and that every morning he has to get his body washed, though he doesn’t like it. He’s learning the nature of things and the laws that govern them and I have also learnt.

I’ve learnt more about the nature of men – that people are often who they show themselves to be, not what you imagine them to be. That who they are is often obvious but emotions blind us to their reality. I’ve learnt to work more with my instincts about people and not question those instincts.

I’m grateful for relationships and the doors they opened this year. Grateful for life, for love, for friendships and for family. I find it hard to be grateful most times about life because there’s always so much more I want it to yield to me so I should be grateful for this chance to write about my gratitude.

Let me think for a minute please.

I am grateful for my son. He’s moved to being the centre of my world in the most amazing ways – no matter how things upset me on the outside, I only have to think of his unflappable spirit and I smile. The woman who takes care of him is the woman in my life – that’s my wife is also another reason to be grateful. She’s understanding and very tolerating of my excesses. I’m not the easiest person to live with but she has managed to cope with me.

All life for me is an experience and there is little I would undo if I could but I could have done some things better this year. I’m one of those who believe it is up to me if things will be or not – like if Arsenal loses a football match and I did not watch it, I think they lost because I did not watch. I had a small chance to play a small part in the last presidential elections and I saw my party make mistakes. I truly believed we had the better candidate, I truly believed our platform was the best for the country. I shouted, but I could have shouted harder. I fought but I could have fought more. I could have challenged those who assumed we would win as we always do – but perhaps I too was guilty of thinking that our candidate would do all it took to win, unlike he had promised to do.

In a way, that loss turned out to be a good thing – I’ve learnt now to fight harder to make my views known in any political setting and not succumb to prevalent wisdom. I’m more convinced about the things I suggested – a victory would have meant my methodology wasn’t necessary but now I know it was and better? My party knows too.

I would also have loved to have published a couple of books this year – one written already on my laptop so if you’re reading this and think you’re into publishing: holler.

2015 has been a great year as I reflect on it and I’m hopeful of a greater 2016.

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Awww, so cute how you talk about your son and your wife, family is precious and I’m all about that! I’m also excited about the new dispensation with a new party in power, big hopes and prayers for Nigeria because it either works or it doesn’t, for all of us. 

Thank you Demola for sharing today, most appreciated!

When did I even meet Azeenarh? I don’t remember to be honest. What do I remember about her though? Frank conversations, laughter, real talk, dinners at her place (babes remember the ‘after birthday party’ you threw for me this year with lots of cake)? @Xeenarh’s a real person; what you see is what you get. No airs, no high shoulders, nothing. One way we’re alike? She loves to travel! Dang! Like, you can grab a bite with Azeenarh today, and tomorrow you call to pick up, I don’t know, a pencil you forgot in her bag and she says she’s just touched down in some European country! Girl can move! 

We did some work together last year, first time I’d ever done that so I was really excited – it was a Book Sprint for Heinrich Boll, and I chronicled the 7 days we were holed up in a house in Maitama here https://fairygodsister.wordpress.com/2014/12/02/13th-all-in-a-days-work-the-day-after-the-day-after/.

So, give it up for my gorgeous, skinny (yes I’m beefing) friend, Azeenarh!

I’m Azeenarh Mohammed, Nigerian, resident in airports and tech conferences, happily unemployed.

The first thing I am grateful for is that 2015 is ending. Yeah, I said it! Despite recording a couple of good things (Nigeria eradicating polio, a peaceful democratic transition, passage of Violence Against Persons Act) the year was also all round shitty. Boko Haram continued to wreak havoc in the land, we passed a very vague and harmful Cyber Crime Prohibition Act which is being used to silence bloggers and journalists, and we switched a clueless government for another one that seems just as insensitive. But let me step away from that (deep breath) and focus on some not so bad stuff…

One thing I learned this year; it is a gift to be able to say I love you. To ourselves, to our parents, to our family, our friends, our partners and even many other people in our lives. So many people go through life not hearing these words said to them and I feel this is one of the tragedies of our times. One thing we can never do too much of is say and show people how much we love them. Life is too short to feel awkward. So go ahead, look at yourself in the mirror and gift yourself the words; I love you. Don’t be shy to tell your parents, your friends, your personal persons, your baby sister, how much they mean to you and how grateful you are that they are still here with you. Then before ringing off, tell them you love them. I promise it gets easier after the third time 🙂

The one thing I would undo in 2015 is everything that happened on 19th January 2015. I wish I had called my sister to tell her I loved her. I wish I had called her to check on her. I wish I had taught her how to use Circle of 6. I wish I had been more present in her life. I wish I knew more about her last moments. I wish I could have hugged her. I wish I could turn back the hands of time. I wish. I wish. I wish…

But sadly, life doesn’t work that way.

