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.

The Coming Acid Rain

LAST week, my wife and I received text messages warning us of the possibility of acid rain in Abuja, Nigeria. The message was said to have originated from NASA in the United States, thus lending it the required weight and authority.

My wife was afraid but I dismissed the message instantly. With the authority of my high school geography, I claimed that acid rain happens only in the Amazon jungles of South America! An official of the Meteorological Department lent weight to my claim, when he said on NTA that there is no cause for alarm. Then, all of a sudden, Abuja FCT became enveloped in a thick harmattan fog in March 2010, when the country was expecting the rainy season, and another Met officer alluded in The Guardian that the possibility of acid rain should not be ruled out.

Acid rain is a possibility in Nigeria, and the sign is here, in the thick smog that poses a challenge to air travel and to health. When I was told that a major cause of acid rain is burning of fossil fuels, which contributes to global warming, as well as air, water and land pollution, I did a double take.

Nigeria is a major burner of fossil fuel. The country flares an estimated 75 percent of its proven natural gas reserves (estimated at 124 trillion cubic feet) due to inadequate gas utilization infrastructure.

We face three dangers.

When we burn fossil fuels, we release large amounts of carbon into the air. The carbon contributes to the greenhouse effect, which causes the heat of the sun to be trapped in the atmosphere, leading to a sharp rise in global temperatures. This rise in temperature melts polar ice caps, thereby producing more water which causes ocean levels to rise. The rise in ocean levels threatens cities and settlements located close to sea levels. Proof? Lagos experiences intermittent sea surges that eat away its Atlantic shores and, since 1980, we have lived with the fear that Victoria Island will one day disappear under the sea.

A rise in global temperatures and the consequent melting of polar ice caps drastically reduces the level of salt in the ocean. This reduction in salinity of the ocean poses a danger to certain kinds of aquatic life, especially those that require average sea salt to thrive. Thus, it is possible that the devastation of aquatic life in the Niger Delta may not only have arisen from oil spills but also from the burning of fossil fuels by oil companies.

Burning fossil fuels releases sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides into the atmosphere. These gases react with water and other chemicals in the air to form sulfuric acid, nitric acid, and other pollutants, which travel with the wind for hundreds of miles and eventually return to the earth as acid rain, snow, or fog. As of this month of March 2010, we have experienced unusual fog tending towards smog in the atmosphere, and smog in the atmosphere is a sign that “acid rain” may be on its way. And, by the way, I was wrong on my recollection of my high school geography. Acid rain is indeed a current feature of US and Canadian cities, Europe cities, as well as Japan, China and countries in South East Asia. Scientists say that in combination with other chemicals which result in urban smog, acid rain attacks the lungs, causing illness and premature deaths.

These dangers should be a source of worry, especially for those of us living outside of the Niger Delta who do not fully appreciate what burning of fossil fuel and poor management of drilling operations do to the environment and to the future health of our population.

The world has been crying out over global warming arising from carbon emissions, and we were made to believe that this was a distant problem of those manufacturing refrigerators and air-conditioners, even as oil companies burnt fossil fuels and released carbons in our backyard. The Kyoto Protocol, which requires Western countries to cut their greenhouse emissions by five percent between 2008 and 2010, will eventually catch us unawares. It has led to a strenuous search for safe and cleaner energy sources which, when fully implemented, will lead to drastic fall in oil demand, the lifeblood of our economy. Nigeria and most major OPEC production countries were not required to sign this Protocol, meaning that we were not gingered up to look for ways of diversifying our income sources. Thus, our economy will be devastated when the West finds alternative energy sources.

The world makes strenuous efforts to ensure that crude oil gases are not wasted into the atmosphere, and our leaders find it convenient to connive with the oil companies which waste the scarce resource and pollute our environment. The Niger Delta struggle, a worthy effort to safeguard the environment and protect our economic future, was hijacked by political and criminal forces and turned into a charade that celebrated extortions, kidnappings, and political vendetta.

This is why we must entertain hope at the coming of Goodluck Jonathan as head of government. As a Niger Deltan, will he be the leader that moves us towards energy reforms, stops the burning of fossil fuel in his ancestral home, and joins international efforts to look for safer and cheaper energy alternatives?

Or will he concern himself ONLY with how to use the proceeds of the current production methods to ameliorate the sufferings of the Niger Delta, while the country faces the possibility of an acid rain, the continued destruction of aquatic life in his backyard, the possibility of disappearance of our shoreline cities, health challenges of pollution and urban smog, and future economic collapse when oil income no longer fetches billions of dollars that currently propel our politicians to selfish power struggles?

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Macebuh was not a Nigerian

THE recent passage of Dr. Stanley N. Macebuh closes a chapter in Nigeria’s golden age of journalism, inspired by two New York imports. Macebuh was one, Dele Giwa the other.

Macebuh and Giwa were both hired from New York to work in Daily Times.

In his tribute to Giwa, who was assassinated in 1986, Macebuh revealed how Dr. Patrick Dele Cole employed him, how he was subsequently sent to New York to recruit Giwa, and the difficulties he had convincing Giwa to return and take up the job.

Macebuh and Giwa were soul mates.

Macebuh was the intellectual. He loved life, was kind to people, and stood behind journalists whenever their works ruffled the feathers of the powerful and mighty. Giwa, was the professional, with his prior experience in the New York Times. He also loved life, action, and the pursuit of journalism excellence. Their newsroom panache inspired a new generation of media freedom fighters when they created two of the best known and most powerful media institutions in Nigerian – The Guardian and Newswatch.

Those who learned at the foot of these masters have since fanned out and planted their editorial footprints in the sands: Almost 80 percent of the great media institutions that came after Guardian and Newswatch were either founded or editorially directed by their protégés.

Through their tutelage and the force of their ideas, the Nigerian media came to the battle, armed with lucid and powerful editorial arguments and investigative reports that exposed inept and corrupt leadership, as they fought to wrest Nigeria from the iron grip of military rule.

Their efforts stung the military which lashed out viciously, beginning with the jailing of Messrs Nduka Irabor and Tunde Thompson when Macebuh was at the helm in The Guardian, the assassination of Dele Giwa himself, the CEO of Newswatch, and following with a spate of detentions, closures, jail terms, and other physical abuses of journalists and their media.

Macebuh was in this warfront. It was barely a year after he assembled his Guardian team that the military began its onslaught on the newspaper. Dele Giwa was a warrior, and eventually paid with his life for his editorial daring.

