British Oil Thieves In Nigeria And Fake Oil Refineries

Adeola Aderounmu

It was a week when the Nigerian JTF brought the face of evil to the front pages. 2 Britons who have been involved in crude oil theft in Nigeria were apprehended and arrested. Of course, many other (local) people were arrested along with them.

The syndicate offered N20 million bribe to the authorities, but this time there was no way ahead as the bribes and even more offers of bribes were rejected.

These britons must have been in this business for sometime because they kept saying that they will get out of the mess by offering bribes to the commanders of the JTF.

Britons stealing Nigerian Oil

Britons stealing Nigerian Oil

In any case now that some of the people destroying Nigeria have been arrested, one hopes that they will face the law squarely.

The Niger Delta of Nigeria has been subjected to more than 50 years of spillage and complete mess. No one knows when the clean up will start but we know that it may take about 100 years to clean up the mess. This is a complete tragedy to the people of the Niger Delta. Their own people have failed them, the governments (state and federal) have failed them and the international community does not give a damn about them. They by themselves always support the criminals they have chosen as leaders and that falls under my definition of the Nigerian syndrome. What a dilemma!

Fake refinery REUTERS PHOTO

Fake refinery
REUTERS PHOTO

There are probably thousands of illegal bunkering and even more fake oil refinery in the Niger Delta of Nigeria.

Complete tragedy and absolute mess!

aderounmu@gmail.com

That Ibadan Ritual Forest

Adeola Aderounmu

The biggest news in Nigeria this week apart from the unending massacre in Northern Nigeria is the ritual forest discovered in Ibadan.

Those who are not used to the “juju” of Africa will find this difficult to comprehend. But in Africa, well in Nigeria, I can write about the possibility of using “african jazz” in the most negative ways.

This means that some people can use extra ordinary powers to make other people go crazy. It may sound out of this world to those who do not grow up under this type of clime. But we know that some humans in Nigeria possess the witchcraft or evil power to influence the progress and stability of other people.

Some individuals have this ability to place a spell on other people. So what has happened in Ibadan is the exposure of this “generational” or “ancient” power. It is unfortunate that these powers are used to suppress and harm other people.

Often, captured people (preys) are decapacitated and parts of their bodies are used for rituals. In modern Nigeria it is the politicians that usually engaged in patronising these ritualists. Some people who want to be rich at all/any cost also engaged the services of the ritualists. Not least among those who patronise the ritualists are church/mosque owners who want many worshippers in their servvices.

In all, money is the root of all evils.

Africa and Nigeria in particular would have been a glorious paradise if all these negativities are harnessed and used for things that are progressive in nature.

Rather than make rituals in this way, the “powers” of these people can be transformed into scientific and technological know-hows. It is possible through careful investigations and planning.

It is very unfortunate that Nigerians (now the yorubas) are using “juju” to enslave their own people, depriving them of their freedom and suppressing them mentally. In extreme cases many people have been killed in this evil Ibadan forest.

We saw this before in the Okija shrine in the East. We have heard of Clifford Orji and many other stories. It is sad that in the end because of the statuses of the people involved in the patronage, many investigations are swept under the carpets. Another shrine or ritual center soon rear its ugly heads.

One hopes that those who are rescued from the Ibadan shrine will be compensated, treated and re-established into the society. They have the rights to live their lives again. Those behind the Ibadan evil forest should be brought to books under the law.

The state government in Ibadan, in other yoruba and non-yoruba states where people have these “powers” should look for methods and ways to harness the powers in a positive way instead of patronising them for evil things. In our traditions and cultures there are so many things that we can bring to the fore/front that when properly utilised can advance the course of humanity.

What we should stop doing is harming our brothers, sisters, fathers and mothers. All humans are equal and have the right to freedom and pursuit of happiness.

What Happened To A Pair Of Trousers At N52?

By Adeola Aderounmu

In 1989 when I was at my final year of secondary school at Festac Grammar School in Lagos, I made a “senior uniform” for less than N100. So what has happened to making a pair of trousers for N52?

In February 2008 I asked a similar question: What happened To One Cup Of Rice At 30 Kobo? Six years on, Nigeria continues to sail precariously on stormy waters. Nigerians have never had it so bad and so hopeless. Any iota of hope that anyone kept until last week was vehemently quenched by the NIS recruitment tragedy. The tragedy was not only in the reported deaths but also from the evidential representation of the reality that the lame government and government follow-follow group try to hide or deny time and time again.

Festac Grammar School Prefects, 1989 set. (sitting 2nd from left: Adeola Aderounmu ca 1988)

Festac Grammar School Prefects, 1989 set. (sitting 2nd from left: Adeola Aderounmu ca 1988)

In 1989 I could buy a chinos material for N35 and pay the tailor N17 for workmanship. With N50 it was actually possible to make a pair of trousers cut from other types of materials. So depending on the material of your choice, you could keep a balance that can be used for sundries.

It was not easy even back then to scoop or save up the N50. I was probably one of those who made their uniforms quite late during my senior high. Some students were radicals anyway. They didn’t really care about the pair of trousers. I was not a complete radical in that sense; we just had a dwindling middle-class family situation in Nigeria and some of us had to source some of the funds to get the things we needed.

