Category Archives: News

Updates are news. features, analyses and viewpoints about the the Coal City or for attention of City residents and visitors. Served with depth and interpretation.

Stop Wasting Time, Gov. Ugwuanyi

Your Excellency


I came across two news stories from
Enugu that prompted this letter. I consider writing to you a matter of urgency
based on the import of both stories – if they are true.

In
the one
, you were said to be finding it difficult to choose your cabinet because there were too many vested interests that you had to satisfy and there aren’t
enough jobs for the boys, especially now that the federal option has allegedly
been closed with the change of government in Abuja.
In
the other
, your immediate predecessor implied that a way out could be to take
the state to the APC (by defecting) so that Enugu’s mouth will not be removed from
the federal breast milk.


As a citizen of Enugu, I tried very
hard to hide my disappointment at the turn of events. Where is the Igbo can-do spirit
which pulls creative solutions out of the hat to meet with difficult challenges?
I have six things to say on these ugly developments coming out of our dear state.
First, you are in charge now. I
hope someone hammers this fact into your head early enough. If what we read is
true, then it is certain that you will eventually fall out with some of the
godfathers, no matter the charm you exude or the quantity of your trade-mark
smile that you deploy in your relationship with them. You might as well do it
now – diplomatically of course – so that you’ll be able to get the committed technocrats
that will help you discharge your electoral mandate, rather than select from
the jobbers’ list that is sure to be handed over to you.
Second, in deciding on the
direction of governance to follow, there are only three options. You could turn
into yourself and proceed to amass as much cash as you can, not caring for
anybody but yourself and your immediate constituency. It has been done before. You
could also, out of gratitude, suck up to the drain pipes (the political
godfathers and tin gods) by integrating them fully into a four-year bazaar. None
of your predecessors had fully implemented this option. You can turn your back
on aggrandizement and political patronage and get serious, competent and
committed folks who will help you squarely leave a firm and lasting footprint
in the sands of Enugu history. Whichever option you decide to choose, the
result will be released in 2019 when we shall watch as you either forcibly, violently wrestle a
second term ticket, or smile home with the ticket that no one else will be
seriously contesting with you based on performance.
Third, it does not matter which
party you belong to, for Enugu to continue to enjoy what those with limited
vision think the state has lost by voting PDP. President Buhari and the
international community will do business with you (no question about it) if you
keep a cool head and concentrate on governance rather than politics in the next
three years. If you want examples to support this statement, look to your neighbor
Anambra and note how she has managed to walk a fine line between governance and
federal politics – without belonging to the then ruling party. The darkest
period in Anambra history was when the state was coupled to Aso Rock through
godfathers. Have you noticed how the current Governor wasted little time in renewing
the links between Awka and Abuja?
Fourth, whatever you choose to do,
remember that you are no longer a politician. The people’s vote has catapulted
you to the top as father of Enugu citizens at home, in the Diaspora, in APC,
PDP as well as the apolitical. If you want to take Enugu out of PDP, why not
consider taking her to APGA instead, where you will thereafter be perceived as
neutral and will have all the opportunities to do business with everybody
without being seen as an enemy? There is such a thing as integrity, and you will lose this rare virtue if you were to be
seen to have abandoned the party that not only made you but helped the state
through your predecessor – for a mess of pottage that will allegedly be served
by a different party in Abuja? Who told those with the doomsday predictions
that what belongs to Enugu State (in terms of federal appointments and allocations)
will now be lost, with an active Governor at the Lion Building?
Fifth, there is money to be made
from Enugu itself, and a huge potential to tap the resources of the state for
much more. Look inwards. Be creative. Look ahead. In two years, your IGR harvest
can account for 40 percent of the state budget. If you don’t know what to do to
reach this milestone, ask for help. Enugu is blessed with first-class human
resource that will help you develop and implement ideas to turn the state
around economically. Unfortunately, majority are apolitical; they especially detest
“local” politics and will not bother you with what they know – unless you ask them
for help. Seek them out and ask for help.
Sixth, people testify to your
good nature. Your Excellency, I fear that this will be your undoing because you
may not be willing to summon the political will to break through the political barricade
that jobbers and kinsmen are sure to erect around you. As it is, you must break
through this cordon in order to free your spirit to soar high and meet the
history that has already beckoned.
I wish you good luck as you set sail. And please stop wasting time.
Your sincerely,

Ogbuagu Anikwe

Between Malam Garba Shehu and Ogbeni Femi Adesina



It’s a poor mix. If President Buhari wanted both men that badly, why couldn’t one of them become the Minister of Information?