The panache and fact-based methods that were used to press the case for democracy won them many admirers. Both Macebuh and Giwa were to end up earning the admiration and friendship of military top brass, although they never allowed such friendships to intrude on the editorial independence of the newspaper and magazine that they managed.

Macebuh counted among his friends the late Gen. Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida and Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo. All three offered to assist him stand on his feet when he left The Guardian. Through late Gen. Yar’Adua, he briefly relocated to Kaduna to found a weekly magazine, Sentinel; the venture lost steam through a combination of poor funding and internal management wrangles.

Through Gen. Babangida, he briefly tried his hands at sugar importation, but this business also did not fly due to what was described as deadly local competition. Through Gen. Obasanjo, he became a public servant, serving at the highest levels of government. This was after his innovative Rapid Response (Media) Team packaged the General, just released from prison, and successfully sold him to Nigerians as “the leader we can trust” in 1999. Unfortunately, his puritanical beliefs and spartan disposition at Aso Rock pitched him against the power mongers, and he recorded the distinction of being the only one that was appointed and sacked twice by his friend, ex-President Obasanjo.

It was after his second sack from the Aso Villa, that Dr. Macebuh became disillusioned and dropped out completely from the social circuits. Aided by an illness that took him to a major surgery at the National Hospital in Abuja, his life experienced a radical transformation.

Although he was my boss at The Guardian, I never met Dr. Macebuh face-to-face until I came to work in the State House Abuja in 2003. He was then Deputy Chief of Staff to the President and I was a consultant in Mr. Ad’Obe’s State House Public Communications Unit. I requested to see him when I learnt that he held a grudge against me for “refusing” to take up the editor position in the Post Express.

When I told him my side of the story, he was shocked and saddened. It became clear to him that his friend, who was asked to, did not reach out to me. As it turned out, this friend wanted someone else, and so went back after a few days to lie to Dr. Macebuh that I was not interested in the position.

I got to know and appreciate him a lot better after that, and I can say that Macebuh lived and died with two “weaknesses”.

He remained till the end the ethical professional, in a country where the worth of a man is sometimes measured by the millions that one is able to shave off from the company till, combined with what one begs, blackmails, or coerces from those stealing public funds.

He trusted everybody, most of all his friends. This gave some of them room to stab him in the back, or to snatch his ideas and appropriate them as their own. He did not get used to the “Nigerian way”, where those with less abilities tag along with the man of ideas, and, at the critical moment, snatch the ideas, proffer it to those that need them, and thereafter insist to the world that this was their “baby”.

In that sense, Dr. Stanley Macebuh was not a “Nigerian”, thank God. Men of goodwill in the profession must pray that the ideas that he and Dele Giwa introduced to Nigerian journalism will not die with them.

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The British Virgin

RICH and powerful Abuja businessmen are in love with the British Virgin.

There are 60 such “virgins” but the affluent in Abuja are attracted to only four of them. These four do not bear British-sounding names: Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke.

Of the original 60 virgins, 44 can still claim to be “virgins” in the real sense of the word – no man has touched them or lived in them up till this day. The remaining 16 are not virgins in any sense – they make their services freely available to local and international businessmen, including the well-heeled from Abuja, FCT.

We are introduced to the British Virgin each time a big international financial transaction takes place here in Abuja. At such events, including the BPE privatisation and the oil blocs licensing rounds, we invariably find one or two rich and powerful Nigerians submitting a résumé that shows, among other things, that they visited and made use of the services of Tortola, Virgin Goda, Anegada or Jost Van Dyke.

Oftentimes, this may turn out to be an omen. For example, one of the consortia that bid for the recent final(?) sale of ailing NITEL is Omen. Ordinarily, an omen can be a sign, a portent, a prophecy, a warning, a forecast, or a premonition. In this case, however, Omen International Limited (BVI) powered through when it was announced as reserve winner with a bid of $956.98 million, beaten to second place by New Generation with its generous $2.5 billion bid.

Tongues have been set wagging ever since, particularly on the antecedents of the winner, New Generation, and its subsequent denials and truth somersaults. But I was not concerned about New Generation. However, the company that interested me was Omen, not because of the name, but because of its appellation, BVI – which announced to the world that some rich and powerful Nigerians went to make use of the services offered by the “virgin”, before they came for the bid.

In case you are wandering, British Virgin is not a woman. If she is, she would have been the worst kind of whore alive. The British Virgin is rather a collection of 60 islands, annexed and colonised by Britain, which has thrown her arms open to responsible and shady world businessmen (and women) who want a haven to protect their wealth. The British Virgin Island is located in the Caribbean Sea, 90 miles east of Puerto Rico.

There are two things that make her very attractive to rich business people from around the world – she can help you salt away wealth for your children, and she can help you register and run a company that no one would ever find out who the real owners are, and you can run without paying any form of tax.
There are over 500,000 IBCs registered in the British Virgin Islands, the bulk of which come from drug-riddled Latin America, and from Hong Kong, another British entity that operated as if it was a no man’s land, before China took it over.

For the Abuja rich and powerful, avoiding taxes is not the only thing that makes the British Virgin Islands attractive – rich and powerful Nigerians have always avoided or evaded most taxes in Nigeria, before the coming of Ifueko Omoigui-Okauru to the Federal Inland Revenue Service. The BVI offers rich Nigerians an opportunity to establish trusts for their children, and ensure that they do not pay taxes on them. Above all, the identity of the persons establishing the trust is never revealed. Except for legislation designed to avoid money laundering and other criminal activity, the laws are crafted to conceal and protect the real owners.

The BVI law requires those who come to register to name at least one director and one shareholder (who may be of any nationality), there is no minimum capital requirement, one does not need to open bank accounts, and if one does, no one requires one to carry out an audit. The law does not require the filing of annual returns, and the owner(s) can hold directors’ meetings anywhere in the world, including by telephone. Only the company’s memo and articles of association is kept as a public record – and even then, their confidentiality is guaranteed!

In the beginning, the rich and powerful used the BVI Trust system to save money for their children, but today, they have found it convenient as a general asset protection strategy. There are neither requirements nor restrictions to the registration of trusts, information about trusts and trustees are not disclosed to the public, and those who register trusts are not required to file annual returns or engage in any other reporting requirements.

International business companies (IBCs) set up in the British Virgin Islands are both exempt from local taxes and stamp duties, after paying registration and annual license fees. Trusts, like IBCs, are also exempt from all forms of tax: capital gains, capital transfer, inheritance, sales tax, VAT, income tax or stamp duty.

