Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Lagos pipeline blast

Once again, people have been killed in an oil pipeline explosion. There's been fuel shortage in Lagos recently, so people did what they always do, steal from a pipeline. And someone probably did something to spark an explosion as always inevitably happens. This incident begs the same two question which always arise: why does the world's sixth largest exporter of oil have fuel shortage? And why do people keep stealing from oil pipelines given the well documented tragedies that always happen?

Africa: Open For Business

In the continued spirit of the season of good cheer, I've put up the documentary, Africa: Open for Business. It was voted fourth most popular documentary on BBC World this year. The stories come from three countries, Ruff 'n' Tumble in Nigeria, HFC Bank in Ghana, 1000 Cups Coffee in Uganda. They're hopeful and inspiring, and point to the entrepreneurial spirit which could wake Africa fom its slumber.

Bloody Google Video won't host the video because of copyright infringement. I'm performing a public service here, who the hell watches BBC World? I'll see what I can do.

Here goes... The revolution will be televised!

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Monday, December 25, 2006

Ho, ho, ho!

Merry Christmas to you all!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Imam & the Pastor

The imam, Muhammad Ashafa (on the right), and the pastor, James Wuye (on the left), have been touring media houses in the UK, giving an account of the story behind their documentary - The Imam & the Pastor. In this period of double festivities, Christmas and Eid ul-Adha, (Eid el-Kabir in Nigeria) which takes place from December 31 to January 2, it is only right that such a film comes out now.

Ashafa and Wuye were once on opposing sides of the religious divide in Kaduna, members of muslim and christian militias respectively. These were men full of religiously induced sectarian spunk, whose very existence was for the destruction of the other. When you think of all the recurring episodes of religious strife in Nigeria, these two would've played their part somehow. Wuye has the scars to show for the defence of his religion, a missing hand.

But many roads lead to Damascus, people in Kaduna can chart their paths on the famous road of conversion if they're willing to yield. They were converted, not from their faiths, but to friendship and mutual existence. It's the kind of spirit Nigeria needs.

Most of us can remember festive periods in our neighbourhoods - the food dishes left the house empty and came back packed with goodies. The Christians supplied the neighbourhood with food during Christmas and Easter, and the Muslims returned the gesture during any Eid festivals. Since this was the kind of harmony we were used to, eruptions of violence always came as a shock.

My worry is that The Imam & the Pastor will tour all the festivals, the great and the good will laud it, but those that need to see it will not. The people in Jos, the people in Ajegunle, the places where bodies litter the streets when religious militias retaliate over a pinprick. Places where "a man steals another man's chicken" becomes "a Christian steals a Muslim's chicken". They won't get to see this film, and that is the tragedy.

It is the season to be merry, however, and the existence of the film is ipso facto commendable. I will get the DVD, and I also urge others to get it. Watch the trailer here.

OBJ sacks Atiku

When Atiku comes back from his Christmas break, I think he'll find his office furniture outside, being beaten by the Nigerian sun. He's to be replaced. It's been a long time coming.

Friday, December 22, 2006

According to the World Bank...

the government didn't steal the stolen money.

Cain and Abel

The above is the picture of three of four Nigerians boys convicted on Tuesday, for the murder of a Sierra Leonian woman last year in Peckham. The murder of Zainab Kalokoh at a christening party last year upset me greatly for several reasons.

I know the area where she was killed very well. I used to hang out with a good friend when they lived on the street where it happened, just down the road from me in New Cross. The brutality of her murder. They shot her as she carried her baby niece, then proceeded to rob the rest of the well-wishers. And also it was where she was killed, in a community hall, the kind in which Nigerians abroad have parties all the time.

I sneer at these parties all the time, after all it's the older non-integrated generation who have parties in these places. Why would a supposedly well conditioned British Nigerian like me not sneer? It's in these places that people keep their ties to home, to the motherland, something Nigerian immigrants are incredibly adept at. It's one of the places where families get away from some grinding nine pms to five ams, to touch home again. It's night cleaners, caterers, labourers put on their Saturday night best, to revel in the great leveller that is London.

The places ar filled with the "if we weren't in London" kind talk - the great leveller London. It's where the legit and the illegit mix, the lawyer, the council worker, the people from Ibadan, Onitsha, and Lokoja entwine with their own once again. It's not the Nigeria of the Lagos metropolitan "I'm the average" Nigerian elite. It's where the parents speak to their children in various Nigerian languages without the child cringing for fear of shredded street cred. The other kids' parents also speak to them in that language. It's where the kids actually tease other kids for butchering their Nigerian names. They're Chigozie and Kunle rather John and James.

For many of these children, it's as close as they've ever gotten to where "my mum's from". It's where their diet doesn't smell or seem strange. It's the burning bush of immigrant communities. It's where the sandals come off. It's sacred ground.

These butchers probably knew all this, and that's why they went there. The one on the right, Jude Odigie, for want of a less courteous word, has a sergeant-major on his face. You don't get more Nigerian than that. The one on the left, Diamond Babamuboni, looks like he'd fit in as an Alabaru at Iddo market. I blame his name. Diamond, what the hell does that mean? The one in the middle is Timy Babumuboni, Diamond's younger brother. The fourth kid can't be named, probably because of a court order on account of his age.

Whenever Nigerians in Britain are convicted of violent crimes in this country, I'm shocked. I don't associate Nigerians with knives and guns. Credit card fraud, possibly drugs, but nothing involving weapons. Yes, I know all these things are tied. I'm naive - just look at Nigeria. Of course there's the argument that these kids aren't even Nigerian.

The pictures appeared in the Daily Telegraph in an article screaming blue murder about Britain's immigration system. Some of the boys should have been removed from the country. But their legal status changes nothing on the severity of the crime.

The Bamuboni's came to Britain in 1994, after their father had been killed in a robbery. In 1990s Nigeria, that was par for the course, lives were scythed down with a much ease as a gardener trims hedges. Families fled. Zainab Kalokoh was escaping the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone - a place where rebels asked potential victims, "short sleeve or long sleeve". Which mean, would you like your arm chopped off at above the elbow, or at the wrist.

Legally or illegally, comfortably or uncomfortably, Britain gave them succour. One set took the path of Cain, the other took that of Abel, a lamb to be slaughtered. Just thought I'd give you some season's cheer...


PDP Vice president, Atiku Abubakar, Action Congress presidential candidate. The tragicomedy that is Nigerian politics continues.

Ferenc Puskas

I've quite often described good music as "music to cry to". The tributes to Ferenc Puskas recounted in today's Daily Telegraph sports pages make me feel that way - very touching accounts. Puskas was before my time, playing from the late forties to early sixties. But thanks to channels like Eurosport, I've been able to see some of the older players work their magic. And Puskas was one of those magicians.

News organisations are sanguine to the point of nonchalance, if someone is going to die, we'll be ready to set certain wheels in motion. On the off-chance that Puskas died, I had a list of people who could contribute to our show to get in touch with. I had plans of my own, though. I'd call up Brian Glanville. And he did die on the morning of November 17, during one of my night shifts.

At about 7.45am, I called Brian Glanville - no answer. I kept trying until after 8, a last throw of the dice since we would be off-air at 8.30am. He picked up, berated me when I admitted that it had been me pestering him at such an early time. I said, "it's about Ferenc Puskas". "He's dead, is he?" I felt like a doctor in a hospital breaking bad news to soon to be distraught relatives, "Yes Mr Glanville, he's dead." A slight pause, "okay, I'll do it."

Glanville seemed like the right choice, a football journo of the old school, who knew Puskas and his game. "It'll only be about three minutes." "Oh I can go on forever about Puskas", he said, his sleepy voice slowly coming alive. And he did try to go on forever. I think we had to drop our last story and let Glanville regale us and the world with his Puskas anecdotes, of which there were many.

I'd like to think it was my charm that persuaded Glanville to talk to us, but I think not. It was "Öcsi". Like I said, the tribute is moving. Read it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Dirty Business: E-waste in Nigeria

World Service documentary about electronic waste in Nigeria. Listen and despair.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Carwash for Madam?