Today’s announcement of the appointment of spokespersons for President Muhammadu Buhari once again brings
to mind something that always bother me about political appointments in
Nigeria. I’ve always marveled at how very often sentiments (who you like the
more) and patronage (who introduced you to the boss) come to play a big part in
appointments to very critical positions.

I simply can’t understand the benchmarks applied to
come to the judgment that Femi Adesina should be the boss of Garba Shehu.

Don’t get me wrong; I think both are thoroughbred
professionals and I congratulate them, especially Femi who has obviously worked
hard for the position by using his column in The Sun to give President
Buhari a solid backing during the campaigns.

And, for the record, I have steered away from Garba
since 2007 when I headed the editorial group at the Atiku Media Office, because
he treated me in a manner that I will never forget in my life – which came as a
shock to me because I know that he is a first-class PR man with the critical
media community that he related with on behalf of Atiku Abubakar.

This nothwithstanding, I
think that by any yardstick – age, experience in the profession, knowledge of
political communications, and respect among the critical media constituency –
Garba is by far the better candidate, so why make him an assistant and Femi an
Adviser (of cabinet rank)?

For those who do not
know, here’s how Garba compares with Femi in our profession:


  • Garba
    and Femi are both graduates of mass communications, Garba from the premier
    Jackson School (UNN) and Femi from the highly regarded Unilag Mass Comm
    Department; They both qualify on that basis

  • Garba
    began his journalism career 33 years ago; Femi is reportedly 28 years on
    the beat.

  • Garba
    edited a daily newspaper over a decade before Femi got his first
    appointment as one.

  • Garba
    managed the PR department of a very big corporate organization (Alscon);
    Femi has no such experience.

  • Garba
    managed media campaigns in at least three different national elections;
    Femi has no such experience;

  • Garba
    managed a political personality (Atiku Abubakar), running a first class
    media office that has become a model in Africa; Femi has no such
    experience.

  • Garba
    managed a newspaper organisation, decades before Femi got his most recent
    job as MD of Sun;

  • Garba
    knows every political reporter (radio, TV, newspaper, online media) worth
    knowing in Nigeria – by name; at this moment, Femi cannot claim the same.

  • Garba
    was elected President of the Nigerian Guild of Editors more than a decade
    before Femi got to the position.

I just can’t fathom the
reason for this pecking order. If President Buhari wanted the two men that
badly, why couldn’t one of them become the Minister of Information?
Will that
position now go to the parrot Lai Mohammed, a lawyer and first-class
propagandist but a very poor strategic communicator? What will it say about the
President if Mohammed becomes the government spokesman while the two persons
who qualify for the job are busy jostling for better positioning at the door of the
Aso Rock inner chambers?

 

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Presidential Polls Register Low Voter Turnout

Culled from Abuja Echo

A full 53 percent of voters – more than half of the registered electors in Nigeria – did not vote during the 28 March 2015 Presidential elections.

In addition, 2.3 million voters who came for accreditation in the morning of the election failed to return later in the day to cast the actual ballot.

Final figures of the Presidential Elections as released by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) show that only 47 percent of registered Nigerian voters bothered to show up to elect a president for Africa’s most populous nation.

The poor voter turnout was very visible in four of Nigeria’s six geopolitical zones where less than 50% of voters showed up.

The exceptions were the South South and North West zones where, incidentally, the two major candidates come from. The South South region recorded 56% voter turnout, followed closely by the North West at 54 percent turnout.

In contrast, the poorest voter turnouts were recorded in the South East where 60 percent of registered voters did not go to the polling booths, and the South West where 59 percent also stayed away.