The question that must be asked is: If Nigerians appear as fronts to consortia whose ownership and the nationality of the owners, are not disclosed, why is it difficult for our laws to frown at it? What type of due diligence could possibly be carried out on those organisations before they are prequalified for bidding?

By the Way: Tortola, Virgin Gorda, Anegada, and Jost Van Dyke are the most popular of the 16 islands that are inhabited in the British Virgin Islands.

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The Resolution that Became Law

Abuja is a city divided since penultimate Monday when the National Assembly made its famous resolution, urging Vice President Goodluck Jonathan to seize power, as acting president.

There is palpable excitement in many offices and ominous disquiet in many others.

You get into some offices and immediately feel the excitement in the air, a feeling of satisfaction and expectation about good things to come. People in those offices commend the National Assembly for installing an acting president through a resolution, expect government to roar back to life once again, and congratulate each other for escaping an untoward happenstance.

“The army would have taken over if the National Assembly did not act fast,” one top government official told me. How did he know? “I heard; it was all over the place,” he said.

You get into some other offices, and there is disquiet; the sort you could slice with a knife.

I went to see another top government official who has for some time now been accusing me of “abandoning” him. Abandon is a word frequently bandied about here, especially when the user wants to target and blackmail an important person. “You’ve abandoned me o,” you accuse, and stay back to watch the poor fellow squirm and deny it vigorously. As he is defending himself, you quickly chip in something that he will agree to do, in order to prove that he is still a good friend!

But abandon was far from my friend’s mind Friday last week, when I visited his office.

“I was about to perform my ablution and go to the Mosque,” he apologized, as he stood up, removed his babanriga, and brought his hands out in supplication. I quickly moved to the door, but not before asking when I could see him next week.

His hands in prayer mode, he apologized that next week is filled up in his calendar. “Perhaps, sometimes in March?” he asked.

I got the message. These are not the best of times for chit chat, in some Abuja offices.

The excitement building up in some offices in the Federal Capital over the temporary change of guards was somewhat overshadowed by the reported visit of an Otta General to the man of good luck. What could be the subject of their three-hour nocturnal chat?

“What is he coming to do here again?” I heard someone complain at a business centre in the Sky Memorial, Wuse Zone 5. “He will come and pollute this one again!”

By the time someone finishes making the rounds of government offices in Abuja, one goes away with the feeling that the last may not have been heard of this National Assembly Resolution that became law in Aso Rock.

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Power Mongers & the Rest of Us

I like the simple and the ideal, and I love keeping to a gentleman agreement. And so, at the risk of going against the current tide of public propaganda, I would like to toe a different line, to remind us of where we are coming from, and what we ought to have done at this hour of political need in Nigeria.

There are laws and conventions that could have been used to rescue Nigeria from her current crisis of governance. There are also persons and institutions that, in my view, failed woefully to take advantage of these laws and conventions, in order to save the nation from her needless political troubles. These persons are our President, members of the Federal Executive Council, members of the National Assembly, and members of the National Working Committee of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). It has become obvious that, rather than use either the law or the convention of the PDP to resolve the problem, these individual and corporate persons have been busy chasing shadows, and thereby plunged this country into an avoidable political crisis.

I am sure the average person likes tasks that are simple, uncomplicated, and easy to execute. Both Sections 144 and 145 of the 1999 Constitution that the National Assembly is rushing to amend are all of these. They could have been invoked to help us out of our current political problems without this amendment, if the National Assembly, as well as Dora Akunyili and her colleagues in the Federal Executive Council have mustered the political will.

Section 145 encourages the President to transmit a letter of notice to the National Assembly, if he is proceeding on an extended medical trip. Once the National Assembly receives this letter, Goodluck Jonathan automatically becomes “acting” president. He is thus empowered to carry out the executive functions of the absent President, but in an acting capacity.

The issue here is that this Section 145 does not force the President to transmit this letter under any circumstance – it is the President’s choice whether he wants to do so or not. And so, we can accuse the president of bad faith, we can accuse him of being insensitive to the demands of governance, we can heap a host of moral accusations on our president, but we cannot accuse the President of violating the constitution, should he fail to transmit this letter.

If he fails to transmit this letter and the country is burning, what options are there in the constitution, then, to deal with such a leader who has decided to take the symbol of his presidential authority to a hospital bed and asked the country to await his return before serious and pending executive decisions are taken?

It is only members of the Federal Executive Council of the Federation that can checkmate the President, if he is found to be incapable of executing his mandate, and does not want to let go. The FEC is empowered, under Section 144, to declare that a President is incapacitated, and to transmit such a declaration to the National Assembly. On getting this declaration, the Senate President is mandated to constitute a medical panel to prove or disprove what the declaration says. If the medical team corroborates the FEC declaration, the Vice President automatically moves up to become, not an acting, but a substantive President!

From the foregoing, those who have failed the country are (a) the President of the country and (b) members of the federal executive council. For the avoidance of doubt, there is nowhere in the two sections (144 & 145) where the 1999 constitution empowers the National Assembly to play a lead role in making, or unilaterally doing anything that would transit Goodluck Jonathan either to an acting or to a substantive president.

The National Assembly unilateral power to act resides elsewhere, in Section 143. This section empowers the National Assembly to impeach the President for act(s) which two-thirds of its members consider as “gross misconduct in the performance of the functions of his office.” Thus, if the Senate had wanted to make Jonathan a substantive president, the president’s action – leaving the nation in limbo for 90 days with no one at the helm – could very easily have qualified as “gross misconduct.”

The President is in error by not transmitting the letter; members of FEC dithered over what to do, and the National Assembly exceeded its bounds, and went outside its brief to invoke a strange, illegal, and unconstitutional resolution, which the FEC in another bizarre twist accepted, in order to make Goodluck Jonathan the “acting” president of Nigeria.

Having apportioned blames where they are due, I would still go ahead to show understanding with the actions and inactions of the President, the National Assembly, and the Federal Executive Council. They are unwilling actors who are being variously called upon to grapple with and resolve an inherited problem. That problem is the north-south leadership question, which the PDP constitution sought to resolve by its power rotation principle.

