Posts Tagged ‘Reclaimnaija’

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.

How have you been? Good? Me too! A little stressed this past week but it’s been worth it. Every single minute of it! Let’s play like this; I’ll run you through a couple of things that I was up to, and you can tell me yours too. K?

For starters, I graduated last week! Masters in Social Media in the bag; whoop whoop!

Whoop whoop!! Thank you Jesus!

I’m grateful to God for the grace to finish, and for the provisions made available to me to study, and finish the course without any hitches. Oya o, direct your social media needs my way; I promise I’m affordable; will be the best value for money ever! I’m particularly interested in and offer

  • Bespoke social media solutions for start-ups, entrepreneurs, corporations, you name it….
  • Hands-on monitoring and technical support
  • Content development and production for radio and television programmes

What else happened last week? Err; apart from going to Heathrow from Birmingham (an approximately three-hour trip) like five times, I did a lot of writing, and writing I’m proud of. The previous week, I’d announced on Twitter that for a few hours I would accept requests from anyone to guest post for free on their websites. Quite a number of people responded, and so I did a lot of writing. I’ve handed in a couple of them, and they’ll be available on here in exactly nine days. That was one challenge I enjoyed, and will repeat soon. Follow @chiomachuka  so you don’t miss out!

Got a phone call about 4.50am on Sunday, a friend called to tell me Whitney Houston was dead. When she hung up, and I had checked to be sure I wasn’t in any way related to Whitney Houston (why else would someone call me that early just to give me bad news), I went on Twitter. Against my wishes/hopes, Whitney Houston had passed on; she was found in the bath of her hotel room by her bodyguard. At forty-eight? Death really has no shame. Who hasn’t been touched by Whitney’s music? The minstrel with 415 awards, the highest by any single musician according to the Guinness Book of World Records; what gave her the right to die?

Of course, conspiracy theories sprung up as to how, why, and who to blame for her death. From drugs, to her husband Bobby, to depression, every option was explored. Her voltrons were on duty as well, and at some point it was almost laughable.

This is what I think: Whitney Houston is a legend, even more in death, one of God’s greatest gifts to music of our time. Larry King said, “All of her life was in her voice”, and even that didn’t quite capture the greatness that was Whitney. She was beautiful, strong, and was all about the music, rather than the sex symbols our musicians are today. But, she was a drug addict. There’s no loving way to say it. All the love, admiration, and respect we feel for her won’t change that so let’s call a spade a spade and not a dessert spoon. As my friend said,

I would to God she’d said no to the first sniff, whiff, ingestion or whatever of drugs. And my heart goes out to her husband Bobby and daughter Bobby Kristina, who themselves have struggled/are struggling with drug abuse. And for her mother who at some point forced her into rehab, I pray God in his infinite mercies comforts you.

To everyone else, “the things we have seen are for our instruction”. Almost in succession, legends have killed themselves, by themselves. Amy WinehouseMichael Jackson, Whitney Houston; I found a pretty long list on a blog of celebrities who have passed thanks to drugs. How many more deaths do we need? Won’t even start on our leaders who are drug users, especially since I plan to visit Nigeria soon (yes this is fear).

What else happened? Err, so Zambia beat Ivory Coast with eight goals to seven (penalties o, was goalless at full-time) to clinch the African Cup of Nations. Yay them! Can’t be bothered, I do not like football. Apart from the fact that footballers make vulgar, almost insane amounts of money (yes, this is beef), I don’t see how the sport that ‘united the world’ is one in which 22 grown men chase a ball. And spit on the pitch. And then fall in that same pitch. Yuck! Triple yuck!

Finally, Serikae Dickson was returned as Governor of Bayelsa State on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party, PDP. Dickson was adjudged the winner of the votes having polled a total of 417, 500 votes out of the 467,004 votes cast, representing 89% of total votes cast in the elections that held on Saturday.

That’s it, pretty much the things that interested me this past week! What’s your story?

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I’ve been off Twitter for about a week now. Had a severe bout of the flu. I’m good now.

People who know me know that when I believe in something/someone I’ll run with it/them passionately, giving it/them my all. That’s till I no longer believe in them, till I feel like I’m being taken for granted, or till I get bored and decide to seek amusement some place else (third reason rarely happens).

In my short lifetime I’ve been involved in quite a diverse range of activities/causes; from organising album launches, press conferences, bake sales, even worked on publicity/branding for politicians as some point. Each of these events have one underlying factor that determined whether they were success or failures; whether all the organizers remained buddies or if we can’t bear to even think of each other now.