Among the two high scoring zones, states with the heaviest turnouts include Rivers (71% voter turnout), Delta (66%), Akwa Ibom (65%), Jigawa and Bayelsa (64% each), Sokoto and Zamfara (59% each), Katsina (56%), and Kaduna (52%).

Only three other states outside the two catchment zones recorded voter turnout of 50 percent and above. These are Plateau (NC, 54%) and Bauchi (NE, 53%) and Osun (SW, 50%).

The results challenge many of the assumptions being made that voting was depressed in the South and promoted freely in the Northern parts of the country.

They also debunk many of the narratives on voting behavior of specific groups and zones in the elections, as Abuja Echo has shown in an earlier report on the polls.

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APC and PDP on Corruption

The PDP platform, not the APC’s, appears to present a more realistic strategy to fight corruption.


As strange as it might at first seem, if we listen closely to the narrative of the APC and PDP on corruption, there is reason to believe that the PDP presents a better platform for fighting the monster in Nigeria.


On the campaign trail, the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) framed the major issues in the 2015 general election as overcoming “corruption” and “insecurity” in Nigeria. Although the issues are not as clearly defined in the ruling party, we can infer from its recent activities that the Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) is running on the platform of its achievements as the ruling party, while also endorsing “voting rights” and the “restoration of security in the North East.” By recognizing and confronting insecurity in the North East, it seems the ruling party hopes to put to rest the “insecurity” issue promoted by the opposition. At the same time, its candidate has launched a robust and contrary narrative on the issue of corruption and how it can be reduced, if not eliminated in Nigeria.
 
So far, the PDP has fought and won a major battle for voting rights by having the elections postponed so that almost half of the voting population would have the opportunity to collect their permanent voter cards (PVCs). The postponement also gives the ruling party an opportunity to restore some normalcy in the North East which has hitherto been ravaged by terrorists. Successfully prosecuting this military campaign will definitely remove terrorist-induced insecurity as an election issue, and leave the APC with only a leg – corruption – to stand on. Terrorism is the biggest security threat that Nigerian faces. However, it is a big issue in one key part of the country but certainly not in a majority of political zones in Nigeria. Except for non-indigenes who fled to areas without terrorist pressures, voters in the North-Central, South-West, South-South and South-East areas of the country do not feel the heat as much as those living in the North-East and North-West. In the areas without terrorist threats, the APC is left with corruption as a sellable campaign issue.
 
There are three problems I find in most discussions on the subject of corruption: public perception of corrupt persons; conditions of service for the Nigerian worker; and media framing of the issue. Nigerian war against corruption is compromised by policies and laws that at the lower level dehumanize and make it impossible for workers to earn living wages (and therefore prone to accept inducements) and, at the higher level, allow legal and administrative loopholes through which privileged indicted persons escape justice. Many commentators have noted that the corruption tendency is perceived as wrong by most individual Nigerians – as long as their friends, family, groups, or members of their tribe are not the accused. Reporters, editors and media analysts frequently lapse into media logic in writing about corruption, celebrating accused persons rather than educating the people to appreciate that there is a direct linkage between the tendency and their standard of living and also by not focusing on the main issue through investigations of the root causes of corruption from which they can then champion the institution of preventive measures to eliminate it from wherever it manifests in the system. In their different narratives, the parties are remarkably approaching from quite different angles: to prevent corruption by attacking its root causes (PDP); and by confronting, naming, shaming and prosecuting those who have been indicted (APC).
 
The APC manifesto promises that the party, if elected, shall seek to strengthen anti-corruption agencies, sensitize the public against corruption, encourage whistle-blowers to report corruption acts, and establish special courts to try corruption cases. President Goodluck Jonathan looks down on this approach to fighting corruption. In his most recent interview, aimed at challenging the APC narrative which appears to be resonating with voters, Jonathan says that the APC recommendations are curative rather than preventive and will therefore not work. To explain his preventive approach, he gave the examples of what has happened with fertiliser procurement for farmers, as well as federal civil servants who did not receive their December 2014 salaries because their managers embarked on the usual end-of-year spending spree, not knowing that technology has been deployed to shut down the system whenever they attempted to do this. To this, we can add the privatization of old NEPA/PHCN which has completely removed middlemen whose jobs were to procure and sell contracts that ended up not being executed – while the country wallowed in darkness.
 
