Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Heartbeat of Africa- An Ad Gone Bad!

A pitiful spectacle of Nigerian mediocrity is being displayed to the whole world via the CNN cable service. In the quest to promote the nation, a seriously gaudy advertisement resulted, inadvertently. The promo is hilarious and painfully bad. This theatrical portrayal of Nigeria opens with “President Olusegun Obasanjo, in a husky voice saying- "Welcome to Nigeria, the Heartbeat of Africa".

Many have written about it. Aderemi's Notebook, a blog authored by a Nigerian writes:
“Has anyone else seen this ad featuring Obasanjo on CNN? It is supposed to promote the tourism industry in Nigeria. I have not seen it but reviews particularly from local newspapers in Nigeria are pleading that the ad be stopped. Due to low quality I hear (it seems I can do better), even the fruits and vegetables are off-putting. Perhaps a few jobless actors/models should have been hired rather than the president for the ad shoot - every little helps.”
Uche Nworah at questions the use of the name-“Heart of Africa” asking “Does Nigeria lie in the heart of Africa”? He would have preferred “Giant of Africa”…stating “leveraging on Nigeria’s age - old and self styled Giant of Africa adulation may even be more effective and desirable, although such chest-thumping claims may no longer be realistic in today’s Africa, where South Africa has taken over the economic leadership of the continent, but still Nigeria can easily put together a long list of firsts and attributes, that will at least justify to some extent its claim of being the Giant of Africa.”

Perhaps the most caustic and “straight-up”remark is from Angel Walker who focuses her article on the governors of Zamfara, Delta and Enugu states. Here are some excerpts:

“Zamfara advertises its progressiveness(!!!) whilst meting out death sentences for female adulterers only ( we ALL know that men NEVER commit adultery and women do it all alone!!!); Delta parades a string on chiefs who have difficulty reading from the teleprompter and who talk of peace in the face of the exact opposite, and the Enugu governor who is supposed to have been a doctor in the USA, speaks so terribly that I am sure no patient in the USA put their lives in his hands for a minute.”
She adds:
“The whole world laughs at the lies screened while CNN sings to the bank f or each 30 second segment costing over $120,000 a pop! Meanwhile, roads in each state have become gullies, the police and the armed robbers cooperate and steady power and water are remembered by only those who were alive under the colonial masters!
Ms Walker is an American, and so one would appreciate the implications of this statement:
“May I appeal to these three governors and any others about to join the bandwagon to cease and desist. Instead of wasting money on self-glorification under the guise of wooing foreign investors, they should use the money to provide the most basic of needs - clean water for their citizens. No foreign investor in their right mind will come to your states to do business.

“The comments of the EU visitors to Enugu should be seen in context. Enugu is apparently called 'the best governed state in Nigeria'. All well and good. But if you read it properly, you would understand that it is akin to saying that in a sewer with many chambers, the chamber called Enugu has less sewage than the other chambers. It is still not a desirable place to visit! Besides all this, just HOW would any investor reach the said states after landing in Lagos or Abuja? By Sosoliso, Chanchangi or Bellview? One shudders at the mere thought.”
Angel couldn’t have stated the fact any better. One wonders what drugs the originators and managers of this project used? They are clearly out of their minds, it seems. This project was meant to be an “image booster” but it appears the idea somersaulted and turned into an “image crusher”!

The heart has definitely stopped beating in this ad and should be yanked off the air.



Monday, January 30, 2006

Giving the Niger-Deltans a Stake in their Society

It is a disturbing scenario that Federal Republic of Nigeria-held at ransom- had to grease the palms of some bandits to prevent the killing of the just-released expatriate hostages. It is even more disturbing that the bandits' action was done to protest the marginalization of the Niger-Delta area and its indigenes. The situation becomes really appalling when one factors in the fact that Nigeria derives the bulk of its revenue from this region.

Although, no one knows for sure what transpired between the kidnappers and the government negotiators, however, it is naïve to think that the hostages were released voluntarily without any concession from the government. According to Chippla’s weblog:
“No one can truly be sure what sort of 'behind the scenes' negotiations went on. The International Herald Tribune reports that the militants were paid a whooping "100 million Naira ($770,000) as ransom", as indicated by a militant source involved in the negotiations…”
His conclusion echoes the minds of many Nigerians since he also “finds it very difficult to believe that the militants gave up their hard-line position and became saints all of a sudden, letting the hostages go free, without any ransom being paid.”

The problems in the Niger-Delta can not be simply wished away, neither can it be resolved by periodically “settling” the bandits that have found new homes in the the numerous creeks and swamps in the delta region. But it appears "settlement" is the best the government can do. Since the armed uprising started some five years back, the government has not being able to find a lasting solution to the crisis- which unfortunately but not unexpectedly- has waxed stronger by the year.

The government of Nigeria should remember these words of Dr Martin Luther King, and reflect on it:
"There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of people in that society, who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don't have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it."
What can the administration of President Obasanjo do to solve the crisis by giving the people of the Niger-Delta “a stake in their society”?

First, as long as the Niger-Delta Development Commission exists, which in all essence is and functions as a parallel government, the development of the oil-producing regions will remain stunted. Since its inception, the NDDC has being used by successive governments as a means to pay political dividends- I’m yet to find a member that has not left the commission extremely richer than he/she was before joining. The NDDC should be scrapped, period. And the local governments should be strengthened to assume the role of the NDDC.

It is a simple common-sense that the cost of the infrastructure the Niger-Delta needs will be in multiples of what it would be in other regions because of the rough terrain. So the region requires more money to develop. At present, however, with the exception of Lagos state, the oil-producing states have about 3-times the budgets of non-oil-producing states so more money will not necessarily do the job.

A combination of “bottom-up” interventions may work. The locals in these regions should be educated and brought on-board, they should have “a say” in their destiny, shouldn’t they? There should be a stricter regulation of oil exploration in these areas, while an independent body (with the necessary legal backing) should strictly ensure compliance.

The emphasis should be on a “bottom-up” approach and education of the indigenes so they will understand their responsibilities. It is wrong to have the elites (in the NDDC) call the shots; they don’t live the in the community and they have any business deciding for the people. Why not let the locals call the shots? Give them a stake in their society, please!



Saturday, January 28, 2006

Davos: WEF Spolights Africa

The schmoozing continues at the World Economic Forum in Davos as expected, however the debate took a more interesting turn for me when Nigeria and Africa got on the center stage during one of the break-out sessions.

Not that the issues deliberated were new or novel, it was interesting nonetheless to read about what President Obasanjo and others have to say about the continent and about the theme of the deliberation: “What is needed is not just to aid Africa but actually solve its seemingly never-ending problems?”

As expected, Obasanjo down-played the myriads of problems facing the continent by focusing on the positive recent developments.

"Africa is becoming less of a basket case… Wow, 20 years ago that was unthinkable. Things that you have taken for granted in the Western world are things that we are trying to get into our system and our way of life." he said, referring to the recent elections in Liberia and Tanzania, and the reforms in Nigeria.

These are huge steps, no doubt. But are these the best African nations can do? How about hotspots like Sudan-Dafur, Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast? Human rights record is still abysmally poor. It is on record that the Nigerian government has committed massive infringement against the basic principles of “freedoms of speech and expression” by banning and criminalizing same sex marriage. And if you dare challenge issues relating to gay/lesbians in Nigeria you could end up spending 5 years of your lifetime in prison!

Wolfowitz, the World Bank president emphasized “African nations needed to tackle some of the needless obstructions they have placed in their own path. I didn’t know that “license fee to start a business costs in Burkina Faso is 1- 1/2 times the country's per capita income”. This is insane!!! Do they have economist in that country or what? My illiterate grandmother knows better than that.

The talk also touched on trade, corruption and the dearth of infrastructure in the Africa.