My time stretch without the senior outfits was made even longer when I accidentally applied a very hot pressing iron on my pair of trousers on the night after I made the collection from the tailor. I could not cry. My mother who was also a tailor cum trader had to apply her creativity. My pair of shiny trousers became an adapted “baggy” short.

Ten years after my struggle to represent as a senior student and 4 years after l first became a university graduate, civilian government returned to Nigeria. The hope that was quenched earlier in 1993 when the military gangsters headed by one notorious General Babangida cancelled Nigeria’s most peaceful, free and fair elections was slightly rekindled when General Obasanjo was bundled into power in 1999.

In 2014 Nigeria’s self-styled democracy has proven to be a sham and an undesirable representation of the intelligence of the black race. Year after year since 1999, or more correctly since 1960 the rulers of Nigeria have systematically plunged Nigeria into crises that have deepened with time.

Under a presidency popular referred to as clueless and headed by Goodluck Jonathan, Nigeria nears the brink. After years of neglect and maladministration in Northern Nigeria, terrorism (alleged to be both politically sponsored and religiously motivated) was set off. In general, insecurity in Nigeria has now reached a new frightening level. The dimension is unprecedented. Nigeria wallows in the doldrums. Resiliency is an overused word in Nigeria because an objective measurement of depression level will bend or break the threshold mark.

Nigerian rulers have always failed to fight corruption. They have always failed to lead, they preferred to rule. Under Goodluck Jonathan, corruption was redefined. Even when it is too obvious, this lame administration just failed to act. In different ways and under different manifestations the rulership of Goodluck Jonathan may go down as one of the most corrupt in the history of Africa.

On the surface of earth you will not find a similar act of tolerance to a combination of impunity, corruption and ineptitude. Nigeria remains the most openly corrupt country in the world and an utter disgrace to the dreams of the black race on earth. One week ago, the dreams of some young and old applicants were crushed. People were killed both physically and mentally in broad daylight under the watch of Nigerian rulers. That was a micro representation of the daily but larger pictures hidden across Nigeria.

What do you expect from a pair of trousers that cost N52 in 1989? Despite the declining fortunes of Nigeria at that time, it was still a period of time when workers who earned N2000 are considered “well-paid”. But when political madness goes unabated from a time when a politician or public servant can loot N1 million to this time when it is fine to steal USD 20b or more, it is only imperative that N52 cannot be adequate to buy a decent meal or snacks!

ln 2014 Nigerian politicians have realigned themselves along several blocks. The clear lack of ideology was expanded. You could move from APC to PDP or from PDP to APC depending on if the presidency was on your trail or on your side. It became even more obvious that the interest of the ordinary Nigerian does not exist in the political agenda of these greedy and corrupt lots.

As early as 2013, two clear years before new general elections, Nigeria stood still. Large sums of money continue to disappear from the local, state and federal treasuries as Nigerian politicians continue to loot and pile up funds for the 2015 elections. I have never seen a country so “silly” and so “ridiculously corrupt”.

In Nigeria saints have become devils. You will almost not be able to point at one honest politician or public servant regardless of their track records before they became part of the insane Nigerian method of governance. Once you’re in, your mindset changes and you become part of the people destroying Nigeria. Something is wrong inside of government I am sure.

Federal financial Institutions in Nigeria like the Central Bank and the Ministry of Finance for examples have shown executive recklessness and harbour channels or leakages that make ordinary Nigerians impoverished. The misdemeanours of the Ministry of Finance in Nigeria are a disgrace to the whole of Africa. If you extend the scrutiny of official recklessness to NNPC you will be shocked that in Nigeria there is no campaign to arrest, detain and prosecute all the rulers and thieves in public institutions. No greater doom!

Why these public officers are still called politicians, ministers and so on remain another food for thought on the nature of law enforcement in Nigeria. For law and order in Nigeria, I suspect what I’ll define as Hidden Mental Handicap Syndrome (HM-HS). It’s an incapacitation of both the police and the judiciary as federal institutions in a country characterised by absolute systemic failure. It’s pure nonsense that some people are above the law! Why scrap history from the education curriculum in Nigeria? Our laws are not working; let’s scrap both the law schools and police colleges instead! Oh, I forgot, you don’t throw the dead baby and the water at the same time!

I know why I can’t make my pair of trousers for N52 today. It’s the same reason I cannot buy a cup of rice at 30 kobo. It’s the same bloody reason why millions of people in Nigeria are living below the poverty level, struggling to stretch hands to mouths. Some of the world’s poorest people are found in Nigeria. This is more than a shame. It’s a scandal on the intellectual capacity of the Nigerian people.

No single person, ministry or institution in Nigeria will admit that it is responsible for this tragedy of the hopelessness that pervade in Nigeria. It is this hopelessness that led several thousands of applicants across Nigeria to seeking jobs meant for a few hundred positions. In the end it turned out that the recruitment exercise like many things in Nigeria was also a scam.

People were ripped and people were killed, all in the name of executive recklessness. And life goes on as if nothing has happened. When billions of naira or dollars are stolen from the Nigerian treasury, life goes on as well as if nothing had happened! The money that had disappeared in Nigeria in the past few months is large enough to cripple the European economy! It may wipe Greece and Italy off the map of Europe.