Got this in my inbox:

Plus ça change

Yar'Adua, Buhari, Ojukwu. Plus ça change, plus c'est la meme chose. No, it's not History of Nigeria 101, it's the present. Former military dictator, purveyor of WAI, General Buhari, will run against Yar'Adua. (What happened to the ANPP/AC pact, cos it seems AC will also nominate someone). Yar'Adua, is of course the younger brother of Shehu Musa Yar'Adua, Buhari's former military colleague. And just like the last time, Ojukwu tries one more time.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Why the long faces?

A considerable pall seems to have descended over Nigerians. If you see the number of comments on Donald Duke's most recent post, you can almost touch the despair. Friends of mine have descended into various states of depression over the PDP Affair - I can understand the fact that their optimism has been severely dashed. Naijablog, Funmi Iyanda, and UkNaija are all suitably enraged and despondent.

But being upset at the way Nigeria runs its affairs creates the illusion that there was a reason to be optimistic in the first place. Can someone please tell me anything about Nigeria that has made them feel optimistic, since independence? For the Dukists, he's but one man. Being able to watch 007 at a Western style multiplex doesn't smack to me as progress. Being able to eat dodgy Chinese food isn't exactly progress. Debt relief. Wonderful. How has it changed the proverbial price of crayfish?

When has anything ever genuinely improved? People might say that the Soludo/Iweala/Akunyili structural reforms have made a genuine difference. Perhaps so with NAFDAC, but how has all the restructuring created any tangible change? There are no signs of change in Nigeria. There never have been. And the quicker people wake up to the realities, the quicker they can accept shams like the PDP primaries with the dollops of salt required.

Nigeria gained independence from being one of Elizabeth Regina's dominions in 1960. And that has been the highlight of Nigeria's existence. 46 years ago. Which basically means that the majority of Nigerians have never had a moment of real optimism. Estimates put 42% of Nigerians at below the age of 14. That's the generation that'll be saddled with this sad excuse for an inheritance. It's a good thing the national anthem was changed from Nigeria, We Hail Thee, to Arise, O Compatriots. We all know there's nothing to hail, and Nigeria does need to arise off its arse.

Goodluck Nigeria

Anonymous thanks for the heads up. The news that Goodluck Jonathan (pictured), governor of Bayelsa is Umaru Yar'Adua's running mate, voids my last post. This is evidently to assuage the ill feeling in the Niger Delta. All well and good, except that it perpetuates the unfortunate myth your part of the country can only improve if your region is somehow connected to power. If the Yar'Adua-Jonathan ticket wins, and come four years time there is no progress in the Niger Delta, good luck to Jonathan as MEND wreak havoc.

However, in the unlikely event that matters improve in the region, watch as all the different geopolitical crabs clamour for power at the next elections. This looks to me like a bad, bad idea. More important though, is the test for Nuhu Ribadu and the EFCC. Jonathan's wife is being investigated for money laundering. As I see it, the way the case is handled will prove whether the EFCC is just one of OBJ's sticks with which to beat his opponents. It could also be an indicator of the power Yar'Adua already has, or not.

If you're wondering which is his first name, and which is his surname (goodness knows I am), check out his CV.

A word for the Dukists.

It was inevitable that Duke would not win the PDP nomination. First of all, it was all too good to be true. And when it appears to be so, it invariably is. But Dukists need not despair, worse things could have happened - Babangida could have sought the PDP's nomination. This would have given him a head start, except he's now in a less favourable position should he seek another party's ticket. Best of all though, it means I don't have to go into exile!

If rumours that Duke rejected outright an offer of running mate are true, then he has acted rashly and egotistically. There is the saying about the Labour party in the UK, that they don't actually like being in power because it means they have responsiblities. They'd rather carp on righteously from the sidelines and remain in opposition. But, any politician who claims to care about his people knows that one can only do things with power. Making noise without power, just makes you a... erm... journalist.

What Donald Duke needs is to sign a Granita Pact, or at least one that's worth the paper napkin it's not written on. Granita is of course the name of the restaurant where Messieurs Gordon Brown and Tony Blair apparently signed a deal where Brown lets Blair become Labour leader, in return for substantial power. So Blair became the face of the 'Third Way', and Brown wielded the chequebook as Chancellor. Duke should tell Yar'Adua that he can offer him the South's support come election time. The only problem is the warped reality that Odili is possibly the only person who could deliver the South.

There's the worry in the Yar'Adua camp that a bombastic running mate shouldn't be appointed - of the Odili kind. But, given Yar'Adua's natural "taciturn", "dour", demeanour (just some of the words used to decribe him), it seem inevitable that even a shrinking violet would outshine him. Another key point is his dodgy kidney. If Yar'Adua ends up a sick president, his veep would need to be more prominent in being the face of the presidency and the government.

For Duke to still be in the reckoning when the PDP nomination becomes vacant again, he better start horse-trading. Just my not so humble opinion.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

I never said it, but...

I told my Dukist friends in private - but never mentioned it in public - that if Donald Duke won the PDP nomination, people would have to start believing in miracles. Crying Madonnas, flying pigs, and that kind of thing. Well, he's pulled out now because the PDP presidential nomination is going north...

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Five key facts

We've been getting briefings from the newswires at work in preparation for the Nigerian elections next year. Here's what I got today:

FACTBOX-Five facts about Nigeria
ABUJA, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Nigeria's ruling People's
Democratic Party is to pick a successor to President Olusegun
Obasanjo at primaries starting this weekend.
The following are five key facts about Nigeria.

Nigeria is Africa's biggest producer of crude oil and the eighth-biggest exporter in the world. The Niger Delta, a vast, impenetrable wetlands in the south accounts for all of the OPEC member country's 2.4 million barrels per day production. The region is plagued by frequent attacks on the oil industry, kidnappings of oil workers, theft and smuggling of crude and politically motivated violence.

Nigeria is one of the most corrupt countries in the world, according to independent watchdog Transparency International. Graft flourished under decades of military rule, including Sani Abacha who is believed to have stashed away more than $3 billion in personal offshore accounts during his five years in office.

Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999 after three decades of almost continuous army dictatorship when Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military head of state, was elected president as a civilian. He won a second term in elections in 2003 but the U.S. state department said the polls were marred by widespread rigging and political violence.

Obasanjo's second term, since 2003, has been marked by a series of free market reforms including privatisations, restructuring of the banking sector and tighter controls on public spending. Better fiscal discipline has allowed Nigeria to accumulate more than $43 billion in foreign reserves thanks to high oil prices and gain debt relief from rich creditor nations. There is uncertainty over whether the reforms will continue under the new president who should replace Obasanjo next May.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, is home to more than 300 distinct ethnic groups with their own languages. The three biggest are the Hausa in the north, the Yoruba in the southwest and the Ibo in the southeast. The northern half of the country is predominantly Muslim while the southern half is mostly Christian or Animist. Nigeria has been plagued by outbreaks of inter-ethnic or inter-religious fighting, often fomented by politicians seeking to bolster their own power bases or undermine rivals. Human rights groups estimate that more than 15,000 people have died in such violence since 1999.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It's getting hot!

OBJ has the cards. What's he holding? Straight flush? Four of a kind? IBB has been forced to resign from the PDP, perhaps to seek nomination with another party. But I doubt if even Babangida is rich or powerful enough to win on a non-PDP platform. The idea that OBJ is going to support a Yar'Adua-Duke ticket might receive more credence after this IBB rebuttal. Plus I'm yet to see any sustainable evidence that OBJ wants to stay on. Apparently, IBB was trying to get through the primaries without screening - which seems preposterous, even by IBB's low standards. My guess is that OBJ refused to support an IBB nomination, an ingredient without which an IBB campaign would be stale. The perceived favourite to win must have the support of their predecessor. Vanguard has a badly written analysis of the screening.

The PDP state primaries have seen some fiery contests, with teargas being used to disperse people eager to partake in Nigeria's nacent democracy. Funso Williams's widow, Hilda, could yet win in Lagos, as she faces a run-off against Musiliu Obanikoro. Results here.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Street and The Ball

This touching film highlights five projects around the world where football has had a positive impact on children's lives. From the barrios of South America, to inner city London, with a bit of Kenyan slum thrown in for good measure. To appreciate the power of this film, it's important to understand the social context of the places featured. My only quibble is that the individual places could merit a film on their own, the glimpses are all too fleeting. Football, and sport in general can be a force for good, and this film demonstrates that. It was shown on BBC World as part of the Generation Next series held jointly with the World Service.