Things I would do all over again; quit my job. We are brought up to ‘go to school, get a degree, find a partner, find a job, settle down and live happily ever after’. This puts so much pressure on individuals that we never really get a chance to find ourselves and follow our passions. If there is a gift I could give to everyone, it would be 1 year of paid unemployment. So we can all learn to breathe deeply, live simply, listen/sleep consistently, find/confirm our true calling and most importantly, center ourselves. But since I cannot gift you that, I encourage you to save hard so that you would be able to take anything from six months to 1 year off work and life. We need to be able to pause, to heal, to grow, to marinate in ourselves and our emotions.

I wish that the gains humanity recorded in 2015 are surpassed, that we start to look past our perceived differences and learn to live together in peace. I hope that we learn to dream, to actualize those dreams, and to allow others the freedom to dream big and actualise their dreams. I desire joy, happiness, good health and contentment for myself and my loved ones. And I wish the same for all of you too! See you in 2016.

Love, @xeenarh.

I love you baby girl, and again I’m truly, really sorry about January. Here’s to a 2016 without any bad news or evil occurrence, full of God’s great joy, peace, and very many blessings!

One of my favorite past times is ‘putting forward my strong reasons’ why a thing should go one way or the other, big thanks to my father who encouraged us to ‘defend’ (used very loosely) requests, e.g. a increase in our weekly allowances. Thinking about that particular episode makes me chuckle – the intensity with which I argued you would think I was trying to get myself off death row! Those were the days…

Some would say Nigeria is on death row – the economy is as distressed as the very definition of the word, Boko Haram is FINALLY losing ground but still wreaking havoc via suicide bombers, and in the words of a friend of mine, corruption has become a ‘come one, come all’ venture. Regardless of the giant strides this government might have made across board, everything pales when lined up against insecurity.

Now, there are currently 14 people put forward by the existing political parties in Nigeria, who say they have the answers to our problems; who say we should vote them in as President and Vice-President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. From ending the Boko Haram insurgency in one month, to running an inclusive government, to banning the importation of rice, the politicians are waxing lyrical, touring states and only stopping short of promising to raise the dead in exchange for our votes.

Beyond the ruckus and rhetoric our road tours are, beyond the hoarse voices and prostituting musicians hoping from one campaign trail to the other (h/t Etcetera), what do the presidential candidates have in store for us? Beyond the cleverly crafted documents and sexy presentations, where exactly are their minds? Stripped bare, without the music, what are these candidates about?

Now, we hear the Presidential candidate for the All Progressive congress General Muhammadu Buhari has said he would not participate in the Nigeria Election Debate Group NEDG-organized debate because the component organizations have been compromised. Exact words from Garba Shehu, of the directorate of media and publicity for the APC Presidential Campaign Organization said, “The boycott was due to the “unhidden bias and campaign of calumny by some key organisers of the programme, against the corporate political interest of the party (APC) and its candidates.”

Here’s a few reasons I gleaned off Twitter at the time and why I think none of them hold any water.

  1. AIT and co are government funded, partisan, pro GEJ, etc.” What is a debate though? Isn’t it men standing behind podiums and talking? How much influence can the partisanship of the medium airing the debate have? Will any of the parties not be allowed to speak? Their microphones will be turned off mid-sentence? What exactly, in a debate that will be aired lived and probably live streamed at the same time? Do we not know that Nigerians, who are suckers for the ‘underdog/victim’ narrative, will naturally gravitate towards whoever seems to be getting a hard time during the debate?
  2. “President Goodluck Jonathan refused to debate in 2011.” This particular excuse amuses me to no end. APC runs on one word, ‘change’, implanting it in the hearts and minds of supporters and opposition alike. Yet, the plan is to walk a path only because someone else walked it four years ago. Really?

And now, three questions of my own.

  1. What is the plan for the Sambo/Osibanjo (vice-presidential candidates for the incumbent and APC respectively) debate, which seems to be the more favorable idea? Will all purportedly partisan media be banned from attending?
  2. Should current and future presidents relinquish control over the Broadcasting Organization of Nigeria so they will truly be independent? That’s an obvious yes, ditto for our electoral commission; real question is would all the presidential candidates honestly be open to doing that?
  3. Why not just pass up on the elections as well, seeing as the Independent National Electoral Commission is government-funded and therefore purportedly/potentially compromised?