Trust.

This is what trust is NOT, and this is the best analogy I could think of (and not because I love beans)

a. We want to eat moimoi. We agree we will eat moimoi.

b. We (say 1000 people) decide (consciously or unconsciously) that Zainab will buy and pick the beans, Kudirat will grind and mix in the spices, and then Ifeoma will watch over the moimoi till it is ready.

c. We all go to the market with Zainab, help her carry the shopping. We all pick the beans, chatting while we work. Then we go with Kudirat to where she grinds the beans, maybe even argue about how much pepper and onions should be ground into it. On the way home, we buy garri and groundnuts we’ll use to eat our moimoi.

d. Ifeoma doesn’t call us, several hours after. In anger, we march to the kitchen to find that the stove’s cold, and Ifeoma’s not there. Our moimoi mixture is as we left it, uncooked. Furious but famished, we put our moimoi to cook. Later we find out that Ifeoma went to the neighbor’s to eat akara.

Trust.

Does Ifeoma think Zainab, Kudirat, or the 1000 will ever plan a meal with her again? It is for this reason, ladies and gentlemen, that I am heartbroken. Disillusioned. Disenchanted. Disgusted. Maybe even ashamed.

Samuel Johnson said, “the key is to get to know people and trust them to be who they are. Instead, we trust people to be who we want them to be, and when they are not,we cry”.

It is for this same reason I’m wary of the loudest voices since the protests started. ‘Saviors of the people’ have again risen up, denouncing the government (which is a brainless one by the way) in the strongest, vilest language possible. I see we’re also calling for the President’s head (which is justifiable in my book too) but have we taken a close look at the people chanting the loudest?

Let’s start with the individuals. Especially if you’ve been in government or in a position to make a change and you did nothing. You should hide your head in shame because sweet cheeks you are a part of the problem.

Still on individuals, sycophants, lying scoundrels giving wrong counsel to people in power for an extra buck. Shame on you. It just goes to show what you’ll be when you’re there.

Then, the ‘activists’. Once it suits your purpose, your battle cry is the loudest. You want the interviews, the international publicity; the power, maybe the extra follower on Twitter. If however there’s the slimmest chance that your interests might be harmed, you go oon self-proclaimed exile. And in doing so rubbish the credibility of your comrades on the altar of your greed. Shame on you.

The sensationalist. I would love to push this to the media but it is human beings who make that up isn’t it? And in these days of social media making citizen reporters of us all, kinda further widens the scope doesn’t it?  We publish/repost/retweet gore in the name of news, offend the sensibilities of everyone else with news that is as unfounded as it is ridiculous. Especially in times of tension or strife. Where is your conscience? Ok you’ve sold that. Did you sell your common sense too? “If the writing is honest it cannot be separated from the man who wrote it” — Tennessee Williams. Same thing goes for dishonest writing/retweeting/posting/publishing.

Worst of all are the ones who are silent. Elie Wiesel said, “I swore never to be silent whenever and wherever human beings endure suffering and humiliation. We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victims. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented”. But perhaps it is this quote by Martin Luther King Jnr that expresses my thoughts the most, ” our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter”. Posterity will judge.

It is for these reasons I am heartbroken.

 

So I’ve been away from this blog for a bit now, concentrating on the reason I came to Birmingham, and I’ve looked forward to writing for leisure again. I just didn’t think I would start with this horrific story.

Last week, Linda Ikeji published this story on her blog; it happened on the 16th of August, 2011. Five undergraduates of Abia State University filmed themselves gang raping a female student, and they put that video online. Why? They say she insulted them. Now I would love to join the rest of the world in discussing what part of hell has been reserved for these devils, but you know that already. I’d rather we discussed the issues this unfortunate incident has thrown up.

To start with, rape is wrong, there is no argument there. It is a crime against womanhood (or manhood), and is punishable by death in some quarters, jail time in some, and the loss of the offending appendage in others. I’m sure these men were aware that they were doing wrong, abi? What is scary is the confidence with which they made the video. A Yoruba proverb says that if a small child stands by the edge of a bush and challenges an adult to a duel, there will definitely be something or someone in the bush giving him confidence.  Agree with that? So what do these boys have ‘behind’ them? Though I haven’t seen the video (and have no plans to torture myself that way), it was obviously well planned for the video to have lasted that long. Is it the thought that they’d never be caught, no thanks to the gaping holes in our policing and crime detection? Is it the thought that their parents are big enough to sway a judge if it came to that? Apart from the very active devil in them, what else was at work?