Bono who wants Africa to be given a preferential treatment, and western economies to remove the subsidy on the agricultural produce stated,”…We have to look at this sacred cow of ours," he said. "It makes it impossible for African farmers to compete.”

Absolutely! The question is how is President Bush and others going to present the idea to their constituents?
Will Bush say: “My government has decided to stop giving out aids to farmers”?
Will that go well with the local politicians and voters?
Nah! The election year will be the day of reckoning, the day for payback. So the idea will most likely fall flat on its face.

Niall FitzGerald, the Reuters Chairman, also emphasized the need for big businesses to not shun Africa. “…an interest in ensuring that that region is secure and stable and prosperous, and if you don't become part of the attack on poverty ... then it will destroy you in your prosperous ghettos." Well said Mr. FitzGerald, well said.

The western nations can pump all the aids and render all the help to Africa for all I care. As long as there are people like Mugabe, Museveni and Bongo in power, and the evil in Dafur and the Nigerian Niger-Delta continue unabated, Africa has a long way to go. The sooner those holding the reins of power change the course of events in the continent, the quicker the economic and political salvation.

Read more here:



Friday, January 27, 2006

Fewer Blacks in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina?

Folaranmi, blogger at EthnicLoft writes: "New Orleans, the home of the Mardi Gras parades, could undergo drastic demographic changes following the destruction unleashed by Hurricane Katrina last year.

“This city will be a majority African-American city; it’s the way God wants it to be”,was Mayor Ray Nagin’s response to the findings of a study that predicts that 80% of the black population in New Orleans will not return “if its most damaged neighborhoods are not rebuilt and if there is no significant government assistance to help poor people return...”Via EthnicLoft:

Hurricane Katrina was extensively discussed on Grandiose Parlor. See these posts:

KATRINA,“The Day After”

Katrina:A Fumble of the Highest Order!

Katrina:Gestures of Human Kindness

Army Corps of Engineers: Daily Key Messages and General Mission Talking Points: Part I & Part II.



Hamas Victory: America Needs to Learn from the Best…

Re: Hamas victory in the Palestine.

On a lighter note now, the United States was betting that Hamas, a “terrorist organization” had little or no chance of winning the parliamentary elections in the Palestine. The US even “spent about $1.9 million of its yearly $400 million in aid to the Palestinians on dozens of quick projects before elections this week to bolster the governing Fatah faction's image with voters and strengthen its hand in competing with the militant faction Hamas”, according to the NewYork Times.

If the US was really serious about bolstering the Fatah party, they should have hired African/Nigeria consultants to strategize the defeat of Hamas prior to the elections rather than using inexperienced US state officials. It is that simple, and there are many that can do this in the African continent...for less.

Learn from the best…do it “African stylee”!



Hamas: Palestinians have Spoken

Mahmoud Abbas-led Fatah party, the party that runs the Palestinian National Authority. The people simply wanted a change. The 78 percent voters’ turnout during the elections was a manifestation of the people's determination and conviction. And what happened afterwards has been history.

It’s up to Hamas to understand the real meaning of this victory and do the right thing: leave the AK 49s and rockets at home and work diligently towards catering to the needs of the electorate and finding lasting peace to the region. This will lend even greater meanings to the their victory on the long run.

I really look forward to when the US will receive the next Palestinian President at the White House. Will that person be a member of the Hamas organization?



Thursday, January 26, 2006

Davos: Schmoozing on the Swiss Mountain

It is that time of the year when top-shot politicians, business moguls, the who-is-who of the entertainment and advocacy industries worldwide converge at a Swiss mountain resort-town of Davos to fraternize and wine and dine. These people under the umbrella of the World Economic Forum, also deliberate on varieties of issue that range from world economies and globalization to AIDS and natural disasters.

The World Economic Forum started on the 25th of January and will run till 29th of the month. The theme for the 2006 Annual Meeting is "The Creative Imperative".

The roll-call of attendees stretches from the Angelina Jolie and Michael Douglas to Afghanistan's president Hamid Karzai and Dublin’s ArchBishop Diarmuid Martin. This is an elitist gathering no doubt and will not uncharacteristically be paparazzi- infested.

What’s this week-long talking, schmoozing and networking all about right?
What does it mean to Auntie Ngozi in her dusty, remote, erosion-ravaged village in the hills of Ubakala, or Jelili in Makoko, one of Lagos slums? What does it mean to my brothers and sisters in Dafuar- Sudan, and those Africans who fled their homelands because of political or/and economic strives and now locked up in immigration detention cells worldwide?

What does it mean to the small business owners that are struggling to keep their businesses afloat because of the cost and stress of doing business in Nigeria?
I really don’t know what this forum is about...despite what the logo states- "Committed to improving the state of the world". Maybe General ‘Segun Obasanjo, one of the attendees and the president of my country- Nigeria knows? But I won’t be surprised if he’s as clueless as me and doesn’t know either.

I know one thing for sure; this forum is one big Schmoozefest! That much I know. And if you disagree- I'm not too old to learn, please educate me.


Post Script
  • Additional information on World economic forum can be found at Jewels in the Jungle, My heart's in Accra, and at the forum blog.
  • Bono is at it again!

    “U2 frontman Bono unveiled a new push to fight HIV and AIDS in Africa, announcing a partnership with several companies Thursday to sell products under a brand called "Red," with the proceeds going toward anti-AIDS programs...”- Washington Post.



Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Is Dr Bruce a Scam Artist?

More on the advance fee scams. I received via Grandiose Parlor’s email this text posted “as-it-is” below from one “Dr Bruce that works at the USA embassy in Nigeria”. This is the second time of getting this junk. Is he a scam artist? I bet he is!!! And a silly one for that matter!
“Hello, How is life over there?
My Name Is Dr. Bruce.
Your email
address is unique
I am very happy to mail you.
Where do you reside?
I am a staff of the United States foreign department.
Have you had any
working experience?
If you're a graduate ,then you can apply for the
job offer from ChevronTexaco
Vist my family website on
I'll be expecting the responce as soon as possible
If you ever receive
this email ,call me on 2348037906437
Have a nice day.
Dr. Bruce
My email add is-
United States Embassy
Walter Carrington Crescent
Victoria Island .Lagos”

“Dr Bruce” even has the audacity to list this website: “www-dot-martins-dot-com” - as his. Well, on previewing the content it appears this is a false claim. “Dr Bruce” seems to have hijacked “www-dot-martins-dot-com” and have been using it to perpetrate his scams. How about that!

I wonder if the legitimate owner of this site knows what’s going on?

Does one need to post a disclaimer statement on one’s site now in the light of this nonsense?

There is a strong link between the advance fee scam and Nigeria, the fact is its origin is unclear and has been the subject of a lot of debates. Some Nigerians unfortunately have perfected the scam and have woven all sorts of “twists” and “angles” to it. These days, it is not uncommon to see “419-themed letters” originate from non-Nigerian IP addresses.

What steps have the Nigerian government taken to curb the scam menace?

There are several scam-baiting websites out there, but beyond their entertainment value it’s unclear what impact they have made in curbing this fraud.

  • Does anyone know what resources are available to the Nigerian Internet café operators in identifying scammers from their customer base?
  • Do Internet café attendants go through any training on how to identify and deal with scammers operating from their cafe?
  • What legal mechanisms are in place to ensure that suspect-cases are duly investigated and prosecuted by the justice department?
  • Can’t the various paraphernalia of the Nigerian justice department (Police, EFCC, NCWG, etc) conduct periodic sting operations and flush out these scammers?
  • What steps- beyond just giving policy statements and doing photo ops,- has the government taken to stop this shame. I asked once again?



