Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mega Business in Nigeria

Update: July 24, 2005
Transnational Corporation of Nigeria Plc (referenced in the main post), became a reality with a bang! TransCorp, with investment interests in five core areas, was formally unveiled yesterday with the Federal Government granting it immediate approval to build a $250 million (about N33.25 billion) refinery in Lekki Free Port Zone, Lagos. The facility is projected to refine 400,000 barrels per day (bpd) of crude oil on full capacity, but 150,000 bpd is to be covered under the first phase.

President Olusegun Obasanjo, while launching the company at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja, also announced other concessions which include a licence to build an Independent Power Plant (IPP) and access to government's cassava report for the construction of a cassava processing facility.

Obasanjo )middle) and the Board of Directors:
Ndi Okereke-Onyuike (chairman), Festus Odimegwu, Aliko Dangote, Jim Ovia, Jacob Mayo Ajekigbe, Funso Lawal, Femi Otedola, Tony Elumelu, Tony Ezenna, Waziri Mohammed, Adegboyega Olulade and Nicholas Okoye.

Read more about Transnational Corporation of Nigeria



Via Business in Africa :
These business operators in the small sectors are the engine that drives any economic revolution, and Nigeria has no scarcity of them. However, some of these Nigerians have become icons and models for enterprise and business pursuit today through the sheer size and influence of their business dealings. They are from the banking, energy, technology, telecommunications, manufacturing and other industry sectors and have distinguished themselves by contextualising the resources they manage and by contributing to growth of entrepreneurial spirit in Nigeria.
Here are some of the showcased entrepreneurs recent transactions:

Dangote’s Obajana Cement: : The International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, is investing $75 million in Obajana Cement Plc to support a greenfield cement project at Obajana in Nigeria’s Kogi state...

Update on Obajana Cement: August 21
"The European Investment Bank, the European Union’s long-term lending institution, has signed loan facilities totalling USD 150 million (EUR 123 million) with Obajana Cement PLC, a subsidiary of Dangote Industries Limited of Nigeria. USD 110 million is guaranteed – for commercial risks only - by Eksport Kredit Fondsen (EKF) of Denmark for USD 70 million and by other international banks, including Fortis Bank, for the remaining USD 40 million."

"These facilities are part of a USD 479 million financing package to Obajana Cement PLC with a consortium of major international and Nigerian financial institutions, including the International Finance Corporation (IFC), Africa Merchant Bank/Banque Belgolaise and Netherlands’ Overseas Development Finance Company (FMO) as well as First Bank of Nigeria PLC in its capacity as arranger of the local banks’ tranche."
Update via Harold Doan and Associates Ltd

Zenon Oil $600 million refinery project**: The President/Chief Execu-tive Officer of Zenon Petroleum and Gas Limted, Mr. Femi Otedola yesterday in Lagos announced that his company has raised $100 million for the setting up of a refinery in the country...

(** Login ID & password = grandiose parlor)

These two are among those tagged the “President Boys”. This cohort of super wealthy individuals with the backing of the presidency recently formed the Transnational Corporation of Nigeria . On the Board of Transcorp are Aliko Dangote, Chairman, Dangote Group; Festus Odimegwu, MD/CEO, Nigerian Breweries Plc; Jim Ovia, MD/CEO, Zenith Bank Plc; Tony Elumelu, MD/CEO, Standard Trust Bank Plc, among others according to BusinessDay .

According to Okereke-Onyiuke, a Board member, said the president brought them together to form an organisation that would provide them in-roads into multi-million businesses within and outside the African continent. "Nigerian products are informally pushed into the African market; the incorporation of Transcorp was therefore informed by the need to formalize the entry of these products into the African markets. The objective is also to adequately empower the Nigerian businessmen to compete effectively with the Asian, Spanish, and European businessmen in these markets."

I can’t explain why I have a strong reservation towards Transcorp. Is it a sound business logic to have a big and well funded entity that can favorably compete (for) and execute mega business undertakings both within and outside the country? On the other hand, what will happen to the small/mid sized businesses? The economy of many industrialized nations particularly the US is fueled by small businesses. So I’m yet to discern what the long-term gain will be for Nigerians…isn’t this just another opportunity to for the bourgeois to line their pockets at the expense of the masses?
Help me out here.



Making sense out of Live8

Via Yahoo!News:
"cultural gap may be too wide to cross for many American blacks. "
-They have their issues too, I'll say.

But the gap is not limited to African Americans, many Africans are not in unison on this matter either- critisicm abound over the Blogoshere among African bloggers, and this is fine. However, Live8 will generate a more positive impact if we, Africans, focus on the positive energy generated by the concert. It is really easy to be arm-chair critics, and this applies to me too by my statement: "...So to set these unfortunate ones free of bondage, we must party hard, and sing and dance into the wee hours of the morning? Will this entertainment package really bring peace to the multitude of displaced and war-wary Africans?...", but it is a dauting task to organize and execute!


Monday, June 27, 2005

Live8: Where are my African Brethren?

To my fellow and more fortunate Africans, we must seriously consider how we WILL meaningfully contribute to the emancipation of our less fortunate brethrens. It is a fact that the stipends we routinely send home have enormously helped many of our next of kin, but we have to reach out beyond the circle of our immediate families; we have to complement these unexampled global efforts. We need to shed off the coats of apathy that many among us have worn for so long, and open our hearts to those that are not blood relatives and those that are of different clan, tribe, religion or faith. This is not the time for lethargy or ethnic sentiments; we have to come together, and creatively conceive plans for action- just as beings of different races have done under live8- to help ourselves, please.

The blogosphere is red-hot with all sorts of Live8 concert posts! From Tokyo to Johannesburg,and from Philadelphia to Rome, posts in almost all known languages abound. What an impressive display of human solidarity; this is really an epic moment in the history of mankind. Live8 rocks!