The people who misruled and mismanaged Nigeria will not see why I can no longer make a pair of trousers for 52 naira because for some reasons they cannot comprehend the cumulative and negative synergic effects of their combined ineptitude, corruption and sometimes outright stupidity of job neglect.

The domino effect of half a century of misrule is huge. Today it will cost me about N2000 or more to make a pair of trousers of chinos material. The cost of living is high while the quality is extremely low. Nigeria is like a sinking ship, a place where almost no value is placed on human lives. Infrastructure developments are inadequate or non-existent in many places. Electricity remains at an evolutionary dead end in Nigeria. Many roads are bad and public schools have become relics. Security is zero and other vices are on the rampage daily. Such deprivations depict the sufferings of ordinary Nigerians.

In several ways public administration in Nigeria is similar to committing crimes against humanity. Nigerians hear of federal, state and local budgets every year. They know that the monies disappear in private accounts across Nigeria and worldwide. It goes largely unpunished in Nigeria because from the presidency to the local council, criminals hold sway.

In Nigeria you can steal USD 12m and walk free. You can be a murderer and get a presidential pardon. You can steal N225m and smile like a princess. You can buy 12 presidential jets and ask for more. You make Oliver Twist become an unlikely fairy tale hero by redefining greed and in-satiation. You can feed yourself with N1b of tax payers’ money. There is no limit to the extent of recklessness-everything appears lawless.

In Nigeria, you can be terrorist and own houses in Abuja and in other countries. As a clever media-smart writer you can blog or own a twitter account for billions of naira reward from government officials including the presidency. In Nigeria, pardoned and unpardoned ex-convicts and looters are free to roam again to repeat their madness-loot, kille or cart away. They win election and nomination every voting season.

You can even be a both a murderer and a looter today and a self-made saint tomorrow. Myopism is one of Nigeria’s greatest weaknesses. The other sources of weaknesses are of course religion, tribalism and a law enforcement system that is a complete joke. In Nigeria anything is possible to keep the status quo that promote evil and oppress the majority. The law is meaningless and aimed to punish petty thieves and the less privileged in the society.

One constant concern is also the people who want us to forget about highlighting the problems with Nigeria. They want us to proffer the solutions to the problems of Nigeria. Too easy! Just take a peep in the campaign speeches of each and every one of the major politicians in Nigeria. Take Jonathan for example and his “I have no shoes campaign of 2010”. With the exception of establishing true federalism in Nigeria the other solutions to Nigeria’s problems are contained in his campaign speeches. If Goodluck Jonathan’s campaign was his blueprint, Nigeria will be a paradise by now! What we need to take away is the madness that usually overtakes these souls once they get into offices.

Everything that has a beginning must have an end. One day monkey go go market e no go return . Imagine if the NIS recruitment exercise snowballed into a mass revolution. The national conference will be abandoned and a new re-awakening would have emerged in record time. Under such a rebirth there will be hope that through empowerment I will be able to afford a new pair of trousers again.

aderounmu@gmail.com

HM-HS: Hidden Mental Handicap Syndrome

By Adeola Aderounmu

I define here HM-HS.

It’s an incapacitation of the police and the judiciary in a country characterised by absolute systemic failure. This is my definition of the situation in Nigeria where criminals and thieves rule the people.

Since the police and the judiciary cannot question the ruler, they cannot arrest or prosecute the ministers, governors and other criminals in public offices, my definition is an attempt to get rid of the immunity clause.

The immunity clause means that these criminals in the Nigerian presidency and across the political strata of Nigeria are lawless, reckless, corrupt and above the law.

I think the immunity clause is not only archaic, it is also an obscurity for the syndrome that I defined above.

This definition will be included in one of the paragraphs of my next blog titled: what happened to a pair of trousers at N52? I thought I’d share it now.

My hope (against all odds) is that the criminals in Nigerian politics will be arrested by the police and prosecuted under the law. In the absence of such possibilities, HM-MS is the order of the day.

50 Yards Of Death

By Adeola Aderounmu

My beloved Festac was thrown into mourning on Tuesday night. My passion and love for Festac Town meant that I have written about the glory and the fall of Festac Town, even here in the village square. If you lived in Festac Town from inception in 1977 or thereabout and get to see the decay and rot that has become of the city, you’ll weep if you are such a human with a caring heart.

A boat mishap claimed the lives of at least 13 people on the 12th of March 2014. Six people were reported missing and 5 survived the (avoidable) catastrophe. I felt an obligation to analyse the circumstances that may have led to the accident. I will suggest the possible ways forward and my ultimate goal will be to send a letter to the chairman of the Amuwo Odofin Local Government (AOLG) with head office at 41 Road in Festac Town. That much I owe my beloved city, Festac Town Island.

Stone field at 23 Road X close by 5th avenue H1 Close

Stone field at 23 Road X close by 5th avenue H1 Close

The distance (short-cut will be more appropriate in our language) between 4th Avenue and 6th Avenue on water according to newspaper reports is about 50 yards. This should be approximately 46 meters. What has not been reported is the depth of the water but since people have drowned in it, it may be close to 6 feet. It may also be deeper. The water may be swampy. We called this water body “canal” when I was a little boy. It flows around the town. I’m almost sure I have been in or about that water body several times as a teenager without the full knowledge of water safety.