    Tuesday, January 24, 2006

    The “419 Chickens” have Come Home to Roost

    When MasterCard, a brand of credit card, was introduced in Nigeria about 6 months ago, I was ecstatic because of the enormous value credit card system brings to a national economy. The credit lending industry (credit card and mortgage) account for significant portion of the United States national economy. Not that Nigeria will come anywhere close to USA soon, the presence and availability of credit system will boost the Nigerian economy in no small way.

    Then this came through via Nigerian Guardian newspaper:

    “…The electronic card-payment system issued by some Nigerian banks has been rejected by merchants in Europe and the United States (U.S.). Citing the prevalence of large-scale fraud, the merchants say the MasterCard’s and other card-based instruments of payment from the country are ‘high risk.’ Many of such would-be transactions originated by Nigerians through these cards have resulted in still births.”

    Reason: The cardholders are Nigerians, living in Nigeria, and Nigeria is a high fraud area.

    FYI: This's fallout of the 419 advance-fee scam that has been perfected by Nigerians.

    The actions of few wayward and criminal Nigerians have resulted in the exclusion of millions of honest Nigerians. The dreams of Nigerian entrepreneurs wanting to expand their business or jostling to try their hands in the untapped e-commerce and credit service industry may have kaput or seriously threatened.

    Sadly too, it seems there is no recourse in sight for Nigerian credit card holders and other business people affected by the 419 scams. It appears there hasn’t been any clarity on how to arrest the menace of advance fee fraud in Nigeria. The inauguration of the Nigerian Cybercrime Working Group (NCWG) in 2004 to stem the 419 menace was seen by some as counterproductive and redundant since its duties appear to duplicate, to some extent, that of the Economic and Financial Crime Commissions (EFCC). Till date, the functions and accomplishments of the NCWG remain foggy.

    Occasionally one hears of the convictions of 419 scammers in the news- recent examples are the sentencing of a Nigerian scammer to 376 years of imprisonment for advance fee fraud, and the $242 scam involving some Nigerians and a Brazilian banker. The prosecution of these high-profile cases has sensationalized the fight against 419- in the media that is. The rank and file of the scammers have not really diminished in size, and they still frequent the Nigerian cyber cafés in doves to send their letters as they’ve done many years back. Nothing seem to have changed.

    The Nigerian blog- Kazey Journal’s question: “How do you convince a foreigner that you are a Nigerian but not fraudulent, especially when it comes to online transactions?” speaks volume to the issue.

    There is absolutely nothing the Nigerian citizens and business people can do- except prevail on the government to embark on a widespread crackdown on 419 and other scam artists. Even if it means using any means necessary.



    Monday, January 23, 2006

    Omar Bongo Ondimba of Gabon: The Most Durable African Head of State

    "Our ambition is to give this ceremony a certain cachet and to make a grandiose occasion of it. We have never organized an investiture like it in our country"
    The above is a statement made by a Gabonese in reference to the swearing-in ceremony of Omar Bongo Ondimba, the “Africa most durable ‘leader’”. A leader indeed!

    This most durable African leader has the African (probably world) record of being the longest serving head of state. And he’s just got a fresh lease of another 7 years to do what he has been doing for the past 38 years- rule the oil-rich west African state of Gabon. Yes, Bongo has been in the corridors of power in this one-million-plus strong nation since December 2, 1967!

    While Gabon enjoys a per capita income four times that of most of sub-Saharan African nations, but because of high income inequality a large proportion of the population remains poor.

    Bongo states in his inaugural speech: “The expectations of my compatriots, notably employment, roads, health, education, housing, are great. The hope expressed in their vote is immense. The seven-year term that begins is thus of critical importance…”

    I can’t help but wonder what Bongo has been doing for the past four decades as the pressident? Just as Brian asked in his post at the Black star Journal. The Yebo Gogo blog calls the re-election the continuation of “Big Man’s era”.

    Although Bongo won the elections by a scoring an out-right majority of the 79% of the ballot, it is on record that hundreds of Gabonese questioned the validity of the result and did protest the outcome.

    In fairness to Bongo; however, Gabon is one of the more stable countries in Africa despite being a multiethnic nation. Could he be doing something right afterall?

    Even if it appears that Bongo has the “secret formula” to run this francophone nation on an even keel, he has had more that 30 years to perfect his formula. And at age 70, perhaps it would have been wiser for him to pass on the secret formula to younger blood of higher valor.

    Nah! This type of thinking is simply unconceivable and abnormal in this part of the world; it is heresy of the highest order!


    South African President Thabo Mbeki, Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo, Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade and Morocco's King Mohammed VI are among those expected at the 70-year-old president's investiture in the capital Libreville- News



    Introducing: Aegis Trust & Rwandan Survivor

    Introducing Aegis Trust: A "website confronting genocide" and Rwandan Survivor,a blog dedicated to survivors of the Rwanda genocide.

    Rwandan Survivor is a new blog, it's first post on January 04, 2006 reads:

    “This site launches on the 16th January 2006 in conjunction with the 'Shooting Dogs' blog.

    We aim to bring together survivors of the Rwandan Genocide of 1994 and create a discussion linked to the new film Shooting Dogs.

    This site will include testimonials from survivors and a database of resources for people to use.”

    Check them out.



    Friday, January 20, 2006

    The Constant Gardener

    I have never written about movies on Grandiose Parlor- this is the first time. Why? “The Constant Gardener”- That is why.

    The Constant Gardener is a painful rendition of “big business and the way they are willing to experiment on the poor to achieve their goals…”

    "The film, based on a best-selling John Le Carre novel, is the story of a British diplomat (Fiennes) whose wife is murdered when she threatens to expose the pharmaceutical companies testing drugs on innocent Africans," states the BBC

    You need to see it!



    Where Are the Nigerian Legislators?

    What roles are the Legislators- the people’s elected representatives- playing in protecting the interest of their constituencies in Nigeria?

    Are the Legislators leveraging their influence enough, and in the right direction, for the betterment of their people?

    What roles are Senators, federal Representatives, and state Legislators playing in resolving the sensitive issues in their regions, for example, in the Niger-Delta, and in this instance below?

    I asked these questions after reading this Nigeria ThisDay report on Tinapa Tourist Resort:
    “The much cherished N29 billion [about $ 200 million] Tinapa Business and Tourist Resort of the Cross River State Government has suffered a serious set back, as the project site has been temporarily shut down, due to uprising by youths of the village housing the project…The youths said indigenes of the area employed by the construction giants were not paid, and instead other workers were employed from outside...”
    The first impression I got from this article is that Nigeria is just a lawless country; regrettably that’s just stating the obvious. Any responsible government would provide channels aggrieved groups can use to address their cause, right?

    How else can these youths/Nigerians address their issues without resorting to violence?

    Well, there are such channels in Nigeria: some obscure government parastatals, and the court of law which many use as the last resort. Unfortunately, the former have proven to be highly inefficient, and the latter will take forever to get a response.

    The Legislators, I think, should be able to deal on behalf of the people. They can serve as peace and deal makers in times like this.

    Nigeria is a democracy and that means every region should be represented in the scheme of governance- at local, state and federal levels. The primary duty of these representatives is to protect the interest of their constituency

    These questions would have been appropriate under one condition: If Nigeria was a typical democratic nation!

    Nigeria is an atypical nation I forgot, so let re-wind please…. The appropriate questions one should ask are:

    Are elected representatives accessible to their people that voted them in?

    Do representatives hold regular consultation with their constituents?

    Do representatives have any local visibility- local offices and staff- beyond what they claim on paper to justify the office/staff allowance they receive?

    Do Nigerians know what to expect from their representatives…?



    Thursday, January 19, 2006

    Global Voices Online: This Week on Nigerian Blogs

    I have been honored by Global Voices Online to do bimonthly weblog on the Nigerian Blogoshere- an update sort-of. Below is my first post.