That leads up to my next point; are we ready for this ‘civilization’ we are clamoring for? I mean, if the best use of social media for UNDERGRADUATES (not people in kindergarten) is the distribution of sadistic criminal content then are we sure we shouldn’t be back in the dark ages? Isn’t it their mates making groundbreaking discoveries everywhere? And to think one of the devils has been identified as studying law!

More horrifying for me is the number of ‘helpless’ people who are begging to see the video. I say helpless because from their comments you can tell they can do nothing to help this situation; either in identifying the suspects or providing any support for the lady. So what on earth do you to watch the video for? I saw a particular comment on a blog that read ‘I’ve only seen the 10mins version. Please give us the link to the full one’. And that was the only thing the person said. Are you kidding me? I mean, it is obvious our sense of decency and morality has been raptured but have we lost our sensitivity too? Like I tweeted some nights ago, rape is not porn. If you need to fill a need in your life with that kind of content, Google hasn’t stopped accepting friend requests. Google! At least that will be in the privacy of wherever you reside, not exposing your freak nature on a blog!

Let’s talk to our leadership a bit now. Two days ago the Vice Chancellor of Abia State University was quick to issue a statement absolving the school of the crime. In his words, “this did not happen in my school” On the other hand, reports from the students say that not only do they believe this happened in their school, but it’s happened before and nothing was done about it! Dear Mr. VC, are you more interested in massaging your bit-sized ego than in calling for a proper investigation into the matter?

And for the Governor of the state, Dr. Theodore Orji who said it was the work of his political detractors, it is the people who voted you into power that I blame for the tragedy of you sitting in that office. On Monday the 19th of September, the Governor said he’d asked the VC to meet with him on Monday, I’m assuming it’d be Monday the 26th. Both statements have foolishness, insensitivity,and stark illiteracy smeared all over them. To the VC and Governor now, would you wait one week if it was your daughter? Would it boil down to politics and your ‘political detractors’ (whatever the hell that over used Nigerian phrase means) if your daughter was gang raped?

Finally, where is this lady? This daughter of God who was brutally violated by our brothers, boyfriends, potential husbands and fathers. Where is she now? What support is she receiving? Do we have any centers to cater to people like her? Does anyone know how to get across to her, to comfort and be there for her and her family? Or are we waiting till she commits suicide to mount campaigns on Twitter?

Join the march against rape at ABSU on the 28th of September!

That said, I appreciate the massive campaigns that have gone on Twitter, the pot of money put together by young people as a reward for any information leading to the arrest of these devils; I am grateful for Sugabelly’s work in deciphering their names, and I’m excited about the Minister for Youth Development leading a team to the school next week. I just hope it won’t end up being a courtesy call! To everyone speaking up about this, well done! We won’t stop till we get these bastards because believe me, with this incident, our problems as a nation are bigger than Boko Haram. This cookie has crumbled.

Author: Chippla Vandu. Scanned from original N...

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Ok, so this article was written by former FCT Minister Mallam Nasir El-Rufai (@elrufai on Twitter) and published on the back page of ThisDay Newspapers of July 1st 2011. He was arrested on the 2nd of July by State Security Services and quizzed for publishing material capable of inciting the citizenry, blah blah blah. Today’s technically a month since the brouhaha the article inspired.

Take your time when reading this, it is kinda lengthy, but very eye opening. And funnily, apart from the arrest, there hasn’t been any court case (libel, slander, defamation, whatever). That must mean something abi?

 

WHAT NIGERIANS PAY THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.

This year, every Nigerian – all 162 million of us – man, woman and child will ‘pay’ the sum of N27,685 each to help run the federal government. What we cannot afford, government will borrow on our behalf to pay for its activities. That is why the federal government, on behalf of you and I will spend the sum of 4.485 trillion (over four thousand billion) naira in 2011. This is against the backdrop that our entire oil earnings for the year cannot pay the generous salaries and allowances of politicians on the one hand, and the meagre pay cheques of other public sector workers on the other, while infrastructure and unemployment are barely getting attention.