We know that there was a wooden bridge that connected the two avenues. The bridge may have been constructed through the efforts of a church situated nearby but it does not exist anymore. Some people have complained about the negligence of the local government in building a more permanent bridge to connect these two areas over water. Many people are of the opinion that it is a waste of time to use another bridge that is about 2km away when their destination is just about 50 m ahead of them.

Apparently, unless the councillors and the leadership of the AOLG debate and agree on a pedestrian or a dual-purpose bridge, there is yet no binding obligation for the local council to build a bridge or walkways. People are frustrated because these same politicians must have voted several times on how to “steal” public funds and share loots. However, residents and pressure groups can make demands for the improvement of the infrastructure in their vicinity and environs. Who is listening?

This may sound like medicine after death but those of us who thought the extended area of Festac Town were gross anomalies can also add that while people are quick to buy land and build houses in the extension areas, there has not been a corresponding development of infrastructure in the area. We must not forget that the extension area of Festac was that zone where natural reserves (wildlife and beautiful aquatic existence) were wiped away and replaced with houses.

Mainstream Festac was itself never maintained. It seemed that the Federal Government through the Federal Housing Authority found pleasure in quickly converting mainstream Festac from a paradise to a slump in one swoop. The History of the destructive “deconstruction” of Festac Town has been well established. Nigeria has a rich history of maladministration and extremely bad management. Public administration in Nigeria is mostly a source of misery.

As I was saying, on this black Tuesday in Festac Town, it took 3 hours 20 minutes before a distress call reached the National Emergency Management Agency-NEMA according to the reports in Premium Times online news. Is there any record of how long it took to reach the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA)? Reaching these agencies should not have taken more than 5 to 10 minutes especially as it appeared that the operators of the canoe services are “locals” as we call them.

They are people “hustling” and trying to make ends meet. Were they ignorant of what to do in cases of emergencies? Access to emergency services for them ought to be quicker. Was the telephone network busy for more than 3 hours? Were the roads from NEMA to the canal so bad that at first, one may think that NEMA is located in another country? 3hours and 20 minutes after! Do LASEMA / NEMA have offices in Festac Town or a place in AOLG area?

I can actually ask one thousand questions regarding this single unfortunate incident. Does Festac Town lack accidents and emergency units within its locality in the year 2014? Why is the boat carrying 24 passengers instead of 13 or 14 passengers? Was the champions’ league game so crucial that the canoe operator had to ignore safety procedures or was it the passengers who bent the rules and headed to death on a 50 yard stretch of water?

If the reports in the Premium Times are anything to go by, then it appeared that the passengers ignored the warning of a young girl who raised an alarm about a possible drowning scenario and that she would swim to safety. She did and numbered among the survivors! One survivor also narrated how he had to do away with his heavy bag of tools so he could reach the shore safely. The fact that they “pushed” the canoe to start the journey was definitely an adequate warning that all the passengers ignored!

I think all adult humans at one point or the other have experienced the sadness that come with bereavement. We can sympathise with the families of the deceased. We can cry and we can be worried about many things connected to this tragedy including the trauma of the survivors. Some young people burnt the canoe. That’s how best they could reason, in their state of anger.

What will be more important is the way forward. It’s always important to take the lessons from every situation and try to avoid repetitions of tragedies along the same line/pattern. In so many ways and with uncountable examples, one can illustrate how tragedies have repeated themselves in Nigeria with precision, and the same hypocritical reactions.

The Festac tragedy should not be allowed to repeat itself.

The little girl swam to safety. What are our attitudes towards acquiring life skills? I’m not stating with pride that I still need more swimming lessons to be sure about my survival in water. In Nigeria, many of our parents discouraged us from swimming when we were growing up. Lagos is lined by the Atlantic Ocean and there are lagoons and rivers around us. We never referred to Festac Town as Festac Town Island whereas it is in every sense.

Why was it not a compulsory part of our education to learn how to swim? I can’t remember any physical education lesson that was dedicated to swimming. The Amuwo Odofin Local Government should make haste to construct swimming pools where children and adults will be taught how to swim. It’s a life skill. The boats capsized somewhere between 2 locations that are 46 meters apart. My skill in mathematics tells me the tragedy occurred at a point less than 24 meters to land. The probability that the boat capsized at a distance 10-15 meters to land also exists. This tragedy was avoidable, even if the morning rain increased the volume of the canal and the canal is swampy in nature.

Road construction work in Festac 2014

Road construction work in Festac 2014

Nigerians need to know that there are reasons for rules and that safety procedures should never be relegated at the altar of profit or unwarranted compassions. If the canoe operator had not allowed the boat to be overloaded, or if the passengers did not beg to be squeezed on board, they would probably have travelled safely. Tuesday the 12th would have ended on a different note and the N150 motorcycle ride on bad roads would have been probably one of the cheapest costs of saving life in the history of man.