In my view, this power rotation principle, for the so-called North and the amorphous South, worked well in the legislative branch during the Obasanjo presidency. For instance, we witnessed the spectacle of senators from each of the five states in the South East (where the position of Senate President was zoned) successively having a taste of the Chair. It was instructive that once a senate president was felled by the proverbial “banana peels”, Deputy Senate President Ibrahim Mantu was never asked to step up and occupy the chair. The same zoning arrangement worked in the House, where the first speaker, Salisu Buhari, was disgraced, and Ghali Na’Abba took over from him as speaker, rather than Chibudom Nwuche who was then the deputy speaker. When Na’Abba failed to return to the House in 2003, the position still went to Aminu Masari from the same zone. For many of us, this was a strange arrangement, but it turned out to resolve the leadership struggle. I also recall that whenever any crisis of confidence over this arrangement erupted, the PDP faithful would quickly rally and stoutly defend their power rotation convention, fending off critics by insisting that it was a “family affair.”

This “family affair” strategy also worked in the executive branch, even though with hitches. In 1999, all three parties (AD, APP and PDP) fielded Yoruba politicians as their presidential candidates. Both AD and APP settled on a common (AD) candidate, Olu Falae. The entire country nodded in agreement to this unwritten agreement to benefit the South West – and the south in general. After the election, General Obasanjo, a Yoruba, was given the first shot at the Presidency in order to compensate this ethnic block for the Abiola Presidency that was denied by a band of power mongers.

It is also instructive that in 2007, the three major parties (AC, ANPP, and PDP) once again fielded only northerners as their flag bearers, thus indicating a tacit support of the PDP power rotation principle. This does not downplay the fact that there were hitches, mostly prompted by what many saw as OBJ’s lust for power. The first hitch was in 2003, when President Obasanjo was expected to yield the presidency to the North, but bulldozed his way to a second term of office. Not content with this, he (or his acolytes as he said) pushed for a third-term of office, and it took the heroic challenges of Vice President Atiku, the human rights community, the Nigerian press, and the National Assembly to nip this ambition in the bud.

Looking back at this period when this gentleman agreement on power rotation was respected (despite occasional executive power mongering), it would have been “normal”, ideal, and constitutional if the same “family affair” strategy was applied in the present case by the PDP, in any of the following ways:

• By prior arrangement, the Vice President resigns his office, the Federal Executive Council declares the president incapacitated, and whichever northerner eventually emerges as president re-appoints Goodluck Jonathan as Vice President to complete the tenure;

• The PDP-dominated National Assembly impeaches both President Yar’Adua and Vice President Goodluck Jonathan, thus paving the way for either the Senate President (a northerner) or the Chief Justice (another northerner) to mount the throne in order to organize a quick election at which a northerner would probably be elected to complete Yar’Adua’s tenure, with a south-south governor as running mate. This would have been a quick way to dispense with the trouble that was dumped on us by the departing OBJ.

Both strategies would not have violated the 1999 constitution, they would validate the PDP power sharing agreement under which the country has been governed in the last 10 years, and they would have saved us from this needless dangerous drama. It may not be the best arrangement, but it would have secured peace and harmony for us, until such a time that we would eventually outgrow our parochial tendencies in our perpetual struggle for selfish power in Nigeria.

I like the simple and the ideal, and I like people who keep their words and respect gentlemen agreements. But I am also mindful that we live in a nation with a few privileged, deceitful individuals who would cheat, given half a chance. And this, to me, is at the root of our current political problem.

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The Politics of Health

Senate plans impeachment. Senate asks Nigerians to pray. Senate orders Yar’Adua to do this. Senate…

I went to my bank the other day and met a lady teller complaining about “too much talk” over the President’s ill-health while “people who should know are not hitting the nail on the head.” I was intrigued by this remark. Who are the people that should know, and how do they go about hitting the nail on the head in this matter?

“The issue is quite simple,” she said. “The president is incapacitated, and someone needs to exercise power and get the country moving. Why can’t the National Assembly understand this simple fact and do something about it, instead of talking, talking, and talking?” she asked.

She was right about the talking, talking, talking bit. I started to say something and stopped because she was not interested. She merely hissed and went back to counting money. Perhaps she sensed that I was about to convert her banking hall into another National Assembly of talk.

What I wanted to say to the lady was that the politics of Mr. President’s health is propelled by fear, bordering on paranoia. A few weeks back, there was fear that the country was moving to a point where the unthinkable could happen – such as a military takeover. It was in the air of Abuja, thick, heavy, and pregnant. State governors were flitting in and out of the capital. Added to renewed rumblings in the Niger Delta, and yet another round of bloodletting in Jos, the country appeared primed for violent change. But the military, keeping its ears to the ground, picked up the rumour, and quickly went public to dismiss it.

It was at this point that the politicos came up with a tried and tested strategy to dash hot water on our fearful bodies, and get us jumping up and down in righteous indignation. Now everyone is talking, and skirting the issue that since 23 November 2009, our president took his symbol of office to a hospital bed, and asked the country to wait for him to get well before any further key executive actions and decisions are taken!

If you needed proof of how effective the diversionary national talkshop has become, take a gallery seat at the Senate Chamber where this current national jaw-jaw was launched. Discerning Abuja residents are looking on in amusement as the group of establishment and conservative Senators have suddenly found a “radical” voice, while the traditional hotbed of radicalism – the lower House – looks on askance.

The talkshop has become a calming balm to the fearful souls of government appointees in Abuja, although they are still assailed by two monsters – the kingibe factor and the good luck factor.

The first level fear of political appointees in the Federal Executive Council is the Kingibe factor – a real fear that if one does not show absolute loyalty in words and deeds, one may be shown the door when the big masquerade makes another magical return. As a result, Nigerians who wanted to bellyache over the President’s absence were quickly shushed, and asked to instead pray and sympathise with a sick man. Although Ministers and other appointees – including the elected Vice President – prefaced their public speeches with prayers for the President’s quick recovery, no one could stop the army of political cats from mousing. Public officials continued their prayers during the day while, at night, the politicos congregated to plot power succession scenarios.

The second fear is about Yar’Adua’s deputy, the man of good luck. With wild stories circulating about how the President’s health condition was deteriorating, the prospect of Goodluck Jonathan assuming power appeared very bright. To be sure, this fear that Goodluck Jonathan could succeed Yar’Adua, was fuelled by what began as a joke in bars and other watering holes of Abuja. All through his life, so the story went, Vice President Goodluck Jonathan always succeeded his bosses. Apparently, Abuja powerbrokers picked up the rumour and did not find it funny.