    There is a huge collection of Nigerian-authored blogs out there and it just impossible to “do justice to the job” using a couple of words, so please realize that this just a tip of the iceberg.

    You can also find the update cross-posted at Global Voices Online.


    I’m sure that whoever came up with the phrase: “It is a men’s world” must have turned in his/her grave going by Olaniyi David Ajao’s post entitled: “Female Heads of States”.

    "Women rights activists must be grinning from ear-to-ear right now.” He states. “In the past few weeks, a new wave seems to be spreading through the world’s political landscape as more women take up leading roles. Today, a new head of state is being sworn into office, in the west African nation of Liberia. She happens to be Africa’s first female democratically-elected President. I’m talking about Madam Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. Just yesterday, the people of Chile voted-in their first female President - Michelle Bachelet…”

    His post also mentions the Chancellor Angela Merkel, and South African Vice President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka as other female political leaders.

    Still on Nigerians in the Diaspora, Yesi at “NTEX” discusses a collaborative research of Professor Wole Soboyebo, a Nigerian academic at University of Princeton. The Professor has received a set of grants from the United States’ National Science Foundation to “build relationships between African and American professionals, develop a manufacturing base in Africa that will allow the continent to participate in more lucrative trade in the global market…”

    Orikinla at the Nigerian Times is elated by the Chinese desire to invest in the Oil and Gas sector of the Nigerian economy. Other Nigerian Bloggers are not so enthused about the $ 2.3 billion dollar deal.

    Sokari at Black Looks, states that: “…Judging by China’s track record of human rights and respect of the environment in China and their record in Sudan, I suspect that little will change for the people of the Niger Delta and may in fact become worse.”

    Chippla, a Sino-skeptic, who has always made it clear where he stands on Sino-Nigerian trade relationship appears somewhat swayed by the newly revealed China African Policy, stating, “Something new might just come out of the China African Policy…”

    “Africa’s development in the 21st century appears inextricably tied to that of China.” He opines on his blog. “Inasmuch as this writer detests a situation where African nations serve as nothing more than exporters of raw materials, something new MIGHT just come out of the China African Policy. For instance, it speaks of medical and health cooperation as well as science and technology cooperation. Now, that’s one part that really interests this writer…science and technology cooperation. For unless a reasonable number of African nations begin exporting more than just “raw materials” to China, skepticism and caution will remain the order of the day”.

    Emeka of “Timbuktu Chroniclesshowcases a Nigerian entrepreneur who has discovered his niche in the disposal of human waste. “DMT Mobile Toilets is a trailblazer in the field of human waste disposal. Their locally manufactured portable loos are “…FILLING A SERIOUS NEED…Motivated by the recognition that there are fewer than 500 functional public toilets in Nigeria , and that the vast majority of these toilets are poorly maintained and inadequate. With a population of about one hundred and fifty million people (150,000,000), the company has begun to make inroads into the public toilet arena… ”

    The sentencing of a Nigerian to 376 years of imprisonment for advance fee fraud is one of the news items reported on Chidi Ezeibe’s “News from Nigeria”Chidi states that “NEMESIS at the weekend caught up with a 32-year old Nigerian, Mr. Harrison Odiawa. He was sentenced to 376 years imprisonment without an option of fine for defrauding an American, Mr. George Robert Blick…” By the time scam was reported to the FBI, Odiawa had obtained more than $ 2 million from Blick.

    It seems Blick really got bilked!

    In a more recent post captioned: ” Obasanjo pleads for kidnapped oil workers “, Chidi writes about the ongoing unrest in the oil-rich Niger-Delta region of Nigeria:

    “Obasanjo yesterday held a crucial meeting with the nation’s political and military leaders over the threat to oil installations in the Niger Delta at the Presidential Villa, Abuja. The leaders established a committee to ensure prompt release of the kidnapped oil workers. President Obasanjo, who presided over the meeting, appealed to the hostage takers “not to do anything that might result in the loss of lives…”

    “In recognition of the monumental role played by Nigerian blogs in the year 2005 the Naijarita News team has created the Nigerian Weblog Awards 2005 to honour exceptional bloggers from Nigeria. Can you believe that we already have 132 blogs in a country of only 120 million people? Phenomenal, isn’t…” Check out who got what!



    Wednesday, January 18, 2006

    Trees of Life Journal

    A new, online scientific journal focused on traditional knowledge and scientific studies of beneficial plants launched today, announced Balbir Mathur, president of the non-profit Trees for Life. Trees for Life Journal: A forum on beneficial trees and plants will be a free, open electronic forum, to bring together international articles from traditional wisdom, small-scale field studies and scientific investigations of flora that could benefit humanity. The journal is available online at

    “Our journal aims to bridge the gap between grassroots knowledge and scientific research,” Mathur said. “By publishing formal and informal studies on beneficial plants and trees, we hope to advance the use of these vital resources worldwide.”

    Trees for Life is a non-profit organization that helps plant fruit trees in developing countries as a low-cost, self-renewing food source. The movement’s philosophy of “education, health and environment” will be evident in Trees for Life Journal, which aims to expand global knowledge about the medical and nutritional value of plants, in order to educate citizens of third world countries.

    The idea for the journal was born from societal claims about the nutritional, medicinal and other beneficial properties of the tree Moringa oleifera. Every part of the tree is edible or used as traditional medicine, from the leaves to the bark to the seeds. It grows wild in poor soil and provides vitamins desperately lacking in diets of impoverished people.
    Grandiose Parlor have discussed Moringa in the past. See: “"Moringa Oleifera- The Miracle Tree for Clean Water" and “Update on Moringa Oleifera...the Story of a Nigerian Expatriate in Malaysia”
    Trees for Life recognized the need for a forum to publish and discuss scientific studies and communal knowledge of this tree, in order to promote its cultivation in the developing world.

    “People whose lives could be improved by research findings are not even aware such a wealth of information exists in their midst,” said Mathur. “Almost anyone with experience would agree that many more channels of communication are needed to increase the exchange between academics and lay people.”

    Trees for Life Journal will be free to users and features an easy-to-use format. Anyone may publish an article—from peer-reviewed field and clinical studies to informal essays or ideas for possible new uses of plants and trees. The content is also freely available for reproduction and distribution, with credit given to the original authors. The Web site also features a mentorprogram that matches experienced scientists with those who are new to the research process. Publishing electronically means the journal can be updated as often as necessary.

    “The ease and speed of this technology transcends the barriers of cost, space and time,” Mathur said. “Thanks to the Web, it is now possible to scale the walls that have long divided those who know and those who need the knowledge.”

    Via Trees for Life News Release on 1/18/06.



    Monday, January 16, 2006

    A New Dawn For Liberia!

    After many decades of deadly civil strives, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf was sworn in as the president of Liberia earlier today in the capital city of Monrovia. She is in fact the first democratically elected female African president.

    Read more about this event and other tumultuous incidents preceding this day of glory in Liberia. You may start at any of these blogs:

    Jewels of the Jungle, Black Looks, Nigerian Times, Sudan Watch, and Fire Angel

    Any Liberian blogger/reader in the Parlor?

    Keep the dreams and hope alive and CONGRATULATIONS!

    More pictures, courtesy of the BBC:



    Dr Martin Luther King's Day: 1/16/2006

    Dr Martin Luther King, Jr.
    1929 - 1968

    "There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society, with a large segment of people in that society, who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that they have nothing to lose. People who have a stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don't have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it." - mlk


    Sunday, January 15, 2006

    Nigeria: DMT Mobile Toilets

    "Shit business is a serious business” –Isaac Durojaiye, Founder of DMT Mobile Toilets, Nigeria.