If we listen closely to what the two parties are saying on the subject, there is reason to believe that the PDP presents a better platform for fighting corruption in Nigeria.

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Jonathan, Mbaka and the e-Hounds


I have two issues with Rev. Fr. Camillus Ejikeme Mbaka’s approach to
social and political matters, and I will state them right away.

One
is his tendency to declare with finality what will happen to the world
or to people of the world that have gone astray. We Christians live in
New Testament times which teach about the elastic patience of God and
the opportunity it provides for sinners to do a turnaround and make
heaven – even at the very last minute. Prophetic anointing is also a
task that assists the Almighty to accomplish this goal for the human person. In addition, the New
Testament prefigures the Old in many ways; there are far too many
instances of where the Almighty changed His mind about punishing
individuals, groups and nations that tested his will with serial acts of
wickedness against humanity.

The other is that the reverend
gentleman appears too quick to take decisive, sometimes emotional stands
against politicians, doing it in such a way that he placed
himself as a one-man opposition party to elected public officials. Being
emotional means that he sometimes ended up putting his spiritual
anointing to God’s test. The outcome may not always be edifying.

In
spite of these two misgivings that I habour on his approach to
socio-political matters, I still have reasons to thank God for the man.
Climbing from the deep valley of poverty to the zenith of priesthood, he
has managed to amass spiritual and material influence in the faith,
which he deploys as support for the youths, the poor, the
orphans, the widows, and the disadvantaged in general. His approach to
evangelism is therefore a fine example of what the bible describes as
“faith with good works.”

I will give two examples of what Fr.
Mbaka does, in the areas of education and youth empowerment. Rather than
build private secondary schools or universities (as is the fashion
nowadays) and use them to further milk the faithful, Fr. Mbaka provides
thousands of poor students with scholarships instead. Rather than
continue to bemoan the inability of government to provide employment to
teeming school graduates, he went on to establish industries not only to
provide employment but also, and more importantly, to reinvest the
profit where it mattered the most – giving seed capital in the form of
grants to youths and widows with bright ideas to launch into business.

Beyond
the miracles that are said to happen in his weekly adoration events (I
never attended any and so cannot personally vouch for them), these are
the real reasons why the man is held in awe and has amassed a large
fellowship of Christian converts that I daresay any politician hunting
for votes should be interested in.

Politics is a different kettle
of fish, however, and I am the least surprised that Rev. Fr. Mbaka is in
hot water as a result of his readiness to jump into political
skirmishes as the spirit moves him. As weapons and arsenal are being
amassed to fight to win the February 2015 elections, Rev. Fr Mbaka will,
for the first time, meet face-to-face with national propaganda far
beyond the level of anything he experienced during his local run-in with
ex-Gov. Chimaroke Nnamani – if the Candidate does not reign in the
e-hounds.

The good reverend’s misstep has so far created two kinds
of what I classify as vengeance seekers and e-hounds. The first appear
to be those who apparently have been waiting in the wings for an
opportunity to viciously lash out, in retaliation for earlier positions
Mbaka took on political, ecclesiastical or social issues. The second are
the army of political e-recruits working for the two dominant political
parties (APC/PDP) whose sole task appears to be to viciously attack
influential persons who take public positions that they perceive as not
in the electoral best interest of their paymasters.

One of the
ways that the second group operates is to twist words and provide false
interpretations that question the integrity and good faith of those who
dare to take the road to dissent. I was going to suggest that this was a
preserve of the APC until Fr. Mbaka appeared on the scene with his
Jonathan bashing. For instance, Mbaka had explained that he had to go
public with the not-so-salutary message about our Commander-in-chief
because the President’s wife did not give him the opportunity to deliver
the message to her privately. He did not say that he decided to rubbish
them for not taking his calls. But this has not deterred some social
media commentators from concluding that he gave his public message to
vent his anger and frustration at the first lady and her husband for
daring to shun him. In giving this interpretation, they conveniently
forgot that it was the first lady who needed (and probably still needs) the priest and had to travel all the way to Enugu to meet with him for support and blessings.