But in the midst of this supped-up cyberspace cacophony, and eager proclamation of, albeit not new, brotherhood, perhaps we need to stand back and think of whom all these feverishness and euphoria are for. These efforts are for some nameless and faceless homo sapiens in some far away hell-on-earth locale in Africa Who for all intents and purposes, have no inkling of what Live8 is, and as a matter of fact, care less about this urbane, intercontinental, star-packed, jamboree. What accounts for the bulk of burden (illness and death) carried by millions in this far away land of abundance yet impoverished masses are mostly the resultant and cumulative effects of human endeavors that range from politics to ethnocentricity, and greed to simple indiscretion.

How can this musical fiesta reverse the fate of millions that minimally exist at the bottom of the pyramid of life? These bottom feeders are helpless and live out their existence in sheer hopelessness; their collective fate often depends to some ignorant tribal warlords, or some bourgeois, westernized African politicians or bureaucrats somewhere. So to set these unfortunate ones free of bondage, we must party hard, and sing and dance into the wee hours of the morning? Will this entertainment package really bring peace to the multitude of displaced and war-wary Africans? Will debt cancellation and aid emancipate the poverty- and disease-stricken children in Africa?

I don’t know the answer to these questions. By nature I’m an overly optimistic being, and I’m most appreciative of the good intents of Bono, Geldof and other kindred spirits that have been clamoring for debt cancellation for Africa. However, I have some difficulty psyching myself up to believe that this festival of music in far away lands and cultures will have any meaningful impact on the lives of my fellow African brethrens. No offence please.

For as long as the likes of Joseph Kony of the Lord's Resistance Army, Robert Mugabe, Ibrahim Babaginda , Charles Taylor, and many other similar demented souls in Dafur still roam free in our midst. And corruption, nepotism, ethnocentric ideologies and religious bigotry remain practiced and cherished values, Africa will remain in perpetual misery.

My people will remain disillusioned, and will continue to be pawns played by those bestowed with the scared responsibility of leadership, raped and disfranchised by their next of kin. Bono and his cohorts can sing to high heavens, and G8 can give all the money there is in this world regardless of the built-in conditionalities, if there are no meaningful economic and political reforms, and President Bush's Millennium Challenge remains moribund, I’m afraid these noble concepts of debt relief and aid will fail in its entirety.


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Segun Obasanjo, Andrew Young, & Carlton Masters, Inc

I first got wind of this "matrimony", (I hope the use of this word is appropriate under this circumstance), between our president- General Obasanjo, Young and Masters about a month ago while on a visit to Atlanta. Jonathan Elendu's article on Nigeria Online may just be the impetus I need to blog about this mysterious alliance. My source even told me that our president hardly stays at the Nigerian consulate anymore; most of the time he's hanging out with his associates-Young and Masters anytime he is in the US.

Jonathan's article: "Obasanjo, Young, and Masters: What kind of cabal?" speaks for itself. All I have to add is: OBJ what's up with all these? We're all watching...

Read more here and via Elendu Reports


Nigeria: Corruption and Abetter-Nations

On corruption in Nigeria; via David Blair , Telegraph : That past Nigerian leaders stole at least £200 billion ($400 billion) of aid money, equivalent to about 300 years of western aid for the whole of Africa, or six Marshall Plans! “…British aid for Africa totaled £720 million last year. If that sum was spent annually for the next three centuries, it would cover the cost of Nigeria's looting.”

This is mind boggling. I wonder how could this be possible? One question is paramount on my mind:

“What are nations that help fed this extraordinary fraud doing to assist Nigeria? The loot, in cash and assets, are predominately in western nations. It is ludicrous to imagine that these nations knew nothing about a scam orchestrated over 40 years, particularly when it was of this magnitude”

This is a crucial and poignant question the G8 nations must answer. The stolen money help ran the economy of some western nations, so what is all the fuzz about for not wanting to grant debt relief to Nigeria. I know this statement contradicts my views in an earlier post, “G8 First 18” , and I still maintain that Nigeria has to set his house in order first, it also equally important to ask this question.

For corruption to be effectively tackled in Nigeria, efforts of the present administration must reach far and wide and not be limited to some scape-goats. Also, aid money must be closely monitored, and nations that have served as repositories for looted money MUST work conscientiously to repatriate such money; using legal technicalities as excuses is unacceptable, its an act of hypocrisy, and that makes them equally guilty.

This issue just refuses to die.

Obasanjo’s presidential library; Festus Odimegwu , via ThisDay : He states that he and some undisclosed individuals, (but read this ) were aware of the fund raising plan for the library right from the start (my guess is that he and others help coordinated it). The reason he gave for the timing of the fund raising was that the president wanted to prove to all doubting Thomas’ that he is indeed serious about leaving office at the end of his term (which is about 2 year away).

Odimegwu is a very smart chap and one of the best minds in the Nigerian corporate sector. He is the MD of Nigerian Breweries, a super blue chip corporation in Nigeria. I have a lot of respect for him. What troubles me is that if this caliber of people were privy to the details of the library project, and given that Obasanjo’s administration had just demonstrated its intent to fight corruption after a long period of inaction, how come none of them realized the ethical implications of staging a fund raising event in May 2005 when the president still has 2 more years left on his term? Perhaps having a high intelligence quotient deprives one of the meanings of ethical conduct and simple common sense, because a little application of each would have taken care of things.

Read more about Obasanjo Presidential library here on Elendu Reports

Is it that the some of those running the show in Nigeria are also ethically challenged? (I have concluded that majority of them do lack common sense in this post)


Saturday, June 25, 2005

Beyond the Realm of Fantasy

This is a continuation of an earlier post, see: The Trailblazers, the Fantasizers and the Quitters: where do you belong?