    As unpleasant as this subject may come across to some (you have my apologies if you fall into this category), it has to be said that the world is indeed a better place since the invention of the water closet. This gadget is perhaps the most overlooked of all inventions, and likewise- the bodily function for which it is designed- is not the most favorable topic of discussion, well, except you are in the healthcare business or- as in this case- in the “business of shit”.

    Isaac Durojaiye, or Otunba Gadaffi as some have chosen to refer to him, is a Nigerian in the business of shit. Okay, sorry, he is an Environmental Sanitation Entrepreneur- better? But whatever names or synonyms you’d rather use to describe what he does, he really doesn’t care! All he smells is "money and not the Shit" since his business started in 1992.

    As the founder of DMT Mobile Toilet in Nigeria, he's “demonstrated that it is possible to achieve a double bottom line in Nigeria. He has proven that it is possible to make money, while transforming the environment, and the lives of millions of people.”

    If you are a non-African, or yet to excurse any third world nation you may be wondering “what is the big deal?” Right? I’m ashamed to state this- many of the basic amenities used daily in advanced countries are not so basic in other places. And public toilets are one of these amenities. The few ones available in Nigerian major cities and public buildings are not well maintained- that is if they are functional at all.

    So what has Mr Durojaiye done? At first, he started his business by providing services at the usual Nigerian owambe (social) gatherings and public functions. Now, he provides “public toilets at bus stops and in densely populated areas in major cities within the country”. And If the statements on the corporate DMT website are anything to go by, Isaac also employs a clever strategy to minimize the vandalism of his assets by street urchins and miscreants by employing them to maintain his toilets:
    “Each toilet typically serves about 100 people a day and the “area boys” collect N20 [twenty naira] per toilet used(sic). They are required to share a portion of their proceeds with DMT Mobile Toilets . Through this partnership, some of these area boys not only earn decent salaries, they also gain meaningful work experience and no more constitute nuisance to the society.”
    This Graphics design and business major, and former Security Officer has found and capitalized on a niche, and even if it’s a shitty and smelly one for that matter- he cares less.

    “We don't discriminate against any "shit" regardless of race, sex, religion, language, creed, distance and location”, Isaac Durojaiye states on his website.



    Thursday, January 12, 2006

    Blogging As a Trend in Nigeria

    Finally, it appears the Nigerian MainStream Media has awakened to the blogging phenomenon among Nigerians, particularly those in the Diaspora. Remmy Nweke's article originally featured on Daily Champion and reproduced on speaks to the blogging trend.

    Here is the gist:

    "...This trend has persistently grown over the years in developing countries and Nigeria is not an exception as some web enthusiasts recently came up with the, a network founded by Mr. Kayode Muyibi, a young Nigerian student entrepreneur based in Cyberjaya Malaysia, in collaboration with the likes of the first Nigerian Information Technology Youth Ambassador, Mr. Gbenga Sesan, among others., is meant to increase and sustain blogs from this part of the globe, according to Mr. Muyibi. He informed that the network,, is to act as the nation's blog aggregator with different categories including technology, business, news, blog, search and a host of others.

    He explained that the network was primarily developed as a venue to unite all Nigerian bloggers around the globe via syndicating their content and discussions through its forum.
    'We're really impressed by some Nigerian blogs and we decided to invite them to join our forum at,' he said.
    Stressing that the network encourages bloggers to invite their Nigerian friends too to join the network, even as the membership is free, bloggers must be over or exactly 13 years of age at the time of joining the network.

    'Our main aim is to encourage Nigerians to start blogging about topics that interest them,' he declared, highlighting that this plan is expected to be achieved through aggregating and online forum, which offers the creation of an environment for everybody to read.

    'This entails saving Nigerian blogs from isolation, which has been one of the main reason why Nigerians are discouraged to blog,' he noted."

    "We need more Nigerian bloggers especially in the technology, culture, and arts department," he said.

    Membership of, as at the time of going to the press is over 50 as indicated in the forum, which cut across all professions globally. The beauty of it all as far as weblogging and the nation are concerned, is that Nigerians are making effort to catch up with the rest of the world..."
    Well, all I can say is "congratulations" to Messers Muyibi and Sesan and others who have contributed to this project. NigerianBloggers has become an indispensable tool- atleast to me, and I'm sure many others share the same view.



    Museveni: The Future President of East African Federation?

    The Uganda President Yoweri Museveni has said he would not wish to relinquish power before realizing his dream of the East African federation and a greater African union. Both goals, he said, were part of the larger mission of the National Resistance Army bush war that brought his ruling Movement to power in 1986. He wants to wants to rule the East African states of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda under the proposed East African Federation.

    He has cleverly amended his country’s constitution to permit his third term in office. And if the upcoming Feb. 203 election goes his way- as this poll is suggesting- and he’s able to silence all opposition, then he may be on his way to actualize this grandiose ambition.
    "By 2010 we should have one presidency where the three presidents become co-presidents of the whole of East Africa and by 2013, we have elections where we shall have one president for the whole of East Africa," he said.
    The major oppossing voice against the Uganda president’s third term bid is Dr Kizza Besigye- his former physician, who may have been incapacitated by the triple charges of treason, terrorism and rape leveled against him by the Uganda government upon his return from exile.

    Of the three East African nations, Tanzania has been the beckon of hope for democracy in East Africa. President Jakaya Kikwete, the latest addition to a growing list of Tanzania’s admirable statesmen just got sworn in as fourth President of the United Republic of Tanzania.

    It is on record that Museveni pledged to hand over power during his last campaign five years ago. After 20 years in power, it’s unclear what remains for Museveni to achieve…except to destabilize of the region and further impoverish of the people.

    I bet he'll experience the same fate as his predecessors before this happens.



    Another Nigerian Governor Impeached!

    Update 1/14/2006:

    An Ibadan High Court has declared the seven-man panel constituted by the Acting Chief Judge to probe the allegations against Ladoja as illegal, and Mr Ladoja has promised to return to his office on Monday.

    The earlier news report that stated Ladoja was arrested is also inaccurate; he is a free man as at Saturday January 14.


    The Nigerian governor of Oyo State, Rashidi Adewolu Ladoja, has been impeached by state legislators on allegations of corruption. This is the second Nigerian governor to be impeached. According to news report, Ladoja may have been arrested.

    The fracas bewteen Ladoja and Adedibu, his political backer, and the impeachment plot were discussed on Grandiose Parlor last month. See ...And the Godfather Strikes Again!".

    Check out the BBC for additional information.

    The Nigerian political scene has been sizzling with intrigues ans suspense lately, stay tuned.



    Wednesday, January 11, 2006

    Nigerian Census: Group Calls for Igbo Boycott

    "Igbo across the seven states of the federation have been called upon to boycott the forthcoming census exercise, unless ethnicity and religion are included in the data form.

    The youth-wing of Ohanaeze Ndigbo, National Union of True Igbo Movement (NUTIM), gave the directive following the refusal of the Federal Government to include those data in the form.

    National President of NUTIM, Dr Samfo Nwankwo, said in Owerri, that the movement arrived at that decision at the end of its meeting held at Abakaliki, the Ebonyi State capital...", according to the Nigerian ThisDay
    Wrong move!

    Boycott of any government-initiated program has very never really worked in Nigeria, that is the simple fact. Boycotting the census is counter-productive and would amount to nothing but a great and costly miscalculation. Go with the flow and get counted, I say, and don't get carried away by the rambles and rants. Lets prove to the world that we- Nigerians- can count ourselves! We just can't afford to flunk this exercise.

    An earlier post on Grandiose Parlor provides additional information on the Nigerian census and the government rationale on dropping ethnicity and religion from the survey.



    Sino-Economics and Nigerian Technological Breakthrough

    Who wouldn’t want to do business with a humongous nation of one billion people?