The fear of Jonathan succeeding his boss became palpable when the President failed to return after a month, leaving important affairs of state unattended to. Among these were the swearing in of the nation’s new chief justice (eventually done by his predecessor on 30 December, an unprecedented move), quick response to emergency situations, such as the Jos uprising (the army was eventually deployed by the VP, another worrisome precedent); swearing in of permanent secretaries (also done by Jonathan); high-level intervention when Nigeria was branded a terrorist state to watch by the United States, and the controversial signing into law of the 2009 Supplementary Appropriation Bill (whodunit?).

Since no one knew when to expect the President’s return, it slowly dawned on the powerbrokers that they could not sustain the equivocation and continue to dismiss suggestions that the VP exercises temporary power.

Why do the powerbrokers find it difficult to entrust the Vice President with temporary power? At the core of the current political jockeying are three things – the PDP power rotation principle as it benefits the North at this time, the fear of Vice President Jonathan as an ambitious man with a running streak of good luck, and a real worry that Mr. President may not return to Nigeria in one piece. The calculation appears to be that if Mr. Yar’Adua returns to Nigeria in a state in which he is unable to exercise his executive functions, this would leave a powerful and ambitious Jonathan to run wild and free for two years at the helm. Should this happen, so the argument goes, the north may not be guaranteed another slot at the Presidency after the Yar’Adua-Jonathan mandate expires in 2011, with an ambitious and powerful VP in the saddle.

There were suggestions that the wily General of Otta planned the whole thing from the beginning. It is instructive that General Obasanjo did not find this rumour funny, and he quickly went public to try to quench it, swearing that he did not know the true medical condition of his successor at the time he was hand-picked for the job. Also, and perhaps to curb Jonathan’s enthusiasm, the ruling party crafted a subtle letter to tell the VP that “power belongs to God” (read ‘take it easy’) while simultaneously praising him for being “loyal” to the President.

These manoeuvres have, unfortunately failed to stem persistent unease over the prospect of a southerner becoming president, should Mr. Yar’Adua abdicate.

The fact that we are currently debating whether Yar’Adua should temporarily entrust his deputy with executive powers has proved that the PDP constitution is more important than the Nigerian constitution. Although they publicly quote the 1999 constitution to back up their understanding of the word, handover, the party people privately rely on their understanding of the dictionary meaning, and the party constitution to support or oppose it.

In the context in which it is being applied by progressive acolytes of the President, handover means to temporarily “entrust” power to Jonathan, which will enable the country move forward with critical and pending executive decisions and actions. They say that it is in the President’s interest that the Vice President assumes temporary power, so that the country could move on with governance. The common dictionary supports this interpretation, which runs through all of Prof. Dora Akunyili’s logic on the issue when she faced her colleagues at the Federal Executive Council.

In the context in which it is applied by conservative acolytes of the President, handover could very well translate to “giving up”, “surrendering”, “relinquishing”, or “renouncing” power. The dictionary also supports this interpretation, which runs through the sentiments expressed by the likes of the founder of Arewa Consultative Forum, Alhaji Tanko Yakassai. “It is unheard of for any elected leader to hand over his mandate to any other person,” he said.

The job of the National Assembly appears to leave the constitution and instead ignite a debate over the true meaning of handover, stoke it as we shout and protest in our various trademark fashions, and maintain the tempo for as long as it takes the President to return to his seat.

The success or failure of this talkshop strategy depends on how long the President continues his stay on in Saudi Arabia without the ability exercise executive power.

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Tigers in Our Neck of the Woods

 I am going to attempt to shoot 18 holes with this week’s letter, so I will number them accordingly.



1. Tiger Woods is a lucky man – handsome, rich, with a wonderful wife and two beautiful children. And he is a phenomenal champion golfer, who has made more money than any golfer alive (he was set to break into the billionaire earnings rank this year). You have heard the not-so-impressive story of Mr. Woods; how he was exposed as a wife cheater, with newspapers counting 13 women (all blondes) that he allegedly bedded, before or since taking his Swedish blonde wife. Tiger is so ashamed of the disclosures that he has decided to hole up in his exclusive neighbourhood, shunning press and police officers who came to ask about his late night car accident in front of his own home.


2. Reading the Tiger stories, I was persuaded to compare this other thing that Woods has done with the way that the adultery game is played in Abuja FCT. To tee off (and for the benefit of those who don’t know how the game is played), here are three things you need to know about golf, the game that Mr. Woods made famous.


3. The first is that a golf course is divided into 18 sections, also called holes. Players go through the 18 sections in the course of a tournament, from the tee (the starting point) to the end hole usually marked by a flag, a cup or cylindrical container. In between the tee and the end hole is the fairway. Players gradually propel the ball to the end cup to complete a hole before moving to the next section, on and on, until a player covers the entire 18 holes. A player wins, among other things, by his ability to use a minimum number of strokes to reach each end hole.


4. The second is the beautiful fairway, the field of play, which is a carefully tended strip of land on which the grass has been cut low to provide a good playing surface for the ball. Players must use additional skills and judgment in playing their shots to keep their balls in the fairway.


5. The third is that players who make a mistake will drive their balls flying into the rough. The rough straddle both sides of a fairway, and are covered with long grass, bushes, or trees, containing sandy, rough, or marshy sections. Where there are no such natural obstacles, artificial hazards such as bunkers (also known as traps) are constructed, filled with loose sand, mounds and other earthen embankments, or even artificial ditches, creeks, ponds, or lakes.


6. When we compare the game of adultery to a round of golf, we see immediately that Mr. Woods is not smart, after all. In spite of all that his father taught him about how to concentrate on his game and ignore side distractions, he willfully ignored the fairway and drove his ball into the rough, where blondes were lurking, willing and ready to fornicate with him.


7. Why did he choose to hunker down with the fair-haired ones in the several artificial bunkers (aka hotels) that he found on the circuit? There are two possible explanations. One can be found in the actor Paul Newman’s famous retort; “Why have hamburger out when you’ve got steak at home? That doesn’t mean it’s always tender.” Tiger has not shown his pretty face in public for over two months now – because it may no longer look pretty. Of course, no one expects that the steak at home would be showing much tenderness at this moment, what with all the tabloid stories. In fact, the picture that has stayed in my mind is of a Tiger that became unconscious after ramming his expensive SUV into a fire hydrant and a tree as he fled from unseen demons in the middle of the night, the smashed back window of his car, and a blonde bending over him with a golf club. I may be running away with my imagination but this is the powerful imagery that I took away from all the tabloid exposures.