It
is instructive that all of the concerned principal actors – the
President, the first lady, Sen. Ike Ekweremadu (who led the first lady
on her spiritual mission to Enugu), the PDP and the Jonathan Campaign
Organization – have kept a studied silence on the matter. Yet, it does
appear that there are vicarious interests egging on the e-hounds to
continue to create a deep rupture between the President and a rump of
the Christian faithful who believes in Fr. Mbaka. Question is: do these
strategists think that President Jonathan, in the long run, will win the
votes of those who have otherwise been sympathetic, by surreptitiously
using e-monsters to seek to destroy the integrity of a hardworking and
well-meaning priest?

Here is a free advice: the best way to
destroy Fr. Mbaka – if that is indeed the strategy – is to seek out and
find every one of the thousands that he has helped or is helping through
school, the hundreds that he assisted to get jobs in his company, get jobs in other companies, or those he granted seed capital to start a business,
the hundreds of thousands of youths in the various communities where he
performed spiritual cleansing, and every one of those who have
benefited from his material benevolence – and persuade them to allow
government displace Mbaka in order to provide for them those material
and spiritual services, now or after the elections. 

It is also possible
that there are those who may want to believe that social media nattering
can accomplish this feat in the 36 days left before 14 February 2015. Why not?

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A certificate “expo” for the APC

Where is General Muhammadu Buhari’s school leaving certificates?

Vanguard led the search
on Friday 2 January 2014 with the claim by the Army that the military
is not with Buhari’s original certificates, contrary to what he may have
alleged in an affidavit submitted to the Independent National Electoral
Commission (INEC). Two days later, The Punch attempted to repair the damage
with its own report that said that indeed, the certificates are with
the army. So which of the newspapers is right? Are the certificates with
or not with the Army?

The story is that Gen. Buhari presented an affidavit to INEC wherein
he submitted that his “academic qualifications, documents as filled in
my presidential form, President APC/001/2015, are currently with the
Secretary, Military Board…”

The Punch, in the finest tradition of journalism, quoted a source
(Brig. Gen. Olajide Laleye, the army spokesman) that appears to have
thrown a lifeline to Buhari. What Laleye said can be summarized in two
statements: (a) the army does not deny officers access to their
certificates – if they follow due procedure to ask for them; and the
procedure to follow is well known to officers, serving or retired; (b)
“every serving and retired Army officer has at least a copy
of his (or her) certificates and credentials kept in the Nigerian army
while the officer has copies of those same certificates and
credentials.” Vanguard, quoting an unnamed military source, said that
(c) the Army does not keep original copies of officers’ certificates
(because it is the personal property of the owners) but keeps
photocopies of credentials submitted by recruits in their personal file;
(d) original certificates are requested for and sighted only at the
point of entry into the service, to verify the claims contained in the
copies that the candidates had hitherto submitted.

The following facts and deductions can be made from the submissions so far:

  • General Buhari has not presented academic documents to INEC –
    original or copy – but swears that he has the requisite qualifications
    to run for President.
  • Since Buhari joined the army from the officer rank, it is correct to
    assume that he has certificates which are (or should be) on file with
    the Army.
  • Buhari does not claim in his affidavit that what the Army has are either original or copies of his credentials.
  • The Army has not disclosed whether it has or does not have Buhari’s certificates – original or copy.
    What the army says is that the office of the Military Secretary keeps
    copies of officers’ certificates and that officers – serving or retired –
    know how to get them. The import of what the Army says is that Gen.
    Buhari has not, now or in the past, come forward to ask for copies of
    his certificates. Again, Buhari’s personal file contains copies, not
    original certificates.

It can be argued that General Buhari does not possess a secondary
school certificate, or that he has lost his certificates, or he does not
want the certificate to be exposed to the general public. The late explanation by Lai Mohammed
lends credence to the second option; it is also the first time that a
credible explanation is being offered, long after the certificate
commotion started.