    And if the bounty is some 2 billion in US dollars, it’s tough to say “NO”- even if you know that nation has a mile long rap sheet on human rights violation and shady dealings.

    This is the case between the state-controlled CNOOC Ltd. of China, and Nigeria's offshore oil bloc OML 130 currently owned by a private Nigerian company South Atlantic Petroleum (Sapetro) Ltd.

    The foray of CNOOC into the Nigerian oil industry and the $ 2 billion deal has received decent coverage in the Blogosphere, as I write this post these blogs: Nigerian Times, Jewel in the Jungle, Black Looks and others have posted some interesting op-eds on the topic.

    Despite China’s unscrupulous business style and stinky rap sheet on human rights , the economic benefits of trade with Beijing appear to transcend politics and / or ethics in under-developed regions such as Africa. And this is understandable- it is a “hard sell” to preach business ethics in a poverty-stricken continent as Africa, particularly when one considers the carrots dangling from China limbs.

    China has one of the biggest and largest markets in the world, it’s trade surplus peaked at $102 billion in 2005 and “more than triple the $32 billion gap recorded the year before”. The United States and the European Union (EU) have not been blind to this fact, and have been jostling and scheming each other to get the juiciest and biggest bite off the 1-billion pound steak China is offering.
    “China's biggest trading partner was the EU, with two-way trade estimated at $217.3 billion, up 22.6 percent from the year before. The U.S. was second, with imports and exports totaling $211.6 billion, up 25 percent year-on-year. Trade with Japan rose 9.9 percent to $184.5 billion…”
    China on the other hand, has been taking advantage of all the attention and even much more- the lax enforcement of intellectual property laws in the country. Not only has the western world pumped their Pounds, Dollars and Euros into China in return for cheaper labor and extensive market; they have- albeit inadvertently- expedited its technological growth.

    With its abundant and relatively cheap labor, and supposedly stolen technology, China is now on the offensive. Sino entrepreneurs have their eyes locked not only on the western hemisphere, but also on the rural nooks and crannies of Africa and South-East Asia, and it is just a matter of time before China becomes the largest economy in the world. China just replaced “Italy as the world's 6th-largest economy, trailing Britain and France and would jump to No. 4, behind the United States, Japan and Germany, if it added in its territory of Hong Kong”, states MSNBC

    It is unfortunate that the preponderance of western multinationals in the oil industry hasn’t led to any sustainable technological growth after four decades of operation in Nigeria. The only way Africa, and Nigeria in particular, can reap more than just pocketing the forex handed out by the Chinese and other investor-nations is to create an enabling environment for technology transfer by ungrading old infrastructure and learning to acquire and retain technology- and this has been central of the majority of issues discussed on Grandiose Parlor.

    China has been gradually mopping up African resources- timber, copper, coal, gold, and recently oil. According to the BBC, China has also recently moved into petroleum in Gabon, Algeria, Angola and Egypt. African oil is largely responsible for a 40% increase in trade with China in a single year.

    The Chinese foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing is beginning a week-long visit to Africa, and most probably to consolidate the Nigerian oil deal and others . Now that Africa / Nigeria has chosen to deal with China, Africa / Nigeria must be able to justify this relationship on the long run by acquiring a technological breakthrough- just as the Chinese have done over the years.



    Theophilus Danjuma, Former Nigerian Minister Wins Chinese Oil Deal…

    A former defence minister who served as army chief of staff under one of Nigeria's previous military regimes owns the firm which on Monday sold the rights to an offshore oil field to China's CNOOC for more than two billion dollars.

    The Chinese company said it would buy a 45% stake in offshore oil bloc OML 130 from private Nigerian company South Atlantic Petroleum (Sapetro) Ltd, which multiple business sources confirmed is owned by retired lieutenant general Theophilus Danjuma, the firm's chairman.

    Sapetro's listed offices in Lagos were empty on Monday. Neighbours directed an AFP reporter to a second address where security guards said no company officials were present and telephones had not yet been installed. Calls to the firm's previous numbers went unanswered.

    Now a wealthy businessman, Danjuma served as chief of army staff between 1978 and 1979 under Nigeria's then military ruler General Olusegun Obasanjo and returned to act as defence minister when Obasanjo came back to office as an elected civilian president in May 1999.

    He stepped down at the end of Obasanjo's first term in 2003, following a turbulent period in office in which he was blamed by many for a massacre of civilians carried out in October 2001 by Nigerian troops in the village of Zaki-Biam.

    He has since become a vocal critic of the president.

    Earlier, in July 1966, Danjuma was one of the leaders of a military putsch which overthrew Nigeria's first military dictator General Aguyisi Ironsi and helped set in train the events which led to the west African country's devastating 1967-1970 civil war.

    CNOOC's purchase gives China a potentially lucrative interest in Oil Mining Licence 130, which includes the Akpo oil field in deep waters in the Gulf of Guinea south of the Niger Delta…

    South Atlantic Petroleum had initially planned to sell its stake in OML 130 to India's ONGC, but last month the Indian government stepped in to halt the deal. Officials said that Delhi considered the investment too risky.

    Article culled from Business in Africa online



    Tuesday, January 10, 2006

    Eid ul-Fitr

    The first Eid was celebrated in 624 CE by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) with his friends and relatives after the victory of the battle of Jang-e-Badar.

    Muslims are not only celebrating the end of fasting, but thanking Allah for the help and strength that he gave them throughout the previous month to help them practice self-control.

    The festival begins when the first sight of the new moon is seen in the sky.
    Muslims in most countries rely on news of an official sighting, rather than looking at the sky themselves.

    The celebratory atmosphere is increased by everyone wearing best or new clothes, and decorating their homes. There are special services out of doors and in Mosques, processions through the streets, and of course, a special celebratory meal - eaten during daytime, the first daytime meal Muslims will have had in a month.

    Eid is also a time of forgiveness, and making amends.

    Eid Mubarak!

    Original article from BBC


    Monday, January 09, 2006

    Gbenga Obasanjo: A Chip Off the Old Block


    ELDEST son of President Olusegun Obasanjo, Gbenga, yesterday, expressed regrets over the interview granted Sowore but said it was unauthorized-- Nigerian Vanguard

    Really? Did papa had a tete-a- tete with you Gbenga, and he chickened out, or Sowere turned a private conversation he had with Gbenga in a sensationalized interview?

    Two thumbs down !!!

    Gbenga's interview appears to have ruffled some feathers in the Nigerian political circle. The presidency and VP Atiku's camps have responded, the former dissociates itself, and the latter in an amateurish manner injected some African-tradition crap into the matter. Excerpts from the VeePee's spokesperson:
    “He [Gbenga] is neither a politician nor a public office not the vice-president’s age mate. In fact the vice-president has a son who may be as old as, perhaps a better achiever than Gbenga. So that young man’s only qualification, to speak and to be quoted in the media is that he is one of the President’s sons. If the idea is that he should be replied to, the vice-president’s son is the one to appropriately respond.

    “The VP doesn’t belong to a culture in which children trade words with elders. This boy will not be glorified with a response. Let the mask come off the face of the masquerade and we will face each other.”

    For once, I see a member of the Nigerian ruling family for some reasons best known to him decides to vent out, throwing aside protocol and diplomacy, and leaving sore toes in his wake. Some of the readers on Grandiose Parlor have commented that Gbenga is either bold or simply frustrated to have been so blunt. Bold or frustrated, the interview was darn good and insightful.

    If Gbenga has been all that have been written about him in the media, he won't have been so bold in this interview. And I have always heard that the President has been rigidly against his family members palling politicians for favors. If Gbenga has been one tenth as connected as Mohammed Abacha, he would not have been so daring. Is his interview a manifestation of frustration? Maybe.

    President Obasanjo is noted for his blunt and often rude remarks, it should not be a surprise that Gbenga comes across exactly just like him. He is a chip off the old block.