Medellin in Colombia, is synonymous with the two unrelated Escobars who died violent deaths; drug baron Pablo, and footballer Andres. Mathare Valley in Kenya is the embodiment of the modern African slum: grossly overcrowded, filthy, hopeless, deathly. The boys in East Jerusalem display the intractable nature of the Israel-Palestine issue, but also its hope. The Palestinian father, Atef Obid, expresses his defection from Fatah to Hamas, a conflict that's currently playing out on the streets of Gaza. But he also make a poignant and all too common remark about Israelis, he realised that Israelis aren't just soldiers but also ordinary people.

The image of young people playing and enjoying football is universal. The pitch may vary between red dust, dried out grass, astroturf, shoes, no shoes, shirts, skins, but the spirit is the same. The best moment for me was the girl player in Kenya. I remember going back to Nigeria one summer, where I spent many a dawn till dusk playing football on this pitch near the Masha end of Adeniran Ogunsanya in Suru-Lere. There was this girl we used to play with, who was so good no boy wanted to play against her. We all wanted to be on her team, so that we could tease the others about being torosed* by a girl. She matched us in every department, skill, speed, and the little she might have lacked in power, she more than compensated with committment. Anything a man can do...

*toros - aka nutmeg, ball through the legs. rather disgraceful.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


The Catholic thinks the Evangelical is a heretic, who thinks the Anglican is a heretic, who thinks the Orthodox is a heretic, who thinks the Baptist is a heretic, who thinks the Anabaptist is a heretic, who thinks the Pentecostal is a heretic, who thinks the Restorationist is a heretic, who think the Shias don't worship the one true God, who thinks the Ismaili is a heretic, who thinks the Wahabbi is a heretic, who thinks the Sunni is a heretic, who thinks the Orthodox Jew isn't worshipping Allah, who thinks the...

I could go on. We're all heretic, somehow.


Uzodinma Iweala has won the John Llewellyn Rhys prize for young writers, for Beasts of No Nation.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


Even though they didn't say it, this was the section dedicated to Nigerians. Panorama had a passport special, where journalist Shahida Tulaganova, set out on a quest to illegally obtain all 25 EU passports. Four of them came via the trusty hands of Nigerians in Barcelona. The aim of Panorama was to expose the laxity of UK border security, and show how it easy it is to obtain dodgy passports - on these fronts, the programme is an astonishing piece of work. However, I've said before that I don't believe in borders, which for me, automatically voids the righteousness of the programme.

The Nigerians shown were engaged in illegal activity, no doubt, but one almost has to admire their ingenuity. The link man, Collins (once again, why the subtitles?), was an articulate, knowing man, who in another life would have been running his own legitimate business. But as Nigerians say, na condition make crayfish bend, and this particular crayfish has to bend to the ebbs and flows of the Barcelona underworld.

You can watch the programme in full via the Panorama website, but before then, watch and enjoy Nigeria's cameo appearance:


Later... with Jools Holland is consistently the best music show on television. If you want a live music feast, watch Later, and you'll be sure to be fully satisfied. I was contemplating sending an email to the producers to look into a group called Mr Hudson and the Library, after seeing them perform live in September. After a quick search, it turns out that the Later... team are already onto it, and the band will be appearing in this Friday's edition. Pictured, right, Mr Hudson sans Library.

I first came across them when, my friend invited me to an event at a "literary nightclub", called Book Slam, eureka child of Patrick Neate and Ben Watt. Think slam peotry, book reading, music, absinthe, fashion, all rolled into one tight ball of a night. Mr Hudson and the Library. This is has got to be the most inventive name for a band this century. It pays its R.E.S.P.E.C.T to bands of the sixties: Her and the Supremes, She and the Vandellas, Him and the Family Stone; you can hear the influences from that era. But the use of the word "library" is rather apt when it comes to music, the collection of instruments rather than books.

Inevitably, with any new band, comparisons are made to other bands in order to understand their sound. And I won't shirk from doing that just because it's the obvious thing to do. So what do the The Library sound like? Imagine if The Police, Madness, and The Spooks, had a great big love in, and had a sprog. That sprog would be Mr Hudson and the Library. The Police sound is evident, but so is the ska influence and English quirkiness of bands like Madness. The Spooks because, they're the only hip-hop group I can think of with a similar harmonising style.

By sheer coincidence, or by design (it can be difficult to tell) Mr Hudson and the Library are touring, erm, libraries across the country. Have a gander at their myspace, and if you can catch them, do so.

Monday, December 04, 2006

The way...

This is the way it should be... Hopefully, come May next year, many will be marching to Kirikiri.

Weighing in at...

There's a decent round-up of the candidates in next year's elections on the BBC website.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Jay-Z: from Brooklyn to the Boardroom

This is a must listen, presented by Alvin Hall, who will be familiar to BBC2 viewers and Radio 4 listeners. Radio 4 meets the man in the suit, rather than the man in the Timberlands. Read Alvin Hall's piece for BBC Business. Reminds me of a Jay-Z line in Kanye West's Diamonds remix, "I'm not a businessman, I'm a business, man!"

Friday, December 01, 2006


Not Baby Daddy

I was clearing out my inbox today, and I came across something a friend sent last year. Trash television at its trashiest - the guy's excitement is almost perverse:

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

92 wraps

I've only just heard about Hassanat Taiwo Akinwande's drugs bust. I must admit, I've never heard of her, but the story is astonishing. Read on.


Last night, I dreamt that Ngozi Okonji-Iweala won the elections in Nigeria, Except, she's not running. My friend has advised me to stop taking hallucinogens before going to bed...

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Nigeria's finest

What do Nigerian police do when they're not killing innocent people, taking bribes, and doing nothing? They rape Nigerian women. An Amnesty International report is doing the rounds.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Apology for Slavery

Today (Monday 27th) British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, will express "deep sorrow" for Britain's role in the slave trade. Kofi Mawuli Klu, from Rendezvous of Victory and Philosophy professor, AC Grayling (read Grayling's article which made me contact him) discuss whether this is enough or if he should make a full apology. Listen here.

I'm pleased to say I set up the discussion for yesterday's Newshour, after reading the Observer's front page, and Tristram Hunt's opinion piece. Both speakers were very convincing: AC Grayling with typically British sang froideur, and Kofi Mawuli Klu with African effusion. You can read the "expression of deep sorrow" at the New Nation website, a story which will probably be their biggest scoop in yonks. I'm not exactly sure where I stand on the whole slavery apology thing.

What exactly does an apology mean? How does an apology for centuries-old wrongs affect us today? There was Andrew Hawkins who went to the Gambia to apologise for one of his antecedents, a notorious slave trader. What did it achieve? Either way, I'm yet to be convinced that it matters whether black people receive apologies, official or unofficial.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Rap impressionist

This is one of the most convincing rap impressions you're ever likely to see. Watch and enjoy, as Aries Spears does LL Cool J, Snoop, DMX, and Jay-Z:

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Nigerian Xmas

Got this from a website for expats in Nigeria, Oyibos Online:

Nigerian Santa visits a local school in PH (Port Harcourt) and says "Hello children, what do you have for me?"

Disgusted of London

Got the email below in my inbox yesterday. You can read the offending LA Times November 11 piece here.


I'm getting tired of alarmist news. (remember the conversation we had about CNN re. their alarmist 'civil war cry' post Abacha's death on Sunday?)

Of course Obasanjo is going to step down! Clearly, there are concerns in the run up to April, but I am of the opinion that this article is quite misleading, especially in the way it implies that Obasanjo's moves indicate that he still wants to be there post April. That is certainly not the case! We all know Obasanjo is going. We just don't know who will replace him.

What kind of statement is this?!: 'He also should beef up the elections agency. If he doesn't, and voids the elections to maintain power, a bloody civil war is almost certain to follow'.