Earlier this year, I was invited to a fund raising luncheon organized by a NGO called Books for Africa. What I heard that afternoon was inspiring for I had been contemplating initiating a program fashioned after the Mano a Mano Medical Resources: a NGO that serves about 150,000 people in rural Bolivia. Although, these two organizations have different niches, their modus operandi is comparable; Books for Africa and Mano a Mano have perfected the means to recycle books and medical supplies in developing countries, respectively.

I have to admit, and not without shame, that I have not been able to translate my thoughts into realities yet, but there are many Nigerians that have been more successful! These individuals despite their limited resources, absence of well-oiled logistic machinery, and the notorious bureaucratic bottleneck in Nigeria, have secured useful collaborations, are willing to explore and seize windows of opportunity in Nigeria, and are serving as catalyst of change through the creative use of their resources in the Diaspora. I am proud and pleased to state that they may have initiated a subtle PARADIGM-SHIFT in Nigeria. Louis Ebodaghe is a poster child for this group of Nigerians.

HopeShare Foundation Inc, a NGO founded and managed by Louis Ebodaghe, identifies and cultivates resources that help restore hope and meaning to the lives of individuals and groups, that lack access to functional education and medical opportunities in Edo State, Nigeria. He has no office or a website yet; he operates from his basement and garage in Atlanta. According to Louis, who is fondly referred to as the "Duke of Esan Land" by his cronies:

"Through the support and collaborative efforts within our communities, NGOs, and the generous contributions of St Joseph's Hospital of Atlanta's Russell Bellman Library since 2004, current medical journals and textbooks have been donated to the Ambrose Alli University Medical School, at Ekpoma, Edo State (his native state in Nigeria). This effort has helped sustain the accreditation status of the Medical school, as well as enabled the students to gain access to and acquire valuable knowledge on current information in the study and practice of Medicine. One of our long term goals is to provide the same level of support to other Universities across the nation, based on available resources."

Louis hopes to go into collaboration with Zuma Memorial Hospital in Irrua, Edo State, to assess the current health needs of the community, by developing a community outreach program to facilitate the delivery of healthcare services to those in need. He stated that the HopeShare Foundation has adopted the Zuma Orphanage to help support the program and to draw attention to the plight and needs of Orphaned children in his society. He stressed that the Zuma Memorial Hospital has successfully provided nursing training programs to some of the children who were in the Zuma Orphanage. He believes that these graduates are a positive testimonial that through our collective efforts, we can empower our citizens as stakeholders, to build a better community that they can be proud of.

I'm in absolute concordance with him. Also, could the noble acts of Louis and others initiate a cascade of similar ventures by Diaspora Nigerians? Absolutely, in fact I hope many can learn some valuable lessons from him. I doff my hat to the many Louis Ebodaghes out there, who despite competing priorities and the discouraging news emanating from Nigeria by the hour, have accepted and have found ways to serve as catalysts of change.

I conclude with this statement extracted from a comment left by one of the readers, "Hope4U":

"...educate the masses and you transform your society. The masses deserve the opportunity to make informed choices, and this is only achieved through education - formal and informal, that creates a deep reservoir of knowledge necessary to effect change. Education must influence positive values, which creates that engine for change..."

* Louis is married to Abby, and they're blessed with two children- Bibi and Brandon. They all live in Marrietta, in the state of Georgia, USA.


Thursday, June 23, 2005

The Trailblazers, the Fantasizers and the Quitters: where do you belong?

There are millions of Nigerians in the Diaspora. The vast majority of this cohort will one day make the transition back home, hopefully. However, if the socioeconomic and political situations in Nigeria remain and persist long enough, many may be become "stuck" and will never make it home. For some, this is not as bad as it sounds; life continues. For others, including me, home is where the heart is, and that is in Nigeria. And that is the primary purpose of Grandiose Parlor and particularly this post (and subsequent ones); we have to be "pumped up" mentally before we can engage the physical and emotional challenges that lay ahead.

These are just my thoughts- simple and down to earth, and should not be seen a literary excursion, and perhaps you will find some sense in the verbiage. Whatever your stance, your comments are most welcomed.

Only a minority of Nigerian expatriates have actually found ways to survive the harsh realities of life upon their return home. For these lucky one, there is no place like home, and there is no looking back. These are the "Trailblazers". I belong to the group of “Fantasizers”, who fantasizes about returning home some time in the future. My affiliation with this group is borne out of necessity; I do not have the resources to ensure a smooth transition yet, and identifying an economically viable niche to occupy back home is forever an elusive mind game, and I’m sure this is the case for the majority of fantasizers too. Unfortunately, many Nigerians in the Diaspora have given up on Nigeria, for these group, the "Quitters", and the issue of ever returning is irrelevant and no longer a priority, and I can’t blame them.

I wonder if the Quitters are conscious of, and comfortable with, the realities that await them later in life: a desolate and depressing life at the nursing homes. Because of loneliness and social isolation, many will die from depression-facilitated conditions shortly after their incarceration in nursing home; the concept of nursing home is an unfamiliar concept to many first generation Nigerian immigrants, and only very few will be able to cope. To the entrepreneurs and the business savvy, there is a guaranteed business opportunity for you; a pool of potential Nigerian nursing home residents, so start writing your business plans. My advice to the potential nursing home residents: get yourself a comprehensive long-term healthcare insurance and do not bank on social security!

Fellow fantasizers, we have work to do. If we really want to transit, we can’t limit our efforts to the usual yaps and rants on the “Nigerian-issue” (if you are like me) because these are mere intellectual exercises. My suggestion is that we need to start thinking beyond our yap and rant routine, and fashion out how we can CREATIVELY use our RESOURCES in the Diaspora, INDIVIDUALLY and COLLECTIVELY, to EFFECT A PARADIGM-SHIFT in NIGERIA. Only our willingness to explore and seize existing windows of opportunity, collaborate, and serve as catalyst of change will expedite our transition back to the motherland.