Final word. Nigerians have never been this interested in the elections and the one person to whom we will entrust our lives and living for the next four years. Every party deserving of our votes should be raring to go, seeking out every opportunity to reel out their plans to take Nigeria to where we need to be.

Dear handlers, let your candidates debate.

PS – this piece was written in November 2014, but never made it to my blog. The live debate on #RubbinMinds (available here) on the 8th of March was brilliant (both the idea and the event itself), and reminded me about it.

 

PPS – Originally published on Future Challenges.

Merry Christmas to you and yours. Depending on who/where/what you are, this season might either be the “most wonderful time of the year”, or just another day filled with dread, rancour, or even worse, nothingness.

I’ve spent the last 20 odd minutes browsing through social networks as people exchange the warmest greetings with friends, family, and loved ones. And it made me think that there might be some who at this time won’t be unwrapping gifts from Santa, heading out for a day of festivities (maybe debauchery), or staying home to host the tons of people who will visit to share a laugh, drink, and a bite (and maybe a pressie or two). And so this is my message to you, you, and you.

Here’s my list, you’re welcome to add to it.

1. Nigeria’s security forces, especially the rank and file, and even more for the ones serving in the North East. Merry Christmas to you keepers of our land (second to God of course), first in line for whatever havoc Boko Haram and other evil entities think up per time. Especially under the poorest of conditions, the most demotivating remuneration, and appalling, unacceptable gear. The petty extortion on the roads, allegations of human rights abuses, appearance of cluelessness on the one hand, on the other you are our heroes. And to the ones who were sentenced to death for mutiny (apparently more soldiers have been added to the number), you’re in my thoughts and prayers.

2a. Internally displaced persons, who by no fault of theirs, have become refugees in their own land. Merry Christmas to you now without homes/farmland/livelihood, now dependent on the selflessness of groups like #SantaGoesToYola #ChristmasOnTheStreetz (God bless you guys), and the pungent hypocrisy of politicians who only visit for the photo ops. I cannot imagine the pain and suffering, I cannot imagine the questions you sleep and wake with every day, I won’t even try to imagine the conditions you currently face, despite the fact that you have state governors, house of assembly members, local government chairmen, and all the others who from the comfort and safety of their plush mansions in Abuja condemn the insurgency.

2b. Families who have lost brethren to the insurgency. Is it ok to say Merry Christmas? Whatever could be merry about it? From October 2010 and the bombing at Eagle Square, families have sent off their loved ones to work/school/play in the morning, only to receive their lifeless, decapitated bodies in the evening. Some have not been fortunate to receive more than a body part, some others, nothing at all. Where do I start from? Is it the Buni Yadi boys? Or the ones blown up while standing at morning assembly at Government Technical Science College in Potiskum? The hapless ones who got blown up in mosques, churches, bus parks, markets, malls? My thoughts and prayers are with you today and everyday.

3. Parents of the Chibok Girls. We must never forget there have been many kidnapped before these girls taken on the 14th of April, and many taken after (less than 10 days ago it was 185 taken from Gumsuri, a village near Chibok, also in Borno state). Eight months after, it’s moved from windy tales to the ‘only thing that matters’ – the elections in 2015. Never mind that Boko Haram might be breeding an army (one of the girls who escaped was four months pregnant in September, that there are chilling stories of how many times they get raped), and that these girls are walking shells of confusion, hurt and psychological trauma. All that matters to our government is getting re-elected in 2015, whether there are any of us left to vote or not. I am not a parent, but I felt separation anxiety for a toddler on his first days at school; I cannot imagine your grief (which has killed some), or your disappointment in this Nigeria we call ours.

4. Dr Stella Adadevoh’s family. Very special mention must be made of this strong, principled daughter of God who single-handedly (shame on the government for accepting the praise for her work and then wheedling out of giving her a national honor) put a plug in what would have become the biggest outbreak of Ebola this year. You (literally) died so we could live. You are our hero. Today, and always. Merry Christmas to the family you left behind.

5. Nigerians. Merry Christmas to us, wherever we are. We weathered another year, bumps, warts, and all, and must (all things considered), appreciate the fact that we are alive to see another year come to an end. Some of us have lost friends and family to disease or natural causes (rest in peace Lami, aunty NK), children have been born; loves have been won or lost, life has been what it has been to us. Devaluation of the naira, extreme insecurity, abysmal electricity, and the general feeling of hopelessness aside, we’re here. Still here. And it is at least one thing to be grateful for.

Merry Christmas.