Were there life jackets on board the ill-fated canoe? It was possible that no one thought that life jackets are needed on a 50 yards “death” stretch. Non-swimmers go on this trip without any guarantee! The cost of a life jacket may also take the profits off the “locals”. Water transport business is not a joke or a trial and error endeavour. If this mode of transportation must persist along this canal, then the local government should either take over the business with state of the art ferry system or award the contract to a reliable water transport company. It is not enough to deploy council guards after the accident. It is definitely not enough to lock off an access road to the river.

Road construction work in Festac 2014

Road construction work in Festac 2014

A certified transport company would have stations on both sides of the canal. In an ideal situation there would be departure times and arrival times. When it is dark or getting late, it would be inappropriate to run the canoe because of the level of underdevelopment or bad state of infrastructure in several parts of Nigeria. It would probably have been easier to report a mishap had the operations being under licensed authorities. How well do we care about lives in Nigeria? What value do we place on our existences?

When shall we get there in Nigeria? Why were we taught that what is worth doing at all is worth doing well? This tenet and other moral guiding principles were handed to us early in life. What went wrong? How did we get to the situation where our senses of purpose and direction are malformed or dysfunctional? If the transport system over water will not be safe, then it should be totally abolished.

Road constructions, repairs and maintenance are not favours from the councils. These are parts of their obligations. The road network in Festac needs to be improved so that transportation within the estate can be safe and cheap. It’s good to hear and see some efforts in that direction.

Our bicycle tracks in Festac Town should be reinstated and new ones built. People should be encouraged to ride bicycles. This is common in all developed countries. Bicycles are the commonest means of transportation when people want to go from one place to another around their vicinity or local areas. What makes us different species in Nigeria? Isn’t it time to make such an environmental friendly mode of transportation readily available, acceptable and popular? People need to own bicycles without being subjected to ridicule and laughter.

Road construction work in Festac 2014

Road construction work in Festac 2014

When the reports about the tragedy on 50 yards of water in Festac Town went to press on Wednesday it was still impossible to reach the chairman of Amuwo Odofin Local Government for his comments/reactions. That is the common attitude of Nigerian politicians; they are arrogant and lack simple and common sense that governs public administration. People have died and the chief security officer of the council made no appearance and no comment. That is also a tragedy on its own.

When he does show his face, someone should remind the chairman Mr. Ayodele Adewale that these deaths on a 50 yard stretch is a big time wake up call at his domain. He can’t pretend that nothing happened. Mr. Ayodele must make haste to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the possibility of sustaining or eradicating boat services between 4th Avenue and 6th Avenue

Burning canoes or boats is not the way to forget the dead. Meanwhile if you ever forget them, they have died in vain. The residents of Festac Town owe it to their community not to allow this sad event to be swept under the carpets. Though sad, this is one of those moments in history that is opportunistic. Demands should be made for more bridges and good roads, for standard and safe ferry services. Why not for world class bicycle and pedestrian paths?

Nigerians deserve the good things of life too. Any of these proposed projects can be dedicated to the memories of the departed. May they find peace in transit.

Acknowledgement: Thanks to Comrade Oluwafisayo Ogunjimi (Pheesayor@hotmail.com) for useful information about the boat services in Festac Town and some useful ideas that went into this article.

Images by Adeola Aderounmu (Thy Glory O’Nigeria) and Comrade Oluwafisayo Ogunjimi (Watching Lagos, http://www.watchinglagos.com)

My Nigerianness Has Expired

By Adeola Aderounmu

One day in December 2006, I sat in my car for more than 4 hours at a gas station in Festac Town, Lagos. We had queued up for petrol because the commodity had been scarce for some time. That morning when I arrived at the gas station at about 6 a.m, I thought I was going to be one of the first people at the station but to my chagrin surprise it appeared that some people slept over at the gas station.

Adeola Aderounmu 2008_2

As I waited and drove at snail speed to the nozzle where all the attention was, I saw how people struggled and fought to procure a commodity that is flowing freely right underneath their feet. For the first time in my life, I cried out loud, profusely with lots of tears flowing from my eyes. I was alone. There was no chance of consolation and my emotions burst without any hindrance. I had returned 2 weeks earlier from a place where I just drive to an unmanned gas station, fill my tank and drive away in no time. MyNigerianness had expired.

One day I wrote to a friend discussing about my paternal leave in 2007. He was shocked as I explained the process to him and that the plan was to be at home with my daughter who was one at the time. In 2011 I repeated the process taking care of our second child. In this piece titled- An argument for parental Leave,http://www.nigeriavillagesquare.com/articles/adeola-aderounmu/an-argument-for-parental-leave-13.html, published here in the village square and in the Nigerian Guardian Newspaper I shared the experiences and the benefits of parental leave. But I know how far Nigeria and Nigerians are from such idealism. I know that my Nigeriannesss had expired.

When I’d talked to some people at home and abroad about picking up my children from school and making them dinner, I know the type of scorn and other types of reactions that people show (or sometimes fail to show). But if you grew up with my mother of blessed memory, it was imperative that you could cook. It was our next line of training after high school to take over the kitchen tasks while waiting for admission to the University.