VERDICT: A STORM IN A TEACUP

It is a puzzle that for 12 years, General Buhari has never attempted
to access copies of these documents from the Army if he knew for a fact
that they exist in military files. Before now, APC has regrettably stuck
to logic and technicalities to explain away this baffling disposition.

The logic was that if Buhari contested Presidential Elections thrice,
there was no way he would not have presented certificates if the
presentation of a certificate to INEC is required to qualify for
candidacy.

One technical explanation offered was that since the
Constitution stipulates education “up to school certificate level” and
it is a fact that Buhari went to school, he is qualified to run whether
he presents a school examination certificate or not.

APC is so focused on attack that it has left its rear flanks wide
open, and is suffering a media backlash as a consequence. This is why,
despite the massive media arsenal at its disposal, it is being worsted
in the press by the PDP. The party also does not appear to have
strategic communications persons working full time – those who would
think critically after meeting with unplanned situations. For instance,
rather than engage in legality and sophistry, let me offer a certificate
“expo” for the APC on what the party could have said to the press
instead:

We see the current controversy generated by our opponents on the
affidavit submitted by our candidate to the Independent National
Electoral Commission (INEC) as a mere storm in a teacup and a strategy
to divert attention from the failings of the President.”

“For the avoidance of doubt, the 1999 Constitution
stipulates that anyone who wants to contest the office of the President
must be ‘educated up to school certificate level.’ The Constitution does
not stipulate whether this school certificate is at the primary,
secondary, or indeed the tertiary level.

“The general impression is that this provision applies to any of
two secondary school certificates – the West African School Certificate
(WASC) or the General Certificate of Education (GCE). Our legal experts
are however of the view that the evidence required is not WASC or GCE
but a School Testimonial that clearly shows that a
candidate began and finished secondary school education and also wrote
an external examination. Our candidate has indeed presented this
evidence.

“Both the West Africa School Certificate Examinations (WASCE) and
the General Certificate of Education Examination (GCE) frequently
feature students who are self-taught. If “education” is understood as
the process of imparting and acquiring knowledge through a school or
similar institution, then self-taught candidates who frequently write
these examinations may not qualify to contest, going by the provisions
of our Constitution.

“Our party will work assiduously to get this section of the
constitution straightened out as soon as we are voted into office in
February 2015.”

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Alternative Voices of Reason

I find something in common with what Yinka Odumakin and Tunde Bakare are saying about the February elections. They sound like voices of reason. 

I listened to separate interviews by two notable south west
politicians – Yinka Odumakin (the activist) and Tunde Bakare (the pastor.) Both
are being “accused” of discretely or openly supporting Candidate Jonathan in the
2015 presidential elections. The interviews provided them a platform to respond and to defend their positions. I found something in common with the position of both men.

Odumakin, Buhari’s spokesman in the 2011 elections, says he is
not the spokesman for Jonathan for the 2015 elections, but that he has been presented
with an option that makes it difficult for him to choose Buhari for support.
According to him, Buhari belongs to the APC, a party that does not have the
restructuring of Nigeria in its manifesto or as a matter of urgent national concern. Odumakin is interested in the
implementation of the National Conference Report. Since Buhari’s APC did not believe in
the conference, did not make recommendations for and was not represented at the
meeting, and since the party has so far said nothing along the lines he needs
to hear about how this country might get it right before the February election,
he is forced to think that electing Jonathan gives him a better chance to hold the
President responsible for implementing the report – as he promises to do.
Therefore, to Odumakin, what will determine his vote is the readiness
of any of the candidates to commit to implementation of the Constitutional
Conference Report. Then he added an important caveat – if tomorrow Buhari or his
APC begins to talk about what Odumakin considers important for Nigeria right at
this moment – how to restructure the polity to introduce equity, justice and
peace – he is most likely to “move to the centre (become neutral.)”
Tunde Bakare, Buhari’s running mate in his 2011 run, says he
still supports the candidate “100%.” However, this support does not stop him
from wondering what will become of Nigeria – after the election is won and lost
in February 2015. Will the North be at peace if Jonathan wins in 2015? Will the South
South be at rest if Buhari wins in 2015? Such questions, he said, transcend the
power struggles of the moment.
According to both, it makes sense for the political
elite to consider coming together and deciding, for instance, to postpone the February
2015 election in order to put the right structure in place, which would give
Nigeria a fighting chance for survival as a united country.
I would suggest that
these are alternative voices of reason, which deserve a proper hearing.
Unfortunately, we have entered propaganda mode. Therefore it
makes sense, in the madness of the moment, for politicians to
seek to recruit any and everyone who has ever had anything to do with any of the two candidates
and their camps, and to castigate any potential recruit that dares to
present a sober reflection of where we are today and where we are heading to tomorrow.
The bulldozer of ambition is rolling across our land, in
search of naked power. And it is crushing reason and common sense along the
path.
Happy New Year.