When you walk into a government office to request for a basic service, the staff you meet may not even bother to reply to your greeting and barely has time to listen to you; the policeman that should protect you on the roadblock, stops you and demands for bribes and has no qualms shooting dead any motorist that refuses to give him twenty naira; the customs officer at the border who is supposed to stop smuggling takes a bribe and actually connives with the smugglers to bring in banned products into the Nigerian market, while harassing the traveller entering Nigeria with two new pairs of shoes; the hospital staff that, contrary to every professional oath, refuses to attend to dying patients because they are on strike; the soldiers who get so bored that they occasionally go on a rampage, using policemen for target practice. With live ammunition, of course; the politician who rigs himself into office then proceeds to loot the treasury: these are all the people whose standard of living we are spending nearly 75 per cent of the 2011 budget to pay for – and borrowing some after spending all our collections from oil and taxes!

It will cost nearly 2.5 million naira this year on average to pay for the salary and upkeep of each of Nigeria’s nearly one million federal public sector workers – in the police, civil service, military and para-military services and teachers in government schools and institutions. Whether this amount justifies the service that is rendered is left for Nigerians to decide. In all, the 49 line Ministries, Departments and Agencies specifically mentioned in the 2011 Appropriations Act will each cost an average of N49.49 billion to run.

We elect a total of 360 members to the House of Representatives and 109 Senators to make laws and enhance good governance by checking and balancing the excesses of the executive arm of government. For this privilege, the 469 members of the federal legislature and their support staff at the National Assembly will spend N150 billion this year. It is worth noting that NASS only passed 8 bills as at the end of May 2011. So assuming that they manage to pass another 7 bills before the end of this year, it would cost the Nigerian citizen an average ten billion naira to pass a single bill! This implies that to pass the 2011 budget (which allocates N150 billion to NASS), Nigerians paid 10 billion naira. An even more interesting statistic is the cost of maintaining every legislator every year. It works out to princely N320 million per legislator per annum. At this rate, every four year stint at NASS works out at N1.28 billion per legislator. No wonder machetes, guns and thugs are used at will to “win” primaries and the elections. How many new businesses can achieve a turnover of N1.28 billion within four years with net tax-free profit in excess of 50 percent? Is this social justice?

For the NASS, even the amount of N150 billion above is just what we can see easily but is not broken down for further analysis or accountability. There is a bit more hidden all over the Appropriation Act – another N1.595 billion was tucked away for “In-lieu of accommodation for the Seventh Session of NASS” and another N200 million for “Funding of House Resolution Mandates.” What these two provisions mean is best explained by those that legislated them and the executive that will release the sums! What is clear is that none of these will ever be accounted for, or audited!

Last week, I wrote about the cost of justice. I got a few things wrong because I did not appreciate fully the unique role of the National Judicial Council (NJC) in the administration of the nation’s judicial system. My friend and former classmate Mrs. Maryam Wali Uwais clarified this and educated me, for which I am grateful. The NJC’s budget of N95 billion covers the salaries and allowances of all judges of superior courts of record in Nigeria – that is State High Courts and their federal equivalents, Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court. The NJC also funds the overheads of all the Federal Courts only – the Federal High Court and the appellate courts, as well as the salaries and allowances of all Federal Judicial support staff. The State Governments are responsible for the salaries of all other judicial staff (magistrates, support staff, etc.) and the overhead costs of all courts within their respective jurisdictions. It is therefore slightly more complicated to compute what it costs to keep our entire judicial system running without adding up all the budgetary allocations to the Judiciary in all 36 states. We will return to this sometime soon.

An interesting observation is the fact that the government says the problem of power shortage is a priority, yet the Ministry of Power only got 91 billion naira as total appropriation in 2011, while the National Security Adviser (NSA) controls and will spend 208 billion naira (Recurrent – N51 billion, Capital N59 billion, and another N98 billion for the Amnesty Programme!). This amount does not include the Defence budget. The Defence Ministry will get N348 billion, while the Police will get 309 billion naira. In other words, though Nigerians have never felt so insecure in recent history, the NSA, Police and Defence will spend a combined 865 billion naira – more than 2 billion naira a day, weekends included! This does not include the 36 states’ so-called security votes. Even state assembly members and local government councillors now have security votes. Clearly their security is more important than ours!

The point of these statistics is to show how expensive governance has become and how little Nigerians get in return. And the unproductive portions of our national budget have been rising rapidly in the last 4 years, to the detriment of capital investments in infrastructure and human development. Four years ago in 2007, the entire federal government budget was 2.3 trillion naira; today we are spending 4.485 trillion. In 2007, statutory transfers amounted to 102 billion naira or 5% of the total budget. Today, transfers amount to 418 billion or 9% of the total.