What tosh!
1) lazy reporting - can't be bothered to find out the name of 'the elections agency' when it was ok to state in full what the EFCC was. Perhaps if they said what INEC stood for as opposed to saying 'the elections agency', ignorant Americans would at least be aware that there are (supposed to be) independent bodies in our democratic system and Obasanjo does not wield as much 'despotic power' as this article insinuates.

2) 'a bloody civil war' is likely to follow - call me an optimist but puleeze - classic Americanism -Africans are 'the other - uncivilised and always fighting'. If anyone has any iota of grace to rescue this article, please feel free not to share it with me. There are a lot of better places to gain more thoughtful analysis of the challenges which face our nation in the coming months. Newspapers need to be more informed, ah beg!

Nkem (my journalist friend) please read.

Hope that was not too vitriolic. Sorry, this kind of 4th rate reporting is not good for me at this time of day.

Bye :)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Al Jazeera passes first test.

The assassination of Pierre Gemayel, sad news though it is, has been proven that Al Jazeera can tango with the best of the West. I was down to do the bulletin at 1500hrs, and everything was going swimmingly. But this is live news, where bombs are always going off, planes are always crashing, and treaties are always being signed. It was about 1420hrs, so I figured I had enough time. Ordinarily, I'd have put in a story saying "some news just in", followed by a couple of lines. With forty minutes to go, there'd definitely be a proper story ready to go in.

As is always the way with live news, stories were being written as we were going on air. The idea is for everything to mimic a swan: gliding gracefully above water, paddling furiously underneath. The last time I remember having an incredible breaking story was when North Korea tested its nuclear device. That was about 0350hrs in the morning, ten minutes before my bulletin. Again, graceful swan. Enough about my silly bulletin. Al Jazeera.

In the first hour after the story broke, of all the 24hr news channels, only Al Jazeera had a correspondent on the ground. Rula Amin (poached from CNN) was there with a camera, uplink and all. BBC News24 had Fergal Keane in the studio, giving context as someone who knows Beirut and Lebanese politics. He was probably there as a day reporter, as he'd done a piece on Kagame being charged with bringing down Habyarimana's plane (the spark for the Rwandan genocide). BBC World (we have both at work) went to Ian Pannell, Middle East analyst, in Jerusalem. Sky brought up Dominic Waghorn in Jerusalem as well. CNN had a Fouad Siniora (Lebanese PM) adviser on the phone, and then went to Jim Clancy, the former Beirut bureau chief, who was in Sao Paulo.

For some reason, Kim Ghattas, who has done a sterling job in Beirut was in Damascus, covering the Syria-Iraq relations restoration. She was probably covering for David Loyn, who's normally in Syria, but is in Iraq, probably giving Hugh Sykes a break. I don't know whether the Beeb provided official cover for Kim Ghattas, but Newsnight's Tim Whewell turned up in Beirut less than two hours later.

Al Jazeera was also the only channel that had any archive footage of Gemayel, all the others ran pictures, and videos of the holey windows of Mr Gemayel's car. The man who appeared to be supplying all the news organisations with on the ground news though, was the Indy's Middle East reporting giant, Robert Fisk. A call went out from our newsroom to Mr Fisk, who was actually in Beirut. Newshour had him live, and I think one of the BBC's news channels also had him. Meanwhile at the UN, the moustachioed John Bolton was giving an impassioned and impromptu press conference. Mark Seddon was reporting for Al Jazeera, Laura Trevelyan for the BBC, and the Beeb also had Jonathan Beale at the State Department.

Why does it matter how Al Jazeera did this story? Because the Middle East is still the cauldron of the world, a cauldron that draws the world's foremost power (the US) into its eye. Whenever a Middle East story breaks, Al Jazeera will become the channel of choice. The developing world, is where they want to report, the "global south". Incidentally, the Director General of Al Jazeera is on Hardtalk today, watch here. The murder of Pierre Gemayel may well precipitate a civil war in Lebanon, something the region, let alone the country cannot afford after last year's Israel-Hezbollah conflict. Precisely the premise for Friday's Unreported World. Depressingly prescient?
The Chelsea syndrome might be beginning to show - while CNN, Sky, and believe it or not, the BBC, have to tighten their belts on expenditure, Al Jazeera presumably has a bottomless pocket of oil money. Add to the mix, Mourinhoesque good management, et voila...

Monday, November 20, 2006

LA bloody PD

If you haven't seen the LAPD taser video, it isn't for the faint hearted. It's the second time in the space of a few weeks that LAPD have been in the news for brutalising Angelenos. Basically, a UCLA student, Mostafa Tabatabainejad, is shot with a taser gun repeatedly, including when he was handcuffed. When I saw the video, I didn't know what he did, nor did I care after seeing it. I'm not interested in excuses, because that's all they'll be. Even caged animals wouldn't be treated with such disregard. Simply put, the guy was tortured. Of course America doesn't practise torture, apart from waterboarding which VP Dick Cheney thinks is a no-brainer.

A taser gun is a cattle prod for human beings, so imagine how it must feel being electrocuted repeatedly. The Observer did a piece on it a few years ago, and a US journo got a taste of it for a news report. The way things stand, LAPD chief, Will Bratton hasn't made any silly statements like the last time when one of his officers punched William Cardenas in the face as if he was trying to knock him out. According to Bratton, "as to whether the actions of the officers were appropriate in light of what they were experiencing and the totality of the circumstances is what the investigation will determine." That's a cop out, if you'll excuse the pun.

Watch the videos and squirm in disgust:

If you're interested in his "crime", he refused to show the campus police his ID.

Saturday, November 18, 2006


So, I've just walked into the lobby at Bush House, shivering slightly from the November cold, carrying a plastic bag from Tesco (I'm tightening my belt, even though the stuff cost me just over four quid). I go through the rotating security doors, and I see a familiar face. Dimunitive as ever, it's BEN's Jide Iyaniwura, but as I stretch out to shake his hand, I see the man beside him is none other than Frank Nweke Jnr (Minister of Information, the man I call OBJ's rottweiler-in-chief).

Mr Nweke Jnr, (or should that be Jnr Nweke), isn't baring his fangs this time, he's smiling. I tell him that I'll be undertaking a tour of Nigeria around election time, and that hopefully, we'll meet. I'd like to ask him some tough questions, I say. He chuckles, charm itself, then hands me a card, before he's whisked off to be interviewed by the Africa's widest reaching news programme, Focus on Africa. I reckon he's in town to woo diaspora donors for the PDP, try and get some Goldmann Sachs and PWC Queen's heads to strengthen the PDP's war chest.

The games have begun.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Football update

After the World Cup in Germany finished, I was going to post a blog titled "The Death of Nigerian football". I didn't. I refrained from sounding the death knell of my favourite football team. The performance of people like Osaze in the French league, and Kanu in the premiership, made me think there was some hope. Now I'm not so sure anymore.

The initial plan was to outline how there were no players of the Finidi, Jay-jay, Amunike calibre any longer, playing for top European clubs. But I stupidly forgot about the management. A case in point is the cancellation of last night's match against Senegal, due to be held in France. Every African country that matters, and those that didn't, played last night (Tuesday), or tonight. I went to Ghana v Oz at QPR, Egypt played South Africa at Brentford, Cameroon played Indonesia, Ivory Coast played Sweden. Morocco, Tunisia, Togo, even Zimbabwe played over the last couple of days. And where was the so-called giant of Africa?

Friendly matches are not hard to organise. There are numerous sports consultancies that organise international matches. The FAs only have to do sweet FA. Pay some money to the company and call up your players. Calling up your players involves sending a fax to them and their clubs, and sending them a ticket to gather. It's not rocket science.

I spoke to Amos Adamu during the World Cup, and he said a similar non-qualification disaster wouldn't happen for South Africa 2010. I'm now disinclined to believe him. The new board has just started, so I suppose it might be pushing it to expect any action so early. But Eguavoen is still manager, and they haven't been able to organise a friendly.

If NFA doesn't get its act together...

Friday, November 10, 2006

Unreported World

Unreported World just aired. I haven't got very much to say except, Nigeria is probably doomed. Stark poverty which makes a family want to give their child away, pollution which turns beautiful creeks in rivers of crude oil, the arrogance of a governor (Odili) who drinks a $200 bottle Cristal with a journalist without a hint of irony, and an articulate, dynamic, unfortunate people bearing the brunt of it. I'll see if I can put a copy of it online in the next few days. In the meantime, listen to the podcast.