The good thing is that many of us have been doing this quietly. They have been able to manage their resources and leverage their connections to initiate, albeit a slow but steady process, that if continued and replicated by others will bring about a profound change in the socioeconomic status and political orientation of our brethrens back home. Hopefully, the cumulative effects of these actions will facilitate our return sooner than expected. (To be continued)


Nocturnal Journeys of Survival

Via BBC News
It was late and I was tired and sleep was nowhere near. As I laid down on my bed, I kept thinking about what I had read earlier about the wandering children of Uganda. I felt the urge to act, so I decided to post this.

I first knew about the plight of these unfortunate Uganda war children somewhere, but I can’t recollect exactly where. The BBC News has aptly tagged them the "Night Commuters" in this picture-news. And that is exactly what they are- they travel long distance, in groups, every blessed night looking for safe havens.

In my mind, they are the major fallout of the unending war in northern Uganda, a war that has spanned almost two decades. Whatever motivates the war monger, Joseph Kony, the satanic leader the Lords Resistance Army, is definitely evil.

These kids have lost their lives, yet they all have live in them, hoping perhaps one day life will return back to normal- for those that can remember what “normal” means. I salute their courage and their tenacity to overcome their unwarranted adversities, they are survivors and they are my heroes! More


Monday, June 20, 2005

The Issue of Resource Control in Nigeria...Common sense has become scarce

Update July 12th, 2005
Common sense failed to prevail today as the National Political Reform Conference came to a close in Nigeria. The conference's recommendations were adopted in the absence of the delegates from the south-south region of the country. The south-south is predominately the Niger Delta- the region where the bulk of Nigerian crude oil is extracted. Delegates from this region walked out of the conference when their call- a 25% derivation formula in sharing the nation's revenues, be increased to 50% within the next five years- was blocked essentially by the majority northern delegates. One of the recommendations adopted is an increase in the level of derivation from the present 13% to 17% for oil producing states. Sham!

Read more, here and here



Resource control is about equity in resource allocation, exploitation, and utilization. It has always been a bone of contention in the Nigerian polity, now it has polarized delegates at the Nigerian national political reform conference

Obviously, the issue of resource control means different things to different people in Nigeria. To the Niger-Delta region of Nigeria- the minorities of the former Eastern and Western Regions of Nigeria, it is a noble cause worth dying for. To other far away communities, it evokes negative images that should at best be suppressed.

The Niger-Delta has suffered colossal loss of human capital compounded by extensive environmental degradation as a result of oil exploration, and quite ironically, it is one of the least developed regions of the country, according to Joel Bisina, the founder of the Niger-Delta Professionals for Development . He is from Ogbinbiri - where people live on the “floor of poverty”. This town like many other Niger Delta towns, is only accessible by boat, there are no schools or medical facilities. Bisina's mother had to send him away at age 6 so he could obtain formal education. The continuation of social injustice against these Nigerian minorities presents a huge risk to the Nigerian nascent democracy, and must not be encouraged. You might wonder isn’t this a case of simple common sense?

Then why are some against the principles of fair share and equality? Why are some so eager to suppress voices of reason, but rather sweep issues that pertain to national survival under the carpet? Is it fear or plain ignorance that has robbed these people of their common sense? Do these pimps, this eccentric, egocentric cabal realize the consequence of their collective lack of common sense is the perpetration of environmental degradation, poverty and hopelessness among people that have already been pushed well against the wall?

Bisina’s vision is to co-create a safe environment for peaceful co-existence, and help reduce conflict by getting youth away from violence. It seems many frustrating and challenging days await the “Bisinas” of the Niger-Delta. They all need our prayers.

On a lighter note, here is a “little treat” I received from BRE, who first spotted this graphical narrative of the Nigerian society on the Kenyan Pundit blog , and he was kind to forward it to me. It is an exhibition held at Southern Illinois University back in the year 2002 titled "Other Africas: Images of Nigerian Modernity". Please take a look.


Friday, June 17, 2005

Help Build a Bridge

"Imagine building a bridge in remote, rural Nigeria to cross over a 200-foot wide river, where every effort is by a volunteer. The planning, the engineer design, the labor force and the direction of this project are all being accomplished at no cost. Imagine the changes possible in the lives of thousands of people confined to “the other side” who for more than 30 years have only been able in part to think it was possible. Imagine what can happen in the lives of children who can cross over to schools, of the sick who can reach doctors, and of the fathers and mothers who can take their crops and wares to markets. Like the turning on of a light bulb in a darkened room, this bridge can instantly bring hope, life and vigor to thousand of families, and unlock the potential of tens of thousands of acres of rich farmland"- Dr Stong.

The Worldwide Organization for Women needs your help to build a bridge in the Enugwu village in Nigeria.

About 30 years ago, according to the Worldwide Organization for Women, the Enugwu village was separated from the world when their bridge over the Eze River was destroyed. The loss of the bridge has significantly impacted not only the education of children, but it has also limited access to medical care, which is also located in Ozubulu. Building a bridge will not only help the children get to school and give access to proper medical care, but will also help with economic potential. The villagers are mostly farmers and manual laborers. This village is endowed with expansive and fertile agricultural land. There is an abundant supply of cassava, yam, palm fruits, coconut, banana, plantain, fruits, and vegetables in this village. A bridge would help the sale of produce from the very rich farmlands of Enugwu and permit free flow of peoples and their goods between the many villages in this region.

The Worldwide Organization for Women has been fortunate to find an Engineer, Dr. Todd Stong who has volunteered to help build this bridge at no charge.