This year, the federal government will spend 495 billion naira or 11% of the budget on debt servicing compared to 326 billion naira or 14% it spent the year we finally exited from the London Club debt. More telling is the 1.05 trillion naira or 46% for recurrent expenditure in 2007 against the 2.425 trillion or 54% government will spend this year. Just four years ago, capital expenditure accounted for 36% (830 billion naira) of the budget. This year, the amount for capital expenditure has fallen to 25% (1.147 trillion naira – out of which N1.136 trillion is the budget deficit – that is to be borrowed!).

To the uninformed eye, the figures may seem to represent increases in all aspects, but to what cost, and to what effect? Apologists would want us to believe that the astronomical increase in the cost of government services can be explained by inflation, but even taking into consideration the high inflationary trend (thanks to Jonathan’s profligate campaign year spending), statutory transfers in the budget has gone up by a whopping 310%; debt servicing has a 52% increase; recurrent expenditure has gone up by 131% while capital expenditure has increased by 39% over four years. In real terms however, and accounting for inflation, the total budget has increased by 33% with recurrent expenditure going up by 58% while capital expenditure has actually reduced by 6%.

Facts and figures do not lie. Every figure used in this analysis came from official government records. What is the justification for allocating such huge amounts to running the government when a staggering 30 million Nigerians are unemployed? Only N50 billion has been budgeted to create employment, forgetting that money by itself does not create jobs without a well thought out plan to stimulate small and medium scale enterprises and the creation of appropriate regulatory environments. What are the strategies to ensure that these funds are not diverted? How many jobs will be created this year or in the next four years? Are our priorities right?

All these come down to the questions: Will government’s 4.485 trillion naira budget make life any better or even provide security for Nigerians? Can we feel the impact of this huge spending? Is the cost of governance justified? If we do not have the courage to ask these questions, we will be doing ourselves a disservice and endangering our people’s future.

I am so excited, haven’t been this excited in a long time! Today, the 9th of April is a day that will go down as one of the most significant days in the history of Nigeria. Today, in my opinion laid yet another block in the foundation that is a New Nigeria. Why? Are you even asking?

When Egypt happened earlier in the year, I was excited at the strength of the people, the collective will of the people that transcended religious lines (producing one of the best pictures I have ever seen in my entire life, christians protecting muslims and vice versa), transcended socio-economic statuses, age, creed, you name it. The people had one demand, that Hosni Mubarak and his government leave power. It took a while, but he left, and every day, the symbols of his government are being removed too.

Someone said shortly after that Nigeria was/is not ready for a revolution, that we are not ready to die for the country. I remember replying that we don’t need to die for our country to be what it should be, that if change was a product of bloodshed, we’d shed enough already to make us a ‘world power‘! He said that we were ‘twitter/facebook activists’, who wouldn’t make any difference; I said that the fact that we existed as activists at all was a sign that we had had it, and promised, even in absentia, to prove him wrong.

Organizations like ReclaimNajia, EiE Nigeria, Vote or Quench, Rally For Nigeria, What About Us, Light Up Nigeria were the response by young people to issues that our elders have hitherto been unable to answer. Issues like electricity, security, health, education, employment, crime, you name it. From the 16th of March 2010 when young people under the auspices of the Enough is Enough coalition protested to the National Assembly, I knew it, I knew our time had come. For the first time in the history of the country, youths asked questions of their leaders. What About Us? What are your plans for our country?

Young people (18 – 35) in Nigeria make up 70% of the 150 million that is our population; that has been the driving force behind the campaigns to Register, Select, Vote,and Protect the vote. If only half of this demographic voted, rigging would be difficult. And thanks to mobile technology and apps like ReVoDa that birthed citizen journalists round the country, I knew something would give.

Then on the day of the National Assembly elections, there was the ‘logistics’ excuse and the elections were postponed. Originally, it was to be National Assembly : 2nd April,  Presidential : 9th April, and Governorship/State Assembly : 16th April. Attahiru Jega, Chairman of the Independent National Electoral commission (INEC) moved the National Assembly elections to the 4th of April, but moved everything forward by a week the night before the 4th. The new dates became National Assembly : Sat, 9th April(today), Presidential : Sat, 16th April, and Governorship/State Assembly : Tues, 26th April.