During our younger years, we were required to be at home when the food was made so that we can participate in the consumption. If you were away, your reasons must be genuine and understandable. Unfortunately this family value given to boys and the ability to use it at home in the presence of the female members of the family is not generalised in Nigeria. Things fell apart many years ago and some misunderstanding of cultural values tangled with ego and ignorance.

There was one man I’d met regularly in Stockholm in the early 2000s. He was always late to our meetings and there was always one reason or the other while he came late. My replies were blunt; I always told him that I didn’t believe him. His problem was that he did not know how to shed the African time syndrome. I don’t meet this man again. He had since found his way back to Ibadan.

There are other things that remind me of the African time syndrome. One day I was invited to an event that was slated to start at 5pm. By 7pm, they had not even finished preparing the venue, so I left and when I got home I was able to see one of the football games for the evening. About a week later I heard from other people at another event that the New Yam Festival event went on to start around midnight! I was glad for the call I made-to return home before the evening burnt out. My Nigerianness had expired!

Last summer (2013) I started using my bicycle more often. I biked to the train station and then join the communal transport. When I arrived at work, I would have been on the bicycle, the train and the bus. I thought it would be over by the end of summer. No, it didn’t! I went on to bike to the train station over the autumn and then winter. Around 2008, I’d found the idea of people changing the tyres of their bicycle to winter tyres ridiculous but that was just what I did in December 2013 as winter sets in. My Nigerianness is over!

If someone had shown me this vision in 2001 or even in 2005, I would have laughed. Now I know that myNigerianness had totally expired. I no longer see the egoistic statuses that we went about dissipating when I was living in Nigeria. I know I’m never going to be able to give up that Nigerian sense of fashion and beauty. But for cars, they don’t mean the same thing to me as they did in 2001.

In another essay from July 2007 I’d asked a question: Who Planned Our Lives In Nigeria? Life can be easy or easier if we judge it by the simple things that have self-fulfilling effects.  Life can be more meaningful if we don’t live above our incomes and if we stop setting standards just to meet other people’s expectations or their fantasies.

Life is more worth living if we live gracefully. My hope for Nigeria is that the time will come when the majority of the people will stop struggling just to survive but rather that they are presented with the fair opportunities to let them reach their potentials and accomplish happiness built on contentment and selflessness. That time will be freedom time, a freedom that will be fought for.

I’m feeling that my hopes mean that the possibility of reviving my Nigerianness may have been lost forever.

aderounmu@gmail.com

Nigeria: The Rise Of Evil And Terrorism

By Adeola Aderounmu

When late Musa Yar’ Adua became the ruler of Nigeria in 2007 after one of the several disputed elections in Nigeria, one of his “achievements” was granting amnesty to the Niger Delta militants. He had a 6 or 7 points agenda which included the empty vow to improve power supply. The rest is history.

SVT bild 1

The stories regarding the origin and the spread of militancy in the Niger Delta creeks are diversed. They are based on different lines of arguments and different schools of thoughts. The arguments are also influenced by political inclinations. The propagation and sustenance of falsehood in Nigeria is also like an occupation on its own. Some people are paid even by government to do this.

However I know some honest people who earn their livelihood by taking dangerous sea trips to fish in Nigerian internal and territorial waters. Therefore what I know for certain based on eyewitnesses’ reports is that the militants became more “useful” when Obasanjo was aiming for his second term in office.

The allegations wrapped Mr. Obasanjo and some governors from the Niger Delta areas in the game plan and the summary was that when the elections were over, the militants became more potent than ever before and they also found new ways and tools to become more relevant than the pre-Obasanjo era.

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The things that happened around that time would lend more credence to these narrations from the people that I know and met. For, at that time in the history of Nigeria more people became aware of attacks on national pipelines and the growing spate of kidnapping, first of expatriates and then of any Dick, Tom and Harry escalated. At the beginning of week 9 in 2014 one man referred to as the adopted father of Goodluck Jonathan was kidnapped. He’s surely worth a ransom of USD20bn.

Let me go back in time. When I was a young boy, at my early teen years to be sure, I remembered that I swore never to step my feet on the soils of Northern part of Nigeria. My decision at that time was informed by the types of news and images that I got about Northern Nigeria. For me at that time, the North was the North. I probably had insufficient knowledge of regional geography.

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I was one of those kids who read Newspapers from an early age. I could say I was 8 years old when I started reading Newspaper and I remembered that my father specifically bought me books about Nigeria. At age somewhere between 13 or 15 I read Naiwu Osahon’s “A Nation In Custody”. Those kinds of books helped to build my interest in national issues. They also formed me as I saw from an early age that Nigeria was/is ruled by criminals and heading to perdition. We are still on that road. Sadly too, Nigeria and Nigerians are still in custody.

The formative years of a child are important as I’d come to learn and experience personally. I remembered how I “worked” hard to influence my National service. I had little faith in the program and I was not ready to cross the boundaries of western Nigeria. Once I did so just for fun when I stepped my feet on the soil of Cotonou. I knew what I wanted and what I never wanted was to be part of the inexplicable madness of Northern Nigeria where my aboki neighbour could be the one to slice my throat or cut my head during an upheaval.