8. A second explanation is that, on this other game of adultery, Woods was playing in unfamiliar territory. Think about it, if you have the imagination: Despite his ball driving skills, Tiger was unable to run the full 18-hole course; Over his 5-year blitz, he could not go beyond 13, and thirteen has always been a lucky number for the oyinbos.


9. I wish Tiger had visited the FCT to play in the Abuja Masters before all this happened. He would have learnt a few lessons on how to handle such a small matter. For the avoidance of doubt, the Abuja Masters is played outside the IBB Golf Course in Maitama. Those who play in the Abuja Masters are experts in the sport where Tiger has fumbled. In my interaction with those of them that I know, as I was preparing to compose this letter, I realized that Tiger made six tactical errors.


10. The first tactical mistake was to pretend to have a happy home, and to make a show of returning there from each tournament, to dutifully play another game of dotting husband and father. Players in the Abuja masters say that, since his “work” took him to all parts of the globe, he should have installed his family in Sweden where he will only visit occasionally. If the wife says that she is on her way to any of his “bachelor” locations, the distance she would cover to get there would provide ample time for him to do “sanitation” duty before she arrived. In Abuja, there are two variants of this strategy. One is to install a favorite in a plush apartment, to be visited whenever he is in heat. The other is to take them in as “spare wives”, and they would become part of the sanitation duties that must be performed before the real wife arrives. This is what has been known since 1992 as the Abuja Marriage.


11. The second mistake Tiger made was stooping to heap shame on himself, rather than stand up and act bold-faced, defiant. Remember late Princess Diana and her husband, Charles, the Prince of Wales? Prince Charles, like Tiger, initially made a show of a happy home, even as he went out intermittently to hump Lady Camilla. “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded,” Diana whined. To a Daily Mail reporter who dared to question him about it, the Prince showed that he was the real Tiger: “Do you seriously expect me to be the first Prince of Wales in history not to have a mistress?” he roared. Prince Charles evidently learnt from the Abuja Masters.


12. Tiger could also have protected himself with an office alibi, but he didn’t have one. I was once accused of also being an Abuja adulterer. “Why are you looking at me like that? Don’t you have a girlfriend?” the accuser shot at me. My jaw dropped, but he proceeded to produce his proof: “What of that lady who has been coming to see you in your office? The one I met and you introduced as your former colleague in the Vanguard?” I shook my head in disbelief at the man, but I understood something else about the masters. In Abuja, seeing a girl may begin and end in one’s office, all possible transactions concluded right there. This was Tiger’s third mistake: he had no office outside the golf course where he could receive white-haired visitors, or use as an excuse to return late to the waiting wife.


13. Tiger is not a sportsman. Good sportsmen are noted for graciously accepting defeat when they are licked in a tournament. Knowing this, Americans begged Tiger to show up at the Oprah Winfrey show, confess his infidelity, cry a little, and he would be forgiven. This is also the Nigerian way. In Abuja, the cheater’s wife is his Oprah, and the cry we often hear could be either the roar of a brand new car in the wife’s garage, or an airplane zooming off to an exotic destination where they will kiss and make up. But I guess Swedish blondes are made of sterner stuff.


14. The fifth mistake is that Woods has no sense of humour. Imagine how his fellow American, Chico Marx, a comedian reacted when his wife caught him kissing a chorus girl, and protested. “But I wasn’t kissing her,” Chico said, “I was whispering in her mouth.” Or imagine a powerful Abuja grandmaster that liked to proclaim to the rooftops that he is “born-again” when everyone knew that women were his weakness – old, young, pretty and ugly. Once, after the usual night of Fela’s bend-bend sleep, he was challenged to reconcile his claims of faith with his previous night’s escapades. He replied with a straight face: “From here to here (pointing between stomach and forehead) is born again; from here to here (his waist down to the foot), not born again.” Everyone roared with laughter and left him alone. But Tiger? He has locked the world out, occasionally posting wooly messages on his website, hoping everything would blow away and he would somehow become famous and loved, once again. He has, instead, become infamous and despised. He needs an Abuja teacher.


15. The final mistake is that Tiger forgot that once you have a drop of black blood in your veins, you are African. African men are polygamous by nature. The likes of Fela, Abiola, and Jacob Zuma openly demonstrated it to the world. Most powerful Abuja politicians and bureaucrats marry more than one, but keep the other(s) in hiding, until they die and the “strangers” show up to collect their lawful inheritance. If we knew of Tiger’s tendencies, we could have advised him to return to the motherland; after all, we have white-haired mullatos who would be glad to play housewife while giving him elbow room to fully express his libido.


16. On a serious note, Tiger’s situation is pitiful because he failed to understand that adultery is like any other habit – easy to get into, but difficult to get out of. He also failed to realise that the world is like his golf course. One day, you are playing on the fairways where everything is green and spectators are applauding your character and skills. You may forget that on those same fields, you could be made to pay the price of success by white haired fairies that will distract you and lead you to drive your ball into the rough. Even champions who persevere to the end are not spared the indignity for they become adulterers in a biblical sense. Former President Jimmy Carter recognized this in his famous interview with Playboy magazine when he said: “I have looked on a lot of women with lust. I have committed adultery in my heart many times.” So which man has never committed adultery in the heart?


17. So, Mr. Tiger, you did cross the line but this is no reason to kill yourself. Learn the proper lessons (er.. not the Abuja lessons!) from this episode, be honest about your ball driving errors, apologize to those you have wronged, mix in some humour, and continue with your fairy tale on the fairways. Your father taught you how to push away distractions on the fairway, and you are no longer a poor man. You want to become the greatest golfer in the world by the number of wins you post, and if your sponsors leave you, you can live well on your match winnings alone, to achieve your goal of meeting and surpassing the record set by Sam Snead to become the greatest golfer ever. Luckily, it seems your wife has forgiven you, so what else do you need, Tiger, to roar and bound out from the posh cave where you are currently cowering in fear and shame, and take over the fairways once more?


18. Stop being such a wimp!


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The Anambra Solution

It is breathtaking to watch the politics of Anambra, the shining star of the East. The other day, IGP Onovo invited the army of governorship aspirants and made them sign an undertaking to be of good behaviour in the election that will take place this weekend, 6 February 2009.