Please help by donating, visit Worldwide Organization for Women website . It will make the world of difference to the lives of these people!

Learn more about the bridge


Wednesday, June 15, 2005

To Rise, Nigeria Needs to Collapse! -Godson Offoaro

This is a metaphorical prose that succinctly highlights all that I stand for, and what many of my posts are about. In this piece, Godson Offoaro via Nigeriaworld, alludes to the need for a paradigm–shift if Nigeria is to move forward. He compares events in present day Nigeria to that of a once rowdy and chaotic market in Abuja that was later demolished to give room for a better-designed market. Of course some of the traders crumpled and complained, while many rejoiced and were appreciative of the effort that went into building the better market. He brings attention to the NIC report and the need to avert the apocalyptic projections. Read his prose


Update on Moringa Oleifera...the Story of a Nigerian Expatriate in Malaysia

This is about a mail I received from Dr Muyibi in Malaysia. His son Kayode, a blogger (kazey Journal), had read my earlier post on Moringa and decided to forward it to him.

Dr Muyibi has conducted extensive research on Moringa and it uses in water purification in Malaysia. His sojourn in far away Malaysia is borne out of necessity. I'm glad he has become accomplished in his academic endeavors, but the fact that he could not secure adequate funding from Nigeria, his motherland, is saddening. His experience shed more light on the "brain drain phenomenon" that was prevalent in Nigeria in those days. He plans on visiting Nigeria in the next couple of months, his experience this time around will indicate if indeed Nigeria has changed for the better, or all we have been hearing about NEEDS- the National Economic Empowerment and Development Strategy- Nigeria's home-grown poverty reduction strategy and the need for Nigerian expats to come back home is a bunch of lies.

His mail:

Dear Imnakoya,
Good day to you in the USA. My son sent me a blog
message you posted recently relating to use of Moringa
oleifera seed in water treatment by a NGO based in
Nigeria which is being funded by the World Bank. It
may interest you to also know that I am a Nigerian
Academic now based in Malaysia who has been carrying
out research into the use of Moringa oleifera seeds in
water treatment for the past 15 years. My PhD at the
University of Newcastle upon Tyne(1995 graduate)
funded by the Chevening Scholarship through the
British Council was on Moringa oleifera seed in water
and wastewater treatment. I have more than 30
publications in journals and conference proceedings. I
have supervised more than 10 graduate students in this
area too.
On my return to Nigeria in 1995 I tried my best to
sell the idea but could not make much headway so I
relocated to Malaysia where I immediately got a
Malaysian Goverment Research grant to continue my
research. I am presently in the process of developing
a relatively high technology method of processing the
seed for wider applications. In October/November 2004
I was on vacation in Nigeria during which period I
delivered lectures in 5 universities and the National
Biotechnology Directorate in Abuja on use Moringa
oleifera seed in water treatment as well as other
environmental biotechnology topics applicable in
developing countries. I will be going to Nigeria for
the Science and Technology conference in Abuja
organised by the Federal Ministry of Science and
Technology from July 25 to 28 2005 where i will seize
the opportunity to present the latest techniques and
applications of Moringa oleifera seed in water
treatment as well as other uses.
I will appreciate it if you can get me the details
about the Nigerian based NGO which is working on this
so that I can get in touch with them for collaboration
and networking.

Keep in touch


UPDATE: June 15, 2005

Additional information from Dr Muyibi:
website for for the latest info on Moringa: Moringa enthusiasts .

Note: the leader of the project team in Leicester University
UK Dr. Geoff Folkard was DR Muyibi's external examiner for his PhD thesis at the University of Newcastle upon Tyne.



Tuesday, June 14, 2005

About Michael Jackson, the Illiterate Fistula Surgeon and the 21st Century's Lepers

It is no longer news; Michael Jackson is a free man, and he has vowed never to share his bed with his 'boy' friends again. I hope he has learnt his lesions. But what about the victims? With a verdict as MJ's, many genuine victims will be less confident to come out and disclose their experience. To them (and if they believe MJ is guilty) it seems there is no justice. Personally, only MJ knows what the verdict is, only him can tell!

So what about Africa where sexual violence is common and acceptble; where men marry girls that have barely reached puberty? These girls endure many untold and unimaginable instances of violence and cruelty. According to a story by Nick Kristof in the NewYork Times, Mamitu developed a vaginal fistula at age 15, after trying to deliver a child. Girls with this condition end up with urine and feces dripping continuously from their vagina. Mamitu later became one of the best and most experienced fistula surgeons in the world. Yet she never saw the 4 walls of a classroom until a couple of months ago... Watch the video

Mamitu story is filled with awe, inspiration and courage. It is also a reminder that that there are many women in our land, who have been turned into “the 21st century's lepers” by men who still see the female gender as disposable assets.

Ladies what do we do with these guys?


Is the Winds of Change Blowing Across Africa?

"In the interest of the honourable deputy president, the government, our young democratic system and our country, it would be best to release the honourable Jacob Zuma from his responsibilities as deputy president of the republic and member of the cabinet." Yes, that is from South Africa's Mbeki sacking his deputy over corruption charges.

Has the much awaited "dawn of change" arrived in Africa...? Some analysts are already saying that the decision by the leader of Africa's strongest economy could provide a powerful example for other leaders seeking to crack down on official misbehaviour in their own countries. I hope so, I really do.

Boy, I forgot about the Sudan, and Ethiopia. It will come one day. Surely it will.


Monday, June 13, 2005

Moringa Oleifera- The Miracle Tree for Clean Water

A Nigeria-based NGO recently won a World Bank award for the most creative idea by using the natural coagulative properties in the seeds of Moringa Oleifera tree to purify water.

