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