Apart from the postponement discouraging people, last night we heard of an explosion in the INEC office in Suleja, Niger State. Amongst the dead from that blast were 6 corps members. Unconfirmed reports from yesterday had it that a young man in Kaduna who was ‘planting’ a bomb made a mistake and set off the bomb, on himself. Talk about karma being swift. Like I said on twitter last night, may God comfort all the families who have lost mothers, fathers, sons and daughters in any of these horrible blasts, and may the souls of the departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.

Despite all these, the turn out for today was at least 150% above what it was in 2007, when less than one-third of the voting population voted; some people were not even aware of the aspirants that would be representing their constituencies! Despite bomb scares, tales of violence, the scorching sun, snail-like activity at the polling centres, people went out, got accredited, and when the time came, they voted. Not only did they vote, but they waited for the votes to be counted, and then they tweeted the results. Nigerians challenged people who came to snatch ballot boxes – there are several reports of people overpowering and disarming thugs who came to cause confusion at the polling centres – they provided snacks and drinks for their brothers and sisters who had to wait in long queues for their turn to ‘press their hand’.

Today, according to Nigerian hip-hop sensation Naeto C, “things are not the same….levels don change now….” The revolution that has begun today will remain with us for years to come. And even though I am worried that from the results coming back we are voting largely along ethnic lines with the Coalition for Progressive Change (CPC) winning most of the seats in the North,  Action Congress of Nigeria (ACN) seizing the West and All Progressive Grand Alliance (APGA) trying to remain relevant in the East, I think that we are on the road to getting it this time, and that’s all that matters for now.

I’ll wrap for now with a tweet from @segundemuren, that “we exercised our right to vote because we want to develop. My prayer is democracy should lead to development”.

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Ok, this is one of those ’emergency’ posts. I say emergency because I’m writing to get over something that has really made me angry today, and I desperately need something to distract/take my attention away from it/the person before I do something silly. Writing for me has always been a good way of escape, same way some people would work out (I’m too lazy), or pound the wall with their fists/head (I have a low threshold for pain).

Ok, so it looks like I’ve been a little silent about Nigeria, our elections, and the stunts INEC has pulled in the last week or so. I haven’t been silent, I’ve just been drinking it in (whatever that means).

As the general elections draw closer (barring any more postponements), politicians are getting desperate to get more people to cast their votes in their favour. I won’t mention specifics but one of the aspirants to the National Assembly has been kidnapped, there’s chaos in one of the states in the South South following the arrest and slamming of  a treason charge on one of the governorship hopefuls, there’s a war of text messages, accusations and counter accusations in the South West, and even from very far away, the tension is almost palpable!

Who are you voting for? Why? Are you voting for that person because your friends are voting for him? Are you voting because you believe in the person? What is the place of their track records, integrity, and more importantly the company they keep? Whether we like it or not, the maxim ‘show me your friends and I’ll tell you who you are’ is very true. You cannot be friends with murderers, thieves and scoundrels and not be impacted/influenced consciously or unconsciously.

As we go to the polls again tomorrow, let us remember that planting mango seeds and expecting to reap strawberries is sheer insanity. We know who we should vote for, for all the positions. Note that I’m not (I’ve not) mentioned any names, or endorsed anyone. I just want you to, with your vote, tell the truth.

I’ll leave you with a story I read that captures the essence of all I’ve just said…………enjoy!

THE VALUE OF MY VOTE
Last week, I witnessed an amazing drama unfold as a politician tried frantically to convince my neighbour to cast his vote for a party. When the politician realized that his effort was getting him nowhere, he decided to use the power in his pocket. He brought out a bundle of N200 notes and dangled it in my neighbour’s face, basically the way you would dangle some bait to an animal you are trying to catch.

“How much is your vote?” he asked, with a deceptive smile on his face.

My neighbour hesitated for a moment, and then he grabbed a piece of paper and began to scribble down something. When he finished writing, he handed the piece of paper to the politician saying, “This is the value of my vote.”
The politician went through the paper briefly and then squeezed and threw it away, in my direction. He hurried away, saying that my neighbour wasn’t being rational.

My neighbour, realizing I was watching, picked up the paper and said, waving the paper at me, “Am I being irrational?”
I collected the paper and took a quick look at it. He had written on the paper the breakdown of his family’s expenses, which the government (according to him) had so far failed to provide or make available for its citizens. He then multiplied everything by four (4) years. Something like this:
Security – N20,000 per month x 12 months x 4 years = N960,000
Generator – N40,000 per 2 years x 2 = N80,000
Fuel for generator – N1,000 per day x 365 days x 4 years = N1,460,000
Potable water – N500 per day x 365 days x 4 years = N730,000
Healthcare Insurance – N10,000 per month x 12 months x 4 years = N480,000
Education – N5,000 per month x 12 months x 4 years = N240,000
Housing – N500,000 per year x 4 years = N2,000,000
Total – N5,950,000 (five million nine hundred and fifty thousand naira)

Realize the worth of your vote. VOTE WISELY.