Terrorism is not an entirely new phenomenon in Nigeria. It had presented itself to us over the ages and years in different forms. In recent times it was painted variously as communal clashes and sometimes as protests over issues relating to Islam within Nigeria. At one time it was a senseless riot connected to a beauty pageant show.

At another time it was related to issues that have nothing to do with Africa. The Danish cartoon saga was entirely a problem of Europe but it went viral and death tolls were hardly reported from anywhere but in Nigeria it became a means to kill in the North. The upheavals and pandemonium that occur in Northern Nigeria were mostly treated with kid gloves and usually swept under the carpets.

These abnormalities in Northern Nigeria that shaped my thoughts during my teen years are parts of the reasons I deemed courageous the decision of some people that I know to go up north for one reason or the other. If things were different, I would have been a good traveller not only across the world but also in my country of birth. I have praises for my friends who went up north. I have praises for those who have settled somewhere in North even to this day and made it their home away from home. That’s how it should be. If you are from a certain country, you should have the right and possibility to choose your settlement, under normal circumstances.

Unfortunately one of the saddest things about Nigeria is the near total failure of governance at all levels. With the current status of Nigeria as a corrupt country and probably the place in the world with the largest accumulation of poor people, the evidence are rife that Nigerians have not govern Nigeria successfully. From one government to another, impunity rose, corruption soar and the plundering of the country’s wealth by people, government and institutions continue unabated. Nigeria is even opened up to plundering by foreign parasites and imperialists. If the wall is not cracked though the lizards will never find a way in. Nigeria is not cracked, she is completely broken. There are no walls of protection literally and figuratively. It appears the goal is to leave the country in an irreversible ruin. Summarily Nigeria is completely derailed and hope is almost lost.

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As I was saying, when Yar Adua granted amnesty to the Niger Delta militants, the signals were obvious. It appears that to be heard in Nigeria; you also have to be armed. The militants gained access to government houses. Some of them got some of the best houses in Abuja and in their home states. Militants under Yar Adua became kings and lords.

These aberrations were sustained and taken to new heights by the Goodluck Jonathan’s regime. Militants simply took over parts of the Nigerian economy by obtaining juicy government contracts and jobs. One rascal called Asari Dokubo who had committed several atrocities against the Nigerian state became one of the chief beneficiaries. How terrorists became bedmates with the Nigerian government is not entirely a mystery. Over the years the government has been a beehive for criminals and all manners of people who are not fit for administration and governance.

In the 2014 budget Mr. Jonathan’s corrupt government is dedicating a whooping N63 billion to the militants. You will not find a greater level of insanity in any government around the world. Where in the world are terrorists paid by government? N63bn can change the face Nigeria as a country if the money is used judiciously to target job creation and youth-oriented educational programs. But Nigeria has a minister of finance who found it honourable to present this jagbajantis as a budget plan.

Nigeria has been misgoverned for more than 50 years. Sometimes political and military aggressions, plain violence, state murders and assassinations have been used to steer Nigeria. These crimes are the “rule of law” and the “codes of conducts” for self-preservation in the Nigerian government.

Mr. Goodluck Jonathan remains clueless as Nigerians are massacred and murdered by terrorists

Mr. Goodluck Jonathan remains clueless as Nigerians are massacred and murdered by terrorists

Whatever led to the birth and eventual rise of Boko Haram had a fertile soil on which to bloom and “prosper” as sad as it seems. The rise of Boko Haram was too easy. Among the certainties is that Boko Haram became more prominent in the post-Yar Adua amnesty days. Now, under the Jonathan government, Boko Haram came to war.

The origin of Boko Haram is still under debate. They may have been a group of army constructed by the Islamic governments of Northern Nigeria. They may be soldiers who deflected from the Nigerian military. They may be mercenaries from neighbouring countries blended with the illiterate, jobless and ignorant locals in the name of religion and war. Who knows?

There are evidence of misadventures of what appeared to be roles of established governments in the rise and spread of global terrorism. The roles of the United States in the rise of Bin Laden’s led Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan are well documented. When Gaddafi of Libya became the target of the United States and NATO, terrorists were armed to aid the displacement and his eventual murder, just to mention a few examples. People are still studying the Syria scenario.

Hence, in giving so much money, power and space to terrorists who are politically labelled as militants, the federal government of Nigeria will not be the first to directly or indirectly sponsor terrorism. Therefore the roles of the Nigerian federal government and the Islamic governments in Northern Nigeria and the northern elites/rulers deserved to be investigated as Boko Haram continue to flourish right under their noses. Boko Haram may have existed when I made up my mind as a child not to step on the soil of the blood-spillers. They may have been there when the power hungry rulers of Northern Nigeria promised to make Nigeria ungovernable for Mr. Jonathan.

No matter what led to the establishment and the rise of Boko Haram, the failure of governance at the state and federal levels cannot be excluded as additional factors. The majority of dictators and rulers in Nigeria have been from that part of the country. It seems that they deliberately impoverished their people intellectually. Somehow illiteracy and ignorance levels in Northern Nigeria are far higher than the rest of the country. The hypothesis was that the rulers from the North ensured that their people were educationally deficient so that the northern elites will always have their ways among the ignorant populace. Today, the pay-back prices in terms of blood spillage and outright destructions of towns anc cities are inestimable.