Helicopter crash

Catastrophes are like buses... Helicopter crash near Warri.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A tale of two Donalds

So as one Donald (Rumsfeld) leaves office, another Donald (Duke) seeks high office. One garbles his words, the other appears to have a mastery of language. One leaves with his legacy in tatters, as bodybags sellers do a brisk business in Baghdad and the Pentagon. The other, begins with an almost suspiciously untarnished reputation: a teacher's pet among Nigerian governors.

Donald Rumsfeld (pictured, right) has become a major scalp of the hiding the Republicans received in the US midterm elections. (Imagine the state of affairs when winning the Senate by one is seen as a landslide - thanks to I'll miss Rummy, but not for Abu Ghraib, Iraqi reconstruction, or extraordinary rendition, but for his way with words. His "known knowns" speech is singularly the greatest ever piece of political obfuscation, intended or otherwise:

There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don't know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don't know we don't know.
Journalists love this kind of politician, someone who brings light to their lives outside the drudgery of policy reports and select committee meetings. Which is another reason Bush and Prescott are so loved. Since we'll no longer hear Rumsfeldian wisdom from the Pentagon, I'll be visiting several websites to have my fill of, "The Wise Words of Donald Rumsfeld". Broadcasting House has a juicy archive built up over several shows, or I might even buy what is essentially "Donald Rumsfeld: the Opera", a collection of songs based on the "poetry of Rummy".

As for Donald Duke (pictured, right), he has blog (thanks to Jeremy and Chxta). I sense a Howard Dean style inspired diaspora intelligentsia support for him. Internet donations, the man to change the status quo, the how-can-he-lose candidate. This is Nigeria, of course he can lose. Firstly, he needs the support of the PDP gangsters to secure their nomination, an almost impossible task if he wishes to remain untainted. The PDP nomination will be an indication of where we are as a nation. Are we progressives, or retrogressives? Nominating General Babangida is a no-no, and I'll keep my exile promise if he becomes President.

People have already started to ask hard questions on his blog, most crucially - specifics. Politicians are emperors of the vague, seeking to govern on a solid platform of emptiness. It's solid, but there's nothing in it. Sometimes, along comes a politician with an idea, halleluyah. So let's hear about what Mr Duke has in store for Nigeria. I'm already excited about next year.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fire in the Delta

Set your VCRs, Sky Pluses, Tivos, etc to record Unreported World: Fire in the Delta, this Friday 10th on Channel 4 at 7.35pm. I've wanted to preview this for a while, but kept forgetting. Basically, Unreported World films what I'm sure even people in Nigeria haven't seen. Matthew McAllester, rides with the Niger Delta rebels, and sups bubbly with the governor of Rivers State, Peter Odili (pictured) - he of Panama hat fame. The Niger Delta is fast becoming one of Nigeria's many elephants in the room. Sure enough it is always in the news, but very few see it as an intractable problem set to continue for years. Most consider it to be just "those crazy people again". It's much worse than "those crazy people again", and more like "millions of those crazy people who will remain crazy, and by virtue of their craziness, disrupt Nigeria's oil supply, and destabilising an already decrepit single fuel economy that relies solely on oil".

Matthew McAllester, who was also in Turkey in the last series, wrote a piece about his trip in Sunday's Observer, while the Times, and Radio Times have it as recommended viewing. The Nigerian government wasn't too pleased with Channel 4 sniffing around the Niger Delta, and might have run out of patience with the channel. Don't expect C4 back in Nigeria anytime soon, which makes this a must-see.


According to Bisi Olatilo (sycophant par excellence), "government apparatii were in attendance" at the wedding of Bola Tinubu's daughter. The Bisi Olatilo Show is crass car crash tv, so I watch it. The man is a great pretence in grandiloquence, butchering the English language willy-nilly. Of course he thinks him and his programme are the bee knees, when he is in essence a glorified autograph hunter for television á la Dele Momodu.

Anyone who can constantly applaud Bola Tinubu for his "leadership", "vision", and all the other claptrap adjectives he comes up with, should be avoided like the plague. Or even given the plague. The plural of apparatus is of course apparatus, even though apparatuses is acceptable. But Mr Olatilo chooses to basque in his obviously supreme knowledge, not bothering to check the numerous dictionaries (or is that dictionarii) he probably owns.

I'll stop now, because I'm tempted to get verbally medieval... Apparently his offices were destroyed by a fire, so I should be nice.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Stigma of HIV in Nigeria

Below is an incredible documentary shown on BBC World on Friday. It is about a young Nigerian woman and her struggle against HIV and the how Nigerian society stigmatises those with the virus. It is such people that make me proud to be Nigerian, whatever that means. She shows an indomitable spirit in dealing with her ailment, and by extension shows the inner resolve most Nigerians need to survive such harsh terrain. Her epiphany for deciding that HIV needn't be the death of her is tragicomically Nigerian. The voiceover, though, is needless, and takes some getting used to. I make no apologies, but I can only presume that Rockhopper and BBC World didn't think their audiences would be able to cope with both a strong accent and speaking fast.

I might be persuaded that Nollywood can work in some weird twisted way. The acting featured in the drama is no less melodramatic than your standard Nollywood fare, but looked oddly tolerable. Perhaps all Nollywood needs is some better production values. Time will tell. It would be a shame if not much more than the three or four people who watch BBC World will get to see it, so I've put it up for your benefit.

The blurb:
Survivor's Guide to Growing Up: The stigma of HIV in Nigeria
An extensive survey reveals there has been widespread violation of the rights of people living with HIV.This episode will focus on a 19 year old HIV-positive individual. This programme will explore how serious stigmatisation has become. Produced by Rockhopper for BBC World.

Friday, November 03, 2006

It's the black woman what done it

One of Britain's two black newspapers, the Voice, has kicked up a relative fuss over comments made by the founder of Kid's Company, Camila Batmanghelidjh (pictured, with little rascals in tow), to a House of Commons Select Committee. She said (and I'm paraphrasing), that black women were to blame for the decline of the black family unit. My understanding is that black men pregnant (to use a Nigerian verb) their black women, often more than one, and then abandon them to a solitary life of pram-pushing and nappy-tying. But according to Batmanghelidjh, black women are partly responsible because they reject black men - first as mothers, and then as lovers. There starts the dysfunctionality. Kenya London News covered the original Commons appearance.

For those of you who don't know Camila Batmanghelidjh, she's hugged more hoodies than you've had hot dinners, and was crowned one of the UK's Women of the Year. She's also just released a book called Shattered Lives, which was the basis for a very good Woman's Hour interview in May. I also listened to her Desert Island Discs a couple of weeks ago, which had some interesting choices.

When one door shuts...

One could be forgiven for thinking NOI has been given a contract with the Auntie. She appears on Hardtalk last week, writes a piece for BBC Business online on the Sino-African Beijing tryst, and if anybody was listening to World Business Report on World Service radio yesterday (Thursday), delivers her "Africa Letter". Apparently, she's been doing weekly dispatches for the World Service.

Thanks, but no thanks

The Chinese appear to have pulled out all stops to welcome the African leadership. Beijing is draped with images from pre-colonial Europe - a dark continental backwater, best left for fishing, hunting, and anything else to do with wildlife. The people are too savage and black to warrant wasting any kodak film, simply a backdrop to the wild idyll painted by the likes John Henry Patterson in Man-eaters of Tsavo (on which the 1996 film, the Ghost and Darkness, was based). I insist that most Africans aren't that familiar with wild animals, unless you count lizards in urban Nigeria, cows in the middle of traffic, or chickens at the market. But of course the Chinese use the Safari stereotypes to promote their relationship with Africa, they don't know any better.

Kick a man...

The evangelicals will say that I'm kicking a man when he's down - it's the same argument whenever a man of God falls. But Ted Haggard, advisor to the Bushes, has stepped down as head of the National Association of Evangelicals amidst allegations that he paid top (Creflo) dollar for sex with a man. Apparently, he's going to seek spiritual advice and guidance. I'm sure God will tell him something along the lines of, "thou shouldst not have buggered the young man, let alone use my tithe money to pay for your sexual deviance. Thou shalt perish in hell, as Sodomites do. Burn Ted, burn."