So it’s been a little while I did a chronicle that wasn’t school and learning related, and that’s due to the fact I’ve gotten to that point where I’m pleading with God for extra hours at the end of the day…. It’s also because there’s too much happening! From Nigeria to Ivory Coast, Zimbabwe to Egypt, to Yemen, Bahrain, Libya, and Japan, it’s almost impossible to keep up!

Anyways, I’m back, and repeating my promise to give you something to engage with every week, and I’ll keep that promise; at least I’m not promising 50,000 posts in one day!

On to the business of the day; I’ve wanted to run interviews on this blog for a while because despite all the ‘sad’ things around us, there are young people who are doing exceptionally brilliant stuff! Especially the ones that if you’re not told of, you’d likely miss.

The idea for the first interview came about a week ago, when I was researching facts for an article that would show the impact social media has had/is having on politics in Nigeria and I stumbled on ‘Nigerian Constitution App for Blackberry’, developed by a Nigerian, Zubair Abubakar.

Zubair Abubakar, fine boy  abi? Brains too!

I found him on Twitter, asked for an interview, and below is an hour’s worth of our discussion, reproduced as taken off Gtalk!

Enjoy…!

FGS: hey, good evening!

ZUBAIR: hey!!!

FGS: good evening…… Nice day?

ZUBAIR: good evening ma, yes, I had a nice day. You?

FGS: yes, I’ve had fun, especially since I finished a report I’ve been trying to write since Wednesday

ZUBAIR: ah, great!

FGS: yup! So basically, I wanted to do this interview because as part of my research on Social Media and Nigerian politics I stumbled on @techloy’s site, and I saw your work

ZUBAIR: oh ok…..

FGS: And I believe that it’s a platform for people to get to know you, and the work that you do…and it’ll help our knowledge base so that our arguments and requests from government are backed with a knowledge of what we are entitled to..

ZUBAIR: ok, sure!

FGS: great, thank you. Let’s start with, what is the one thing you hate?

ZUBAIR: WOW, I love so many things, I cant even pick one thing that I hate…but I would say dishonesty from people and people trying to take advantage of others.

FGS: Ok, we’ll pick through your answer but please tell me three things you love, since you said you love ‘so many things’

ZUBAIR: I love to impact in peoples lives

FGS: that’s one…

ZUBAIR: I love reading and learning basically

FGS: that’s 2a and 2b

ZUBAIR: I love God

FGS: three! Ok, back to the things you hate, have you ever felt someone was taking advantage of you? Tell me (us) about it..

ZUBAIR: yea couple of times;well a typical example is the way Nigerian leaders rule over us without caring about be accountable to us(me)

FGS: Isn’t that a function of their knowledge of the fact that we didn’t care? I say ‘didn’t’ because we do now…

ZUBAIR: Well, exactly!

FGS: Why would you say then that they ‘took advantage’ of you, since you agreed with me that they had a reason to?

ZUBAIR: well, in the moral sense, because you have a reason or power to take advantage of someone doesn’t make it okay to do so!

FGS: Agreed…. Forgive my manners, I forgot I didn’t ask who you are, and what you do…

ZUBAIR: LOL, I guess you already know that

FGS: No(insert smiling smiley)

ZUBAIR: I am a web/mobile application developer, a TED fellow, a volunteer amongst other things.I currently work with connectnigeria.com as a lead developer

FGS: Wow….And your name is? I know your twitter handle is @zubairabubakar

ZUBAIR: you can get more here: http://www.ted.com/profiles/9272http://www.facebook.com/zabubakar,zubairabubakar.com,

http://www.linkedin.com/pub/zubair-abubakar/3/329/935. Zubair Abubakar is my full name

FGS: Have you always been a ‘techie’? By that I mean is it something you’ve always had a flair/skill for, or you studied and acquired it?

ZUBAIR: yes I have always been a techie, but my studies helped a great deal to develop the skills

FGS: What/where was school?

ZUBAIR: I first did a diploma in Information Systems Management at APTECH Computer Education, Lagos,then a BSc. Computer Science at Ashesi University Ghana

FGS: How long have you been building apps?