Moringa Oleifera, a native tree, has a removal efficiency of 99.5 percent for turbidity, 98 percent for suspended solids, 90 to 99 percent for bacteria of 1 to 4 log units, and 100 percent for water hardness. The adoption of Moringa in water treatment will increase demand for Moringa seeds thus economically empowering local Moringa farmers. Using local resources will also conserve foreign exchange currently used in the importation of purifying chemicals. Moreover, the project will encourage the cultivation of 2000 acres of Moringa, which will help to firm up the soil and check erosion as well as contribute to environmental greenery and shade , according to the World Bank report.

I did a quick google search and there were tons of information on Moringa. Literally tons! Trees for Life, a non-profit, people-to-people movement that helps plant fruit trees in developing countries, in collaboration with University of Leicester, conducted an extensive study on the use of Moringa for large-scale water purification. There are other used of for the seed.

Millions of Nigerians and other Africans lack regular and safe pipe-borne water and many suffer and die from water-borne diseases. According to WHO via VOA, waterborne disease is the world's leading killer. So how come this information, the usefulness of Moringa, is not on the front pages of every newspapers in Nigeria and Africa. I wonder how many market women, any students or health care workers have heard of Moringa in Nigeria. Why hasn’t there been adequate social marketing for the Moringa seed? If anyone out there knows the answer(s) to these please leave a comment.

This is an efficient and effective low-tech, low-cost concept, and talking about paradigm-shift; this is can potentially benefit millions. So why spend millions importing expensive water treatment chemicals, when Moringa is a ready substitute for some? (I know the answer to this one- contract means money in the pockets of the politicians and bureaucrats! ---this is no-brainer!).

Moringa is a native tree to Nigeria and many regions of Africa. It is known by the following names in Nigeria:

Ewe ile, Ewe igbale, Idagbo monoye ("the tree which grows crazily")
Gawara, Habiwal hausa, Konamarade, Rini maka
Bagaruwar maka, Bagaruwar masar, Barambo, Koraukin zaila, Shipka hali, Shuka halinka, Rimin nacara, Rimin turawa, Zogall, Zogalla-gandi
odudu oyibo, okwe oyibo


Sunday, June 12, 2005

The G8 First 18

"Tomorrow, 280 million Africans will wake up for the first time in their lives without owing you or me a penny"
- Bob Geldof singer-activist and organizer of the global Live 8 concerts to highlight global poverty.

The First 18:
Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Mauritania, Mali, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia

BBC: For world views and comments on debt relief

The G8 nations met and have decided who gets what. Unfortunately, albeit not suprising, Nigeria is not among the beneficial countries, not yet. Nigeria is not even one of the HIPC (highly-indebted poor countries) designated nations. Twenty-seven countries are eligible for debt relief under the HIPC initiatives. The 18 that have reached completion point, that is met targets for good governance and tackling corruption, were included in the G8 package.

Nigeria is the world's seventh-largest oil exporter, but has a foreign debt of US$35 billion, the biggest in Africa...for strategic reasons maybe Nigeria will be considered for some "sort of relief". MAYBE.

These "First 18" countries "earned their position" through common sense and hard work. They didn't have to lobby as much as Nigeria did; they got the goodies, we got na-ddah. We cannot eat our cake and have at the same time. It is so simple, can't you just get it Nigeria! HELLO!!


Saturday, June 11, 2005

Prophet of Doom turned Phophet of Hope?

The fact the the US and the other G8 nations have heeded the call for debt relief for African nations, Nigeria inclusive, is a sound testimony that the logic behind calling the US a "Prophet of Doom" (usename & password =grandiose parlor)holds no water! It is illogical for the US to agree to debt elimination if it feels that the future of the Nigeria, or some African nations for that matter, is doomed- if one goes by the way some have interpreted the recent NIC report on Nigeria, "Mapping Sub-Saharan Africa's Future". The "Prophet of Doom" has indeed turned to the "Prophet of Hope". This is a classic case of "rhetoric without substance" or better still "Blind Patriotism".

Regardless of the outcome of the G8 meeting as per Nigeria, this is an epic moment for those African nations; and they better make the best use of this opportunity.


Dr Stong's Bridge in Anambra

Via email, he gave me an update on his latest volunter work in Nigeria. He wrote:

"I made a presentation last night here in Utah to the Worldwide Organization of Women who is sponsoring this bridge in Anambra State. They were enthused with my design and plans for construction. In the next few months I expect they will raise the money and I will have a lot more information to firm up my design, cost estimate and work plan for an expected work force of 45 local volunteers".

I intend to continue posting any info I have about this project henceforth titled "Dr Stong's Bridge in Anambra"

UPDATE: June 19, 2005

Bridge design-Dr Stong
In the past six months a preliminary design has been created, further site data has been collected at the riverside, and now a working design and viable cost estimate are ready. The original concept of a two lane, heavy truck carrying concrete bridge, costing over $400,000, has been totally re-adapted to the realities of this site and the people to be served. What is now presented is a timber bridge, where each element is so designed that it may like Lego blocks be installed by hands alone, no machines. This bridge will have a capacity to pass not only all the children and countless others on foot, but to also carry a truckload equaling two tons. The new cost is at less than 10% of where we began. For $35,000 the hardwood timber, bolts and cement may be purchased and transported.

The proposed Eze River Bridge will be constructed in 8-foot long sections. At this length the necessary load carrying beams will be light enough to be hand carried and yet strong enough to support a two-ton load. The plan is to build out simultaneously from each bank of the river towards the center of the river, placing two sections each day. The bridge will be set high enough above the waters of the rainy season to allow the passage of local boats. Its water-resistant timbers will be treated with preservative, and those below the water line triple treated. To preclude trucks of excessive size and weight coming on this bridge several precautions have been incorporated in the design. First the bridge roadway has been sized to take only trucks with a narrow width. Further at each entrance there will be a cluster of posts that will be so placed that only the narrow width trucks can pass. Finally at a place a short distance from each end of the bridge there will be a weight-testing box built into the roadway. The rear wheels of any truck of too great a load attempting to pass over this box will break a test beam, drop one-two feet into the pit and thus be stopped. For a fee, the village bridge tender will extricate the truck and replace the test beam. This final fail-safe provision may seem unnecessary, but for the thousand of people waiting over 30 years for a bridge in a land with no police within miles it is a must.