Disclaimer: the above in no way represents the thinking of God, it wasn't a vision, neither was it an hallucination. It's just artistic licence.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

New Sultan

A new Sultan has been appointed to replace Maccido - Colonel Sada Abubakar. I don't understand Nigeria's constant proclivity for military types, and Col Abubakar isn't even retired, he's still serving. Let's hope he doesn't rain jihad upon our heads...

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sultan of Sokoto

The Indy and Guardian have printed fairly well researched obituaries of the Sultan of Sokoto, Muhammadu Maccido Abubakar, who died in Sunday's plane crash. The Indy's seems slightly fuller than the Guardian's, with a testimony from Professor Murray Last (who got his PhD at UI).

Sino-African love-in

Today's Indy has an analysis of China's influence in Africa. Beijing is hosting a forum where more than 40 African heads of state will be selling their souls in return for yen for their economies. It won't be long before you hear of African leaders sunning themselves in holiday villas in Guangdong, or going on shopping sprees to Shanghai. Sunday's Observer also had a piece on the same topic.

The pact between these two is rather simple: Africa gives Beijing its vast mineral resources (especially oil), and Beijing gives Africa money, in raw cash, loans, assistance. The Lagos to Kano railway line is a typical example. Nigeria gets a $1bn loan from China, and a Chinese firm CCECC (which is actually based in Hong Kong - not sure how much the distinction matters these days) builds the line.

Railway in Nigeria is going to be one of the keys to reviving the economy. And there are no better technicians to use than the Chinese. Chinese engineers and architects are leapfrogging stages in conventional progression. The Shanghai Maglev train is a prime example, and they're hoping to extend the line to Hangzhou by 2010. I suppose it is pie in the sky to hope for the Lagos-Kano line to use maglev, but we can at least expect cutting edge technology.

One of the arguments against China's investment in Africa is the hands-off approach to domestic affairs. Hence, China will say nothing of genocide being committed in Darfur. So long as the nation can still guzzle it Sudanese gas, it doesn't care. China is in Africa to do business, not to preach.

The irony of China's involvement in Africa is the aspirations of both parties. If Africa is going to compete in the next century, it needs to start adding value to natural resources. It needs to cut its diamonds, refine its oil, make stuff. And that is where China trumps all at the moment. China makes stuff for cheaper than any other country in the world. It has an army of workers just willing to sew footballs, stitch shirts, assemble electronics, the hallmarks of an industrialised nation. If Africa wants to compete, it will have to compete with China. Africa could obviously shun this method of development and follow the yellow brick road developing nations are treading - the ideas or knowledge economy.

Take the iPod. The man who led the design team for the iPod is Jonathan Ive (who also led the team behind the iMac), a Brit. He works for an American company, Apple Computer. However, the iPod is made in China. Nothing has been made by Britain or America, but their economies (or at least America) have much to gain from the invention and manufacture of the iPod.

If Africa isn't going to make stuff, it should be thinking of stuff to make. The problem with a knowledge economy is levels of education. Literacy rates in Sub-Saharan Africa are at just over 60%. Compare that to 85% for China or even 99% for Western Europe. Africa has a long way to go if it's going to be doing competing with China rather than just selling raw materials.

Defender of NOI

For those of you who've moved onto a different argument, there was another response to the Okonji-Iweala appearance on hard talk. Nick Norbrook, managing editor of the Africa Report, puts up a staunch defence of of the headtie madam. For those of you who don't know how publications work, the managing editor of a magazine is the person everyone loves to hate. For it is he who hires and fires, but tends not to have any discernible writing talent. Is any of this relevant to his posting on the African Shirts blog? No. But it's early morning, and I need to do a little sniping to wake me up.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Today on BEN

The concensus on BEN television's morning phone-in is that Nigerians are not competent enough to handle an aviation industry. Some complain that it is the corruption which causes these problems. Many called for the sacking of the Aviation Minister, Babalola Borishade. One said that sacking wasn't enough and only punitive measures would send a message. He was probably referring to corporate manslaughter charges which were brought into UK legislation followig the Hatfield and Paddington rail crashes.

Another man poignantly said that we here in the UK were scared to move back. Those of us in the UK don't want to move back to Nigeria to go and die. I insist that these things will continue to happen while we stay silent. We need the legal minds to launch criminal or even civil lawsuits against ADC and the Aviation Ministry. Civil disobedience, picketing, boycotting airlines. We're too docile a nation, we're too lackadaisical, too horizontal, too accepting. Wake up, people!

Monday, October 30, 2006

The irony of it all

When I first heard the news about the plane crash, I had just been listening to World Service edition of From Our Own Correspondent, one of the best examples of radio anywhere in the world. The eponymous correspondent was Kieran Cooke, ironically, had been talking about a mishap when he was on a plane in Nigeria. He found the Nigerians' response to such a potential tragedy humourous and endearing. He must listen to the news of the ADC crash now and not see the funny side of his mishap anymore.

The FOOC piece was on the African news page of the BBC yesterday, but has since been taken off. One wonders if it had anything to do with treating the crash with sensitivity. Someone asked me why prominent Nigerians people always seem to be in plane crashes. Well, rich Nigerians have no option but to travel by air. If a plane is departing from or flying into Abuja, it will inevitably have Senators or Congressmen on the flight.

My mama sent me text message from Lagos last night saying, "No rail, no road, people travel by air - it's a problem." That is the crux of the Nigerian transport system. It isn't so much to transport living bodies from one place to another, but almost a conduit of souls to the afterlife. The grim reaper stands at the transit points, airports, and bus depots. So this is how you wish to die. Mid-flight, armed robbery on the highway, car crash after hitting a crater on something people still amazingly call roads instead of dirt tracks? The man in the hooded cape holding a scythe would have offered the choice of despatching you on a railway track, except Nigeria barely has any.

Of course the issue of accountability arises again. Last year, it was deemed that Babalola Borishade should stay and fix the mess of the Sosoliso and Bellview crashes. Granted. But his staying gives no indication of where the buck stops. He has been silly enough to blame the pilot for the crash. The pilot apparently ignored control tower advice not to take off until weather conditions were better. This begs two questions. Why is the opinion/advice of the control tower not enforceable? And why is the safety of the passengers and the plane not put before profits? I can see no other reason why the pilot would be rushing to Sokoto, other than to minimise ground time, and make some more money on the return flight.

If we can still suffer another fatal crash one year after Bellview and Sosoliso, there is much that Borishade is doing wrong. As the headmaster of a failing school or the captain of a faltering ship would do, he should go. Walk the plank, jump or be pushed.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sultan killed in plane crash

Yet another plane crash in Nigeria. Someone with me when I heard the news said, "they say it so nonchalantly, as if it happens all the time." Well it does. Why is this still happening?

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Okonji-Iweala on Hardtalk

Ngozi-Okonji Iweala makes a typically bullish appearance on BBC's Hardtalk. Stephen Sackur tries hard, but you know Ngozi - where Margaret Thatcher swung a handbag, she swings her headtie. She sounds like she's shouting, but then she's Nigerian. Perhaps she's just loud, as are all Nigerians... She does admit to not being happy when she was moved by Mr President, which I have to applaud Stephen Sackur for getting that out of her. Watch it before it gets taken off the website at midnight tonight (Thurs 25th/Fri 26th).

$5m for the African democrat

Mo Ibrahim encourages African leaders to leave office voluntarily, and $5m could be theirs. It is an amazing prize considering African leaders don't have access to directorships and such that their Western counterparts have. It'll be interesting to see who wins the first one. My bet is that they'll come from southern Africa.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Prince Ahmed Khalifa

Today, I was contacted by bonnie Prince Ahmed Khalifa of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I'm absolutely flattered that considering he's never met me before, he's willing to trust me with the receipt of his $42m dollars. What a generous guy. I would have taken him up on the offer, but I don't know where "Durblin" is, let alone afford a flight to what sounds like an enchanting place filled with four-leaf clovers and blarney stones.