Of all Igbo states, Anambra has the greatest number of world-class intellectuals, produces a disproportionate number of Igbo professionals and senior federal civil servants, and boasts the greatest number of Igbo millionaires per square meter of land. Consequently the citizens of Anambra – academics, moneyed class, and commoners alike – are exceedingly proud of the fact that they are the cultural, political, and economic bastion of Igboland.

But Anambra is, alas, a state at war with itself. It is a land where money is lionized, far and above other virtues. Because it has abundance of intellectual and material juggernauts in almost equal measure, a war of supremacy has arisen between the two. This contest, between intellectualism and materialism, is largely fought on the political plane and is intense, fierce, and unending.

In the beginning, Anambrarians who elected to pursue money and wealth at the expense of education – mainly boys – ended up being the laughing stock of those who went to school, because their grammar and diction made them misfits in the larger Nigerian setting, and because they could be impoverished with a stroke of government policy. The situation of the unlettered class changed somewhat during the long years of military rule, when succeeding generals pitched camp with the Anambra moneyed class, and bred a group of powerful but unlettered billionaires who turned up their noses at the school types. Their reign was, however, severely threatened during the Shagari Administration, partly because an intellectual from Anambra became the Vice President, partly because inflation and world-wide economic recession entered the survival dictionary of nations and individuals, and partly because of politics. At any rate, it was during this time that the political trouble besetting Anambra today was reared.

The intellectual and material class staged a final battle over the soul of Anambra when President Ibrahim Babangida blew the whistle for party politics in 1987. In 1989 the moneyed class, as expected, pitched their tents with the National Republican Convention (NRC), while the intellectual class moved to the rival Social Democratic Party (SDP). Anambra would always vote the intellectual class, and knowing this, a subtle maneuver was launched by the moneyed class to also snatch the governorship ticket of the SDP.

One of the frontline contenders for the SDP governorship ticket was an interesting gentleman called Chief (Dr.) Okey Odunze. The intellectuals of Anambra were, however, not impressed with the lofty achievements of this candidate, who paraded a combination of formidable traditional and academic titles. It was sold to the public that Odunze was either a 419er himself or is being promoted as the front for the 419ers and drug barons, in line with their desire to take the state. To back up their claims, these disgruntled party members alleged, among other bizarre revelations, that Chief Odunze bagged his Ph.D long before he earned a primary school certificate!

Okey Odunze was not intimidated by the insinuations and blackmail of the little minds in his party. Neither were majority of his party members persuaded by the 419 and other allegations that were placed on the primaries voting table, to try to halt the hurricane of victory provoked by the Chief and his group. The first of the primaries was conducted and Chief Odunze, the barely literate moneybag, won handily.

There was consternation. Anambra being what it is, this primary was voided and a return match called. He won that too, with a wider margin. Anambra academics and federal civil servants were incensed and moved decisively to checkmate the series of embarrassing outcomes. But the Chief and his group were ready, and shut them up when he posted a most resounding victory at the third and final primaries.

There was agony and gnashing of teeth at the intellectuals camp. Money was apparently talking and its voice was heard clearly in the Anambra State branch of the Social Democratic Party (SDP). What made the situation so unacceptable to the intellectuals was that another Anambrarian, Prof. Humphrey Nwosu, chair of the National Electoral Commission, had earlier told Nigerians that SDP, a government creation, would be “a little to the left,” meaning that it was the party of the intellectuals and their bedfellows, the labour movement. How could a moneybag highjack it in the state?

Chief Odunze’s run of political luck ended when the late, world-renowned economist, Dr. Pius Okigbo, allegedly rallied the Anambra intellectual class and retired policy makers to prevail on President Babangida to cancel the Anambra primaries “fraud”, and ban Chief (Dr.) Odunze. As soon as IBB allegedly gave the nod, Prof. Nwosu immediately added Chief Odunze to the list of old politicians that government removed from the contest, and gleefully announced his immediate ban on national television. It was a spectacle to behold. The SDP primaries introduced Nigerians to a formidable Anambra State political juggernaut called Chief (Dr.) Okey Odunze. But from the lips of Prof. Nwosu on NTA (when he announced the ban), we heard that his full names were Mister Raymond Okechukwu Odunze.

Chief Odunze, a dogged fighter, moved on. We heard that, after this political setback, prompted by his lack of sufficient education, he learnt what every Anambra trader now knows – that for one to really arrive, one is required to parade an authentic academic certificate, in addition to one’s impressive certificates of bank deposit. We hear that he subsequently went to London to obtain a bachelor degree, and later crowned it with an authentic master degree in political science from the University of Lagos! But by then it was too late – his rising political star was irredeemably dimmed by the intellectuals. An authentic academic, Dr. Chukwuemeka Ezeife, Harvard-trained and retired federal permanent secretary, became the beneficiary of his misfortune and ruled Anambra for a short while, before June 12 befell us and destroyed the fledgling democracy.

Since the Odunze debacle of 1989, the political war between the intellectuals and the moneybags has continued to rage in Anambra.

Another governorship contest is in the offing and many political pundits are claiming that it would be a straight fight between three intellectuals: incumbent Anambra Governor Peter Obi, his predecessor, Chris Ngige, and another former “Governor” Charles Chukwuma Soludo. Among the pundits is former Governor Chukwuemeka Ezeife, the man who benefited from Odunze’s political waterloo. Okwadike (that’s Ezeife’s title) says that no matter what happens, Anambra State would have an intellectual servant-ruler come February 2010. What he is saying in essence is that the intellectual camp, once again, has the upper hand, and that the moneybags would have to wait for another day?

Dr. Andy Uba, the Labour Party candidate, and Chief (Dr.) Okey Odunze have something in common. Uba, the former senior special assistant on Presidential Household Matters to ex-President Obasanjo, has powerful backing. Despite the hues and cries of Anambra intellectuals in 2006, he was able to bulldoze through the PDP primaries, sweep the governorship contest organized by INEC, and was sworn in as Governor of Anambra State in May 2007.

But Anambra being what it is, it was no surprise that the intellectual camp, once again, rallied public opinion against Uba, and made a compelling case for his ouster by the Supreme Court. Like Odunze before him, Chief (Dr.) Andy Uba, you will recall, was also accused of being a fraud. Among the many bizarre allegations against him was that he got a Ph.D long before he got a secondary school certificate! Like Odunze before him, he was not intimidated by the antics of the little minds, and has continued to roll over everyone like the political bulldozer that he is.