How the Worldwide Organization of Women got involved
About a month ago, a member of WOW was washing her clothes in the river when a crocodile attacked her. She survived, but is in serious condition. We have been asked to pray for her recovery. Had it been a school child crossing the river at that time, chances are that the crocodile would have succeeded in claiming its desired meal!

How Dr Stong got involved
"My link to the Worldwide Organization of Women is related to their
finding my name on the Internet in the past and my telling them I was open
to help. It was 2 years before they came upon the idea of a bridge and
one of their members remembered me".


Debt Relief: The Need for a Paradigm Shift in Nigeria

I got wind of an upcoming CNN program about Nigeria, so I went to their website to dig up more info. Thanks Black River Eagle for the “heads up”. I got the details, but I also experienced what I have not felt in a long while about Nigeria; anger and disappointment. “Business Traveller is from Lagos in Nigeria, which is the world's third most corrupt country, according to Transparency International, a non-governmental organization focused on combating corruption...” This is the opening statement about the program: Risky business on CNN International web page. Given that this statisticshas been around for a while, I was surprised at the extent of my anger. The fact that there wasn’t any particular focus for my anger, makes me even more angry. The anger led to some sober reflections about the Nigerian situation.

How could we have ended up in a deep shithole (apologies for my lingo readers, but that is the fact) is troubling considering all the gifts mother nature has bestowed on Nigeria. I guess we all played a part in this mess. You may wonder that after all, the majority of Nigerians were not in any position to effect change, so could they have played a role in these? It was the soldiers and politicians that caused this mess, many have said. But we are always quick to blame the politicians and high-ranking, pot-bellied soldiers for our problems. This is an easy and convenient answer, and it no longer holds water. The soldiers could not have single handedly dragged the nation down to the bottom. The military were not privy to the workings of the bureaucracy. They needed an insider, a “Yes Sir” man in the person of the bureaucrats, and the majority of employed Nigerians are government bureaucrats.

The bureaucrats collaborated, brown-nosed, butt-licked, and dined with the soldiers (they are doing the same with the politicians now), kept a low profile, and gleefully and surreptitiously sucked the milk of life out of the nation. Even the billions stolen by the likes of Abacha are insignificant if one considers the cumulative amount stolen by hundreds of these bureaucrats since the onset of independence (1960). They were the catalytic agents that jump-started the institutionalization of corruption in Nigeria. The bureaucrats being professionals and the work force of the government should have known better.

The masses on the other hand were so battered that all that mattered for many was to survive, pay homage and look up to the rogue-politicians for their sustenance. Many of us checked out of the country for greener pastures when we couldn’t bear the oppression anymore. “We all chickened out”. But many have found out that home is where the heart is, and that is in Nigeria – otherwise others and I won’t be wasting our time doing this.

The ongoing exercise to bring the corrupt to justice is commendable, but the approach is questionable. Year 2007 is around the corner, Obasanjo and many of the current elected officials will soon quit: will their predecessors fare better? So far that possibility looks bleak, and some of the tested but empty mindshave started honing their strategies to return.

Why must we all wait to be elected, appointed, promoted, selected or even conscripted before we start effecting changes? The assumption that a paradigm shift has to be confrontational, sensational, radical or revolutionary to be meaningful is not always true. The most effective changes were usually quiet and subtle, and were often initiated by ordinary citizens. Not only the bourgeois have ideas! What is important is a critical mass. Neither can a social change be effected through non-participation and boycotts. That is pre-historic tactics, sorry PRONACO.

The soldiers have come and gone (hopefully), but the bureaucracy remains. Despite the recent gloomy projections from some quarters, our creditors are magnanimous enough to contemplate debt relief. How are we sure that the scroungers in the system, the pen bandits, will not subject the nation to another round of thievery? How can we be sure that 10-15 years later we would have crawled out of the shithole? Are we sure we won’t have to deal with the rude discovery of some megabucks stashed away somewhere? How can we ascertain that the effect of G8 gesture will trickle down to those that need it most?

This is the time to start pondering, we the masses, bureaucrats, the politicians and soldiers, on how to complement the gesture of the nations offering to help to help us out. Are we all ready to play our parts in ensuring that we get out of this crap-hole as quickly as possible? Do we have the grace to clearly foresee the future, and act accordingly in order to usher in a more prosperous dawn for our descendants? For our nascent democracy to thrive and be more meaningful, a paradigm-shift is needed- a social change that requires a multifaceted and innovative approach in planning and execution.

For the time being, it is not clear how the effect of debt relief will revitalize our communities and those that have been oppressed and forgotten if we continue in our old ways of doing things- fiscal irresponsibility, ethnocentricity, religious intolerance, apathy and cynicism. Then we would have subliminally help perpetrate the rot that had pervaded the system for so long, and the concept of debt relief would amount to nothing, but another section in the archives of brilliant, but missed opportunities.


Monday, June 06, 2005

Medical tourism in Nigeria

Update July 11, 2005
Via CBS News:
"Summertime. It’s almost upon us. Millions will be heading out to foreign lands for vacation, adventure, tourism, or just a beautiful beach. But how about hip surgery or a multiple bypass or a facelift?