    And Gbenga Obasanjo said...

    Reactions from the Presidency, Vice President Atiku, and Grandiose Parlor will follow shortly...

    What was your relationship with the late Mrs. Stella Obasanjo?
    She was my father's wife; she was the man's wife. That's it!

    How would you react to the allegation that you bring businessmen, who are your partners to buy up Nigerian companies at ridiculously low rates?
    That's not true!

    What about Virgin Nigeria, Ajaokuta Steel Company and others?
    I have never met those people. I must say, though, that I am proud to associate with the success of the Ajaokuta Steel complex, they have started producing steel and prices of steel has come down Nigeria. For Virgin Nigeria, I have never met Richard Branson. But I am proud of the Virgin Nigeria deal. The only person I have known was the Vice President of the South African Airlines, when he came to Nigeria to negotiate the South African Airlines deal that collapsed. Even then, I didn't try to influence the negotiations. He was my friend. I knew him and I could not shun him.

    Do businessmen seek your intervention?
    Of course, they do

    Do you just turn them down?
    What is wrong with you, Sowore? I have been talking to you for the past two hours, don't I sound like I am intelligent enough to know what to do?

    The time is not enough to assess your intelligence and I may not be intelligent enough to tell if you are intelligent...
    That's why I think you guys have become really emotional with your stories. You just write what you like. It's the same with the Nigerian press. Because I don't give them money, they write all kinds of things about me; they hate me! But I won't give bribes. One day I was at Abeokuta with the Ogun State Governor, Gbenga Daniel. These press guys came in and started asking hard questions, the moment they were served food, they left their scrap papers and rushed the food. Of course, the next day, their reports were very shiny, that's the way it goes here. the press boys are a hungry bunch, but I have refused to bribe them. I don't have money to bribe them; I am just a struggling man.

    Look at the whole story about Stella Obasanjo being the only one standing with my father in jail. That was all press work. As a doctor, I was the first person allowed to see my father before she started visiting, but the Nigerian press have their favourites. And they can be mean. Recently, one magazine even wrote that since Stella has died, Baba too would soon follow. Haba!

    Why does your father want a third term?
    I am not aware of this third term thing you are talking about. My father is a man of integrity; he doesn't have any intention to remain in office beyond 2007. He is already building a retirement home and a library in Abeokuta. He is an old man. He may look young to the outside world, but he is an old man. I personally think he is older than 70 years. He just said he is about 70 years because nobody recorded his age when he was born. And his military service, perhaps, made him look fit as a person, but he is not a young person. I have been with him when he looked at obituaries in the newspapers and said: "That person who died was the son of my classmate." He is not as young as people think.

    In 1979, when it was fashionable to stay in power and he was just about 42 years of age, he didn't stay in power. Why would he stay in power now? What for? Let me tell you, it is the Vice President, Abubakar Atiku, and the Nigerian press that are campaigning for the third term. They are using it as blackmail. Atiku thinks the presidency is his birthright and as such, it should be delivered to him pronto! Otherwise, who among my father's close friends is campaigning openly for his third term in office?

    But Nigerians don't believe this. Given your father's denial of a presidential ambition in 1998, this would be hard to believe. Again, Nigerians are already comparing your father's style to Abacha's...
    I hate it when people compare me and Baba with the Abacha family. What is the basis? That's so insulting. It is the worst insult anyone can heap on us. I even read one journalist comparing me with Mohammed Abacha! That is so unacceptable. I reject that. All I can tell you is that Baba has no third term agenda. Quote me anywhere, Baba has not plans to stay beyond 2007. He is old and tired and wants to go into retirement.

    But top players in the private sector are urging him on. Can't he shut them up?
    That's true. The only reason why they are asking Baba to stay is because they are afraid of Atiku. They know he will come and take over everything they have built with his unquenchable greed. Look, quite a lot of people are putting pressure on Baba to stay. Even the Americans are passing messages through me. Forget about all those scripted public statements. They want him to stay. the amount efforts and resources required to change the constitution is just not worth it. Come 2007, Baba will leave the scene. He is not responding to these campaigns and counter - campaigns because he is busy doing so many things. You can see that planes are falling off the skies left and right. Baba has not time to get involved in these claims.

    Are you not afraid of reprisals when Baba leaves office?
    No. We are not afraid at all. God will continue to protect the righteous.

    Who do you think your father will pick as successor?
    I think all the candidates will have to come out and work hard to sell their programmes to Nigerians. Baba will support the best candidate.

    Who will that be?
    I don't know

    I asked because he allegedly worked against the best candidate in 1979...
    Baba actually respected and preferred Chief (Obafemi) Awolowo in 1979. He was his choice in terms of policy and clarity, but he thinks Awo was too tribalistic. That was the problem.

    Was it not due to your father's hatred for Awo?
    I know that (Alhaji Shehu) Shagari won the election because that was what Nigerians wanted.

    What caused the friction between your father and Atiku?
    I don't know. But I don't want anyone to think Baba that will impose a candidate on Nigeria. No, he won't. Like I said earlier, if he had wanted to impose anyone on Nigeria, it would certainly have been Chief Awolowo in 1979. But he didn't do that. On Atiku, I think people get it wrong thinking that Baba is working against him. Atiku just thinks that the presidency is his birthright. Look at AP and the privatisation process. They just sold the entire country to themselves... Go to the Corporate Affairs Commission and see those who own Pentascope. You will see the fraud perpetrated against Nigeria. But the press will never report these things; they like to paint him nice even when the facts about these misdeeds are public knowledge.

    But El-Rufai is one of your father's favourites?
    That doesn't make him clean. Look at what he did with Jimi Lawal through the BPE. They paid him back all the money he looted from Alpha Merchant Bank. With interest! He was rehabilitated by el-Rufai and made a consultant, selling land in Abuja. He is el-Rufai's shadow man in Abuja. We know that all these things are still going on. So, forget these people. It is all a sham.

    Are you going to run for office some day?
    Not at all. I am not interested in politics.

    We reported that your little brother bought a house in New York and paid cash for it. Why didn't your dad do something about that? Isn't that corruption?
    You were right on that report. You did your research very well. In fact, you bailed me out. Prior to that report, some newspapers, Daily Trust in particular, had alleged that I was the one who bought the house. But your thorough research made them to apologise to me later. The house was bought for him by his mom. It is between Muyiwa and his mom.

    Let's look at the corruption trial of Chief DSP Alamieyeseigha...
    I think he is really dumb and stupid. He should have known that there is no way he could get away with stealing so much money from his state. He was daft and careless. But let me tell you that those people caught are the careless ones. There is so much corruption in Nigeria, and there are a lot of intelligent and smart corrupt people and then of course, the stupid one. Those are the ones who get caught. There are places in the world especially in the commonwealth of the former soviet republics where you can get a passport with a white name and a black face and no one will ever ask questions from you!

    That's why I thought the reporters who wrote that I have 22 bank accounts in the US are the most senseless people. One of them even went to my school at John Hopkins to check my academic background and found out that I had straight 'A' and still thinks I will be opening accounts all over the US. Why would I be daft to do that?

    Don't you have account in the US and is corruption not influenced by greed rather than intelligence?
    I have two accounts in the US and one of them is in the red. In the second, I have maybe a few hundred dollars. I am not stupid, I should know better! As per my brother, I don't know why he did such thing, but I think his mom pushed him and I don't know who told you that he is intelligent! As per the state governors, I think a few of them know how to handle the press very well and some are intelligent too. Folks like Ibori, Gbenga Daniel, Bukola Saraki, Nnamani and a few.

    What's year father's relationship with Andrew Young and Carl Master?
    I don't really know what they are doing in Nigeria. I just don't know what they do for Baba. I know they are around a lot. I know Andrew Young was doing some HIV/AIDS work and I share some of his interesting views, but nothing more than that, really.