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“Merry” or “Happy Christmas?”

Christmas cardPresident Goodluck Jonathan just wished Nigerians
a “happy Christmas.” Is it merry or happy Christmas, Mr. President?

Like many others, I’m left wondering whether we should actually be
greeting “Merry Christmas,” or “Happy Christmas” at this time.

I wanted to upbraid the President for choosing to go against the
grain, but decided to do a simple online search first.

What I found
surprised me a bit.

I found out that the greeting has been caught up
with religious affiliation, colonialism, and morality all in one.
However, there is no doubt about it: the traditional Christmas
salutation, as we know it, began in the 14th century as “merry
Christmas.” This tradition continued for the next five centuries until
the current Queen of England (Queen Elizabeth II) changed it when she
began to wish her British and Commonwealth subjects a “happy Christmas.”

Although “happy Christmas” quickly gained currency, in the United
States, the people still stuck to the traditional greeting of “merry
Christmas,” as does most of the traditional Christian religions that
came before the reformation.

What was Queen Elizabeth’s reason for changing the greeting?

Simply
put, she did not want her people to embark on actions that bespeak
“merriness” at Christmas – boisterousness and social binges such as we
are wont to have in Nigeria. She preferred a more sober celebration, and
therefore avoided the word “merry” and chose a more sober “happy”
Christmas in her greetings. In some countries, such as Holland, some
churches avoided the two words altogether and went for “blessed
Christmas.”

Is the Queen and our President right in wishing their subjects a merry Christmas?

The answer may well lie in the significance of this festival –
Christmas is the celebration of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ into
the world, and a precursor to our second encounter when He comes again.
There is no doubt in my mind that you will find the correct greeting
when you consider this question: “If and when the Lord comes again,
would you run to meet him with a happy (sober) or a merry (boisterous)
mien?

I guess it will also depend on how one has lived ones life as well!

Merry Christmas, Mr. President!

POSTSCRIPT

Pope Francis, in his Urbi et Orbi (Christmas Message and Apostolic Blessing) 2014 began and ended with the words, “Happy Christmas.” It was a sombre message,
taking a sweep of the sad events and acts of wickedness that have
occurred in many parts of the world this year, 2014.

The Pope recognized
that “truly, there are so many tears this Christmas.” Is it the final
word on the controversy?

Time will tell – exactly 12 months from now.

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Beyond Buhari and Jonathan

It is no news that President Goodluck Jonathan and General Muhammadu
Buhari have been selected by their respective parties as the gladiators
for the President’s crown in 2015.

What should be a matter of concern are the indiscreet noises that we
are beginning to read and hear from the social media regarding the two
warriors.

I am concerned by the fact that the unrestrained praise singing and
objectionable putdowns that we have come to witness now will have the
intended effect of making citizens miss a golden opportunity to really
understand the two men in order to vote wisely.

For Buhari, we are beginning to hear and read that he is a religious
fundamentalist, has some connection with Boko Haram, displays open
disdain for non-northerners, is an inflexible iron ruler, and so forth.
None of these truly describes the man or his essence.