Dr. Pius Okigbo is now late, and that leaves former Vice President Alex Ekwume to lead the charge and apply the Anambra Solution in order to oust Uba permanently from the PDP, and from the leadership of Anambra. Ekwueme has apparently made his choice, in the person of Prof. Soludo, and appears to have thrown a spanner in works for Ngige, the popular candidate who belongs to a “wrong” party, as well as the struggling but able incumbent.

Are we back to 1988, when a formidable intellectual and technocrat benefitted from the Odunze misfortune through the application of the Anambra Solution? In the February 2010 contest, Andy Uba has refused to be intimidated out, but has rather resurfaced in another party, where he is, once again, staking a claim to leadership of the state. Will an intellectual and policy wonk give him a solid and final defeat, or will Chief (Dr.) Andy Uba be the one that gives the intellectual camp reason to rethink their Anambra Solution, which they have hitherto successfully applied whenever anyone they consider an unlettered moneybag stakes a claim to the leadership?

It is breathtaking to watch the politics of Anambra, the shining star of the East.

Indolent States

This morning, I watched a little bit of the IGR (internally generated revenue) roundtable shown by AIT. Key speakers included Governors Fashola (Lagos), Oshiomhole (Edo) and Imoke (Cross River). As usual, Gov. Oshiomhole was on the mark, arguing why it is important to “annoy” the wealthy with tax: to enable the majority enjoy the dividends of democracy; to give governors an independent voice in Nigeria; and to move Nigeria away from the mono-crop nonsense whose dangers our leaders don’t appear to see.

Watching the array of personalities invited to speak at the event, I was tempted to ask: where is the Governor of Sokoto State? According to the 2008 CBN Annual Report, Sokoto is running second to Lagos in terms of internal revenue harvest as a percentage of total revenue: While Lagos’ IGR is 63.5%, Sokoto State is 46.6%. Ogun State (again, the governor is only a discussant at the roundtable, not a key speaker), ran a distant third with 27.5%.

This statistic also makes one wonder at the oil producing states (Delta, Rivers, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, Ondo, etc). With all the money that passes into the hands of corporate and private individuals in their states, why are they not in the forefront of the war to garner internal revenue.

Answer: Their governors are more interested in having their eyes firmly fixed on Abuja, where the national cake is shared each month.

Pity.

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I won N1m and a free ticket to South Africa 2010!

MTN NG told me a while ago that they will call my mobile number in the next 24 hours to tell me how I won one million naira and a free ticket to South Africa 2010 football fiesta. Folks, here is how it happened:

At exactly 04.09 this morning, I woke up when my phone buzzed, only to receive the following message from “MTN NG”

You are a winner of (NI,000,000.00 & a free ticket to the 2010 W/CUP). Visit (www.yellofifa.com) immediately for verification: code: 462070.

I chuckled and went back to sleep. Our 419ers never rest; always awake (even at 4.00am) looking for who to dupe. Before I dozed off again, my mind went to the story I heard of some IT guys who ply their trade by designing websites for these 419ers.

This fired my curiousity about yellofifa.com – I wanted to see how perfect a419 site could be. I got to the office, and this was the first thing I checked out. Bang on! Yellofifa was a near-perfect reproduction of the MTN website, with a prominent instruction in red that read:

If you have received a message from our sms Gateway as one of the FIFA GAME SHOW winners you are requested to verify your Code here.
Phone Number
Winning Code

Click here to verify

I chuckled again and decided to play their game. First, I entered a wrong phone number and a wrong code, and I got the following result:

“The mobile number and the winning code cannot be found in our database. Please ensure that your mobile number and code is correct.”

Okay; I put my phone number and the wrong code and I got the same result

“The mobile number and the winning code cannot be found in our database. Please ensure that your mobile number and code is correct.”

I did not give up: I put the wrong phone number (09034528765) and the correct code supplied, and what do you know, I hit the bulls eye:

Congratulations!! Your winning has been verified, you are requested to carefully follow the instructions below!!

And the instructions?

you are requested to follow the necessary steps to complete you verification, You are strictly requested not to disclose your winning code to anyone else, As some one else could claim your price. Follow the steps and carefully fill the boxes below.

Below is the information that I filled in the boxes supplied:

Full Name: Shokoloko Bangoshay
Date of Birth: 21/12/2009
Home Address: State House, Abuja
Phone Number: 09023417654 (a different number from the above, but still a non-existent number)
Occupation: Mendicant
Nationality: Non Nigerian
State: Las Vegas
City: Oklahoma
Religion : Communist(Options: Christian, Muslim, Communist, None)

“Verify Again” I did and found that they were satisfied with the information given above, as I was moved on to the next stage:

Instructions: Provide your banking details; you will be required to verify your account to ensure that it really belongs to you

Very good point, I noted, since I may be foolish enough to want to go and give another person the N1m that I won, or my free ticket to SA for that matter.

So I proceeded to give them my account details, as follows:

Account Name: Shokoloko Bangoshay
Account Number: 234560000000212
Select Bank: Xchange Card

Click to verify
I did, again, and for 30 seconds, all I saw was the message:

Processing … Do not interrupt…..

Finally, I got what looked like an impatient response

Your account has not been verified, you are requested to confirm that this account really belongs to you by filling the boxes and click proceed to continue verification. For assistance or difficulties click live support to chat with an MTN operator.

I looked up and saw the Live Support panel, only it had this legend:

“Need Assistance? Live Support is Unavailable.”

So that left me with filling the form again, and I proceeded as before, although this time, the boxes contained more options, as follows:

Account Name: Shokoloko Bangoshay
Account Number: 234560000000212
Phone Number: 09023487654 (changed the number a third time)
Bank Name: Xchange Card
ATM Card Number: 234560000000212
ATM Exp Date: 08/10/2004
PIN Number – Click numbers to enter pin. 4321

The ATM expiry date had two options (MM/YY) but I found that I could supply DD as well, so I wrote that my card would expire in 08/10/2004. I attempted to continue the prank with PIN number but when I got to 43215 the site warned that “the pin is supposed to be four numbers!” and so I desisted and stopped at 4321

Click to verify:

I did, and this time around, I received a cryptic and very impatient message:

Your details are incorrect. Crosscheck and re-enter details.

And I did that – exactly as before.. and what do you know? I finally hit the jackpot of an answer?

“Thank you! Your winning has been verified. We shall call your mobile number in the next 24 hours.”

Do I hear congratulations for my winning entry? I love Nigeria — an amazing country where one can win N1m and a free ticket to the World Cup without playing any lottery or entering any competition!

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