    Let's look at the celebrated Debt Relief. Is it wise for the government to give away $12 billion as payment for a debt Nigeria never owed?
    I think my father belongs to a generation that doesn't believe in debts. He is of the old school and they hate debts of any type.

    But the idea was Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala's, an alleged agent of the Paris Club...
    Oh, I see! Any great or good ideas in this regime are never attributed to Baba.

    But the debt relief does not seem to make much economic sense...
    Just know that Baba doesn't believe in owing anybody. I guess that was the main driving force behind the debt deal.

    Original article from ThisDay, the interviewer was Sowore Omoyele.



    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Èdè Yorùbá (Yoruba Language)

    While the Yoruba language is a fairly easy language to learn in its rudimentary form, it’s tough to learn to read and write it properly with all its punctuation marks. The language is rich in vocabulary and style, and it is unfortunate that only very few Yoruba indigenes have really mastered the language.

    While visiting Owukori's Black Looks earlier this week, I was “captured” by one of her post: “Holding on to language”, where she brings attention to the UNESCO’s plan to celebrate African Languages this year (2006).

    Going by Soul's comments there- the Yoruba and Ibo languages have undergone extensive mutation in major urban cities, and very few have good command of these languages in these areas. While I’m not surprised by this development, I’m saddened and embarrassed by it. We are all guilty of mutilating these languages. Shame on us all!

    I’m Yoruba by the way despite my awkward name. I’m a thorough bred Yoruba man. “Omo Ondo ni mi paa-paa” meaning: “I’m from Ondo town for that matter” in English.

    I remember my secondary school days when over-zealous Captains/ Prefects were fond of saying “No Vernacular Permitted” whenever someone spoke in Yoruba. The die-hard among us then have had to serve all sorts of capital punishment for flouting this law. Some parents did raise their children to speak straight English for infancy- the “Ajebotas” (kids raised on butter/cheese) as we called them those days, now the number of Nigerian parents doing this have since escalated.

    Are we not in trouble? Is it not bad enough that we are being killed by despotic heads of states or robbed by kleptomaniac politicians and bureaucrats- now the average Nigerian family is depriving future generations of Nigerians the opportunity to appreciate the beauty of, and the ability to communicate in original indigenous (Nigerian) languages. Many have being robbed of their heritage under the pretense of being “educated”. This is more like a miseducation to me, and I’m sure this is also the case in other African nations.

    I’m certain Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther, the former slave-turned preacher, will be turning and choking in his grave. I leant in history class then that he translated the bible into Yoruba- “Bibeli Mimo” (Holy Bible), in the late 1800’s. Here is a link to a google search on Samuel Ajayi Crowther; have your pick from the links.

    How about Daniel Olurunfemi Fagunwa M.B.E? He was a very fine literary don, his classic novels written in Yoruba and later translated by Wole Soyinka and others are literary gems! According to an entry on Wikipedia:
    “Fagunwa's novels draw heavily on folktale traditions and idioms, including many supernatural elements. His heroes are usually Yoruba hunters, who interact with kings, sages, and even gods in their quests. Thematically, his novels also explore the divide between the Christian beliefs of Africa's colonizers and the continent's traditional religions…”
    Fagunwa's first novel, Ogboju Ode Ninu Igbo Irunmale (1938; The Forest of a Thousand Daemons), was the first full-length novel published in the Yoruba language. His second novel, Igbo Olodumare (“The Forest of God”), was published in 1949. He also wrote Ireke Onibudo (1949; “The Sugarcane of the Guardian”), Irinkerindo Ninu Igbo Elegbeje (1954; “Wanderings in the Forest of Elegbeje”), and Adiitu Olodumare (1961; “The Secret of the Almighty”); a number of short stories; and two travel books, his profile on Encyclopedia Britannica states.
    “…Every event points to a moral, and this moral tone is reinforced by his use of Christian concepts and of traditional and invented proverbs. Fagunwa's imagery, humour, wordplay, and rhetoric reveal an extensive knowledge of classical Yoruba…”
    I have read some of these books while in secondary school, and I’d love to read them again (this will be a good test of how well I can read Yoruba after many years of fallow). What I really want is to see these novels transformed into movies, and what a glorious day that will be!

    I have come to appreciate the Yoruba language even more since I started my sojourn in the United States. Despite the occasional problems of accent and phonetics as a result of not being an “Ajebota”, and not raised to speak the English language right from my mother’s womb, at least I have a solid command of two languages, and that makes me a proud bilingual...multilingual actually.

    No matter how difficult indigenous languages could be, they are our national and tribal heritage and treasure, and should be cherished, celebrated, and preserved. I can’t help but wonder how many of my tribe men and women can even read and write the Yoruba language properly these days…



    Thursday, January 05, 2006

    The Nigeria 2006 Census

    Nigeria has had a total of four head counts- in 1952, 1963, 1973 (result cancelled), and 1991. National issues revolving around population, religion, and ethnicity are vigorously debated and have strong sociopolitical implications, even the simple business of head counting- the census- is often fraught with controversies and laden with intrigues.

    Past censuses have shown that the semi-arid, Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria is more populated and has higher growth rate than the more lush and Christian–predominant south. Whether this is the hard truth, or sheer fallacy, no one can tell.

    There are 126, 252, 844 Nigerians, according to population projection (2003) from the Nigerian Population Commission, I wonder if there's any validity to this number?

    Going by the last census in 1991- the head count was 89 million; whereas the World Bank projected there should have been atleast 120 million Nigerians. The very first time questions on religion and ethnicity were dropped from the census was during the 1991 census, and Nigerians and experts in demography got a shocker of a result. Was this 30-million-head discrepancy an error, or were past censuses manipulated and to produce bloated numbers?
    • What could have accounted for the lower than expected head count in 1991?
    • Was there a widespread boycott of the census in 1991?
    • Were there systemic errors, manipulation, and biases in the methodology of 1991 census and previous ones?
    • Were there deliberate inflation and distortion of population counts in the past?

    Without access to abundant data and privileged information, these questions can’t be answered unequivocally, and may forever remained unanswered. However, I strongly believe that:

    1. A widespread boycott of the 1991 census couldn’t have accounted for the deficit of 30 million;
    2. There were deliberate manipulations of the past censuses; and
    3. The result of 1991 census may be the most accurate population count for Nigeria.

    Just like the 1991 census, the 2006 census will exclude ethnicity and religion from the survey questionnaire, and not unexpectedly, there have been mixed reactions to this nationwide. My comment on Chippla's Weblog where the issue was raised then conveys my disapproval:

    “Ethnicity is a reflection of cultural practices, it has huge relevance and implications in medicine and public health, even in Nigeria. The exclusion of this important health variable speaks to the level of reasoning of Nigerian policy makers…”

    According to the Nigerian government, the reason for dropping these variables is to forestall manipulation of the census by the ethnic and religious groups, for this reason, I long to see the outcome and result of 2006 census.

    The presence of significant agreements between the 2006 and 1991 census figures, and the post-1991 population projections will suggest that pre-1991 censuses were manipulated for political reasons, and to some extent, will justify the exclusion of ethnicity and religion. Reasonable and acceptable tradeoffs, I think.

    I have not switched camps and I believe demography without ethnicity is incomplete, but to save Nigerians from further international embarrassment of- “not knowing how to count ourselves”, and because of the strategic importance of reliable population data, I will gladly and blissfully consent to the temporary exclusion of ethnicity and religion variables if it enables a more accurate and reliable enumeration.

    The 2006 census will be an acid test for Nigerians, if we can successfully conduct the census and demonstrate agreement between 2006 and 1991 census figures, then Nigeria has come a long way as a nation.