For President Jonathan, we have continued to read and hear that he is
a clueless leader, a soft man, is leading the most corrupt regime in
Nigeria, and does not care that thousands of his people are being
decimated by a gang of insurgents. None of these truly describes the man
or his essence.

What do I expect to hear, you may want to ask? Nigeria is in trouble –
economically, politically, and socially. I am eager to hear how our
leaders – in this case, Buhari and Jonathan – will approach the issue of
solutions to these problems.

In my view, the leader that we need at this time is the one who will
clearly – without ambiguities or obfuscation – tell us how he will deal
with the economic, social and political problems that assail us at the
moment. If any of them tells us that he will end Boko Haram, he should
be able to say how. If they say that their election will bring about a
reversal in the misfortunes of crude oil, they should be able to tell us
how Nigeria can become an island and solve what is currently
devastating all OPEC countries. If they say that they will cure
inflation, we should be able to understand how they want to do it
through an economic plan that will be as simple as late Chief Obafemi’s
Awolowo’s four-point agenda.

I shall be listening intently to the two men, and I will completely
ignore the noise that we will hear from the Lagos and Abuja press as
well as the paid advertising from TAN designed to drown out this noise.

We should think about this country Nigeria beyond the Buhari and
Jonathan propaganda. Then we shall no longer become a captive audience,
pulled by the wind of propaganda and the political gerrymandering that
will be passed off as campaigning, as our country gets set for its
February 2015 date with destiny

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On Linda Ikeji’s N24m Toy

I couldn’t help paying attention to a trending conversation on premier
blogger Linda Ikeji’s latest toy – a N24m Range Rover Sport – which she promoted on her blog. 

I want to join in.


I’ve visited the Linda Ikeji blog twice before. The first was to study the strategy she uses to attract heavy
traffic that qualifies her to be paid by Google. The second was to read what
she put up about a funny radio episode where one of my colleagues stalked and “punked” her. Linda decided to be a good sport – I was told she put up the audio on her site and I went there once again to verify that Linda indeed is a good sport. She is. However, beyond
those two

occasions, you will not find me going to Linda’s blog because the news it serves is not my cup of tea. This, however, does not mean that I don’t applaud the creativity that she has deployed
in her own unique way to claw her way to the top of Nigeria’s blogosphere. I do. She is an incredible lady; it takes creativity, guts, and a certain level of
diligence and discipline to get to the top in any profession or calling – and she did it.


Having said this, I am one of those who disagree that she should put up a picture of herself with the car and tell her readers that she bought it to “spoil” herself on her birthday. And I speak as a professional communications person. Putting up a picture of her latest N24m car on her blog and crooning
that she wants to use it to “spoil” herself on her birthday may be a good marketing
strategy but it is also unfortunately in bad taste. Linda Ikeji has become a
celebrity in her own right. We know that celebrities splurge on themselves
every now and then. But they publicize their predilections with style; they don’t directly boast
about them. Rather, they allow others (the press or paparazzi) to “discover” and publicize their indulgences. The fact that you own a medium does not mean that you should use it to, as it were, boast of your acquisitions. If she has a good publicist (and she should have one),
this toy could have been “discovered” by another gossip column or paparazzi, and the story
generated in that other medium can then be reproduced on her blog.

There are two points to note – Linda Ikeji’s blog is about, and feeds on, celebrity gossip. Using it to advertise herself (her “arrival” as many would read it) is rather off-key – it makes her look like a wannabe. Second, she should note that when
celebrities directly promote their foibles in this way, they do attract some admiration no doubt, but they also activate envy or hate in the public sphere.

This is exactly what has happened to her. It is unfortunate because s
he doesn’t deserve the envy and hate; in my view, she has worked hard for the money she is spending on herself in a way she thinks is good for her.


On a different take, there must be a reason why she
continues to think and act small, despite her evident financial success. For instance, a fraction
of the money she spent on her latest toy could have given her a website of her
own, and she would immediately quadruple her earnings – just by cutting off the
greater share of the income that currently goes to Google. 



It looks to me like Linda Ikeji is in need of professional advice on three fronts – publicity, internet strategy, and financial management.

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