A growing number of tourists are doing just that: combining holidays with health care. And that’s because a growing number of countries are offering first-rate medical care at third-world prices..."
Read more

I read an online article (India: First Software, Now Surgery) a while back on Bloomberg Markets about how India has succeeded in enticing foreigners to visit the country for medical treatment (unfortunately the article is no longer on online). The article projected that Health care for foreign patients will deliver 100 billion rupees ($2.3 billion) a year to India’s hospitals by 2012. The concept of medical and health tourism is not new (google “medical tourism”), but I found this particular article intriguing and inspiring, and I couldn’t help but wonder why the concept can’t be replicated in Nigeria. Yes, boost the economy by offering cheap and technologically sound health care to overseas patients. You’re probably wondering I must live in la-la world, never mind, I do chuckle repeatedly to myself whenever I ponder over this idea

Nigeria has a lot in common with India: comparable climate, widespread corruption, multilingual and multiethnic populace, pool of expert physicians, impoverished citizenry, limited infrastructures, etc. India is at least four times the population size of Nigeria, and lacks the much-coveted black gold, oil, in the same abundance as Nigeria. But it has been able to harness and develop its technology base, therefore becoming the out-sourcing Mecca for many western companies. Nigeria is seriously deficient in this regard.

Despite these hurdles, about 100,000 patients travel to the India every year- a 100 percent increase from 5 years back- to receive care for ailments ranging from hip resurfacing to complex heart surgery. How can these patient look beyond “a decrepit airport and filthy streets” and chose India for medical care? The answer is price- “Indian hospitals are cheap option where patients get the same quality they are used to in their home country” the article stated. Bypass surgery cost less than one tenth of the US price. In addition to receiving top-quality care, patients are lavishly catered for right from the airport to the time they depart.

According to World Health Organization, Indian spends about 6% of its GDP on health care and lags behind Brazil, Thailand and South Korea- other developing nations. Many of its nationals are without health insurance, and life expectancy in India is 61 years compared about 68.9 years in Brazil. Infant death rate per 1,000 births is 87.5 in India compared to 35.1 in Brazil. Life expectancy and infant death rate in the US is 77.3 years, and 8 per 1000 births, respectively. So where is the justification for this huge investment in treating foreign patients?

High salary of specialist-physicians account for a significant portion of medical cost in the US, whereas doctors in India earn significantly less, thus India can afford to offer relatively cheaper treatment. The combination of cheap labor, lower fees and differential pricing enable hospitals to make money to treat the poor in India. Just plain and simple economics! Can these be replicated in Nigeria? Absolutely! This can be achieved with adequate financing and the willingness of Nigerian specialist doctors to return home. All the docs mentioned in the article were US-trained; in fact they initiated the concept.


Thursday, June 02, 2005

Email from Dr Todd D. Stong- a retired engineer and international volunteer

I'm amazed how some ordinary people would go out of their way to help others. Is it a therapy against boredom or just a genuine altruism nature that transcends human reasoning, race, language or religion? A good example is of such a personality is Dr Todd D Stong, a US citizen, a grand father, and a retired engineer. He recently left a comment on one of my posts on nigeriablog. He mentioned that he is a volunteer on a project in Eastern Nigeria and that got me hooked! So I shot him an email and he replied. Hooah!

In his words:
“For the past 10 years I have been a volunteer engineer for civil engineering related projects in the developing world. I have 6 engineer sons and 21 grandchildren, do not need or want any more money. Thus, I am free to work about the world as a volunteer. This winter I have been asked to build a 200 ft long timber bridge over the Eze River near the village of Ozubulu (perhaps 20 miles south of Onitsha, in Anambra State. In the past I have been in Nigeria to assist in rural water development in Abia State.”

How many retired engineers in Nigeria would do volunteer work in other parts of Nigeria? Many Nigerians of the caliber of Dr Stong reside in streets that are not motorable or are regularly flooded during the rainy season. They know the solution to this problem (I hope), but they lack the will power and the altruistic nature. They will rather play “big man” in their worthless babaringa. Yet this set of people, people in the same age group as Dr Stong got the best of Nigeria as youngsters, and now have given us the worst of Nigeria as adults. They got the best of the nation because majority of them studied on government scholarships overseas, and we they returned in the 60s and early 70s they had plum jobs waiting! Majority retired in stupendous wealth because they colluded with the military in bankrupting the nation. Imagine what Nigeria will be without people like Todd and other NGOs personnel?

Dr Stong on corruption in Nigeria:
“My view is that the enticement of corruption is so strong and has existed so long that is very unlikely that those that can make this choice, the powerful, will give that up. Indeed there will be one from time to time, who will say I relinquish this opportunity to take all the money I can get. Thus, I believe that the move to honesty must begin at the local level, the village (the emphasis is mine). Once that is set it will then be possible to exert bit-by-bit influence to bring honesty to the townships and then the counties and finally the states. Key to this move is education to at least the 6th year, and even more important- a free press that let the people know immediately when funds are misspent.”

I agree, and also the move to reorganize and revitalize Nigeria must begin at the local level. I find it pitiful that many capable and resourceful Nigerians would rather want to govern or participate at state or federal level, when they could have been more productive at local scene. It is imperative to have competent hands managing the Local Government Areas (LGAs). But few individuals of good moral and ethical standing are willing to take up the challenge, why? Many are not interested in politics and secondly many LGAs are not economically viable. But if one of these governors or president wannabes contested and won the local election, and were able to demonstrate some resourcefulness, and significantly reverse the plight of the citizenry at the local scene, then that person has the key to any office in the land. Yet there are calls from some quarters recently to squash the LGAs…I am withered!

I wish Nigeria had many leaders in the likes of Dr Todd Stong and other eminent persons genuinely devoted to salvaging mankind from the throes of poverty and hopelessness. I doff my hat to these resourceful, altruistic and cool personalities!