The Boko Haram insurgencies and terrorism that is wrongly tagged as militancy in the South of Nigeria have similar curves. The governors of the oil rich states have over the years looted their people blind. What will remain inexplicable is how the looters and thieves from this region always have the backings of the people they steal from. I have defined the Nigerian syndrome in a previous article.

It is generally known that the local rulers of the Niger Delta region and those who served as ministers in federal and regional institutions like the Oil Mineral Producing Area Development Commission (OMPADEC), the Petroleum Trust Fund (PTF) and Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) ought to have been brought to books. They embezzled funds earmarked for the development of the Delta and other places. These rulers are also known to take huge sums from foreign corporations without accountability.

Therefore when addressing the rise of terrorism in the delta as a fallout of gross underdevelopment, maladministration, corruption, nepotism and other vices the bulk goes round in a cycle. The representatives of the delta region have failed their people, the state governments have failed and the federal government is the chief culprit for not ever leading by proper examples.

What the N63bn allocated to the Niger Delta will meet is the greediness of the terrorists. The problems in the region persist. These problems range from lack of basic amenities to serious environmental issues that make the Niger Delta people to be ranked amongst the poorest people in the world. The general percentage of people living under the poverty frame in Nigeria is a hidden global tragedy.

Whatever type of war or destructions that are still attributed to the Niger Deltan terrorists surely are devoid of ideology. They have seen how “easy” it is to become super-rich and influential in government through the use of guns and gun-powders. They have seen how their predecessors have spread all over the places yet still siphoning amnesty funds like leeches and parasites.

What these mostly non-combatant militants hiding in the creeks have not seen is the end to the spillage in their environment. What they have not seen and probably not looking forward to is the implementation of all the policies and promises that have been made by governments and agencies connected to the delta region. They have grown to love the quick money and get rich any-how style. Like their masters-the local chiefs and like the government of Nigeria, the future doesn’t count for them.

Truth is, for more than 53 years Nigerian rulers stole and carted away the treasures of Nigeria. There are no federal plans for nation building and preparing the country for the unborn generations. All Nigerian “roadmaps for development” did not see the light of the day. Not under the military, not under the civilians. Truth is, everything was neglected including education, health and other simple basic infrastructure. Hence, in Nigeria, it actually ought to be a total war on bad governance. All well meaning and Patriotic Nigerians should actually be out there asking the government to surrender, pack and exit.

In Nigeria, the new full-grown terrorism and militancy are delayed responses to the now more than 53 years of absolute waste of the independent status. What the sponsors of these terror groups (whether from inside or external sources) have done is to find the cracks in the walls. It appears that the 3rd generation of post-independence Nigerians are also wasting away.

With the spread of militancy and the popularity of terrorism, one can presume that knee-jerk responses on the part of Nigerian government have made these twin calamities into wars that the Nigerian military will not win easily or early enough. Recent terror attacks in Northern Nigeria show the determination and preparedness of the terrorists and the Fire Brigade Approach of the Nigerian army.

To subdue terrorism in Nigeria on the long run, some political sacrifices must be made. The system of governance must change radically. If pursued honestly the National Conference will provide the catalysts needed for the much needed changes. It is well known that those who have tried to fight off terrorism in the absences of functioning governments and social justice always fail.

The ineffective system of governance in Nigeria has rendered almost all Nigerian government institutions paralysed-they are places for self-enrichment and non- performance. There are no magic doses unfortunately. Therefore when the power that is accumulated to Abuja is decentralised, Nigeria may have taken one giant leap in the right direction.

Nigeria will benefit immensely from a proper change of system of governance. This means that the unitary system of government needs to be abolished in the nearest future. Doing so will on the long term as mentioned earlier probably checkmates future uprisings where terrorists will not be aiming at a central goverment if the ultimate power is not there. In the future N-Eastern Nigeria I am optimistic that a people deciding their own fate will put up enough resistance to fight or resist insurgencies. I don’t think any group of people would like to self-destruct when their destinies are in their own hands.

Regional governments will restore the old Western Nigeria (now being demanded by the Yoruba Congress from a recent gathering in Ibadan) and the other recognised regions that were in existence before the military destroyed the political structures in Nigeria. No doubts, based on newer ideas or ideologies there will be modifications to the regional system in this new century.

The change of the system of governance will not return Nigeria to glory in one night. It may be one of the several steps on the way to recovery. If we make amends today recovery in the regions or acrosss Nigeria can take a decade, half a century or just a few dozen years depending on the will of the people.

In the meantime, the government of Nigeria must not forget its primary duty which is to protect the lives and property of citizens within the boundary of Nigeria. Ending the terrorism in the delta and in the Northern part of Nigeria especially must be done in the shortest time possible without doling out N63bn, or more. Rather it is the Nigerian military that must get all that is needed and required to accomplish the tasks of winning internal wars and fending off external aggressions.

Citizen re-orientation programs which will include patriotism, dignity of labour, promotion of merits, top-level discipline, honesty, trust, commitment to job, family, community and nation/country are among the virtues that will be needed in the various regions that will be reinstated or reconstructed after the National Conference.

aderounmu@gmail.com

Images from SVT Sweden