Dear sir/Madam,
I am contacting you based on trust and i believe you will treat this offer with keen interest and utmost sincerity.my name is PRINCE AHMED KHALIFA, a citizen of, the kingdom of saudi Arabia ,although i was born in the kingdom where i had my education aswell.Following the recent crises between the israeli forces and hehezbollahs militant group in lebanon, my business has suffered a tremendous set back. i run a currency trading company and money exchange bureau in beirut.During one of the israelis airstrike in lebanon, our office building was razed to nothing leaving 13 people dead and over 300 injured.The reason why i am contacting you is to find out if i can invest my money in your line of business.It has become very necessary for me to diversify my interest in the area of investment. I have in cash the sum of $42,300,000.00 in Durblin Ireland, I am searching for a responsible and credible partner who can receive this fund on my behalf and invest it in real estate or another line of business any where in the world,there is a trusted diplomat who can fly the money any where in theworld with a diplomatic tag once we agree.I am presently, undergoingtreatment in the united kingdom because we were evacuated.You can contact me on my private email address for further informations.

i await your urgent response.
best regards.Ahmed khalifa.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Nigeria trawl

I've been doing a trawl through the British newspapers, and there've been a fair number of stories about or concerning Nigeria. In today's Times, Tosin Sulaiman, whom I have the pleasure of knowing, visits the Jobs in Nigeria exhibition:

FOR years governments in Africa have talked optimistically of reversing the brain drain, as thousands of professionals have continued to travel abroad in search of better opportunities than they could find in their homeland. Now, however, there are signs that some of these skilled workers could be making their way back. Read more...
The Duke Onoriode is rather silly talking about going back to Nigeria. He says it's important to use "the skills you’ve gained here to help improve things there." Except he only has a masters; what skills is he taking back? I quibble.

The Daily Telegraph had an article on expats in Nigeria publishing a collection of stories about their experiences in Nigeria. There seems to be a trend among people writing about Nigeria; they all tend to start with the woe-is-Nigeria premise, followed by the unbelievable-but-true-that-Nigerians-don't-eat-their-young continuation of the article. Alex Hannaford's recent piece the Indy is one such example. The expats' tales:

Nigeria. The name conjures up images of violence, corruption and injustice. Fortunately the experiences of a group of expatriates in Nigeria balance that view and are gathered together to form a collection of stories called Nigerian Gems. The book depicts a Nigeria that is far more complex, friendly and rewarding than our preconceptions allow for. Read more...

At a press conference today, some hostages released by Niger Delta militiamen spoke about their ordeal.

There was a rather intriguing story about Russian spies is in Nigeria in yesterday's Sunday Times. It reminds of rumours that the US defense attache at the US emabssy in Abuja has his office in the Nigerian Ministry of Defence. If such rumours were true it would explain why Russians would want to spy on Nigeria. Procurement of British military equipment doesn't help either:

Michael Quinn, 65, one of two Irishmen named in the Nigerian courts as part of an alleged Russian spy ring, runs a company, Marshpearl, which the Nigerian government paid to maintain and upgrade 36 British-made Scorpion attack vehicles in 2001. Read more...
In the Guardian at the weekend, there was an interview with a man who hunts bushmeat smugglers.

And there's an old, Okonji-Iweala family love-in, mother and son.

Friday, October 20, 2006

The trouble with Nigeria

Where two or more are gathered in Nigeria's name, there chaos is in their midst. I went to the Nigerian High Commission on Northumberland Avenue yesterday. It was, as one corner of Heathrow Terminal 3 becomes on weekday, a microcosm of Nigeria's madness, rudeness, ridiculousness, rule breaking, and worst of all, tribalism. One conversation between a man and a receptionist:

Man: Nwoke'm. ke du maka oburonma osiso, biko. (okay, he said something in Igbo, and I just exhausted my Igbo vocabulary)

Receptionist: Why are you speaking to me in Igbo? Do I look Igbo?

Man: I'm sorry, I thought you were Igbo.

And that is the trouble with Nigeria.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Chaos in Ekiti

"A clear case of usurpation of power, " is how President OBJ describes the impeachment of Governor Ayo Fayose (pictured) of Ekiti State. He's declared a state of emergency in Ekiti state as three people claim to be the sitting governor. What is happening in Nigeria is quite extraordinary. After two governors have already been impeached, one would think that a third wouldn't matter. But people appear to be genuinely enraged about Fayose's impeachment. There are a few key questions. Is Ayo Fayose a bit dodgy? Probably. Should he have been impeached? Yes. Was the impeachment process a bit iffy? Perhaps. Does he deserve due process? A resounding yes. I'll explain.

One of my favourite plays is A Man for All Seasons by Robert Bolt. It was made into a stunning film in 1966 starring one of my favourite actors of all time, Orson Welles, and Paul Scofield. Scofield plays Sir Thomas More who got on the wrong side of Henry VIII, his head eventually meeting with the King's guillotine. In one scene, Richard Rich, who everyone suspects to be a spy is allowed to roam free unopposed. William Roper the Younger is an upstart whipper snapper who thinks he's the bees knees:

More: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law!

Roper: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I'd cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you, where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat? This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast -- man's laws, not God's -- and if you cut them down -- and you're just the man to do it -- do you really think you could stand pright in the winds that would blow then? Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.

The law does not just exist to punish the guilty, but also to protect the innocent. Which is why Guantanamo Bay detention camp is inexcusable. Which is why detaining suspects for 90 days without recourse to habeas corpus is unforgivable. We may want to bend and break the rules to catch the men that evil do, but once the rules have been destroyed, how will we be protected?

Fela on 1Xtra

This being Black History Month in the UK, Radio 1Xtra has a series of documentaries on all things black. Yesterday, they aired a brilliant documentary on Fela. For (what I think is) the first time we hear the voice of Sandra Izsadore (pictured), the woman who is said to have politicised Fela. It does have a few annoyances, such as the Home Videoesque dramatic drumrolls to indicate something dodgy was about to happen. I also felt some references to Rakim and George Clinton would have gone over the heads of today's hip-hop generation. Then again, perhaps that kind of audience wouldn't have been listening. Still, check it out.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Lifting the veil

Since the former Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, made some comments about the Muslim full veil, or niqab, a couple of weeks ago, the media in the UK has been in a frenzy. First some background. The article that sparked the controversy was written by Jack Straw for his column in the Lancashire Evening Telegraph. For those that don't know the story, it's relatively simple. Jack Straw says that whenever Muslim women dressed in full veil (pictured) come to his MP's surgery for help and advice, he asked in that very British way, "You wouldn't mind terribly, if you could just consider thinking about contemplating removing your veil".

Jack Straw reckons that the communication experience is enhanced if people who are talking can see each other's faces and read their expressions. Perhaps. The comments flooded into the BBC website. Comments such as "Jack Straw must have problems with emails, then. No faces." Worst of all, he offended blind people. Blind and partially-sighted people can't see the people they're talking to, and they'd argue that their interactive experience isn't diminished by being blind. Listen to In Touch, a programme for the visually impaired on Radio 4. (Do it by evening, Tuesday 10th, or read the transcript).

Communication is the reason he cites for asking that his constituents take their veil when they appear before him, however, in an interview with the Today programme, he lets slips his actual motivation. He's worried about "community relations". In other words, the people in a community cannot communicate with a woman who covers her face, in this instance at the behest of her religion. The veil here, acts as a barrier, just as 18-year-old boys in hoodies are intimidating. And if non-Muslim and Muslims who are trying to live harmoniously alongside each other cannot interact, "parallel communities" start to develop.

In one sentence, Jack Straw's comments about the veil is, about how Muslims practise their religion, and how it affects the British society in which they live and belong.

Since the debate is about religion, some see it as a non-argument. If we live in a society where religious freedom is a human right, it is the believers' prerogative to practise their religion as they see fit. However, these are the exact reasons why the issue must be debated.

First of all, there's the issue of the State. Every citizen, who interacts with the state must be, if you'll forgive the pun, naked. Who is beneath the veil talking to Jack Straw? In Islamic countries, where women wear the full veil, they are usually searched and identified by other women. This allays security fears, and the woman can still cover up. If heaven forbid, an accident happened, and a male police officer was on the scene, would he have to wait for a female officer before the woman in niqab can be helped?