ZUBAIR: web apps or mobile?

FGS: both

ZUBAIR: since 2003, so that’s roughly about 8yrs!

FGS: Wow….what’s the first app you developed? (web and/or mobile). By the way, I was in first year for the greater part of 2003

ZUBAIR: oh really! Well, it was a web app, a diploma project, where customers can create accounts, deposit(virtually), check their account balance

FGS: neat…Can we digress a bit? How do virtual deposits happen? I can understand online transfers, deposits via ATM’s et al but I don’t really get virtual deposits, and I’ve been too lazy to google it!

ZUBAIR: a simple implementation could be the use of recharge cards

FGS:ok….

ZUBAIR: so a website may sell the recharge cards and ask users to buy a card of certain value (say N5000) and then load the value of the card into his/her account on the website

FGS: oh ok…

ZUBAIR: then the account reads that he/she has N5000 on the website and can use it to buy stuff or transfer to another user

FGS: Nice….is it in use now? The app?

FGS: Zubair? (he was gone for like 8 minutes)

ZUBAIR: hey sorry for the break in transmission…thanks to NEPA.. lol

FGS: that’s fine; one of the reasons we’re all going out to vote next month abi?

ZUBAIR: exactly! And no, the app is not in use

FGS: Did you register in February ?

ZUBAIR: no; in January, why?

FGS: January I beg your pardon… DO you have your voters card?

ZUBAIR: yes

FGS: Ok, I would have been very worried if you didn’t! That would have been one less vote…. What was the experience like? Easy, difficult?

ZUBAIR: well ok, could have been way better

FGS: ok, that’s what everyone thinks… What prompted the Nigerian constitution for BB app? And don’t worry, we’ll be talking about things other than work in a bit…

ZUBAIR: lol its ok. Well I was learning how to develop for blackberry phones at the time so I thought about what app I could develop to make an impact and coincidentally, I was lazily reading the constitution then

FGS: ok…

ZUBAIR: and then it occurred to me that Nigerians don’t read or don’t even have access to the constitution; what if I developed an app that would let them read it on their phones……and that was it!

This is what the app looks like, get familiar!!

FGS: neat!!! Now to the stuff that sells papers…how old are you?

ZUBAIR: lol, 27

FGS: ok, back to the app. Has it been successful, how popular is it?

ZUBAIR: well, I would say yes, I has been downloaded 15,000+ times, here you go

http://mobileappsnigeria.com/nigerianconstitution/ (that’s the link to download it guys)

FGS: wow…that’s a lot of downloads! @techloy did a little analysis of the amount of money you would have made if you sold the app

ZUBAIR: it has also set a record of most downloaded app in Nigeria within 72hr – 10,000 downloads

FGS: Yes, I am aware of that…kudos!!!

ZUBAIR: yep, I know right! Thanks; a big thanks to social media

FGS: How are you publicizing the app, because there are currently more than 80 million Nigerians using mobile phones; placing this app in the hands of even a tenth of that number would be great.

ZUBAIR: my plan exactly; so far its has been, bb broadcast, facebook posts, twitter, and blog posts

FGS: ok, nice. When you are building apps, what do you do?

ZUBAIR: do you mean when I am NOT building apps?

FGS: yes, excuse me

ZUBAIR: ok, well couple of things, reading, volunteering, sports, hang out with friends

FGS: Any ‘special’ friend?

ZUBAIR: LOL, wife you mean?

FGS: whatever…wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, cat, dog, you choose….

ZUBAIR:LOL, not really, I’m mostly a loner

FGS: are you lending credence to the saying that techies are ‘loners’?

ZUBAIR: yep to some extent :)

FGS:You’re not even trying to deny it! Anyways, my final three questions (and I must thank you for being a sport), what’s your favourite childhood memory?

ZUBAIR: lol, you are welcome

FGS: what’s your favourite childhood memory?

ZUBAIR: I’ve had couple, I think I first time on a plane would be the one

FGS: What’s your favourite meal?

ZUBAIR: tuwo rice with fresh fish stew

FGS: who’s your most favourite person in the world?

ZUBAIR: dead or alive?

FGS: You choose

ZUBAIR: Gandhi

me: thank you very much!!!

And that my dear friends, is Zubair, and the end of the interview (and this chronicle)… Feel free to talk to him on Twitter, he’s an easy, approachable fella, and please download the app, and forward the link! Knowledge of the law will enable us lead more productive lives, and ensure that no one tramples on our rights. Thank me later!