The Aishah Azmi furore at the weekend is another interesting case to look at. Most telling is the interview, where she buckle under Peter Sissons's hard questioning.

Such religious expression in the presence of the State invariably melds both together. While countries like France and the US have an explicit separation of Church and State, the Church is still fully intertwined with the State. The Head of State, Elizabeth Regina, is the "Defender of the Faith". The head of the Anglican communion, The Archbishop of Canterbury, and other bishops sit in the upper House of Lords. He is also chosen by the government, and appointed by the Queen. And if you go back to medieval times when Estates of the Realm meant something, the Lords Spritual was one of the three. The only distinction in this case is that the religion in question is not Christianity, but Islam. If bonnie Prince Charles gets his wish to become "defender of faiths", things might change.

Secondly, there is the debate about why woman wear the veil. Some argue that it's an edict straight form the Qur'an, while others say that it's merely cultural. There's a great debate taking place within Western Islam about how faith can be compatible with citizenry. The question of whether one can be British and Muslim arises time and again. Whether a Muslim's obligation is to the state or to Allah, or if at all there has to be distinction.

The Yasmin Alibhai-Brown contention is that women wearing the veil is an attempted indictment on all men in the West. If the veil is worn to prevent the lecherous advances of men, it almost means that men are beasts of the field who cannot control their primitive urges. In this instance, it means, "back off, I'm unavailable". As this becomes a signal of being unapproachable, nobody approaches a woman in a niqab. So once again, the community relations and interaction argument kicks in again.

Nonie Darwish, contends that the rights gained by feminists who fought for women's rights in the last century have been misused. When women wanted sexual liberation, they didn't expect women to become hard drinking ladettes who are as lewd as the filthiest of gutter-mouth men. It wasn't so that women should take up the worst excesses of men. Likewise with the niqab. Women's liberation was not fought so that Muslim women could wear the veil - by choice. It's almost paradoxical that the choice of the modern woman is seen as a retrogressive by those feminists who espoused choice as a tenet of their liberation.

On the one hand, some women have embraced those rights by utilising them to the full, while other women embrace them by choosing not to use them.

There is the issue of sensitivity on the part of Muslim women who wear the veil. When any woman goes to Saudi Arabia, she covers herself. Someone like Frances Harrison (right), BBC's correspondent in Iran, always wears a headscarf when she's reporting. People visiting certain parts of the Middle East dress appropriately to the host culture. That may be by showing respect, or by diktat. In Western culture, even though culturally people don't wear full veils, there is nothing against it. As a result of liberal democratic philosophy, in theory, you can wear what you want. Some reckon that as Muslims have been allowed to practise their religion in Britain, the least they could do is to be sensitive to British sensibilities. The lands that their forefathers came from in the Middle East and South Asia are not so tolerant of non-Muslim religious practice. The recent case of a man in Afghanistan was facing execution for converting to Christianity is an example.

It's a livewire topic in Muslim countries and not just in the West. Nigeria, despite not being a "Muslim" country (even though we're members of the OIC), has its fair share of "ninjas", as they're disparagingly called. I can't envisage an immediate future where Nigerians are debating the wearing of the veil - it would mean that the country's religious veneer has faded. There might be the occasional ructions between Muslims and Christians, both religious leadership harbour socially conservative attitudes. In this, they are one and the same.

Turkey's secular state has proscribed the headscarf, while only a couple of days ago, the Tunisian government has spoken out against the headscarf. The distinction in the Middle East is quite interesting. In Egypt, more women wear the veil and headscarf now than did 20 years ago, whereas in Tunisia it's not as widespread. It should be also be noted that both countries are de facto police state dictatorships.

No doubt this will rumble on.

Monday, October 16, 2006

It's only a mouse

I've just moved into a new place, and in the process of doing some spring cleaning, I'm finding articles from days of yore. Remember that esure.com advert with Michael Winner (pictured)?

Just when we thought the TV licence van had left our street, and it was once again safe to turn on our television sets, Michael Winner makes us all have three Death Wishes with his esure.com adverts. Some smart advertising exec thought that the best way to make post Little Britain Britain buy that most dastardly of products, insurance, was to put a man dressed as a woman beside the insufferable Michael Winner.

A wonderful idea, except, the esure.com advert isn’t at all funny. This follow up to the, “calm down love, it’s only a commercial” adverts fails because it combines the worst elements of Hollywood (the curse of the sequel), and insurance adverts (the quest for humour).

Insurance is one of the greatest cons of capitalism, and attempting to make us laugh is admirable, but daring to suggest we’ll be gullible enough to latch onto another catchphrase, “calm down love, it’s only a mouse”, is just taking the Michael Winner.

Of course, the main premises of the advert are that women are scared of mice, they know nothing of technology, and sadly only silver haired fox Michael Winner can save the fairer sex. All men will worship Michael Winner for this because it means the road to enlightenment can be found in a bottle of peroxide bleach, and underneath a 7 minute sunbed. Alas, for women, the solutions are the same: rely on Michael Winner to fix animate or inanimate rodent problems.

No doubt some pop culture addled teenagers will latch onto the catchphrase and torment innocent bus passengers with the verbal equivalent of a rusty syringe. Elderly passengers will skirt the fine line between “reasonable chastisement” and maniacal homicide, while more modern adults will ring the ASBO police to act
accordingly. So the next time your granny wakes up in the middle of the night,
be sure to comfort her with the words, “calm down gran, it’s only a nightmare”.


Article in today's Guardian on the the guy behind 419eater.com; not very interesting if you already know about the website. If you don't, it's worth a look.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Good week for hip-hop

This week sees the release of Fortywater's My Ghetto Report Card, UK rapper Ty aka Ben Chijioke, releases Closer. If you don't know Ty, his second album, Upwards would be a good place to start. In yesterday's Friday Review, Alexis Petridis writes the most amusing review of P Diddy's new album Press Play. People on the tube must have wondered how a newspaper made me chuckle so much. Here's a taster:
Earlier this year, Sean "P Diddy" Combs expanded the business empire, which has thus far netted him an estimated $364m, with the launch of his own perfume. As with a lot of celebrity-branded scents, Combs's took an adjective as its name. But the word he picked was somehow inappropriate: there is something a little jarring about calling an aftershave Unforgivable. It sounds peculiarly negative in conversation ("She bought me that P Diddy's aftershave for my birthday." "That's Unforgivable."). Matters were not much helped by the great man's gnomic explanation. "Life without passion is unforgivable," he said, thus explicitly linking his product to a life without passion. It's as if he's trying to sell you bottled essence of sexless misery. Read more...

No need

The governor of Plateau state, Joshue Dariye, may be a chiselling little crook. But there's no need to shoot his supporters. Nigerian security authorities need to have lessons in crowd control. In various incidents, the authorities panic and bring in the military to deal with what is essentially a civil order issue. On the other hand, when they use riot police, they act with military force. Where is the balance? The Nigerian police should invest in Alsatian dogs, and horses. Africans are generally scared of animals.

Police horses are not normal horses. Police horses are intimidating Pegasian megaliths; I'm sure they could be bred in the Northern Nigeria where there's a long tradition of horsemanship. Anything that can keep British football hooligans under control deserves to be at least considered. The government should be investing in relatively harmless but effective animals, rather than giving trigger happy police access to guns.

To the average African, dogs are one of two things: vicious guard dogs that eat the newspaper vendor whenever he comes round, or docile stray wusslings to be stoned in the street. A few police Alsatians would have dispersed the crowd sharpish. And there is historical precedence. I seem to remember reading somewhere that Zairians were offended by George Foreman when he arrived in Kinshasa for the Rumble in the Jungle. Foreman landed at Kinshasa airport with an Alsatian dog by his side - the very symbol of colonial Belgian oppression. Kind Leopold and his successors controlled the Congo with barks and bites.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Bridge stands... at least for now.

Contrary to the news spreading, the Third Mainland Bridge has not collapsed. The traffic jam was caused by an accident, which LASTMA has now cleared. Please go about your daily activities. Anouncement by the Lagos State Government. Long Live Lagos!

The above is a paraphrasing of what I heard on the Lagos State Radio Service (streaming) at about 1452hrs BST. The bridge lives on, if only for a few days.